Sunday, 23 December 2007

Class 4 - End of Class 4

Well ANOTHER 12 weeks have flown by and this time its Christmas already!!!! AM has gone so fast and I have been working so hard to get all the work done on time and read. Mind you I still have more work to do on my final shot to get it all the way there but below is my AM showreel to date.

Looking back, I have come a long way over the past year, made and met some amazingly talented people and now im slowly coming to the end of AM journey. Two more classes and im done. Class 5 is mostly production work and Class 6 will be mostly doing all the animation. Out of all the Class's so far, Class 4 has been a real learning curve and I think really pushed and moved my animation learning/understanding forward. Meeting the deadlines and slowly getting to the level of quality animation I wanted to meet by the end of Class 4.

As of yet i still need to finish off my current animation as i want to add in the final few notes my mentor recommend and i also would like to go in a fix some of the mouth stuff and eye stuff.

Sorry for the lack posts over the last 12 weeks, Thanks for all your comments, questions and emails.

Merry Christmas and Happy New year :)


Class 4 - Refine/Polish

This week for me was all about keeping the character alive. I have the main things working but now its adding in all the character and fleshy-ness to the character - well hopefully. Creasy stills needs work as its tricky marrying the loose hand to the book which is constrained to the other hand lol. SO that will be a frame by frame job, once i have refined the rest of the animation in the body. For the most part the little girls fingers and settles have been worked on so there is no intersecting on the table, things have a nice natural feel to them. AM don't show you how to do these types of this as such, but its more about watching your video ref and know what leads and follows.

So for example in the first shot of this animation her arm comes down, the hand hits then all the fingers squash, the elbow moves out and plants down while the wrist/hand follows. Once the wrist plants then hand rotates a bit with small finger animation. All this happens in real life it just a matter of finding these things and watching what your own body and adding them in. One note my mentor did point out for this bit of the animation, was to add more settle/easing-in to the little girls arms when they on the table.

Class 4 - Finishing up

Wow the final week. So this week i had to clean up all the dead spots where things stop moving and remove any areas that feel stiff. Its mostly cleaning up curves (which i do as i go) and tweaking the spacing of them keys in the graph editor. I do have weighted tangents on but i don't really like breaking the tangent weights, i'd sooner just add in an extra key. For the most part i don't offset my animation all the time, i normally add in keys and tweak curves - maybe that explains a lot if you feel my animation looks a bit poo. I do offset in places, but most of it is moving keys up and down in the graph editor and making sure i have decent curves (not changing the timing but changing the value of the key on the curve). You can't always get nice curves but for the most part i try to. Sometimes you might have the right timing but the spacing (the value in the graph editor for that key) might be wrong, so before you start changing all the timing check your curves. A lot of people are afraid of the graph editor but once you play around a bit and give it time, you get to know what to look for in a curve. Even now i still wonder if im using it correctly!!!!!!

Class 4 - Blockout

This is the first real start on my scene. The camera cuts are working but I really like the angle at the start of the scene and at the end. But what i don't like is how it starts the same and ends the same. Im still trying to work out my cameras, as soon as i can nail the cameras, the sooner i can get on with the rest of the animation.

Class 4 - Block Plus

This week I mostly wanted to focus on the spine and adding in more breakdowns. As soon as the spine is working everything else off of that gets worked on. The hard thing about this animation, is IK elbows. For this scene, the girl (green character) is IK arms and IK spine, Creasy is IK right arm, FK left arm and IK spine. The reason being that his left arm will never be leaning on the table and i could get better arcs and more fluid movement for dealing with the book. On these rigs the IK arms stretches and it can't be turned off. So this can bring up lots of anti animation to do. Also on this rig is you can lock the IK Elbow in place but when you start moving the hand around it will stretch. SO the whole time you have to make sure and keep an eye out for any strange things. You don't want the character to start with small forearms and by the end of the scene they have grown some what!!!!! That would be bad!!!

