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Saturday, October 6, 2007

Critique - Walkcycle


nice, a lot better. The head rotation adds character, you could turn her head a bit more towards us (frontview), not by much though.
The legs are good, although you seem to have a tiny Y rotation on the feet as they plant and move back. But the knees and everything is nice and smooth.
Since you reduced the feet, I think you need to reduce the arms, in terms of how far forward and backwards they swing. Now that the legs and the body up/down got smaller, they stick out a bit (with the big hands :) ). That's just something that you see after the tweaks you've done. But all you need to do is scale your z or x (don't know which one), it will slow down the arms a bit which fine though.
So everything looks good, the last thing to fix is a hiccup in the upper body (which is visible in the head because of that). So for reference, look at the front view, her right side of the head. It moves screen right until x4, then hits a wall. Same with the upper body that goes screen left til x24 then to the right on x1 and x2. So first fix the upper body. Look at the shoulder spheres and track the spacing frame by frame, making sure that you don't have sudden stops. Once that is fixed, do the same thing with the head. Make sure that the rhythm is nice and without hiccups.

Sideview, check the timing of your arms as the swing forward and back. Her right arm seems to slow down a tiny bit as it approaches x22 but then speeds up again. It's also visible in the front view. The screen left hand/arm (more then the other one) seems to shoot forward and to the right and then back the same way. You could add a nicer arc as the arm goes back.

Go through your arcs frame by frame, or pick a spot of the character's body. For example, I look at the right side of the head, the hair to be exact and go through the spacing. So x1 to x4 the head goes to the right, then stops at x5 til x7, then to 8 it moves a little bit to the right, then nothing, then from 9 to 10 a tiny bit to the left, then nothing til x12, then to the right til x15, nothing til x18, then a broad movement to the left til x24, then suddenly to the right from x1 to x2 and so on. Then check your keyframes in the graph editor and adjust them or set keys (whatever approach works better for you, but it's easier to adjust the keys and the curves in the graph editor), so that the spacing gets polish.

Another example would be (in the sideview) her left arm. After the forward swing, at x16, track the spacing of her forearm/hand. x16 to x17, little movement (big drag on the hand, which you could reduce a tiny bit actually), 17 to 18, bigger spacing, then the culprit from 18 to 19, where the spacing as a bit smaller again, but mostly, the arc gets a hiccup. If you look at the wrist, it doesn't go down, just to the right, then down again from 19 to 20. After that the arc is fine. So take your dry erase marker, put a dot on the wrist on every frame and you'll see the hiccup (and also a slow down towards from x24 to x1, but then a bigger spacing, and then a smaller one again - doesn't stick out as much as the one on x18 but might as well clean that up). Don't forget to use the dry erase marker (or whatever spacing check tool you prefer).

That's it. You're pretty much done.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Jungle Book 40th Anniversary DVD

Don't forget to check out The Jungle Book (Two-Disc 40th Anniversary Platinum Edition) DVD.

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Jungle Book Drawings

Head over to characterdesign.blogspot for really cool "Jungle Book" drawings.

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Critique - Walkcycle


The upper body still shoots up quickly and then stops the Y translation from x7 to x11 or so. Make that transition a bit smoother.
With that body popping up during the steps and how she slams down her feet she feels very stompy. Is that what you're going for?
With the left/right swinging that's going on, it would cool to see more fluid movement in the upperbody from the sideview. Not much, just a little bit.

The backleg on x13 pops to x14. The other leg looks better during that moment of taking the foot off the ground.
Frontview: you still have the pops in the legs, make sure that you trace the arcs. Left leg, stays put (speaking of left/right arc), then from x3 to x4 it pops to the right, then from 4 to 5 it pops to the left. It does a nice curve during the step til x10, but hits a wall and stays put til it x14. Same thing happens to the other leg.

Frontview: right arm, swing is good til x18, then as it goes backwards there is no more left/right swing, it's all straight, try to keep the arc going. Same with the screen left arm at x4, it swings to the right then hits a wall. It swings back with a tiny arc, but make that transition at x4 smoother. There's a pop in the arc going from x24 to x1. The arm goes forward, then suddenly to the left then to the right, that needs more love.

Sideview: Your shoulders seem a bit delayed. They should go with the arm, with a 2 frame delay or so. The arm is leading the shoulder, true, but right now the shoulder is really late.

The overlap on the head needs more love as well. The timing is a bit off. As the body goes down, the head stays up and when the body goes up the head goes down, dragging. Keep the amount that you have, just work on when it happens.

Keep going!

