Sunday, November 23, 2008

Animation Mentor: Week 108 - Introduction to Walks

Hey all! Week eight has come and gone...and man..was it a biggie. I had some more corrections to make on previous work and of course new animation to produce. Here's an overview.


This weeks lecture and assignment introduced us to Walks. I have had some experience with walk cycles, but still, I was reminded of some important things and shown some new things. All in all, reminded how walk cycles are truly some of the hardest things to get correct in animation. Partly because they use ALL the principles of animation. Once again, the week ended burning the midnight oil on Saturday night...but then again..what's new!!


This week had EVERYONE doing the same VANILLA WALK. We were given BALLIE this week. He is a ball (never can get away from the ball and it's bouncing...NEVER!!!) with TWO legs. Ballie is the more fortunate older brother of ONE-LEG from last week. I just happened to wait until after the Q&A this week to start on my actual blocking. I sketched out the planning thumbnails, but that's about it. Here are the plans:

This week's assignment was to animate two complete steps with Ballie, in a side view and in Stepped mode. Basically the blocking stage of the walk. The other thing was that the walk was to be as mechanical and the same...VANILLA. There was to be no variation in anything from step to step. Sounds simple, right??? Wrong...VERY WRONG!!! Luckily, Victor gave us a Vanilla Walk Demonstration in our Q&A. I had been recording our Q&A's for a few weeks now (for my own review and not for distrubution, of course!!), and was SOO glad to have this one recorded. I had to go back and watch it a few times since my notes were not as strong as I'd have liked. Here's what I came up with for the blocking pass that I handed in:

After a couple weeks off from creating poses for the STU character, this week finds us creating a PHYSICAL STRENGTH pose for him. After the difficulty of the DEVASTATION pose..I was kinda glad to get something that was a little easier to visualize. But it also gave a little problem to come up with poses that weren't overused in this Animation Mentor assignment. Here's the sketchbook page of the pose choices:

Here's the pose I chose to put STU in. I had a few poses that I kinda liked..but wanted to a gymnastics pose..once again to use the years of participating in the sport. But the biggest challenge I had in choosing this pose, was the symmetry and "twinning" of the pose. So, I went against my better judgement and made the pose a little more off balance and tried to add interest. Check it out:


Along with the new assignment, I worked on making revisions to the previous weeks stuff. In his E-Critique, Victor gave a more corrections on my REVISIONS of my Week 6 assignment, the Pendulum. This assignment is truly proving to be the bain in my Class 1. Here are the corrections from these latest comments:

I also then had some revisions for the TAILOR animation from last week. Overall, Victor liked what I did and I think I showed some good knowledge of what the assignment was getting at. As per usual, Victor tried to give me some tweaks that would make the animation better, and fix a few things with Tailor's tail. Here's what I did with his corrections.

Well..there's the update on Week 108 for ya. Next week we'll really get into the cleaning up of the walk and making it really look like a VANILLA walk...come back and check out what happens!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Animation Mentor: Week 107-Arcs & Path of Action

Hey all! Week seven has come and gone. My workflow is getting refined (which means I just have booked Friday night after work through the deadline of noon on Sunday as my main work time! Here's an overview of Week 7.


This weeks lecture and assignment dealt with Arcs and Path of Action. Our featured character this week was a ball with a tail named TAILOR or ONE-LEG, which was a ball guessed it..ONE LEG!! This really is the first week that we get a character that has "character" possibilities with it. We have another week off from a new emotion pose for STU, so my full attention could be given to the animation assignment. Once again, I worked right up to the deadline, continually finding tweaks to try and make the shot better. Sometimes it was really hard for me to ask others to look at my stuff, especially my circle of good bros..cause they ALWAYS could find something I missed or could change to make it better in there eyes. But in the end..USUALLY it was for the good!


