Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Class 3 Collab pt.1

So you wanna do a collab, huh?

If you're reading this, then you likely chose to take the Class 3 Collaborative! Good choice! I can give you some tips based on my experience last term.

Let's break down what you'll be doing this term (assuming the curriculum is the same as min was!).

At first you'll spend a couple weeks animating your own shot. You'll pick from a list. This shot is pretty much to get your animation gears going while you wind up for the BIG ONE!

Let's fast forward a bit. For the collab, as a class you will come up with some ideas. Then you will get to pitch your own version of the idea. Don't be sad if your idea doesn't get chose (mine wasn't!), your mentor knows what they are doing.

After the overall scene is locked in, you will get to work on some previz...aka Previsualization. What this means is you will roughly layout your camera, staging, and character movement. After you get the OK from your mentor, you'll make the adjustments necessary and start your blocking.

That's where your journey begins. You will have several weeks of blocking, splining, and polishing. And let me tell you, it's really great!

Here's a great example of animation progression:

There are two main things I wanna talk about this week for your collab. Even though you start the collab scenes in a few weeks, you gotta start thinking about it now.

Time Management:

Now more then ever do you need to make sure your workflow is steady and scheduled. I have the luxury of a wife with a steady job, so I can spend less time at work and more time animating. Some of you work 40 hours a week, have kids, and all sorts of extra stuff. Ultimately it will be up to you schedule your time. I get up at 6am, go for a run (I can't stress how productive this has made me. Exercise gets your body and brain on track), and after a shower and breakfast I usually sit down to work around 7am. I schedule my time as if it were a real job. from 7am to 4pm, I work on my projects in some manner. I make sure to take a break every hour or two to stretch for a couple minutes. And I take a one hour lunch to get away from the computer as well as three 15 minute breaks for fun (be it more stretching/exercise, video game, tv show, or just relax).
The breaks are important, you don't wanna burn yourself'll get plenty of that in the final two weeks!


My class made a Google+ group. We met an hour before every Q&A and posted to our page constantly. I never felt so close with a class before. And in my opinion that made all the difference in the world.
You're going to be working with these people, so learn to like each other! :)

Make sure to post to your PR constantly. That way you can get feedback.

I'll be back with more blog posts about the collab (hopefully) soon. Notes I want to hit:

-Retexturing Stewie (or are you all using the new AM rigs?)

-Getting props and integrating them

-The reference editor

-Hooking up shots

Oh and one more thing. A tip for AMP in case you want a shortcut:

Good luck this term!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Class 1 Week 11

Howdy everyone! It's week 11 and we're almost done! But not so fast! You gotta spline those character walks.

So you sit down at your computer, and re-watch your blocking. It looks cool. It makes sense. The timing works and you're excited. Then you select all your keys and convert to spline.
Play that animation back and.....uh oh, what happened?! It's all mushy and slow and why is this happening?!

Well first and foremost, take a deep breath and stay calm. Organized chaos is what animation feels like sometimes, huh? You block it all out, and then blow it up! Finally you piece it back together.

Here's some advice that I try to remind myself of from time to time:
Blocking is merely your guideline. Don't fall in love with it, because you'll be changing a lot of things.

oh boy....

Take one thing at a time. By the end of this week you'll have smoothed those curves, nailed the feet, fixed the overshoots, and delete unnecessary keys. But once again, one thing at a time!

Here's a great Trooper Tip from Anders Ancker that will help you tremendously when working with splines. I know he says Week 12, but this helps this week :)

I was always told to start with the main force, in this case the hips. Regardless of what your character walk is like, try and think of your hips as a bouncing ball. Now maybe your walk is fast, slow, hangs in the air a long time, or whatever. You'll just make that bouncing ball bend the rules a bit.
Next open up your graph editor and work on one attribute at a time. For instance I like to start with the Translate Y.

Flatten the highs and lows first. You don't want any overshoots because it might break the rig at the ankles. Next I like to smooth out EACH AND EVERY key so that the tangents are smooth along the curve.

So you may start out with a curve like this:

Then you smooth it out and it will look like this:

Eventually you will go in and delete keys and work with the curve itself, and it may look like this:

But don't delete keys yet! Just smooth those curves. It's easy to delete them later, but harder to get them back if you need it!

So I do this for each attribute for the hips.

It sometimes helps to hide Ballie's legs to focus on the hips. To do this, Select Ballie's MAIN control (The nurbs circle on the ground around him). In the channel box you'll see two attributes: Left and Right Leg Visibility. Click them both to OFF and there you go!

Once you think you have the hips nice and smooth, work on nailing down the feet.
Flatten the keys where the feet should be on the ground and smooth out each attribute like you did to the hips.

Here's where I recommend playblasting your animation and posting it for public review. Find out if any of your timing needs to change and try not to fret, this is only spline pass number 1! Out of....ONE MILLION! MWAHAHA! Well maybe not that many :)

Take a break and when you feel comfortable with any feedback received, start your next spline pass.

Now you can start deleting keys and making the tangents take care of those wide and shallow curves.

Good luck this week and let me know if you have any questions!


Class 1 Week 10

Hello everyone! The term is drawing to a close, and things get hectic! So for anyone out there struggling or stressing out, “Keep your chin up. Someday there'll be happiness again in Nottingham, you'll see.”

Check out this video from my favorite Disney movie. After watching it for fun, go back and watch the first 10 seconds or so. These walks have some cool character to them! And that's what Week 10 is all about for class! Walks with STYLE!

This week you get to be a little creative...or a lot! Before I get started with some tips I have for you, check out this Trooper Tip, it may or may not be useful this week, but its a good tip to know:

Courtesy of Anders Ancker as usual :)

Ok so what does it mean to add character? For this walk cycle I recommend planning a lot..well you should always plan a lot :)

--Is your character male or female?
--Light and nimble? Or Heavy and slow?
--Happy, sad, excited, depressed, sick etc.

Next think about how you would act if you meet some of these criteria. If you are light and peppy, are you super bouncy? Or do you make a long stretchy stride, etc.

There's some long strides, athletic, drunk, and a few more I think. This can give you some inspiration.

Next thing I want to emphasize: KEEP IT SIMPLE! When I did this character walk, I wanted ballie to walk thru a puddle, and flick his foot, and blah blah blah. Well it turned out not so good :)
So don't overcomplicate your walk cycle.

That's the next tip: Do a walk CYCLE! Animate a walk that could technically be played over and over, and it appears as if Ballie just keep walking to that style. If you add in some weird stuff it might not work as a cycle. For instance my foot flick, not only did it look too jerky, but it doesn't work well as a cycle.

Another huge tip this week is don't forget to observe. It might be kind of weird to go to the mall and watch people walk around, but it is very useful! See how people compose themselves under their circumstance. Do they have a limp? Or maybe a little girl is skipping circles around her super tired parents. Don't ever stop observing! I struggle with this, and I'm sure some of you may as well. It comes with time and practice.

So go to the mall, watch some cartoons, and have fun with this project.
Before you EVER even open up maya, I highly recommend you know what kind of walk you want to do. I know first hand how hard it can be when you open up maya and you only kinda know what you wanna's a pain! Plan plan plan!

I hope some of these tips are useful and let me know if you have any questions!

~Peer Trooper Brandon