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Critique - Daddy's home

First off, I apologize for this part, I should have mentioned it when I first saw the clip with the girl in it. Right now, the framing is off. Frame 1 has better framing illustrated (the major points of the critique are drawn onto the movie in a very artistic way btw.). This way the kid's legs are not cut off. So I would move the camera down. I also moved the girl more to the left. That way, when she walks to the door, there is a clearer path of A to B then what you have now. If you had just the silhouette of the girl, there wouldn't be that much of a change from when she's sitting to when she's standing. So, she plays with the horse, light goes on (have it in the blocking so that the idea is clear - every idea needs to be in the blocking). She then gets up and walks towards the door and ends up where you have her. When the dad opens the door, have her react to it and take a few steps to the right, otherwise both characters' silhouette overlaps. So give the dad some room by having her more screen left, especially when he pushes her (next drawing). Her landing point also needs to be more screen right, again for clearer composition.When the dad kicks the bookshelf you can use that moment to break a little piece of the wooden part (have the bookshelf jiggle a bit), that way it's a bit more plausible that the whole shelf falls down when he holds on to it (yes, you could argue that the wooden piece is of really crappy quality by breaking off that easily but hey, maybe the dad is a cheap bastard).


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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Critique - Walkcycle

I like the look of the character! :)

First thing that stands out animation wise is the even up and down of his body. Try to find a more natural rhythm. The body is going to be in the up position for a bit longer, which will make the "fall" a bit faster. The down part can also be held a tiny bit longer, since it will take him a bit to get up (sounds very labored but I'm talking about only a few frames).

With that body Y translation fixed you'll have to work on your legs again, which is fine because right now they are popping into a straight position at x10 and x26 and make the heel go up, which gives it a weird bounce up. The feet also slow down as they are about the lift off the ground. The speed needs to be the same until the foot gets off the ground. Grab your overall body controller and move the guy forward as if he was walking from A to B. You'll see that the feet are not sticking to the ground, they are sliding.
If you look at x1 how the heel of the foot touched the ground, it takes 4 frames to get it completely flat on the ground, which is a bit slow. It makes the steps feel very soft.
Front view: when you make the foot plant faster, keep the timing of the hips (right now they go up a bit too early, but with an earlier plant it will look correct). But keep the right side up longer. At x14 they are almost leveled out, which should happen as the foot gets to frame x16 and 17.

There is something odd about the arms, how they get closer to the body on the forward swing and then go out on the swing back (front view/left arm: the curve gets to a halt on x18 the goes forward in a straight line).
But what will change all that is the upper body. It's swinging a lot (front view) from left to right. You should keep the upper body straight in terms of left/right movement as it curves into the c shape. Same goes with the head which moves along with upper body. Check the image on this post if it is not clear:

academyanimation.blogspot.com walkcycle

Sideview: the head could be a bit loser on the up and down, dragging a bit as it follows the upper body rotation.

And the fingers feel a bit spread out, keep them a bit closer together and rotate the pinky and ring finger a bit inwards, for a more natural pose, right now they seem a bit flat. Angus from the Spline Doctors sketched out great hand poses with dos and donts.

thoughts on hand poses


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The latest Spline Doctor Roundtable ends with a great note on contrast, how you need to focus on what you want to show in your shot, what emotion has to come across, and just because a joke is really funny doesn't mean that you have to cram one in into every shot. You need room to breath and sometimes a joke is funnier because there was a more quiet moment happening before. Contrast is key.

Same goes when you choose an audio clip or you prepare your "weight" assignment, decide on your acting, etc. When I ramble about contrast in class, really try to remember it and to apply it whenever you can. Try to limit your gestures (less is more) for instance. If you point at something all the time during every beat, the audience will miss the important "pointing" because it's buried, that important moment gets lost.
Or in your audio clip you have someone shouting all the time, you don't give the audience time to relax. The classic thing to do is to have something quiet at the beginning and louder at the end, maybe with a gradual build up or surprise explosion. But sometimes a subtle change in line delivery coupled with great acting can be fantastic. And again, great acting doesn't mean throwing the characters around.

There's a funny scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark", during which Indy is in this crazy action scene and that sword wielding thug shows up. With everything that happened in the movie and during the sequence, you'd expect a huge fight, basically going from loud to louder (which is your typical way of contrasting action in movies). But in this case Indy just takes out his gun and ends the fight right there and then. Going from loud to quiet gives it much more contrast and by playing against the audiences' expectations it creates a much better pay off.

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Art Department Roundtable

I finally had time to listen to the Spline Doctor's "Art Department Roundtable". I hope you already did, if not, grab a drink, sit back and enjoy, it's very good.

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Bouncing Ball - The key to all animation

Here's a question that I got over the week-end:

Hey JD, I had a discussion with a friend of mine yesterday about how the bouncing ball is really the key to all animation. You had mentioned that in class as well, but I must be missing the link between the two. I get that with the ball assignment we can see the relationship of timing but it seems like a big jump between the ball and animating a human. So, how do I break the human down into its bare essentials so it looks like a bouncing ball? Do I look at the arm and see how that looks like a ball, then the torso like a ball and so on?

