AM Class 4: Second Blocking Pass

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:

AM Class 4: Pantomime Blocking

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:

Workflow Notes:
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.

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!