2D Puppets for Disney XD!

Recently Disney XD tasked me with creating a series of noses and animating them for two 30 second spots for the show Crash and Bernstein. They had concepts of the noses and wanted them in 3D, fully animated. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. There were six noses in total, and they wanted them done in 2 weeks. I knew 3D was out of the question and I had to figure out a solution. As panic was about to go plaid, I realized this was the perfect opportunity to experiment with a tutorial by Daniel Gies I’d stumbled upon for creating a puppet in After Effects that does a pretty good job of faking 3D.

First I had to create the noses in photoshop. They had given us a couple of great sketches to start with, but they wanted them to be heavily textured, like an extreme close up shot from Ren & Stimpy or SpongeBob.

Original Sketches

Final Trunk

The next step was breaking them apart into puppet pieces, like a paper doll, and building the rig in After Effects.

With a little puppet tool scripting and DuDuF’s inverse kinematics script you get a working rig.

Now, the trick to getting the rig to have a fake 3D look is Mettle Free Form Pro, a 3D mesh warp plug-in. There are other plug-ins that will warp your art using a mesh, but what makes Free Form stand head and shoulders above the rest is the ability to use a displacement map… like the one below

After a few tweaks, and more math than I’ve used since I was 16, I got this bad boy animated. I’ve also included a couple of the other noses too

Here’s the first of two final spots

The intro and overhead race were mostly done in Cinema 4D –  the intro nose icons, running noses, and lower third icons were done in After Effects. The end race was a bit of trickery – the Camera, color bars and race track were 3D, while the Noses, grass, fence and the rest of the background were all After Effects. Unfortunately, I never received the actual end tag, that was done somewhere else, so I had to grab the one you see off youtube. Go figure.