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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Critique - Mind Bottling

Alright! Much better, that's it! I think that pose works much better than the previous one.

Now what's left are just technical things:

- the paper being thrown away, right now they move all over the place, give them a nice curve and more accurate physics
- the idiot's screen left hand at x142. It goes from a fist to open and moved to the left at x143, then the wrist rotates 90 degrees within one frame and goes up, then a bit linear to the right and then up. That whole section this to get smoothed out with nicer arcs.
- his left elbow gets tucked in a bit fast after x40, plus it goes in and out, so just slow that down
- his left hand doing the twirl. I would keep it within the same rotation. Right now he's doing it counter clockwise and then clockwise, plus the arcs are a bit choppy, smooth that out as well
- his left hand thumb does a quick turn at x186, I would not stick it out that much, keep it in
- the finger poses at the end on both hands are nice, but they seemed mirrored. Change one of them a bit

The nerd still got eye problems. Check x121 for instance, you can hardly see the pupil. Same with x162 and x210.

Work on that, but you're almost done! :)

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Critique - Bar

This one is almost done to me. There are only little things that I would change.

First, that little head move at x74 feels too poppy. Yes, she's surprised, but to me it feels more like how your head would react when something came towards you very quickly. I'm exaggerating, it's not that big, but the feel of that is there. Soften that part and see how it looks. My guess it will be more of a confused-to-realizing motion (if that makes sense).

Little thing, check the fingers on her right hand at x92, make sure they don't go through the table geometry.

The detail work is nice, the earring, the hair, etc. I really like how the hand goes through the hair for readjustment, that's really well done. I also love the finger pose of her right hand at the very end. :)

Now this part could purely subjective and just a matter of direction, so totally up to you.
What is a bit weird to me is her look at the very end. That wide eyed look is almost freaky. I would go for a more seductive look. But that could make her look too fake? First she's disappointed that no one is talking to her and when there is some one, instead of being genuinely happy, she puts on that game face. Right now you have her look REALLY happy, so maybe it's just a matter of lowering the upper eye lids a bit. But what about this:
instead of having her look at the person at around x137, stay with the look to the glass (like x122). Keep the eyes there and then close them around x143 instead of x154. Keep them closed and keep what you have, except at for the end where the eye lids really open up. Keep it more like x188, even lower, make it really seductive.
But again, this could be a different character that you don't want to give her, so that's up to you.

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Critique - Alien

As always, love the bugs crawling out of the alien's mouth. :)

Let's look at the gun guy. He looks already really good, so let's be nit picky.
I feel like you could add a bit more weight to the gun. As the screen left hand lets go of it, I would lower the back part of the gun down. Even though the other hand is in the middle of the gun and could keep the balance even the way you have it now, I think it would be neat to see the effect of him letting go. You have it in there for a tiny moment but then the gun goes up again. It feels light because it happens so fast, first down then up, that quick jiggle makes it feel light.
Add one more pass on the screen left hand. It still feels a bit IK-ish. Look at the beginning till around x65. The hand goes up and down in a slow and even way, with the wrist keeping the same orientation, even though the body and arm is moving around. That just gives it away as being IK. Same goes for when the hand lets go off the gun. Go from x67 to 68. Gun butt moves away yet the hand keeps the rotation, I would rotate it down as it lets go.

I would make the "no" part during "I don't know." a bit faster and have it happen a frame or two earlier, it just feels a bit soft and a tiny late.

I like the last little expression change at the very end of the clip and the little eye darts. Also how he emphasizes "alien" with his body and arms. Overall there is nice detail work on him.

Now the lantern guy.

