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Stop Staring


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Author/Animator/Musician Michael Hurwicz examines ''Stop Staring'' by Jason Osipa, and finds that the author manages to make his detailed, in-the-trenches instruction fun. Highly recommended if you want to really get down into the details of lip sync and facial animation.

I had heard great things about Jason Osipa's book, Stop Staring: Facial Modeling and Animation Done Right. It did not disappoint my high expectations.

Some highlights:

  • One hundred and thirty-eight pages of detailed how-to on lip sync, with several millimeter-by-millimeter examples.

  • Wonderful observations about how emotion, thought and intention are communicated through eyelid positions, tilting the head, blinking or eye movements like darting the eyes.

    More obvious things like smiles, frowns and eyebrow positions are covered, too. But I found it incredibly fun and enlightening to learn, for instance, that you can communicate threatening, glowering anger while maintaining a neutral expression, just by tilting the character's head forward a bit, while keeping the eyes looking forward. (Try it in the mirror.)

  • Several full-face rigs, with discussion of the limitations and advantages of each.

A couple of things you should know about this book:

  • The sample files are Maya files. Scripting is in MEL. There are QuickTime movies of finished animations, but no source files for other 3D apps like 3ds Max. The author did write with the intention of making the book useful for users of other 3D apps. Occasionally, he even "translates" Maya-speak into 3ds Max-speak. As a 3ds Max user, I found the book highly educational. I was able to immediately translate 80% to 90% of it into 3ds Max features.

  • You have to want to really get down into the details of lip sync and facial animation in order to benefit from the bulk of this book. If that's what you want, this is a great resource.

  • Both realistic and cartoon animation are covered. The focus is far more on the realistic. There are perhaps only a dozen pages in a 320+ page book explicitly talking about cartoon faces. That being said, often the basics are the same for realistic and toon styles. It's simply a matter of knowing what to exaggerate or eliminate for the toon.

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