Saturday, 9 January 2016

Multi-plane animation using Maya 2016

Two things that are always popular on the Animation Award are silhouettes and multi-plane animation; often a combination of the two. When ever students are introduced to using silhouettes for character design they tend to keep using this invaluable process for the rest or their time with us, often animating the results.

Th next logical step is multi-plane animation of the silhouettes to give some depth. The work of German film director Lotte Reiniger still has a powerful impact on people when they see it for the first time and represents some of the best silhouette animation you will ever see.

"The Adventures of Prince Ahmed" by L. Reiniger
Several games have been created with this look over recent years, the most memorable being the award winning 'Limbo' by Playdead & Double Eleven in 2010.

The game 'Limbo'.

To create their own rigs students have often built their own multi-plane rigs with panes of glass and wood, etc. The film by Nancy Lee-Overton below is a great example.

'Into the Trees' by Nancy Lee Overton.

These rigs can be time consuming to build and notoriously difficult to light due to the reflection and shadows created by the rig itself.
A multi-plane rig.

A horizontal rig made by the Fleischer Studio.

So I have found a way of doing this quickly in Maya by utilising the Alpha channel to give the impression of intricate cut-out puppets from very basic geometry.
Rigged silhouette machine.
This is not to replace multi-plane animation; just to make it more feasible at a student level, particularly for students not comfortable building wood and glass rigs.

Flat polygon planes are used to build the shape.
The true geometry!
The Alpha channel on the texture makes the white areas invisible...

Final look.
The model without texture.

The parts sheet used to texture the machine.
Side view of construction.

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