When in doubt... write. I come to this conclusion recently. Most of the times i face both technical and artistic difficulties, and a lot of times i doubt myself and worried too much. I feel insecure and worry if my pals will like my work or not. Every person has their own way to explore their ideas and mine is through writing. I start to realize that this is becoming my problem solving method.
I was very lost when I worked on my shots three months ago. My mind was clouded by all the pressure and guilt from receiving a mixture of critiques and comments of the first video we did. I tell people that I am very open to any kind of critiques. This is the truth, however, i have to admit that i am not immune to the very harsh ones. Now that the result is shown to public and not graded by a teacher, this fact adds a ton of pressure. It brought me down for sure.
One of a very spot on feedback that i received, pointed out that our work needs a better direction and story board. That was an 'Aha' moment for me! So, instead of succumbing to desperation, I decided to try to give the scene a better direction. One thing that I realize is, even though we have a story board, I am still not sure what are those guys doing in that scene. So, it looks like we really need to prepare a better story board. D: !
Unlike planning a shot for an animation, I was not very worried about timing and the animation principles at first. I did not go very deep into each characters as well.. or perhaps I should? I'm not sure.. (Please feel free to let me know if you have any suggestions! I'd really appreciate it!). My approach was that I imagine what are these folks doing in each shots and then I wrote what I see inside my head, every small details, like an eye blink, etc without worrying about the timing. I know that this does not sound very 'WoW' haha, but I told myself, 'Just Keep Writing'. The hardest part during this stage was I did not have the final audio file containing the dialogue for the scene yet. So I had to really depended on the story board and my imagination.
One of my favorite part during this stage was when I just let the imagination flew. This was when it really helped me to determine when one certain thing will happen. I read the planning for a couple times and keep layering in the information that i would like to have in the scene. The next stage was bringing this planning to the computer. This is when things got interesting!
The last time I animated in AE, to be honest.. i freaked out, haha! This time around, our illustrator/storyboard artist and I have worked on a better way to animate the character. He prepared the 'model' so that it could be easily set up in AE, and I am very thankful for this! I have to credit him for all his works, so thank you Kefas! (Guys, check out his gallery! He recently participated in a fan art contest for Diablo 3 and it looks..Awesome!!)
This time, I chose not to worry about what software, what tools I should use.. I chose to focus myself on the workflow. There are many workflows out there and I chose to stick to the one I have learnt, which was transferring Key Poses to the screen. Prior to this, I of course had to set up the characters first. We have each limbs of the main characters separated so I had to work on the hierarchy of the limbs; parented them to the center of the movement. I was also very happy because this set up was certainly allowing me to pose the character better. I had more freedom! :D
After I had all of the key poses in the shot (I forgot to mention that I worked on one shot at the time). I start to worked on the breakdown and the overlap. At this stage, I used Layering approach. I felt that working at one limb at the time was more efficient in this case. Finally, I used the Puppet tool to refine and polish the movement that the limbs could not do or push the actions; for examples, the overlap, chest movements, etc.
Another thing that saved me was the planning that I wrote. To have everything described on that paper was very precious. A note to myself, never ever abandon a planning and make time to plan everything that you do. Although the result was not as good as I wanted it to be.. I'm glad that we found a way to improve the work! My friends and I are definitely learning something new from this project and we'll continue to keep leaning :) Thank you everyone for reading my post!
Have a Wonderful Day and Keep Animating!