I would tone down the amount of eye darts at the beginning. To me the intensity is a bit gone and makes him unfocused. You could keep the one x10, but maybe try a version with no darts at all. I would go for an intense stare until "... it is.", so around x45 have an eye dart going from right to left (or left to right, up to you), but I would keep it to that, then have the head turn. Right now at x53 you got one to the left, then immediately down after that, little drift then up right before the blink and head turn. That's just too muddy to me. The ones after that are much clearer and focused.
Around x128, a few frames before and after, when he stops his head/body turn, it feels like there is a little hitch as he ends that turn. I can't pinpoint it, check your keys and curves (unless it's just a constant hiccup in my quicktime).
Check his left elbow around x76. As he turns around, the turn felt fast. I think it's mostly because of how the elbow gets tucked in after x72. Give that movement 3 more frames or so.
His right hand has a few IK problems towards the end. Check how the arm slows down towards x135. After that it drifts screen left to x160 in a very straight line. After that it goes back screen right, then down with an even wrist rotation, then back screen left in a straight line until x227. So that's a long section which needs more work to get rid of that IK feel.

But all in all a really cool clip!!

For those who haven't seen it yet, I really like the composition with the two guys left and right and the alien in the middle. There is also good back and forth attention grabbing between the two characters. It doesn't feel confusing, I always know where to look.

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Critique - Wall

Alright, here we go:

First off, it looks really good. BUT. It feels like you stuck to the video reference a bit too much. You're getting close to mocap, rotoscope quality. If you'd have that on your reel for ILM (and I assume Sony, WETA, etc.) it would be a good fit in terms of realism. But I suspect that for feature animation shops you might want to amp up the cartoon factor. That's up to you of course.

Animation wise, the biggest fix that has to be done are his arms, they still feel very IK-ish. Let's look at his left arm. Since you got all those great details in there, I'll be nit picky. Look at x20 and his hand. His body goes forward yet the hand doesn't move till x30. That feels too locked for me. I would start having a tiny movement in the hand leading into what you have after x30. Just have his fingers stay in the same spot so that you still get the feeling that his hand is pressed against the board.
As the hand/arm moves away from the board, it follows a pretty straight line till around x37, then kinda sticks there until almost x42, after that it goes down in another straight line to x56, where the hand stays put again until x60. On top of that the wrist orientation stays the same and the timing of those movements is very even and slow. Then the arm goes straight up until x73+ to around x87, again with no wrist change. The fingers also stay in the same pose (and go through the leg geometry around x93). After x98 the wrist does rotate but very slowly and in an unnatural way. The arm again doesn't have a nice arc to it, it moves straight from after x100 or so to around x118, again with pretty even spacing.
Once he's on the wall the wrist is flat on the wall, with all that pressure on it, I can see that it wouldn't move. But the body starts to do some big moves and the arm is shaking, so it would still be neat to see a tiny bit of wrist squishing left and right following the arm movements. Now, the wrist goes up around x172. Is he just momentarily getting off the wall or are you overextending the arm? It feels a bit big and fast, that's why I see it more as a pop than something intentional. If it is intentional, I would tone it down by 50% in terms of height, that way you slow it down.
So what's killing the left arm animation are all the straight lines instead of arcs and especially the even timing and how the hand/arm sticks in one position. All this just screams IK (and even if it isn't, it makes it look that way).

Now his right arm. Same thing here. Even timing, slow moving. Let's start with x22 to x35, too slow and even. After that he takes his hand off the board which is good but the up movement suddenly goes down and then the arm stays put at x45 until around x60. It looks like it's moving straight towards the camera yet not up or down. After that we get the super slow motion move up until x99 where finally accelerates. You definitely need more rhythm during that part. The rest looks good.

The body overall is great, it would just fix the beginning around x20 as it goes down to x34, that movement suddenly starts and feels very even in terms of spacing.
I would also add more variety to his lean forward when he checks if the coast is clear. So from x39 to around 52. Body and head just rotate forward and then stops. I think you could lead more with the head and then follow with the body. Speaking of head, the head turn around x60 is a tiny bit fast, I would add one or two more frames to the turn and overshoot a tiny bit more. Right now it's fast and then from 65 to 67 it stops. It doesn't end like hitting a wall, which is good, but I think slowing down the turn will help. Same thing for the turn around x100.
Even though the complexity is nice, I feel like the body head move to the right at x153+ is a bit fast and abrupt. It goes till x158 or so. Again, I would slow it down, so just don't have him go as far. You might just have to reduce the head rotation so you can keep the body stuff. I think that could be enough to take the jerkiness out of that section.

