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Friday, May 4, 2007

Animation Critique: Ball with Character

Direct Link: Character Ball

About the ball/tongue clip:

The ball and tongue are done! Well, except the tail of the ball after
the snatch.

About the monster, I would tweak a few things:

- Around frames 220 to 224, when the eye follows the ball falling down,
the eye movement is a bit slow, loosing the urgency and alertness of the
monster. I would cut out frame 222 of the eye position. The eye is still
following the ball, but the movement is a bit faster.
- Now you can some live into the monster with it's eye (Monsters Inc.'s
Mike is good reference for that). For instance, once the tongue grabs
the ball and monster moves back after frame 260, starting at 266 I would
squint the eye (from 266 to 269 or something like that), showing the
effort it takes to swing back. You can open it back at around 273 over
two or three frames.
- At 280 for instance, the eye looks up, but the ball is next to it. I
would have the eye follow the ball. Again, with eye darts, locking on
the ball only every now and then.
- I would squint the eye during the end part of the spiralling (around
303 maybe?). Or at least during the swallow. Nothing big, but showing a
bit of effort.
- starting at 318 I would have the eye blink, try it, maybe it doesn't
fit, but give it a try.
- the end, after the monster expands (around 320), I would give it a
beat, then around 349, blink and look at the camera, and have a smile
appear. I would at least blink and look at the camera. Not just have it
stare up all the time.


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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Spring Class End

May 19th, just in case someone was wondering.

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Framing your shot

Observations on film art and Film Art
by Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell

Very interesting shot analysis in terms of framing and composition @ www.davidbordwell.com

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Animation Critique: Solo

Direct Link: Solo

Nice look! Don't forget the orange stripes on the side of the pants. :-)

Did you change the animation of the legs? For some reason it feels very rigid now. I would animate the knee cons. On the first lunge and second one, once he's in the pose, add a little knee wobble (on the leg that's forward, because it takes all the weight). I would add some ankle pushing during the lunges (especially on the back leg which pushes forward).
On the first lunge forward, it would be cool to see finger compression on the lower hand that supports the gun.
On the first gun pull back (antic) before the lunge, and that's anal, not that you would see it, but hey, track the tip of the gun. As you pull back, the gun goes back in a straight line, maybe drog the tip a bit so that the arc starts from the beginning.

On the settle after the first lunge, the settle is in one axis only, look at the tip and add left/right wiggle (tiny, just like the knee wiggle), adding to the up/down - back/forth that you have.
On the second lunge, the frame that has him close his eyes with his gun pointed upwards, I would tilt the gun counterclock wise towards the left screen corner, continuing the arc that you form with his body. You might have to lower the gun one frame before so it doesn't look like it's sticking.

Speaking of body curve, on that same frame with the closed eyes, try to take his right leg knee con, and move it screen left, so that his kneecap is goes to the right, which would show the bend in his leg (instead of knee cap straight on), which would continue the C curve by his body. Maybe even take his right arm elbow con and move it toward his face (that one is tricky, might cover up too much of his face - I'm just trying to give the whole body a C curve). It might screw up some frames after (especially the leg knee con change) but give it a try.

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Animation Critique: Character Walk

Direct Link: Character Walk

The fixes you mentioned are working, the only thing that doesn't convince me is the end pose change.

What you have right now is a full body swing back into the main pose til 174, then just the ball arm til 177, then compression til the end. It feels too slow and too even to me. I would try this: Go into 174 with the full body and hold that pose for a few frames with a moving hold (don't just do the arm, add some body rotation to it), then go into 2/3rds of your compression pose and then compress into the full 3/3rd (I doubt this makes sense...). Basically instead of going into the pose at 174 and then slowly raising the arm and slowly compressing, you add another tiny anticipation, which is that hold on 174 for a few frames and then you can go into the compression a bit faster. If that doesn't make sense, let me know.

The other thing is frame 131, the ball, cut that. The ball is visible on frame 130 AND 131, which gives it a little slow down at the beginning.

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Composition - Guide your audience

Love that shot, how he's bent over in a nice C curve and the rat is doing the same, the walls left and right guiding your eye towards the characters, good stuff.

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9-mins of Ratatouille in HD

Head over to film-ick for all kinds of formats.
I highly suggest you download the 720p format. Yes, it will take a long time, but it's worth it.

There are so many unbelievably well animated shots in those 9mins alone, it's crazy. Watch this over and over, it's mandatory homework! :-)

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Amazing Bouncing Balls

You want crazy bouncing balls reference?

