Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Overview - That 'Aha' Moment ... Part. 2

The Third 'Aha'

Eye Shapes.
I was always not sure with eye shapes. I have heard some advices that we should not overdone the eye shapes. Bishop has quite a lot of attributes on his eyes controllers that i was not sure what i should do with them. My mentors (i had a sub mentor last term! :D) explained this matter really well to me on their critiques about how to make the eyes look more appealing. I thought i want to share the information with you all. So.. here we go! :)

We all know that our eye ball shape is not perfectly rounded. It kind of has a tiny bump in front of the iris area :

This bump will gently 'push' the eye lids, therefore this will affect the eye shape.
We can start reshaping the eye shapes by drawing a vertical line in the middle of the iris. You can see it on the picture below:

The idea is to determine where the bump is pushing the eye lids.

Now that we have these lines as a 'bump indicator' (yeah .. i just totally made up the term hehe :p), we can start drawing new eye shapes:

Eye Line and Eye Direction.
I always thought that we should never ever move the left and right eye controllers on Bishop to avoid a risk of getting the wild eye look. I did not adjust the left and right eye position at all when i did my first one person dialogue shot and as the result, i got a crossed eye direction; one was facing to the right and the other one was facing the opposite direction. This was also one of the main feedback that my mentor told me.

A tips that i got from my mentor is try to treat the eyes graphically:

I struggled a lot with adjusting an eye line as well. I think it becomes hard for us to notice this because we have spent a lot of time staring at our shot. As I'm writing this, I think we can use this very same trick to fix this eye line issue:

My mentor told me that I needed to make the lady a bit higher for this shot to fix the eye line mishap.

Eye Darts.
This is the fun part. Eye darts can give a lot for our shot and it is definitely not an easy one as well in my opinion. I remember that my mentor explained this to me on his critiques for a couple times and it was really tricky to achieve the right eye darts movement (Not that i am really good at it now! It's still very tricky!).

I often hear that we should not ease in or out the eye darts because it basically has a staccato movement. I was quite surprised when my mentor explained that we actually can give an 'ease-in' for it. However, it is not really an 'ease-in', it would be best to use a term: Cushion.

The idea is if we have an eye dart that moves from A to B, we can reduce the snappiness by adding 1 more key around 80% of the eye dart:

Once we added A', B 'becomes' the Cushion.

It took me quite awhile to process the concept. I have to say that I had to do a lot of experiment to finally understand it. I also have the eye dart keyed on every frame so that i have a better control of the eye position. One thing that helped me a lot was by framing through the camp fire scene from Tangled. I would suggest to take a look at one of the shot in this scene and check out the eye movement:

Eye Controller Attributes.
There are couple eye attributes -the inner,mid,out controllers- that we can use to tweak Bishop's eye shapes. As i carry on with my shot, i actually don't use a lot of these eye attributes if i didn't need to and i pretty much keep them in stepped or linear mode, depends on the situation. I only use them to shape the eye into the shape that i want and to layer in the tiny movement that the bump of our eyes make during eye darts. I also have them keyed on every frame. I know that it is very tiny and super subtle movement, but i feel that maybe it is a good idea to add it in and even though it can't be seen, hopefully it can be felt by the audiences.

So, i guess that is all for now. I hope this helps and if you guys have tips or ideas about this or anything else, i'd love to hear it as well! :) Huge thanks to my mentors for sharing their knowledge, they're awesome! (seriously :> )
Thank you guys for reading my post! :D

Have a great week and Happy Animating! :)


Update: There was multiple images uploaded in this post, i didn't know what happened but sorry for the inconvenience!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Overview - That 'Aha' moment ... Part.1

Most of the shots that we have up until now is obviously involved a lot of body mechanics. We push the poses, make our characters jump off a cliff, climbing, swimming, and do all the cool stuff that we probably can't do! This is of course a really cool thing. In class 5, i decided to try out a very subtle acting since i did such a broad shot in class 4. I feel that the shot opened up my eyes, it introduced me to a lot of new and exciting thing, and there were a lot of 'aha' moments!

The First 'Aha'
(Wow, i can't believe i just wrote that as a title haha.. i hope you guys don't mind.. :p)
The first 'aha' moment was when i put a gesture on my character and my mentor told me that it was not necessary. So here is what went through my mind. It was weird to have my character sat on the sofa. It felt like she was just there, staring at me.. *gulp... At that very moment, my mentor also mentioned in his critique that i should try out couple more acting choices. So, I shot a new video reference right away with that advice in my mind.

