Sunday, August 26, 2012

Concerning Week 9

Hello darlings! For those of you back in school, happy first week. To the rest of you, happy Week 9! This week I had to finish up my walk with Ballie, which meant getting the little guy out of blocking and into splined mode! This has historically been a difficult step for me but as I'm learning more about how to thoroughly block in a scene, it's getting less scary to hit spline in the graph editor and watch the playback. Plus, this walk is fairly straightforward so I could be nice and methodical about it. Here it is!

Turns out that fixing knee pops is quite a chore. So is keeping Ballie's giant feet from intersecting the ground. But all in all, I'm happy with how this came out. Keep your eyes peeled for a revision of it next week!

The other part of our homework this week was do sketches and a Stu pose that communicate "concern". For me, this is the most difficult posing assignment we've had so far, mainly because I think concern is difficult to communicate solely through body language, especially if the viewer is unaware of what circumstances are causing the character to be concerned. With this in mind, I thought I would probably use props and a set for my pose, and I asked my mentor if if would be okay to even use another character in the pose to help it read. He said he was okay with it but urged us not to rely on it and especially not to let a secondary character distract from the main concerned character. And so I did a mix of sketches, some with props, some with other characters, some with just plain ol' concerned Stu:

I actually like how these sketches more than I thought I would when we got the assignment. I tried to vary between different kinds of concern, some mixed with worry, anger, sadness, etc. I picked out my favorite ones and took a shot with Stu:

Surprisingly, I think my favorite of this bunch is F. It's based on drawing 9, which was kind of a throwaway drawing. Inversely, drawing 2 was on of my favorites but I think pose B is too busy. My classmates also liked D and E but I think that F is similar to them and a bit more interesting. Leaning towards F for now, but if you've got love for any of them, please let me know! I have until noon tomorrow to turn this in.

And one last bit for this week, a revised physical strength pose for your viewing pleasure. My mentor asked me to tweak my pose from last week:

Hopefully it now looks more like Stu is lifting up rather than back and away (and his back looks less broken). Welp, that's all for me this week! Next week I'll be blocking in my personality walk (SO excited for this) and there'll be more poses for you to vote on! In the meantime, have a lovely week and go Giants!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Walking in a Straight Line is Harder Than You Think

Well hello! Week 8 is upon us, readers, and it is the most exciting one yet! We got to block in our very first walk cycle, huzzah! One Leg grew another leg and turned in Ballie, thankfully, or it would have been a really tough walk cycle (well, jump cycle). AND we have another Stu pose this week so I will need your votes to help me pick once again. But first! My revision from last week:

My mentor had a few notes about Tailor, mostly concerning his small hop from frames 47-51 and his flip around frame 36. As for One Leg, he was pleased that he made it into my shot and just had a few notes on tweaking his jump. All in all, I think this is my favorite shot I've done so far as it was definitely the most fun to work on.

ALRIGHT WALK CYCLE TIME. Our lecture this week was fantastic. We got a full blown walk cycle demo from AM's CEO Bobby Beck and tons of great info on walks. Now, unlike some of my classmates, this isn't my first go at this. I've done walks in the past so I know that they are WAY harder than you think they're going to be (I did a quadruped walk cycle while I interned at DreamWorks and it took me freaking forever to get it even halfway decent).

Our assignment this week was to do a vanilla walk with Ballie, meaning just a plain ol' no personality walk that gets him from one side of the screen to the other. As walks go, this is on the easy side since you get to be fairly systematic with it. Plus, there are tons of resources out there that map out exactly how to do a vanilla walk. And Ballie is essentially just a pair of hips with two legs so there's no need to worry about arm swings or overlapping spine/neck/head motion or anything like that. Here it is:

Now keep in mind this is still in the blocking stage, as per our assignment this week. So, since there's only a pose on every third frame, it looks a little choppy but hopefully you still get a solid idea of what the walk is going to look like when it's done. 

Okay, onto the fun part. Our pose this week is supposed to communicate "physical strength". In a sense, this was an easier assignment because it's not an emotion like the past ones have been, so Stu's lack of a face didn't pose as much of a problem. On the other hand, Stu's distinct lack of muscles made it hard to communicate strength without some kind of prop. In my sketches, I did some exploring, doing some poses with props, some without, some with superhuman strength, some poses out of comics books, some from photos, and some out of my head. Here is what came out:

I also decided to add in the silhouettes with this week's poses, because I think it's even more important to have a strong (heh) silhouette and line of action for this particular assignment, again, because it's not an emotional pose and it needs to read right off the bat (and as you can see from number 9, I'm still feeling the gymnastics love even though the Olympics have ended). 

Something I dwelt on a lot while doing these was whether or not it helped the pose if Stu was struggling to push/lift whatever prop he had. In some cases it seems like that would take away from the pose immediately reading as "strength" by making Stu seem weak and unable to move the object, but in others it seems to help the overall reading of the pose. Since I'm still unsure, I'll let you decide! Here are the Stu poses I came up with after getting a bit of feedback from my classmates:

You know the drill by now, right? Which Stu or sketch looks the strongest? Vote away!

