Wednesday, January 30, 2008

tip of the day...phantomWindow

quick tip of the day...either via email or in the student drop folder this week, I'll have some mel scripts for you. As we're starting with cycles, arc checking tools are invaluable. The riggers gave me a ghost type character to animate completely in FK. A good animator never complains about the tools, and the beauty of FK is that you can brute force your way through any situation. It is, however hard to make it fluid unless you eventually touch every frame. Here, I grabbed the geometry and baked out 'phantoms' using Jeremy Cantor's handy tool, phantomWindow.mel, in order to get more fluidity to this animation (looks like I have my work cut out for me). Grab norman's foot or hand (works best on extremeties) and hit it!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Olesegun, 1 more..

I didn't have time to playblast this, so time for a rule, new class.

If you'd like an online crit, which I'm more than happy to oblige on, time permitting, I'll need you to post both a jpg preview and link to your animation file. Use compression, quicktime sorenson or h.264 is ideal WITH a frame counter (use the frameDisplay.mel I sent you guys). Or get yourself a gmail account and post to google video and send me the link. But don't rely on me to open your file, playblast it, compress it to quicktime, and post it to google video. I've done that in the past, but I'll be pretty involved at work this term (those of you who work in the field will learn about mandatory 'crunch' ) and won't have time to do this for you.

Back to the anim...I pulled this out of a static cycle and added forward translation to it. Here are a few main problems. I'm only addressing the side view, as most of the issues can be seen here.

1. too much up/down on the pelvis. You can do a lot of up and down in something very stylized, but stylization has to bow to the tenets of naturalism, so, too high here.
2. sloppy arcs on the pelvis...rather than a gradual ascent and a quick fall, there's hitches, and ease in on both ends.
3. arcs of the feet. look at a richard williams diagram and see the curve the feet take. make it more like that.
4. start pose. too extended. it looks like the forward foot should be about to contact here, not actually making contact.
5. spine. no forward back wavelike motion. It's in a very rigid pose and remains that way.
6. rigid posing in general. the neck is straight up the body posture is's hard to get character without a defined pose.

it's improving, so don't lose heart...just go back and start hammering on the mechanics!

first week of class

To all new students who may have stumbled across this...I emailed some general notes for those of you that had email addresses. If you know people taking the class who may not have received it, pass it along. In any case, check back here for additional info, notes, and crits each week. Feel free to email me any questions you have as they crop up, technical and otherwise and I'll post answers here so your classmates can benefit.

For the first class.
Bring in a written description of your goals for this course. a paragraph will do. describe what you’d like to focus on (dialogue/acting, more fluid motion, better weight) - (this isn't an interrogation, I just want to know what you'd like to get out of the class).

Ball bounce exercise (to be done this week or next)
This will not be for a grade, but rather to allow me to evaluate how you handle basic physics.
Believe me...the bouncing ball is never a remedial exercise, rather a useful tool to hone in on timing and spacing issues that invariably crop up.

For next week. TBD
Ball bounce animation for those who didn't receive one. Cycle to be determined on Thursday.

But most importantly, let's all do some great work and have fun...the course is essentially a month of cycles, a prop interaction, an acting piece, and a personal piece. There's a lot of range within those categories to do some great work, so get your ideas going!

Friday, January 25, 2008

olesugen - ball bounce

Olesugen asked me to take a look at his ball bounce animation. First off, good for you for going back to the bouncing're never too good for these exercises. It's pretty good, but 2 things.
1. be really careful with your mass. stretching shapes in animation were designed as a way of essentially imitating motion blur and to achieve fluidity. On a ball bounce, only stretch it as it hits maximum accelleration.
2. watch the arcs..on the end, especially the arcs have some unintentional ease in/out. and keep the residual motion going! That's the main ingredient in a moving hold


I can't stress the importance of planning..

head over to TJ's blog to see some outstanding thumbnailing for animation. I posted a rough I did for a recent animation here at work. In game animation, you often do VERY fast action, which means your breakdown frames are extremely important. My thumbnailing is a lot rougher than TJ's, and I vary how I thumbnail depending on the type of shot I do (and let's face, that guy can draw!). I will say's easier and valid to do your thumbnailing by posing in maya, but every time i take the time to physically draw out my poses, the animation benefits. This is because you're thinking about what's going on in the body and making those decisions right away. That's where the animation happens.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

just what the doctor ordered

Great post over at the spline doctors site- a veritable checklist for pushing those's a section

"It's rather simple I make a checklist starting with Timing; I make sure that the scene isn't even, and then I start analyzing my individual motions making sure they are not even also. Posing is next, looking for tangents, silhouette, attitude, complex shapes, awkward shapes, balance, etc. Then I make sure I'm using anticipation before my major moves, gestures or actions. Next on the list is Arcs, checking the wrists, nose, fingertips, root, shoulders, etc. I'm checking all of these parts to main camera in my shot. Finally I think about the overlap, you might say your character doesn't have a tail or floppy hat so what is there to overlap? The whole body is made up of elements that can drag, overlap, and follow through."