I'm obviously not a pro in acting out an audio clip, but i kind of figured out where i went wrong. I was thinking a lot if i should put my hand on my forehead or if i should holding a cup while i was acting the audio out, where i should have thought about what will my character do and what is she feeling right now instead. As the result, I had a reference where i rested my cheek on the back of my hand and looked very sad. I would say it was one of a really cliche idea. I brought this gesture to my blocking without thinking anything else. You can check out the playblast below:

My mentor explained to me that it was an ok gesture to add for the shot, but Do I Need ItAnother thing that he pointed out was that the gesture felt like it did not show the right body language, that i wanted to show in this shot. This body language is probably more proper if the situation in my shot is more casual. In this case, my character is seeking an approval from her senior, which is why this gesture and body language did not suit for this shot.

The main lesson is always think what our character feels and what our character will do. I have found that by asking this question to myself right before I shot the reference is always very helpful. This really helps me out to put myself in their shoe. I also believe that shooting a reference with props is a really good idea. However, i feel that maybe we should think it twice if we need them or not, especially if we are shooting a subtle shot.

I recently polished this shot and i did an eyebrow pass for the girl. I realised that i really don't need that gesture when i watched the shot again. The reason is simply because the audience will look at her face right away and they probably will not realise the body movement. This is something that my mentor has mentioned too, but for some silly reasons this just really hit me recently. (Not that i did not trust his advice! i think it just takes me some time to really process it :O )

I should say that the temptation to move the body will always be there, but when it strikes you, maybe we can try to ask ourself if we need it or not.

The Second 'Aha'
This goes back to my first one person dialogue shot. I had a very hard time blocking the shot! :D My mentor explained that we should have basic mouth shapes and basic facial expressions when we start blocking a dialogue shot. Long story short, i was unable to understand the concept. It sounds very simple, but I had a hard time to apply it on my blocking. Worry not, i will not discuss about those difficulties again, let's carry on with the now and not the past :O

The assignment which we had to pose our the facial expressions on bishop was the one that taught me what this concept means. I spent more times to listen to my audio file and really tried to find the main beats on the audio. I started from here and once i got them, i marked the words on my note. I went through my video reference and i checked out the facial expressions on the words that i had marked. Instead of posing the expression on bishop directly, I used a mirror. I feel that if you posed the expression that you see on the mirror, somehow you will feel the words too. I think it is very important to capture that feeling, this way we will not just simply pulling the controllers and mimic the facial expressions. 

I figured this out when i re-blocked my shot. Below are the playblasts of shot 1 re-blocking process :

Re-Blocking the facial expressions and mouth shapes. Keyed all the main beats.

Added some breakdowns on the body and gave some breakdowns for the facial animations.

Added more breakdowns and in betweens for the body. At this point, i ignored the facial expression and focused only on the body. I wanted to see if the body movement alone worked well or not.

At this stage, I was unsure with the lip sync. It felt weird to see her mouth shapes did not match with the audio, so i decided to 'pose' the syllables too. I kind of feel that she is a bit chattery here.

This is the second shot. I kind of found out that i actually did not have to 'pose' the syllables. I posed the lady based on the main beats and i continue to work on her body animation.


*Tips: Proxy mode can be a good way to refine the body since it does not have facial expression, which means less distractions.

*Hit the spline button... uh oh D:

Shot 1 Refining stage and blocking+ the second shot

I feel that i got more familiar with the process when i started refining the second shot. My workflow for the second shot was:
  1. Find the key poses and key expressions.
  2. Blocking : Body only.
  3. Blocking plus : Body only.
  4. Layered in extra facial expressions and mouth shapes.
  5. Keep refining the body.
  6. Refining the lip sync.
Below are the playblasts up until step no.4 above :


Refining the body.

Shot progression up until step no.4.

During these weeks (it was around week 6-ish) i started to feel that everything starts to make a lot sense. It just clicked in a lot of ways, the shot was so difficult but i was overflown by joy at the same time! *tears of joy :')

I'm gonna wrap this post here since it's been a really long one O_O. More about my findings on the next post! Thank you everyone for reading this post, i hope i did not bored you guys! :O

Have a great week and Happy Animating everyone!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Overview - From Audio to Paper...

I kind of overlooked something on my last shot. It was that very first step that we should all do before we start our shot; getting to know our character. I did not put a lot of details about my character, not until i found the advanced planning packet video training. Long story short, i regret that i did not invest a lot of my time for this at that stage. I made sure that i did not repeat the same mistake this time around. Below is a snapshot of my planning :

My mentor told me that i probably did not have to go this extreme for this dialogue shot, but i'm glad i did it. This really helped me out to understand the characters. I did not do a lot of thumbnailing for this shot. I'm still wondering if this is all right or not. I felt that I should approach the shot in more storyboard or comic panel way. All right, as I type this I realise that I probably played it safe because I avoided my biggest fear, which is Drawing a Face! -A note to myself, try this out next time- Here are my early planning for the layout, they are quite similar :

Layout 1 + Playblast

Layout 2 + Playblast

Another thing that i should look out next time is I should treat layout pass just like first pass blocking. This pass can be said as the step where we set up the shot; the framing, the set, etc. As we can see here, I just put my character in an unknown space, that has window on its wall :| .. I have to admit that I had a quite a hard time on my first pass blocking because i did not plan this very well. I had to change the camera angles for a couple times until finally my mentor agree with it, but it's all good cause I learn something from this. :)


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Overview - About The Audio...

