I've started full animation work for Craig now, and have started off with S001, so I have 2 full time jobs now working not the normal 12 hours but 18+ hours for which I'll make up any lost sleep when everything's done.
S001 or I'll just call it scene 1 is where the film starts, an introduction to Jeffrey. He's lying on his bed rather unhappy with his current predicament and when his alarm goes off, reluctantly gets out of bed, or should I say have to jump himself out. So I was given a Scene 1 package, maya files and new versions of the fixed rigs. Along with this I got a little read me file and an awesome shot setup sheet as pictured below, and these told me exactly what Craig is looking for and wants to see when he gets my animation back. This makes it a lot easier to animate to, as an animatic and blockthrough can only do so much. You need to know the characters emotions and movements to animate more efficiently especially as there is only me outside his team working on animation.
I watched the blockthrough a few times to get a good grounding for what needed to be done and how I would approach it, printed off the shot pages, and mouse clicks away. The most challenging part, is Jeffrey getting out of bed. Since he is flat, has tiny arms and legs, it proved very tricky to figure out how he would approach getting out of his bed. So I thought about how I would do it if I were flat (and the easiest execution to do with the rig setup I had) I acted out a lot of approaches on my bed and floor like pulling himself across his bed with just his legs, and pulling with both his legs and arms. I did a quick blocky test of this and it was very floaty-like and would be hard to have his hands stay in set places with his FK setup, and the amount of constraining I would have to do would be a lot for his left hand. So the other option was to make himself jump out of bed, his feet would bounce across his bed to get enough momentum for him to lift himself up.
The next parts to do were the walks, Jeffrey has very tiny legs and thus cannot move himself very far in one stride, so these parts weren't so much tricky, but very tedious. Instead of pose-to-posing him, I opted for the layered approach. I concentrated on his legs and main body movement first, then his upper body and head and finally his arms and hands. Overall I think this approach worked very well for such a long shot, and a long distanced walk cycle, and something I may employ when I come to do one of The Last Trophy shots when hunter is running.
And while I was waiting for playblasts, a bit at a time I would biro over the shots, not much bearing on doing the animating, but I could see the progress of how far along the animation was on paper, just from the amount of notes and numbers and the sketch over of the shot. That and the number of playblasts mostly gave me an indication of how far along it was. (12, 13, 14 usually means the final stages are coming.)