Expression To Simplify Emotions In 3d Animation Film Studies Essay


The skill of giving a creative and aesthetic sense to anything is Art. It's being always very difficult to express the word Art without practically implementing or doing it. Art expresses its meaning in itself; it doesn't require specific words to explain it. It is through visual images that moments in time and feelings are expressed. Looking at art as a form of expression and emotion, might help us to come closer to a definition of art. When thinking of expression and emotion in terms of art, one most likely jumps to the expressionist movement of the modern era. However, this is not the only time in the history of art that, these movement expressive qualities have been abundant. The idea of expressiveness in Art must not be overlooked.

With the modern development of 3D graphics, it becomes easy and possible to express art verbally and non-verbally. Non-verbal communication is an important mean of communication. In particular, from facial expressions we can get a lot of information. Emotions plays an important part in life, they influence our every act and help us to interact with others. Emotions are the unit of behaviours like attitude. Through facial expressions we can communicate easily without speaking a single word and it is considered as improved form of communication i.e., from which someone come to know what you are thinking. For example smiling in response to something means you are happy with that thing. So communication between machine and user has become easy, thus providing better human like communication.

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The challenge of communication of emotional content to an audience via animated characters has existed since the art form first appeared. As animation techniques and technology is becoming advance, animators and character designers find themselves with a large numbers of resources and tools for the creation of facial expressions so as to effectively communicate the emotions of their animated characters within each scene. However, by using evolved forms of symbolic facials expressions, which are widely accepted, these technologies and techniques often overlook the unconscious communication conveyed via actual human facial expressions. The fundamentals of this instant and unconscious emotional communication have been well studied and documented, yet the systems developed by the scientific community for reading and interpreting facial communication have only rarely and recently been applied by animators.

Depending on emotional experiences, the facial expressions are divided into two main types: spontaneous facial expressions; and deliberate facial expressions (Ekman & Rosenberg 1997). Animated characters usually use a third type of facial expression: symbolic or artistic facial expressions. Effecting of animated facial expressions may have a natural trend to fall into the third category, but certain types of emotional communication may be aided by attempts to include attribute of the spontaneous expression type, or a hybrid of these two.


The most expressive tool for human is face, which also being a strong communication tool ever. The language of face is more fundamental than any other emotion or gesture, its a universal form of conveying your sentiments and messages to others.

Emotion has been studied from centuries as an important human behaviour for conveying mental and emotional information. Many other features of emotions have been studied for emotion antecedent appraisal, physiological reaction, emotion induction and expression of emotion (facial and vocal), and emotional behaviour on autonomous agents.

From century's computer animation has played an important role in the expression of facial expressions, emotions and gestures. Computer 3D images with their detailed he real designs and formations are very much near to reality i.e., they show us the real picture of scenario. We know how 3D characters are shown through facial gestures just like an actual person, this brings about a more empathic and interactive response towards virtual characters.

As the technology advances we have seen more creativity in transmitting or communication the facial expression near to the truth and then relate to human behaviour and to make the artificial so close to human real gesture and behaviours. We continue to do so.

Emotion Modelling and Evaluation

Human emotions are subjective to certain perceptions like happiness, sadness, astonishment, flat etc according to psychological point of view. Practically we need to classify emotions by some parameters. Particularly, the strength of an emotion can be measured by a value, which can be further used to handle the cartoon face model.

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Neutral Anger


Figure1: An emotion space where the origin is the neutral expression.




0% always neutral




Figure 2: Four different levels (25%, 50%, 75% and 100%) of the cartoon face templates for three emotions

(Anger, happiness and sadness). The first levels of these three emotions (or 0% intensity) correspond to neutral emotion.

