Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Class 2 Week 2

Howdy, howdy, howdy!
I hope you are enjoying being back at AM! So you spent all last week planning and now you get to dive back in!

First off I hope you picked a good shot from the list! Well ok anything you pick can turn out good as long as you animate it well...

There are two things I want to talk about today: Workflow and Ergonomics.

First workflow. When I transitioned into class 2, I didn't do much at first to define my workflow...well I struggled for a while. Let me tell you that defining your workflow is an extremely important thing to do.

So what is workflow? Well there's a lot that goes into it. Probably the most important thing is TIME MANAGEMENT!
You can know exactly how you're going to sketch, animate, and yada yada. But if you don't know WHEN you are going to? You will struggle. I know I did.

Set yourself daily goals. Or better yet, set yourself DEADLINES! Mwahaha! Let's say you want your first pass of blocking on your public review by Tuesday. And then second pass of blocking for frames 1-50 on Wednesday. Rinse and repeat until "Final" blocking finished by Saturday evening. 
i like to turn in my stuff the day before the due date. Why? Well first and foremost it gives me a day off. Sunday is a relaxing day. Second, it gives you a chance to receive any last second feedback that you may want to implement, or even save for the following week.

So what other things go in to workflow? Well I could sit and lecture you all day, but I'll be honest - I'm still developing my own workflow. So Leave it to the professionals: 

I highly recommend that you Click Here and watch these Student Workflow videos. you'll be glad you did!

Ergonomics seems to be a thing brought up a lot so I wanted to talk about my approach to keeping myself healthy while animating.

There are the obvious things such as:

In the past I have experienced pain, discomfort, or an injury to my right wrist, elbow, and shoulder (more specifically rotator cuff).

To alleviate my wrist problems, I started animating using a Wacom tablet. I personally bought an Intuos 3 off of craigslist. Once I stopped using a mouse I stopped having wrist pain and discomfort.

For my elbow, it was crucial that I kept a proper reach. Just like in the news video, I made sure not to stretch out my arm too much, as well as not tucking it in too close. The biggest thing that helped me with my elbow was to stop using the track-pad on my laptop. I animate on a desktop, but whenever I was on my laptop I used the track-pad which caused a temporary tendinitis. I stopped using my laptop all together since it broke....but If it still worked I would use a mouse or Wacom.

Finally my biggest issue was with my shoulder. I had injured my rotator cuff at a job and had to do some physical therapy. While doing the therapy I discovered that I had a really weak shoulder system. I learned a lot of exercises to strengthen them and I have felt much better since. The biggest exercises I learned are demonstrated in this video:

I highly recommend that you also set yourself an alarm or timer. Let's say every 40 minutes you take a 10-15 minute break and just walk around, have a snack, relax your body, etc. And for your eyes I also highly recommend looking outside into the distance to give your eyes a break from looking at something so close with intensity.

I hope these tips are helpful!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Class 2 Week 1

Hello all! Welcome back. I hope you enjoyed your break!

First off a great tip from Anders Ancker that you should already know :)

I think you will find class 2 to be much more challenging that class 1; however, it is also much more rewarding. It is important to remember to keep it simple this term. I know broken record...But seriously.

One of the most exciting things this term is that you get to choose your project from a list.
You'll see that they are ranked by difficulty, but don't let this fool you. Even the easy choices can be challenging. The best advice I have for you is to pick out a few from the list that sound the most interesting to you. Next act them all out and really imagine how you would animate it.

How do your hips rotate? In what ways do you make sure you are balanced? You will be using Ballie for this assignment, so try not to use your arms too much.

Once you think you have a decision, film some reference! Here's an example of how I like to film reference. Not everyone has a camera, let a lone two; but I use a cheapo flip camera combined with my cell phone camera.

Now there's one very important thing to consider: Some cameras film at different frame rates. So this reference isn't perfect because I forgot to convert it. Normally this is how I approach reference:

After filming, I open it up in Quicktime Pro. I then follow AM's video standardization, which I hope you all still know how to do :)

NOTE: If you don't have After Effects or are completely unfamiliar with it, you may want to skip this tip.