I kept thinking about how to write an entry differently at the beginning of class 5. Well, this kind of caught me off guard cause I ended up did not write anything at all for last term! I had always felt that this shot would be really important for me. We were going to work on this one shot for the whole term and i could feel the pressure since the beginning.

Researching The Audio File

I often hear advices about try to find an audio file that inspires us. I, like most folks in class 5 am obviously still a baby in this field. This is our second dialogue shot and it's going to have two people talking in it. It surely sounds very exciting and as Barney Stinson said, "Challenge accepted!" .. [yes, i'm a fan of HIMYM ;) ].

Back in class 4, i spent my times browsing audio clips on the internet. I focused on other factors such as the timing, contrast, beats, and many other things that we should consider when we're browsing audio clips. One thing that i tried not to do is I avoided to watch the original source of the audio clip. I was scared that this would effect my thoughts and ideas as this would make me keep thinking of the original actors.

A question that came up to my mind was; how am i supposed to get inspired if i don't know the characters who speaks the line? To be honest, it would be quite stressful for me if i had to do the same audio browsing process. So, i decided to do it differently this time. I watched some of my favourite old school movies, couple of new ones and watch a movie that has my favourite actor in it. A simple tips, always have notebook, pencil or your mobile phone nearby to write down some notes, this will come in handy. I find this method is more fun, i really love the rush of taking notes when we hear the good line on the screen. :) However, i did not mean that browsing an audio file on the internet is not effective. I do believe that each of this method has its own pros and cons.

Before I continue, i forgot to introduce my class 5 mentor, his name is Malcon Pierce ! He's really awesome btw! :D 

There is one great advice regarding audio clip that i got from my mentor. I will try my best to paraphrase his advice. We may encounter two types of audio clips during our audio hunting. The first type would be an audio clip that kind of mentions some stuff or reflect some actions, which may driven us to try to match our animation to that one particular action. The second one would be an audio clip that will draw us into the character's psychology and would potentially give us a room to develop our own scenarios for it. This is really an eye opening advice for me! It became much easier for me to choose the audio clips after hearing this advice. I believe that both of this audio types are great, but in my humble opinion, i honestly feel that the second audio type is stronger.


stay tuned . . . . . . o_o;!

hello everyone! no i am not abandoning my blog .. please stay tuned for class 5 overview post!
o_o major delay is happening..


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Offsetting Audio File in Maya

Hi everyone,

Last term, I had an experience where i had to offset my audio file in Maya (At that time i used Maya 2011). I had some issues such as the offset feature did not work even after i've put some values on the offset option. I thought i'd like to share couple tips about it in this post.

Firstly, we of course have to import our audio file to Maya. 
  1. So let's go to File > Import > [your audio file location].
    I believe that the audio format should be either .wav or .aiff. Please feel free to let me know if you know some other format that works in Maya :)
  2. Right now, you should see an audio waveform on your Timeline. If you can't see it, try to go to your Timeline, Right Click on it and select Sound. You should find your audio file there. See image below:

  3. Once we have our audio file imported, we can go to step no.2 again, but this time click the Option Box of your audio file. It will bring up an attribute editor of your audio file.

  4. On the attribute editor, Go to Audio Attributes > Offset. The value that you put in here represents the amount of the offseted frames. Enter any value that you want here.

  5. I put 10 on the offset. The audio waveform is now start at f 10.
The problem that may occurs now is the audio still starts at f 1 if you scrub your Timeline. In order to fix this, press Play button on the right of your Timeline. I believe this will re-build the audio cache on your Maya, sort of like refresh the audio file and this should the problem.

If this is not working:
  1. Check your audio file format and make sure it has the right format.
  2. Remove your audio file. You can do it by typing delete YourAudioName; in MEL Script command line and press Enter on your keyboard. (Source:
  3. Import back your audio file and repeat the steps.
I hope that this helps and thank you so much for your time to read my post. Feel free to send me a message on AM or leave comments here if you had any questions or need help with anything! :) 
Happy Animating, Have Fun, and Have a great week everyone! :)


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

1 Year L'Anniversary ;)

I supposed to post this on the 20th of May (19th on the states) .. well it's better than never! I drew this during my flight back to Sydney :p It's been a year since i received an e-mail from AM, i still remember that i missed the phone call as well (>,<) .. well, happy 1 year anniversary! Have a pie ;)

one of my favourite scenes from Toy Story hehee :

