Adobe approached Athena Studios to help create a project for the launch of their new software package Adobe Character Animator. The program is used to create 2D animated characters and allows you to rig them and then use its internal tracking to control them with your facial movements. You can also create recorded movements that can be activated at various times. The software was in beta, but had already been successfully used on The Simpsons and the Stephen Colbert show.
For demonstrating at NAB and other shows Adobe wanted to have something that had more dimension than the 2D characters they had been using up to that point. They also wanted to see how the software would work in a 3D environment. Due to a rapid timeline for final delivery and a limited budget Adobe and Athena Studios decided to use an existing Athena character from our Auntie Claus film pitch and digitally redress the puppet that became known as Maddie.
We all agreed, however, that we wanted to create physical sets for the puppets neighborhood and set out to research areas in New York with brownstones and park areas – thanks Google Earth! We designed and 3D printed interlocking brick surface, created sidewalks, trees and even made a scale parking meter.
Tree Scene
Adobe Character Animator collage
Shooting high quality photos of the puppet in various positions and capturing the set were crucial to the success of the project. Maddie had to be photographed with multiple head movements and face shapes from our removable face library to bring the puppet to life. Hair was shot to be imported separately and animated on its own. Some shots for leg crossing, arm crossing and other small animated sequences were captured in stop-motion on our green screen stage. These shots would later be added as recorded sequences in Character Animator. Once we had created a huge library of body parts it was time to bring them into Adobe Character Animator.
We spent time rigging the puppet parts, digitally redressing Maddie and adding the recorded animated sequences. We were able to add eyebrow, mouth, hair and other movements to really bring our little girl to life an Adobe’s wonderful animation software. We delivered final animation and characters to Adobe in time for them to demo them online and at NAB.
We worked closely with the development team to work out any challenges we had with the beta version of the software. If we wanted something that was not available in the current build, they would help create that in the software for us. It was a great experience to work with the Adobe team on this wonderful animation tool.
Athena Studio behind the scenes