We had another choice this week; choose ONE-LEG and have him do a single jump or choose TAILOR and have him bounce a minimum of three bounces. Some fellow classmates chose One-Leg to get ready for the future character we'd be using for our walk cycles. Others chose to use Tailor..since they were use to the bouncing ball which Tailor is created. Still others, like me had set out to use BOTH characters. I soon learned this was more then I wanted to take on, so I just went with Tailor..but decided to finally use some of my gymnastics knowledge to good use. Here are the plans:

I originally blocked in a version that had Tailor doing a flip AFTER he jumps off the mini trampoline. After getting some feedback on this version, I decided to take out the flip...but later added in a smaller flip ONTO the mini trampoline. I have to give some massive kudos to my bro, Jeffrey, for his hard-nosed crits...and for his amazing work on his Tailor animation. It turned out awesome..I'm both inspired and jealous at the same time! :) Check out my final submitted version here:


I had some MAJOR work to do on last weeks PENDULUM shot. This was actually the worst e-critique for me. I was really bummed out. I had thought I was really getting overlapping action, but Victor had a drawing on almost every frame of my shot.

So, after walking away from the e-crit and computer totally, I came back and made the needed changes. This is another reason I was glad we didn't have a pose for this week, so I could spend some of my time on these revisions. Here's this weeks revision on the Pendulum assignment:

He also made a few more minor suggestions on the DEVASTATION pose. Here's that RE-revised version:

In this weeks Q&A, Victor was at the wrap party for the "Cars Toons" shorts he'd been working on recently. Because of this, we were honored to have a sub in our Q&A time. Morgan Kelly, a Dreamworks animator and campus mentor, was said Substitute. It was kinda cool hearing from another mentor. He gave some great info on the weeks topic of Arcs and Path of Action, along with answering some of our questions about his time in the animation field. It was kinda interesting, cause Morgan had been an animator at Dreamworks for as long as I'd been doing animation since leaving AI..about 5 years. After hearing from a "veteran" like Victor, it was great hearing from someone that was a little closer to my time in the industry...the only difference was his was at a big time studio..and mine was at slightly smaller, little known places! But overall, great Q&A with Mr. Kelly! I hope to hear and talk more with him in the future...either through Animation Mentor or elsewhere.

Well..there's the update on Week 107...once again..a few weeks late, but's at least up on here now for all to see! Week 108 is next..and it's the start of walk cycles...WOOF! One of THE hardest things to do in animation! Bring on the torture...and FUN! ANIMATION MENTOR is moving along and I'm LOVING it!! Until laterz, faithful viewers!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Animation Mentor: Week 106-Overlapping Action

Hey all! Week six meant I am halfway through my first class of ANIMATION MENTOR. I've started getting into a workflow..or trying too get into one. The assignments are going deeper into animation and also building in difficulty, but that's partly my own fault. I want to really challenge myself. I just gotta make sure I am fulfilling the assignment and then not making mistakes in those advanced decisions. But let's get into this weeks stuff!


This weeks lecture and assignment dealt with Overlapping Action. This weeks "character" is a pendulum, a root object with a three joined tail hanging below it. This week we have to choose outta two assignments, one harder then the other. Being the glutton for punishment I sometimes am, I chose the more difficult one, but not before I did the first assignment to get some of the basics. The pendulum is to help teach us the principle of overlapping action..which is seriously not as easy as it looks!


The assignment I went with was to show the pendulum move through the shot with some movement, such as a figure 8. I wanted to do something that was fun to watch (and animate) and took the idea of the falling blocks from the obstacle course.
Here are the thumbnails and plans:

I modeled the blocks and then started animating the root of the pendulum. When I had the blocking of that done, I started on the tail part. Luckily, I was given a link to a blog that gave some helpful insights on overlapping action. I had some awesome help from some fellow classmates. Every time I thought I had it right...I'd have something pointed out to me that wasn't quite right..but, by the end of a long Saturday of working on it, I uploaded what I had in time for the Sunday noon deadline. Here's that version:


This weeks e-critique had a few small changes to my DEVASTATED pose...

...and then there were a few changes to make the obstacle course better. I was really glad to have a good response to this assignment. I was really worried I was gonna get nailed for going soo far away from the usual obstacle courses most everyone else in the course do. But overall Victor liked what I did.