"you saved our lives, and we are eternally grateful" - Aliens, Toy Story


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chapter 12 - a Cup of Coffee with Sugar

Naw... It's the bitter sweet week :')
I wrapped the week by doing some revisions for both of my shots. I'm glad that i found some flaws on both of my shots as i revisited them. I believe that both shot can still be improved as well. This term, I learnt a brand new workflow. My mentor taught us a traditional animation approach workflow. I feel that this new workflow works very very well for me. I spent a lot of time on blocking stage. I feel that i managed to put all the necessary information during the blocking stage and as the result, the spline stage   went less horrifying than it used to be. I definitely have to watch for spacing, moving holds and where the residual energy would lead the movement, secondary action, and of course the rest of animation principles as i move on. My mentor's final critique mentioned that my shot is still more on the pose to pose-y side and i need to loosen it up a bit more. The facial animation is obviously one thing that i have to improve. I feel that I lost a control over it at the beginning, but i feel that i'm catching up as the week goes by.. It is very tough but i really enjoy the process, and you know.. there is a joy when you finally see Bishop's talking! :) 'he's aliveeeee~~!' :p

I really enjoy class 4. There were only 7 of us in class and we're all got called up to the cam every week. It was very fun and our mentor is really awesome! I'm very grateful to have Dimos as my mentor this term and i appreciate everything he taught us... It was a very amazing class :')
it's sad.. but hey, the good news is i made it to class 5 yiippiiee :D

Last but not least, below are the revisions of my shot and my progress reel :

The eyes on the last pose.. i supposed to make him look psycho.. but it's so hard to achieve that :

Next try .. :( he's still not looking psycho enough ..

I decided to go back to the original file ... i don't think he looks psycho at the end but i hope it works :

My Progress Reel :


Thanks Mom for helping me during the last two weeks of the term. Your support means a lot to me.. *virtual hug :)


Chapter 11 - Polishing (?)

On week 11, I sort of got an answer for my own question that i had a year ago. I used to think that if we only had half of the body visible on our shot, that means we do not really have to pay attention to the bottom half part simply because we can't see them. Well, the answer for this question is we Do have to pay attention to this unseen bottom half part of the body. The reason is pretty clear; even though we can not see them, we should have them posed correctly. The movement that occurs in any of our body parts will effect the other the body parts, e.g. : we can not shake our head if our neck perfectly stay still and we can not raise our hand if our elbow and shoulder stay still, etc. So, if we have the right amount of information to start with, our animation would turn out better as well. I'd like to think that this is similar to making a planning for our shot. It would be a pain to carry on if the necessary information is not there. In my humble opinion, this would be one among of many other important recipes that will help us to achieve a correct, or i should say, believable body mechanics. We should also remember that we don't have to polish this unseen part to the max because no one will see it. In a nut shell, put all the information you need for this unseen part (the pose, timing, etc) but it'd be less necessary to make it super duper pretty. (i guess it'd wrong if i said unnecessary, words are tricky! hehee :p)

Week 11 was also a polishing week. The lecture showed a brand new view of Polishing! It is indeed not about making the curves look pretty, it is rather to see if the whole piece works well or not. It is a stage where we focus on the small details. I would say that polishing is the new tough stage but i think it's the fun one as well! Blocking is one fun stage and so does planning. Frankly, the whole animation process is fun (>w<). Back to my shot.. I need to get rid of the eye roll that i added on the previous week, i think there was a lot of arc tracking, especially the head arc.. it's quite hard to remember D:! but  hey, here are some of the playblasts :

Tracking the arc of the head using the tiny ball on the nose :

Get rid of the eye roll and fixed the SL hand pose; reposition the thumb :

Get rid of the eyebrow raise at the end :

Fixed SR hand hiccup around f 120 :

The one that was submitted :


Monday, June 25, 2012

Chapter 10 - Refining

My mentor pointed out that my shot still feels very pose to pose on his critique, he mentioned that there's no life on the moving hold and i need to find a way to break the rigid feels. My friends also told me that the torso area still feels stiff and some poses are twinned. This week i pretty much refined my shot based on the feedback that i received.

To be honest, it was quite a challenge to figure out what i should do around the moving hold area. My friend pointed out about the residual energy and the direction of the body part will go because of it. I spent a lot of time acted out the action in front of the mirror and see how the body moves. I also did this to analyse the facial expression. The tough part is it is very hard to achieve the same result every time i act out the performance.. i guess it'd be a good idea to record it.