If you master the bouncing balls, you show that you have a good understanding of timing and weight. Everything that you will animate relies on timing and weight (great poses with horrible timing are useless).

Now let's say you do a walk. Then you have your body going up and down, which could be like a bouncing ball. Or you do a jump, that's kinda like a bouncing ball. But I wouldn't oversimplify it by trying to find an actual bouncing ball in your character. It's more about the understanding of spacing and weight to me. The momentum of a ball, how it reacts when it hits a wall or the ground, etc. all that needs to look and feel right and you have to adjust your keys and curves in order to get that look and feel. It's the same with more complex characters, the same principles apply, there is just more to think about).

If it takes you 15 weeks for the balls to look correct, then you will have a hard time animating in general. That's a harsh statement, I know, but I still think that's true. Of course you'll always have exceptions, plus with hard work you can train your eyes and sense of timing, or it might just click one day in your head and you get it.

It's not just about the technical side of adjusting keys but about your eye and if you can judge the timing of your animation correctly. And the bouncing ball assignments are great for that. Sometimes I see bouncing ball assignments and the balls just move around with complete disregard of physics and timing. And the person thinks it looks correct. That to me raises a red flag. It's not like the complex nature of a human character or creature, where you have to really think about how one body part influences everything around it, it's just a ball going up and down and side to side. So if the timing is totally off and the person thinks it looks ok, then there is hard work to be done in terms of observation, studying reference and training his/her eye. A lot of it also has to do with dedication. When I suggest that the person buys a rubber ball, films it and studies the timing of the bounce and all I get back is a chuckle, then that worries me. Yes, it's a lot of work for just a ball, but if the animation looks wrong you have to do whatever you can to understand why and to figure out how to fix it. You need to be pro-active, motivated and dedicated. But that ramble is for another post.

So if you master the bouncing balls, you're off to a good start, because like you said, the bouncing ball is the key to all animation.

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Critique - Cowboy

Looking at the clip, it needs a lot of work. There is something very swimmy and awkward about it. (I wish you could draw onto the frames in quicktime and save it with like that, so you could go through it frame by frame and check out the overlaid drawings...).

First off, I need a frame counter, otherwise it's not very precise and don't include the controllers.

So here's the gist of it. When he first leans to the right, his weight is on the screen right leg. So the hips should be the opposite, right side up. Especially when he takes the step and the screen left foot is in the air. Unless you go cartoony, then have the right side of the hip go up on the lean and keep what you have now. But either way, when the foot touches the ground the hips should level out and as he goes down the left side of the hip should go up (weight is on it). Same thing when the other foot goes up. Realistically left side of hip is up, otherwise keep what you have (think about Sumo wrestlers as they take steps).

But with that second step you don't level out the hips as he touches down the foot, the right side is still up. Same with the next step.
You know, when I got up to act it out, I started walking like the guys from Galaxy Quest. I think maybe because I want to have my arm/hand go always above the gun (ready to draw), so I swing with the leg, not against it (like in a normal walk).

You can also tone down the shoulders. It's just the combination of those extreme movements of the shoulders, the hips, upper body bending that makes it look very swimmy and awkward.

Look at your reference and pick out all the extreme poses, the key ones, look at what your body is doing and especially the timing of it.

Looking for Galaxy Quest images I found this Japanese poster. Awesome.

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Critique - Walkcycle

Alright, first off, don't put any controllers in the movies, it's distracting and doesn't help the critique at all. :) Keep it clean.

So, looking at the waste down only, let's start with the legs.

Side view, her left leg, track the tip of the toe and look at the spacing from x13 to x14, the spacing is a lot bigger at this point, before that it seems ok, so keep the curve linear til x15. Same goes with the other foot from x1 to x2, but it's not as big on this one. Otherwise it looks good from the side.
Front view, screen right leg. There is a wobble in the foot's rotation. Look at x10, then up to x13, the foot rotates with the tip going in, straightening the foot, but from x13to x14 you rotate it back. The other foot is fine.
The translation from left to right on the screen right foot could also need some smoothing out. It goes to the left from x16 to 17, then to the right til x19, then immediately back left til x22, but then hits a wall and doesn't move any more. You need to smooth out all those hard direction changes.
Main body up and down. The way she goes up still reads like a pop. The body goes down til x4 in a nice smooth way, but then shoots up from x4 to x5, keeps going til x7, but then doesn't move from 7 to 8, which makes it too abrupt. Then you go a tiny bit down from x8 to 9, you stick again from 9 to 10 and then finally start the descent. Have the body go up til frame 9 instead of 7, then keep it going a little bit til 11, but make that continuation smooth.
Front view. There is something off with that hip going left right, looks like it's a tad too late. But first fix the up and down to get rid of that pop.

And can you scale down her hands? They're huuge. :)

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