Two run cycles

Two run cycles. Studies toward my current shot's ending. Which cycle is better? 03 or 04?
It's an interesting comparison.  The cyclic motion of the first is given a node on the hips; the cyclic motion of the second is given a node on the head. It feels as if the first is more typical of a starting acceleration, and the second is more typical of a high-speed run. Perhaps because of this, the second "feels" faster, even though both are traveling at the same speed.

I was happy to find that Nono could take this kind of motion without looking too odd in her outfit. Rigging that dress was a study in itself.


AM Class 5 Shot 2, early rough stages

So here's my Class 5 Shot 2 in its early rough stages.
I'm really eager to move past this point. However, I do want to ensure I cover enough ground at planning stages to enable decent results. This clip shows video reference with drawover planning for keyframes and breakdowns. The drawover work permits me to think it out a bit more carefully before I actually launch into the posing process; aiming to put thought before actions.
After the basic poses and blocking ideas are in place, segments can also be given additional layers of detail sourced from further processes of re-filmed ref or analysis of other sources. And then, around that point, it also takes on a life of its own and most refinement continues via reflecting directly on the scene, and putting in changes based on feedback.
The blocking here is still very rough, lots left to be done before blocking is complete. I'm so glad we have a few more weeks for working on this assignment!


Connect Four Breakdown Analysis, a set of solutions

So… here you have it: my main set of answers to this “connect four” challenge:

Here are six solutions to this challenge:

Circle evenly timed, Circle favoring alternate points,
Square evenly timed, Square favoring alternate points,
Star bounce, Star bounce cartoon edit

Many other solutions are also possible, though there probably aren’t very many more that are appealing. (e.g. In terms of making a complete study of transitions, anticipate and overshoot would need to be represented. These would be “somewhat floral”, with a small loop at each knot) For now (shortly), I’ll be focusing on these six timings at greater depth.

Solution: Stepped

Before getting into the above breakdown situations, let’s take a look at the blocking for this cycle (in stepped keys).
The keys are distributed evenly in time.
So for 24fps, this puts key poses on 1, 7, 13, 19, 25
(or 0, 6, 12, 18, 24, it makes no difference, but I went with odds here)

First and last frames are identical, playblast less one frame for a loop.


A note to clarify what I’m showing: the upper left panel shows a drawing of the path of action, the upper right panel shows the result, with ghosting, in 3D, and the lower panel shows the animation curves that produce these results in the graph editor / animation editor.

As we have just seen, in blocking the four key poses are always the same, and are also always spaced and timed the same.
So this challenge has only one blocking solution, and this blocking can lead into ANY of the above timings.
(Lesson: blocking in stepped keys can be interpreted into many final timing solutions. Blocking is a simple representation of many timing possibilities.)

But… “Animation: it’s all in the timing and the spacing” (said Grim Natwick, according to Richard Williams)
To a beginner, the above blocking might simply be converted directly into splines and that would be that. This is exactly what leads to that typical “beginner’s look” with animation, also known as drifty, floaty, or underwater feel.

Next CFBA posting: getting into the splines.


The Connect Four Challenge, an Introduction

Here is a trail of animation analysis I’ve been exploring, that I’d like to share.
I intend to post it as a series of thoughts, which lead into some potentially useful insights into the basics of timing and spacing, and patterns of keys in the graph editor, accordingly.This posting is the first in the series.

The "connect four" challenge

The basic challenge is as follows:

Take a set of four dots in the same pattern as seen on a dice.
Consider each dot to be a key pose in a second-long animated loop.
Connect the dots with keys that are evenly distributed both in timing and spacing.

Simple, right? After all, both the timing and the spacing are clearly defined. So if you key those poses at the right times and places, you get your answer and you’re done, right?
Well, maybe. For one solution. But there are many solutions.

