Quality of Life

  • Genre: 2D Animation
  • Year: 2018
  • Duration: 2 months
  • Team: 3

Quality of Life was a freelance job commissioned by PMU Salzburg. The aim was to visualize different physical and mental conditions by using short animation clips. These clips should be easy to understand and move fluently from one extreme to the other, so patients then can use them to indicate their current wellbeing.

I was responsible for all the animations, the final rendering and some rigging & skinning. The two other people on the team gave me a detailed storyboard and four different rigs as basis:

male-side, female-side, male-front, female-front

There was a very tight deadline for this project, and one of the problems was that although female and male characters looked almost the same they used different rigs, which meant twice the animation work. To overcome this problem I experimented with a smart-bone that would blend between a male and female version of the character:

The test worked out well so I decided to go for it and invested some extra time to create new rigs for side/front views that could be either switched to male or female. This really paid off in the end and saved a lot of animation time.

One of the other challenges included visualizing mental conditions. Although there already were some ideas in the storyboard of how to express "mental tension" it was still unclear how it would actually look and animate. This took a lot of iteration and different approaches, but it was also one of the most interesting and creative parts.

There also were some animations that were really tricky time-wise. For example the clip that should indicate "relatedness to nature" had the storyboard guideline "simple walkcycle, background changes from city to rural to nature". We soon came to realize that our normal 50 frames per clip would be far too less to visualize all of this, so we increased it to 200 for this clip.

Lastly there was the "mobility" animation. A character would have to go from bedridden to wheel chair to crook to walk in only a few frames, which was quite challenging but also fun to animate:

I also created a batch script to render image sequences with all the important export settings & naming-conventions, so that everything fits together seamlessly.
All in all I was able to create all 34 animation clips in only a few weeks thanks to the male/female blendshape and a modular approach to reuse animations (for example bending/bowing, different kinds of walkcycles etc.).