Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Some Common Beginner Mistakes: We all do it :)

Some (of my) Common Beginner Mistakes:: "
Sorry for the lack of post recently... But sometime, "life" take a lot of your time and your "virtual life" is (hopefully for you and me) not as important :D As for now, I'm animating 1st person weapons animation (as Call of Duty) at our top-secret studio and guess what ? Our game is gonna be announce soon at E3 !

Say hello to my animation notes !

When Eric Scheur publish his last post on the 11 Second Club, called : The Top Five, which list some of the common mistakes beginner will make in the Club's competition. It gave me that idea of just going through all my animations notes I had take at work since the beginning of the universe ! And do a list of the mistake I would normally made (or had made). This is really personal stuff, but I think it has the merit to show that everyone make more or less the same mistakes at the beginning.

-“Glitch” of all kinds and nature! :
As when it look as the character or parts of the character are hitting an “invisible walls” or being pull by “an invisible rope” or being “teleported” from one point to the other. A glitch may also exist when some part of your body change direction two times in a few frames. As when you have an elbow or knee snapping back and forward to a full extension to a non-full extension in one frame. To fix this, you should make your elbow or knee snap a few frames so that it doesn’t look like a glitch.

-Weak pose or having a bizarre pose somewhere in our animation :
If you frame-by-frame in your animation, there shouldn’t to be any bizarre or “gay” or weak pose. Even if it “just” an in-between (a drawing that you get from the interpolation of the computer) and not a key pose there should not be any bizarre pose out there.

-Having poses in motion, paid attention to poses than should not exist :
I remember I once did a mistake when I spend around 15 minutes building a pose that did not exist in my animation. I was doing a backward step, one where the character was doing a subtle jump from one position to the next. And as I was working on my animation I spend some time building that pose where my character had still his two feet on the ground. But obviously, if I wanted my character to make a small jump as he was making that backward step, he should not had that pose where he had his two feet on the ground at the same time. By doing so, I was making a pose that did not exist (the two feet on the ground) in relation to what I wanted in my mind.
So we must think of what a pose should look like at one particular moment in the animation, so that it is representing an idea (intention) at a certain moment in time. We should not know at What Time it will be yet (on the timeline). But we know that at this moment (the moment where my character is drinking a cup of hot coffee for instance) that pose should look like that (where he just realize the coffee is super-hot).

-Not having enough change, angle change, position change, pose change : Well Contast. It's about abstraction of masses and not seing your character as different body part but as a few big Boucing Balls. Bellow are two animations I could remember showing a good examples of no contrast and contrast. The first animation is from the Spungella Online Workshops (check out the first and second critique by Jean-Denis Haas) as the second one is from Kevin Webb animation blog (seem to have been hacked !)

'Also, think of contrast, visually. How can you make this interesting without crazy poses and fast timing. Try to incorporate visual changes so that tone wise the shot doesn't feel stale.' -Jean-Denis Haas

-Sometime I put too much emphasis on the feet, which is not always necessary since the audience look generally at the head.

-What to paid attention and look for when we animate the feet :
  • Do some little step will give more life to the character. Or as a negative way to see it, doing no little step when a character is moving/jumping around will seem too much perfect and will take away some realism.
  • Feet slide and rotate generally on the toes.
  • Because we want to conserve our energy, we don’t lift our feet high when we do a step.
  • Planting the feet on the ground and they stop moving 100 % on one frame will give an IK feel to them.

-Arms and legs are moving independently from the rest of body:
As if my arms were moving (more than in a subtle way) and were not affecting the rest of the body at all. Changing shape will show deployment and absorption of forces. If my torso and hip doesn’t react when my character is climbing a ladder and my arms are moving independently, I am not showing the deployment of force with changing shape that should happen in the body.
The character body is an integral system so even seemingly separate movements involve the motion of other parts of the body. For example during a head turn in dependence of the situation the character will slightly move his shoulders and his centre of mass. During a walk the entire body will be involved in the animation not only the hands and the legs, even the head will have specific movements.”

-Put a key on the hip every time I’ve put a key on the arms or legs :
In reality I can move my legs and arms without affecting my torso very much or even my hips (if I was doing circles with my arms; my arms will need a lot of keys, but not my torso and hips). To finesse some part of the body, it is not necessary to key the entire body, or my blocking will become very hard to manage as I won’t know anymore where my important keys are when I look at the dopesheet. And managing the Hip rotation and translation will be hard to as there are too much keyframes of these.

