AM Class 6 – Blocking & New Workflow Notes

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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!

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AM Class 5 – Refining Pass

After an extremely busy week animating I’m back here with an update! This week you should notice some pretty substantial progress on the shot from the last update. My mentor wanted us to move into adding more facial performance and lip-sync to our shot and also be out of stepped keys and well on our way into refining the shot. I also had to implement some pretty big notes that I got during the previous week’s eCritique. My mentor really wanted me to get more of stepping action into the opening shot with the female character. She wanted her to start further away and step up to the male character. This made for some serious work on my end. I essentially had to re-block and animate a good 60-70 frames of the shot. It’s something that is never really fun but in the long-run you have to do what is going to make the shot the best it can be, and honestly I think after doing it, the shot feels better.

One of the big concepts they teach us as AM is that you have to do whatever the director/client tells you when you are a professional animator and in our cases, our director is our mentor. In a studio setting you should never get too attached to work because there are always going to be changes and big notes even late in the progress of a shot. Luckily, by having a pretty clean workflow it made addressing these notes not a total nightmare and I was able to get it mostly worked out in about 1 day of animating. Her other notes were to really play up the amount of flirting these characters are doing. The class is all about advanced acting she wanted to see my characters really act and not just feel like they were going through the motions. So I worked really hard to add in more flirty emotions and thought to both characters. Finally, I did a rough first pass of the lip-sync.

It was a very busy week for me, and I’m sure to have many more until this class is over. That’s all for this week, take a look at the latest update and let me know what you think!

Refining Pass

AM Class 4: Story & Initial Blocking Pass

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:

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