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Thursday, April 26, 2007

UPDATE - New Class in Fall

Looks like my rambling, which I disguise as teaching, wasn't that bad, because the AAU will let me teach in Fall again. So far the class is going to be for undergraduates.


ANM 489 14 Character Animation Studio

7:00PM - 9:50PM
probably on a Thursday

I will structure this class the same way as I'm doing it with the current character animation class. You can either follow the school syllabus, or make up your own assignments. But either way, the content of both ways will be the same, character animation. The syllabus of the studio class will have you doing walk cycles, run cycles, peformance, etc. But if you come from a class that made you do lots of cycles, and you are good at them and want to move on, then feel free. That's what I mean with "make up your own assignment". There's no need to waste your time.
But if I see that you haven't mastered the basic animation principles, then I will have you go back to bouncing balls. I won't let you do a 20 second two character dialogue piece, if you can't animate a bouncing ball. Mastering the basic principles is key.

The schedule and deadlines are up to you as well. Obviously a weekly critique is the minimum. For every class you should have an improved version of your work to show. But if your blocking or fixes are done one day after class, then why wait til next week and waste all that time? You can send me an email and I will critique it at home and post it on the class website. I will check every now and then how you are doing in terms of schedule, but it is also an exercise for you to be disciplined and to keep your deadlines (from your own syllabus or the AAU syllabus) without a constant reminder. Don't be a slacker.

I will critique your work with a general eye at first and then I will delve into the details. But I admit that I am very detail oriented, so expect lots of frame-by-frame analysis. I'm working on balancing this out more evenly :-)
I won't sugar coat your work, because I don't see why I should feed your illusions. I want to prepare you for the outside world, and if your work is ready for it, I will let you know, and if not, I'll definitely let you know.

There are some rigs out there that I won't recommend using (like Generi), not because they are not good, but because of unfortunate stereotypes. A lot of beginners are using Generi, which results in Generi being associated with beginners work. Duh! Yeah I know, but hear me out. If all you do is watch demo reels and most of them show crappy animation with Generi, at the end of the day, you will develop an antipathy against the little blue guy. So when he shows up, the initial feeling will be "Oh no, this is going to be crap.", and you don't want things like that working against you. What if the recruiter is so frustrated that the moment he sees Generi, he turns of the reel? I doubt you want that to happen.
And it's not just Generi, the rig with the guy in his undies and glasses is not too popular either. I would pick rigs that you can modify. So the best choice right now is the "Norman" rig. Check out my "Spline Doctors Archive" post and watch the student examples. It's crazy how different Norman can look.
Also, take a look at the Animation Mentor showreels. That's your competition as well. So I encourage you to modify your characters, give them character (not just through animation, but that's obviously your first priority), put them into context. For instance, if you are doing a box lift assignment, don't just have a grey Hogan or Norman lifting a poly box. Who is the guy? Where is he? What is he lifting up and why?
Obviously if your animation is super sweet, then you won't need a fancy set. But I encourage you to think beyond the assignment.

The overall goal of this class is for you to have work that you are proud of and that you want to put on your reel. If you are prepared and willing to work hard, with daily updates to show, then you can expect from me daily critique. If you have tons of classes and not too much time, with updates ready once a week in class, that's fine too, it's up to you.

But don't forget to have fun, because it shows in your work. :-)

Ok, my class outline got a bit longer than I expected...



shiva said...

I'm in.

aziz k. said...

well apparently, you also teach for a grad class and i'm in! It'll be nice to have a teacher who's in the web as well.

Jean-Denis Haas said...

I actually don't, that's a mistake on the Academy side.