And don't forget to come back next week when I'll have a finalized walk cycle and another round of poses for you to vote on! 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

It's already Week 7?

I don't know how that happened. I'm already over halfway done with Class One! Insanity. In a good way, of course. And what's even more exciting, this week we finally got to animate Tailor! He's the little bouncing ball rig with a squirrel's tail. I've been seeing him in AM student reels for a long time and was super stoked to finally get to animate with him. It's the first time we've really gotten to animate a character who is moving and thinking of his/her own accord. Here's the shot I came up with earlier this week:

(Who has two thumbs and figured out how to make the videos larger? Eh?)

For our assignment this week we had two options to choose from: animate Tailor doing an action of your choice that includes at least three bounces, or animate the one-legged ball rig doing a single jump, landing, and settling. For whatever reason, almost everyone chooses Tailor over poor One-Leg. During my Q&A this week, my mentor mentioned that he likes when his students add a bit of entertainment value to their shots, like a small gag or visual joke of some kind (as long as you don't let the gag take up all your time and attention, causing your animation to suffer).

So, after class I looked back at my shot and thought that, while I had faithfully executed the assignment, it wasn't the most exciting thing in the world. It felt like I was doing an overlap exercise and nothing more. So, I decided to stop neglecting One-Leg and put him in my shot as well. It seemed like Tailor was running from something anyways, so I decided to have One-Leg chase him into frame, only to be foiled by the first wall that Tailor glides over. And so:

Ta da! I'm pretty happy with how it came out and I think it's more fun to watch now. Though, poor One-Leg just can't win. Heh. This week we also had to revise our pendulum shots from last week:

My mentor had a few notes for this, mostly concerning the last swing and settle as the pendulum stops. That section gave me grief the first time around and it was still difficult to get it right for this revision. Plus, while I worked on this, I was at the part of the Return of the King audiobook when Sam thinks that Frodo is dead and it was stressing me out. All around, a stressful shot. But I got it to work eventually, I hope (Sam discovered Frodo wasn't dead, just paralyzed, so it worked out for him at least).

Welp, that's all for this week, lovelies. Get yourselves ready for Week 8, when we get to start our first walk cycle! And there will be a new batch of drawings for you to vote on! And Frodo will destroy the ring! And King Aragon will finally return! HUZZAH!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Playing Catch Up

I know, I know. I've been slacking. But that means you get two weeks worth of homework in this post! PLEASE CONTAIN YOURSELVES. First up, my revision of my two bouncing balls from Week 4:

I had a few little things to change for this revision, my mentor just had a few minor notes on timing that I needed to fix. Though I do need to start getting in the habit of planning my shots under the amount of required frames so I have some wiggle room if I end up needing it (which I almost always do). If I had 20 extra frames here you would've seen some nice settle on that beach ball but alas, I was at my frame limit and my due date loomed.

Okay next up is my actual assignment from last week, which definitely the most fun assignment we've had so far. Bouncing ball obstacle course WHOOOOOOO. We were given several obstacle course sets to choose from and then pretty much let loose to do what we wanted after that, as long as physics still applied. And we even got to squash and stretch the ball, huzzah! Lucky for you, I already revised this shot as part of my homework for this week so it's already all nice and neat for you.

I had a lot of fun with this one. And for a bit of experimentation, I did it pretty much straight ahead and put a key on every frame. I used to think 3D animators who did this were crazy people but I actually loved the amount of control it gave me. So screw you computer, you're a terrible inbetweener, anyway.  Heh. But be forewarned, if you don't plan well when doing a shot this way, things can get messy fast and it might hurt you more than help you.

And here is the final devastation pose I went with (thanks for all your help, darlings). I revised it a bit for this week after some feedback from my mentor and hopefully it reads more clearly than it did initially. But man, I'm never gonna get used to Stu's huge head. 

And finally for this week's assignment! Our lecture this week went over overlapping action, which is fun because stuff we're animating is actually starting to look pretty cool. I always think that overlapping action is one of the more straight forward principles. When I think about it, I'm like, "Yes, that makes total sense, breaking of joints, wave motion, drag, follow through, simple BOOM." But actually animating it and getting it to look juuuust right is deceptively difficult. AKA: this shot took me way longer than I thought it would. Heh. 

And hey guess what? I came 30 frames under the limit. I planned for 50 under the limit and then I added 20 because my pendulum settle felt a tad too fast. I'M LEARNING!

I hope you enjoyed my homework dump, readers. Next week I'll have a new emotion pose for you to vote on so keep your eyes peeled. I won't slack I promise! If you get bored in the meantime, go read Ryan Lochte's Twitter feed, especially if silly spelling errors make you laugh.