I really like the note on complex shapes. This is invaluable, especially in hand and arm posing.

Friday, January 18, 2008

read more comics (push that pose)

I put this up as a note about reference. Find it wherever you can. I find modern comics pretty inspiring as animation reference because it's ALL about pushed poses and great line of action. With the trend towards realism, it's important to still push your animation as far as you can, starting with the pose. As always, it's all about the pose.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

gimble lock...another perspective

I was just chatting with TJ about workflow. Every animator seems to have their own method of working. I'm partial to working in gimble mode exclusively because I like the control it gives me over the curves, but the link above has a good counter argument. Plenty of fantastic animators never worry about the curves except for the final stages of their anim.

There are no wrong ways to work if it gets you to your goal. You can work linear, spline, stepped, or plateau - it's all just process, and it's easy to focus on tools and tricks. Ultimately with animation, there are no tricks. Animation is HARD. It's about continuously training your eye and making creative decisions, and challenging your weak ones.

If it starts to feel easy, you aren't working hard enough and thinking it through.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Olusegun, more crits

very fast crit for the z placement of the feet. poses where the pelvis is balanced too far back mean the feet (or pelvis) is off for the whole animation. globally move the pelvis forwards a bit on this one and lower it a hair and see how it feels. remember. on a generic walk, think of the principle of the feet being a metronome. you can do things like move the z forwards and back in an ellipse, but it's always on the falling downwards to the step. to be safe though, keep the Z movement still and balanced with the feet and if you want to add a bit more of a loping stride, add it in later. but keep the z of the feet and y of the pelvis working as a tight, elegant unit and the rest will fall into place.

ok..took a look at your file...i would say at this point, go back to the walk cycle pdf i handed out the first week of class and nail down 3 main things.
1. pelvis y movement.
2. z of the feet
3. wavelike motion of the spine.

when animators talk about working in a layered approach, it basically means nail down the most important nodes in the rig and work your way out. there's many ways one can animate an arm in a walk, but if the overall rhythm of the pelvis is off, all your arm motion will be wrong. let's look at your pelvis curve for a start..

remember...(and the richard williams book has tons of clear reference for this)
after the plant of the foot, quick fall and slow rise. right now you have an ease in to the top of the curve, which can be ok if you're careful with it, but the bottom is the killer...not only is there a hitch in the curve, but you slow down and stay down at the bottom point.

Friday, January 11, 2008

iron man

I'm just passing along the trailer for one of the games my current company is working on..props to Ron Pucharelli for the cool missle toss animation. I don't know who did what on this game, but I love the rendering engine. Let's hope the movie turns out alright!

geeking out about dinosaurs

saw the walking with dinosaurs live show over break...pretty state of the art puppeteering...i love the detailed movements they put in the head on these guys. If it comes back in town, definitely check it're never too old to enjoy dinosaurs. (The audio is a little rough on this was loud!)

Monday, January 7, 2008

seung's site

Seung posted a link to his site, so I'm linking to it...

Even though class is over, 2008 is upon us, now that I have heat and power back, I'll start the new year with some ramblings about sites and self promotion...

Here's my take on a website. The purpose is to deliver information as effectively as possible. Keep your layouts clear and I generally think it's good to have links that you can download. Lately quicktime has had some bugs where it just crashes all browsers unless you disable certain quicktime features.

Also, It's nice to post links to various animations you're proud of..keep those limited to ones that really shine, unless you want to do a progression. But it is a good idea to have a cycle or two up, a weight piece, some acting. There's no wrong answer as far as what to put on a site...some people will say keep just a link to a solid demo reel and have extra work in your back pocket, some will say have a variety of clips. I'd just say have some links, a link to your resume in .doc AND html format.

All for now..

rigging demo from sean

My buddy Sean Nolan just got around to a rigging tutorial on his rock solid ik/fk setup. There's nothing I like better than sean's rig's so enjoy the learning goodness

Also, the perennial badass of animation, TJ Phan just got into the blog scene. Check it out!

Friday, January 4, 2008

stay dry

stay safe! looks like i'm going to be without power for a while

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

back in the old days

For those of you working on your demo reels, don't lose heart...this is what I had to work with when I started out... a whopping 100mhz of processing power. I still remember the pain it took to do any kind of animation, but it did teach me the value of planning.

Hope everyone is having a good new year!