Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Secondary Action - Pot on head

It's about time I got round to secondary action!

I added in a little knee wobble that I noticed people do when supporting heavy weight on a bent leg.
There's the unsure step too.
The looking down and blinking was added. All in all, this is a more human performance than the last.

I'm not 100% sure on how the character takes the weight of the pot in the middle of the unsure step.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Pot On Head

In my last post, I wrote about a mime exercise with an imaginary pot on the head.

I've given it a go, and this is where I'm at now -

I couldn't hide the controls without making the eyeballs invisible too, weirdly.

There's a little bit to go yet but it's close.

I'm going to slide some secondary action in here too. Maybe a cautious pause or something, or some kind of small mistake, we'll see.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Mime. The theory and Practice of Expressive Gesture

I took this book out from Boots Library.

It's actually been quite informative. If I can find a copy to buy and keep for future reference, I will.

I can see the link between mime and animation. Both involve inventing some or all of a world and having to move and behave in accordance with it, with intangible things.

This book has some good pieces of advice such as, 'The audience must observe the artist seeing something to which he can react emotionally.'
This can be interpreted as 'every action has a purpose - make them clear to the audience'.

When the entire world your character is situated in is imaginary, everything that is put into that world has a reason for being there, even if it is simply to add depth to a story. This is particularly true for a character's movement. Every action a character is given has something to tell the audience. A character should make each action quite large and obvious to guarantee the audience sees it and comprehends it, unless perhaps its subtlety is saying something in itself.

This book also gives the advice that the head should lead motion - 'The head leads every movement in mine and dance'. I think this is true for emotion, but it stands to reason that the physicality of an action should be lead from the core of the body where the power of movement resides.
I think the head shouldn't lead movement, but it should be the first part of the body to express a reaction, which spreads from there outwards.

We are also reminded that the torso might seem to be very rigid but it does have some power of expression through the movement used in breath. Some expressions in a human are supported by the raising or deflating of the chest. This is something that shouldn't be forgotten in animation as it may add to the believability of the character's performance.

Another nice quote was 'the final thing that the artist must cultivate when working on the hands and fingers is a sense of touch.'
This is quite powerful in the animation context. As a mime artist you may have to convey the texture of some kind of cloth, for example, which you might not have with you on stage. Or perhaps you do have it on stage, but you will have to communicate your reaction on a larger scale so the audience understands it.
This even more of a point in animation, where you can't rely on any props in the real world to instigate a response.

This book has led me to a couple of artefacts - one being a character touching different textured things and responding as in the last paragraph, and the other being a character carrying a pot on its head, and how that character might walk, feeling the floor with their feet because they can't lower their head to see.
Both of these have potential for exploring secondary action too.

This book also has a guide, a glossary, on expressions which would be very useful for reference material.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Today's Tutorial

Positive remarks for the Captain Nemo piece of animation.

I was advised to go in the direction of balance.
As far as secondary action, there is room to experiment with it doing any kind of character performance but I  don't feel as though I have, or am currently looking at secondary action closely. I will have to follow up on my intentions to produce some secondary action-heavy walk cycles and the drinking scene.

As for balance, it would be good practice for learning how to control extreme actions with characters. The idea to do a fly swatting cartoon is a good one but I'm tempted to try something else first. I had an idea to give a character a control that affects the direction of gravity.

In the bigger picture I was advised to look at mime, performance training and performances with larval masks. Creating an animated performance of these would be good practice in learning to pose a character in awkward poses with unusual centres of gravity.

Another piece of advice - experiment, see how far you can take things.

I made a small piece of animation trying out the effect of gravity. It's nothing ground-breaking, but it was a good experiment testing out curves in this situation.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Captain Nemo

This is the final rendered version of the Captain Nemo animation.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

What's next after Captain Nemo?

Captain Nemo is finished. It just needs to be rendered - you can wait til tomorrow!

Andy showed me this:

Followed by their showreel:

He said one of the things that make this showreel strong is its heavy use of action, and as such, recommended I try to make an animation that's heavily action-based.
I've been turning some ideas over in my head - I thought about having a guy climb a tree to reach an egg, which soon became an apple - the branch it's on breaks and he falls! Of course the branch lands on his head!

Anyway, I drew it out and it's a good 18 thumbnails long, thereabouts, which means it might take a while. So, I think I'll strip this back. Short and simple is the theme.

You could describe it as practice-based research on primary action in the context of unbalancing characters.

Based on this, I drew a short story where a guy swats a fly, which swats him back!

Captain Nemo and the Lip Sync

Just finished doing the lip sync on this animation.

Maya is enjoying juggling my playblast settings around at the moment.

This is genuinely the first time I've done lip sync on a 3D character, second time over all. It doesn't seem hard at all.

I just need to tweak some of the expressions and there's a jerk on the arm at the end I don't like but otherwise, good.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Captain Nemo and the Wiggly Squid Fingers

A little note on the fingers, which now wiggle.

After checking out how my own fingers wiggle, it seems like it's more of a grasping motion with the little finger leading. I tried to implement this into the cartoon.

Also, now the fingers are finished, that on;y leaves expressions and lip sync and then this piece is done!


On friday we cracked out the training puppets. We worked with my Captain Nemo script. It was great to see how a puppet works, and to feel the physical resistance in the puppet, when turning the head. It's something that is missing from animation, you have to be able to use your intuition to know when it would happen and simulate it.

Looking forward to more puppetry sessions.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Captain Nemo, Status Update

It's not done yet!

This next session was when it was meant to be done by. It's kind of close, but it's not ready yet.

I've had gimbal lock to deal with which has slowed me down a bit. I've never really come across it before, although perhaps it's a thing more for extreme rotations.

It's funny how you sort of time things out in the blocking pass and then realise that they need to be slower in a fluid pass.
The facial expressions haven't been done yet, they're still more or less blocked.
I think I'll be a fair bit closer to being done tomorrow. I can have this done this week.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Hand Wiggle Issue: Gimbal Lock

Just having a little problem working through this animation.
I'm going through the blocking pass phase, which more or less involves changing stepped curves into smooth curves and seeing what's up, and I'm presented with this issue. Prepare yourself for a lightning fast video:

Underneath is a screenshot of the curves. This is very weird because I expect the curves to be going crazy but they're quite well composed.

I suspect it's a case of the curves not being properly synchronised with each other. Either that or it's the typical thing where the controls have managed to go all the way around such that you can't tell.

Edit: further inspection proves that it is indeed the latter issue. These 3D programs do like to play their tricks.

Edit Edit: Actually, it's not gone away!

Edit Edit Edit: Ok, so what's going on is, usually when you rotate the axis are set at sensible, even distances from each other. Currently the Z axis is very close to what the X axis is moving at, meaning there is no side to side rotation available on its own. This causes this dumb issue. I think this is what's called gimbal lock.

Edit Edit Edit Edit:
The handy book called 'How to Cheat in Maya 2012' actually contains a solution to this problem. Rotation in 3D is handled in a particular order, and part of the result is that gimbal lock only occurs on the middle axis in this order. If you know which axes are going to rotate the most, you can change the order of rotation in Maya to shift the locking gimbal to the least rotated axis, which can help to shift the issue.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Captain Nemo, first feedback

Overall some good positive comments about this piece of work.
Everyone noted how much of an improvement this piece of work was over my Bruce Lee piece of work.

I should still work with silhouetting when I set up my storytelling poses. I worked closely with a viewport showing what the camera would see, but working more in the perspective view to select and manipulate things meant I overlooked the camera view a lot.