Wednesday, April 30, 2008

belated post...brent

At last, a crit for Brent. My work schedule has been rather agressive lately, so this blog and extra crits are suffering, nontheless, here's a few comments.

decent fellow
this is coming along. You've made a lot of camera cuts to this and it's gone from something problematic (divided plane) to something easier to connect with. Remember to use frame numbers with these, as it's easier to critique.

Now that they aren't separated by the hill, it seems less like trench warfare and more like they're on the same side, mostly due to yellow hat's casual pose. Overall I like the range of motion the characters have. Conceptually what's throwing me is that the fact that the guy in the yellow hat can put a cap in him without breaking a might make greater tension if they have their weapons fixed on each other the entire time, like a standoff, or you could increase the depth of the trench and have the yellow hat further back in space. Right now, with the forshortening, it looks like he can reach over and pat green guy on the head.

With what you have though..i think the initial shoulder shrug causes the gun to lose weight in the beginning, and it's not fluid...the poppiness of the motion causes it to feel light as well. making the guns feel heavy will also add gravity to the situation, pun intended.

You're blinking with both your brows and eyelids at the same time. calm the eyebrows down a bit. With the top guy, show more of his face...he's looking offscreen a bit too much right now, making him feel less engaged with the other character.

coffee piece
the first part feels too much like a cycle, where he's looking at his empty cup. if he's trying to pour drops out of it, he can hang it over his head and try to shake out the last drop of coffee. I can relate to that moment. Or if he's noticing he has no more in his cup, he can look down into it, and casually turn it over, noticing it's empty. Explore the acting in this one, as it sets the stage for the rest of the animation.

the collapse. feels ok, but the coffee arm comes down too slowly- feels like it should hit 3 frames earlier. with his head rub, watch the drift on his head, and watch the interpenetration of the hand on the table. the readjustment of the cup feels a bit rubbery as well...maybe make the readjustment happen after the coin drop.

coin drop. i can barely tell what's going on..i would have the hand come in higher, and pause while dropping the coins in..make that moment really clear, then pull the arm offscreen.

the take. he does a surprised take and then gets instantly angry. he should either rise, looks surprised, notice the coins and then get angry, or angrily get up as he heard the coins clink.

the parade of takes.
here's your current acting.
has no coffee.
feels despair.
falls to the table.
person drops coins into his cup, mistaking him for a beggar.
he gets up in suprise
turns angry.
sees coins.
does a happy take, looking ecstatic.
pulls coin out, looking happy still, but to a lesser degree.
orders a coffee, looking the same degree of happy.

you've improved this quite a bit, but it still has a ways to go. i think you turn the emotion up to 11 way too soon. i think he can look in his coffee, maybe expecting a penny and look like he's concentrating on the activity of getting the coin. he can then look really happy as he realizes he can afford more coffee. after that, he can look self satisfied that he's able to get his coffee. just watch the degrees of his emotion. also, watch the fluidity of his hand/elbow arcs on his pose changes, and watch that things don't happen at the same time.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


One of my favorite hotkeys is a script someone hacked from one of Hamish Mckenzie's. It's a quick and handy way to deal with overshoot.

Put the script in your script directory and make either a hotkey or mel command for

tighten (.2)

the value can be tweaked for the amount the curve is tweaked. Grab a tangent that has overshoot, and apply it a bunch of times and watch it dampen down in value, never quite hitting the flat state. A quick and handy way to deal with a messy graph editor.

Monday, April 21, 2008

afro samurai game

Found some screenshots of the upcoming Afro Samurai game on - some fantastic posing on these and I love the art style. Seung from last term is rumored to be working on it and doing a great job. Projects like this aren't easy to come by, so let's hope it does well and brings on a resurgence of stylized animation/art. The 'mocap' look has been in vogue the past few years, so let's hope for a change.

Just saw the trailer here.

I try not to be too hard on trailers, since it takes a while to shape up a game and they seem to showcase the idles. But love the art style and the use of cloth - I can tell the combat will be fantastic.

I posted a link to a scene from the Afro Samurai movie, which is unapologetically in the anime style. Anime is a very mixed bag for me. I enjoy it when it's well done, but am not a fan of the genre for the most part (and yes, I love Miyazake - I just find myself pretty neutral on most of what I see). I love pretty much everything about this clip (warning...violence, depaitations, etc) - from the effect lines, the play of speed and timing, the strong posing, the economy of design, the brilliant breakdown frames.... Lots to be learned from this.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

great flash animation


'yeah, but there's lots of twinning in movies'

But is there, really? People often hold up Bug's Life as being full of twinning. It being one of my all time favorite animated movies, I took a closer look and, as always, when you take a closer look at things, found it pretty fascinating. Sometimes there is twinning in a pose, but only briefly, and rarely do the arms arrive at the same time. The twinning is also pushed into some strong variation through subtle posing and angling the characters intelligently for the camera. Sorry about the unforgivable 4:3 aspect ratio, but I thought the screenshots were pretty fascinating, as every sequence with moving holds were beautifully composed.

