We tend to get a lot of requests when moving into the animatic phase for semi-realistic hair whips.Â Especially for hair care products.Â Even if the rest of the animatic doesnâ€™t need to be fluidly animated, the hair movement needs to look as natural as possible.Â Makes sense, since thatâ€™s the landing point of the product youâ€™re trying to sell.
Unlike the â€śsimplify. simplify. simplify.â€ť approach taken with the walk cycle animatic techniques, getting a hair whip to look right actually requires more layering.Â Since most animatics reside in the land of 2 dimensions, we need to cheat the motion to make it look more like 3D, otherwise you lose the natural feel.Â First off, you need to have the storyboard artist (whether thatâ€™s you or someone else) break things out into separate layers.Â In this case I had our artist, Ilene Robinette, give me the following layers and it worked really well:
~ Left eye
~ Left eyebrow
~ Right eye
~ Right eyebrow
~ Front full hair layer
~ Multiple hair strands of varying sizes
~ Back full hair layer
When animating, the only layer you will move on a 3D axis is the head.Â Everything else will need to be adjusted in 2D, otherwise you will lose dimension completely.Â In the case of this particular animation, the head was swiveled back and forth about 15 degrees each way on the Y axis.Â Then, each individual facial feature (eyes, eyebrows, nose, etc.) has to be shifted to match the location on the rotated face depending on the angle.Â Each hair strand is equipped with multiple joints created with the puppet tool and then animated in accordance with the angle of the head.Â The final animated component is the torso.Â For this animation, the puppet tool was used again to create a fluid motion in the torso as the head and hair were whipping back and forth.
There are plenty of other techniques that can be used when trying to make an animatic hair whip look as natural as possible.Â However, with the eternal time crunch that exists in animatic land this approach has always worked best for me personally.
Kim WhiteÂ has been with EdseyArt for 6 years as a guru in motion graphics, animatics, video editing, and 2D/3D product demos.