What I really like are his feet and legs, especially when the feet are on that metal trash can. The fact that the feet don't stick on it feels nice to me. Hard shoes and slippery metal. One thing though is his right leg at x150 to x151. I think you should ease into that sudden up movement a bit more. So have the foot a bit lower at x151 and fix the spacing from there. Right now it's borderline a pop because the foot is on the can and on the next frame pretty high up already.

Finally, tilt the camera down a bit. You're still hugging the frame. Other than, looks awesome!

Nice work!

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Thursday, April 3, 2008


Staying with Indy, I just wanted to post these as well, but it also relates to the "Silhouette" of your character. Let's say you push 7 in Maya in order to get that black/white look, are the poses of your character clear? Not that you have to have your arms out and away all the time, but still, make sure every action reads well. If you have certain story points you want to bring across, could you boil them down to individual poses? - artwork by Mathew Reynolds

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Artist - Patrick Schoenmaker

Of course I had to find out more about that Indy drawing. You can buy this at the Indy store of course and they have this to say:

Acme Archives has pursued some stellar talent to bring Indy fans a new series of limited edition fine art lithographs, including this fun animated take of a classic Indy scene by artist Patrick Schoenmaker. This 13"x19" fine art giclee on paper, limited to just 245 pieces, depicts the tooned-up Indy and Marion staving off the darkness in Raiders of the Lost Ark's Well of Souls. This piece makes you wish we could see a fully-animated Indy adventure! Each print is hand numbered and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity. About the Artist Currently living in Utrecht, the Netherlands, Schoenmaker is studying animation and has drawn several comics appearing in such magazines as Break Out! and Stripnieuws.

One of the best sites for Indy news is theraider.net, which has more artwork and links to his blog and portfolio site. Here a sample of his work:

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I miss 2D...

I know most of us here are doing 3D animation and it's awesome, pays bills, etc. etc. but damn do I miss traditional animation. With the impending release of Indy and my being an Indy nerd I was browsing through the new Indy shop and found this "Escaping the Tomb" giclee. Imagine this fully animated in feature quality with awesome sound and music.


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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Critique - Manager & Kiss

First your Manager Shot:

you know what cracked me up? After all that time waiting you probably expect pages of critique but I actually have pretty much nothing to say, you're almost done! Yes, almost. :)

First off: the screen right hand movement around x151 feels a bit fast, 3 to 4 frames longer would help if you can shave it off somewhere.
Then, how the screen left hand grabs the pen around x333 feels too soft. Not that you have to have a giant grip on it, but just a bit more than what you have now. Towards the end what you could do is lower the thumb so it rests on the pen.
Last thing, the tie. It feels like cardboard. Look at x 211 for instance, how it rotates screen left. Give it a "gravity" pass. :)

The section "... much of anything else for that matter..." is really nice, well done!!

Of all the different version you showed me, the original #4 was the best one (even though I have a few issues with it as well). The pullback in the other version doesn't work for me either. Just like you said, it looks like he's preparing for projectile vomit and to me it's also like mouth to mouth resuscitation.

Not having seen the clip for a while gave me fresh eyes though. I have to say I'm not a big fan of the beginning anymore. Even though I like the idea that they look around to see if anybody is catching them, it doesn't read as strongly as it could. Right now it's almost as if they are checking how the audience is. Look at x72. He looks almost confused. You have to push the sneaky feel. Plus having them stand in the middle of the boat isn't helping either. If they would hide behind something, that would work better, like a life boat or something else that could be on the deck.
But what doesn't work for me at all is how she is bent backwards during all this time. The time from x150 to 200 could be cut and used at the beginning with them finishing a step behind the boat, checking if anybody saw them. With the boat rocking back and forth you could have them kinda trip over each other, loosing their balance and he catches her before she falls. That way they end up in each other's arms, and that's when he goes for it (or her).

