Tuesday, August 28, 2012

b-ball tricks

We had an end of project postmortem, and one of our exercises was to come up with inspirational animation influences.

This is a challenge - there's always the go to works by Disney and Pixar - there's so many accomplished animations being created every day, but one thing I tend to look for outside of things like Shere Khan's acting  moments and the other fantastic animation solutions out there is in timing.

I tend to look for the unexpected - things that I come across that stand out as being unusual in timing, pacing, structure or what have you.

The above clip was sent my way and it seemed to relate well the the Richard Williams adage of "juggling the timing", meaning vary your beats so they hide patterns and shift into the feel of music.

Friday, August 17, 2012

rethinking the run cycle

While I was looking into options for running again (post hip-arthoscopy), I've started reading a lot about "pose" and "chi" aka, "minimalist" running techniques; essentially landing on the midfoot and keeping a slight bend in the knees as way of lessening impact while running (and preventing more injury)

As I looked into it more, I started approaching it all with an animator's eye. One of the things I love the most about animating is researching motion - finding the right movement style for the character, or sometimes just learning how to see deeper into specific types of motion.

I'm always used to approaching a run like this:

But looking at real life as way to inform your animations:  (Examples below (taken from http://www.runblogger.com/2010/07/runbloggers-guide-to-minimalist-running.html )

This shows the standard footwork in most animated run cycles. I'll go back and some point and diagram these out a bit, but it has a lot of commonalities with what you see in most animated runs...knee goes straight for a couple of frames before contacting with the heel. Back foot peels away. Often a bit of chest compression after the impact.

Now let's check out the midfoot running style.

And here is the midfoot strike in action (on some of them - the last guy is a heel striker and you can see the impact shock as he lands, which is often a great touch in an animation). It looks more effortless, but the difference here is fairly subtle. Rather than stomping down on the heel, they pull the foot back further to land on the ball of the foot.

As an animator, the "pose" running system caught my eye, as it works on the tenet that the run is based off of a single 'correct' pose, something I've always ascribed to. The before/after is pretty clear in this section.
The main differences-
  • back foot kicks up to the backside rather than extends out (pulling into the 'pose')
  • much shorter foot stride. Plant is under the body.
  • 180-200 strides per min.
  • body leans forwards and uses the continuous falling motion to propel you forward, while the up down pumping action keeps momentum.
  • never touch the heel to the ground.
  • less up and down motion in the body
Another how to by the pose running guru.

So what does this mean for animators?  More options to consider how a character might run while injecting plausible motion. Maybe the heelstrike is more appealing, as you can get a slower stride length that might fit your character proportions better. Or perhaps on a short legged character, the running on the balls of the feet with more of a pumping action would make more sense.

Let's look at another extreme

What's interesting after looking at this is seeing how much closer the pose running system is to sprinting.  Especially with the high kicks.

I found I was lacking clarity in forefoot vs midfoot running, so dove back into google. 
From Newton Running...product placement aside...good examples of forefoot endurance running v. sprinting.

AND MORE (Barefoot Running site with slow motion clips)

This barefoot running site has what every animator wants to see...curves! They measure impact force as they run.

Good example of the forefoot strike with and without shoes.

This last bit is interesting, as it factors in how a shoe can influence gait and foot plant. I'm now curious to see people running in boots or with thick soles and how that influences stride length.