I’m just going to offer a mini-review right now, but in a nutshell this is the book I’ve been wanting to read for almost 10 years.
I studied film and photography back at Rye-High in the 80’s, and before that roadied bands and did lighting for gigs in the Windsor area. Between that was my stint at Disney World where I spent more time hanging out in the lighting and sound booths than anywhere else. So, animation is not much more than an advanced hobby. Most sadly missing is some practical theory of facial construction and lip-sync direction. You can see one of my earlier cartoons and understand clearly what I’m taking about.
So when I found some ‘used’ copies of Jason Osipa’s Stop Staring on amazon.ca for $25 I jumped at the chance, also picking up a ‘used’ copy of PIXARs Jeremy Birn Digital Lighting and Rendering (emphasis on used: they are apparently new).
Stop Staring is the book I needed many years ago. He spends the first few chapters going over some pretty serious theory, explaining how do dope out speech patterns, and suprisingly toss the traditional phoneom practice used by cel animators for generations. As a huge fan of the muppets, which you can clearly see in my work, I’m a strong believe in keeping things simple. I just didn’t know how close I was to being on the right track.
Near the end though he delves deep into Maya-centric application and instruction and that’s where I get lost. Until then, it was clear Lightwave was capable of dealing with the ‘blend shapes’ that Jason kindly referred to as (Lightwave) ‘morph targets’ at least once. But it’s during the critical cage-mesh section where it all falls apart for me. At least now I can clearly see where the Lightwave workflow grinds to a halt. All the tools are there to a point, but there is absolutely nothing in Lightwave that can do cage manipulation like Maya or Max can.
Still, my next big project involves a tonne of close-up character animation, and as Jason himself says at the conclusion of his book, I have more practical knowledge of correct facial technique now than before I started going through the book.