Saturday, March 2, 2013

Force animation class progress weeks 4-6

Hey gang! Here's another update on the animation class I'm enrolled in - Force animation. If you want to learn more about the class' first three weeks, you can check out my previous post here. We're past halfway through the class and a lot of things have happened. What kinds of things you might ask? Read on and find out!

Week 4: Basic walk cycle. So yeah, every animation class has atleast one session dedicated to walk cycles, why should you expect any different from this class? Besides, the rationale behind that thinking is true : Animating walks is hard! And I think it never comes easy for anyone, a lot of things are going on and all the basics are applied on a walk - squash and stretch, follow-through, arcs etc. The main thing that Mr. Mattesi emphasized on this session is that in walks, you can think of the character positions in terms of the bouncing ball. For example, the contact position in the walk is similar to the contact position of the bouncing ball, the recoil position of the walk is the squash of the bouncing ball, so on and so forth. I kept those things in mind and decided to use an existing character - Elmer Fudd, to animate for the walk.

It's not a bad walk per se, but it's very "utilitarian" as my professor had described it. It does the things it's supposed to do, but it's not fun, and Mr. Matessi felt that I could've done better. I actually agree on his comments, I started out too tight on the walk, never experimenting with movement and just sticking to the things I knew. So I made another one immediately after the session and the result is this:

I gotta say, this is a hundred times more fun to make than the previous one. I actually sat down and used my brain and studied new actions. A classmate of mine had a great walk cycle to show last week and it reminded me of the use of "successive breaking of joints" as taught by Richard Williams. I incorporated a lot of that in this walk, mostly on the arms as the elbow leads it. I showed it on the next class and Mr. Matessi's comment was "It's a good start". You've got to love a teacher that just pushes you hard and is actually more supportive of a work that sucks but you tried and pushed for new things than a nice piece of work but shows no playfulness, no invention and learning. In short, my teacher is helping me reach the next level! For that I am thankful, since that is totally my goal. Anyway, what my professor commented on this time was my timing, he liked the walk itself but he said that the timing is too even. It's like when use clicks to time it, he wants something of a "tiiiiiiiic-tic,tiiiiiiiic-tic,tiiiiiiiic-tic" instead of "tic-tic-tic-tic-tic-tic", contrast makes interest. And once he brought this up, I actually realized that this "even timing" thing can be seen in a lot of my work. I tend to even out timings, maybe because that was my attempt to make things smooth or something. I dunno, but the even timing has got to go. So I made another revision and here's what came out:

As per Mr. Matessi's suggestions, I added more i.b.'s on the top positions so it would be more interesting. I also offset-ed the positions of the arms, I delayed the back one and didn't spread them out the same time as the contact positions. I liked how it came out, much more interesting than the previous one. Amazing how much of an impact holds can make. With that week 4 is done and I give myself a pat of the back.

Week 5: Encumbered walk - a walk with something attached to one or two legs of the character, could also be carrying a heavy object or just normal walk positions but with offbeat timing. This week was utter hell. I still needed to re-do the previous week's walk and got hit by flu real hard. It started out great mind you, since I got the walk done by Tuesday afternoon, right after the class. Then I got the encumbered walk about 80% done around Thursday. It would seem I will finally get Sunday off. Then I overworked myself, got rained on after I got my takeout and fell horribly ill on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was a disaster. I never did finish the encumbered work on time but I'm just glad my health got better fast. 

But as life would have it, I would take no for an answer and just kept coming at the homework once I felt better. I remembered "fate's test" as mentioned by Bobby Chiu and reinstated by my friend. That belief goes something like this:

"When bad things happen when you're trying your absolute hardest, good things are just around the corner."

After I heard those words again, I knew that the next weeks will be awesome! So I kept on working on the walk and what came out is this:

What Mr. Matessi suggested in this is to add holds to the up positions. I did add one in each, but I also delayed the peg leg and added more drawings on the down positions. Honestly, I'm still not happy with it, but I'd rather do several new cycles now than to overly polish a single walk cycle. I think at this stage, I just need to make a lot of walks to really loosen up and get things going. We'll see if there's more feedback on this coming next week. 
Some notes about this walks: I acted this walk out and used the video for reference. That creature is a rabbit that cut off it's own feet for good luck. Yes, that sounds nasty.

Week 6: Run cycle. Finally, fewer drawings than the walk cycle! Nah, not really. But I did enjoy this homework more than the walks just because runs have more forceful poses than walks. Runs are more violent, and all over the place. You can totally do weird things in it that will look alright when the animation is played. So I did weird things and here is the result:

It was supposed to be Forrest Gump as a kid but since I shorthanded his head into a circle, I decided to just make him just a pedestrian kid. I loved the squash and stretch of the head too much to replace it. Feedback is yet to be heard of this cycle but I'll be sure to make updates as it comes out!

For now, I shall totally enjoy this Saturday night and look forward to Sunday off with gusto. 

Keep it cool


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