I’m working on a series of films about juries at the moment. They should be pretty fun to do (I get to animate trial by ordeal, for one), but there’s a lot of character work and not a lot of time. Thus, digital puppetry.
I was hoping to work with After Effects’ extremely fun Puppet Tool, but the results I got while experimenting were just a little too squishy for this project. (Anyone know some tricks for getting convincing, not-too-exaggerated motion out of it? Even liberal use of the starch tool seemed unhelpful, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out a way to make elbows and knees bend properly.) So for the moment it’s back to IK rigging — and a lot of carefully placed anchor points.
I’m much more satisfied with the results, particularly now that I have a keyframable checkbox parameter that switches the bend direction of the joints. In plain English, I can make someone’s elbows bend both ways — e.g. a character can go from having their hands on their hips to picking something up off the table next to them with very little trouble.
Creating the jurors themselves was a lot of fun — the characters need to function more as archetypes than individuals. The result: a wide range of ages and races and a complete lack of faces.
I now present… my little jury guys (and girls!):
Warning: Do Not Eat.