For this scene i did a number of tests on what would be the best way to set-up the puppet for the book to change from one hand to another. Constraints would be fine but it can get a bit messy, but i have opted for having two books in the scene. Each hand has a copy of the book which is constrained to the wrist (for different finger placement). So bearing this in mind i had to find a good spot in the animation for the change over to happen and feel very fluid F225 (one book turns off)-F226 (the other books turns on). This is still in the blocking pass so its looking very rough but the change over is there and its working clearly. The key to pulling this off is making sure the placement of the two objects is very similar and making sure the action isn't feeling too forced.

Class 4 - Breakdowns

Seans Back and wants me to change the the camera. As much as he likes the camera angles on the first take, he felt the side on shot and then the end "2 shot" made the shot feel strange it was like an odd jump cut. He liked the second layout, but this to me made new problems!!!!! book starts to go wrong now the scene doesn't cut to the "2 shot" camera at the end... So if i go for that, it needs to be fixed and ironed out asap.

Apart from this new problem of the odd book going crazy, the shot over all is working out well. Also i have started a really rough pass on the head and face.

Class 4 - Face Pass

This week, i really had to push myself and had to make sure i covered all the mentors notes and really get the face working asap as time is running out. Firstly I broke down my week to what I felt was the most important parts to be fixed first. Seans crits/feedback normal gets done on a Tuesday and i would pick it up on a Wednesday morning (timezone) so it gives me time to clean up the areas that i know are problems - like that book at the end of the scene for example. This book problem stemmed from where i blocked my scene out to the old camera move and not worry too much how it looked outside of the camera. AS it looked fine in camera for the old camera- until the camera change. SO always check that you animate to the camera your going to render too - like i did at the start. But at the same time check that things are working relatively in your scene too, just in case anything happens - like a new camera cut or poses need change etc.

Also i was cleaning up most of the spine and head, refining the arms and killing most of the floaty-ness out of the animation. From here on, this is where cleaning up and polishing the rest of my shot happens as its about a good 60%-70% done now.

Class 4 - Knowing the Cuts

After going over the audio clips and working out which one my mentor liked, and i felt had good acting moments. The audio from clip I went for was from Man on fire. The scene its self has over 5 cuts, which are nearly all medium close up or close up. But only being able to use around 3-4 cuts MAX i wanted to make sure capture in my cuts the essence of the scene and how the characters bounce off one another.

Sean has left for a few weeks and we have a covering mentor called Raquel Coelho.
Below are thumb nails, video reference and a number of different CG takes on the scene. I shot loads of video reference, and narrowed it down to three, but only uploaded this clip as i feel it covers most of the things i want in the scene.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Class 4 - Audio choices

A New task which will carry us out to the end of the term. We are now moving on to a two character shot animation. Im not going to upload here my audio choices as at a later date i might animate to them and like most of the audio wav sites now days everyone seems to have animated them. So sorry guys you will have to find clips of your own like i did :) but hey at least you can "watch" movies for a few days and class it as research :) 

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Class 4 - Lips Polish/Final

Wrapping up this animation now and moving on finally. Plus two more head poses for this weeks task.

Class 4 - Lips blocking plus

AM have their new showcase here the work is amazing check it out. And no, none of my work is there lol, don't be silly pfft, your lucky its even made it this far onto a blog....

This week is the next pass of the lip sync, from my mentors notes i really just have to push the vowel shapes the lip movements and refine some head turns. Also this week we had to find images of faces showing an emotion of some kind and recreate it with Bishop.

Class 4 - Lips block out

Back again, and this time Class 4 and im already starting to coming close to the end of my AM journey and i still feel like i have LOADS TO LEARN (well i do but you know what i mean)..

My New MENTOR IS *Drum roll* Sean Ermey, You may recall this name before on here, he was my first AM Mentor, and oddly enough i have him again. Ok i never got a different mentor but hey Sean is bloody good at animation, and his Crits are fantastic i mean, some creep up into the 15 - 20 min mark. And no that doesn't mean your animation stinks it means that your getting what you pay for. A five min crit might be great on the out set but really are you getting your what you pay for!!! Anyway i may depend on your view for that one. But im really happy to have Sean in some ways as he saw from that start and seeing me again so i guess he can see how much i have improved (if any hahaha).

