Saturday, April 27, 2013

Not Guilty unfinished shot

Thought it might be time for a blog update.

This is a shot I did in my sparetime a while ago.
I never really got around to finish it, but it might be fun to put it online in its current state, so here it is:

Not guilty - unfinished from Christoffer Andersen on Vimeo.

The idea is that the guy on the right is accused of something. He has a very confident, some might say overly confident lawyer, who's reaction to the reading of the verdict, makes the accused feel very secure. Only to discover the confidence of the lawyer, might be more of indifference.

The guy on the right has been through the first pass of spline. Which means that his curves are clean, and he is retimed to work on ones. Now the foundation has been layed out, and it is time for all the nice details which will make him come to life.

The lawyer on the left is in blocking, but if I recall correctly he works fairly good, when his keys are put to spline as well.

Perhaps I will finish it, I don't know. But I do like the difference in the attitudes and characters, as well as the general setup. So perhaps my motivation for the shot will return, if time will allow.

In any rate, feel free to leave a comment

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:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Run cycle

While in the middle of animating another shot, I decided to spend today animating on a run cycle. I think all in all it represents five hours of work, but put into it on/off during the day.

The run is based off of a test run cycle dreamworks did for MegaMind, and it's animated onto Morpheus rig.

It's always a lot of fun to step back a bit, and do short tests, it sorta gives one a new boost of energy.

Anyways, have fun!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

On directing friends and what to bring to animation

So since September I’ve been directing a short film at the school.
All in all we are ten people on the project, and I am credited as director (and I came with the original idea).

It’s weird to be suddenly put in a position of power, which it is no matter how you want to angle it.
I have no background to make me any more qualified to direct than anybody else in the group, and to from one day to the next, be in the position of leader towards your classmates is very challenging indeed.

What makes it even more challenging is the fact, that I have never done anything of this kind, more than anybody else in the team, but still I have to know what I’m doing, or at least know what to do if I don’t.

The big thing I take from this experience so far is communication – communication towards other people in the team, as well as communication on a story level, which leads me to animation.

When it all comes down, animation is what I want to do for a living, not directing, and I constantly try to make connections to animation, when lingering about all this direction things that is going on atm.
I’ve spend the last months on story construction, story boarding and lately 3d layout. All of this has one clear theme to it: Visually communicating an idea!
Basically the same as animation, am I right?
All of the animation principals, all twelve of them, or however you have on your own list (Which I highly encourage you to make!) all aids you – the animator – in one thing: communicating and idea, an emotion, a story point.

So what is it exactly I feel I’ve taken away so far, which can translate into animation, one curious soul might ask? Well, I _think_ it is this:
Whatever you do, every single pose, every single frame will communicate something to the audience.
But it goes beyond that. The way you choose to frame your character in the shot. The environment around it, how the chair is angled towards the table, how the window frames the character – it all communicates something.
Now the thing is, if you have so many things communicating something it can very easily clutter the message – and what is worse than just cluttering the message, is if you are not aware of all these messages being communicated, there is a big chance some of them might even communicate the opposite of what you want, causing mixed messages… uhhhh the horror!

So being aware that everything you put on screen says something to the audience, is a very good starting place. It might sound daunting, but think about the fact, that if you are able to turn it all on your side, you no longer just have the gestures of your character to tell a story, but framing, color, sound, light, appearance (hat, wig, glasses, whatever) and environment.
That is a lot of players on the same team!

I think will be it for now. Enough brain fart to let out at once. Hope it was somewhat interesting though.
I find it helpful to put words onto things like this.