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Saturday, February 3, 2007

Critique - Bouncing Balls (Frank)

Light Ball Bounce:

- Looks great! It's 99% a final, the only thing that I see, but it's really tiny, is at around frame 53 the amount of distance the ball travels screen left suddenly gets smaller. Check your courve in the graph editor to see how your curve looks like.

Medium Ball Bounce:

- Looks good, but it feels like it doesn't bounce as high as it should at frame 35 on, also it seems that it travels less far suddenly, everything seems to slow down. Check frame 40 to 41, I think that's when it happens.
The line through the ball for rotation is a good idea. But it looks like it rotates too much around the frame 65 area.

Heavy Ball Bounce:

- This one has one main problem. It doesn't look heavy. Check Joyes ball in the previous post, that one feels heavier. Yours right now looks more like a medium one.
With that being said, let's look at it as a medium one. I feel lik there should be another small bounce at frame 59. But the main thing to fix (besides the weight) is your spacing from frame 14 to 15. Take a dry erase marker (next post tonight will be only about the dry erase), draw a line at the top or bottom of the ball, from frame 12 to 15, you'll see how uneven it is.

Other than, good job, you're on the right track!

>>Click here to read the rest of the post...

Critique - Bouncing Balls (Joey)

Here's another round of critiques:

Medium Ball:

- Great, done! FINAL

Light Ball:

- Looks good, but I would make the last too bounces faster.
For instance for the last bounce you can take one frame out
during the up, and one frame during the down.

Heavy Ball:

- This one is not quite working. The first bounce needs to be higher
and not as fast. The spacing til frame 6 is pretty even, but then
it gets suddenly a lot bigger. Take your dry erase marker and
draw a line at the top or bottom of the ball, for every frame.
That way you can see how even it is.

Little and Big one:

- Great! I like the little squash in it.
There is just a tiny adjustment in spacing
when the little one bounces off the big one.
The ball moves evenly screen right until frame 27,
from then on til frame 30 the spacing gets smaller.
It should still be the same and hit the ball at
frame 29, try that.

Nice and quick fixes, good job!

>>Click here to read the rest of the post...

Friday, February 2, 2007

Another Example for individual Syllabus

Here's another very good example of a realistic, structured syllabus:

Session 1 Assignment: 3 Bouncing Balls (Light, Heavy, Normal)

Session 2 Assignment: Bouncing Balls and add tails

Session 3 Assignment: Walking Cycle (Normal)

Session 4 Assignment: Walking Cycle (Normal)

Session 5 Assignment: Walking Cycle (Normal)

Session 6 Assignment: Pushing or Holding Box

Session 7 Assignment: Pushing or Holding Box

Session 8 Assignment: Pushing or Holding Box

Session 9 Assignment: Jumping

Session 10 Assignment: Jumping

Session 11 Assignment: Jumping

Session 12 Assignment: Lip Sync (10 seconds)

Session 13 Assignment: Lip Sync (10 seconds)

Session 14 Assignment: Lip Sync (10 seconds)

Session 15 Assignment: Demo Reel

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Thursday, February 1, 2007

Be realistic about your goals!

Keep your shots between 5 to 10 seconds. The longer they are, the more time consuming it will be to polish them. It's better to have a multitude of kick ass shots, then one long one.

I feel like the wrong person to tell you this, mostly because I'm guilty of this myself.

But I still recommend to keep your shots within 5 to 10 seconds. You probably have other classes and other homework, a boyfriend or a girlfriend, husband or wife or kids. Something that will require your attention. You can't just animate for 15 weeks. So plan ahead. Don't try to create the next epic. Your shots don't have to be super long. Set your goals, be ambitious, but konw your limits. It's better to have a short clip with nice polish than a long clip that's kinda done.

>>Click here to read the rest of the post...


During the first class I talked about the process of blocking out a shot. I usually set keys on all the major controls for every pose. I do this for the key poses and the important inbetweens. Then I adjust the position of those keys within the timeline in order to find the right timing of the animation. A shift+left click in the timeline (timeslider) will highlight the frame you are on, letting you move the key around. Or in other words:

To move and scale a range of animation in the Time Slider:

Shift-click and drag along the Time Slider to select a range of time.

