Sunday, May 20, 2012

the man from La Mancha

[warning, lots of text ahead, feel free to just skip down past all the ramblings to the videos]

I'm so excited to share this with y'all. I'm a bit late to the game, but I'm hoping to compete in this month's 11secondclub competition. It took me a bit, but I realized that I could do a lot of things with this month's audio clip. Most importantly I can animate characters that I can understand and relate to. I also get to work with some rigs from a friend of mine, the fantastic animator, Scott McWhinnie. And because of his fantastic designs, I get to work in a world that is even more cartoony/stylized than before, which then brings in more potential to get stylized, which to me gets closer at making something that's 'Art'.

Everything fell into place when I took some suggestions I've been getting lately and I asked myself 'who do I want to animate?'. I've been reading Cervantes' Don Quixote and am absolutely in love with the characters and world that it all exists in. I happened to be checking out the rigs I have the other night and fell upon some rigs that Scott gave me some time ago but I haven't had anything to use them in yet, but now all of a sudden they were both perfect for this one test. I jumped into the files and re-purposed the rigs a bit to be more specifically The Knight of Rueful Continence and his squire.

I did some sketching, shot some reference, got some suggestions from some friends, did MORE sketching and reference, and felt like I've hit upon something sweet. What was more serendipitous about it all, was after discussion coverage and acting with Aurora, it ended up in the realm of a lot of mid shot, facial animation performance that one of my main mentors was suggesting I do with my next piece.

This time around, from another suggestion, I decided to not just lock off the camera and get in there and show my cinematography/editing skills seeing how that's what I do professionally, haha. Here's the initial layout pass I did to figure out my edit and cameras, so I can be certain that the frames I'm animating are exactly what I need from each camera.

After playing with the edit a bit, I realized I needed to cut to the second shot sooner and really be in there on Sancho to see/feel that emotional beat. It's tricky though because I also think I need that establishing wide shot just long enough to sell who they are and the spacial relationships going on.

This is my first pass of blocking on this piece. I've taken to spline blocking because it helps me the most with working out things, but it's maybe a bit more of an uncommon thing, so it might not be as clear what you're looking at. What I've intended to rough in here is the essential poses I'm hitting and the acting/emotional beats I want to create. I've focused mostly on blocking out the body motions, with some suggestions at the facial poses. I think I'll progress similarly to my last piece and nail down the body animation first then add the facial animation, however this time around I will be thinking about the facial animation sooner and working it out as I'm tightening up the body animation. The background is still just a tiled surface (except for the sweeter new colour gradient in the bg, haha) but down the line I plan on putting them on a hill with maybe a tree and/or fence for composition's-sake.

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