Monday, October 19, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

first aid

Prolific animator and educator, Keith Lango, has posted these, which are conveniently directly relevant to the weight pieces you're working on. I highly recommend Keith's tutorials as well.

Monday, October 12, 2009

john k does the jetsons

Pretty interesting post on what's almost an exercise in pushing beyond the original material. I wish I could see this in's interesting how much it deviates from the original, but still feels like the same characters.

david anthony gibson's cloudy reel + useful breakdown

JD Haas beat me to the punch on this one, so he gets the credit for finding this really well written post and reel breakdown

love the style and detailed descriptions on posing/planning

Friday, October 9, 2009


quick reminder…in a weight shift, treat the spine and pelvis as a unit. As your pelvis moves up and over the foot, the spine generally counterbalances to maintain balance.

Everyone did a great job blocking…don’t be too precious about it though and continue to make it stronger and more clear with each pass.

sony animators blog

head over to room 1403 for some inspiration.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

polish tips from Shawn Kelly

from Shawn's blog....

What are some extra goodies to add in polish to make the animation stand out even more (eg. head squash and stretch…)

For me, the single biggest thing is pushing my arcs into something clear, fun, and pleasing to the eye. There's nothing like some beautiful arcs on the wrists, feet, nose, props, etc., to really bring a scene to life and take it from looking acceptable to looking great!

Other than that, especially in visual effects animation, which is the medium I've mostly worked in (animating characters who need to live in the same frame as live-action actors), the key is subtle complexity. It's finding small ways to add little secondary things that bring the character more fully to life.

Things like having a character swallow, and the intricate neck muscle movements that go into a swallow, for example. Or putting in breaths into the scene - expanding the chest a bit, etc.

As you say, you can also get some great extra mileage out of squashing and stretching the head slightly, if the style of the film is appropriate for that. In a more realistic film, you could get that feeling out of squashing/stretching the fleshier parts of the face while keeping the skull itself more rigid, but it's the same idea - giving the overall character a heightened feeling of being organic and fleshy.

All of these sorts of things - micro eye movements, muscles flexing/relaxing, ear twitches on an animal, toes squishing against the ground, etc - these all can add to the overall complexity that will help the character feel even more alive without sacrificing the subtlety of the performance!

shaba games..the end

boo. Activision shut down my former employer Shaba Games - a really great place to work. Another big hit for Bay Area animation. Best of luck to all my talented former coworkers.

Friday, October 2, 2009

moving a static cycle forwards

Last night I realized a bit too late that the technical aspects of maya were taking over for everyone, so I figured out a nice low tech way to move a static cycle forwards without using space switching tools and rerigging mid project. I’m a huge fan of the simple solution whenever possible.

I grabbed a quad walk I had from an older project that was blocked in in-place. I often start my cycles in place to establish the rhythms but move them to translation as soon as possible, as cycles in place are a bit of an abstraction. At the very least, I’ll take the master node and translate it (linearly) to better establish the footfalls and eliminate foot slide as soon as possible, then mute it at the first frame when necessary to better evaluate the cycle (especially on runs, which move too fast to evaluate well with translation)

So..pretty simple…looking at the curves on one of the feet…pretty rhythmic in that sine wave shape that in place cycles have.


Next, let’s grab all the nodes that need to translate forward (in this case, 4 feet, pole vectors, and the pelvis)


On the bottom right of your screen, next to the display layer tab, there’s a button for Animation Layers. Click that, and the on the LAYERS dropdown, create new layer. The one thing you don’t want to do is create an override layer, which can be really useful, just not in this case.


With our nodes still selected, we’re going to set 2 keys. One at the first frame, then at the last frame of the cycle, translating the character forwards in z. Make sure there’s no wobble to these splines ( I usually grab all the curves and press SPLINE, which oddly makes them behave as if they’re linear). Now I fuss with this final location until there’s as little foot slide as possible. If you’ve done this cycle in place the whole time, there’s invariably going to have some foot slide, but if it’s minor, let’s not worry about it yet.

So here we are…first pass..translating forward, working as expected.

Save off a version, and let’s bake the changes down.


These are the settings I like to use…Smart Bake is really useful for not making a cloud of points.

Now that it’s baked down to a layer, we can look at the Z curves


This is linear, but you can see the foot drift on the holds, which should be fixed.

This method falls into the category of a simple solution rather than an elegant one, but anything that gets you towards your goal faster is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.