Man. She’s pretty hot, isn’t she?
She’s got a sort of cold beauty about her.
I’m Masanori Takashima, the facial animator, I mean perpetrator, behind all of Bayonetta’s sexy facial expression. I’d like to explain what it takes to do facial animation (and a little more) while telling you a bit about the character’s personalities.
As the facial lead on Bayonetta, my job started at setting up the facial controller and went all the way through animating the actual movements.
I think everyone has seen faces or had their faces seen almost everyday, which means that we are all well tuned to “(changes of) expressions.” Expressions break through the walls of words and have the power to share emotions with others. Thus, to make an empathetic, interesting character, these expressions hold an incredibly important meaning.
With facial animation, the first step is to set the character’s designs (their key expression) and then start from there.
Bayonetta is the cool, adult with an air of sexiness.
Jeanne is the ice-queen.
Luka is the active one always getting carried away; a handsome man, but something is a bit off about him.
Rodin is kinda like the guy behind the counter of the Cat’s Eye Coffee Shop in City Hunter.
Enzo is the chicken.
Cereza is the cute little kid with the wealth of expressions.
With that information in hand, we can get to each character’s idiosyncrasies, as well as the flow of each scene. This is something that gets put together alongside Kamiya-san.
Even though all of these characters have their own particular quirks, we really focused on Bayonetta and making sure she had a true sense of femininity and grace.
The first thing that I set out to do was to get the right feeling for the tenderness of her mouth. For instance, the instant she opens her mouth, there should be a sense of adhesion as the center of her gloss covered lips part and open. Or when she talks, it is important to express the smoothness of the movements of her lips. All of these things needed to be integrated into a facial controller.
Facial controllers are used to efficiently control the joints in the facial model. As I went through a period weighing an easy to use interface with the ability to make very complex and subtle movements, I arrived at this controller.
Now we move on to animation.
To get across the idea of seductiveness, I paid particular attention to lines of sight. For the well-experience Bayonetta, she should be able to easily kill a man with her eyes alone. She could look one over from the tips of their toes to the top of their head, or maybe throw in a flirtatious sideways glace, or shoot a look with upturned eyes. She is a woman with an incredible amount of sassy.
Kamiya-san also has a very specific image of who Bayonetta is in his head, and we arrived at a mutual understanding that things should be done “like… this.”
The main part of this blog was to introduce you to the facial animations, but I was also in-charge of modeling the small objects that we needed for our cutscenes, so I think I will add a little bonus content in that regard.
There are lots of little background elements and backstory in the game that we can’t touch upon in the main scenario; however, we are making the cutscenes so that the second bite is always better the first. For instance, plays on teasing someone for being a Cheshire cat, or revealing someone’s mother, or even the logo on someone’s beloved automobile. There are tons of places where we have added extra meaning.
No matter how many times you beat the game, please take time to enjoy the cutscenes to their fullest.
Tagged: Hideki Kamiya