Simple Rules to Follow
- Project Personality – Don’t just animate dance moves, and copy camera animation, you need to animate facial expressions. Far too many MMD videos are dancing expressionless dolls. You need to animate the character and project personality through their expressions. This is eyes, mouth, cheeks, and even head placement.
- Fire The Chimpanzees on Crack – Stop with the schizophrenic camera animations. You may think it’s cool to have the camera jump around like a chimpanzee on crack, including spinning and crazy zooming, but seriously, if I can’t see the performance or am getting sick, then this “camera man” needs to be fired. Occasional “zippy doo” effects are ok, but one right after the other is distracting and annoying. Moving the camera is ok, but in smooth and gently sweeping movements, not Six-Flags inspired roller coaster rigs.Also make sure when the camera is placed, it is actually aimed at the performance. This rule alone can fill a book.This becomes especially important for VR MMD videos. Severe camera movements are even more vomit inducing with a VR headset on.
- Introduce Imperfection – It is impossible for a group of human beings, even the greatest professionals, to be in perfect sync (down to the frame) for dancing. Skew each dancer’s starting point by a couple of frames. Go inside each character’s dance routine and adjust different movements by a few frames less or more. Increasing one and then shortening another will still keep the overall timing perfect, so try it. It would be nice if someone came up with a plugin to introduce some imperfection, but until that happens, give it a try. This will actually pull the characters out of the animatronic “weird” domain and give them something “human” that makes the performance have “naturalism”.
- Physics – I see far too many anxious to make breasts bounce all over (unnaturally) like Jell-o took over nature’s laws. However, there’s more to physics than boobs. Hair is greatly lacking in this mathematical complexity. I’ve seen hair float around like it was in a weightless environment, and it’s actually spooky, or it will be completely opposite and act like stiff plastic instead of hair, meanwhile… boing.
- Correct Clipping – Physics must be enforced when it comes to clipping. If legs or characters are passing through solid objects (even body parts), then this just ruins the performance. If you can’t get the program to obey this rule, then find another pose or animation. I saw an MMD once where a girl sits cross legged, and her legs were passing through each other. Ewww.
- Fashion – This is both wardrobe and other looks. Simply grabbing the same character (clothes and all) and just changing the hair color or accent color of the outfits looks… well… dumb. I’m not saying this technique always sucks, it just sure as heck better be done correctly (and rarely has it been).Pick colors and clothes that match the character AND the performance, not just because it’s in your wardrobe folder. If you have no fashion sense, then ask someone that does, for an opinion before dressing your character in a disaster.Check the wardrobe for errors. I have seen skin peeping through some outfits, or even lower legs missing in a video where a girl was dancing (to the “Gentlemen” song) with open laced high boots, and the legs under the lacing was completely missing. It was the creepiest thing I ever saw in what was an otherwise great video.
- Realistic Body Movement – I have seen some videos of female characters that would break their backs (if real) in some of the crotch exposing, butt extending poses I have been tortured to witness.This doesn’t leave out male characters either. I have seen female dance animations assigned to male characters that make them move in ways a real male would be anatomically improbable. Women have wider hips, and just by nature they move differently when they walk. The pivot point from hip socket to spine is greater than a male’s skeletal makeup. Watching male characters using the “Gentlemen” dance clearly designed for a female skeleton just makes the male character’s dance silly. Tone his hip movement down by 30%. It just looks wrong. Seriously, tell me what guy can successfully pull off a belly dance or hula dance? He can’t, his skeletal structure prevents it. Oh he can try, and would be the life of the party, but a woman will always make that look good.
- Try Different Songs (or at least varying mixes of one) – Let’s see, “Gentleman”, “HiFi Raver”, “Ievan Polka”, “Gangnam Style”, “Candy Girl”, and “Vocaloid”, all seem to be a large portion of a short playlist. You can adapt dance routines originally made for other songs. As long as the beat is the same, you can likely use it for a different song. This also means you may be able to adapt a routine for a second character for a truly unique performance.Try modern and classic music. I saw an edited MMD consisting of many MMDs using KC and the Sunshine Band’s “That’s The Way, I like it” that was absolutely genius.
Real Life Girls
Yep, try looking at the real thing first:
These are best viewed with a 3D VR headset, but YouTube’s viewer will show a 2D approximation of it here