Thursday, February 28, 2008

new google group...

Brent was good enough to start a google group for group critiques. Use it!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

pimpin' with steve

looking good! it's fun and I like how Norman is decked out in his finery.
A few things...

in opening the maya file..

the double bounce curves aren't working right now because the bounce isn't echoed by the rest of the body.

the angle of the pelvis is rotated forward/back the opposite way

i like the arm motion, but it seems like the constant wave is a bit much..i would save the cycle and add that in every third or 4th repition of it.

a bit uneven on the x translation of the pelvis, and i think too far over on one side

the feet hang a little long in the air before planting. i think they can be more casual by jutting out almost at extension, then planting down.

good overlap all in all...just make the rest of the animation more fluid to match up with overall rhythm you've established.

also, i notice the pole vectors are parented to the feet. if this was one of the normans I gave you, let me know...i think i set up a space switch for one of them.. the solution here is to unparent them from the feet to eliminate the knee jitter.

great attitude to this one and very entertaining..

Monday, February 25, 2008

carlos baena's site

Some good observations/links from the man himself.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

brent's run

good work brent. Your walk is more polished than your run at this stage, but the run is actually pretty solid..i imported it in to a scene and worked on a version of it...i actually didn't do anything other than push your curves a bit further. I spent about 15 min on it, so my example isn't meant as a super polished thing, just pushed a bit.
Here's what i did.

  • fixed the wobble of the pole vectors.
  • offset the z curves of the spine. increased the down position so there's more of a cushion.
  • rotated the neck out a bit
  • more up and down (y) of the pelvis. offset the curve 2 frames
  • more of a snap of the feet - the feet need some overall curve adjustment/spacing issues.
  • offsetting of the clavicles
  • reposing of the arms, hold the elbows up a bit longer to make them less poppy.
  • more side to side (X) movement of the pelvis. in yours there isn't any. rotation of the lower spine bone to compensate.
again, quick tweaks...your mechanics are all there, just keep pushing them. the direction I took was just one of many..i pushed it more in the realm of a heavy jog, but there's more than one way to take this. My feet aren't working terribly well - the run is a little flat footed and a little hitchy, so watch the extension in the front to make it seem like a better plant rather than softening into it.

this is the odd thing with can keep pushing them and have them come together at the later stages.

karen's blocking

looks pretty good so far. What I'd suggest right off the bat are a few things.

  • sillhouette. spread the feet out so the character isn't so side will help you with weight shifts. get a little more rotation in the torso as well
  • pay attention to the cropping of the really matters on these pieces as far as the scale of the character in the frame.
  • it's good blocking! now push your poses and add some stronger breakdowns. in the first part, when he's holding on, getting ready, he's there for a while...have him build on the anticipation with something like a weight shift. a single pose in the right place will help add interest, and strengthen the idea that the character is gearing up.
  • on the push up, play with the posing and timing so it's very slow at the beginning and faster as he gets to the top. also, pay attention to the lean of the're keeping him pretty upright and a curve reversal at one point might really help this. (see diagram). at the high points, watch the position of the feet/ can move a foot forwards to anticipate the push, or keep both back making the line of the body a steeper angle to make the tire seem heavier.
  • I like the snappy movement style you have seems like there's a struggle going on, then neds with a nice relaxed confident strut back done in a more naturalistic way...these are good acting moments to play up as far as contrast goes.. with the final push, make sure you have more settle after the launch forwards.

why guest crits

I just wanted to mention the point of these guest crits. It may seem a little confusing in a sense that you're getting a possible conflicting crit from what I've said in class. The idea is to push you all to really look at your animation. One of the greatest things about being on an animation team is getting feedback from your peers. A lot of this is subjective, though mechanics usually aren't...if the weight is off, there's usually a practical way to solve it. If several people are unsure of your acting choices, though, it's often a good idea to go back to your idea and clarify/strengthen it. We'll get more into this as we get into our acting based pieces.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Joseph Taylor... Come in, Joseph Taylor...