At this stage, i feel that i kind of miss one principle which is secondary action, but at the same time you don't one to add something just for the sake adding it.. i guess this will make the performance not believable.. Here are the playblasts from week 10 :

Eyebrows are quite out of control here @_@ :

Added head nods and break the W shape of the arms towards the end of the shot :

This week I had some time to create a simple set up, the props are provided by AM :)

Added eye roll when he moved back.. :


Chapter 9 - Bounce Back

I mentioned that i missed exploring the facial expression on my previous post. This was definitely my main struggle this week. So this is what happened. Up until this point, i feel that i'm starting to understand the concept of key efficiency ('we want least amount of key for the most amount of information') and we should have control over our keys. This week i felt that i lost control over the keys. Earlier this term, I feel that i have a complete control of Stewie. Obviously because Stewie does not have full facial control. It is of course a whole another different story with Bishop :) I freaked out when i saw the facial controllers hahah! I lost control over the keys :p As I carry on i realised that I am too focused on having 'efficient' keys. Right now, i think it is more important to gain control over them. I would say that it does not matter if we have keys on every frame as long as we know what they are doing. We could always clean them up later on, no? :3

The solution for my issue was by creating character sets. I hardly use this tool because i find it a bit too complicated and somehow i always failed to create a character set. It may sound silly, i have no clue why that happened.. BUT! The most important thing is that i managed to create one, in fact More than one character set Properly heehee.. Thanks to the demo on our lecture :)

I would recommend to try out to make character sets for the jaw-cheek-mouth-nose, eyes and eyebrows. In my opinion character set makes everything look more organised. I feel that I can focus on those particular facial parts because i can only see their keys. The only flaw that i found is if we forgot to turn off the character set once we're done with it. Character set will auto key the controllers that are in the set.. (-o-;) so if we modified the other controller that is not part of the set, eg: if we have facial character set and then we modified the spine, a new key will be set on the facial controls as well. The worst case is if we did copy pairs method and then we still have, for example, eyebrows character set On. We most likely will lose the change that we've done on the eyebrows for the next few frames, because we did not realise that we still have the character set on. This happened to me... :'( i guess we have to be careful and keep reminding our self to turn off the tool before we start tweaking other controllers. I also recommend to make quick selections for the facial controls or use the GUI picker as this will help us to work faster, however, the bottom line is use anything that suits your workflow :)

Back to my shot progression which i would say went very slowly.. here are some of the playblasts, ooh and i splined my shot too *gulp! :

Added some in between keys on the arms to reduce the rigid feels :

Splined! :

I delete the keys on the eyebrows and eyes for some reasons :| i did not remember why i did it ... but i think i imported it back using animtransfer :|

I would say that as the time goes by, i start to feel less frightened by spline mode.. i guess this is a good thing :O


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chapter 8 - One Step At A Time

It's Week 8!

I re-blocked my shot. My mentor really helped me a lot. He helped me re-building everything and tweak the poses that i had. I get rid all keys on the facial controls, get rid the in between keys and started tweaking the key poses. I really felt the pressure this time around. I occasionally felt a bit lost as well, and this is not a good indication. I have not found the proper workflow for a dialogue shot (well, duh! of course i have not.. this is my first ever dialogue shot ^^;) There was a lot of struggle and thinking whether i should do the lip sync first or should i do basic mouth shapes and then continue adding basic facial expression like it was mentioned on the brief. Meanwhile, the lectures are super informative and very helpful! My old habit of rushing in the process came up as well. This time around, i kind of force myself to add a bit of this and that on my shot, and then i began to add keys on every 2 frames, it was all over the place! Having keys on every 2 frames may work well on body mechanics shot, but i think it probably too much for dialogue test.. but i don't know! i really don't know.. there were a lot of thoughts and struggles for sure. ... :(

*breath...*inhale...Zen... So.. I followed my mentor direction to take a step back. I continue to work on my shot but this time around, I completely ignore the facial expression. My approach for this dialogue shot is by thinking this shot as a traditional 2d animation. I think about The Jetsons, Flintstones, and other Cartoon Network shows that i always watched when i was a little. The next step was to switch off all the lighting on my Maya viewport so that it will look like a 2d cartoon. Something like this:

I continue to add break down for the key poses.. i sticked to my last workflow, which was to add breakdown, overlapping action and the other principles on my blocking.. Below are the playblasts:

First Re-blocking stage, jaw opening-closing was still there. I tried not to delete them. However, we should not emotionally attached to our shot. I decided to delete all of the jaw keys as i moved forward :

Deleted the jaw keys and focus on the body mechanics :

Tracked the arcs ...

The 2d preview that i previously mentioned :

Added a bit of moving hold on the blocking :

Jaw pass, basic mouth shape, and eye brows :

During this stage, I kept switching the viewport light on and off, the 2d preview really helped me out to see if the Jaw movement works well or not... I actually have been doing this since my last shot for class 3.. the idea of thinking my shot as a 2d animation works pretty well for me..


