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

video 

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:

video 

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 :)

Cheers
Christoffer
 

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