The selected time range is shown in red, with start and end frames of the selection shown in white numbers at the ends of the selection block.
Click and drag the black arrows at either end of the selected range to scale the keys in that range along the Time Slider.
Click and drag on the black double arrows at the center of the selection to move the keys in that range along the Time Slider.

see more of those notes at this page

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Walk Cycle - Tutorial

For those of you who want to do a walk cycle, here are some helpful sites:

Simply Maya - just register and you can download the movies



Anatomy of a Walk

The important thing about cycles is the seamless loop. Make sure that your first and last frame have the same keys, the same poses (in Maya: left-click on your key in the timeline, then middle-click and hold the mouse button, move to the end of your shot (or wherever you need in other shots), let go of the mouse button and set a key (through whatever hotkey you have), this will immediatly copy your keys from one frame to the one you choose.

Having the first and last frame be the same helps you blend the loop.

But if you play your movie now, you will notice a short pause when it loops, that's because you have a frame twice. Just cut off one frame by adjusting your timeline slider and do the playblast again.

>>Click here to read the rest of the post...

Critique - Bouncing Balls (Joey)

Joey sent in his bouncing balls (more to come), take a look:

Heavy Ball

- Looks nice and heavy. The ball could roll ever so slightly to the left or right, so it's not stuck in the middle. On frame 7 I would lover the ball a tiny bit. If you look at the spacing, the amount of space the ball travels from frame 6 to 7 compared to to 7 to 8 shows that it is not an even progression. You can check your spacing by using a dry erase marker on your screen, but more about that later.

Bouncing Ball

- Good bounce! The ball should continue moving screen right for a bit longer. It moves til frame 35 then pretty much stops and stays the same at frame 36. It even looks like it's moving a tiny bit backwards on frame 37. A good example of a smooth ending is the next clip (medium Ball).

Medium Ball

- Nice! The only thing that I think needs to get addressed is around frame 50. There seems to be an acceleration. I'm being very picky here, I know. :-) Take the dry erase marker and put a spot in the middle of your ball for every frame, you'll see if your spacing is even or if it shows sudden jumps.

Good work!

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Get your own Website!

This is something you guys really need. A website is your extension of your portfolio, treat it as such. Make it easy for visitors to navigate and keep it simple, not Flash, no weird codecs, make sure that people can directly link to your individual animation clips or to your reel. If I need to follow instructions on where to go on your site in order to find something, then that's bad. Access needs to be quick and the layout needs to be clear. Not everybody has the latest drivers or movie players or whatever is the "in". The HR person might only some super old computer that can barely breath. I would say that a quicktime movie with a sorenson 3 codec is pretty old fashioned, but not a lot of people will have problems with it.

When you want to post your work in forums, it will deter people if they have to go through weird hosting sites or if they need to unzip a file. There needs to be direct link to your work. Same goes for when you send me your work. If you send me your clip as an attachment, make sure that the clip is a quicktime movie with a frame counter visible in your shot. Sending me packages or weird formats is not preferred, mainly because it diminishes the chances of me seeing it, which means that it's your time wasted. With those prices at the AAU, you don't want to waste anything! :-)

Get your own domain, they are not expensive and someone who will host your site isn't expensive either. I've tried different ones and they all had their problems (server blackout, bad tech support, etc.), but the latest one I'm using, 1and1, is great, super stable, lots of benefits, I can't recommend them more:

Either way, it's really important to have your own site, so you can have your work on it and your resume. Nothing fancy, keep it simple at first, you will always have time to spice it up.

I have gotten interviews at companies thanks to people who saw my animation online. More and more companies are willing to check out your site before you send in a hardcopy of your demoreel. Don't underestimate the importance of an online presence.

Like Edna would say: "Luck favores the prepared."

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Example for individual syllabus

Jason sent me an outline of what he would like to do this semester. It's nicely structured and focused. So when you think about your own schedule, something like that would be great because it has clear deadlines:

Week 1-2:

Weight Animation
Norman's "Box Maunuver" with a critique after week 1
and the completed polished animation due on week 2.

