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25 October, 2015

Filly Funtasia Lead Modeler Interview

More details of Filly Funtasia development break the surface of concealment. The long story of this production is very hard to tell without filling the holes of the unknown with assumptions - assumptions that sometimes have little to do with the truth. Thankfully, once in a while we get the chance to take a sneak peek and gather bits of information, however small they might be. And sometimes the members of the crew are happy to tell us these bits themselves, without unnecessary difficulties.

This week, Cheng Ye, Lead Modeler for Filly Funtasia who worked for Black Dragon, kindly addressed some professional questions that were asked by RaichuWizDom - also known as Wise Cracker.

You can read the interview below.

Q: Is the facial animation done with pure bone rigging or with driven blend shapes/shapekeys? 
A: Facial rigs were a combo of bone rigs, lattices and corrective blendshapes. Very basic setup, nothing fancy. 

Q: Are the rigs directly connected to the body meshes, or is a deform cage used? 
A: I believe the rigs were directly connected to the body mesh. I'm fairly sure there wasn't a deform cage (I assume that's like, a bind mesh? Like the rig runs through that bind mesh , or deform cage and then finally gets blendshaped out to the render mesh... anyways, that didn't happen there). 

Q: Do the manes and tails have simulation linked to them? The bobbing up and down looks pretty complicated to do purely through bones, especially if you want to re-use the rigs. 
A: No simulation on the manes and tails. That is pretty nuts if you think about it, and there was a lot of headaches when it came to hand animating the hair. It's absolutely possible to have the hair be dynamic, run it through some dynamic curves and watch the magic, but at that time, we didn't use it. 

Q: Are the shoulders extruded straight down from the body, or are they extruded perpendicular to the chest? So one extrusion sideways, then downwards from there? It looks kind of like the latter, but the way they move it's tricky to tell. How complicated is their topology?
A: Shoulders are extruded from the body, and the topology is super simple. I mean really. If you were to look at the topology you'd be surprised at how simple it is. No crazy loops doing anything. I think most video games these days have much higher polycounts that what we were dealing with. However, the issue was that the meshes were created before my time there, and when production started, you couldn't just go in there and change up the base mesh that all the filly's shared.. that would ensure a violent death from the riggers.

Q: Were Battiwigs' wings troublesome? Is there a simulation involved there, or is that purely rigging?
A: Battiwigs wings were also just pure joints. No sim. 

Q: You mention "Filly Funtasia issues" in one of your Tumblr posts (http://doesordies.tumblr.com/post/118845819087/crystal-panda-trailer). Could you please elaborate on that? Did it have anything to do with FK/IK switching? 
A: Filly issues? No. FK/IK switches were not issues. Plus there's tons of youtube videos explaining how to deal with things like the IK 'popping' and stuff like that. Issues were more like, production issues, clients and all that stuff. The not so fun artistic yay stuff.

Cheng is no longer working on the show, as he left the studio around August 2014 - and by that point, quote, "[they] had a cool half season at least completed". This is quite interesting, especially when combined with the original promised release date all the way back in promo 1: a simple "in 2014". It is obvious that one of the reasons for numerous delays has been, indeed, production difficulties, but simultaneously it is reassuring to know that Filly Funtasia exists as a show, even if partially.

Check out Cheng's Tumblr page when you get the chance! Here's his Demo Reel, specifically.

Special thanks to him and RaichuWizDom for making this article possible.