Well we start this term with lip sync refinements on the mouth, as we are given full access to Bishops face rig. There was an amazing video by Jason Schleifer on who to approach lip sync.

Have to hand it to the guy, he really knows how to explain "how to do it lip sync" without it seeming overwhelming and complex.

For this hand in we had to a few things, i can't seem to find one of the images on breaking down the text!!! But i still have my character drawings for the mouth shapes and the all important blocking *Oh yeah i rendered the wrong camera for hand in DOH!!! I'll have to fix that later for this blog

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Class 3 - Finished

This week i took a bold step and really re did the swig from the bottle. Some of it is down to ones just to really keep that bottle on the lips. Refined more arcs and curves, fixed some spacing in places. All in all cleaning up loose ends and tweaking curves in the ye old graph editor.

Class 3 - Term Over

Class 3 comes to a close and its all over again - it goes so quick............... Next term will be even more work and will be pushing my skills further!!! Michelle was a great mentor and gave wicked crits and feedback to the class, so if you get her as a mentor your very lucky. In fact all the mentors i have had to date have been wicked.

We continue on this shot in Class 4, as we will be given another Bishop rig but with full face controls. As at the moment its just flappy mouth with very limited eye stuff...

Here is my end of term reel =O)

Class 3 - Refining

This felt like a very long week. I was refining my pauses more and really getting in there and breaking down more and refining them graph curves. I try to keep the graph editor (GE) under check from the word go, as i don't want all my animation flipping out or have strange things happen. Always check your curves and keep them clean, so that by the end your not messing around to much. As you don't want to leave it to the end as it can get very messy.

So in short keep you curves tidy as you go along, it might feel like more work, but its a time saver in my view.......

Class 3 - Polish

Well i had to refine some minor things here. I did a new pass on the eyes and did a pass on the fingers.

For the most part of the animation i wanted to make sure the hips and spine are fully working and green lit by my mentor before i press on with arms and go down the chain. The reason being, if i screw up the upper body and if have refined right down the little pinky - im screwed big time.

So working in a methodical way helps. Its ok to rough in this stuff but don't key the crap out of it until your 100% committed to the idea. If say the director/client liked it one day and not the next, and wanted a big change in the scene then fair enough. He/she is paying me to get it how they want it. So i have to be able to know how to take apart my shot and put in the new changes while keeping the shot working. OR if its too much start over lol or go back to an old file before you refined it to a high level.

Class 3 - Blocking

Ok my choice was the kitchen but by popular demand "The Brain" won it. For this setting of this audio i thought a pub setting, and with the way the audio is delivered felt it was a more realistic animation over a cartoony one.

This is the block pass, done in copy pairs mode. Its very rough timings and mostly hitting key points of the animation.

Class 3 - Blocking and Breakdowns

This week i had to get the darn thing look a bit more alive and less like the computer is doing all the work..... So with added keys and them all important breakdowns where all the "action happens".

Class 3 - Lip sync challenge

New challenge this week, which will cover the entire term. We had to find good single audio clips which lasted around 10 seconds or less.

For each clip i had ideas and notes of what i wanted to do for them and then from that shot reference for each and then awaited the response from my mentor.

