AM Class 6 – Polishing

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First let me say, time sure flies here at Animation Mentor! It is already the end of week 9, which means I only have two more weeks until Class 6 is complete and I am officially done with the Classic Character Animation track at Animation Mentor! This past week was spent really focusing on cleaning up my arcs, refining the face, tweaking the lip-sync, and addressing a lot of the arm issues I was having in the previous weeks. Based on my mentor’s feedback I still need to push the smile during the laugh to really sell it, and I still have some spacing issues that need to be cleaned up with the head near the beginning of the shot. One of the goals I have had for this class was to improve my facial animation. My mentor, Sean, has been doing an awesome job in helping me really get the most out of my facial poses. He always has such great advice and tips on how to push my poses even more and it has really forced me to improve on my facial animation a lot in a short amount of time.

Once I tackle my mentor’s notes and make sure they are all reading, I want to start working in some more subtle hand and finger movements, and I am also going to be testing out Animation Layers to try and incorporate some more shoulder overlap and torso squash and stretch. I’m hoping this will help get the laughs to read more in the body and not just in the face. I have also been keeping track of my hours on this shot to stay updated on my workflow process and in total I clocked around 32 hours from the blocking stage until now.

Here is the progress for this week. Be sure to check back soon for another update and eventually a my finished demo reel!

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/88547987 w=720&h=405]

AM Class 2 – Week 9: Blocking Plus

Another week of animating has flown by! This third and final assignment of Class 2 has been quite a learning experience. Thankfully, we have been given 1 whole extra week to complete this assignment. I really think that should help because it’s amazing how much more work gets added to animating a character when you add arms to it! All of a sudden you have to figure out the best methods for dealing with your character interacting with props, and tracking arcs on two extra appendages. I certainly have had my fair share of obstacles to overcome with this assignment, especially with the process of dealing with an FK/IK switch in the arms and re-timing animation that has all sorts of constraints on it. I have dealt with constraints in the past but it was not as involved as this. Thankfully, I think I have managed to solve my issues and found a decent workflow to complete this assignment.

This week, we were told to take our assignment out of stepped tangents and start moving into spline tangents. The next two weeks will be just constant tweaks and polishing until the assignment is due. I really didn’t touch many of the curves yet other than a very general pass over them. The next two weeks are going to be where I really get into the graph editor and start going to town on the curves! The final version is due week 11 and during week 12 we have to create our progress reel and take the end of the term survey. We only have 2 days off between Class 2 ending and Class 3 starting so I am going to be busy until sometime in June!

Anyways, that is it for this week; below is the first version of my splined shot.

AM Class 2 – Week 9: Blocking Plus from matt sackley on Vimeo.

AM Class 1: Week 9 – Polishing the Walk & Concern Pose

Week 9 is over and that means I only have three weeks left of Class 1! This week, we had to take our blocking of a vanilla walk and convert it over to smooth tangents and polish it for a completed animation.

This process is where you can really spend an almost infinite amount of time tweaking your shot to get it to look “perfect”. However, there is a saying in the animation industry that

“Your animation is never finished, it just gets taken away from you.”

The biggest issue I ran into during the polishing phase of this animation is the same one that they warned us about during the lecture and just about all the other students I know had the same problems to work through. It was “Knee Pops” or IK Popping. With a character like Ballie it is even more noticeable because he has perfect spheres for knees and in real-life knees do not look or function like that, but because these exercises are simplified for learning purposes it’s just something we have to work with and try to get it to look as good as possible. The reason why these “pops” happen is because to really sell the walk you have to make sure you have the “straight leg” poses on both the contact and the push off poses. These really give the illusion of weight and they must be held for 2-3 frames for the viewer to feel as if it really is extending its leg. I worked and worked on this walk until the last minute and hoped to get some good feedback.

I was very excited when my mentor gave me my critique and only had some very minor changes to make to my walk! I was afraid I had too much popping even though I spent a ton of hours trying to polish this assignment, until a point where I could only see flaws. My mentor suggested I extend the legs over a longer number of frames, so that it doesnt snap out to a straight leg quite so fast. He also said I should speed up my up and down rotation by a couple of frames so that it happens sooner. Other than that, he said it looked very good, and that made me really happy!

Original Walk:

Revised Walk:

Along with the polishing of a walk, we had to pose Stu showing “Concern”. Overall, I got some minor changes from my mentor on my pose but for the most part he said it was a very strong pose and I had done a good job portraying the idea of concern quite well.

Concern Pose – Sketches, Original, Revision

We are coming up on our last actual animation assignment for the class and it is another two week long assignment where we create a Personality Walk. So stay tuned for more updates on that!