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007

9 Minute Preview of "Ratatouille"

Head over to Disney.com for a 9 minute preview of Disney/Pixar's "Ratatouille".

In terms of spoilers it's not that bad. The footage is just an extension of what was shown in various trailers. There are no major character or plot revelations, so I give it my spoiler thumbs up.

The footage is fantastic. The animation is top notch as usual, the cinematography, the music, the sound, everything just works so well, it looks like another home run by Pixar.

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Good Reference of People Fainting

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Carlos Baena Interview

Check out the whole interview @ cg-node

  • I did back in 98 I believe a little acting test with a dialogue from the movie "The Godfather". I remember closing myself in my room for hours, pretending to be Vito Corleone, and touching my chin in a thousand different ways while saying the line, to see if I could do something different using the dialogue, or trying to caricaturize the action to make it even more entertaining. It was definitely one of those moments that you realize the potential of whatever it is that you are experimenting with, and I had the best time doing that early test and those that followed.
  • When it comes to walks, I believe locomotion should serve the acting of the character. So therefore, you try to find ways so that your cycle doesn't just look like a cycle...but instead, it is the personality, the character, the age,etc, what's motivating the character's walk.
  • How can you animate the character so that it feels like lives in the same world surrounding him/her? The moment a character seems too cartoon in a realistic world (without a reason) or seems too realistic in an animated world, then there is something that's not quite right. It's a fine line. With each character you have to take advantage of the opportunities you are offered of the world this character is in from an animation/caricature/entertainment point of view.
  • In terms of tricks from one film to the next, for quite a while now, I try to learn as much as I can from my video references, combined with references from other places. I try not to watch much animation to be honest, and I try to learn as much as I can of real life stuff. Then I plan the animation using video, sketches, thumbnails and things that come to mind about the shot, notes, etc. Since Nemo, that has helped me tremendously.
  • It also helps to get on character as deep as possible, from an acting point of view. A lot of things come up that way. So for example, if a character is an angry character, and being upset is an important aspect of his/her personality, what other qualities can complement that personality? For example, he can be upset but almost acting like a little kid about it....or he can be upset and have many insecurities...or he can be upset and pretend he's not, with the following acting possibilities a situation like that would offer you. One of the parts I personally enjoy very much of this whole process is exploration...whether it's exploration of the character, the acting, the story, the scene...how to say something cinematically or acting wise without it being something that we've all watched 200 times before somewhere else. Exploring things that don't seem repetitive or haven't been done as much keep things and learning going, as opposed to being stuck.
  • The main thing for me is the acting, so depending on the personality of the character and its state of mind, you animate the character taking into account the physical characteristicsof it.
  • Carlos, if I ask you to share a point of view which has helped you to achieve your goals, what would be your advice for all CG-Node users?
  • Mostly patience and motivation. Things do not arrive from one day to the other, especially when it comes to animation. I've seen cases of people that show you things right off school with the intention of getting to Pixar or ILM right away. In many cases it's not about getting to a particular place what matters, but instead to try to have a great time whatever it is that you are at. Because if you are always waiting for that special place to arrive without enjoying the day to day, what a pain that'd be. So if you can find things or people in whichever place you are at, or have a good time doing whatever (even though sometimes it's not stuff we might enjoy as much), I think at least the process will be a lot more interesting than waiting to this or to that. We have all been there.
  • For a few years I had all my Pixar rejection letters by my bed, as I didn't want to give up. I knew I eventually would love to work there, but at the same time, I had some serious good times and made some good friends along the way, who I'm still in touch with. Now it's those places and those friends what I remember the most, not the fact that I made it or not. Also with time you realize how much you still have to learn in many ways...whether it's experience wise or knowledge wise. If things don't come at the first try, you try again in the future. If a short film, a shot, etc doesn't come out ok, it really isn't the end of the world...and you learn from the mistakes. Don't throw the towel and continue doing and learning more things.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Animation Critique: Audio Clip

Direct Link: "Food Chain"

I like the idea. The voice sound like the guy is an ass, or at least slimey, and a TV show producer fits nicely. The set looks great too, awesome work. It might be the compression, but the movie clip is very dark. The console is almost black and so is the guy's sweater. The image you sent me was better, you can make out the slider slits (whatever you call that) and overall it's just not as dark. Having the light flicker on his body from the TV is neat, make sure it's not distracting. The Norman modification is sweet, nice work!