Drug Store

Kitchen Audio clip

The Brain

Also i had some final tweaks on my "Vote for Stu" shot, nothing big just really minor things.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Class 3 - Final Handin

Ok Final hand has arrived and i got feed back only a day ago... The hands are still not correct but I'm working on that - again - as we speak. I have other things to fix and i have just noticed some more areas that need attention. But i guess that's the problem with being an artists/animator our work is never good enough to our self's nore is it ever completely finished, as it can always be tweaked for ever. The problem is knowing when to stop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Class 3 - Refining

Another week goes by and im into refining. Michelle really wants me to nail the hands coming up and holding. But its really hard to do that with out them looking frozen or to IK like. Also having to keep them on a nice path of action. I do wish i had kept to my FK roots =O)

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Class 3 - Blocking Plus

WAhoo, the idea is going strong, my first pass got the thumbs up and now i can crack on with my blocking plus. For me I did my blocking in "copy pairs" mode and i feel like im steaming ahead but really im just skipping the whole step mode to linear to spline out. Im just starting right in spline. In the past i had sort of done copy pairs before but did it all in step mode rather than start in spline. I must admit i may not do this for every shot i do, but for this shot i feel it working.

Class 3 - Blocking

Ok Well the idea went down pan. As much as Michelle liked the idea, but felt that the idea was hanging to much on a gag. Also along with the fact that Stu had no fingers and also only dots for eyes meant that a lot of the stuff i was doing was not really fitting for the Stu puppet.

But on brighter note, she did think my "Vote for Stu" idea was new and that she hadn't seen it before. So in the long run her vote was on this idea (sorry). Oh did i happen to say that this idea was 30 seconds long!!! Somehow need to get this idea down to 10 seconds.

After shooting, over 50 takes (thats no lie) i had managed to get the idea down to 10 seconds ok 11/12. I quickly thumbed the idea outs (capturing the essence of the poses) and also started a blocking pass. So basically i did 2 assignments in 4 days lol - i got feedback on a Wednesday and had to submit it all by the Sunday.....

In case you wonder, copy pairs is basically finding areas you feel you want more pause time so you double up on them frames (you make holds). So firstly what i do is make all my main keys/golden poses, and then work out when i want that pose to happen. Timing to me is felt more than counting and worrying about frames numbers.... If it looks and feels right to me, than it is right. If my mentor didn't like the movement or i get loads of comments about that movement then i would go ahead and correct it.

So once i have done my key poses, i go back and start to double up on my poses to make nice little holds, this way i can quickly see whats working and whats not. This way i find my beats in my scene.

Now as im already in spline, i can already see how things are shaping up. The next pass would be Blocking plus,here i would start to add in my break down keys and tweak all my curves.

Class 3 - Ideas

Well made it to class 3, and boy do i have to up my game. I have new mentor who is great, her name is Michelle Meeker a former Pixar, PDI and Weta animator, EA in fact shes work all over the place, you name it im sure shes been there.

I have a great new bunch of AM people in the class, most of which I have followed along the way, as their animation skills are amazing. So i feel really pleased to be in a class with such a high level of animation skill.

For this hand in i had to submit a bunch of ideas of a character showing 2 emotions with in 10 seconds. We had to shoot reference too and thumbnail out you main idea. I came up with a few ideas the one i picked was a typewriter idea, where the character is typing away and tries to push the paper roller across but its stuck and then tries again -nothing. Then he pounds the typewriter and the paper roller pings off and then Stu reacts in shock. I acted out a number of ideas around the typewriter and picked the best idea i felt right for the assignment.

Other ideas where a vote for Stu idea, Stu watching TV, Stu checking the results for a race on the radio and some others. But all the ideas had been rehashed soooo many times, hence why i opted for the typewriter.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Delay in posts and updates

Well Class 2 has been a nightmare for me on a more personal level. At the start of my AM, back in Class 1, i lost my granddad and while in Class 2 of this term my nan had a massive stroke and a 2 weeks later she sadly past away. My nans passing all happened during the jumping pillar animation and hence why its not the most amazing animation on the planet. Thankfully with understanding friends a good mentor and the support of family, i carried on with my course work.

My baseball pitch i feel turned out well for my end of class 2 animation. I hope class 3 really pushes my skills further and puts me back on track into becoming a strong animator.

