Tuesday, January 31, 2012

WEEK 4: Animation Direction 2 -- Milestone 1: In-class critique

shooting still from Coraline
Sign up sheet will be posted on Wednesday!

In-class critique and work period today.
Come cheer each other on and contribute helpful ideas.

You should bring:
Production schedule,
Storyboard and/or animatic,
2D plan of set and puppet including armature

storyboard from Aardman's "Shaun the Sheep"
Good luck!

WEEK 4: Character Acting 2: Transitions to Run Cycles

Transitioning from walk cycles to run cycles this week -- we'll start dealing with blending cycles together. I don't want to see just any ol' computer-tweened morphing from you guys! I want a real transition! Think about how you'd go from walking to running. Slap on those runners, hit some pavement or a treadmill and feel the difference between the two gaits. Make sure it's obvious in your animation that you understand a new action requires an anticipation.

Does your COG drop a bit lower before it springs higher? Do you need to lean forward? Do you take one big walking step before your first running step? Exaggerating things like this to make the audience appreciate your analysis.

We'll look at some video analysis of running. There are so many kinds of running -- sprinting and long-distance running, jogging, barefoot running, and all sorts of speeds (spm) and styles, including cartoony.

Read up on runs:
Richard Williams' "Animator's Survival Kit" pgs 176 - 200

Assignment 2: Run Cycle
Assigned: 31/01/12
Due: 13/02/12
% of final grade: 20%

Animate a treadmill run that clearly shows the personality and attitude of the character.
Your file should include the walk cycle and the transition to the run. The run cycle should also cycle on its own.
Use the pre-built humanoid skeleton or your own rig.
The timing (both frames per step and timing of secondary actions such as arm swings and head drag) should support the attitude and personality. The character should have a believable weight. Steps should be symmetrical (apparently if not mathematically) and the motion should be fluid and smooth without obvious pops or bumps. Body parts should be offset from one another a bit so every part of the action doesn't occur on the same frame.

Rubric:Exemplary: Clear personality and attitude, strong apparent weight, fluid motion with a strong grasp of all animation principles.
Excellent: Apparent personality, weight and almost entirely fluid motion with a good grasp of nearly all animation principles.
Acceptable: Some personality and weight. Motion is mostly fluid with minor errors or missing animation principles.
Not Acceptable: Generic run not convincingly heavy or not fluid with quite a few glitches or missing animation principles.

Equal weight will be given to:

Attitude/Personality, Weight, Pacing/Timing, Overlapping Actions/Secondary Motion

Please submit files by FTP.

Please hand in 2 files named as follows:

Include any referenced files. Please watch your naming conventions. No caps, extra characters or spaces.
Feel free to number the files up to 999 as you like. It will help differentiate the files should you need to resubmit.

WEEK 4: Modeling and Animation II: Luxo Jr - the short that launched Pixar

We'll do a follow-up on your bouncing ball assignments before moving on to our next task: Luxo Lamp jumps!
The Luxo lamp is for 3D what the famous flour sack has been for generations of 2D animators -- a tool for perfecting & demonstrating a mastery of the 12 Principles of Animation. We'll watch "Luxo Jr", Pixar's short  from 1986. As you watch this famous film, bear in mind the primitive tools the artists were working with at the time.  This is a remarkable first film for what was then a fledgling industry, which has grown into the multi-faceted world of CG movies, shorts, and games we know today.

From Wikipedia:
Luxo Jr. is the first film produced in 1986 by Pixar Animation Studios, following its establishment as an independent film studio. It is a computer-animated short film (two and a half minutes, including credits), demonstrating the kind of things the newly-established company was capable of producing. It was the first Pixar short to release within a Pixar film.  It is the source of the small hopping desk lamp included in Pixar's corporate logo. In a subsequent re-release after Pixar became popular, a pretext was added to the film reading, "In 1986 Pixar produced its first film. This is why we have a hopping lamp in our logo." Download and view other examples of Pixar's shorts and learn more about their production process here:

Before jumping from a bouncing ball to a complex humanoid, the Luxo lamp gives us an opportunity to use a simple multi-jointed character to practice using the 12 Principles to create not just weight and timing, but also personality.

It's also a great opportunity to analyze live action reference.
Eadweard Muybridge's classic photo of the long-jumper has many clues we can use to bring life to our animation.
Download the Luxo Rig for Maya here.

Assignment 2
Luxo Lamp Animation: 
Assigned: 31/01/12
Due: 13/02/12

  • Using video and photographic reference, animate the Luxo lamp doing a simple jump forward
  • All the Principles of Animation should be in this assignment, especially nuts-and-bolts tools like Anticipation, Action, Reaction, Weight, Timing, Arcs, and even more esoteric ones like Appeal. 
  • Spend your time on the mechanics of the jump. If you have time, you can add a little personality.  
  • Think about how heavy the base of the lamp would be. Show the effort required to move that weight.
The final output should be 2 files: an .avi and an .ma file.

Files should be named as follows:

The file number (000) should be whatever version of the file you hand in. You can hand in any version up to 999. This could come in handy if you need to resubmit. You can simply send me the new file with the new version number.
Careful with your file naming.
No caps. No extra spaces. No extra descriptors.

Exemplary: Advanced grasp of animation principles evident. Luxo has unmistakable weight, clear, snappy timing, convincing overlapping action.
Excellent: Strong grasp of most of the animation principles with few mistakes. Luxo has consistent weight, good timing, and good use of overlapping action.
Acceptable: Reasonably executed animation utilizing most of the animation principles with some minor mistakes. Luxo has mostly consistent weight, timing and overlapping action.
Not Acceptable: Lack of evident understanding of the animation principles with several mistakes. Luxo not heavy or smoothly-timed with little to no overlapping action.

Assignments to be handed in via FTP.