Chapter 7 - Hello Bishop :)

I decided to chose my Audio 1 for my dialogue shot. This audio was also the one that was chosen by my mentor. I love all 3 audios to be honest. I do think they are all fun but i had to choose only 1 audio. AM seriously teaches me to be more confident when it comes to choosing something. We had to choose theme and ideas for our shots and i learn that i have to believe in myself and my idea.. more importantly, to have faith in it. I mean if we don't believe in our own idea.. we are trying to imbued a puppet with life here.. we are telling a story.. if we don't believe in it.. then who will? D:!
So, back to my shot.. :) .. i literally smiling as i'm writing this sentence.. Hello Bishop :) ..

It's Bishop! Finally! :D i was super excited and i am actually still super excited :) Bishop's cool.. and i can write about his coolness forever, but unfortunately that is not the point of writing this entry (>w<) he is still cool though.. awesome rig :) I got to dress him up, gave him ears, clothes, shaped the nose, make him shorter.. it's really cool, it was like customizing the Sims character.. and I gotta make him alive, not the code or the computer! That is really cool right :D and don't get me wrong, The Sims is an awesome game :)

Moving forward, it's blocking stage. This time around, the blocking stage was quite difficult for me. Mainly it was because i'm very used to Stewie. He does not have facial expression. Bishop has this full facial control. It was weird to see the body moves but the face stay still. On my last post, i mentioned that i missed facial expression on my planning. This was when it started to really hits me. I did not have strong facial expression to start with.

This is what i did: I went through my video reference and find the pose according to the jaw opening and closing. At first i though this would help out the blocking process. This did not work. :( ... I feel like i was unintentionally trying to hit each of the words. I was not happy with the poses that i had, the blocking looked very unappealing and stiff. My mentor really helped me out to fix this problem. I can't thank him enough to be honest. 

I don't think i keep all of the playblast from this week.. hopefully i can find the playblasts, and below is the XSheet and an extra planning stuff.. (I really wish that i had a printer so i could print this XSheet out. I'm not comfortable writing an XSheet digitally, im more of a fan of pencil and paper when it comes to planning/drawing something >.<! )

I need to train myself to use the XSheet.. i think i have not maximise the use of the XSheet 

Breaking down the dialogue using the planning packet

I really wish that i found the planning packet earlier :/ next time, i will definitely use it for my next planning. I found that it is very useful and the video tutorial really helped me out too :) I regret i did not use it for my planning earlier. I did not upload this to my workspace, this was just a little extra stuff that i did :

and now the playblast :

yeah.. i really did not keep all the playblasts from that week... this is the only one that i found :p


i found the missing playblasts! One has my video reference on it and the other one was just a pure mishap +o+ it looks really bad, but i will put it here for my record :p .. anyways, here they are :


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chapter 6 - a u d i o time + some tips :)

Dialogue Shot!! Our Very First Ever Dialogue Shot!! How Exciting!! Wiiiii~~~!

All right, here is an advice.. start browsing for your audio files, Now! hehe ^^; I thought that by watching movies and simply go, 'ooh that line is good' was enough. Well, it is not. I often received that 'you are weird' stare by people near me when i have a note book and pencil when i watch movies with them. I found that very uncomfortable but ignoring them was quite helpful D: I watched more movies lately, pretty much many random movies that is on television. I found that old movies from year 1950s are very unique and inspiring. The way the actor speaks felt more stage-y and the accent is thicker for me. I hope this make any sense !:| .. One important thing, write notes about that great line that you heard on television or YouTube. Try to think about the line, try to find the pro and con about it. Honestly i regret that i did not do this when i browsed my audio files. This is something like; when you hear that dialogue line, it's so good and very fresh in our ears, but if you don't write about it asap, the 'moment' disappears and then you kind of forget about what makes the line sounds so good. I hope this make sense.. and this is a lesson learnt for me too. My peer buddy really helped me out during the process as well. She gave me a bunch of audio file source links and that was very, very helpful! I think i should share the links here as well! Here are the links:

Hope this will help you guys too! :)

I would say that my struggle this week was pretty much due to the lack of equipment. I had no scanner, no adobe photoshop and i forgot to bring my camera to record my reference. I usually plan my shot on my sketch book and scan them. I was worried cause i initially took a photo of my sketchbook. It's not super bad, it's just a little bit unclear :( But thanks to technology; long time ago a friend told me that there is a scanner application for smart phones (CamScanner) and that app saved my life! :D well, basically i took a photo of my sketchbook page using my phone, but this application helps to crop and skew the image so it looks like it is scanned, not much different quality wise, but hurray! and then i found photoshop software on my parents PC, so i can resize and enhance the images! so, double hurray! Dropbox was simply a life saver as well :O As for the camera, thank god my laptop has a built-in web cam :O! I remember that this week was pretty hectic cause i misunderstood the brief. The brief was clear, but it was me.. After the q&a, i thought we only had to do 1 reference for 1 audio that we like. I was WRONG! so few hours before the submission time was super hectic and i was panicking.. but glad that i made it -o-! A lesson for myself: keep your ears open during q&a >.<!!

