Ok, we now have our fish rigged, lighted, and placed. We are ready to animate!
Before we animate, we must record the dialog audio so we can make the animation fit it. I used the Blue Snowball [LINK]. It's an excellent microphone. However, the audio in the clip below was recorded in a cheaper microphone... hence the popping... I did re-record the audio with the better microphone.. not to worry... It's just a prototype.
To animate, we must set keyframes.
Almost all virtual motion is created in frames. A frame is an image in a series of images. Movie cameras take about twenty-four frames each second. When the pictures are displayed one after another, the object that is filmed looks like it is moving. It isn't exactly twenty-four frames per second, so we call it 24p (Twenty-four frames per second progressive). For web video, to get smoother motion, we use 30 frames per second. That is what I am using for this project.
Keyframes are basically motion markers. Let's say I set a 3D object at the left side of the screen on Frame One in the timeline. If I switch to frame 30, then move the 3D object to the right side of the screen, when I play the animation, I will see the 3D object move across the screen in one second (because I used 30 frames). In this way, I can animate things growing or shrinking (scaling), rotating, or, of course, moving. This is how 3D animations are done.
Because this is probably going to be a TV commercial, I am going to render it out in High Definition (HD).
Ok, I move the camera to get it framed just right... oh, perfect!
Alright, I will start by lip syncing. This is when we make the motion of the character's mouth match the words that he speaks. I like using a built-in plugin called Morph Mixer. Basically this is just placing a keyframe for each morph as the character says each sound (called "phonemes") that makes up words. For example, if I wanted to make the fish say the word "fluffy", I would keyframe in the following phonemes: F-V, L-D-N, A-I, F-V, E, than back to Base (speechless) .
For this project, I do all the lip syncing first; than animate fins and tail, etc. I want the tail to have a nice flowing motion in the background, as you will see in the clip.
Alright, all of the lip syncing is done for Shot One. I now add a few keyframes to make the head and tail move to add more realism.
Well, I'm going to render Shot One out now. Rendering is basically when you tell the computer to generate the images. I am using a render farm. A render farm is basically a group of computers working together to render the shot. This shot took about 30 minutes to render. I will be including more information on how to set up a good render farm and use it efficiently in a future blog post.
Once the shot has been completely rendered out and compiled, I import the clip into Adobe Premiere Pro [LINK] and add the dialog.
When you shine light into rippling water, you get what are called Volumetrics (also called Godrays). To get this effect, I will composite in a clip of the Volumetrics that I created in Adobe After Effects [LINK]. With all of this together, here is what we have!
IMPORTANT! Do NOT watch this until you have read the above post!