Class 2 - Pitch Finished animation

Wahoo finished animation :)

Class 2 - All Over

Below is class 2 and class 1 all in one showreel :)

Class 2 - Pitch Liner and Spline pass

Liner and Spline pass

Class 2 - Pitch Blocking

Blocking pass

Class 2 - Pillar Final

Below is the polish and refine

Class 2 - The Baseball Pitch

Below are some quick thumbnails of the baseball pitch

Class 2 - Pillar Spline

Below is the spline pass

Class 2 - Pillar block out

Below is a block out pass to the jumping pillar assignment

Monday, 30 April 2007

Class 2 - From Pillar to Post

This week we are planning a character jumping from one post to another. Below are my very rough thumbnails and sketches.

Class 2 - 180 Turn Finished

Below is my finished 180 turn :P

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Class 2 - Body Mechanics - Walk Through a Shot

This being "Class 2" Body Mechanics we get a new mentor for 12 weeks:)

My new mentor is
Steve Gagnon-cady who currently works at Weta - fancy stuff.

Last week we had to shoot reference and plan out one of the following:
1.Kick a ball
2.Take a Big Step
3.Turn around 180 degrees

I opted for the 180 turn as i felt i should do something more realistic for once and not so cartoony. As 99% of time i tend to do cartoony animation over realistic animations.

So after shooting loads of different 180 turns, i chose one from my 10 clips as i felt it looked the most realistic and had some good timing and movement going on.

This week we had to use our planning and block out in 3D our planning poses and break downs.

Below are planning sketches and my submission for the block out.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Class 1 - Studying walks with different weights

Well the final week is here and we come to end of class 1 already!!!! How time flies.

Well below is my reel for class 1 and i must say everyone who has completed class 1 has really worked well and there are some super talented people in my class and in the current year im in. Also i must say my mentor Sean Ermey was a really good mentor, plus this was his first time mentoring for AM and hopefully not his last.

Class 1 - In-depth look at the hips

After a week of blocking we are now taking that walk out of blocking and into spline and breaking up the timings. Also this week Stu is balancing, my Stu is doing a spot of Yoga!!!

Class 1 - Introduction to Walks with character

This week Stu is exhausted after all this posing and we start to add some personality to a walk cycle. For my walk cycle i started from scratch and shot some video reference.

Class 1 - Exaggeration and Weight

This week we was looking into concerned poses and finishing off the basic walk cycle :)

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Class 1 - Introduction to Walks

This week Stu is trying to show strength, even for a guy with puny limbs he still has strength - inner lol.... So 2D drawings a go on this one and i got carried away and started doodling more and had to stop and focus on the task at hand. But still one doodle made it onto the planning for the poses and got turned into colour too...

Class 1 - Anticipation and Squash and Stretch

This week Stu is devastated. And the animation for this week is to choose one of the two obstacle courses and then plan and animate a ball going around the screen (with Squash and Stretch).

Class 1 - Overlapping Action

Pendulum task this week to show overlapping action, and its isn't as easy as it looks plus there is more to it than just offsetting keys in the dope sheet lol.

Class 1 - Arcs and Path of Action

Tailor this week. This was planing out how tailor move around the screen and in that planning showing how arcs and path of action.

Class 1 - Planning & Blocking Methods

This week Stu has to show excitement... And also we had to do a bouncy ball.

Class 1 - Intro to Timing

This week we are looking at weight and timing!!! For this animation we had to show a heavy ball and a light ball...

Class 1 - Introduction to Animation

Week 2 was asking use to go out and draw from real life and observe what we see. I went up town to Lester Square in London and was freezing cold and had pigeons swooping and pooping around me. These drawings are real quick sketches (under 20 seconds). From the poses we drew we had to take one and make it in 3D. Here is my Stu on the phone.

Class 1 - Basic Foundations

Well I finally got around to applying to Animation Mentor and I'm over the moon to be accepted. Now i just hope that over the next 18 months my animation skills and understanding of animation will improve 10 fold. Also i hope from taking part in this course i can hopefully one day give something back to the animation industry and perhaps even inspire future animators down the line - hopefully it will be something useful and not "this is not how to animate, and never animating like this guy if you want a job in the animation industry".