So the challenge is this:
Consider a variety of solutions and implementations, making an effort to resolve each solution with just those four keys in the graph editor.
(To limit obvious alternates, all solutions assume a same start/finish point, a clockwise path direction, and the use of the orthographic XY plane)

It’s an intentionally simple scenario, yet oddly enough there are still many answers to the question. Initially, I meant only to examine the answers in 2d form. But when I applied the answers to 3D effort, I realized that there was more to the matter yet again, because for each answer there were also many ways of implementing that answer in the context of rigging and animation curves (Lesson: something which seems simple will typically become complicated in ways that were not anticipated.)

When I ran the challenge through some of the most obvious answers and implementations, I was able to confirm a variety of animation rules of thumb. It was also a generally decent technical study good for solidifying some basic concepts in 3D animation. 

... more to come later! Feel free to comment if you'd like to have a go at the challenge for yourself (before I give away my own set of answers!) 


Dialogue - layout

Layout for my current dialogue shot.
That's some awful animation. It can only get better from here. But the point is to resolve the camera work and placement of elements. After doing this, I realized that both of the cuts were a bit delayed, for example.


Dialogue selection, Ghost story

... and on with our first dialogue shot!
After many weeks of searching... watching a number of movies and TV episodes along the way (including, incidentally, the last few seasons of Doctor Who)... I did a complete about turn during this last week and shelved all the potentials that I had gathered up! Why so? I wanted to approach this more from a character perspective instead. In particular, having lately put my own rigs back to work again with the facial expression assignments, I've opted to do this assignment using my own rigs rather than with Bishop or one of the ten "potentials" AM provides for our use.
The characters I made for the Hero Book movie are all kids, with the exception of Faith. I had a half dozen adult characters slated for creation as well, but the job folded before I got that far (they were only going to show up in the closing "Club of Life" scenes). So I have these assets sitting around. I've really been wanting to put them to a more rigorous test now that I'm advancing in animation skill.
I spoke with Charles about it, and now I'm going to take the plunge.

The two characters I chose for this shot are Nono ("sadness" face) and Lillian ("happiness" face). So they will now be playing the parts, respectively, of Dianna and Anne (the clip is from Anne of Green Gables, the classic 1980s CBC series). I had considered using Lillian and Sibusiso ("disgust" face), but there's a bit of an age gap, Sibusiso's a few years older. She's also really tall so she'd be difficult to frame, and I just don't see her playing along, she's too mature.
Nono's a bit petite for Dianna, so it's a similar problem in the opposite. But I think she's a good fit emotionally for acting out the transformation from fear to abject terror. And Lillian's a perfect match for Anne, and shows an appropriate hint of mischief for this particular moment. Or rather, more to the point, it's really Dianna and Anne who are matching to Nono and Lillian. Anyways, I meant to show them together, so here we are:
Dianne (Nono)    Anne (Lillian)

Once I determined to find a clip that was appropriately dramatic and which involved children, the range of possibilities narrowed down dramatically.
I do like the fact that this shot will be exploring a friendship-dynamic. It's a bit more unique, there seem to me to be more shots happening with amour relationship dynamics. Charles also pointed out that the use of a ghost story is more unique. I do know of one other AM dialogue that has involved a ghost story... might as well track that one down so as to take note... student showcases, Summer 2008, Richard Fournier, there we are. "Sphaghettios with meat!" Haha. That was a nice one.

Well. Lots to be done. Planning phase: it's an odd feeling to be shifting from polish back into planning again. I've got 8 weeks of screaming to endure now. But rather than allow that to incrementally drive me crazy, I'll most certainly be preparing a swap-out clip with that screaming dialed way down!

AM Monologue, done for now

So here's my pending monologue shot.
I have a list of things I'd still like to do to polish it further. Still, probably it's best for now to not touch it for a little while. Then when I take a proper look at it again, it should be easier to be objective about what needs to be done next.
Charles Alleneck is my current mentor. I really like the level of detail he puts into his critiques. He's very specific, it really helps with the fine-tuning on shots.