Some feedback that i received said that most of the audio that i chose had background songs. It did not really cross my mind before but i will definitely keep this on my note! To sum it up :

  • Make sure that the audio is clear
  • If it's possible try to avoid distracting background noises or music
  • Find an audio that has nice beats, accents, and has contrast in the emotion
  • Maybe try to avoid depressing, negative lines, there should be no swearing and/or faulty language cause it may make the audience uncomfortable when they watch it
  • Find the audio that you like, if you have favourite actors and movies, try to find audio files from that movies/the actors.
  • It'll be a good idea not to watch the original shot of your audio files. I personally feel that if i see the real character, it will be hard for me to get rid of his/her image from my head. For example, when I see Dorothy from Wizard of Oz.. and I happen to like her dialogue line a lot.. in my case, it is quite hard for me to get rid Dorothy image from my head and as i listen to her line, i could still see the character in my head.
  • Try to avoid lines from famous movies and animated movies.
  • My class 3 mentor once suggested to try to find audio from interview. The reason is because the conversation on the interview is not staged/planned (compare to movies/tv series). I think this is a really great idea cause sometimes there is that candid moment that happens during interview.. and i think it'll be fun to animate this spontaneous moment :) From memory, i think he also suggested to find audio from documentaries..
  • One tips from my mentor and my peer buddy, we should not choose the audio that has the exact time length as the frame limit, in this case is 240f. Make sure that we'll have room before and after that audio.
  • An advice from my peer buddy too (and I quote her): "choose an audio in which you can add gestures and movements which will sell you dialogue even more"
I hope i cover everything here.. I had a blast that week and shooting video reference was fun. My parents laugh at me when they saw me acting out the shot and when they saw the reference. It was a pure joy :D I have some images from my planning too:

Audio 1 : "I'm a trained killer you know, I can kill you with anything in this office, you want to die by post-its? Cause i can make that happen!"

Audio 2 : "To learn my teachings... I must first, teach you.. how to learn.."

Audio 3 : "I'm the ogre, Nish... How would you like to be eaten? Baked? Boiled? Shish-kabobed?"

What i missed here: i did not have much planning for the facial expressions and this really affects my shot..
Also, no.. i will not upload my reference video here heheh.. i'm a bit shy to share it here.. ^^;


Chapter 5 - Blurry

Hello hello, it's been weeks since the last post, apologize for the absent! :O
I went on a trip a month ago.. i flew back home, yay! :D it was really good to be back to home, well it always good to be home :) So winding the clock backwards to week 5! That would be my last week for my ghost shot.. Honestly, it is hard to remember what happened that week, but i'm trying to remember and reliving week 5!

My mentor feedback was of course very helpful as always. I remember that i had moving hold issues on the previous weeks. During this week I pretty much refined my shot, the moving hold, the jump backwards and the hand movement. Here is one of the problem that i often encounter. Every time we move, you now, one arm moves that way and the other arm moves that other way. I often get so lost with how that other hand will move! Will it drag along the body or will it make some unique gestures!? This part is unfortunately has not been resolved up until this point :( .. any suggestion guys? D: So in this shot, the problem were on the screen right arm and hand. I think i had to keep coming back to my video reference and see what happened. I really do not want to acting it out again cause that fell hurt my back haha ^^; So people, put a mattress and bunch of pillows if you want to act out something extreme! ^^; Back to my shot, i would say that going back to the reference and tracking what happened to that other arm and hand was helpful. The other thing that i did was by thinking about the arc that the hand made and just trying to feel if the movement correlates with the rest of the body. This was the solution that i came to.

Obviously, the shot still needs to be refined and polished. I managed to animate the brush tip as well! I was surprised to find out how this tiny details could make that much effect to the whole shot. The brush tip really helps to make the shot alive! :)
Here are some of the playblasts from week 5 :

Trackin' that arc~ :3


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chapter 4 - Noodle Time

It was half blocking+++++ and half first pass splining. There were some changes that needed to be done after i received my critique. I think this time around i spent a lot of my time on my blocking and i did not bother to try out splining the shot just to figure out how does it look like. This was something that I did during my third shot last term. I got carried away and continue to work on spline and it was really really hard!

Back to present time. There are some changes on some poses at the beginning of the shot. I did not realize that the previous pose that i had was not appealing enough :O ! and this is a really great point that my mentor told me on the critique!! I completely forgot about the principle of Appeal! i will keep this in my mind for my next shot in the future (omg we're going to use bishop!!! :D).

My first pass splining felt wrong in so many ways. This time i tried out non-weighted tangent. Honestly, it was really easy to make the curves look all neat. One thing that i learnt from my progress on week 4 is, i know that maybe a lot of people have mentioned this, we should not make our curves look all neat and tidy bluntly. I did this last week :( .