Here are the changes based on last weeks crit:

Well..there's the update on Week 106 for ya. Some of you might have realized this is a few weeks late...but I have good reasons. Those reasons would be the lack of time between coaching and each weeks assignments workload..I haven't even had time to hang out with friends or see any recent films. Hopefully that'll change..or not. lol! But now we are onto Week 7 and all the fun that brings! Check back soon for the 107 week in review! Until laterz!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Animation Mentor: Week 105-Anticipation and Squash and Stretch

Hey all! Week five has happened and was it ever hard. Between battling a cold and sore throat and coaching and this weeks assignments, I wasn't sure I'd make it. I got a really late start on work. Sunday wasn't as productive as it should be. Then a buddy of mine came into town from back home on Monday. I spent much of Monday with him and another friend. I spent much of my week working to get my animation done by the deadline. It didn't help that Halloween was Friday night and I was invited to many parties. I did take a couple hours to attend a friend's party, but then came home and continued working. After a full day of work on Saturday, I got everything uploaded in time. I'm just glad this week is done! Here's an overview.


This weeks lecture and assignment deal with anticipation and squash and stretch. We are now given controls for the ball that allow us to add squash and stretch to our animation. This weeks animation assignment is to take the ball through an obstacle course. The ball is to show anticipation and squash and stretch as it jumps into the course.


We had three different courses we could choose from, or take elements from and create a new course. Of course I couldn't just do the basic courses. Early in the week, I came up with the idea of a video game type feel, inspired by Super Mario Bros. or Sonic (although Sonic was a reference that came up after people started commenting on my work). I started out with the planning stage along with constructing the course. Here are the plans:

I had a whole course planned out and built..even had the animation finished, but then I started getting feedback that "it's great, but I don't think it fits the assignment." I really liked what I had completed, but started really looking at the assignment. One thing about Animation Mentor is how interpretation of assignments really comes down to each mentor. Here is the first version I created (I realize that the timing on a couple things don't quite match..but this is the last playblast I did of this this is what you get!!):

I decided to try to create a shot that was closer to the assignment, but still felt like mine. I loved the beginning part, but some close AM buddies suggested making the ending more like a basketball. After some huge stress moments and some real frustration about what I was doing and why I had chosen such a huge idea, I completed the shot in the wee hours of the night on Saturday night. Here's the final submitted version:

I'll see how Victor goes for it and make any changes next week!

After a week off from creating poses for the STU character, this week finds us creating a DEVESTATION pose for him. This was much tougher to do then the excitement one last time. There are so many cliche poses and ideas that have been done, and I tried to stay away from it. But also, I really didn't spend a ton of time on the pose this week. The animation took priority for me. So, I'm glad that I got what I did this week. And I didn't get very much feedback on the chosen pose before handing it in, so I'm hoping the crit isn't too harsh! Here's the sketchbook page of the pose choices:

Here's the pose I chose to put STU in. Not the best work..but still think you get something close to devestation, at least:


Along with the new assignment, I worked on making revisions to the previous weeks stuff. In last weeks E-Critique, Victor gave a couple tweaks on my Week 3 EXCITEMENT revision, so I took those tweaks and RE-revisied the pose.

Here's that RE-revised version:

Then I also got some feedback on my weighted ball assignment.

I have tried to make the corrections that were pointed out by Victor. We'll see what he says in this week's critique. Here's that revised assignment:

In this weeks Q&A, Victor gave a Squash and Stretch lecture showing examples from several films, including the T-Rex from Jurassic Park and the butler, Edgar, from Aristocats (the scene where Edgar hears about his employers plans to leave all her wealth to her cats and not him). He also gave examples about Anticipation. He used some footage of a squirrel and the bird that chased Flick in "A Bug's Life". He also pulled some live action examples from George Clooney in "Intolerable Cruelty" and Jack Lemon in "The Apartment". These examples were more facial anticipation then full body stuff. And then of course, the examples of some of the BEST Anticipation/Squash & Stretch, Wile E. Cyote and the Roadrunner! Victor then gave a Squash and Stretch demo for us. It's always great to get a demo from Victor, if only to see how veterans would approach the assignments.

Well..there's the update on Week 105 for ya. It was a massivly stressful week, and I'm amazed I made it through without a major breakdown (there might have been minor ones..but no major!!). Hopefully Victor will have some good feedback in the E-Critique. Make sure to check back and see how Week 6 goes! NO MORE REQUIRED BOUNCING BALLS!! Bring on the PENDULUM!!! Thanks for joining me on this journey closer to my passions and dreams, and this adventure called ANIMATION MENTOR!!