AM Class 4: Pantomime Refining

It is the end of week 3 and I have just turned in my blocking plus/refining pass. My mentor wanted us to take the shot out of stepped keys and transition into splines because the final shot is due at the end of next week. This week I had a good amount of notes to address from my blocking, most of them were tweaks in my posing and overall idea of the shot. My mentor, Joe, gave me some great feedback during the eCritique. The biggest changes I made were switching the hand which Stan uses to grab the beer and toning down the overall grabbing of the beer. The other biggest change I made was to remove the wiping of his mouth. Joe’s comments were that for this assignment we didn’t want to make it too complicated. Simplicity is key, this is something we continue to hear in our lectures and throughout the curriculum at AM. By removing and making these changes, my shot has a more naturalistic feel and is not quite as “showy” which is really what I was going for.

Workflow Notes
Once again, I kept a close eye on my workflow for transitioning over to spline keys. This is usually the area where many animators including myself struggle. I took my mentor’s advice and kept my shot in it’s blocking stage and added as many breakdowns and ease in/outs that I could while staying in stepped keys before switching it over to splines. This really helped make the transition go a lot smoother. I also made sure when tweaking sections of my animation to work in smaller chunks of frames at a time — roughly 20-40 frame sections. This was actually a workflow tip that I received from my class 2 mentor and has really helped me not get too overwhelmed with a shot.

That is all for now, below is the first pass of refinement on my shot.

Refining Pass

AM Class 3: Week 3 – Polishing

Three weeks sure goes by fast! I had to take my Stan shot from concept to final polish in that time. This meant going straight from blocking to splining without an extra week for blocking plus. However, from what I understand this is actually more common in the studio environment and that the blocking plus stage is not really as common in the studios. I had to really have a clear idea and clean planning to pull this shot off in the time frame.

I received my critique on Monday and it was a huge relief to hear my mentor really liked my shot. He said it was a very good example of what this assignment required and I did a good job executing it within the time frame. He gave me some really useful notes on how to take it the extra mile and polish it up even more too! I took those notes and applied them to the shot I’m showing in this post. I still think there is plenty of room for improvements though. Overall, I really am happy with this shot and had a ton of fun animating it! I feel as though a lot of the things I struggled with in Class 2 have improved in this assignment. Being able to see the improvement is always a great feeling.

Here is the polished version:

Stay tuned as we are now getting into the collaborative part of the class and the story pitches are already due later this week! I’m really excited to get to working on the collaborative sequence and cannot wait to update all you with how it is going!

AM Class 1: Week 5 – Anticipation, Squash & Stretch, Obstacle Course

Week 5 is over and it was kind of a crazy week for me. I knew that I would have to work extra hard this week because I had to attend a wedding out of town and would be leaving Friday. So I essentially lost 2 whole days where I could have worked on my assignment further. I put in a lot of hours from Sunday – Friday morning to make sure I made the best use of the time I had to get this week’s work done. We had a lot on our plate this week. First, we had to do sketches and pose our character Stu in a devastated pose. Devastation was another harder pose to avoid cliché in. During our QA my mentor discussed some of the common things you will see in ALL devastated/sadness poses. He pointed out how the shoulders will come up to the head as it droops down to offer self comfort. Also we tend to curl into a more closed position, very rarely will a person who is devastated be striking a very broad pose. This inward/closed body language is again for self-comfort.

Below is the progress my pose went through starting from sketches, into the pose I submitted and then my mentor’s critiques and the revision based on his notes.

Next, we had to apply the principles of Anticipation, and Squash & Stretch on a ball going through and obstacle course. The goal of this assignment was for us to learn the basics of anticipation through the use of squash and stretch which is just ONE of the many methods of showing anticipation along with weight. The ball had to show these principles without looking too cartoony or characterized. Essentially it had to start off like a characterized ball then move through the rest of the obstacle course as if it were a regular basketball/soccer ball. This assignment really tested us on how well we understood the previous principles of timing, spacing, weight, and arcs. This assignment took everything we had learned so far and added it all together a long with the new concepts of anticipation and squash & stretch. I spent a lot of timing really planning this animation out on paper and thinking it through before I jumped into the computer to make sure I had a good plan for this assignment. Spending this extra time planning also allowed me to get through this assignment with a tighter deadline than normal.

Below is my planning and the first attempt at the obstacle course prior to my mentor’s critique:

My mentor had some small changes to the assignment but overall he was pretty happy with how it turned out! I was thrilled to see I didn’t have any major notes because I worked really hard on this assignment and I was worried I wasn’t going to do a good job on it because of my tighter deadline.
His notes were:

  • Adjust the anticipation in the very beginning – make the ball lean INTO the arc not away
  • Make the immediate frame after the initial jump delayed 1 frame longer so it doesn’t look like the ball is staying in place
  • Adjust the arc on 3rd bounce before it drops down to the half-pipe – make the arc less tall essentially and a little wider
  • Adjust the speed of the rolling in pipe it should not accelerate once it has started to reverse direction
  • Remove 2 of the rocks back/forward at the end and make it come to a settle faster

Here is my attempt at addressing his notes with my revision:

So… after a long week and kind of a long post, I am already back to work on Week 6 stuff — Overlapping Action and Follow-through! Stay tuned for a new post at the end of this week!

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!