AM Class 5 – Blocking

It’s the end of week 4 already and we are starting to get busy! This week was the first real week of blocking for my class. Our mentor suggested we focus on getting the body blocked out in a lot of detail and if we had time to get some basic facial stuff worked in. Next week I plan on adding in a lot of facial work and lip-sync. This shot is certainly a step up in difficulty from my previous one. Adding a second character really starts to slow the process down because there is now twice the amount of things to think about while animating. We have had some great lectures on keeping characters “alive” while another character is the main focus.

Workflow notes
For this week’s blocking, I tried out a new method of blocking which I am enjoying. Essentially I used Maya to my advantage to help me figure out more breakdowns. I would block in stepped keys like usual but then pretty regularly switch everything over to splines and see what areas needed more breakdowns. I would let the computer do the work of getting me a basic breakdown pose to start with and then go in and push it more to my liking. This was a workflow tip I got from two of my previous mentors (Steve Cady and Mike Stern) both mentioned how they have done this at times depending on the shot they were working on. I found it has helped speed up my blocking process, but it does take some getting used to. I might not use this method all the time but I wanted to keep experimenting with my workflow, in hopes of improving my speed in the blocking stage. One thing all my mentors have mentioned is that workflow really changes quite often depending on the shot and your deadline, so I think it is good to have tried different workflows and learn what works best in certain situations.

That is all for this week, take a look at my blocking below!

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AM Class 4: Pantomime Final

It is the end of week 4 and I have just put the finishing touches on my first assignment for the term — the pantomime. If you have been following my previous posts you will have seen my shot throughout the various stages of it’s completion. From the early planning and video reference until now; the final polished version. This was my first attempt at a pantomime assignment. The main goal and focus of the shot has been to show a clear change of emotion in the character and to sell the character’s internal though process as it goes throughout the shot. After a lot of great feedback from my mentor and peers, I have come to a version of the shot I can say I am quite happy with. I know there are still areas that I will likely tweak some more before it is time to put on the demo reel, but the deadline is here and I had to submit it.

My shot has had some substantial changes over the course of it’s progression, all in regards to keeping it as simple and clear as possible. This is been the note that I have had to keep referring back to throughout the weeks of working on this. I was always thinking about how my poses and acting choices push the character and the story forward. I tried to make it so all the actions that the character does are purposeful and not just to show movement. They are there to support the internal thoughts of the character.

I am so excited to be going further into acting shots and for the next 8 weeks, we will be tackling our very first acting shot with dialoug and lip-sync animation! It is going to be a challenging and really exciting assignment to work on and I am eager to get started.

Below is the final version of my pantomime shot:

AM Class 1: Week 4 – Timing, Spacing and Weight

Another week, and another assignment completed! This week was actually kind of nice, there was no posing assignment so we only had to focus on our animation of two bouncing balls that have very different weights. We also had to make revisions to our bouncing ball assignment from the previous week.

Two bouncing balls with varying weights was a very fun assignment to do! The goal of this assignment was for us to learn how timing and spacing can drastically effect the perceived weight of an object. For example, a falling object that is very heavy is going to have a spacing that is much more spread out because the object will cover more distance in a shorter period of time because of it’s weight than an object that is very light, which will have more hang time while falling and bouncing. To show this in our assignment we had to show two balls bouncing and utilized these principles to change the weights of the balls.

I chose to show a lot of contrast in my shot so I did a beach ball and a bowling ball. They are about as different in weight as you can get. Now there are a lot of factors that effect how these objects would fall and bounce such as air resistance, the type of surface these objects are bouncing on etc. However, for the sake of learning these principles we try to limit those as much as possible. In my example I’m basing everything on the surface being concrete or some form of very neutral hard surface without much bounce to it. However, in some cases of animation we have to really factor in all of these real world properties, it’s all totally dependent on the style of the shot and the purpose. But one of the things AM really stresses in the early classes is the golden rule of K.I.S.S (Keep it simple, stupid) there will be a time to get complex but while we are trying to learn the key fundamentals to animation we need to make sure that they are the first and top priority before we do anything fancy with out shots.

So enough blabbering, here is the results of my hard work from this past week!

Mentor Comments & Revisions:
The comments my mentor had for me were mostly revolving around my planning sketches and also on the timing and spacing of my bowling ball.

For my sketches, he really wanted me to draw the spacing more accurately to how it would look in Maya. I did the spacing correctly in Maya but he wants to make sure we understand it in our heads as well. So in the future I’m going to really be making sure my planning is more accurately drawn, plus it will just make the transition to 3D easier if it’s done right.

As for my bowling ball, it was just some very subtle tweaks regarding the spacing and timing of the drop from the ledge. He wanted it to arc more and have just a few extra keys towards the top to show a bit more acceleration in the ball drop. The last comment he had for me was to add some sort of marker to show the rotations of the ball more clearly. So I went ahead and found bowling ball texture and applied it which helps greatly in seeing the rotations more clearly. Overall, I felt pretty happy with my assignment and was glad the changes I had were just some minor tweaks.

Planning for 2 Ball Assignment:

2 Ball Assignment:

Revisions of 2 Ball Assignment:

Stay tuned for another exciting blog post soon! It will be discussing my adventures of week 5 tackling Squash & Stretch, Anticipation, Devastation poses, and the ball bounce obstacle course! It’s going to be an extremely busy week!