Animation Journey

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Second Quarter Begins with a Stroll

So, I'm a little late getting this week in, as I've been away on business. Now that I'm back, here is the scoop:

Make a personality walk with Stewie (or pose model).

Here is what I turned in:

Stu Goes looking for his Arms


  • More Y-rotation in hips
  • A little spine action please, Stu's looking pretty stiff
  • Timing in the hips taking the weight. (rotation to take the weight appears to early for Charles Alleneck, My mentor extrordinaire). I need some extra coaching on that, as I can never really tell how much rotation i need to lift the let forward and then how much i need to plant the weight on that same side. Hmmm. Experimentation and experience.
  • Im coming out of the shoulder counter too fast.. In the real world, this may actually be accurate, but it doesn't READ well. I'm beginning to understand better the concept of designing for a good "read" vs copying nature.
  • I also noticed that I couldnt get this one foot to not slide. GRRRR it is apparently a rigging issue that has been solved with the new Stu.

This is a short blog folks, It's late and I'm pretty tired. Look for these improvements in the next assignment.

Truth is I forgot to duplicate the hip motions to the remaining steps (DOH!) no wonder I remember doing them, but they don't show up! So many of these fixes will happen quickly :)


Friday, June 17, 2005

Schoooooooools out for summer!

A little Alice Cooper for y'all.
Alice Cooper is like a 2 handicap, so he get's my respect (oh yeah, great song writer/performer too!)

So, NO BREAK.. its directly onto Session 2: Body Mechanics! I'm STOKED to get goin' on that stuff.

I was watching a KILLER walk cycle done by a mentor at AM of a recently released character in a feature film, and BAM! , I realized what it really was that I learned this quarter. I could actually SEE lots of things that I would have not noticed at all before. Better yet, I could see WHY it was the way it was.

Don't et me wrong, I'm not claiming I could just go and DO that... this guy is Ninja level animator. Its more like I could REALLY enjoy what he had done! The subtle bounce, the S&S... the asymmetry, yet in balance, the weight shift the drive off the foot.

PING! The Ah ha moment. It didn't happen till the very last QnA session, and it happened because a classmate referenced some art another mentor supplied. Just goes to show you... the Ah Ha moment can't be planned. Epiphany is like love. When it happens you know it but you can't will it to occur.

I think with what I'm learning at Animation Mentor, I can become a great animator. BUT, I KNOW that I already am becoming a great APPRECIATOR of an art form that adore!

Quick Note: Really loved all the people in my first group, and a major shout out to Derek! Man, you hung in 2AM and all! Thanks man.

So ONWARD. I hope I see some familiar faces in my next group, and I am excited to meet new ones!


Monday, June 13, 2005


This week was al about sensing hip movement, but really it was about understanding weight and how it is present in every nuance in every frame. If the weight is not represented, then it looks wrong to anyone who looks at it.

All along I have been sensitive to the weight and hip rotations of my character, so I really only had to follow some refinements from Derek this week to fulfill the assignment.

That said I actually had a grand plan to do a super genius version (nod to Andrew Stanton for that definition) of a walk cycle extravaganza! I had a lot of footage captured for fashion models, and i was going to create a fashion walk, dupe it a bunch and walk different shaders down the run way.

You know:
"Looking faaaabulous in Blinn this year... sporting a sassy UV map and matching bump... " etc etc.

I just didn't have the time... i spent 6 hours mucking with it, and then realized I wasn't going to make the deadline, so I back-peddled to refining and delivering the ACTUAL assignment.

So below:

Character walk refined:

  • removed the "double bounce" in the hip area
  • swung the feet out in an arc.
I kind of feel like I lost a lot of energy in the walk through the refining process... so maybe another good reason to push it hard on first passes so that when it gets refined it still has "boost" ?

Refined Character Walk

Also, took a minor hitch out of the ankle rotation (and push off) out of the vanilla walk...


Balance assignment was to show balance with balance. I'm not sure what that is all about, so I did chose a difficult balance maneuver. I had to muck with the model a bit to get the pregnancy dome out there. I realized that I had too much invested in the dome (I didn't have time to figure out how to change the first vertebrae area into a sphere without breaking the model)


Of course I explored the usual cliche's:

Thats it... ONE MORE WEEK in the first term!


Monday, June 06, 2005

The Big Picture

No, not that movie with the ubiquitous Kevin Bacon. The REAL big picture. What it takes to BE an animator and DO animation.

This week's lesson? I'm learning about how much time it takes to do good animation. (which is to say, I need to spend more time on my stuff).

There is incubation time, blocking time, straight animation time, tweaking time, evaluation time, more tweaking time. I'm just not putting in the hours, and its only going to get more time consuming.

I'm rushing. Im not thinking it through before I hit the software. My character walk this week would have more "direct read" if I knew exactly what I was going for. I just took my vanilla walk and starting pushing curves around.

I mean, I kinda knew I wanted an "ego" walk cycle. But its not easy to do with just hips. I needed to think that one through a little more. And in the end I found myself racing the clock to deliver my work this week.. beating the mark by only a minute or two. "Gotta turn SOMETHING in" is not the criteria I was looking for.

So here it is.. it needs some curve refining, and blah blah blah.. no more excuses here it is:

Character Walk

Exhausted Stu Pose:

What's my next move? I'm considering dropping a work day to get a head start on the assignments. Or maybe a half day. I'm always doing this work after 10 PM, (once I get the kids to bed and my wife falls asleep. I need to maybe crank up the waking hours a hair.)

What else? I'm gong to stay away from the cpu until Thursday. It will force me to get organized (cuz I wont have much time to implement) and will keep me from getting distracted with the implementation tool. Its a little like writing good code. Think, measure, measure twice, code. I need more of that. (Even if the plan is to work out a section straight ahead... at least it would be the plan and not "just the way it turned out".

Spring term is almost over! I can't believe it really. This whole thing is gonna be over before y'know it. Better get BUSY!


Friday, June 03, 2005

One Small Step for Mankind....

Woohoo ( a little Adele love there)

So I back-tracked to my previous walk and methodically fixed everything I could from Derek's previous crit.. man what an improvement..

So here is the third refine on that milli-vanilli walk:

Vanilla Refined

Now I can move to the personality action and NAIL the next assignment. Yeah I'm charged up. I've had 14 Diet Cokes YEEAAHHH

Nah, I'm just stoked.

ONTO the personality walk!