Monday, October 25, 2010

Posing as the Devil

So, last month I did a test for a prospective job at a video game company in London called Black Rock. Part of the test was a walk cycle and a jump that I think turned out pretty well, but because it was with one of their rigs, I don't have the rights to show it unfortunately. The part of the test I can show is, they wanted me to do blocking for that month's 11SecondClub competition. I was all set to finish it off in time for the competition, but life got real crazy on me. I know excuses excuses, but I did move across the country, got a job, bummed off a friend's couch for a week or so, moved into my own place, got a better job, etc.

Anyway, here's the roughed out version I sent to them:

I think this is a pretty good example of how I'm working now, starting in spline. I'm not letting things just float around with splines, in fact, because I'm working this way, I'm blocking in solid areas for holds and seeing where I'm thinking about transitions and roughly how the timing of all the beats is going to work out. From there on, it's a matter of working out the transitions and building eases and overlap into and out of the held sections. In the end, I'm not necessarily holding the characters as still or for as long, but in general, they are in those areas and it helps me keep the performance contained. That way when I go in to add things it's coming from a pretty stable base and things are less likely to get off course. The main thing I've found with this approach that you need to be careful about are making sure that you don't get your head stuck in the computer and you create nice breakdowns and overall solid posing. I seem to have been working faster with this method and have thus been losing my poses in all those splines.

I just finished a few passes of refinement and lip sync. I'm looking for comments on either where you think I went wrong and could improve upon next time, or where you think I can improve things now.

Oh, and yes, when all is said and done I do plan on animating in smoke effects, at least for when he blows out at the end. And yes, it'll probably be done by hand frame by frame because that's just kinda fun to do from time to time.


  1. Did you use reference videos of yourself for the guy slouching and then sitting straight by pushing on his right palm? I'm just asking because at first I thought it looked awkward, and I tried doing it myself and it was a hard motion to do. I think maybe he gets up too swiftly? Have you tried making the arc of his motion downwards instead of upwards? I don't know if it would make sense once you do it, but I feel like if he's pushing to sit straight, his head would go down and then up. It'd also add to his character I think. Cause he seems like the type who wouldn't have broad motions but instead have sort of sly movements.

    I really like how his elbow rotates to allow for his movement. He'd probably have to push on a part of his body on the left since he leans to his right when he gets up. I know you don't see much of his legs, but I think it'd be cool if you could hint at his left foot shifting outwards a little before he sits up, because I know people usually push on their feet to sit up.

    I'm trying to practice looking at character animation critically, so let me know if all of that sounded dumb or actually made sense :)

  2. I know what you're saying about him coming up rather quickly and all. I tried playing with the timing but never came up with anything that I was happy with. I'd either have to start his getting up motion more towards the line of "as the devil" and that would make it too much like I was doing an action for every beat. Slowing the move by eating into the frames after he gets there would take away from the hold that I wanted there to be able to focus on the point of the line 'gonna scare me?'

    On the Arc of his movement up. I had tried to get the downward arc mostly with his neck control, but because the way I had him getting up wasn't meant to be putting all of his weight on his right arm then leaning into it and up, the head doesn't really dip down like that. I'll see what I can do to make the head not go up so much at first and maybe overlap a bit more/longer to in essence soften the speed of him getting up.

    The arm/elbow motion in this case isn't so much to take the brunt of the weight but rather to direct it. I can essentially do the move he's doing without using my arm, but it helps with balance and counter balance especially since he's getting up so quickly. I do need to do some more work in the legs. I had meant to but forgot and just did a bit here and there with the knees.

    So basically, you're totally right with all of your thinking. The only thing is that there's more than one way to skin an animation. Who knows, I'm still just starting out at this too and I could just be totally off.

    Oh, and yes, I shot reference for this and used it fairly heavily. There is truth to the fact that with everyone's different proportions, one may be able to move more naturally in ways others can't and vice versa, but your calling it out definitely makes me want to double check everything.