Scott Porter and Dr. Brent Adams, Industrial Design
I have been working with a group of about 20 students on a completely computer animated cartoon named “Rupert”. The cartoon will be approximately 5 minutes long and deals with a young boy who learns about microbes. Whenever he hears new details about microbes, we see what Rupert images that the microbes would look like that perform that particular function. For example, when Rupert hears that microbes can make us sick, he imagines microbes with weapons on the attack while when he hears that microbes are used to make some foods, he imagines a factory where all the workers are microbes.
Our group was divided into teams, and I am a member of the “Food World” team–the team responsible for developing the animation where Rupert imagines what the microbes must look like that are used in the making of some foods. I was individually responsible for the character design of the microbes that make pickles. As a group we decided that the pickle microbes should look like scuba divers, so I studied scuba outfits and designed scuba gear fit for a one-celled organism. The scuba microbes move by hopping, which they accomplish by contracting and expanding their bodies. They like to congregate in groups and chat, but they are rushed off to the pickle vats by the mean but musical boss of “Food World” himself—Mike Rhobe.
Besides designing the pickle microbe characters, I am also in charge of three animation sequences. In the first sequence, Mike Rhobe’s voice startles two pickle microbes back to work who were just chatting.) In the second sequence, one of the pickle microbes rushing off to the pickle vat unwittingly knocks the by-standing Rupert onto the pickle conveyor belt, where a machine tests the pickles’ quality. The third sequence is a shot of Rupert on the pickle conveyor belt headed toward the pickle testing machine.
Besides my scuba character and the three shots for while I am solely responsible, I also get to help on other areas of Food World. The three dimensional pieces of our characters are controlled using what is known as a “bone structure”. In a humanoid model the hand bone is connected to the arm bone which is connected to the shoulder bone, etc. In imaginary creatures things can get a little more difficult. One of the characters in Food World looks like an accordian and he provides the music that helps make the cheese. How could you have a cheese culture without music? I was responsible for designing a skeleton for the accordian character that would allow us to do things like stretch him up and down and turn him over so that his head was by his base– basically so he could move like an accordian.
Although we have three dimensional models built, there will be more work before these animated sequences become incorporated into a full fledged animation. We keep files saved of each shot so that they can be re-rendered each time more work is completed. This semester more students are getting involved to help completed the soundtrack. Once the soundtrack is complete, will have to make changes in the shots to sync the animation with the music in the soundtrack, and the final characters will have more detailed textures than the images I have included. When all this is done, the final renders of the shots will be composited with background shots of the Food World factory so the characters appear to be inside the factory. Much of the background scenery and many of the more intensive scenes (with several characters) still remain to be finished, so when we finish our original assignments we will move onto other tasks.
It has been really enjoyable being able to work as a team and help move a project that I feel is so worthwhile along toward completion. An animation of this scale has never been attempted at BYU, and the moral and educational nature of the story set it apart from most other animations of its kind.