A'right, so while Jeff is off building snowmen, he's making me do his work for him... ;) In today's episode, I will be playing the part of heartless critic to the animation of Joseph Taylor; namely, his run cycle. So, as with Andy's, I apologize Joseph for the harsh critique. And again, to start, I want to say that this is looking absolutely fantastic, and all criticism will be knit-picking, because this is already good enough for a reel. Great job.

Okay, transforming into "heartless mode." There are only a few things that bother me in this cycle.

-The most noticeable is the popping of the knee.
-It's happening most on his right leg. Check out frame 7 to frame 8.
-There are a few things you can do to fix this.
*First, try and bring that foot down a bit more around frame 5, then even more on frame 6. What's happening is, the foot is pushing the knee high up, then on frame 7, the foot is abruptly dropping. Keep the drop heavy, as you have it, by keeping the gap between 6 and 7 greater than the gap between 5 and 6, but just tone it down a bit so that you'll get rid of most of the pop. However, I want you to notice in a real run (and this is a point of contention between animators) that the knees really do pop to a certain extent. Most of that painful pop is absorbed, though, by the hips.
*Which leads me to method 2 for fixing this: Absorb the foot landing with the hips. Never used this rig, but it looks like that would be tricky, so I'd stick with method one, but I wanted to let you know that, should the rig allow it, this is a great method for fixing the problem (and the most correct/natural)
-It is happening in the other foot, so apply what I just said to the other foot as well. It's not as noticeable, tho.

-Looking at it from the front angle, you might consider offsetting the rotation of the torso so that he's counterweighting the plane. Obviously, the plane is not heavy, but it would give the composition of the shot a bit more balance just to (ever so slightly) rotate him so that his torso is not lining up with the Y axis from a front view.

-Similarly (and that last comment should solve this) the arm is drawing a very sharp 90 degree angle. Consider resolving this with either the previous comment, or translate the hand in either the x or y directions.

-Speaking of hand translation, the plane-holding hand is moving pretty evenly with the head in terms of y trans. Consider offsetting it a bit more. It's close, but I think it could use a mild bit more offset.

-The other hand, in my humble opinion, is moving entirely too much, particularly in the x trans. He's drawing a pretty clear circle. Try and give him a bit more of a figure eight. Think of it this way: As the character runs, his hand will move in the z trans similar to the opposing foot. Meaning every time the right foot goes forward, around that time the left hand does as well. But it's y translation is imitating the y translation of the HIP, which means every bounce of the hips (ie, every time a foot hits the ground) equals one y translation of that hand. Therefore, for every left/right cycle of the legs, the arm is doing 1 translation forward/back, but 2 translations up and down. Take a pencil and draw that out... it will form a sideways figure eight. The x translation is up in the air; no real rule (and even these aren't rules per-say. They can be broken -- by your other hand, for example).

-Even if you choose not to rotate the torso sideways, consider caulking the head in the z rotation with the forehead away from the plane.

-Consider bouncing the head a bit more. Maybe more in the neck. This is a personal choice thing, certainly not something that will make it better, just something that might give it a bit more style. That goes for the torso too. If you deepen those x rotations, it might give him a bit more of a bouncy/childish feel. Just a thought...

-I had a fellow student once critique the color of a squirt-gun in an animation I once did while at Ex'pression (it was green with an orange tip; he insisted that the animation would never be viable until the tip of the gun was red)... So, in the nature of an Ex'pression alum, the gray plane is a bit harder to see against a gray background. Not something that will make the animation any better, just something I thought I'd point out in case you use a playblast for your reel.

Again, this is a fantastic piece. You should be very proud; now lets push it beyond fantastic, into the realm of "Holy Lord, guys, come check out this dude's demo reel!" (couldn't think of an adjective that sounded better than fantastic...).

I've looked through all of the student work this term (at least what everyone had submitted whenever Jeff last put stuff onto his computer here at Secret Level) and I have got to say, I'm quite impressed! You guys are really showing that you have what it takes to make it in this fast-paced, challenging industry! Great work everyone, and keep it up!