Once I export the videos, they are in 24 fps. If for some reason the frame rate doesn't convert properly, I follow this Tutorial for After Effects

I like to composite my reference in After Effects, sync up the video by clapping your hands :)
Here's how I add a frame counter:

Layer → New → Adjustment Layer
Effect → Text → Timecode

Then in your effects controls change the display format to “Frame Numbers”, and the Time Units to “30” Then you can adjust the position and size of the timecode!

Once your video is all composited, add to render queue (ctrl+shift+/), and I like to output module to be Quicktime format, and choose where to save the video, finally render.

It's a lot of work but it's nice to have good reference.

For those of you who either don't have AE or don't know how to use it, it shouldn't be to hard to do this in any movie making program. Of course you don't have to composite them at all :)

Next DRAW, DRAW, DRAW! Draw out your poses as best as you can following your reference.

That's all you have for the week I believe. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!


Class 1 Week 7

Here's a really cool Trooper Tip from Anders Ancker: (I know he says week 4, but this is a very useful tip for animating with Tailor)

Pretty cool! Now Just because everyone wants to animate Tailor doesn't mean you have to. You can also animate One-Leg. I chose Tailor because I wanted to further develop my overlapping skills which is more obvious with the Tailor rig.

So if you are animating Tailor here are some tips:

Keep the pendulum in mind. There will be successive breaking of joints. Always. You should have a really cool trick you'll learn in your lecture about copy and pasting keys, and the offsetting them for a good start. But don't stop there!

The one thing my previous mentor told me and it really helped: think of Tailor like a roller coaster. The tail will stay on the “track” behind the body. I had the issue of having the tail “come off the track” on each bounce and it looked silly.

Also this week, you get to add a little bit of character to your scene. Is Tailor a zippy Squirrel? Is he heavy? Etc.

Please keep it simple though. This was the assignment where I saw a lot of students try and get extra creative. Check with your mentor fist. My mentor told my class that we were to animate a bouncing ball with a tail. Of course we added in some character, but it wasn't some complicated scene where Tailor tries to take over the world.

I think that's all for today. Please message me if you have a question though!

~Peer Trooper Brandon

P.S. Real quick, if you choose one leg, the only tip that think you need to keep in mind at all times: Pay attention to the center of gravity. He's only got one leg so he's going to need to be balanced at all times :)

Class 1 Week 6

Hey everyone! It's week 6 and you know what that means!

More Trooper Tips! First of all, congratulations on making it halfway thru the term! Keep on working hard and before you know it we'll be done for this class!

So what's in store for week 6? The Pendulum! This project is really about nailing down the idea of overlapping action.
You'll learn about successive breaking of joints and let me tell you this is a big one! Well ok all of the principles are important. :)

Anh Huynh Has a really great Blog about this week. And here's a great illustration about successive breaking of joints:

Make sure you plan this week! Draw as much as you can to try and nail down that overlapping idea. What I did to really help me visualize the joints was to draw them using different colors. So get out your colored pencils or crayons wooo!

Try your best this week to not make the joints too jerky, or look like they hit an invisible wall. My mentor let me know that this assignment really needed to be “loosey goosey”.

I took the “layering” approach to animation with this project.

--I planned out the path of my pendulum, and then animated just the platform. Hide the joints if it helps you visualize it better.

--I did my best to really nail down the path and the ease ins and outs of the pendulum, tracking my arcs.

--Then I started on the closes joint. I rotated it at key points, and tweaked it from there.

--I copy and pasted the keys from the first joint to each joint, and offset the frames by one frame. This gave me a good starting point to work with, then you'll have to spend lots of time tweaking each joint.

By the way, don't know how to track your arcs?

Click Here and download "AM! Menu" If you haven't already done so. Read the instructions on how to install it.

When in Maya, use the arc tracker tool:

It's the tool on the left next to the red pencil.
To use it:

-Select the object's main control handle
-Click the arc tracker
-Type in your frame range
-Re-scale it to 0.200, that way it's not too big
-click create

Now you have a nice visual image of your object's trajectory.

I hope you learned something this week and good luck on your project!

~Peer Trooper, Bsly

Class 1 Week 5

Hey it's week 5!!!

I'm going to keep this week a little short (unless I ramble...)

So, I just found out I'm not the first Peer Trooper. But I'm going to keep it alive!
Anders Ancker (an AM alumni) is the original Peer Trooper and he has some wonderful weekly tips.
Here's is Anders' Week 5 tips, it's some graph editor tips:

I recommend checking out his week 1-4 tips as well.

So what do you have this week? It's the obstacle course!!! SUPER FUN! Now remember:
Download all the course and open them each up to see what looks the best for you.

DRAW DRAW DRAW. This week planning is SUPER critical. If you don't spend enough time planning this shot, it's going to be hard to animate.

Here's how I approached it:

--Pick out the course: I looked at each and every single course and visually imagined a ball moving thru it. I thought, How would the ball react to this environment?

--Open the course up and set your time slider to the frame limit: I then hit PLAY and watched the timeline move for 120-200 frames (or whatever the limit is). I memorized the “feeling” of how long it would take.

--Imagine the ball: After I got the timing down I visualized how I wanted the ball to move. When does it anticipate, when does it squash, rotate, stretch, etc.

--Draw: I did this in photoshop. I took a screen capture of the course, and drew in the PATH of the ball. Just the path. I didn't yet focus on the timing or anticipation.

--Draw more: after I figured out the path and got the arcs all nice and round, I drew in the ball. I drew more keys close together where the ball was slower, and kept a good distance in between where it was faster.

--Block it out. Pretty straight forward. I brought the ball into maya and very roughly keyed where the ball would go.

--Spline and refine! This takes the longest. You just gotta keep on working at it.

Keep some of my last week's physics tips in mind. Momentum, gravity, etc.
Have fun with this! It was my favorite project last term. Feel free to check out my progress reel, or other students' progress reels for example.

Happy Animating,
~Peer Trooper Bsly

Class 1 Week 4

Yay It's week 4! This week you'll be revising your bouncing ball based on your mentor's e-critique.
You will also get to animate..not one...but TWO bouncing balls! Next week it's three...not. :)

Before I give you the most important advice of your life (well...most important advice of the day? Hour? Well it's advice anyway...), here's a fun little video from Bill Nye:

We're gonna talk physics this week. I love physics. I almost became an engineer because I love physics. However, I stink at calculus...so yeah engineering didn't work out. But Physics still helps with animation!!!

So Bill Nye talked about momentum and gave a great visual image. A ping pong ball is simply too light to knock down blowing pins! So what does this mean for you this week? Well a lot of things!

I want to state one major thing about gravity next. There are a lot of misconceptions about gravity (and momentum too). First off I want to pose you this question:

If you drop a basketball ball and a medicine ball from the same height at the same time, which one will hit the ground first? A basketball weighs about 22 ounces. A medicine ball of the same size likely weighs around 8-15 lbs. Got your answer?

-Will the Basketball hit first because it's....lighter and uh, maybe gravity affects it differently?
-Or will the medicine ball hit the ground first because it's heavier?

It's gotta be the medicine ball right? I mean it's WAY heavier! Let's watch this video and find out:

Oh no! They hit the ground at the same time?! What does this mean? Well I'll do my best to explain.

Yes the medicine ball is much heavier. And because of that, the gravitational pull is greater on it. That doesn't mean it hits the ground first, it just means it hits the ground harder and loses more energy each bounce compared to the basketball.

However! The acceleration due to gravity is the same for ALL objects! Of course there is wind resistance, human error, drag, blah blah blah, so many things that can cause things to not hit the ground at the same time. In a perfect condition, everything hits at the same time (Would you believe me if I even told you in a perfect vacuum a feather and a bowling ball would hit at the same time? It's true!).

