Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy new Year!

Hope everyone is having an awesome New Years Eve.

Pretty excited to be starting Class 4 at Animation Mentor next week! I've been working on a couple short shots in the off weeks. My goal was to get a short shot per week in pretty good shape (first polishing pass.)

Here's the shot i did last week. I haven't done anything on the face yet, but the Sergio rig has a full facial setup so i plan on going back and doing some more on the head/face. I wanna get some nice overlap in the hat and get some nice expressions in there.

Sergio is a weird rig, but i wanted to get some experience using non-AM rigs to prepare myself for the real world. The most notable thing on him is it's all IK. Never used an IK spine before, and not altogether sure what i think yet. It gives some nice freedom with the Squash and Stretch which i like, but FK is so intuitive so the verdict is still out. Also, the IK hands still move when you move the spine.. that seemed pretty weird to me as i always think of the benefit of IK was things stay where you stick them. maybe it's a bug? Who knows. Fun rig to play with nonetheless.

This week I'm working on a quadruped test. I found a tiger rig and I'm doing a run-walk-lie down test. Pretty fun trying something with more than two legs! I'll post that next week!

Happy New Years Everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Animation Class 3 RECAP

Oh boy oh boy oh boy! So here we are into are winter break and FINALLY i'm playing catch up with this here blog. Let this be a lesson. This crazy ol' animation thing takes ALOT of time. So much so, i couldn't even find the time to update this thing. But here i am, halfway through Animation Mentor! I can't believe how fast this has gone by already! I can say however, that i can most certainly see a marked improvement in my work. I haven't hit any major roadblocks yet (thank goodness) and my work continues to get better and better. But enough about all that! Let's recap Class 3 since i was so poor at keeping this thing up to date this term.

Class 3 at Animation Mentor is Advanced Body Mechanics. That's right. Another term of studying body mechanics, which, from what i can tell is a VERY good thing indeed. The old curriculum only had one term of body mechanics and clearly people didn't feel that was enough as not only did the curriculum change to what it is currently, but there were also a couple returning alumni in my class getting some extra practice in.

My mentor was Hyrum Osmond (who is yes, of THOSE Osmonds) from Disney. In this particular class there isn't set assignments or pick lists to choose from as with earlier classes. Basically you get free reign to do whatever you want as long as it's physical in nature and advancing your study of body mechanics. They give you a couple suggestions mostly around picking a 'theme' to influence your work. Themes like, gymnast or janitor or ninja etc. Basically, chose a theme and think about how THAT character would do things. Another thing you could do was what they call an AnimJam which is basically designing your shots in such a way that they all link together. I chose to go with the AnimJam cuz i thought i could almost make a short going that route.

The first week as always was getting to know your mentor and classmates as well as planning for your first shot. Since i was doing an animjam this term, rather than just planning for my first shot, i planned all three (i highly encourage you to do this if you're planning to try an animjam) thus insuring that all three shots worked well together. I've seen lots of animjams that don't quite work when synced up and i bet it's cuz they were planned individually. You have to think about the big picture, and as an added bonus this is something you should be learning to do anyway as on a production, your shot needs to not just work on it's own, but work in context.

I chose a burglar as my theme, with the twist being that nothing goes right for this burglar. I wanted it to be very pantomime ala Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. Since the stewie rig has no mouth, emotions and actions have to read in the poses so a 'silent film' style seemed appropriate. I scoured the internet for clips and shot a bunch of my own reference to fill in the gaps. This is what i came up with for my 3 shot sequence:

My first shot would be the burglar coming in and losing the gun and running for the door. My second shot would be the guy struggling to get out the door, and my third shot would be the burglar running away and meeting the cop.

My mentor thought it was a pretty funny idea and approved it. His only concern was that all 3 shots had 2 characters, which essentially doubled the work load for each shot. I assured him i thought i could do it, as the second characters were only secondary characters and the animation would be limited (also secondary characters was something i wanted to practice. keeping a backround character alive without distracting from the main action is one tough cookie!)

So i set to work on my first shot. This term i decided to try NOT doing pencil tests for timing (a tactic i later came back to for my third shot.) I still started with thumbnails though. For this ReCap, i'm just gonna put my thumbnails followed by my stages of animation.