As a counterpoint, look up 'generi' on you tube and you'll see lots of the bad kind of twinning. This above one was the first one I found and is the perfect example of hitting everything evenly

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

working off of jean-denis' twin motif

Jean-Denis has a great post on his site on the hulk poster. Having had a former career in advertising, I couldn't help but pipe in.

The theme of Jean-Denis post was about how subtleties in posing can make twinning, well, not feel like twinning. In other words. Adding subtleties allows for strong somewhat symmetrical posing.

I did a little pose analysis of this poster by looking at the angle of the shoulders, chest, hips, and knees. It's interesting in that the poses mirror each other and make a fluid line along the spine. From a design point of view, the S curve flattens out and ends up at the logo, which is where they want your eye to arrive at. By having a similar contraposto pose setup with both characters, it implies a connection between them. By having one reversed and ed norton small onscreen, it makes a direct connection between them.

What's also interesting is the fact that the head tilts are similar (though opposite) but bruce banner is closed and contained, while the hulk has his arms out in a strong, confrontational pose. (Also interesting is the hulk's gaze is downward towards the light, which also then leads the eye to the cheesy glow of the logo, connecting the foreground and background). It's interesting to see where the twinning happens. The hulk's hand poses are very similar, but by angling his shoulders down, change the sillhouette dramatically.

I'm always talking about Bug's Life in class. For a while after it came out, everyone on the planet was doing frenetic, twinned hand gestures. Take a look at Flik next time around and watch the subtle offsetting of his hands and arms as he gesticulates wildly. You can learn a lot from it, as it seems like there's a lot of twinning, but really not.

Ollie Johnson

Ollie Johnson just passed at 95. What an amazing career he had, as well as influence on generations of animators. Everyone do yourself a favor and read some illusion of life and celebrate the legacy he left behind.

Monday, April 14, 2008

act like a fool

Travis is willingly acting the fool for the sake of the greater good - well researched animations. If you're doing a realistic action, record yourself. Draw from it. Figure out the physical mechanics - if nothing else, it's a timesaver.

If you're doing acting and just wobbling your character around in maya without a strong idea of why your character is performing those actions, you do yourself and your work a disservice.

The reason I'm bringing this up is because many of you made a lot of progress last week, but a lot of your animations suffered from weight problems. If you don't have a camera, use a mirror. If you don't have a mirror, grab a friend and observe them. But really, don't understimate the power of observation and the value of research.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

norman rig - ikfk

download here

jason patnode gave me this ik/fk switch - enjoy. grab the hand and run the command mlAutoIkFk on the frame after you want the switch

Thursday, April 10, 2008

compositional studies with horton

Stumbled upon this through Jeff Kim's site. Some nice compositional analysis.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

don't eat babies

I thought this was interesting for looking at facial animation. Note how the white of the eye above the iris combined with the height of the lower lid causes a surprisingly crazed expression.

Monday, April 7, 2008

chris Q- "loosh"

I'm going to reiterate some things I mentioned in class.

You need some holds.

He moves around almost the entire time. have him start walking closer to his stopping point and slow the walk down and start his settle earlier. video yourself doing that. this way you can engage the viewer and it's more like stopping his momentum in order to speak.

I put up some suggested framing on top. there's still a bit of dead space to the right, but anything you can do to get closer will help.

weight shifts are a bit awkward and you're moving the entire character by his hip or pelvis node. really nail the stop and settle, especially as he looks and walks away to come back again towards the camera. i think that pose is too much to then turn around again.

mike belzer workflow

good post on jean-denis' blog. some good workflow tips from mike. again, there is no wrong way to work, but note the thread on general to specific.

Friday, April 4, 2008


Lots of good work last night. I'm going to start putting together a lecture on workflow and will try to post that soon. I'm working a lot of overtime and getting my taxes together, so this might take longer than I'd like...In the interim, I highly encourage everyone to grab the Eric Goldberg PDF from the drop folder and really study it.

Almost every animator I know has a different workflow - someone joked yesterday about how you can never pick up another animator's file without complaining they set it up wrong. There is some truth to that, but at the same time, there are some proven workflow techniques to get your animations off to a good start. A lot of you are getting lost in the blocking to first pass stage of things. Here's a few quick tips.