-Add more Breakdowns (keyframe on the timeline) to “correct” a movement that is already wrong. If it doesn't work, do I need to add more poses ? No ! (See the end of that other text I had written on posing).
-I had the tendency to spend too much time in my first blocking pass with my keys next to each other’s, and not working on my timing until I had many keys and breakdown in my timeline. The good side of it is that you are not “distract” with your timing (more on Flip Online). But the bad side of it, is that in this “non-interpolation” blocking stage it can be difficult to see if your animation really work as you intended or to track your arc (easier to see them when things moves). More on this here :
-It should be obvious, clear what is happening in the animation when we look at our blocking (Check this post by Shawn Kelly). Or in other word, your blocking should tell a clear story (More on this here).

-Sometime when I begin to just “move things around” as the hand more there, or that feet more there without a clear goal in mind, I will then ask myself question as: what I’m doing, what I want, which pose I want… Or this “I’m just moving things around” mind-set can really be time consuming. We just don’t care if that hand is 5 cm more or less to the right, what is important is the general movement. When that happens, maybe it’s time for a break!

More common beginner’s mistake I had noted:
-As someone tell me one time: Don’t worry about the timing yet, worry about the poses, your important poses to get strong silhouette and dynamic line of action. Worry about the poses and spacing first. Not the timing.
-Begin to animate before we know what and how to animate something…
-Pose-to-Pose syndrome VS Overlapping Action…
-Not taking into account inertia and momentum of objects.
-Character not in balance...

-Giving a beat to your animation will add the spark that it need.
-Having too much ideas, poses (movement) for a specific period of time so that we get “readability issue”, or on the contrary not enough movement.
-Having a lack of contrast on poses and timing so that our movement seem “even”, uninteresting.

John Celestri Animation Drawings: Seen and Felt

Animation Drawings: Seen and Felt: "Some drawings are meant to be seen (such as attitude poses), while other drawings are meant to be felt. These are drawings that convey movement that are accents and action.

When figuring out how to draw an accent or action, I start by imagining the emotion I want to convey, then analyze what tempo conveys that emotion. Let's take the emotion of enthusiasm. That would be a bouncy tempo...maybe a 4 to 6 frame beat.

Then I imagine what type of action my character will perform to convey his enthusiasm. In this case, he's going to spin in the air, making a complete rotation in 4 frames...and so on and so forth.

The above is all timed out on my exposure sheet before I make any drawing. (Note: I use the old school reference of 24 frames per second.) The reason I time everything out first, is that my analysis of the character's timing will dictate how the forces moving that character affect the body in motion. Thus, I draw the body squashing and stretching based on that analysis.

I offer as an example, drawings from the Hank the Spider Monkey test I posted previously. In creating these drawings, I started each drawing from the area of the body that was instigating that particular phase of the movement: head, shoulder, leg, etc.


























And below is the finished animation in color.


Friday, July 08, 2011

Pixar Cars 2: Scene Breakdown.

A great link to breakup of opening shot Action Sequence in Cars 2.


Rango Review and Exclusive Links to Rango's Art & Sound

Review Rango: ***.

It takes great courage and studio as huge as ILM to create such an amazing & weird looking film. I loved the film not only because the film is so awesomely realistic and still animated but also because of a new genre that this film brings in. Rango teaches us to use Animation principle 'Appeal' in a whole different way, the characters are so ugly that they might be the ugliest of characters I have ever seen on any animated film. But still they manage appeal. The characters are so greatly done that this intentional ugli-ness, brings a new perpective of Appeal.

As for the story, Its again the same  Life searching for meaning--- Challenge---Search for soul--- And heroic ending ... kind of a story, though the story is not at all very uncommon, still with the elements connected together its a great one time watch.

Animation-wise, It doesnt seem that this is ILM's frst Animated film, Animation in the film looks great. And effects are superb. Animation is a mix between snappy and Realistic at times. The Bar shot still stays my favourite.

If you havent as yet, Watch Rango. Its an amazing animated film for the adult!

Other Links

Interview & Art: Link

Sound Design of Rango (Interview): Link

Great Link on Making of Rango: Link

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Animators Tool Box: Super Useful Mel Scripts

 Really cool stuff I found on Kenny Roy's Blog. A list of super cool Mel Scripts for Animators.