I know that's quite a departure from what you have, it's just my 2 cents. What do you guys think?

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Squash and Stretch

I know that you guys are into character pieces and not bouncing balls anymore, but squash and stretch can be applied to many other situations besides cartoony balls, such as walks, faces (here and here) and in this case a jump. Plus I just wanted to post those images because they're awesome.

Another thing worth pointing out for those who will or want to do a jump. Don't forget to fully extend the legs (or whatever the character uses... arms?) during the lift off and to extend the limbs before the touchdown as well (unless there is a specific reason for NOT doing it).


Stretch and full leg extension

Another leg extension before the touchdown

And squash again

Images found via Haha.nu @ ejphoto

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Insight - Creating a rigged CG character by Michael Kiessling

As I was adding Michael Kiessling's rigs to Animation Buffet I also checked out his tutorial section and he has two pdfs about the process of creating his rigs, from modeling to rigging to texturing, etc. Since he wrote it in 2005 you can imagine that the tools have a changed quite a bit, but it is nevertheless an interesting insight into that process. Go to his "tutorials" section and look for "Insight - Creating Enemy Soldier", which is the 70+ pages long pdf (the Wolverine one is much shorter).

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R.I.P. Jules Dassin

Do yourself a favor and watch/rent/buy the movie Rififi (orig. "Du rififi chez les hommes"), to me Dassin's best movie (although "Topkapi" is great too) and mother of all heist movies (again, that's just me). After all the heist preparation you get to witness 30mins of no sound and music during the actual heist. It's fantastic!

The Digital Bits got a nice review and Netflix got it right here.

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Björk’s “Wanderlust”

Very cool looking music video for Björk’s “Wanderlust”. Head over to Carton Brew for all the details of this live-action, stop motion, CG and puppetry mixup.

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Carlos Baena's Blog

If you haven't already, besides Jeff's site and many others, make sure that you add Carlos Baena's blog to your bookmark and daily visit habit.

I may ramble and rant about many things pretending to know what I'm talking about, but you can believe what he says without questions. :)

First up a great post about "Status/Personal Space". I love this picture he posted.

The composition, the composure of the two people, invading the personal space, etc. cracks me up, so good.

Next up is a fantastic post about "Demo Reels". If you want the latest and greatest info, then read this post.

So go on and head over to Carlos Baena's blog and bookmark it.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Critique - Walk and Monkey


nice work!

Norman walk first, let's check out his left leg. From the beginning till x3 the leg feels to straight, you could have it start bending a little so that it transitions better into x4. Right now going from x3 to x4 it looks like the leg pops into a bend pose. Adjust the foot roll for a smoother transition. Same goes for the other leg. And make sure your feet are not slowing down the backwards translation before they get off the ground. Seems like towards x13 the foot slows down, with x16 and 17 not moving back at all and resuming at x18 a tiny bit.

Two little things, I would rotate his wrists a bit so that (looking through the front camera) you see less of the palm. For example screen left hand at x1. Compare this frame with x16 and when you let it play there is a lot of hand rotation going on. I would rotate as far back as x26 for you x31 position. Same idea with the other hand.

The other thing is his shoulder around x4, 5 and six, how it leads the arm into the swing. Delay the shoulder so that the arm swings first. That's it.

Now the monkey. Great start! What stood out were the bobbing head and the feel of having the butt area being separated from the chest area. The head is not going to be so separate, it's more like it's going with the body motion of up and down. I checked some reference on bbcmotionmotiongallery.com ("monkey walk" search) just to be sure and that's what I'm referring to. It looks pretty similar to what you have.
If you're going for that type of monkey walk (first one), it feels like the butt would go up and down during the back leg steps. In your clip it feels like the part right above the butt is not moving up and down at all.
As you move from blocking to polish, don't forget to offset the limbs, the legs will finish the step before the hands.

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James Baxter Animation Lecture - Day Two: Technique

Stop whatever you're doing, go to Seward Street and read through the James Baxter Animation Lecture. Here's a little snippet:

Body Acting

Muppets are James’ favorite example of acting with just the body. Without any facial expression they’re able to communicate the attitude.

