Much Ado About Emotion

This page showcases my honours project work as part of the Abertay Digital Graduate Show 2020!

Find out more about the show here at ! 


My honours project, Much Ado About Emoting, brings together the disciplines of character rigging and 3D character animation and views them through the eyes of a Technical Animator.

My project aims to explore how using dynamic expression and performance can be deconstructed and used as a key reference when creating a 3D character's facial rig, with the purpose of creating an animation exploring how a detailed and subtle animated facial performance can benefit the performance storytelling.

To carry out this research, I designed a facial rig that was optimised to perform micro and subtle facial expressions and then used it to create an animated adaption of a scene from Kenneth Brannagh's Much Ado About Nothing (1993). This classic Shakespeare play lends itself well to this project as, throughout the story, the characters are all going on emotional journeys, meaning that they provide an excellent base for creating a layered and emotionally driven animated character performance.

The first stage of the project was to analysis the chosen scene from Much Ado About Nothing (1993). I conducted three separate analysis passes on the scene; a study of the facial expressions, a study of the emotional arch, and a study of the physicality of the performance. A video of each pass can be found below where you can see the annotations I made over the video.

I then used the knowledge gained from this analysis to create a facial rig. The analysis allowed me to understand which areas of the face had the most subtle and expressive movements, so I then knew which areas of the facial rig I should add the most detail to. 

A video demonstrating the facial rig I made can be found below. To create the rig, I used a character model by Sergi Caballer.

Once the rig was complete, I could move onto creating the animated performance to test how well the rig had been optimised for a subtle and nuanced performance. I aimed to create a performance where the emotion narrative was clear throughout.

Below you can see the final performance, along with a video demonstrating the animation process.