Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Introduction to Animation in Daz Studio

I just completed work on a music video for one of my songs. The song is called "Intensity in F Minor" and it's off of my CD called To Infinity

I did the animation in Daz Studio. Daz Studio is better known for being used to create still shots. It is a program that is very similar to Poser (from SmithMicro). I have both Poser and Daz Studio. I tried out Daz Studio first and became so accustomed to the interface that I haven't really done much in Poser. Poser has some good features but the interface is so different from what I became accustomed to in Daz. I keep telling myself that eventually I will get around to learning Poser but have not done so yet. Each program has its own benefits, so it's probably not a bad idea to learn them both.

Another program I often use is iClone from Reallusion. I use that primarily for animation. iClone is probably the most user friendly of the three but the render quality is not as good as the other two. Daz Studio has more content available than iClone as well.

Like I stated above, Daz Studio is most often used for still shots like the image I have included with this post. I have done over 60 images so far that I have made available for sale as prints. The video I just completed is really only one of two videos that I have done at this point that utilized animations created in Daz Studio.

Daz Studio uses what are called aniblocks. They are preformatted animation blocks that can be applied to characters. They are basically a form of "mocap" (motion capture) files. These files can be purchased through the Daz content store. However, they aren't exactly cheap if you want to compile a lot of them. So you should wait until they are on sale in order to save money. I just bought a load of them dirt cheap with some recent specials and sales. I saved a boatload of money.

The aniblocks are really optimized to work with certain characters; primarily the 4th generation, genesis and Genesis 2 character bases. The goblins featured in this video aren't in any of those categories so animating them is a bit harder because certain corrections have to be made. there is a timeline feature that allows you to modify the aniblocks. I had to use it in order to fix certain things.

One problem that needed to be corrected is how the hands looked o the goblins. I had to modify the positions of the fingers because they were all bent backwards and crooked looking. So I made the corrections in order to make them look more natural.

There are some collections of aniblocks that you can purchase that will serve as great templates. There is one called the aniMate Walk Construction Kit for M4 (Michael 4). It serves as a great tool for developing basic walk cycles for characters.

One problem you may have is if a character is not shaped like some of the standard base characters like Michael 4. Maybe your character is a little on the heavy side. Well, a larger character may need to have his arms swing wider when he walks. Because sometimes, his hands or arms will pass through his legs as he walks. You will then need to make modifications in the timeline in order to correct that problem.

Animate 2 is the current version of the Animate software that is used as a plug-in in Daz Studio for animation. Daz Studio comes with Animate Lite (scaled down version) for free. Animate 2 is well worth the purchase because you are able to do much more with it. I got it when it was on sale of course. Animate 2 as well as animate Lite each have an online User's Guide.

You can even pan or move the camera to change focus while the animation is going on. I did that for a couple of scenes in the video. You have a lot of options with the lighting as well. The lighting can be tricky at times to get right, though.

So check out the video below to see what I am talking about. I edited it in CyberLink's PowerDirector, by the way.

Photo Credit: "Drunken Goblins" by Bob Craypoe, also known as R. L. Crepeau

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