Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Academy Events Next Week

Monday, October 6

Walt Disney Animation Studios

491 Post Street


Representatives will discuss Apprenticeship Programs and Disney Talent Development

Tuesday, October 7

Honorary Doctorate Presentation: Richard Winn Taylor II

2151 Van Ness

5pm Reception

7pm Ceremony & Presentation

Mr. Taylor is a VFX pioneer who has worked on such films as Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Tron

Wednesday, October 8

Animation Town Hall Meeting

180 New Montgomery

Room 400A, 10am

Students can meet the directors, faculty, and other department representatives, ask questions, and express themselves

the fine art of caricature

I'm sure many of you has seen this by now, as the current economic crisis is on everyone's minds. This was a role made for Tina Fey, and it's pretty fascinating to see the mannerisms she picks up and embellishes to push the comedy. I think for it to work though, the comedy comes from how well she picks up on the details before diverging from them.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The benefit of practice

Jean-Denis brought up an extremely valuable series of points in one of his recent posts that I feel compelled to riff off of, notably that of the value of practice exercises.

I think there's a difference between an exercise and a demo reel piece, and as a student, or even a professional, there's times when you just need to just let an animation be a practice exercise. As a student, it's sometimes more preferable just to do a lot of practice exercises and later on, turn those good ones into more refined pieces.

It's a tricky thing...you want to approach each animation with a certain amount of gravity (and not just the physics) - part of becoming a better animator, and something that never ends, is the process of honing your eye, which comes from doing a LOT of animation, as well as watching movies, critiquing your peers as well as those leaps in learning we all periodically make that push us a bit higher.

So, here's a quick listing of examples of animations that I'd suggest doing with the goal of not putting on your reel. To have fun with, push without pressure, and to refine your skills. Like intellectual push ups.

  • The bouncing ball. It never gets old, and is a pretty accurate litmus of weight, timing, spacing. If you're bored with it, do a heavy ball..a light ball, balls on a pool table, a ping pong ball and a bowling ball. I'm not sure if it's possible to master this exercise - I do a lot of these in 2d on my tablet pc and feel like I learn something every time I do them, but you won't see one on my reel..
  • the weight shift. One of the more problematic areas for student.Video youself, draw from this. observe the subtle interaction of the pelvis to the feet as well as curve of the spine. a good one is to have a character idle for a bit, then turn and walk away in the opposite direction they're standing. You could punch it up...maybe have someone waiting for a bus and has to run to catch it once they notice. I've seen more reels get killed for bad weight shifts than anything else.
  • weight exercises. lift, throw, catch - anything you want. how characters pick things up is essential, and always needed. you could go subtle..have a character pick up an envelope, or broad, and have someone use a sledgehammer, or chop wood on a stump.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Criteria for Demo Reel Work/How to be a student animator

Jean-Denis with the wisdom..

A wise man on an ordinary day, he really nails down many sentiments I feel about what you should focus on as a student, the process of learning, as well as what goes into making a reel.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

quadraped walk cycle demo

Untitled from coop on Vimeo.

As promised, and because I'm becoming less convinced of my ability to give a lecture AND critique 25 students in 3 hours, I'm going to attempt to post more additional content on this blog.

Really, this is nothing terribly fancy...a 25 minute demo of how to rough in a quadraped walk cycle with a few bullet points and no audio. The technique was shown to me by a pretty spectacular animator, Jan VanBuyten who has done animation from Balto to The Host - he really knows his creatures, and this is my take on his methodology of roughing in the basic mechanics. It's a much more layered approach than I generally take, but it takes you pretty far into the cycle quickly, while keeping it editable.

Let me know if this is useful..it's my first attempt at making something using screen capture software-the whole thing is realtime with no editing, so you can see me make some wrong moves and backtrack a bit in places. Also, it's playing at double speed, recorded at 15fps, so you never see the final cycle in real time...(more detailed info to come)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sindhu - new to class, here come the crits

Sindhu (whose name I hope I'm not mispelling) is a late arrival and emailed me 2 cycles.

Now, I'm happy to crit these, but going forwards I want to be clear that I don't want people submitting work they've done in other classes, mostly because you'll learn more by doing it over from scratch after a snazzy lecture and demo.

Ok. Let's start with the walk. We're officially not getting to them for another week, but here it is..a basic walk. Walks are tricky in that your eye quickly gravitates to what isn't working, but it's also hard to pinpoint what's off..you just know it is.

