Just for fun!
Sometimes we don't always get to animate the coolest characters or design the latest gadgets for clients. In between the "not so cool animations projects" we get the urge to break free and do something fun. We have been big fans of the TMNT since the first comic was published. We always need to practice our animation skills, so what better way than to create a new, turtle! Presenting Antonio, the Irish speaking Italian turtle that hates the sewer.
We used Lightwave 6.5 to model and animate Antonio. It only took about 6 hours to model the entire character. We then created the skeletal structure and painted weights maps on the points in order for the bones to move our character, Antonio. This took a bit of time in order to get the turtle to deform and not the shell. Our first idea was to make him a toy but then we thought that we would test the new radiosity rendering engine in Lightwave and make the turtle look more realistic than a plastic toy.
We created the textures from a corrosive copper image from our texture library. We used the same main map for all of the surfaces but changed the colors and painted in more detail. We only create 4 mouth targets for this small amount of lip sync animation. We cut together the voice tracks and performed the lip sync in magpie in order to create a dope sheet for our animator. From there it is was easy to key in the mouth shapes from the dope sheet. We also create eye shapes for the turtle's headband. We tried to keep everything as simple as possible. We made the head band ties in the back of the turtles head and the belt ties next to each buckle dynamic. This way they would sway and bounce and react to Antonio's movements.
We then animated a couple of seconds at a time, starting with the larger movements and then working down to the smaller secondary movements. The animator would stand in front of the monitor and repeat the dialog and act out the part, watching his reflection in the monitor. Once all of the animation was completed, we had to render the animation in multiple passes because the radiosity rendering takes far too long. We ended up rendering the background elements with radiosity because the camera did not move. We rendered on still of the turtle with radiosity on and the tried to match the lighting without using radiosity. We rendered a still and then compared the images in photoshop. Once we we were happy with the match, we rendered Antonio without radiosity on a separate pass. The last rendered element was the shadows. We composited the layers in After Effects and edited all of the composited animations in Edit DV to the final animation.