In order of importance to James in animating a scene:

* 1. Body Language
* 2. Expression
* 3. Lip Sync

The body is the heaviest part of a character and therefore takes longer to change direction (see Inertia below). To try this out with your own body, move your head left to right 6 inches. Takes a relatively short time. Now try moving the same distance with your torso. Takes longer.

It’s not that heavier things move slower, just that it takes them longer to get up to speed. That’s what will make it look big. If you animate heavy objects slowly all the time, they’ll just look like they’re moving underwater.

In contrast, small characters take less time to accelerate and decelerate.

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Mr. Blake's Art Diary - Part 2

As mentioned, here's part 2. Looking back, it's a bit weird to have so many links of Mr. Blake's site in one post, as if it's a mirror of his site. But that's why I'm linking to his site and not the final destination. Total disclaimer post but I just want to make sure that you guys go visit Mr. Blake's Art Diary, since he did all the research. Since this is part 2 the posts are getting older and older (2006), but that doesn't mean that they are obsolete.

- first up, "Matchbox", a maya tool that mirrors your character's poses. Follow the link for video demos as well.

- want to add some better lighting in AE after the render? Check out "Normality & Reality"

- "Elastik" adds squash and stretch options to your rigs

- "Sketch Pose" - this tool is awesome! I remember hoping that someone would do this (since I'm too retarded to so :) )

- "UI Editor" is a very handy tool for a character GUI

- "My Mental Ray" - all you need to know about mental ray

- this tool is awesome: "Copy Set Driven Keys" - name says it all

- head over to "Adelaide Grey's" production diary for an inside look of this is coming together

- "ezMark" sounds very cool. I can't test it here on this machine, but as long as you can step frame through your scene while using this tool, can only be awesome

If you are an animator and want to draw reference points on your monitor but don't like using markers, then this tool is for you! ezMark is a simple utility that lets you draw directly on your screen - on top of all applications. Some of the ways you can use ezMark are:

* Use the preset circle brush to trace your animation and check your arc
* Draw over your reference animation on screen to study them
* Doodle!

- you can't point enough to Keith Lango's site. Mr. Blake mentions "Breakdowns" but I highly recommend that you check out all his tutorials

- lighting tips

- mental ray tips

- Justin's "tweenMachine"

- great CG shorts, Mr. Blake got direct links to the movies and to the plog

- this was posted before but is another one of those that should get studied over and over. Great
hand poses
. Tedious stuff to do but very important, check it out.

- 1994 article on "Animation Tricks":

Hesitation The final step of a proof is a sort of punch line to a scene. To get the viewer involved I don't just move the shapes directly in place; I sometimes make them pause a bit before final positioning to build up anticipation.

As you can see, still valid today.

- "Color Toy" is very cool tool, I also recommend "Color Schemer"

- "TWiki" - great collection of links to maya tutorials

- you might have seen those, but come on, go through them again: "Glen Keane Notes"

- Renderman references and tutorials

- Occlusion lighting tips

- maya dynamics tutorial

- oldie but goldie: "eyes"

- "logitech orbit cam" (funny)

- A classic and still awesome: "Ryan Film's Ryan vs. Dorkman" - official site here

- Google's "Sketchup" tool, free 3D modeling tool

- "Planning Animation" - great notes by Paul Mikulecky

- Want drawing lessons? 34 pages right here

- Itchy Animation's article on "Light Theory", which is coming out as a book soon

- Christopher Evans' huge muscle reference library, as well as many other tutorials and MEL scripts on his site

- great collection of animation tools, software and desktop tools

- awesome character designs by Jeff Merritt

- "MELwin" is a Maya UI creation and script editor

- "floating channelbox" script

- "Doron Meir's Acting and Animation" article (and more)

- Francois' studies of lighting

That's it. Once more you gotta love the web. All this information at your fingertips! A huge thanks goes to Mr. Blake and his blog, make sure you add his site to your bookmarks.

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