Key the Overlap.
this is essential. A lot of you ask about going in and offsetting keys later to get fluidity in your work. Go back and reread Keith Lango's tutorial on breakdown poses. The reason this doesn't work the way you might like is because you're relying on the rotations to offset in a clean way. The rotations of Norman are a bit jacked, so they're always going to hitch and gimble a bit. If you pose your keyframes and breakdowns like the illustration above, timed and spaced appropriately, your animation will be about 80% done.

Mind the Rotations, Don't fuss with the Graph Editor
When I block my work in, I just set my curves to plateau and don't worry about the graph editor until later. Cycles are their own kind of animation, so forget what I've said about them for now. I like to work in gimble mode - it's slower to pose, but I build in clean rotations from the start and circumvent gimble lock before it happens. This isn't for everyone though and is a fussy way to work. If you pose in local mode, make yourself a zero hotkey ( rotate -os 0 0 0 ) and zero the arm out before make a big pose change. You can avoid having to hit the euler filter and have your curves take on crazy rotation values.

Avoid the Drift
when you see your character slowly rotating over 3 seconds, clamp that down and make it a hold. A static hold that's timed well is far better than drift. Any kind of wrong motion is distracting.

Take on what you can handle
No more pieces over 12 seconds allowed. I really want to focus on process and getting you to train your eyes to a high level of detail. These short film length pieces just can't be done in a couple of weeks. Either pare your big pieces down, or start something smaller. I'm ok with a good 5 second piece of dialogue taken to a high level. For those working on your reels, bring them in next week and I'll give you my opinion of what I think would help them.

reread TJ's workflow post. We share the same philosophy on the animation layering.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

crits for karen..

Quick crits, as I don't have much time today..
This really came a long way this week. I like it a lot through ' much is it'
His take afterwards feels a little extreme, and too much like a take. I think with reactions, even humorous ones, it's all about the careful with overdoing it, especially as you need to transition into the next pose set. Have him gradually get into the next pose..maybe start fussing with his hair and then turning...act this part out to make it more naturalistic...animations don't leave the blocking feel unless you can logically make the viewer feel like you're getting from one thought to another through the weight of the character.

The next part has some nice things about it, but watch the pelvis rotating over the feet in a marionette like way. It seems like he needs one good weight shift here while thinking, so pay attention to how a weight shift happens. He pops back and forth a little too quickly, and the rest of his body is posed pretty much the same. your acting with the head and hands is nice, but the subtlety is lost through the big movements. Also, he's looking away the whole time...maybe have him alter his gaze/head angle at one point.

More to come, time permitting.

Good improvement of the tire animation. On the tire, watch the knee pops and on the collapse, watch how the tire feels like you're fighting the pivot. In this case, just frame by frame it to make it feel right, but in general, the fall/settle of the tire feels off.

babies eating lemons

Thought this was great reference.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

the jump - stylized for games

Game animation is the second class citizen to film, but it's still pretty damn hard. Jean-Denis posted a great tutorial on jumps and I thought I'd chime in with an older tutorial I wrote specifically on gameplay jumps.

facial animation...eyes, brows (mouth)

My new favorite blog of movie screenshots is really handy. This week's theme is what the eyes and brows are doing during facial expressions. I pulled from a variety of sources. Note the smiles. They're all over the place - some, like the elizabeth shue shot, feel very natural and convincing. Others seem a bit more forced. But these aren't just happy and sad, or happy and really happy. Some are completely disconnected from the emotion and a bit surreal. Some seem a bit mad. Some barely react at all and are only partial smiles. I don't have a ton of these up, but my point is to note what the eyes and brows are doing to indicate a state of relaxation. When the eyes don't connect wit hthe expression, like in the second pic over, it feels a bit creepy.
Speeking of creepy, the two on the bottom right are fright or terror, or madness. Only here do you show tons of white space above the eye. Look at all the other shots to see the relationship of the upper and lwer eyelid to the iris/pupil. So avoid the classic norman bugged out eye thing.
Joe asked the question this week about 'micro expressions'. I still don't have a great answer for you on that, as it's a challenging question to answer. Really, microposing has a lot to do with extremely subtle moments, and adding the tics and details that come from really well observed moments and really understanding why the face does what it does in emotional moments. Read Desmond Morris' manwatching for some specifics on human behavior and some facial information. Really, this was popularized by Paul Eckman who came up with his Facial Action Coding System.
Emotions are what "make life livable," writes psychologist Ekman in this unique hands-on volume that flirts shrewdly with psychology and anthropology. His 40-odd years of research have led him to the conclusion (originally presented by Charles Darwin) that emotions, and their 10,000 facial expressions, are largely universal.
Really, though, I think this stuff is fantastic, but has to come after all your big moves are laid down.