Thursday, February 21, 2008

more turok

cameron is on a roll...he describes his workflow in depth

week 4

Your progress reports for the first month are due, so please email me your latest revisions of your walk and run assignments (playblasts, at least 2 sides), include .ma files if you have them. It's completely fine to continue working on these throughout the term, btw.

remember..first week of shot blocking is due this week. If any of you have any questions or would like feedback on your ideas/concepts, let me know. I'm sporadically checking emails this week but will make an effort to give concerted feedback early next week.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

great work everyone!

Great work everyone! Everyone really stepped up with their cycles last night. I'm out of town for a week, unfortunately, but continue on with your cycles. I wasn't able to get to a lecture again, but I think you were all better served by having more time devoted to the crits, as with cycles, sometimes you learn more from the nuts and bolts of why things aren't working. I wanted to mention a quick little checklist of things to pay attention to on these cycles, especially as they start to fall apart....

c h e c k l i s t

  • torso rotation. on the walks especially this was lacking on the first last and middle pose. having some nice side to side rotation, with the appropriate offsetting.
  • wavelike motion of the spine. it doesn't need much, but a bit helps make your cycles feel more fluid.
  • avoid straight neck syndrome
  • figure 8's where you can..avoid circular motions...they feel too even.
  • compression on spine. especially on a run, have the torso absorb and cushion the downward force.
  • z curve on the feet...really watch the spacing and posing of the foot. turn on the those foot extra controls and animate that toe. watch for too much speeding up and slowing down in an uneven way on these.. think of the metronome principle, and how much cushioning you need on either end.
  • foot too high on the passing poses. this just makes your knees all whacked out, so use your ghosting tool and be careful with the foot roll attributes. I'm partial to mostly using the ball roll to keep the foot from drifing from the control rig.
  • remember your high and low points are not dead center of your usually continue upwards motion past the high point (more clear on walks...see pdf of week 2)
This is brief, and obviously the arcane pdf I gave you has more detail to all of these concepts, but I also wanted to reiterate another workflow tip. Now, when I work over your cycles, it's in part laziness on my part, because it's faster for me to show you. Really all these cycles were in pretty good shape but do need to be pushed farther. I also am not trying to impose a workflow on you - it doesn't matter to me what your workflow is as long as it's organized and you're able to go from general to specific. Cycles are especially unique, as they are all about 2 things.

Go back over your cycles. Scrub through your frames and make sure there aren't any 'wrong' poses. If something clearly looks off, address it. If your start pose has a unposed hands and fingers and no rotation to the neck and torso, put it in! don't wait until later. As you polish, make these poses better...continually improve them as you work.

Curve Management
You can have great poses, but it's all lost if your curves are fighting each other. Sometimes, like in Margot's cycle, it was easier to keep what was strong about it, her key poses of the spine, and just clean them up and put in some clean breakdowns. It's easy to have curves fighting each other, and difficult to refine, so don't be afraid to start refining from the pelvis out, MUTING parts of your rig to help isolate problems

Other tips...draw from your animation. Sit down and sketch out your main key pose, from your animation. Improve it. Put those changes back into the computer.

I'll try to leave you with some more tips before I'm off... the interim, Ron and Travis have agreed to step in and give additional critique for some of the animations from last night.

Regarding your shot blocking for your prop piece.
Pick something manageable. Demo reel pieces are all about polish, and skillful execution, so even if it's a person picking up a coffee cup, make sure you have time to make it outstanding. I'm back in town a week from Saturday, so for those going to GDC, have fun, and feel free to email me work and I'll take a look when i get back.

Don't forget to read Jean-Denis blog...he's on fire with the informative posts!

next guest crit

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


just to keep you aware of what's coming addition to pose assignments, etc. I'll be out of town next week and am still looking into a make up class...I'll keep you posted. In the interim, I'm going to load you up with 2 weeks of homework tonight since we'll be finishing up the walk next week and jumping right into our prop interaction piece the following week.

