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]
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AM Class 6 – Refining Pass

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 5.14.09 PM

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//vimeo.com/87437430 w=720&h=405]

 

AM Class 6 – Blocking & New Workflow Notes

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 5.14.09 PM

This was another busy week, with a lot of good progress on my shots! On top of polishing up two of my older shots, I also got my blocking completed for my new shot. My mentor was really happy with it and gave me some really great feedback on where I can exaggerate it some more when I start to move into the refining stage.

Last week I mentioned that I was following a new workflow on this shot. The new workflow was one that my mentor really wanted us all to try out on our new shots because he thought that it would really be beneficial for all of us and that we would like it. He was absolutely right! His workflow involves having very good video reference, and really taking the time to plan your shot and your reference so that you can follow the reference very close in the blocking stage. On top of it allowing us to get the performance nailed down clearly in the blocking stage, it also forces you to study the reference very closely. Sean likes to compare the process to that of life drawing which makes total sense. Now that I have a strong foundation in the blocking stage, I will be going in and pushing the poses even more and the spacing in certain areas to get more of a cartoony feel to the animation. The other part of the workflow that my mentor suggested was that we try and get the lip-sync animation to about 90% complete and covert it over to splines then in the polish stage go back and really finalize the lip-sync.

Lastly, I started a workflow journal on this shot. I am closely recording how long I spend during each stage of the shot’s progression so I can have an idea of how long it takes me using this new workflow compared to my previous workflows. I also hope to use it as a gauge so I can learn to speedup my process. Up to this point, I have spent a total of 12.5 hours to get to this level of blocking.

Here is the blocking, stay tuned for another update next week!

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/86835434 w=720&h=405]

AM Class 5 – Refining Pass

After an extremely busy week animating I’m back here with an update! This week you should notice some pretty substantial progress on the shot from the last update. My mentor wanted us to move into adding more facial performance and lip-sync to our shot and also be out of stepped keys and well on our way into refining the shot. I also had to implement some pretty big notes that I got during the previous week’s eCritique. My mentor really wanted me to get more of stepping action into the opening shot with the female character. She wanted her to start further away and step up to the male character. This made for some serious work on my end. I essentially had to re-block and animate a good 60-70 frames of the shot. It’s something that is never really fun but in the long-run you have to do what is going to make the shot the best it can be, and honestly I think after doing it, the shot feels better.

One of the big concepts they teach us as AM is that you have to do whatever the director/client tells you when you are a professional animator and in our cases, our director is our mentor. In a studio setting you should never get too attached to work because there are always going to be changes and big notes even late in the progress of a shot. Luckily, by having a pretty clean workflow it made addressing these notes not a total nightmare and I was able to get it mostly worked out in about 1 day of animating. Her other notes were to really play up the amount of flirting these characters are doing. The class is all about advanced acting she wanted to see my characters really act and not just feel like they were going through the motions. So I worked really hard to add in more flirty emotions and thought to both characters. Finally, I did a rough first pass of the lip-sync.

It was a very busy week for me, and I’m sure to have many more until this class is over. That’s all for this week, take a look at the latest update and let me know what you think!

Refining Pass

AM Class 5 – Rough Blocking

This past week’s assignment at AM was to create a Rough Blocking Pass. The rough blocking pass is focused on getting the main idea of the story across in as few poses as possible. Our mentor wanted us to really just rough in the poses and not focus on too much detail. We will get more detailed and broken down with next week’s assignment as we move into actual blocking. For this shot I am also trying out a new workflow where I more frequently switch over to spline’s even during blocking to help me figure out which areas need more breakdowns and also to get a better understanding of my spacing.

Anyway’s I am very busy already blocking away for the current week’s assignment but I wanted to get this post up before it was too late. I’m going to keep it short, but stay tuned as my progress will keep getting further each week!

Rough Blocking & Proof Concept

AM Class 4: Complete & New Progress Reel

Well it has been a very busy few weeks and I have not gotten around to making an update post. Last time we looked at my shot it was in the blocking plus stage. This time, it is the final version of what I had to submit for the end of the term. I do plan on going back in and polishing a few more pieces of it after getting the final critique from my mentor. I also will be practicing my lighting skills eventually to make all my shots lit and rendered for my demo reel.

Working on this shot taught me so much. This was my first attempt ever at doing a full acting shot with dialogue. I learned how important having a clean and focused workflow really is. One of the biggest challenges for me on this shot was incorporating facial animation into my workflow. Prior to this assignment the faces of our characters were very simplistic and limited so having to think of all the minute details like eye darts, blinks, lip curls and everything in-between added a whole new level of difficulty and fun! As I move into the next Class (5), with a two character dialogue shot I will be tweaking and refining my workflow even more. Below is progress reel for Class 4. As for now, I’m going to go and enjoy the rest of my vacation before Class 5 with begins!

Class 4 Reel:

Classes 4-1 Progress Reel:

AM Class 4: Dialogue Planning

Week 5 has come to an end for Class 4 of AM and we had to complete the initial planning for our dialogue shot. For the assignment we had to pitch three different dialogue choices to our mentor. However, for brevity of this blog, I am going to only post the planning for the clip that my mentor chose for me to do.

The planning consisted of video reference, thumbnail sketches, facial pose tests and a phonetic breakdown of the dialogue showing where the emphasis of certain words are. Choosing dialogue for a piece is actually rather challenging, because it needs to be interesting, have nice cadence and rythmn, tell a story, and also not be so iconic that it takes the viewer out of the piece.

The planning process of this piece is much more in-depth because of how much more detailed this shot has to be. The video reference is probably going to be the most useful piece of planning because I am going for very naturalistic style of animation. Adding in facial animation brings a whole new level complexity and problems to solve while animating. I will be tracking my workflow on this piece quite closely to learn areas I can improve and which areas worked well. It is going to be a really challenging yet fun assignment and I am really excited to tackle it!

Below is my video reference, thumbnails, facial poses and dialogue breakdown.

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