AM Class 4: Pantomime Final

It is the end of week 4 and I have just put the finishing touches on my first assignment for the term — the pantomime. If you have been following my previous posts you will have seen my shot throughout the various stages of it’s completion. From the early planning and video reference until now; the final polished version. This was my first attempt at a pantomime assignment. The main goal and focus of the shot has been to show a clear change of emotion in the character and to sell the character’s internal though process as it goes throughout the shot. After a lot of great feedback from my mentor and peers, I have come to a version of the shot I can say I am quite happy with. I know there are still areas that I will likely tweak some more before it is time to put on the demo reel, but the deadline is here and I had to submit it.

My shot has had some substantial changes over the course of it’s progression, all in regards to keeping it as simple and clear as possible. This is been the note that I have had to keep referring back to throughout the weeks of working on this. I was always thinking about how my poses and acting choices push the character and the story forward. I tried to make it so all the actions that the character does are purposeful and not just to show movement. They are there to support the internal thoughts of the character.

I am so excited to be going further into acting shots and for the next 8 weeks, we will be tackling our very first acting shot with dialoug and lip-sync animation! It is going to be a challenging and really exciting assignment to work on and I am eager to get started.

Below is the final version of my pantomime shot:

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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

Class 3 – Complete!

After another quick three months, class 3 at Animation Mentor has come to an end! I am currently enjoying my quick 10 day break before I get back on the grind and begin Class 4 which is Introduction to Acting! I am beyond excited to start the acting courses at Animation Mentor, and I cannot wait to start sharing the work I am creating. Now that Class 3 has come to an end you guys are in for a treat because I have two videos to share! The first is the sequence that myself and 8 other very talented peers of mine have been working on for the last 9 weeks! With the direction of our amazing mentor Mike Stern, we banded together to create a short animated sequence, encompassing everything we have learned throughout the term. While the focus was greatly on body mechanics we tried our best to incorporate as much story as possible into this piece.

The process was an awesome learning experience. The fact that I was in the collaborative version of Class 3 meant that it was quite different from the classic program. We had two weekly meetings with our mentor/director to ensure our sequence was coming along both from an animation standpoint and from a staging/composition/layout/story point of view. During these meetings we were critiqued live, just like in dailies at a studio. We used the new AMP Pipeline tool to create and share all of the assets in this sequence. It was as close to a real studio environment as you can get without actually working in a studio! On-top of all of this we were constantly working with each-other outside of our class either through Google+ hangouts or Facebook group messages. I really loved the sense of teamwork and enthusiasm our team had all term and it was a great bunch of people to work!

So just for a quick overview of the sequence, each of us had 2-3 shots to animate and we then put it all together. We focused mostly on the “animation” so it doesn’t have pretty lighting/texturing etc, but it will possibly be picked up by the VFX department/students at the school who can then go and make it prettier with all that stuff! The two shots I am responsible for are: Stella walking into the room and climbing out the window, and Stella jumping down from the window and grabbing her suitcase. If you would like to know who did each shot, I have included a break-down on a shot-by-shot basis in the description of the video located on Vimeo. Finally, lets get to the sequence!

The Runaway – Sequence

The Runaway from matt sackley on Vimeo.

Lastly, I have another progress reel for class 3 which shows all of my work from classes 3,2,1. I hope you take a look at it and see how far I have progressed from class 1!

Matt Sackley – June 2013 – Progress Reel Class 3 from matt sackley on Vimeo.

Thanks for reading, and check back very soon for updates on Class 4 – Intro to Acting with my new mentor Joseph Antonuccio a Lead Animator at Blue Sky Studios!

AM Class 1: Week 6 – Overlapping Action and Follow-through

I can’t believe it, but I am already HALFWAY through my first class at AM! I have now finished week 6 which went by very fast and was a lot of fun. This week we learned about Overlapping Action and Follow-through. These principles are extremely important to animation because they really help bring an object to life. The concept of Overlapping Action is essentially that in most objects you will have some sort of overlapping action or actions that are delayed from the driving force of the motion. Some of the more basic and clear cut examples are a tail which creates that nice S curve or wavelike motion as the energy travels down the tail of animal. Another example which is what we did for our exercise this week is a pendulum.

A more subtle yet very realistic example of this is how a human moves their arm. The shoulder is the driving force and from there the elbow will follow ever so slightly after and then down the forearm into the wrist. There are so many things in life that have overlapping action it is quite amazing to sit and observe this stuff.

With overlapping action in animation there is a concept called “successive breaking of joints”. Essentially with this we are able to get that nice “dragging” motion that is delayed from the main force of the object. Since each “joint” is delayed just a few frames from the previous one we will get a nice overlap and follow-through in the motion.

Most of us probably understand what Follow-through is, especially if you ever played a sport, because coaches will always tell their athletes to “follow-through” on that (pitch, pass, kick, punch, swing etc.) this is because in a sport setting you are gaining the most energy and force possible for the action. But also because follow-through is NATURAL, especially in an object that has a lot of force with it, all that energy doesn’t just come to a stop abruptly so it follows-through the object even after the main action has happened. Combining overlapping action and follow-through really give great life to our animations but it is also quite difficult and takes a lot of tweaking to get just right.

So for our assignment this week we had to animate a Pendulum doing just about whatever we wanted it to do to show we understood these concepts. We also had to of course show our planning for the shot as well. I originally was going to do a simple move across the screen and stop action of the pendulum, and after I completed it and realized I still had a few days left in the week, I decided to do another version that was more complex and challenging and that is the version I ended up submitting for my assignment so below is my planning for both.

First idea

Final Idea

And here is the Final Animation prior to my mentor’s critique:

Here is the Revised Version