Well, it has been a little while since I’ve posted some new work so I thought I better get around to sharing what I’ve been up to! I’ve been dedicating some of my free time from animating for work to continue to animate on some personal tests. The type of animation I do for work is a much different style than that typically found at the feature film level of animation. While still very fun and challenging, I want to be as well rounded as animator as I can be and continue to push myself in all styles. A while back, I posted up a blocking pass for a subtle acting shot I had started. I can now say that it is finally at a point that I’m going to call it done. The main purpose of this shot was to improve my subtle acting and facial performance skills. I purposely chose to use a more complex rig that would allow me for more facial articulation and enable me to get more nuance into the performance.
I learned a lot working on this shot, and have already taken the lessons I’ve learned and started applying them to another shot that I am in the early stages of blocking on. I was fortunate enough to have a good friend of mine from Purdue, Andrew Kennedy light and render my shot for me to make it a little more polished and pretty for my demo reel. Andrew is super talented and you can find more of his work at his website (www.andrewkennedy3d.com).
On another note, I was graciously asked by the Purdue SIGGRAPH Student Chapter to skype in and give a talk about my experiences so far as a professional animator and my journey from being a student to now. It was a really fun experience getting to chat to the current students there. It feels like just yesterday that I was in their same shoes, sitting in the familiar labs of Knoy Hall of Technology and listening to other alumni who have gone on to work in the industry. It was a great experience and I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. Hopefully some day, I’ll get a chance to make it back to campus, I sure do miss it!
I think that is enough rambling for now, I’ll leave you with TWO shots. The first one is my final version of my facial acting shot and the other is a look at my first pass of blocking on my next personal shot I’ve begun working on using the super awesome “Mery” rig.
“Past Doesn’t Matter – Final”
“I’m Hot – First Pass Blocking”
Wow! The last couple of months have been a very exciting and busy time for me. I finished Animation Mentor at the end of March and immediately hit the ground running to try and find my first job as an animator. I was extremely lucky in my timing and was fortunate enough to land a position as a Character Animator for Wizart Animation! I am under an NDA so I am not legally allowed to say very much about what I am working on. But, what I can say is that I am working remotely for the TVShows department on an upcoming children’s television show titled “Yoko”. I am extremely fortunate to have this opportunity to work on such an awesome project while living in an area with essentially ZERO animation industry. I am working alongside so many talented animators and it has been inspiring every day to work and learn from each one of them.
During my off-hours I have been slowly starting to work on a new personal shot for my demo reel. One thing I learned while at Animation Mentor was to continue to improve and stay hungry, even after you get your first job. It can be very easy to get comfortable just animating in the style that your job or current show requires. However, in order to stay relevant and competitive for future jobs you need to constantly be improving and working in various styles. It is important to show you can animate in a wide variety of ways because every project is different and you don’t always know what your next project will be. Since the show I’m working on is a much different style of animation from feature film quality work, I have began a new acting shot using a brand new rig from Long Winter Studios called “Argus”. I am really hoping to improve my close-up acting and facial performance with this shot. It has been a ton of fun working with this new rig, and I am really enjoying it so far.
Below is my very first pass of blocking; I have done very little animation on the face, only enough to show eye-direction and get a general idea of some of the blinks. I wanted to get the subtle body animation worked in first. I am learning that animating such a subtle piece is actually quite hard. As animators we often want to have things move a lot, but it is pretty difficult to keep a character still and make sure that they feel alive at the same time. With this shot, I’m already learning how difficult it can be to keep a character alive during a long silence. I know I will learn a great deal from this piece. Stay tuned for a new update, hopefully next week!
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]
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.
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!
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:
It is the end of week 6 and I’ve just gone a head and submitted my first pass of blocking for my one character dialogue shot. This pass can also be called the “story” pass because its main goal is to just get the essential key poses and breakdowns in. It is important to make sure that the idea and the acting beats are selling the story correctly. It was a busy week and posing a complex rig like Bishop takes time. There is quite a steep learning curve to this assignment because we have now added the face to the character. Not only are we making sure all the body mechanics are spot on but we have to start thinking about proper facial expressions, eye darts and everything else that goes on with a characters face.
For this pass, we were told not to worry too much about the actual lip-sync but to just get the general facial expressions down for the main beats of the dialogue. Given that this is such a big step up in difficulty, this assignment is going to progress much slower as we are given 8 whole weeks to work on it so we get a lot of extra time in the blocking stage. Next week, I’ll be addressing all my mentor”s notes and moving into a second pass of blocking where I will add more breakdowns and really try to solidify the poses more, as well as more lip-sync.