The Midnight Diaries of Catty Wampus (great find jean-denis)

Glom onto some AM inspired tips from a well written blog. His notes on foot posing in a walk are especially apt to the Norman rig, as the pivot of the foot is NOT the ankle, causing awkward arcs. I can't remember if I fixed that for you..i tend to do the dangerous thing of rigging as I work, which is highly NOT recommended.

Lots of good info here though...

turok creature reel

for those of you wondering what to put on a game reel, good motion always works! These are cinematic triggered events, but some nice motion!

Also, FLIP is a really nice animation blog.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

double bounce walk

some good notes from john K. including a breakdown of the double bounce walk.

I always advise students to not jump right into the richard williams book and start copying frames. The knees always pop and ugly things happen unless you know exactly what's going on with the entire dynamic of a cycle.

This john k stuff focusses more on beats and rhythms rather than curves and I wanted to mention it, as this older cartoony stuff focuses both on mechanics and beats. the cartooniness on the frog walk here happens because of the timing and timing to the music more than through extreme posing.

If you're doing something cartoony, ask yourself what 'cartoony' means and in what way is it cartoony. That's a big open ended question I won't attempt to answer right now.

tj busts out some animation

check out TJ's new samples from the Spiderwick game.

maya tools for y'all

I put together a quick menu for you to use...pretty simple, just a basic mel window and some assorted useful scripts to use. The script names are the mel commands so you can use them to make hotkeys or just hit ctrl-alt-shift if you select one and it will become a shelf button.

to get this menu to appear, first dump all your scripts into your script directory and run the mel command


if you want to have this appear every time you start maya, insert the line "source aacMenu" into your userSetup.mel (usually found in C:\Documents and Settings\yournamehere\My Documents\maya\7.0\scripts).

I tend to use the toggle joints and toggle nurbs quite a bit. snZeroOutControls is super handy for cycles because of the zero out Y checkbox. and graph filter is good for isolating multiple curves.

Don't forget to check Jean-Denis blog...he has some fantastic notes/observations on acting complete with clips. We're in that techy/mechanical phase of this class, which is useful, but you never want to forget about why we're doing all of this..

oh, and i can't forget my favorite hotkeys, ctrl-w and ctrl-e, my zero controls

to zero translation,
translate -os 0 0 0

to zero rotations
rotate -os 0 0 0

I'm a bit fussier than most about keyframing. I almost exclusively work in gimble mode because I'm animating for a game engine that is seeing my animations at 60 frames a second, so the rotations HAVE to be clean or you get jitter in those half frames. Sometimes though, I work fast and loose and stamp down a lot of poses and use the zero options to keep my rotations as clean as I can, especially if you're using IK arms. Between that and the eulerFilter.mel (just grab a control and run the need to open the graph editor), you too can be so efficient that you can blog on the job. (tweaks added + icon)

Monday, February 11, 2008

guest critique

This is something I've wanted to do for a while, and thought it might be useful to randomly have guests, people I work with and know to pop in and offer their opinion. So here it is, the first guest critic, Travis Howe, an exceptionally enthusiastic animator I work with.

A'right. I want to start by saying thank you to Jeff for inviting me to give my humble feedback on student work. I greatly respect Jeff's work, and am honored to be asked to help out.

Secondly, the best teachers I've ever had were the hardest. We don't learn from flattery; honest, hard critique is where we do the most growing. Thus, I symphathize greatly with you, Andrew, in having to face my critiques, as I am extremely un-forgiving in my criticism. That being said, I do want to preface all that I am about to say with how great I think you are doing. When Jeff showed me the walk cycle he wanted me to critique, I had the distinct impression that he's trying to make it difficult for me. This is a fantastic cycle, one for which you should be very proud. However, animation is never more than an abandoned concept, which means that even when you're "done," you'll look back and see things that you'd like to change. Therefore, I am going to point out to you the things that, I feel, will make this a stronger piece for your demo reel. And always, always take criticism with a grain of salt. If John Lasseter himself comes to you and says "Make this change," take it into serious concideration; however if said criticism goes against what you were aiming for (ie, he's thinking this'll make it more zombie-ish, but you were aiming for sleepwalker), that critique will only take your animation further from your goal (unless they are your boss or lead animator, in which case, they are in charge of where the animation should be headed).

