Friday, July 27, 2012

Practice shot

For an entire year I've been directing a very serious short film, and the shots I've been animating have been subtle and low key. So, I wanted to do something different now that I have a bit of spare time.

I found a sound file, I just couldn't resist.

Here is the transscript:

The Old Man: "Uh, 'Fra-gee-lay.' That must be Italian."
Mrs. Parker: "I think that says 'fragile', honey."
The Old Man: "Oh, yeah."

Immediately I got images in my head, and the concept didn't change much from start to finish.
For these practice shots, I like to not plan it too much. I feel overplanning can take out some of the fun of animating it.
Here is my initial concept, roughed in on a piece of blank paper. First the overall thing, then a quick exploration of facial expressions:

Once I had that in place, I started thumbnailing and timing it out. When thumbnailing and timing, I generally try and look for big, medium and small contrasts. Both in timing and posing. 
The idea changed a bit, from the idea phase, where his wife walks by, to a delivery lady handing over a package and wanting a signature from him.
Thought this would be nice, and plays well with the idea, that he is probably a bit lonely, and is so excited about this package, which he thinks is from Italy (maybe a place he used to visit with his wife when he was young. Maybe he even found his wife there), that he just HAS to express it. Even to an unknown person.

After that, I did some rig modification on Morphy (great rig), and build the set.
I know a set shouldn't matter, when it is all about animation, but I really like to build one. It makes it easier for me to get into the character, plus it helps with the story and shot design.

 These are the keys


So I like to just rough down the keys, to get an idea, but I do try and include finger pose and facial expressions. Without those, even a good body pose can seem weak.
I prefer to get into interpolated mode (spline or linear) pretty fast. To me it makes it easier to judge the timing.
To do this, and avoid everything to swim around, I use a method called Copied Pairs.
Basically, what you do is, you make an extra "Held pose" to tell the software how long it should hold a pose, before moving into the next.

Let's say, you have Key #1 at frame 1 and Key #2 at frame 50, but the transition between the two, might take 15 frames, give or take. Then you just copy Key #1 and set an identical key on frame 35.
You can even shift things around a bit on frame 35, to give it a bit of moving hold.
Below is the very earliest version of this technique:


To me, this gives me a much clearer representation of the final shot, as the transition from one frame to the next, implies an energy that might not be present in the final shot.

From this stage on, it's just a matter of adding keys until everything is defined well and moves as I want it to.
In the end, I typically end up with keys anywhere between each frame and every fourth frame, depending on the motion.

Here is the final result:

Hope you like it, and feel free to leave a comment if you want to :)


Animal sketches

It's been way too long since I've been out flexing my drawing muscles.
So it was with great pleassure that I went to the zoo last week, and brought with me my sketchpad and a pen.

Here's the result. Thought it went alright, considering the lack of training I have, but I should be a lot better at this stuff, since it's sorta my field.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Acting analysis part 2

Trying out another analysis

Like last time this is totally my own analysis. I have not spoken to the animator, nor do I own any of the material. This is purely done for learning purposes.
This is one of my favorite shots from Tangled.
The animation in there is just packed with great poses, interesting timing and fantastic sense of weight.
I chose this shot, because it works particularly well.
It’s simplicity is amazing, but what is does for the film really valuable.

It portrays Mother Gothel, as the beautiful, dangerous and sinister person she is. I think it really captured the essence of the character.
People always tell you to find a pose that works, and act “within” it, and I think they did so really well in this shot. I tried to take the shot and break it into beats, and I found three major poses.
That is all it takes. Three, really strong, good poses. Obviously a lot of stuff happens within those three, but they are the foundation. And particularly, because she is such a sinister and calculative person, keeping her still and reduces her pose-changes to the minimum, suits her very well.

The concept of “occupying screen space” is very much at play here. The idea is, that you find you major story telling poses (golden poses). They should be as few as possible, and it is important they are very different, both in silhouette and the screen space they occupy.
If we take a look at the beats from this shot, we see this is very much true here.
He is a version with all the major beats and keys. Though we see, that these keys are well enough to define the beats of the body, it isn’t quite enough to explain the acting in general. Mainly because most of it, happens under just one body pose.

So here I’ve tried to spot out all the keys I’d say was enough to move into breakdowns.
From here on, it should be a matter of figuring out spacing, and how to move in and out of keys.
Which isn’t really my focus with this bit of exercise. 

I am really in awe of how skilled these animators are. The readability and seeming simplicity of the acting is fantastic. I find the concept of golden poses, the minimal amount of poses possible, very interesting. I tend to always want to gesture with the arms and hit every accent. But as we can see here, it is not necessary at all, and we must thrive to find the simple, clear way of acting out the shot.
The simpler acting, the better it tends to read.

There is a good chance, you might not agree at all with my "analysis" and that is perfectly fine. It might be totally off :D But it makes good sense to me, and I'm learning a lot by doing these posts.
Hopefully it was a bit interesting


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Temporary showreel

I have a deadline on an animation showreel around April, as I'll be looking for a 3 months internship.
So I decided to take a look at what I had, which might have the quality needed (or the potential).
It's way too long now, containing finished stuff, old stuff and in progress stuff.

But here it is.
Let me know what you think: