Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WEEK 5: Motion Studies - Rough to Final Animation "Splining"

So you have created all the major poses and some important breakdowns, roughed in the timing and all is well. What next? Well, the next step, as they say, is a doozy!
It's one thing to see all your poses nice and clearly separated. It's quite daunting to make them all transition fluidly to create a good animated performance.

Today we'll go through a few more techniques to make this process more manageable.

Here are some key pro tips for moving from blocking to final animation:
  • break the shot up into distinct beats - work on the main actions separately
  • shorten the timeline - don't get overwhelmed
  • look at what’s driving the motion - make sure it's nice and clean
  • hide the arms and legs if they're distracting
  • try using ghosting or creating motion trails if that's helpful for seeing arcs and spacing
  • convert the body curves to “clamped” or “spline”
  • go through curve by curve, adjusting as necessary 
  • focus on one moment at a time
  • take a step back and review the whole file occasionally
Adapted in part from the article "The Fear of Moving Past Blocking" by Eric Scheur

Here are some of the most important things to watch out for when finalizing your animation:
  • Arcs
  • Line of Action
  • Offsets
  • Overlap and Follow Through
  • Energy
  • Pace
  • Silhouette
  • Motion Problems
  • Timing
  • Staging
  • Acting
  • Watch your previews many times and write down any problems you should go back and fix later.
Adapted in part from the article "Life After Pose to Pose: Taking your Animation to the Next Level" by Keith Lango

Final polish is a finesse pass where many subtle details can be added. This is not a requirement at this stage but something to look forward to. Some examples of final polish are:
  • add squash stretch to the head
  • add deformations on the body for squash/stretch and single-frame effects
  • add subtle bows bends on arms, legs
  • animate nose / cheeks
  • overlap brows, blinks
  • overlap fingers, toes
  • eye-darts
Reminder: your deadline for this assignment is next week before class! Good luck!

WEEK 5: 2D Digital Art 1 - Comic Book Art in Photoshop, continued -- Adding the Final Colour Effects

Now it's time to finalize our image by adding colour to mold the 3D look of the characters. We'll continue using the special brushes we created last week and add a bunch of new tools and techniques such as layer styles or blend modes, gradients, highlights and shadows, and blur effects. These are great pro tricks to make your artwork look really slick and get used to the amazing power of Photoshop.

Reminder: this assignment is due next week before class in our shared DropBox folder.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

WEEK 5: Character Acting 1: Working with Motion Capture Data, continued

 Animation speed drill o' the day:
Sidestep. Here's a nice example:
By now I'm sure you're finding out that applying motion capture data to a rig is quite a process! For starters, you need a rig. The good news is that almost any rig can be made viable for using mocap data. The better news is there are many rigs available - from the Tutorials folder in Motion Builder to sites like Turbo Squid.
Control Rig example

But you need to do a few steps - some technical, some artistic.

Technically, the rig needs to be 'characterized' to get it to accept the data. This is covered in a very detailed Digital Tutors Tutorial "Characterizing the Skeleton"

There is also the business of creating a 'Control Rig'. Motion Builder has a very helpful procedure for creating a blendable FK/IK character setup Click here to read more about this process.

Once you get through the gauntlet of smoothing the MVN data, exporting it to Motion Builder and characterizing the rig, the really important work begins: the artistic part.

Student WIP showing blending between 2 clips.
Note the detail added to the posing in the original file.
It's our job as animators to take the data we start with - mocap, video or photo reference - and 'plus' it, make it more than what we started with. The poses must look solid and well-silhouetted. The motions must be fluid and clear. The actions must be crisp and strong or smooth and nuanced, depending on the actions.  This is where your knowledge of animation principles comes into play. The data is a good starting point - it's the animator's job to make it great. We'll go into more detail about what this means in class today! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

WEEK 5: Texturing & Shading 1 - Guest Lecturer from Arc Animation

Please not that there will be no class Wednesday, October 3rd.

Instead, we will be joining Phil's Texturing 1 class to hear a guest lecturer: Andrew Shyshko, a modeler/surfacer from Arc Animation will be coming to talk about professional texturing techniques.

Meet in the Octagon (515) next Thursday, October 4th from 6-9pm

Arc Productions (formerly Starz) is a major feature, tv and visual effects studio just around the corner from George Brown College. Here are some examples of their recent productions:
All Visual FX for the live action/CG pre-game series “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn”
Animated feature "9"
Visual Effects for live action feature, "Dolphin Tale"
Animated feature "Gnomeo and Juliet"