And that's where I will begin. My immediate impression, as was the impression of several other animators that were watching at my computer, was that this was a person doing a comical impersonation of a mummy or zombie. Someone suggested that he appears to be a father pretending to be a monster, chasing his children around the house. I think this is a pretty accurate description of what this is reading as, however, I get the impression that it is not what you are aiming for. Keep in mind that, when multiple viewers are getting the same wrong impression, something needs to change. I am under the impression that this animation is not meant to portray what I've just described, but is, instead, meant to read as somebody under a trance. So I'll critique it based on this idea, and if this is incorrect, then I apologize, and will be happy to re-critique. My other impression is that you're aiming for "cartoony," so I will critique it in that light.

My first concern of what keeps him from feeling entranced is the expression on his face. He is smiling, for starters. If he's meant to be under some kind of "love trance," (ie, walking toward the most beautiful girl he's ever seen), then a smile isn't a bad idea. However, keep in mind that toon animation is at its best when exaggerated. Therefore, if he is meant to be in a "love trance," he should be pulled by his eyes. Think of Kaa hypnotizing Mowgli in The Jungle Book.

Mowgli's eyes, fixed on the snake's gaze, pull the rest of his body forward. This sells the illusion that it is what he is seeing that is pulling him that way. But I'll continue on under the idea that this is not a "love trance," but more of a basic "hypnotized" walk, like a transfixed (deliberate) sleepwalk. Say this guy's been hypnotized by somebody and told to go and get something/do something, and we are seeing him en route. In this scenerio, the head is still not working. In fact, the head is probably one of the least important parts (to the hypnotizee, not to the animator), in that this is meant to feel mindless, so his head should feel "out of the loop" with what the rest of his body is doing. He still needs to be looking forward, because he still needs to know where he's going. So perhaps kick the head slightly back and tilted to one side, so that he's looking out of his bottom lids. Remove the smile from his face and give him more of a blank stare. You can keep it comical, in fact, I think it'd benefit the piece greatly for him to have a funny "entranced" look on his face. Also, give the head a loose quality to it, as tho he's not attempting to support it, so that it swings freely. This may help sell the illusion that he's mindless in his walk (head=mind).

Let's move to the body. It seems like a brisk walk, so I won't spend too much time on this as I do not feel that it is your intention, but if he's hypnotized or in a trance (or even sleepwalking), he's more likely to take his time getting to where he's going. You could probably stretch this out by another 10 frames or so and he may feel more leisurely, which, in my humble opinion, is how a trance should feel. But again, that's not to say that all trances are the same, so we'll stick with brisk.

It took me a few moments of watching the loop before I could really find anything to pick on, so good for you. However, once I spotted the jarring nature of the foot-pops at the back, it sticks out like a soar thumb now. Notice how his foot alters from fully-flat to fully-perpendicular in only 3 frames (3-5), which gives it a quick snap. It could start a more gradual incline closer to frame 30. This would remove that quick jerk, and relieve the painful-looking pop in the knee.

He's also leaving the foot in one spot for a pretty long time. I like that he's got a nice ease to the foot coming forward, but make sure not to allow that foot to linger too long, because it makes the forward z translation feel like a race to beat his falling body.

Given that this is a cartoony walk, I think a bit more of a curve/arc to the x translation of the feet on their way up might help sell the nature of it. Give that x trans an arcing outward-movement as it swings forward, and perhaps rotate on y to allow the toe to keep from pointing forward the whole time... in other words, point the arch of his foot foward like a golf-club on the swing forward. Sort of how Goofy might walk. I think this will help the comical, mindless nature of the walk, and give it a bit of distinction from a regular cycle. After all, if I take my hand and cover up the upper body, while the legs move nicely, there's nothing down there to tell me he's doing anything but walking forward.

A'right, the arms. Perhaps it's the perspective that makes them appear to be offset, but on second-glance, it actually appears as though the arms are twinned to be in basically the same position. (I'm not sure how far along you guys are, so I feel like an idiot explaining this, but just in case; twinning is when opposing limbs have the same silhouette, or posing. It causes an animation to feel too symmetrical; like every other rule, this can be broken or used to your benefit, but I'm not sure that this is one of those cases). In honesty, it doesn't bother me all that much, I just wanted to make you aware that it is happening. My real problem is the rigidity of the arms. It feels as though there's a wire passing thru the chest and down both of the arms, keeping them all together. When the body starts to fall, allow the arms to lag slightly behind. Similarly, you might allow the elbows to lag a bit behind the arms. The hands, I feel, are lacking the loose quality I think would sell this the best. Impersonate this walk for yoursefl, and I think you'll find that your hand don't "reach" forward, but hand limply, swinging almost freely from the wrist. They will be one of your strongest assets in selling the mindless quality of an entranced walk. Rotate the hands so that the fingers point downward, then allow them to swing freely as though on a very loose ball-joint, rotating in both z and x (and perhaps mildly in y). The hands and head are the two important areas of character animation, and giving both of these a mindless, loose, uncontrolled feel will sell the idea very strongly that he's under some kind of trance.

I actually think that the body is working very strongly! I am very impressed with the motion of it overall. In fact, while I'd like to see a bit more of a bend to the spine (rotating the chest and midriff forward more in the x, and allowing a steeper bounce), I think other than that, you've really nailed it. You even got the y translation correct; he's hitting his highs and lows slightly after the contact and passing poses, which is exactly right. So good job to you!

Again, I think this is shaping up to be a very strong animation, one for which you should be very proud. I'd like to see it taken to the next level, to set it apart from every other entranced walk I've seen. Right now, it's a well-executed cliche. You've clearly got the abilities to make it more than that.

If you have any questions about any of this (and this is to all of Jeff's students), feel free to contact me. Jeff has my email address. And GOOD LUCK!

Travis Howe
Secret Level

andrew's zombie walk/somnambulist

ok..pretty good start!
for starters, let's talk acting.
it seems like you have 2 routes...zombie, or sleepwalker.
right now, it's more of a zombie because of the heavy strides, speed of the walk, and the fact that the eyes are open and head pretty alert.

so let's talk mechanical things. here's a few things i'm noticing right off the bat.

  • watch the arcs/foot movement towards the rear (around 4-5, for example..gets kinda static, loses momentum)
  • watch the straight leg (f18) - have more of an anticipation to plant.
  • from 3-8...have more offsetting of both the spine and the arms. traditionally, zombies keep their arms outstretched as much as possible to be in that prime, brain grabbing position. also, having them just move with the torso is less interesting animation. offset the elbows and biceps, and for extra zombie goodness, have the hands flop at the base of the compression (or just after)
  • face. facial expression is important'll want to have a clear facial pose that communicates what's going on with this character. if he's a zombie, then maybe his head should be tilted. if he's a sleepwalker, then he should look asleep. if he is asleep, then maybe don't have as much rocking back and forth and have him slumped more forwards in it.
i'll look a little more later, but all for now...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

brent's run

props to Brent for starting over.

it's actually pretty good...i'll follow up with a more detailed crit later, but for starters, you need to not have the spine rock back and forth so much...counter the forward back rotations with one of the spine joints (z rotation) to give the effect of compression rather than rocking.

some notes...