1) tweenMachine: create ease in/out poses by defining a percentage between prev/next keys.
2) llShowAnimCurves: isolate curves in the graph editor, for example show only Rot X curves for all selected controls (unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work well with our rigs at work, but it's awesome when it does work)
3) axisControl: easily switch between object/local/world space for your manipulator tools, window only visible when tool is selected so screen space is cluttered as little as possible. It's odd that you can't drag the window around, but you can sort of move it by dragging the corners around and re-size it into place.
4) zooGraphFilter: I found an alternate to llShowAnimCurves that will let you isolate just the curves you want to look at in the graph editor. This one works just fine with our rigs at work so if you had a problem with the other one try this.
5) llScaleKey: scale curves in the graph editor by arbitrary percentages, and choose whether to anchor min/center/max of value/time. The only thing I don't like about it is that you can only do one curve at a time because the anchor is absolute for the entire selection, not relative to each individual curve. The next time your supervisor asks you to reduce the up/down bounce of the hips by 30% you can do exactly that.
6) dnAnimationTimer: tap out your timing with the mouse, prints the click-frame numbers and frames since last click-frame in your script editor. Works for any frame rate (FPS) setting.
7) mtAlignTool: choose which channels to align in trans, rot, scale, x, y, z. Select target item, shift-select the one you want to move, then hit apply. If you want to match multiple frames just go to next key and hit apply again, etc.
8) dkAnim: export/import animation. Creates a text file that you can edit (replace name space, paste to a different character, etc) and allows you to specify only certain objects/frames.
9) chinaMarker: Helps when you really want to plan out your animation in a traditional fashion, but within Maya. It allows you to draw, frame-by-frame, on your screen and set holds like you would on an x-sheet. You can actually create pencil tests in Maya! The learning curve is a little steep, and it's locked to the viewport instead of world space so you can't move the camera after you'd drawn.
10) phantomWindow: creates ghosts, but it's better than the maya one because you just pick which specific frames you want to create the ghost on and you can specify colour, show/hide, etc. Remember you can make a phantom of anything, not just geo. I use this in games a lot. Say I need the character to rotate 90 degrees and end in the same pose. I can't simply rotate the character's world control, because then I'll have to counter animate all of the foot contacts. I can make a phantom of my rig, rotate it as a group, then use something like mtAlignTool to snap each control of my rig into it's end position.
11) llUpdateMotionTrail: updates motion trails more reliably than maya does and allows you to easily manage multiple trails, set colours for them, etc. Note that this isn't actually a new type of motion trail, just a way to manage existing ones.
12) llResetChannels: Sets all of your selected controls back to their default values. It's a quick way to "zero out" an entire character (and works even if the default value of a channel is non-zero), or just one control.
13) ackDeleteRedundant: This reduces the graph editor clutter by deleting any keys that are identical without changing any of your keys. For example if the X axis has four identical keys in a row, this script will remove the middle two and leave the "bookend" keys so your animation won't look any different.
14) ackSnapAnimation: Takes current selection of keys and offsets its values so that it lines up with the left neighboring key. One creative use for games is to use the same animation on a different pose. Just set a new pose on frame -1, snap the anim to match, and voila - though the poses can't be too different or the animation won't look right. You could also use it for pasting/rearranging bits of animation and keeping your animation relative to it's neighbor. (Since switching to Maya 2011 I've pretty much ditched this for Anim Layers which are much more powerful)
15) alienCycle: Ever need to make your cycle longer? Maybe you used pre/post infinity cycles in the graph editor, but now you want it changed to actual keys so you can vary the cycle. Alien cycle will help you with that. Tell it how many cycles you want and it will duplicate your keys for you.
16) cycleAnimCurve: Want your cycle to loop smoothly? Well I haven't found a better method then manually adjusting the tangents on the first and last frame simultaneously so they match, but this one does a decent job of approximating that process for you so you can iterate on it more quickly and just do one pass at the end to get it really perfect. It copies the value and/or tangent angle from the first frame to the last frame, or vice versa, or an average of the two.
17) Reckey: I don't use this one all that often, but it can be really useful for blocking in animation or for adding some handheld feel to a camera (ideally on a separate anim layer) Basically, you can drag an object around in the viewport with your mouse and it will record that motion in real time. You probably want to rehearse the motion and timing you want a few times and then set your timeline to start in the negative frames to give yourself a bit of lead-in time so you can start the motion right at the beginning of your shot.
18) madRecentCrashFile: Maya never crashes, right? Ha, I wish! But if you're lucky Maya will save a backup of the current state when it crashes. The only problem as that these temp files are hard to find afterward. Just add "madRecentCrashFile;" to your usersetup.mel file and it will add a list of recently created crash files to the File menu. The next time Maya crashes like this just re-open Maya and load the latest crash file from the File menu.
BONUS! (a couple of awesome hotkeys for retiming your animation in the graph editor and time slider respectively using just the left and right arrow keys, courtesy of TJ Phan:

Skootch (Graph Editor)
Ripple (Timeline)

 Happy Animating!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Art of Rio: Character Design

Art of Rio: Character Design. Find Loads of Pure Gold on Character designs, Posing, And expressions in these Images. Link

Happy Animating