Four types of emotions are happy, sad, anger and neutral. Human can recognise the emotion through the expression with less confusion or ambiguity, although all emotions are not necessarily present in a single speech. The four emotions given above are representative enough for a cartoon animation system, especially for implementation such as talk shows, avatars and teleconferences. However, it is difficult to completely or wholly recognized these four emotions For the purpose of cartoon animation, rather than assigning a single emotion to an input utterance, we suppose that the input utterance is a combination of several emotions with different strengths. As shown in Figure, we model human emotion as a point in an emotion space. Neutral emotion is placed at the origin of this space because it can be used to describe the relative lack of other emotions. Three axes represent the intensity of sadness, happiness and anger, respectively. Note that the three axes do not need to be orthogonal in the emotion space. Modelling human emotion in such a three-dimensional continuous space is meant to be


The emotion recognition results are then used to generate cartoon animation, using cartoon templates drawn for all four emotions.

Cartoon Face Templates

As shown in Figure 2, the cartoon face model begins with a set of hand-drawn images. For each emotion, an artist draws four cartoons that correspond to different emotion levels or intensities ranging evenly from 25% to 100%. Since neutral emotion is the origin in the emotion space, we need only one template for it. In other words, the first level (or 0% intensity) of three emotions (sadness, anger and happiness) always corresponds to the neutral emotion.

Realism, naturalism and expression

Realism and naturalism, ideas of art as an imitation of reality, are currently the primary philosophy of 3D animation culture and technology. These issues are 'far larger and more far-reaching than aesthetics or artistic convention' involving not only questions of aesthetics, but of ontology, epistemology and phenomenology. Their history is at least as old as Plato's derogation of art as mimesis, and its subsequent defence by Aristotle. In modern times they again became prominent with the advent of photography, then the birth of cinema. Photography and cinema differ somewhat from painting and animation with regard to realism as, in lens-based arts, the indexical nature of the image is generally a given, whereas in both non-photographic imagery and animation the constructed nature of the imagery is salient. Other non-lens-based visual arts flourished subsequently by actively exploring denaturalization as both theme and technique. Since the late 1960s, when Roland Barthes' analyses of the codes of reality effects and referential illusions undermined aspirations to realism and naturalism, contemporary cultural or semiotic theory has also aimed at denaturalization by revealing the socially coded basis of cultural phenomena which are taken-for-granted as natural. Ironically, during the same period, naturalism has become the sine qua non of CG research, the achievement of photorealism being 'the main goal of research' in this field (Manovich, 2001: 199).

'Different realisms exist side by side in our society', but the standard by which we judge visual realism remains conventionally understood naturalism, that is photorealism ( Kress and Van Leeuwen, 2006: 158). In fine arts and animation, the term realism is often used interchangeably with naturalism to define a style of visual or audio-visual mimetic representation that aspires to photorealistic or cinematic verisimilitude. Andrew Hemingway (2007: 103) argues that the term realism is too confusing a term to apply to visual arts such as painting and suggests that, following E.H. Gombrich, the term naturalism (despite its own ambiguous associations) better reflects 'the general idea of pictorial verisimilitude'. Though both terms are used where considered appropriate in this article, the term naturalism does seem somewhat less confusing, and better reflects the technological drive towards verisimilitude in 3D animation.

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Theories of art as expression also have a controversial history. Having been particularly out of favour in the second half of the 20th century, they have recently been revived due in part to advances in the study of emotion, like those by neuroscientists Antonio Damasio, Joseph LeDoux, Edmund Rolls and Jaak Panksepp, by psychologists including Jerome Kagan, Nico Frijda and Arnold Modell, and by theorists who deal specifically with emotion and expression in the arts, for example Jenefer Robinson, Noël Carroll, Greg M. Smith and Christopher Butler.

3D computer graphics and photorealism

There are strong historical, technical, commercial and cultural reasons for a dominant naturalist aesthetic in modern 3D CG. The homology of applied science and technology research and development ensured a legacy of ideologies of objectivity as opposed to subjectivity. As digital techniques have supplanted analogue techniques in many design and production contexts, including graphics and animation, 3D animation has co-evolved symbiotically and stylistically with developments in 3D CG technology. There has been codevelopment and cross-over in technical advances for computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) and developments for use in 3D animation and entertainment, largely 'determined by the needs of the early sponsors of this research - the Pentagon and Hollywood' (Manovich, 2001:193). Whether they are for use in architecture, car design, military applications, medical imaging or feature animations, they all come under the rubric of 3D CG visualization, and can be traced back to Ivan Sutherland's 1963 Sketchpad system that exemplified this 'new paradigm of interacting with computers' (Manovich, 2001: 102). Autodesk Inc., one high-profile contemporary example, develops systems for use in architecture, engineering, manufacturing, and media and entertainment. It develops CAD systems (such as Autocad) in tandem with 3D animation solutions (such as 3D Studio Max and Maya), and research and development in specialized graphics hardware and software are congruent across all these sectors.

