AM Class 6 – Refining Pass

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This was another fast, yet productive week! I took my shot into the next stage – refining. I moved out of stepped keys and into splined and got to see the real power of the workflow that my mentor has me using. It was really eye-opening to see my shot in splined curves without a lot of guess work needing to be done on my part. By having the shot blocked on 4’s it really limits the computer’s ability to give you bad breakdowns and in-betweens. It still happens but, it certainly make the clean-up and refinement process a lot smoother. Based on my mentors advice, I need to exaggerate some of the posing and timing but for the most part needed to stick to my reference and focus on cleaning up the motion and curves.

As for my workflow in the cleanup/refining stage, I started with the core and center of gravity controls of the character, then worked up through to the head and out to the arms. I still have some issues with the arms that need to be worked out. It is rather difficult to get nice smooth off-set circular motion with FK arms because it requires a lot of counter-animation between the shoulder and elbows. I’m thinking switching the arms to IK this week and seeing how successful I am with it. I then also did another pass at the face and lip-sync working in more detail into the brows, eyes, and mouth. In keeping up with my workflow journaling, I also spent a total of 14 hours cleaning it up this week. I’m hoping to get pretty close to final by the end of this coming week so that I can focus on some really detailed polish work and finessing some more of my older shots.

That is all for this post, take a look and let me know what you think!
[vimeo https// w=720&h=405]


AM Class 5 – More Refining

Well, week 7 has just come to an end at AM and it was another busy week with some big notes to hit. After getting my eCritique from last week, my mentor still said I wasn’t getting the right idea across in the beginning of the shot. She wanted the girl to slowly and gradually step up to the male character as the shot progressed. I had her pretty much just walking right up to him and then delivering her lines. So I went back in and re-blocked it again and really try to hit her notes as close as I could. She was very helpful in the critique and actually drew out some really good poses for me to try to incorporate at the exact time in the dialogue. She also suggested I hold her initial pose for quite a bit longer before starting to move into the male character’s space.

On top of her notes, we were told to try and get 1/3 of our shot to 80% complete. She is pushing us to aim for Week 10 as a final date so that we can have that actual final Week 11 be there for any last minute tweaks. She has pushed me a lot this term and it has been a very challenging shot for me but each week I am learning a lot and really pushing my shot. That is all for this week, I’m going to keep it pretty short. So take a look and let me know what you think!

AM Class 4: Second Blocking Pass

Whew, I’m glad this week is over. It was a stressful one as I dealt with the stresses of technology failing. On Wednesday morning, I opened my file only to realize all my animation data I had worked on from the night before didn’t save! Maya 2012 was causing my file to get corrupted every time I saved. Luckily, thanks to the AMP Pipeline tool from Animation Mentor all our work is saved on the cloud in their servers. This is great because it has a versioning feature so I was at least able to roll back to my second most recent version of the file. This meant I only lost about 2-3 hours worth of work rather than ALL of it. After working with tech support we found out that it was an issue with Maya 2012, which is known for being a pretty buggy version of Maya, so I opened it in Maya 2013 and I was able to save animation data again and continue working.

After that set back and a couple long nights and days working on my shot, I was have completed my second pass of blocking. This week, I worked in the mouth shapes for my lip-sync and also added many more breakdowns to my poses. Next week, I’ll be moving into my first pass of blocking plus where I will really get down to work on smoothing out the animation and working in splines. My biggest hurdle aside from fighting technology on this shot has been getting used to that fact that the body and the mouth will be moving at different timing from the body. Up until now everything all moved as a “whole”, but now we have to animate essentially two different timings and keep everything feeling as if it is still part of one cohesive character. It is a tricky situation at first, definitely a process that is just going to take some practice to get used too. Either way, I’m learning so much going through this process and am eager to see how this final shot turns out.

And now, my second pass of blocking:

AM Class 3 – Week 7: Sequence Blocking Plus

Hello! It has been FAR too long since I made an update. With the format for how Class 3 collaboration at Animation Mentor works, it has made making weekly blog posts a little difficult, also life has just been a bit busier as of late. After completing our individual shots in week 3, we immediately began work on the collaboration sequence. Planning the story, story boarding, and creating the set dressing and pre-viz for the sequence. After all of this was completed we finally got to start blocking out the shots we were cast in.

The process our mentor used to cast the shots was mimicking the same process they use in studios. He looked at our past work and where our strengths and weaknesses were and then determined what shots would be best to showcase our skills and still be a good learning experience. I was cast with two shots of “Stella” climbing out her bedroom window with her suitcase. It has been a very challenging shot in terms of body mechanics but I think I am going to learn a lot from this assignment!

One thing that has been really great about the collaborative process is learning a whole new level of skills that you just can’t learn without working with other animators. I now have to remember that my shots are there to help aide in telling the larger story of the sequence. I also have to keep in contact with the animators who’s shots hook-up with mine so we all have the right continuity throughout the sequence. These are all super valuable skills that all animators have to learn.

So, without any more wait.. below is my blocking (plus) of my first 2 shots in the sequence. I’ll be sure to post the final complete sequence with everyone’s shots when it is finished!

AM Class 2 – Week 7: Polishing the Car Push & Planning Final Assignment

Week 7 was quite a full week, first and foremost I got a great e-Critique from my mentor which included some excellent feedback on how to really polish up my shot. Overall, the feedback was really positive and he gave me some great ideas on how to solve the area of my shot that I was struggling the most with which was the final push before the fall.

Part of being an animator is learning not to get too attached to a specific idea, because in production directors (or mentors) will change their minds. After my critique I tried various different solutions to try and fix the final 60-70 frames of my assignment but it eventually just came down to the solution of scrapping it and just re-doing the last chunk very carefully. Honestly, I’m very happy with that decision because I think overall it greatly improved the last section of the animation from where it was at.

Polished Shot

AM Class 2 – Week 7: Car Push Polishing from matt sackley on Vimeo.

This week we also had to begin planning our third and final shot of the term. This assignment we get to use the full Stewie character who now has arms to work with! Below is the planning I did for the shot, including some embarrassing video reference for your enjoyment!

Video Reference

Planning Sketches and Story Breakdown

I am off to enjoy a little bit of a break before the next hectic week of work and animating begins! Stay tuned…

AM Class 1: Week 7 – One Leg Jump

Once again another week has gone by and it went fast! This past week the assignment was to choose to animate either “Tailor” which is a ball with a tail attached to it, to better understand overlapping action or to animate the “One Leg” character doing a jump. After having my Q&A and listening to what my mentor’s thoughts were on the assignment, he suggested we all attempt the jump. Not that the Tail assignment is a bad one, but he mentioned that as professional animators the likelyhood we would be animating a character with a tail on it is not nearly as common as animating jumps. Also he mentioned how when he was the Lead Animator on Scrat in the Ice Age movies, they actually had a tool that aided greatly in the animation of his tail, so there wasn’t as much “from scratch” animation on the tail. He also made the point of how characters jump ALL the time and he thought it would transition in to week 8’s assignment nicer as well. So I’ll be saving working with the Tailor character for a side project maybe during break week.

Anyways, without further rambling, here is my planning and original version of my jump:

My mentor didn’t have too many things to change with my jump, most of it had to deal with toning down a couple of poses and making them less exagerated and also adjusting some of the spacing on the initial jump. I really enjoyed this assignment and felt like I learned a great deal. Also, now that I am working on Week 8’s assignment, it was useful to have worked with a similar character a head of time. Below is the revision: