Canned Cajun Chicken Has No Soul


Initially I wanted to do a live action video. However it dawned on me that to film something small at closeup requires a gimbal camera mount. I also didn’t have anyone else to help with a 2nd cameraman. Finally I resort to 3D animation.


3D model fabrication

I started first by creating the characters, I would go through a pipeline of modeling, rigging and skinning.

For the rig I used a custom skeleton made from editable poly instead of generating a biped. This prevented some options reserved for default biped. However I went with this decision because the default biped doesn’t let you morph individual bones and impossible to fit inside this kind of model. With an unorthodox topography it calls for unorthodox biped.

The benefit of having a skeleton/biped that fit inside a model is that once you apply the skin modifier, it does most of the skinning for you. This means applying weight to the local polygons to prepare for animation, and having a bone that stick out of the model will apply weight to the wrong region, thus you would have to waste time to retopologize it.

After applying IKs to the feet as the last step for rigging I considered phase 1 done. The shading is applied. I used Pencil+ plugin to achieve a 2D look as it comes with outlines similar to the default paint & ink shading, however this is much lighter which will make rendering not tedious.

I grouped the bones and bone rings together and sort them to a group for easy selection and easy group hide. This is similar to what you do in Adobe Premiere with pre-compose tool.

Next I created a separate file for the background as to not overburden the scene. I based this kitchen loosely on the same one I have at home. The reason I chose a red and white motif is because it’s easier to immediately spot what items are important. This angle represents a rule of third. The window clothes used Clothing emulation which gave it the natural fringe falloff.

We then use the curve editor to achieve natural bouncing. The lines below shows object path. In the chart the green line represents rotation, light blue represent speed, red represents position and dark blue is its size affected by an item modifier.

By utilizing the squash principle of animation. I compressed the can as it weighs down on the can opener, then made it spring forward while making the can opener wobble. It was split second but it can be seen here.

Before that I link constrained the camera to the can so it would follow along.

Below is how I set up the actor reveal. I used a preset walk cycle that can switch gear to custom walk cycle, where I made him stop in front of the can opener. He was walking a bit too fast so I slowed down during premiere post-processing, which explains the sudden low framerate.

You will also see that the actor is holding the can in hand. I used attachment constraint to link the can to one of the wrist bone, and positioned it on his hand. Same goes for the can opener

For each scene I saved a new file, that way if any fatal errors happen it would only affect that scene in particular.

For the can opening scene, I had a circle spline similar to the splines above and led both the hand and opener on a path. It would clip over the can so it took some fine tuning to keep it inside. The fingers would also work in conjunction with each turning of the opener. The lid is a separate object that would bend a little whenever impact is perceived

For the boiling pot / soup pouring scene. I used Superspray for the hose, UDeflector so the particles bounce against the pot, and gravity to tell where the particles should go. I also applied the shading to the superspray and much to my surprise it can also accept outlines.

What else could have been done?

Since the project wanted to focus on camerawork and narrative study, I tried to put some form of foreshadowing. The mouse that knocked over the can at the start that later revealed itself, the color-coded key items, all there to serve the narrative. I also reserved a good 3 seconds for each scene before moving onto the next so viewers can absorb what just happened on screen. 

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