So what does this mean for animation? Well it means a few things.

  1. Make sure you don't: drop the two balls from the same height, but then have the heavier one hit the ground a lot sooner.
  2. There's a problem also...It just doesn't look right if the two object hit at the exact same moment.

“So Brandon, you're telling me that they have to hit at the same time, but if I do that it will look wrong?”

Kind of :) Unless you really nail the energy loss in the two balls, it will look wrong.

So here are some suggestions:

-Drop each ball from a different height and cheat that fall time just ever so slightly to trick the eyes into seeing the heavy ball drop faster. (Just a litte!)

-You could also drop each ball at a different time. Like maybe drop the light ball and have it come to a rest, then drop the heavy ball, which could cause the light ball to jump up a little bit from the shock of the heavy ball.

There are a bunch of ways you could go about it.

Lastly, I'll leave you with some film reference I put together. It's a 9 pound medicine ball vs a regular golf ball:

Now go have fun!
Happy Animating,

Class 1 Week 3

Hello again! I'm back with some tips and tricks. But first let's start off with some serious advice:

Ok.... so you shouldn't blame your parents if you don't succeed..but hey I tried.

Onward! This week you finally start animating! The bouncing ball is so simple yet so important.
You will see throughout this entire class that it's used as a base for so many things. For now... it's just a ball... bouncing :P

First off, please please go film some reference! Here's some I filmed:

But you really should film your own for practice. There are a lot of tips that you'll get from other students as well as your mentor about a bouncing ball, so I won't dwell on it this week. Just make sure that your curves look real nice in the graph editor. This animation will be great or not so great based on the curves.

Now what I REALLY wanted to spend time on today is the pose assignment!
I want to talk a little bit about the evolution of a pose, and most importantly what “EXCITEMENT” really means.

You have already done one posing assignment; however this time you have to fit a mood. So what exactly IS excitement?

A feeling of great enthusiasm and eagerness.
Something that arouses such a feeling; an exciting incident
(Google dictionary).

How do we as humans portray excitement? There are SO many ways. I highly recommend giving your pose a background story.
-Did Stu just get a Nintendo 64 for Christmas?
-Did he win he lottery?
-Is he getting married?

There are an infinite amount of stories you can come up with. Next is how you portray it:

-Is Stu jumping thru the air because he can't hold in his emotion?
-Is he stretched out and reaching for the sky?
-Maybe Stud is a bit more timid, so he holds that excitement in close to his body.

Think about these things.

Now here's the evolution of my own personal excitement pose. It's a bit cliché, but we all have to start somewhere.
So we start out with our sketches of course. Draw a lot. Just because you fill up one page doesn't mean you have to stop. It's good practice anyway:

Next you pick out your favorite and define it:

The pose I chose was circled and I drew it again in Photoshop  I defined the line of action and in my head I gave him a story: He's at a sporting event and his team just scored. I can relate since I'm a huge Blazers (Basketball) fan.

I finally get in to Maya, and I pose Stu out and post it on my public review:

I wasn't sure how to improve it, which is why I posted it. A fresh set of eyes can always help you fix your problems.

My peer buddy gave me a draw-over, explaining that I should carry the line of action all the way to the back leg:

I took the feedback and reposed it:

After posting it to my Public review again, I got feedback about the back leg being difficult to read, and that the spine looked a little broken...so I refined yet again! This is what I turned in to my mentor:

I felt pretty good about the pose overall, but was eager to receive feedback from my mentor so I could improve it.
Here's what my mentor suggested: He told me I should rotate the hips back to help the back leg be even more clear. He also suggested I make the front leg more straight so the line of action flows thru it better. Add in a few minor tweaks for polish
And voila! Here's the final product:

Now is it perfect? Of course not. But it was week 3 or 4 and I had a final product work showing. Eventually you will improve and be able to look back at your old work and realize how far you have come.

Good luck this week and have fun with that bouncing ball and the pose!

Message me if you have any questions!