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!



jeff said...

thanks Travis!

Joseph Taylor said...

Hey Travis,
Thanks for the great critique! I was kind of confused when I saw the title. I thought that maybe I missed doing something because class was canceled or something.
Anyway, I really liked your critique. I knew that his legs were hard to watch and looked confusing. I didn't really know what the problem was, but once you pointed out the pop, that's all I could see. I don't really understand how to use the method of using the hips to absorb the foot landing for getting rid of the knee pops. I think I heard Jeff mention something about this. I'm not really sure how that would be applied. Do you think it would be possible to get an example of this?
I'll definitely apply your feedback!

Animator Trav said...

Hi Joey,
Well, I can't think specifically of an example (Jeff's got a wealth of knowledge in examples, maybe he'll have a good one for ya) but I CAN explain a bit about what it means:

To absorb the step with the hip means exactly what it sounds like. Think of your body like a bunch of connecting pieces instead of one whole. When the foot touches the ground, which way is the hip going to tilt? Will it tilt so that it is sloping down TOWARD the floor-contacting leg? Or will it slope AWAY from the contacting leg? If you answered B, Jeff will give you $100 (hit 'im up, he's good for it). Think of it this way: the leg is pushing the hip up... in other words, the hip is ABSORBING part of the impact of that step. You can reach the hip out slightly in a step to push the leg toward the IK foot, and then do the opposite by pushing the hip upward to absorb the length of the leg, keeping the knee from popping.

If this does not make sense, give Jeff back the $100... but I'll be happy to try and explain another way if necessary.


jeff said...

the idea of the pelvis is if you're getting knee pops, try lowering it in the Y a hair.

also, using more forward rotation on your hips gives you a longer stride.

the other hip note is to have the rotation happen a frame or 2 later than the high point of the walk or run - see the example of the run cycle i tweaked for it.