Looking at the blocking that you sent me, what stuck out is his last hand movement. Is he supposed to push the sliders up? The way the hand goes forward with his fingers spreading out and how the hand goes up, it doesn't look like a button push or slider push. What's the intention on that? You mentioned in our mail that he will push play for the tape. Let's talk about it in class tomorrow.
The pose in the picture is more aggressive than what you have in the movie. I would go for something more like the picture. In the movie he's almost too relaxed.

Now, I showed the clip to other people and here are the most common concerns:

- make it clear who and where the guy is. It could be TV, it could be music, it could be a security guard. Suggestion: add a "On Air" sign in the back, not lit, and when he pushes the buttons at the end, light it up. But at a "On the Air" or whatever sign will make it clear where he is.

- he sounds sleazy, but his costume is too neat. Add some sleaziness to it. A cigar maybe? Something different with his sweater? Rings? Big gold watch?

- the image you sent me seamed clearer in terms of focusing on the guy. In the movie he is smaller and you see more of the equipment (especially adding all the TVs), which distracts a bit from the guy. You can zoom in on him to fix that or change the colors so that contrast and value wise (do the squint test), you will focus on him only.

- it took people a while to get used to the set in combination with the audio, at first it was hard to understand the context, they didn't get it. "Top of the food chain, dinner's served? TV? Huh?"

Let's ask the class for feedback on Monday. Do the same on your side, show the clip to a lot of people for feedback, if the staging and set/character choice is clear.
I like it, I get it, but that's just me, don't confuse your audience.

Nice work though!

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Animation Critique: Walkcycle

Direct link: Walk front & side

Nice snobby attitude! I like the upper body posture and how he swings his club, good stuff.

His arms seem really long. Is there any way you can make them shorter? His hands seem huge as well (am I having trouble with hands today? ... ).

Animation wise here are a few things that need tweaking:

- you need to extend his leg as he takes the steps. For instance, his left leg goes forward til frame 12, but then goes backwards til 16. It needs to continue forward until the leg is pretty much stretched out, then put his heel on the floor and then the foot down.
- it looks like the feet are sliding (front and sideview). Front: 38 til the end, his left foot slides to the right, his right foot seems to slide screen left throughout the whole plant til lift off. Side: his right foot goes back til frame 6, then seems to slow down, with a couple of hiccups until the lift. Same with the other one.
- the feet are a bit weird when you got from 42 to 44. They seem to slow down, then accelerate til 44. It looks like they hit the ground on the heel, stay on the heel for a frame or two, then there's the plant. It should be one continues move.
- from 45 to 47 nothing moves except his arms.
- front view: his body should move left to right as he takes the steps, in order to stay balanced. For instance frame 6, his left leg is up, so his body should move screen left, shifting his weight over his right leg for balance. Right now at this frame he would tip to the right. Balance him out during each step.
- his hips, front view, right side, they are going up from 11 to 20, I would have them level out til 26 (with the right side never higher than the left), then the big weight shift til 32, which you have (this goes for the other side as well)
- upper body: front view, from 21 to 24 there is a sharp movement to the right that ends abruptly. The head reacts to that as well. It seems too hiccuppy during that point.
- his arms feel even and slow. Looking at his club (side view), the rhythm of the up and downs is too flat, which makes it look robotic. It's not like the end of the club is super heavy, his hand will still be driving the movement of the club, so you can add a faster rhythm to it (the only fast part which seems out of place is once the club is high up at the end of the clip it changes direction quickly after frame 1). Grab a broom and walk around with it and study how the stick moves.
- the swing of his left arm is very even as well. You can have the swing be faster then slow it down as it changes direction, give it more rhythm. In the front view his hand is rotated down with his fingers pointing to his right foot (does that make sense?), ... I think it might be easier to show you what I mean on Monday... basically, the fingers seem tense, you could have them in a more relaxed pose (especially the thumb), but the hand itself is too swingy. The slow movement of the arm doesn't help either.

Start with that, we'll talk about it again in class. Nice work though, great attitude.

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Did you get your own website?

Don't forget that your online portfolio is key to finding a job. It cuts down the time for people to evaluate your reel. Instead of waiting for the tape or DVD to arrive at the company, the HR people can watch your clips immediately online.

If you have a killer clip, people will notice it, pass the link along, and sooner or later, you'll get contacted by someone who wants to hire you. All that is not going to happen if you don't have an online presence.

Also, I won't be able to host all you guys' clips forever, I don't have unlimited webspace. So when I run out, I will have to delete the clips, which means that other people won't be able to watch them anymore, which is too bad. It's important for everybody to see other people's work in order to learn from it.

Don't wait, get your domain name and webhost now, it's really not that expensive anymore. I already wrote about it "Get your own website!" and I still recommend 1and1:

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