  • watch the head bobbing..keep it fixed more in place..
  • watch your spine curves. Note the spike in the's adding a hitch to the shoulder rotations and overall side to side rotation.
  • watch the spine in general. look again at some reference and think about how fast this character is going. a rule of thumb; the faster you move the less forward back there is. there is some, but it's more subtle. what i would do right away is to go to your breakdown frames (i.e. try frame 4, spine c at 18.353) and counter the rotations of the pelvis area so your spine feels relatively static, but has some compression going on after the landing
  • the arms. way too much motion for such a short cycle pay attention to the elbows especially and think how much hang time there is on the extremes.
  • feet. pretty good rhythm to it, but it can help to have that pounding downwards. and for convenience, a shallower arc in the front means less knee pops.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

torso rotations on a walk

ok..back to andy's question on the interplay of all these elements.

This stumped me a bit, as I tend to use a lot of ik/fk spines and use translation to get the effect of that wavelike motion going on in the spine. it's a lot easier, as you can loosen up a walk by just adjusting the translates on 2 nodes.

you can grab this file HERE

This is a pretty simplified cycle. you'll notice there are 3. The first row, box A was grabbed from an existing walk [a] , and the curves exaggerated just so we can see what's going on. the second set [b] simply used offset keys and I slide them around until it looked right. verion [c] baked the offset curves back to the timeline. I'm not holding this up as the bible of all spines in a cycle - merely a way into evaluating how a bunch of complex elements work together

again, the motion here is exaggerated and pretty bouncy, but as long as these elements are all working as an interconnected group, you can tweak the curves a bit to get various bits of character into your cycle.

Again, this is a very procedural way to work and not always your best option. Setting main poses and breakdowns and building up to fluid curves is valid...this just offers one type of worklow to put in your process bank.

Friday, February 8, 2008

jacqueline mao - crit

if you post a link your file, i can show that as well...basically, if you look at the blue curve, that's your arc (using my favorite plug in, animPath.mll). you can see you have uneven timing in places.
make sure you build up some accelleration in the beginning. I've drawn an orange line to show a more favorable motion path. the blue lines show the size of each next bounce, which should progressively smaller.

Look at the posting a few down with the gif animation of the bouncing ball, and note the general rhythm of it and time between the bounces. it's a little mechanical in that example but the idea should be clear.

the agony of a walk cycle

Busy class last night..
Sorry I wasn't able to get to the walk cycle lecture, but take a look at the notes and shoot some questions my way as they come up.

These cycles are tricky...Andrew asked a great question after class last night, which is, in an fk spine setup, how do you manage all of these rotations together and not get the dread wobble effect.

Unfortunately, I don't have a super simple answer for you, but I'll try to boil down the science of it this week.

For starters, grab the graphFilter.mel - it's great for isolating individual rotations.

Ultimately with these cycles, it comes down to complex dynamics and rhythms happening at the same time, or around each other.

In setting the first pass up, what I generally suggest is to focus on the following:

  • do your main poses and breakdowns
  • make sure the relationship of the pelvis to the feet is pretty solid - no major pops or anything and the plants feel fairly accurate and the up down, side to side works ok, the forward back of the z curves feel fluid.
  • from this, the spine is next. I like to keep the arm poses in at least their basic poses for the main keys and breakdowns, but i generally think of them as being temporary, as it's pretty easy to rekey the arms, and you can dramatically alter the character of your cycle.
  • after the spine is pretty solid, i make sure the neck/head relationship is working
This is a rudimentary checklist at best...the class notes are far more detailed. There's no 'wrong' way to animate. I generally have a different working methodology for cycles than i do for action or performance related pieces and i'll get into the pros and cons later on.

Let me know if I've been clear enough in my notes/class crits or if there's areas you'd like me to focus on.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

room number

We're staying in room 350 for now..

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

who's in this class, anyway

Ok, as I suspected, I scared off a bunch of you already. (Just wait, you thought the run cycle was technical, wait until we get to the walk!)

Here's the current list of enrolled students..

