Digital Character Development

Digital Character Development : Theory and Practice

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Digital character development consumes a large percentage of the development time of every animated film or video, and is widely viewed as the next major area of advance in computer games. This field now spans the areas of cognition, anatomy, animation, computer graphics, theater, and psychology. While advanced techniques are reported in scholarly journals and academic dissertations, only those that find an implementation in off-the-shelf software (such as Maya) are covered in books. Digital Character Development: Theory and Practice covers the foundational algorithms and research that go into the development of virtual characters. The author, a faculty member of the Pratt Institute and Parsons School of Design, as well as studio technical director of Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York, was technical director at PDI/Dreamworks on Shrek 2 and Madagascar and is an independent filmmaker and artist. His new textbook guides both students and professionals who need a thorough understanding of character development in order to make decisions about the creation of their own characters. This text bridges the gap between algorithm and software-agnostic applications. The book will include exercises. The manuscript will be class tested at Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, and others.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 338 pages
  • 200.66 x 246.38 x 30.48mm | 952.54g
  • Focal Press US
  • Burlington, United States
  • English
  • Approx. 120 illustrations (50 in full color)
  • 0123725615
  • 9780123725615

Table of contents

Part I: Introduction; 1. Overview; What defines a digital character; The "Uncanny Valley"; How does style dictate setup?; 2. History; Overview of digital characters in film; Video games; Multimedia; 3. Introduction; Nomenclature; Joint rotations; Geometry mesh surface types; 4. Motion Systems; Anatomy; Joint mechanics; Joint placement; Joint hierarchies; Constraints and high level control; User interface; 5. Deformation Systems; Deformation order; Basic deformations: skinning; Shape interpolation; Layering deformation methods; Joint-free deformations; 6. Face Setup; Anatomy; Frameworks for effective face rigging; Mixing deformation methods; Secondary motion for realism; Psychology behind facial expressions; Part III: Animation Technology; 7. "Traditional" Techniques; Forward kinematics; Inverse kinematics; 8. Motion Capture; Marker-based motion capture; Marker-less motion capture; 9. Procedural Animation; Artificial intelligence; 10. Multi-Character Systems; Crowds; Behavioral animation; Path-finding and decision making; Part IV: Conclusions; 11. The Future of Digital Characters; 12. Character Interactivity
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Review quote

"Digital Character Development: Theory and Practice - is exactly that. Rob has managed to put together for the first time an in-depth history of the life of the digital character. His explanation of anatomy and its relationship to the modern Character TD is indispensible for anyone wanting to create convincing digital characters. In addition, his pipeline and methodology share some of the best-kept secrets used currently in character intensive productions. This book isn't a how manual, it's a why manual. I could only wish I had this earlier in my career. It would have saved many hours of mistakes and research. That being said, there is something here for everyone, even the most seasoned Character TD may learn something." -Tony Barbieri, Lead TD, Psyop Inc.

"Computer animation is a field that blends the highly technical with the highly artistic. Digital Character Development covers topics that are incredibly valuable to professionals across the entire spectrum. Subjects are always discussed through the prism of a real production environment and the requirements that such an environment imposes. Although computer animation is a relatively young industry, it benefits from the wealth of knowledge and study that exists in related fields. No other text presents this information and does it in a way that is approachable by programmers and artists alike. Digital Character Development is important for those just starting out in the industry, as well as established professionals interested in a deeper understanding of character technology. Modelers, character technical directors and artists from many related disciplines will benefit from this book." -Daniel Dawson, Character Technology, Kickstand

"This book is great and goes in depth into areas of theory. It goes well beyond the simple "here's-the-button approach" and talks about the actual theory and the "why's." Knowing this content will help you to create your own robust rigs regardless of your software and move away from tutorials into full understanding of just how things work. Rob has managed to make a volume worthy of textbook status." - TJ Galda, Maya Master & CG Supervisor, Electronic Arts
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