The Wide World Of Emoticons

If you’re one of the huddled masses who hover over that little phone screen like myself, then you know what Emoticons are: those yellow smiling faces that convey the writer’s mood or facial expressions that people send to each other. Logo_OneUpGamesThe game geniuses at OneUp Games are including a whole slew of these sports-themed characters in their entertainment projects, and I was lucky enough to be tasked with the challenge of bringing them to life. What’s different about these emoticons, or emojis, is that instead of the standard handdrawn expressions, the OneUp versions are to be entirely modeled and animated in 3D!

When I first began in 3D, I started in 3DS Max – which teaches you that rigging is a nightmare. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one turned off by those early versions of envelope capsules. Since then I’ve been converted to Maya, and still hold on to my aversion of rigging.

As any true CG Generalist will tell you, you need to be competent at every step of the CFX/Animation pipeline; setting up rigs has always been the one dark spot on the map that I was ashamed to admit my ignorance.

Now with this new task of animating scores of emoticon expressions and no one around to rig up my models, I had to bite the bullet myself and jump in… and as luck would have it, I found that I really love rigging! The painting of weights – the absolute vert control – what have I been waiting for?!

Maybe it finally just clicked (or I ran out of excuses), but I’ve been rigging up a storm with a smile and it’s opened up so many more personal project opportunities for me. Now I have another tool in the box and less limitations that I had a a month ago. The funny thing about VFX and Animation, the more you know, the more you realize you know nothing. I’m the first to admit I’ve only brushed off the tip of this iceberg.

The magnitude of creative and technical knowledge can be daunting – even intimidating – but I always figure I have two choices. One: give up and learn nothing more. This allows me to catch up on all those TV shows I never see… or Two: Learn something new every day, even if it’s small. Either way, a year from now I’ll be a year older… Will I value the knowledge gained from a year of television or from trying new industry methods and artistic endeavors?

I think I’ll watch Breaking Bad when I retire.

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