Cannon Margot
Gonzales Anthony
Jentzsch Brent
Kwak Youn Joung
Lee Joseph
Lee Jung Oh
Lee Sung Kil
Ly Steven
Mao Jacqueline
Masuda Stevin
Oh Jae-Yoon
Quintana Christopher
Schaffert Weston
Taylor Joseph
Villegas Edward

If you think you should on this list, now is the time to speak up. There were a few students trying to get in last week when it was overbooked, so contact your people and get the gears in motion...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

why we use these animation principles

on John K's blog, I came across a fantastic post...he's a bit extreme in his views about cartoony animation, but he really gets why cartoony motion works.

Anyway, read his post on goofy and watch the quicktime he provided. It's body mechanics, acting, entertainment...everything good about classic animation all boiled down to one little clip.

more of those bouncing spheres

and after i found this, i accidently clicked on the history of pixar, a la you tube.

youn joung's ball bounce

Our one sick student emailed in some work...thanks for that. A 2000 pixel wide ball bounces in the future. Also, I don't have time to upload everyone's work, so send in a link or host it to google video and send the html embed code (i prefer google video to youtube or other flash video sites because it allows you to download an .mp4 file and view it in quicktime.

Ok. since I don't have the maya file, I can't use my phantomWindow's a few things I noticed, however.

  • force. the ball pops out like being shot out of a cannon. unless you have a cannon (which is legal, you can model one, but not really the point of this particular exercise :) have a more natural accelleration. You can extend the geometry so the ball goes down a hill and gathers speed, but right now i'm not buying the initial trajectory (see yellow line)
  • spacing. basically, not enough accelleration (see blue sketch)
  • stretch. This relates to the spacing. stretch and squash should be FELT, so be very subtle about how you get into them. If used improperly, it actually draws attention to your transitions rather than allows them to be more fluid.
all for now..

Monday, February 4, 2008

audio from movies

My buddy Ron just linked me to this's all audio files of movies, which depending on the movie may or may not be pointless.

The useful thing for we animator types, is you can select a movie, view page source and you can see the .mp3 link

I find I'm constantly writing down timecodes when I watch movies with the noble intent of ripping dvds into quicktime and audio clips.

This should save a step for those of you that like to animate dialogue...

the physics of bouncing balls

and more, to get you in that newtonian frame of mind (these are just things I'm randomly finding online, so their veracity may be in question...should get you guys thinking though)

Friday, February 1, 2008

quick recap

This "reverse rotoscope" file is on the W drive for you all to look at. I've posted a google video of it for reference..if anyone knows how to make a google video loop, please let me know!

Feel free to do this sort of thing on your own. For the students that missed last night's lecture, pay special attention to the the arc of the ankle on your runs, and not the timing and spacing of the spheres.

Also note how rhythmic the ups and downs are compared to a walk.

Observe...come back to me with more observations about what's going on. What's the chest doing rotationally. What's the angle of the pelvis, torso, head, neck.

Again, the idea of this roto exercise is a means of observation.

stealing is good

that got your attention. Ok. In most occasions stealing is, in fact, not good, but in regard to video reference for animation, stealing is essential (that is, if stealing means acting it out live or finding good reference to work from)

A student last night asked if it was cheating to record yourself acting out a scene and using that to animate with.

I gracefully defer to Jean-Denis here in one of his recent posts.

To be blunt, you're a fool if you don't use as much reference as you can get your hands on. This does not mean you should export out an image sequence into maya and go rotoscope crazy. It means you have something to work from to pick up nuances. You'll be amazed at what you can discover through observation. This is where the animation happens...through observation, and it's pretty much the only way to get detail into your animations, at least the RIGHT kind of detail

This even goes for walks and runs and anything involving weight mechanics.

So look at everything. If you want to do a stylized run, look at some stylized runs frame by frame. Look at realistic runs. Compare the two. Sketch some poses. Imitate down the hall like a freak if you have to, to figure out how wide or narrow your stance needs to be, or how much side to side action you need.

sermon over for now. you'll hear it again, not to worry.


wow. 25 students last night..I'm talking with the administration, but the class is full and I'll have to be the bearer of bad tidings soon..I'll keep you posted as to what's going on, what room we'll be in for next week, and what's going on with the overbooking of this class.