Saturday, January 14, 2012

Animation Direction 2: Assignment: Stop Motion Film

What's with all these darn words???
At long last it is ready - the lengthy tome that is your assignment sheet!

Pour a nice cup of tea and sit down for this one. It is 3 pages long.

You'll also need the new and improved course outline which has the milestones and week-by-week breakdown of what you'll be doing.

Click here for the new course outline.

I will provide you with rubrics for all your major milestones and many more helpful resources in class.

Any questions? Please ask! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WEEK 1: Animation Direction 2 -- Stop Motion!

Things are about to get very hands-on in the Octagon.
Stop motion, people! Pixilation, claymation, puppet animation -- anything that can be moved is fair game in stop motion.

Stop-motion is the granddaddy of all animation dating back as far as 1825 with the invention of a simple gadget called a 'Thaumatrope' - a simple spinning disk with images on both sides, such as the famous bird & cage example. When spun quickly the images seemed to blend together -- a phenomenon called, "persistence of vision".
Click here to see this in action.
Just think how exciting your life could have been with one of these babies
It progressed through the centuries into the multi-faceted medium it is today. Stop motion shares elements of live action, traditional and even CG animation. Like live action, you need to create sets, lights and real objects or puppets to animate. Like traditional animation you need a sense of timing and a means of planning and tracking your animation. Like CG you'll be manipulating jointed characters frame by frame. You can easily transfer your CG animation skills stop motion, and the same is true in reverse.
Phil Tippett making history on The Empire Strikes Back

We'll have a look at a sampling of various under-the-camera animation techniques, take a virtual tour of Aardman animation, and try out a bunch of simple frame-by-frame animation styles.

Today we'll start planning the major project for the term.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

WEEK 1: Character Acting 2 -- Blended Game Cycles: Walks & Runs

Welcome back!

We're combining all your hard work and analysis from last term to create some great game cycles for your reel.

First up - revisiting walks.  Walk cycles again? Oh yes.. you can never get enough walk cycles. You've learned a lot since last year. Trust me. I'll show you last year's walks so you can get some perspective.

This time around the walk needs to transition smoothly into two more cycles -- the run and the attack.  All 3 cycles should cycle independently and blend seamlessly.  If you get them all working smoothly, the group of cycles should look as badass at this dude's dog.

I want character walks, not just any old generic tutorial walks. You shot reference, you can shoot more.  This is where all your animation principles and study all come together. Make it yours and make it awesome.  

Use any high-end rig you like. Here's a link to my post about sample rigs:

We'll get started this week with some refresher concepts about cycles and animating walks in Maya.

For next week, please read the chapter on walks from page 102-163 in Richard Williams' "Animator's Survival Kit".

(The walk cycle assignment description and rubric will be posted shortly.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

WEEK 1: Modeling and Animation II -- 12 Principles of Animation

Introduction to animation starting with Animation history 101:  "the Pixar Story".

The Twelve Basic Principles of Animation first recorded by Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in their 1981 book The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation.

I highly recommend reading the lengthy and beautifully illustrated chapter on the Principles of Animation, see "The Illusion of Life" Chapter 3, from p 47.

We'll be studying the 12 Principles of Animation in detail in the coming weeks. Here's a brief overview of the 12 Principles:

1 Squash and stretch
2 Anticipation
3 Staging
4 Straight ahead action and pose to pose
5 Follow through and overlapping action
6 Slow in and slow out
7 Arcs
8 Secondary action
9 Timing
10 Exaggeration
11 Solid drawing
12 Appeal

Bouncing Balls: 
Animating a Bouncing Ball is nearly always the first animation assignment given to both 2D and 3D animation students.  This deceptively simple exercise can teach you a lot about the nuts and bolts of animation tools, but more importantly how to give believable weight and appealing timing to your animation.

Strobe photos are fantastic for showing the beautifully symmetrical parabolic arcs followed by everything that leaves the Earth... except a rocket.
tennis ball


golf ball

I have some great reference vids for you:
Sony Bravia & Nissan Qashqai ads contrasting super bouncers and bowling balls.
Also check out the video "Ball Tests" by Brendan Body (also in sidebar links -->)

Click to download Maya Ball Rig

I've given you both .ma and .mb files and we'll talk about the differences.

Study "the Pixar Story" (it's up on Youtube in 9 parts) -- there will be a quiz! :oD
Start experimenting with animating some bouncing balls in Maya -- we'll go through it in more detail next week. You can use the rigs or just primitives.