Just prior to our city entering lockdown back in March, 2020, the company I worked for set up the entire staff to be able to work from home with little to no service interruptions for our company, nor any downgrade in production quality, even supplying computers and monitors to those who didn’t have their own.
One of the worst parts – for me, at least – was regular “face to face” meetings using software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Before the first meeting happened, I took a weekend to render out artwork that would allow a talented artist on Fiverr to assemble an Adobe Character Animator puppet for me.
As you can tell from this site, my interests lean towards Science Fiction, cartoons and animation, and I decided to go with a starship theme. I first rendered out all of the facial shapes to allow me to talk and emote and wound up with a character who had my voice and who appeared engaged in meetings. The first draft of the character looked like this when implementing
The second draft added hand/arm poses activated via keyboard triggers to bring a bit more life to the show. As well, the female crewman was given some animation and the consoles on the back had life injected in them as well:
The first time I used the “shrug” pose, everyone at the meeting burst out laughing.
The only downside in using my animated avatar is that the face tracks my actual facial expressions, so any time I closed my eyes and started to drift off a bit (meetings and I don’t mix well, and when the talk turns to something my department isn’t involved in, I have a harder time paying attention) everyone knew it.
Still, it made attending the meetings a little less stressful and at times I actually enjoyed “playing” in them.