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:
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.
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.
Week 2 has just come to an end and I have just finished my first pass of blocking on my pantomime shot. After getting some really excellent feedback and notes from my mentor during my eCritique. I managed to come up with what I think is a pretty solid start for my shot. The biggest notes I addressed from my planning and video reference were that it was too long, and I needed to shorten it even more to make it as simple and clear as possible. Joe offered some really good suggestions of ways I can simplify the shot to really make the characters internal thought process read more clearly.
First Pass Blocking:
Throughout the week, I also paid very close attention to my workflow on this shot. As I continue to grow as an animator, I’m always trying to perfect my workflow to make myself a faster and more efficient animator. On this shot, I took the advice of one of our lectures by Dave Burgess (Head of Character Animation at DreamWorks). His method was when posing the character to really take the extra time and pose every part of the character, even in the blocking. He encouraged going into the details of the fingers, the eyes, face etc. I tried extra hard to make it so every single pose in my blocking was very clear. I didn’t worry about timing at first, I just posed the character out every 4 frames very evenly, then after I was happy with my poses, I got some feedback and tweaked them some more. Next, I went in and did a rough timing pass, where I took the poses and shifted them around on the timeline adding holds where they needed to be. Then I sought more feedback and continued to tweak away until you see what is above.
So far this workflow seemed to work really well for me in terms of getting work done faster. I was only thinking about one stage at a time, first posing, then timing, then spacing.
Hey everyone! Week 1 of class 4 here at Animation Mentor has already come to and end! Class 4 is titled “Introduction to Acting”. My mentor for this term is Joseph Antonuccio, from Blue Sky Animation studios. Blue Sky for those of you that don’t know is the amazing animation studio that has brought you the titles such as the Ice Age movies, Rio and most recently Epic! Joseph is a Senior Animator and also an alumni of Animation Mentor. The first Q&A with him was really exciting and I cannot wait to see what all this class has in store for me.
Now that I am starting to dive into the real meat and potatoes of animation — acting — the assignments require a lot more from us as animators. The assignments also require a lot more structure and planning in the early stages. This term we are going to be creating a total of two shots. The first shot is a Pantomime assignment. Pantomime is essentially the area between Mime use of no props and no dialog, and Acting which is use of props and dialog. So in a Pantomime shot we are allowed to have props but all of the emotion, and storytelling has to be conveyed solely through body language and facial expressions. This is actually quite challenging. The guidelines for this assignment are to show a very clear change of emotion in the character and we have the limitation of only 5-8 seconds of animation. The second assignment for the term will be a dialog acting shot, with lip-sync and everything so stay tuned for the later weeks of the term to see my progress on that.
As for what I had to turn in this week, it was all my planning my pantomime shot.
The idea for my shot is:
Stan (my character) will be sitting at a bar after having a bad day, he is quite down on his luck and doesn’t have any more money to buy a beer. As he sits there sad and depressed, suddenly a big full mug of beer slides right in front of him from off-screen. This catches his attention, he sits back and looks around wearily. Stan is wondering why and who sent him this beer. After taking a moment to realize what has happened, Stan gets excited and scoops up the big mug of beer to his face. He then takes a long gulp from it. Stan then sets down the mug and is in a state of complete happiness and an overwhelming sense of relief because his day just got a lot better.