Blocking Pass 1:

Blocking Plus Pass:

Polishing Pass:

This is what i turned in as final for this shot, but i hated it. The beginning and the end were working ok, but the whole gun pull and fumbling for it in the air, etc were just NOT working for me. I spent a good chunk of the rest of the term coming back and trying new things for this shot. Ultimately, i settled on something i like but it took a good chunk of time. I should have spent more time planning and trying different ideas out to see what played better. It took me a long time to realize the shot (from youtube) itself was not funny. The SITUATION was funny. In other words the whole crook losing the gun and the clerk getting it was funny, but HOW it plays out in the video was not necessarily the funniest way to do it. I got so caught up in thinking the situation was already funny that i didn't bother considering other ways to build more entertainment value. It took me all term to find something good, after re-blocking and polishing maybe 3-4 different ideas! I coulda just spent more time in the beginning and avoided all that. Lesson Learned!

Here's something a little closer to what i finally settled on (but still not my final idea)
Reblock/polish on Shot 1:

On to shot 2! This one came together a lot better and with less problems than my first shot. The first one was the one that plagued me this term! Here it is in order from thumbnails to final pass.

Blocking Pass 1:

Blocking Plus:

Polishing Pass:

And then it was on to shot 3. This shot was the inspiration for my whole animJam. I'd been wanting to animate this clip from Buster Keaton for a long time, so i was stoked to dive into it!
Here it is from thumbnails to final:

Dances are pretty tough, so as you can see i spent alot of time thumbnailing on this one. I also chose to go back to doing a flipbook test as well. I neglected doing so on the first two assignments with my thinking being that my thumbnails being so detailed, that drawing them again and making a test was essentially doubling my workload with no net benefit to my CG test. I think i was wrong there. Timing these out and experimenting with pencil tests ultimately led to better CG work (IMO.) Also, i tried something different, i just scanned in these images (rather than redrawing them) and adjusted them in flipbook to make my test. It worked out pretty good!

Flipbook & Blocking Pass:

Blocking Plus:

Polishing Pass:

I really have to thank some people in putting this final sequence all together. My mentor and peers were paramount to helping me get here. The feedback was amazing and pushed me further. Having friends like Jais Bredstead and Tu Nyugen in my class was really inspiring and pushed me to bust ass even harder to get a good final product. My former Mentor Drew Adams was a big help early in the term with my first shot, going above and beyond the responsibilities of his own work at Dreamworks, and his OWN class, to take the time and do a proper eCrit for me as well. Also, Travis Tohill over at ILM was a great help in feedback and sparking ideas throughout the whole term. Anders Ancker took the time to design the Burglar costume for me, as did my buddy Marcel (whose last name is way too long) who designed the Cop Costume for me. Also, Faisal Asghar who dressed the sets for me and turned me on (no pun intended) to a great lighting tutorial. That's the great thing about the AM community. There's always someone out there willing to help you out in one way or another and i couldn't have done it without this wonderful community.

Anyhoo, back to showing stuff. Here is the final test in sequence:

And then all polished up and rendered with music for my Progress Reel:

If you made it through this whole crazy post, you're more patient than I. Looking through it i think it's a pretty good representation of how much work goes into these crazy little cartoons. I'm pretty happy with my final work, but stoked to move on to acting and taking my skills up another couple notches. It's been a crazy adventure so far, but i've still got a looooooooong way to go and i'm excited to keep riding the train.

Two weeks until term 4, and in my off time i'm enjoying catching up on being social, watching movies, playing video games and enjoying my family. Of course, i can't still long, so i've got a couple short 100frame tests i'm working on for practice as well.

Happy Holidays! I'm outta here!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Animation Mentor class 3

Man have i been lazy with the blog lately. Let me tell ya... class 3 started getting pretty time consuming. As did my work and personal life all at the same time. I'll do a proper re-cap shortly but for now, here's the end result of My Class 3 Advanced Body Mechanics efforts. In this class you pretty much get to do whatever you want as long as it's physical, so i chose to link my 3 shots together and make an *almost* short.

Let me know what you think!