Though these markets are largely distinct, there are important historical, cultural and technical syntheses. For example, volumetric modelling and rendering using voxels (volumetric pixels) has been used for some time in areas such as medical imaging (visualizing MRI scans), but now, combined with physics simulation, this synthesis comprises a prominent research and development focus both for animation and effects for arts/entertainment, and in particular for water, ocean, cloud and other fluid or gaseous effects. Of the 10 technical Oscars awarded in 2008, over half were for development of such dynamic fluid effects systems. Most of the commercial, educational, governmental/military organizations and individuals involved in 3D research and development are driven predominantly by an ethos of realistic or naturalistic visualization, and this is understandable in terms of goals for technical achievement. SIGGRAPH is the major cross-industry professional organization for CG and its research proceedings point towards realism as a common goal (Manovich, 2001: 191). 3D CG animation software for arts/entertainment is currently focused on three main markets.

The Movie

Produced in France, Canada and Belgium, the Triplets of Belleville tells the story of Champion, a contestant in the Tour de France who is abducted and brought to North America to be part of an illegal betting ring run by the Canadian Mafia. Raised by his grandmother, Madame Souza, Champion's entire life is bicycling. The grandmother (along with Bruno, the family's trusted dog) journey to North America and are befriended by a trio of elderly jazz-era performers....the "Triplets of Belleville". To say they are "eccentric" is probably to understate the meaning of the word. Their entire diet consists of eating frogs (which they catch by throwing an explosive device into a nearby marsh). They eat what appears to be frog stew; they snack on frog popsicles, and generally eat anything that has to do with frogs. When the grandmother tries to put the leftover frogs into the refrigerator, she is politely rebuked. When she tries to vacuum the apartment as thanks for letting her stay, the appliance is taken away from her. When she attempts to read the newspaper, it is also taken from her and carefully folded and placed aside. It is only later that we find out that these three objects are basically the "instruments" that these three women play in their night club act.

During a performance where the grandmother has been asked to be part of the act, she and Bruno find their first clues to Champion's whereabouts. They follow his scent and are able to finally locate Champion. A daring rescue attempt follows, as the group attempts to get Champion back and bring down the illegal gambling business-a chase through the city results.

As I have said, the animation and artwork in this film is probably like nothing else you have ever seen However, there are what to me appear to be some similarities to other types of animation peppered throughout the movie. The opening sequence (one which is presented in black and white) is a throwback to the old Disney Silly Symphonies, and some of the city backgrounds evoke memories of 101 Dalmatians and other Disney films of that time. But the similarities end there. All of the human characters are drawn on the absurd side with some part of their anatomy being drawn to ridiculous proportions (Champion has a huge nose and his thighs and calves are drawn to exaggerated proportions. The henchmen have large, very broad and extremely square shoulders). Inanimate objects also sport exaggerated proportions as well. Buildings have huge towers which stretch endlessly into the sky, and ships sport very large decks and then taper off quickly, leaving a very long lower deck section of the boat.

In addition to the animation, another unique aspect of the film is the absence of almost any dialogue. Indeed, most dialogue which does exist consists of incoherent babbling and is not placed in the film to advance the story at all. It definitely represents an abstract take on the storytelling. I found it somewhat surprising (in a good way), that an eighty-one minute film could continue to hold my interest and weave a continuous story without any major dialogue at all. It works on every level.


Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, we are given a very good transfer on this disc. One of things you first notice during the film is the absence of any extreme uses of colour. One might expect (especially given what can be done in animation) that there would be extreme blues, greens, and yellows, etc. However, in a very deliberate choice, director Sylvain Chomet has instead used somewhat muted colours, with many different shades of brown. In addition, each of the different sections of the film has a definite colour scheme to them. Chomet relates that during the hot summer Tour de France scenes, orange is the dominant colour. In contrast, in the city scenes, some dull greens are prominent in an effort to simulate the night lighting in Montreal and Quebec City. This is not to say that the colours are not presented well and vibrant on the print, they are, but the levels of the colours are kept lower than one might expect, and more neutral tones are present. In addition, there is virtually no dust or grain noticeable at any point during the film. I was very impressed by the quality of the video-a nice job.


With the absence of almost all dialogue, the Dolby Digital 5.1 is given its workout in other ways. It first becomes apparent at the very beginning of the film (the black and white sequence) when you hear a movie projector come to life from the back channels. During some of the other city scenes the channels provide a good fade from one to the other with the traffic, and the music in the film (including an outstanding Oscar nominated jazz song) is ever-present but not overpowering by any stretch of the imagination. I couldn't find a hiss in the presentation, and all of the levels are pretty much spot on. Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment seemed to really do a good job on both the video and audio portions of this disc.


Besides the theatrical trailer, there are some extras which are worth watching. A fifteen-minute featurette on the making of the film is hosted by Chomet, and he tells not so much how the film came to be, but what went into the different scenes, which animation influences are most present in his artwork, and how he meshed both 2-D and 3-D animation to create this extremely unique cinematic experience.

Another short five-minute featurette is Chomet talking about animation and how he goes about moving from the initial drawing, to the animation. He does some quick sketches of the triplets and explains how he starts with blue pencil drawings, and then fleshes them out with dark pencil over the blue sketches to create his final work. He also explains that, contrary to what most people believe, animators do use both arms. One is used to move the pencil, and the other is used to flip the papers into a very crude way of animating the sketches.

The final extra is a music video of the Oscar nominated song "Belleville Rendezvous". If you think the film itself was unique, then music video is even more-how can I say this-abstract. Involving a psycho analysis session, the live action character from the video is then animated and inserted into scenes of the film. A different type of extra than one would normally find, and a winner based on the music alone.


I have to admit, going into the film, I was not sure what to expect. I had been told that the movie was a unique experience, and it certainly is. Underneath the extraordinary animation is a story of loyalty (both Champion's grandmother and dog), and the movie works even though (or perhaps because) it breaks many of both film and animation conventions.  If you are a fan of having a "not your typical movie going experience", toe-tapping, snap your fingers music or seeing what is still possible in 2-D animation, you will definitely like this film.


The use of symbolic or artistic expressions may continue to be more practical for many animation productions. Symbolic expressions have the advantage of being unambiguous in their meaning, and are free from cultural influence beyond the established culture of animation. It is also possible that these productions can benefit in terms of their emotional communication by utilising the established context of the animation art form and relying on the referential knowledge of the audiences previous viewing experiences within this framework.

Though all animated facial expressions could be called deliberate due to the process of animation, animated characters may benefit from the inclusion of both deliberate expressions as described in this article. The audience will read these automatically and understand the motivations for these expressions as long as the context for them is maintained and suitable. Deliberate expressions can give insight into the motivations of a character and deliver a greater understanding of inter-character relationships and scene contexts.

The inclusion of facial expressions in animated characters which look spontaneous may help to establish an unconscious communication of emotion with the audience based not on our referential knowledge of animation, but on our unconscious understanding of non-verbal communication with other humans. This is likely to be most effective where a cathartic experience of emotion in the audience can be managed with the other requirements of the production, or where this forms one of the key narrative techniques for the project.

Whichever facial action design is chosen for an animated production, and regardless of the production method employed, this choice should be a conscious one, and not established through artistic instinct. The methods chosen by the production team will influence the design of the characters which must produce the expressions.

The example of the character Gollum as an animated character able to communicate emotion through facial expression suggests that an amalgamation of various techniques and processes may yield effective results. In this case, the Facial Action Coding System is used as a reference and as a safety net for creating appropriate expressions. Like the use of 3d animation tools and advanced technology in animation, the application of findings from the Behavioural Sciences must be an integrative process, adding to, rather than superseding, the established body of animation knowledge and practice.