Sunday, September 13, 2009

Animation Mentor: Class 411

Week 411

Two months ago, I began my most complex animated shot I've ever done. At that time, I didn't know how complicated it was..it seemed rather simple. Oh, the things I've learned in the last two months...and the loss of sleep! 8 weeks ago, I started work on my 2 character dialogue animated shot. The goal was to have a complete, mostly polished shot within those 8 weeks, with lipsync, facial animation and smooth body mechanics. A few things made that goal a little tougher then it should have been. But all in all, I'm really excited for where I got this shot. I will continue to work on this shot to get it demo reel ready, but for now...I need a break. For those of you that either are animators or have an eye for picking out problems, you will see where I'm still needing polish and smoothing (especially in the second shot). But...over all, I think I done well, but why don't you decide for yourself.

Here's my "final" shot for "Twice in every song":

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well..there you have it in all it's slightly polished glory! thanks for all the support these last few weeks!

next stop...SHORT FILM!!!

until laterz!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Animation Mentor: Class 404-410

Week 404

This week our assignment was to find three audio clips that contained a two person dialogue, which was between 11-14 seconds long. I found more then three choices, but decided to submit more to give possible options that I might not have seen. I had my favs..but I wanted to hear what my mentor would say. After this assignment, I am thinking about maybe doing one of the clips that didn't make the final cut. But for now, here are the clips I submitted:

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Week 405

This week we took the notes Jon gave us and chose the clip we were gonna spend the next 7 weeks with. I was really stoked about one audio clip. It is from the Broadway Musical "Spam-a-lot". I had noticed that I'd NEVER seen an acting shot from Animation Mentor that was a musical. It was a long shot, but Jon liked the idea of the clip. He said it was gonna be a challenge...but I was willing and wanting to tackle it.

We now took our clip and the character rigs "Bishop"/"Brussels" (a green version of Bishop) and created a layout of our shot. Basically, we just place our character in rough poses to get the basic idea of position in the shot. Our requirement for this animation was to have 2-3 shots to help tell a story. So, we also used this pass to figure out the best camera angles. I had messed around with some different angles, but decided on two angles. Here's the layout pass:

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Week 406

Now we move onto actual blocking of our shots. This is where we start to flush out the ideas and move into animation. This is the first time we've had a full rig of Bishop to block in both body AND facial expression.

Halfway through this week, I went back home to South Dakota for my family reunion to celebrate my parent's 50th Anniversary. This meant I was gonna have to balance family time and school. It won't be easy. Here's my first blocking pass:

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Week 407

For this week, we continue to push forward on our shots. I tried to take the notes from my mentor and push further. I'll be honest, this week was the toughest of my whole AM career. I was on vacation with my family and having to find time to really get my ideas solid for this shot. I did my best, but I was most certainly behind from last week...and most likly for the whole time. With my last blocking pass, I had not really made it clear what I was going to do for the final shot. I had to make sure that idea was clear. A tough week, but here's what I submitted:

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Week 408

I'm back from my vacation and ready to rock this. My mentor made a major suggestion with the last part. He suggested I do a dance move to move the female character over compositionally to the other side of the screen. He said it'd be massivly hard, but he said it would REALLY be a cool shot if I did it. Sooo..of course, I decided i had to do it. This put me back even more in my progress. But all I can do is just push through. Here is this weeks pass:

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Week 409

This week, we are suppose to be getting into polish....HA! yeah...for me it was just pushing on and getting whatever I got done! I tackled a MASSIVELY hard shot and I'm bound to finish it...just not sure it'll happen before the end of Class 4. But as long as I get a finished shot..I'm happy. Frustrated...but happy. Here's my progress from this week:

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Week 410

I actually trashed last Saturday's work and went back to the blocking stage and tried to really get more key frames and breakdowns to define more of the animation. I spent over 50 hours between Wednesday evening and Sunday morning trying to get this shot even remotely close to be ready for polish. I want to get the most out of having my mentor's help, and with only one more week/critique left..I have major work to do. Here's what having no life and a ton of caffeine (and lack of quality sleep) helped produce:

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With two more weeks of class (one assignment week), I have a ton of work to get done, but I'm super excited for Class 5! SHORT FILM!!! WHOOT! but that's for a future post. Check back soon to see just how far I actually get this shot....

until laterz!

Animation Mentor: Facial Expressions

Besides the animation assignments, some weeks we also had to recreate facial expressions with the Bishop model. We had to find photos from magazines or the internet that portrayed clear expressions and then pose Bishop in those expressions. This was suppose to help us learn how to exaggerate poses and to learn how to work with the character rig to produce the desired result.

Week 402




Week 403




Week 404



Week 406



Week 407

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Animation Mentor: Class 401-403

For those of you that have been following my blogs, might be able to put together that it's been about three months since I posted last. The funny thing is that before starting at Animation Mentor, I would search of blogs of current AM students. Funny enough, most of the blogs I found would start off with posts every week or multiple posts in a week. Telling of all the amazing stuff the school has shown them. But as the weeks and terms went on....fewer and fewer posts. I said that if I did a blog, I would keep it updated. I personally hate when you follow someones blog and they go MIA. Makes it hard to keep followers thirsty for whatever your "selling".

Well..I now realize WHY the posts of those blogs were so sparse. One reason is that within the current Class 4 curriculum, we only work on two shots. We finish up the one person dialogue piece and then complete a 2 person assignment. So there isn't as much to report on progress. Most non-animation people aren't going to always be able to tell what has changed from week to week. Heck..sometimes I don't even know.

The other reason posts are so few is because the Advanced Acting class at AM is TOUGH. It is really hard to finish one character, let alone a 2 character acting shot. SO, I have fallen into the same trap as many previous Animation Mentor bloggers and missed a TON of blogging. Instead of doing my usual week by week update from this last term (because honestly it is a huge blur), I'm simply gonna do some highlights. so here goes..

Week 401

This first week of Advanced Acting we really jumped right back into our shots. Besides getting to know my new mentor and classmates, we had to start planning out more in depth facial and lipsync animation. The one thing I have discovered about dialogue animation is how LITTLE importance the lipsync is actually given. Now, it IS important, but whether or not the body performance and facial expressions read are more important.

Here's some planning sketches:




We also began breaking down the actual dialogue of our shot. Figuring out what sounds were the most visible and NEEDED to be seen in our characters. I've done lipsync before, but to be honest, this was a brand new way of approaching it. Animating lipsync is not as scary as it once was. It's still scary..but not as much! here's some of my working out the dialogue:



We then took our sketches and started implementing them into animation. Here's this weeks facial/lipsync blocking pass:

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Week 402

The second week of the term was just moving further with our animation. The final polished shot was due in Week 3, so we needed to take the notes from last weeks e-Critique and push further. Here's this weeks progress:

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Week 403

This week we needed to push our shots as far as week could. One tough thing about this shot was trying to get the body performance to connect with the expression performance. Overall, I think I have been able to pull out a pretty good polished shot. I know that as animators we never stop finding things we could polish on our shots. But our goal is to get the animation as far as we can by the deadline. And then move on. Here's my final polish pass on this shot (for now...).

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So there's the progress on my first three weeks of Class 4: Advanced Acting here at Animation Mentor. As for my mentor and our live Q&A's, they have been great. Jon is a relatively young animator, with I think about 5 years within the studio system. He's been an awesome mentor so far and really pushed us hard, but will encourage us when we need it. Now onto the big shot..the two character dialogue shot!!

until laterz!