Week 3-4:

Action Exercise
Some sort of involved action (sports / rock climbing)

Week 5-6:

Acting Exercise
An animation conveying 2 different emotions and a trigger
that causes the change.

Week 7-10:

Voice Acting & Acting
Lines of Dialogue taken from a film/animation to be redone
with a 'Norman cast' of characters involving both lip-syncing and

Week 11-15:
I intend the final to be a project involving all the
aspects of what we had talked about. Physics, acting, voice
acting, and character interaction.

>>Click here to read the rest of the post...

Ratatouille Animation Test

Here is a good clip for inspiration.

Pixar's Ratatouille Animation Test

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Bouncing Ball Tutorial

Here's the promised link to a tutorial movie. I recommend you watch this clip, it shows you all about the making of a bouncing ball, with Maya explanations.

Click this link for the Bouncing Ball Tutorial.

(the movie is from SimplyMaya and should not be copied or distributed)

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bouncing Ball Examples

Here are some links to examples that I found. They range from simple to complex and should give you an idea of how far you can go with this assignment.

Lost Pencil (great examples)

Martin K (take a look at all the examples,
there are multiple videos from top to bottom)

Cameron Miyasaki (scroll all the way down,
click on "download quicktime movie" and
make sure you allow pop ups to open
- this one is a great example for bouncing balls
with lots of character and appeal and a little story

Juan Zubiaga (bounce off wall)

Ninjadodo (first few clips are bouncing balls)

Unknown (2 balls)

Same unknow (balls with obstacles)

Dave Logan (simple bounce)

Dave Logan (bounce off wall)

Dave Johnson (ball w/ character)

Tomislav (simple bounce)

Oliver Scott (Animation Mentor Reel, it's quite long,
but has some good bouncing balls in it)



That's it! Have fun!

>>Click here to read the rest of the post...

Class Assignment Week 1

Here's a recap of what you should do for next week (or if you get it done earlier, no problem).

If you are doing a bouncing ball:

- 1 heavy ball (like a bowling ball)
- 1 medium ball (soccer ball, etc.)
- 1 light ball (you can do a ballon or a super bouncy ball)

Use either the SIDE or FRONT camera in Maya. No perspective, no crazy camera.
Your ball can just fall down and bounce. You can also incorporate other objects in your scene. The ball can bounce down stairs, or hit something in mid air. You can also use the framing of your Maya scene or video as the actual walls and have the balls bounce off that. I'm not picky, just have fun with it.

If you feel that all this is no problem, then you can add character to the ball. Instead of physics driving where the ball is going, have the ball be alive. Treat it like a living creature, just with no arms and legs. If you do that, you want to incorporate squash and stretch. I'll post lectures about that on the site and if you have any questions, then I'll go over it in class as well of course.

You can also add a tail to your ball, by adding joints. With that you will have to think about secondary action and follow through (refer to the previous post about the principles). I'll find some explanations about adding the joints for a tail.

Again, the posts and tutorials on this site are not so that I don't have to do anything in class, it's for those students who want to know as much as possible, different techniques and get the most out of the time given. Remember, if you have anything to show, email me, don't wait til next class.

For those who are changing the syllabus, think about what you want to do and bring me an outline next week. Please be specific and have multiple exercises listed. Don't show me something like "Uh, well, I wanna do some acting stuff." :-) You gotta think harder.


a walkcycle, a character getting out of a chair/onto a chair, a jump, a fall, a tumble, lifting/pushing/pulling something heavy and/or light, pantomime with 1 or 2 characters, dialogue (what audio file) with 1 or more characters, gear change (emotion change), etc. etc.

The list can go on. Point is, have fun! I want you to enjoy what you are doing. If you want to do animation in this class for exercises only, that' s one thing. If you want your work from this class to be on a demoreel, that's another thing. The critique and feedback will vary and be tougher if you are going for demoreel clips, due to all the competition in this field.


