Saturday, September 12, 2009

Design of digitally animated characters: biological solutions for fantastic situations.

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Design of animals in animated films must balance the needs to make them believable as organisms and interesting as characters that interact with a defined storyline. Morphological construction for organisms focuses initially on musculoskeletal anatomy. Initial designs attempt to remain as true to actual structure as possible. Even the retention of correct positioning of such small elements as the supraorbital bones in certain dinosaurs was a consideration in the recent film Dinosaur. Given that dinosaurian skeletal anatomy is well known for many taxa, this initial step may be fairly straightforward. Character design proceeds until each can be represented by orthographic drawings and three-dimensional sculptures (maquettes) that guide animators through film production. In the case of predominantly digitally generated films such as Dinosaur, approved orthographic drawings and maquettes direct computer modelers, and computer animators produce the moving, on-screen characters. However, truth and fantasy are necessarily hybridized to satisfy the demands of story and production decisions. The most typical examples are when nonhuman characters speak or engage in other anthropomorphic behaviors. In these cases, the generation of fanciful behaviors are often derived from basic biological solutions. In the example of prognathous iguanodontids in the film Dinosaur, there was no true reptilian model for facial expression. In this case, mammalian muscles of facial expression were adapted from horses to provide a working model for facial movement with reasonable proportions. Ultimately, animated films do not necessarily remain true to animal physiognomy at all times, but when they depart from nature, problem-solving for novel functional combinations frequently returns to the kinds of solutions that "nature dictates."

Source Citation:KRENTZ, D. "Design of digitally animated characters: biological solutions for fantastic situations." American Zoologist 40.6 (Dec 2000): 1091. Academic OneFile. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 12 Sept. 2009

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