2021 iClone Lip-Sync Animation Contest - Ice Queen

My goal was to determine if Characeter Creator and Iclone could be used for non-cartoony stylised work, in the vein of League of Legend's ARCANE series on which I worked for a short period in 2017. I mainly wanted to determine how fast it could be to both produce the character model and rig, and animate it using mocap as a base, but with enough manual work over it so it looks hand animated instead of more akwardly motion captured.

I picked the final scene of The Huntsman: Winter's war for Charlize Theron's performance, I though her voice was nicely dramatic and would be interesting for a lip-sync exercise.

I sculpted the face and modeled the props and hairs in Blender.
I rendered in Cycle, on my own machine, so only at 150 samples. But rendered in EXR and denoised each pass separately in another Blend file, so my GPU can be fully focused on rendering whithout waiting for the CPU to denoise.
I composited in After effects in linear, and realized the only way to export is to first render a prores, then render this prores as a mp4 in adobe media encoder, any other method destroys the colors/values in the final video file.
I actually started to use paperspace to build a virtual machine to delegate some of my renders, it was really at the last minutes for a few stuborn frames, but I think it will be an amazing alternative to render farms or buying a second machine to render.

Here is some work in progress:
https://www.artstation.com/liok/blog

I used an Iphone XR for capturing a base performance, speaking over the audio clip synchronously, and also captured a video of my face, which allowed me to polish manually the expressions more easily, and aim for a hand-animated, keyframed facial animation.
The process was pleasingly fast, as the motion capture was essentially used as an animation blocking, but without all the manual work. Polishing it by hand wasn't as fast, but it seems much more efficient overall than animating from scratch.

Concept, sculpt, textures: 2 days
Rig, anim: 2 days
Render, comp: 1 day.