Monday, 30 November 2009

It's the final countdown ...

Final countdown indeed, and there's been a lot to do this week. Firstly i finalised most of the core animation of the body, after the first test playblast of lipsyncing (below) i then added in the picking up of the 'whip cream can' and also the throwing away of it in dismay. Considering the video below is the first playblasted lipsyncing, i was rather surprised at how well it turned out and overall i'm quite proud of how easily how i picked up creating the right mouth movements and how good they looked.

Having said this though, i think the mouth movements need to be refined ever so slightly because he does look a bit mouth-choppy. Below is a short test of the character clutching the whip cream can which is looking pretty good, and with a bit more work will look better.

And put it together and what have you got? Hm good question, because i'm having trouble with it, so, i'm going to upload the two shots i've used for the mpeg4 file and a couple of images of what it looks like rendered.

I've learnt a lot about animation and the animation process in this project, and most importantly, don't try and keep improving it on the hand in day, especially if it was hardly changed and was good enough 2 days ago! So what have i learnt?

Well the essentials of a good, well-grounded animation works when you have some live action footage of yourself acting, so you have something to refer back to, and where in your animation you can see an area that needs an injection of a bit more realism, so you know which body bits to translate and/or rotate to get that right body posture and to get the emotions and feelings across.
After you have the filmed footage, it helped me when i had storyboarded out thumbnail sketches of the key poses from the live action footage, so that when it came to maya, i knew exactly what the key poses are and roughly where i needed them.
Another helpful factor is the dope sheet, although maya could hold the sound file and you could lipsync straight off by scrolling through the timeline. But by mapping out the mouth movements needed onto a dope sheet, i could then cross reference with maya to make sure the right mouth movements matched up with the phenomes on the right frame.

With this animation i feel this time my strongest point is the facial animation in terms of what i've achieved over the amout of time i had for it. I especially like the way the eyes move and blink, and how the eyebrows are positioned, which gives real character and emotion and you can easily tell this is a saddened face. I like the extreme poses of this character, which i think works very well for a sad and somewhat manic character at times, i know i would be with nine cans of whip cream! The timing also works well with this animation but at a place or two i do think it needs a bit more of an exaggerated overlap, but all in all i feel it's a believeable character.

Pose, Keyframe, Keyframe, Pose, yes i'm working In-Depth.

Okay we're starting to near a close on an epic, well not quite an epic, a couple of minutes of that good status, but it's a good work in progress on the initial playblast i uploaded last week. I've worked a small amount on the anticipation of the sitting down, he definitely needed a head turn to see where the chair is behind him. The movement of him sitting down, is a bit more snappier now, but i do think it this area needs a bit more work to bring it up to a good standard. There does also seem to be a bit too much (our) left (his right) hand movement at the dialogue point of "yesterday i ate", in fact just looking at it again now, i think i do need to refine his left hand movement as soon as he starts to speak again. So before i even start on the sound planning on a dope sheet for the lipsync, i'm going to tweak and finalise all body movements before starting on the lipsyncing.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Okay, okay you can do thumbnails ...

Week two on our new new project, well it's halfway old now, and this week i've roughed out the animation by firstly drawing out the key poses from the filmed acting, and presenting it in a storyboard kind of way. And then talk about doing a job twice, i then took the main key poses and turned it into an animatic, don't ask why i did it, maybe it was because i wanted to know in-depth as to what i was going to be animating.

The above are a few key moments that will occur in the animation and below is the blockthrough for the animation. I've got quite a lot going on for 11 seconds but i think it's working quite well with what i've got. A few things that do need work, is when the character goes to sit down, there's no anticipation, and the actual movement of him going to sit, is really still quite wooden and linear. But with a lot of work, i think it has the potential to become a good animation.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

What's that ... a, a, sound file that tastes like whip cream?!

Right, so we get the "big brief" and a sound file that emanates whipped cream, hmm. There's a little competition strolling around in a little-ish walk cycle across the internet, and every month a new sound file is released to let budding animators, enthusiats, and professionals as well, i'm sure, to enter into this competition with what they've created over the set month. This time it was our, you may call it a challenge, actually thinking about it, it does seem a challenge, lipsync *moans* *sobs* lip...sync. But yes our brief is to animate to this sound file and if it's good we may even want to enter the competition.

This week i needed to get down my ideas on film, to act out the dialogue *sobs* "I'm living in a cocoon of horror," *sobs* " "Yesterday i ate nine cans of areosol whip cream" Now there's the initial thought, okay so what actually can you do with this, how much acting can i really do for it? It's eleven seconds long, so it would look kinda odd if i put in too many extreme poses and too much movement, so after much deliberation, many, many takes of acting and slight annoyance from the 'actee' i finally settled for this:

I also needed to rough out a scene plan for my environment, which will be similar to the current environment as in the acting above. But i'll probably change my mind as soon as i've done animating.

Friday, 6 November 2009

I'm happy, no...wait, i'm sad ... oh, oh, no happy!

And here we have the last installation of maya shorts before the epic. Hmm, well i think this was fairly epic when i was animating at the time. So the brief was to animate a character changing between two emotions. It could be sad to happy, excited to angry, fear to joy, the list is fairly endless to a point.

My initial idea was to (once again try and be epic), so i thought of a character waiting with excitement for the postman to pop a letter through the door. When he does the character will then run up to the letter, rip it open, start reading, and slowly becoming more and more sorrowful, until he falls back onto a chair feeling sorry for himself. Having thought in depth about this, i decided not to opt for these emotions for the final length and the amount of time needed would be too great seeing as we only have a week.

Instead i decided to keep the sad emotion and use surprise as well. I'd have the character walk along slowly and sadly and he'll suddenly jump and be surprised by a sound. Below is the finished product, which i think did turn out really well, but i do find that there is a problem with it which is when he turns his emotion into surprise, it doesn't really work without a sound there. So to keep in mind for next time, if i'm not using a sound i should put in anticipation, so here he'd move his head slightly with his eyes and then jump in surprise. Another thing is the walk at the beginning which does feel a little wooden.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Up, down, up, down, hang on ... it's heavy!

After the huge plight of maya last week, hopefully this week maya will be nice to me, and you know what it was! Okay so I went through a few blocked out ideas with no successful result, but i got there in the end. This time we were set the assignment to animate a character picking up a really heavy weight.

It took a while to get my head around giving the illusion that a character is picking up a weighted item but after watching a few animations on youtube, i got a feel for how many ways there are of portraying weight and the motions that come before, during and after of the weight lifting.

Just from these few examples, you can see actually how different they all are even though they're all doing the same core thing. I decided to go for a rather simple idea: stepping up to the weight, misjudges the weight of the ball, picks it up slightly and then puts it back down again. After this, he readjusts himself and tries again, although this time he overbalances and walks back to balance himself. This video is halfway through but you can see it coming together,

Below is the finished product, and i'm very pleased with how it turned out. The movement is fluid throughout his body and there's the important illusion of a heavy weight.