Until next time, enjoy!
Story & Initial Blocking Pass:
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!
Hey everyone! This week I’m posting up my blocking of my assignment using the new Stan character from Animation Mentor! First off let me say this… the new AMP Pipeline and the new characters are awesome! I love the whole process of working in a more simulated studio environment, where my work is version controlled easily and I can just check the file out, work on it, save a new version and keep working. But, if something breaks or I don’t like where it is going, I can just revert back to a previous saved version. Oh, and the fact that is it all on the cloud is pretty epic, no longer need to worry about hard drive crashes losing all my work or anything. Also, these new rig’s are so great! I did not want to stop animating this week, I was having so much fun posing out Stan and working with him. The new features with IK/FK snapping and space switching made my life so much easier this time around when dealing with having to use constraints and a prop! Big thanks to the riggers and modelers that developed these characters, I seriously haven’t had this much fun posing a character in a while!
Anyways, this is week 2 of the 3 week assignment. Next week’s update will be the splined out and “polished” version of the shot. After that, we moved\ right into starting on our short sequence collaboratively as a class! Thankfully this shot was a quick 96 frame shot, which really made me focus on getting to the meat and potatoes of the shot quickly. This was something my mentor Steve Cady from Class 2 always emphasized. He said it is often that you have to just GET TO THE ACTION. It is pretty rare to get a long enough shot where you can really do all sorts of pretty anticipations and build up so learning to get to the main idea of the shot, clearly and keeping it appealing is very important.
The biggest note I kept in my mind while blocking this assignment was what my mentor Mike told me during my critique earlier in the week. He said he really wanted us to try and push our poses since we have such simple characters to work with. We should go for very broad actions and poses because it is hard to do that when you get more complex characters so we should take advantage of these more simple characters to show off our body mechanics. I went back and looked at some of my comic books to reference the Hulk and watched some clips of gorillas on youtube to get that feeling of a big heavy beast-like character. I tried to get the idea of weight to come across in my poses as clearly as possible, and build more overlap into the poses as well. Anyways, that is pretty much all for this week. Keep checking back, as I will be making plenty of posts about all the new things to come with Class 3.
Week 2 Blocking:
AM Class 3 – Week 2: Blocking from matt sackley on Vimeo.
Week 8 has just ended and it was a busy and fun week! I had to begin blocking my third and final assignment for Class 2! I am really trying extra hard on this assignment to make it the best one I’ve done so far. I have already had to deal with some interesting obstacles while tackling this assignment. First, I had to figure out a good method for constraining the bomb to Stewie’s hands and also learn how to make a seamless IK/FK switch while animating. I really feel like this shot will be a great learning opportunity for me to grow. I am really looking forward to how it will turn out. One of the biggest things I have focused on while starting my assignment is creating really strong poses and treating every key in Maya as a “drawing”.
Part of the great thing about Animation Mentor is being exposed to so many different professional animator’s workflows for animating a shot. I am still working on “finding” my workflow but with each assignment, I learn things I like and things I don’t like and am slowly starting to “find” my workflow. It is something that changes depending on each shot but you will always have some parts that are consistent and it is important to have a well thought-out and logical workflow when animating because it makes for a more enjoyable and stronger animation.
Well, a little bit of a shot post this week so here is my blocking! Hope you enjoy, and stay tuned for next week’s update.
AM Class 2 – Week 8: Blocking from matt sackley on Vimeo.
Well week 3 of class 2 at Animation Mentor flew by! This week all we had to work on was taking our mentor’s notes on our blocking and then moving into our first splining pass. This is always a scary time as an animator because when your move your tangents from Stepped to Spline everything looks like it breaks. This is the time when we have to hunker down and chip away at our animation slowly and very carefully, controller by controller until it starts to get smoothed out and we iron out all the kinks. From here on out it is just constant tweaks, to fix various different issues from weight transfers, re-timing of specific actions, knee pops etc.
We then submit this pass and get one more week to put on the final touches, the last 10% of the animation during a “Polishing” pass. In the animation industry, you are never truly “done” with a shot, it just get’s taken away from you, because of deadlines, so you have to get it as close to perfect as possible with the time-frame you are given. So here is my Refining pass.
AM Class 2 – Week 3: Refining from matt sackley on Vimeo.