Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Assignments Delivered!

Delivered my assignments to Spline Dr. Stephen. We have our first meeting next Tuesday. Can't Wait!!!

Ball Bounce: Tweaked

Megan Condron, an AnimationMentor student whom I met online was kind enough to give me some feedback on my ball bounces and I've implemented that into my bounces. Here's what Megan had to say [cause it's good stuff..thanks Megan!!!]:

the first bounce:

this is a heavier ball and you're conveying that very well, but i think the height of the bounces need to decay much faster, its like you have the same bounces for both, but one just has less frames, you know what i mean? Also that being said, a ball of that weight probably wouldn't travel as far across the screen and it probably wouldn't roll as far after it stops bouncing. its nice though the timing works really well i think.

the second bounce:

this one looks pretty good over all. i noticed the drop before the second and third bounces hit a little hard, you might want an extra frame in there to make it feel lighter as you have in the first and last few bounces. the rotations look really good.

It's the feedback from folks like Megan I am REALLY looking fwd to at AnimationMentor. Is it January yet?????

Couple of Ball Bounces

Here are a couple of ball bounces for assignment #2 that I'm submitting as part of the tutoring program with Dr. Gregory. Would like to do a few more bounces over the next couple of days exploring some other weights and then mess around a little with squash and stretch.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bouncing Ball: This is A Test...Only a Test

So, I'm on to assignment #2 bouncing a ball. I filmed a tennis ball bounce the other night and have done a small test trying to get a good working method going for bouncing a ball.

I've hit a PROBLEM though. See, I can get the ball bouncing and can get in a little squash and a teensy bit of stretch using the Squash Deformer, but then I wanna rotate the thang and it rotates my Squash Handle and the squash so it don't look good. I'll figure it out, but if you're viewing and can offer any tips...lemme know. So right now you see at the end of the test the ball doesn't roll...rather it just floats.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Cheap Props and a Fixed Head Turn = Final Jump[?]

Ok, ok, so I noticed the head turn after my character landed began too soon so I corrected that and then of course one thing led to another and all of the sudden some cheap cardboard props held together with 3D glue appeared in my scene. Here are two new shots [also, these are post cleaning up my anim curves], one front and one from behind. Enjoy the shows folks!

Friday, October 26, 2007

We Have Lift Off- Final Jump?

So it looks like I got got all the limbs working and some nice motion. I think I'm finished with this assignment...or am I? Might tweak it before the due date of Nov. 1, but we'll see. Either way, looking fwd to some solid critique on this from Dr. Gregory. Tomorrow I begin the bouncing ball[s] exercise. Bought some balls from Meijer while I was visiting my folks in Indiana earlier this month. Will be bouncing those tomorrow morning...annoying the neighbors I'm sure.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Smoothing Out Da Feet

So, I've been fighting a bit of a battle moving from the blocked-in animation to smoothing this sucker out. Oh, I've encountered some Gimbal lock in the arms [which is why I don't have them posted here yet...just fought the battle of feet today...and still need some tweaks at the end there], broken limbs along the way, etc. Plus, I've got a ton to learn about the Graph Editor but I'm on my way.

For now, enjoy a couple shots of the jump:

1. Side shot
2. Perspective shot

As always crits and comments most welcome!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Block-In Arm Action

Worked on getting the arms in action here, as well as tweaking some of the knee and foot positions [though in this view you can't tell that].

Fixed Timing of 1st Block-In

So, upon reviewing the timing of the first block-in, I thought, "Hey! This guy is in the air WAY too loooooong! We need to speed this jump up a tad." I had the jump taking a full three seconds when it should be more in the 1 second range. So here is the new timing with lower body only action...added in an additional 1-2 extremes as well. I'll start attacking the arms next and then look at it from a front view in terms of pulling out knees, feet, arms, etc.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Training Wheels Are Off!

So we're finally all moved in. Phew! Now I can focus more on these two assignments for tutoring. I'm posting the first pass at blocking in my character's jump. This is the first time I've animated something without following a tutorial, so the training wheels are off and like first riding a're thrilled and scared you're gonna crash, but we learn a lot from the mistakes so bring 'em on!

Oh, and at this stage of the block-in I'm only concerned with how the lower body and head are performing. I need to make some tweaks to the head here still and then I'll attack the arms.

I'm also posting a diagram of the arc of action in the hips and one knee. I take some renders and composite them in Photoshop so I can tweak parts to get the motion I want at this block-in stage. Again, I'm not sure what the best working method is, but so far this is working. Will be interesting to see how Dr. Stephen works when we start up our sessions.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

BOO! A Month of Madness

This month I'm definitely feasting and not starving! I've got two assignments to complete for Stephen Gregory by the end of the month before our tutoring session begins. I went to visit my folks for five days [of course I had that scheduled before finding out I'd have some homework]. My wife and I are moving apartments so I can have a proper office/study room, since I work at home and will be going to school from home. AND, I was just assigned a HUGE project at work, RealNetworks, that needs to be completed in the next week. Now if I could just add a few more hours to the day.......

One of my assignments is to have a character jump. I started sketching some poses on a napkin waiting in the airport, just little thumbnails of poses I imagined a jumping person would take before doing any research....just feeling it out mentally. While I'm still a beginner and finding a good working method, I first just like to imagine what the poses and motion would feel like in my head, put down the ideas and then go do some research to see how close I am and where I'm off. I think animators are essentially conveying the idea and feeling of motion and E-motion!

click to enlarge

Upon returning from seeing my folks, I picked up Eadweard Muybridge's fantastic book, The Human Figure In Motion, to study the plates of men jumping. I then began thumbnailing key and extreme poses from the plates. There are plenty of poses missing from the plates, so I tried to fill them in using my imagination. At this stage. I also looked for the arcs of motion in various body parts [images to come on this in another post] from one plate to the next. Since Muybridge's pics are of actual humans, I exaggerated my poses a bit and added in a few extremes I think will give the jump a livelier feeling.

BUT, this research of course just isn't enough as observing the real deal. Plus, I didn't have a clue how long it would take to create a basic jump. So, last night I took my MacBook to the new apartment [before we fill it up with our stuff this weekend], and filmed myself jumping with the built-in webcam. Viewing this and sketching out some more poses, will allow me to fill in the missing blanks from the Muybridge plates, get a better grip on the arcs of motion, the followthroughs, and provide me with a better sense of timing in the action.

While I'm slightly embarrassed to be posting this, I figure on the road to becoming a professional animator and life as one will involve me acting out WAY more embarrassing stunts. So, hereeeeeeeeeees the video clip of me jumping [apologies to the downstairs neighbors].

Monday, October 1, 2007

Lifting Heavy Objects: 2nd Pass Animating Feet

Tweaking the feet animation for the second section of the lift.

To Study w/ Pixar Animator

Just found out last night I was accepted into an animation tutoring program with "Dr." Stephen Gregory, a Pixar animator and contributor to the Spline Doctors blog. I'll be studying with Stephen for six weeks beginning in Nov, but like all good instructors he's given us a couple of assignments to complete prior to the first session. I couldn't be more thrilled or honored to have been selected for this AMAZING opportunity.

So for the first session I need to make a ball bounce and a character jump. So look for some WIPs related to those assignments as Nov. 1 approaches.

In sad news, I'm losing access to a car which means I might not get to the zoo as often to sketch from the animals. BUMMER! Guess the fates determined I had to trade the zoo drawing for the chance to study with Stephen.

See Stephen Gregory's animation work here:

To read more about the tutoring program:

And if you dig animation, go visit the Spline Doctors, they have some great podcasts too!: