Hi guys and you ladies out there
I have been dreaming about zBrush as an animation tool.
I am an animator and I have looked at the different analogue animation techniques, and tried to couple the capabilities of zBrush with the most appropriate analogue one.
By far, the most intuitive and natural way to animate, in my opinion, is stop-motion doll animation or clay animation, like what the animation company Laika and more so the british aardman animation company are famous for.
My university was lucky enough to have a close relationship with aardman animation, seeing their techniques and my thoughts are based loosely of what I learned during that time at the university.
This is how I imagine it would work.
It follows traditional puppet animation construction and animation, aka:
Make a skeleton/rig much like you do in stop-motion animation, add joints and feet and a head attachment. Possibly have ready-made skeletons/rigs for animation that you can start working on. (Humanoid, Quadruped and so on)
Make a head tool with replaceable parts or slots for different expressions and mouth shapes. Or have the head have multiple layers for that, like blendshapes work in most 3d animation software.
Have the whole character be manipulatable from one key to the other as if it were clay. So animating it would be like animating with clay/a stop motion doll.
This is key in my opinion, because the major advantage of clay/stop-motion animation, is that it is the only animation form that is almost as free in expression as 2d drawn animation. And mimicking clay animation/stop-motion animation without the drawbacks of analogue techniques (Gravity aka: freedom of movement in xyz without crazy rigs, things moving unintentionally, you dont have to only animate straight forward in time, joint wear and the list goes on…)
Animation like this in 3d would bring a new way to do 3d animation on the table, that could be extremely liberating and hands on. It is possible to do 3d animation that looks smooth and also looks like it has the deformable freedom of clay animation, but really it requires a dedicated rigger to make advanced rigs that mimic the look of stop motion/clay animation. And that is beyond the reach of most animators. At-least generalists such as myself and especially pure animators who only care to do animation.
I believe that Pixologic with their zBrush suite, would be uniquely positioned with the tools they already have, to do a solution to animation that would be very unique and could take the (animation)world by storm.
I am hoping for feedback on this, to polish it more and possibly for someone at pixologic have a look at it at some point…
So please Santa, I have been ok this year…