AM Class 1: Week 8 – Blocking a Vanilla Walk & Strength Pose

This week’s assignment was the beginning of a two week long assignment. This first half of it was to block in the animation of a vanilla walk. A vanilla walk is a plain or basic walk, not much character to it just your average walk. It is actually quite a challenge to not add some characterization to it. The slightest amount of bounce or rotation or even speed in a step can add character to a walk. This was also our first real foray into the workflow of going from Blocking in “Stepped” keys to “Polish” with spline keys.

Blocking is a process that animators use to get the idea of a shot down into the computer without having to polish it to final. Blocking is the stage after planning. During planning you have come up with a general sense of the timing, spacing and poses you want to hit. In Blocking you go into the computer (Maya) and start roughing in these poses and getting the timing and spacing nailed. Blocking is great because in a studio an animator is able to show a blocking pass to a director and let him/her know where they are going with the shot and get it approved to keep going in that direction or if they need to change up their idea some.

At Animation Mentor and they really want us to work in a workflow that is similar to what the professionals work in, so we have to use “Stepped” tangents to block the assignment it. Stepped tangents means that when we play the animation the computer is not creating any in-betweens. All we are seeing is the poses we have created and it “pops” from one pose to the next. In Blocking we get our Key Poses, our Extreme Poses, and our Breakdown Poses all laid out. Then during a stage called “Blocking Plus” you start adding your in-betweens into the scene. All of this is done with “Stepped” keys until eventually you tend to have a key almost every 2-4 frames. We don’t want the computer to do a lot of the work because the computer is not good at guessing our inbetweens. Finally we take the shot into “Polish” mode. In Polish mode we convert our tangents over to a smooth mode and let the computer do some work.

This week we had to just get the Blocking done. Next week we turn in a “Polished” version of our walk or just a Final version.

Along with a walk, we also had to create a pose showing physical strength.

Walk Planning:

Walk Blocking:
(youtube drops some frames so there is a slight pause at the beginning that is not really there)

Strength Sketches, Pose & Revisions:
Revisions were mostly just to clean up the hands so they were more readable and not so close together.

I am already busying polishing my shot for Week 9 which is a lot of work so stay tuned for another update soon!