I need QUICKTIME movies, 640x480, FRAME COUNTER clearly visible


Alright! :-)

The next post will be other people's examples for bouncing balls or other type of animation. Work that should get you inspired.
Till then!


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Bouncing Ball Help

Here are some links for the bouncing ball:

Animating a Bouncing Ball, Changing Velocity between Key frames
- sounds technical, some stuff is (don't pay attention to expressions, no need to go into that right now), but as with tutorials, scan through them and pick out what you need

Bouncing Ball from SimplyMaya
- you need to sign in for that video, it's free, so you should do it. I'll upload it tonight for simpler download. Videos are great for the obvious reason that you get shown how to do it, instead of just reading it.

Amrit's Bouncing Ball with Character
- good one! This one focuses on a ball with character, not just physics.

>>Click here to read the rest of the post...

Maya Graph Editor Help

Alright, so here are websites with explanations about the Graph Editor. It's good stuff, so make sure you take a look at them to see if there is anything you can use.

Maya Animation Basics


Graph Editor Icon Description (LOTS of text - might get confusing, give it a try)


Starting in with Animation: Setting keyframes and the graph editor
- this one's a PDF (make sure you have Adobe Reader installed), it's a very good introduction


Of course hitting F1 on your keyboard while in Maya should bring up the help menu.
If you have questions let me know.

You need set the scene frame rate to 24fps and the default curves to linear. Autokey is optional, I like it, other people don't, your choice.
By having the keys on linear, your animation will look robotic and have hiccups. That's okay, you can later on set individual keys to spline and adjust the tangents.
If you set everything to spline, your animation will look "floaty" and "swimmy". That's especially bad when you have a character with feet. The feet should be locked to the ground, otherwise you get the effect of "skating", which is a no no.

>>Click here to read the rest of the post...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Principles of Animation by John Lasseter

Click here for John Lasseter's "Principles of Animation" paper

Squash and Stretch - Defining the rigidity & mass of an object by distorting its shape during an action.

Timing - Spacing actions to define the weight & size of objects & the personality of characters.

Anticipation - The preparation for an action.

Staging - Presenting an idea so that it is unmistakably clear.

Follow Through & Overlapping Action - The termination of an action & establishing its relationship to the next action.

Straight Ahead Action & Pose-To-Pose Action - The two contrasting approaches to the creation of movement.

Slow In and Out - The spacing of in-between frames to achieve subtlety of timing & movements.

Arcs - The visual path of action for natural movement.

Exaggeration - Accentuating the essence of an idea via the design & the action.

Secondary Action - The Action of an object resulting from another action.

Appeal - Creating a design or an action that the audience enjoys watching.

>>Click here to read the rest of the post...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Recommended - Industry

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Recommended - Animation

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Recommended - Filmmaking

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Recommended - Acting

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frameCounter script

You need a frame counter in your playblasts for critique. It's a must have and needs to be clearly visible in your movies.

Here's the script:

/* This file downloaded from Highend3d.com
'' Highend3d.com File Information:
'' Script Name: frameCounter v1.0
'' Author: Patrick McNabb
'' Last Updated: December 31, 2002
'' Update/Change this file at:
'' http://www.highend3d.com/maya/mel/?section=interface#2079
'' Please do not alter any information above this line
'' it is generated dynamically by Highend3d.com and will
'' be changed automatically on any updates.

//stick this file in your My Documents/maya/4.0/scripts directory and rename it to: userSetup.mel
//it'll give you a framecounter display menu item
//if you already have a userSetup.mel file add this stuff to it:

-section 8
-block 0
-blockSize "medium"
-dfs "large"
-command "currentTime -q"

// Adds menu items to control the framecounter - it'll be under display-headsupdisplay

global string $gHeadsUpDisplayMenu;

-parent $gHeadsUpDisplayMenu
-checkBox true
-label "Frame Counter"
-command "headsUpDisplay -e -vis #1 HUDFrameCount"
-annotation "Frame Counter: Toggle the display of frame counter";

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Class Syllabus

Here's the Class Syllabus as a download (word doc).

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