Let me introduce you to the lovely Ms. Feathers! The showgirl pea-hen from Boids Of A Feather, a trailer for Hash Inc. (SIGGRAPH 1999). With a rather unusual gender role reversal, in a human world she would have been a he and be performing song and dance drag numbers - for only a pea-cock (the male of the pea family) would have this fine plumage...
When Ms. Feather's characters name first came up in project meeting conversations, I was a little taken aback as to where the project was going! For the American reader let's just say that 'fanny' in the UK has a wholly different vernacular usage! Isn't language a curious and wonderful thing.
Below are sample renders made during the project to show her rigging, texturing, and facial setup. Like most of my Boids Of A Feather work I should really go back and re-render some real poses with personality and good lighting to do her justice.
Ms. Feathers was definitely the most time consuming character from Boids Of A Feather for me. Her hidden bone rigging for all those individual feathers very quickly became a nightmare to keep moving smoothly. I picked up responsibility for her a month or so into the project after some initial experimental modeling work had been started by Thom Falter.
To my eye I never quite achieved that sultry, sexy look needed for her showgirl background. Time, as is often the case, ran out. Her arms, chest, and shoulders were very exposed and without a stable version of Animation:Master's Smart Skin technology at the time (it was a beta feature back then), the bone setup for keeping everything in it's rightful place took some fine-tuning.
After much discussion within the group we decided that her main wing feathers needed to be full peacock plumage for maximum effect in her song and dance number. Notice in the image below, her wing feathers were originally body coloured feather shapes, in the above more recent image you can see the improvement in using real feather decals with alpha channels.
Below are a series of four facial test shots. Ms. Feathers was required to perform a song and dance number in some detail and so needed a full facial and phoneme setup. I'd have liked to spend more time on both her and Mick Mallard's non-symmetrical facial poses so the animators would have had a wider range to dial up for expressing emotion and personality. Unfortunately, time only allowed for a few passes through the facial work before the deadline arrived.
For those interested, I've left some of the original log notes here that the Boids Of A Feather team shared during the effort to complete Ms. Feathers.
[20th May 1999]
MFanny5 - wing feathers complete. -GaryM
[15th May 1999]
SFanny7 - Original hands back on model as per MFanny and MFannySue. -GaryM
[15th May 1999]
MFannySue - wing feathers and hands complete. -GaryM
[12th May 1999]
MFanny feather updates. Original hand now left in place. Correct what behaved like a bug with MandoPose with the scapular bend bones moving incorrectly. See example render. -GaryM
[9th May 1999]
Improved spacing of wing feathers and tweaks to finger decals (SFanny7). Example render below. -GaryM
[8th May 1999]
SFanny7.mdl wing feathers update completed. Fixed thumb feather CP allocation and change allocation of all other wing feathers so that no mesh stretching occurs only feather separation as the arm bends. Feather decal and material tweaks. See example render below. Next Fanny model update now underway (MFanny5.mdl). -GaryM
[28th April 1999]
Added new right wing to SFanny7.mdl for Steph test. No bones were harmed in the making of this mesh... Eye lids have also been corrected to prevent intersection between 50% and 100% closed. Once Steph is happy I'll add the left wing and roll out to the other versions of Fanny. Other items on our list ONCE THE WINGS ARE DONE are sequined clothing tricks, upper/lower lid control and more asymmetric facial controls. See example new wing render below. -GaryM
[15th March 1999]
Yes again, sorry couldn't resist. Wanted to work in some extra eye detail so that the final renders have depth to the iris and cornea lighting. It's a simple addition I'll be making to the other characters as I go, bonus extra slider for pupil dilation if you want to use it. New eyes in sample renders but most noticeable during animated movement. Tweak to peacock feather. -GaryM
[14th March 2nd update]
Decal/material work, feather detail most notable. New sample renders. -GaryM
[14th March 1999]
Modified neck hierarchy that caused a break when torso moved - default pose has been changed (drag'n'drop to your actions). New decal/material changes.Other minor tweaks. Trying to increase the fidelity of decal feather edges. See example image renders. -GaryM
[13th March 1999]
Decal and material adjustments. Inner mouth shading. Minor pose tweaks and testing. Hid basic phoneme shapes from the pose slider window as these should only be dropped onto an Action for quick initial lip synch blocking. Need to work a little more with Suzan to push the facial poses a little further. -GaryM
[12th March 1999]
Facal/lip poses are complete. Eyes can dilate if required. Tail feather mesh replaced and reconstrained with peacock decal feathers. Colour scheme switched back to male peacock look for visual impact (Suzan request). Materials below are not final (more iridescence needed) but that can be tweaked later. Modifications to leg proportions (some leg bone positions moved). Updates to Default pose. -GaryM
[10th March 1999]
Rework of head mesh, specifically cheek and beak area for lipsynch. Added inner mouth and Tongue. Changes to eyelash decaling method, cookie cuts don't give clean rendering results - better with transparency maps. New eyes and eye lashes. Added eyebrow mesh. Reworked a number of surface closures due bad rendering artifacts, holes should be closed by scaling loops down to a small value (but not 0). Added clothing detail - she's now wearing a slip dress with more detailed cleavage for sexy look. Updated materials, new colours, see how folks like them... Still working on facial sliders and final skeletal setup testing. Main visual change yet to be done is replacing her tail feathers with true male peacock style colour decals, some wing feather tweaking and leg/lower body work (may affect lower skeleton!). Don't think I'll have her done until the end of the week, comments welcome. See two exmple shots. -GaryM
[27th January 1999]
Fanny is completely setup and ready for testing. She'll need a few more bones for her hat and belt when we get to animation. --TGF