Also, it's easier for me to do a crit if i have the .ma file, or a playblast from multiple angles with a frame counter (use my frameDisplay.mel if you need one)

The overall poses and feel of it is good, but the even feel of it makes it a little robotic. Part can be fixed by posing. It looks like the stride is a little short. You could either tweak the Y of the pelvis to avoid the squat nature of it, or extend the overall stride length a hair by giving him a stronger extension/pre-plant pose. Also, there isn't a lot of rotation to the body..it all moves as a unit, making it feel like it's still in blocking. Offsetting the rotations tapering upwards will help with that. I'm not sure if the elbows and shoulders move at all in this..make sure they are animated. Even subtle changes will help add fluidity while still retaing the basic nature of it. the spine could do that nice wavelike motion a bit more going forwards/back. The head should be gazing at a point in space...not just moving with the body...a good time to use those parent space attributes. Other than that, the overall extension of the feet make it feel soft rather than a plant.

The ball guy has a nice rhythm to it - it's a little more evenly paced than a traditional walk, giving it a happy feel..the Y of the pelvis is more like a run, but it works with this character and i don't know the rig limitations to critique the pelvis, etc.

the arms feel a little underanimated though and the antenna has a pop to it. More crit as I find the time...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

cycles, quick recap

You all have my notes by this point (pick up this week's pdf in the pickup folder) but I thought I'd give a quick recap for those of you who inadvertantly nodded off during class or just signed up.

How I Do a Cycle, Cliff Notes Version
Cycles are a different kind of animation compared to most other, because as important as the poses are, the eye is paying attention to the rhyhmic interplay of the parts of the body. Minor offsetting of things like the shoulders make a big difference.

  1. Figure out what you're doing. Get reference, sketch, act it out, have a clear idea of what sort of cycle it is.
  2. Stamp down complete poses for the main keys and breakdowns of the cycle. Contact, Passing, etc. It should read as a cycle for the most part. Even key the fingers..get those poses strong and spend time refining them.
  3. Next, start dealing with the stride length and relationship between the pelvis and feet. These are the biggest changes in your cycle, rather, they relate to each other, so any change has to be done on all 3 nodes. You're also establishing rhythm and cadence here. I often turn the pelvis curve to weighted and nail the Y movement of it.
  4. Key the feet to get nice fluid arcs and more accurate placement of the feet. The breakdown frames add a lot of character, so go to town on these.
  5. The spine. If you're main key poses are solid this should be finessing. On a walk, there's very much a subtle wavelike motion on it. On a run, there's more of a faster compresion after hitting the ground (be careful with this or your cycle can look jittery)
  6. head and neck. solidify this relationship
  7. rough in the arms
  8. analyze what you have. break it down to your keyposes and breakdowns if it isn't working
  9. polish arcs working from the pelvis out.
This isn't THE way to do a cycle. Lots of animators even take it in stepped mode to near finish. All methodologies are valid...this is just what I've found to be a fast workflow

Also, if anyone has questions, post them in the comments so your classmates can benefit from your inquisitive nature. Also, comments in the blog that are more pointed than shout outs to your homies will count as a form of class participation.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

uh...where was everyone...

Sorry about the mix up..I didn't have more than 6 email addresses for the class and opted to go the route of printing the time change in the pdf and posting to this blog.

For those actually reading this..please send in your assignments and I'll find time to get you a crit this week.

the walk cycle

just a quick smattering of things I found on that interweb

the syllabus

I had a good meeting with Chris Armstrong about the syllabus and goals of this class. The end result was that he felt it could be a bit more free form, provided I teach the course requirements.

This is good news for you guys though...it doesn't mean I'm going to go easy on you by any means, but it does mean that we can restructure the course to your individual goals. This also doesn't mean to just bring in the same assignment for months on end...just go over with me in advance what you'd like to do and we can start tailoring the lectures to the classwork.

As an example, I posted a revised syllabus here. It's not the new syllabus, but merely an attempt to revise it.

I'd like to start tailoring this course more towards polish and refined animations

Friday, September 5, 2008

Syllabus, et al..

Good first day of class I hope..I know I overloaded you with a lot of info, but the first day is always a challenge.

Quick reminder...next week class will be on Tuesday.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

more free rigs

Just noticed not only some free rig links, but free prop links as well at the animation lounge.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

end of summer, new semester

A new semester begins...