Let me introduce you to Mick Mallard, the anti-hero of Boids Of A Feather, a slightly disheveled and seedy private eye of the avian world (story by Suzan Ponte-Crowell). Mick, and a number of his cohort sidekicks, was built mostly in the twilight hours over a few months of hectic modeling, rigging, and texturing work back in the beginning of 1999 for Hash Inc. to demo at SIGGRAPH 1999.
At the time I had already been tentatively working on a previous Hash Inc. project (The Doubt by Travis M. Banks) when, as I understand, the project was seen as to large and undefined given the time available before SIGGRAPH 1999. A quick decision was made by the folks at Hash Inc. to switch over to a more simple (in theory) project producing a movie style trailer - Boids Of A Feather was born (working title at the time was Bird Tale).
The first charge was to generate a 3D rendition of Mick as soon as possible (from 2D character sketches by Glen Crowell) so that others potential team members could be tempted into the project at such short notice. At this early stage we also needed to ballpark where the overall render stylization should be. Animators can be notoriously fussy about the characters they work with, but Mick seemed to generate plenty of interest in the project ;o)
Apart from some tweaks to rigging, facial, and phoneme targets, the Mick that you see here is very close to the first strike at his likeness back in the dark, cold days of January 1999. Here, Mick is showing off some of his facial pose slider combinations.
Here's Mick in his default pose with all his final textures on. He was setup with the now hallmark rim-lighting effect and iridescent plumage algorithmic textures.
Due to the tight time schedule, the rest of the team began planning and animating scenes while the models were still evolving. Now, this was a potential nightmare situation for both those involved in the model work and the animating. A few wrong bone adjustments and pose slider tweaks and the whole of an animators shot work could potentially go out the window... Well to my knowledge we all survived with a healthy respect for back-up files and modification logs. For those interested, I've left some of the original log notes here that the team shared while we were getting Mick complete for SIGGRAPH 1999.
[6th March 1999]
For those working on Mick lipsynch I now have a default phoneme set tested on one of the voice samples (21-Mick). They are the usual AI, E, O, U, CDGKNRYSZ, FV, Th, L, MBP and WQ - all setup as poses containing _Pose_Channels_ of the default facial muscle sliders. This makes it real easy to zip through the a shot dropping in the phoneme poses - then just tweaking the regular facial sliders until your happy. Trilby colour fixed (ok who broke it!) ;-) -GaryM
[3rd March 1999]
Ammended materials and their naming convention (must be unique between models). Added smartskin to Left/Right Bicep bones to help smooth shoulder joint. -GaryM
[14th February 1999]
Added Trilby bone back in (still download as there are new materials). Corrected surfaces normals. Changed selection on rolling wrists to rotate correct area of mesh. Additional minor tweaks. -GaryM
[13th February 1999]
Back stepped quite a way with the hires Mick face detail I was working on - I did not like the change in shape/personality. Deleted Trilby bone as folks seem to prefer extra bone in Mick head to translate/orient the Trilby to. Merged Hands IK pose into Arms IK-FK pose. Many changes to mesh detail/shape, materials and main facial muscle pose sliders. Example expressions below for SB 6a, 9a, 9b and 9c (FYI: shot with an eye light). Will run a lipsynch to Les' new Mick audio when ready (fab work so far Les). -GaryM
[10th February 1999]
Deleted the control panel which we're not going to use; fixed some bones which were misoriented; Added a trilby and cigarette target bones; placed the previously uploaded version of Mick in the previous folder.
[23rd January 1999]
Put Mick's props in Mick_props directory. Replaced Trilby and Cigarette with boned versions. Put old Trilby and cigarette in 'previous' directory, just in case. Made no changes to Mick model. Added a few more props in Mick_props. Need decaling on matchbox. -ed
[21st January 1999]
Added Facial Control Panel and a few phonemes for testing. I hope you guys like it because I love it. :) -TGF
[19th January 1999]
Added Eyelid bones and Smart Skin. Added Right and Left Lid SS Sliders. Added the word muscle to the names of Right and Left Lid sliders. Either the muscle and SS sliders may be used but should not be mixed. -TGF
[18th January 1999]
Added Pelvis and Torso Aim Roll At constraints, fixed some unassigned cps and put arm and hand IK on sliders for easy toggle. If there are no objections this should be the final setup. -- T. Falter
[17th January 1999]
New Mick data including mesh, surface finish, bones, default poses, initial lipsynch core poses and some other facial elements. Also available new Trilby and Cigarette. I've added back in the Elbow Bend and the Forearm Roll bones as they do their job quite well without needing smart skin setups. Ready for Thom to make any last major setup changes before we lock them down for animation! -GaryM
[9th January 1999]
Phoneme shape and facial testing in progress. Model additions completed, face detail, upper leg to body join and some coat changes. Fine tuning still required due to 5pt patch issue in V7.
[12th December 1998]
Working on phoneme and emotional mouth shapes. There are some wire frame screen grabs here if you need a quick reference to the mesh.
Lastly, here are the original four demonstration renders of Mick used right at the start to help get the project underway. Textures are a little flat but I think he still holds up quite well, probably because the poses are strong.
Ed Lynch (Director of Boids Of A Feather) caught up with me a month or so back (January 2003). He was musing the possibility of releasing all the Boids character data to the Animation:Master community to see what they might come up with. I still have an ongoing Mick project for my demo reel so I'm not ready to release my end of the data just yet (sorry folks).
I never did get the chance back then to animate Mick. With all the other multiple version characters, almost a new version for each scene, I spent my time trying to keep them all in synch. Note, I'd like to point out that Animation:Master deals with this much better these days, Action Objects and easy swapping of model data to name but two enhancements.