This is what happened last week. I used non-weighted tangent in graph editor. As i refined the curves, i felt pretty unease because i can't adjust the tangent handles like i normally do if i used weighted tangent. I remember it was mentioned in one of the lectures, that we should not adjust the spacing in our shot using the curves. I sticked to that line and told myself that i'm gonna try this new method and see what happened. So i refined the curve and pretty impressed because it was really easy to clean up the curves. This my friend, was the evil in disguise. I somehow did not realize this at all. I noticed all the wrong stuff in my shot when i was on the plane, hours after I submit the assignment +_+ . My shot fell flat and lifeless, there was no moving hold, stewie stops abruptly when he hits the poses, and many more :( . I was probably 36000 feet above the ground and i was so devastated inside the plane -o-! I came into one realisation that if the non-weighted tangent gave an easier way to clean up the curves, this could mean that everything that we put during the blocking (timing and spacing, etc) is most likely near perfect.

This perhaps is a very logical thing and maybe i should have understand this earlier. I heard a lot of people say that we should look at the action that is happening on the screen, not the curves on graph editor (Having said this, i do respect the people that use a lot of graphic editor on their workflow). Ironically i have mentioned this to a lot of people because i thought this is the right thing to do. I guess the reality really hits me this time around and i'm really glad that i experienced this, now i really know that we can not abuse graph editor like what i did and our priority should be on the action that is happening on the screen. I really feel that we should monitor both of the screen and the graph editor. The best way to put this and like what my mentor told us, use graph editor as an assistant.

One last thing that i learnt from my long blocking stage is time and spacing. I think i sort of find a new side of these two principles. I can't really explain about it cause i'm still unsure. I'm really looking forward to test this on my next shot.. o_O..

Here are the playblasts from week 4:

one part that i like on this blocking ^^

not too sure if i used this one for splining.. it has huge pop..

Spline! O_O!


In honour of splining week, 
let's keep moving forward, have fun, and don't forget to eat! :d
Happy animating! :)


Chapter 3 - Blocking + + + + +

I continued blocking my shot on week 3. This week i tried to add as many information that i need for my shot. Couple things that I considered to add were overlapping action, drag & follow, arc, timing & spacing, clarity of the poses & silhouettes, details on hands-fingers. I tried to add a bit of moving hold by altering the next pose slightly. However, i did not think i did it well enough and i think it is kind of hard to add moving hold during blocking stage. There is one bad thing that I notice on my workflow. I tend to focus on the first part of the shot and then i lost a large amount of time to refine the second part of the shot. Unfortunately, this happened again :( . I was very focus on the first half when he is kneeling and did not spend a lot of time for the part when he gets up and jump. I'm currently trying a new way to work on my shot. I guess the solution for this problem is to be discipline with my own time :| ... These are some playblast of my progress from week 3 :


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Change a Tick Colour on Maya Timeline - revised

Hi everyone!

Last week, I tried to find out how to change a tick colour in Maya to indicate which one is my main pose key and which one is my break down pose key. There were a couple of reasons that made me looked for a script that could change the tick colour (it's a simple MEL script.. dont worry ^^).

Firstly, i want to try something new for my workflow. I really want to learn about key frame efficiency. During the class, our mentor taught us that our animation should be defined by key pose and break down pose. I was and i actually am still very inspired by that. He also showed us that we could use tradigitools to change the tick colour to indicate which one is the Key Pose and which one is the Break Down Pose. I think that was pretty awesome. I don't have tradigitools, so i thought there should be a way to change a tick colour in Maya manually.

I bumped into couple of web pages that show me how to do it step by step. I don't have Maya with me at the moment so i'm going to refer you to this sites that i found:
- Great Tip To change Maya Key Color

I also discussed this MEL script with my classmate, Beau Pratt (please check out his and his brother awesome blog here!), about how to make this script keyable. He told me to try to add another script that he got from Kevin Freeman, to the beginning part of the script. 

At first, I created a short cut on Maya Shelf to make an easy access to this script. However, I have to credit Beau for his suggestion about setting a Way better short cut which is to set it to a Shift+S or S (or something else related with S key, anything that is available basically..) on the keyboard. This really makes life easier. So thank you Beau!

The original mel script:

keyframe -time `currentTime -q` -tds 1;

Additional script to make it keyable:

$now=`currentTime -q`;setKeyframe;keyframe -time `currentTime -q` -tds 1;

I guess that's all for now. I hope the script will work on your computer, cause so far it works just fine in my Maya. I really hope it will work just fine in your Maya too! Please let me now if it did not work, i'll give my best to help you out! :)

Thank you very much for reading this post! I  hope this will help and feel free to send me a message on AM or leave comments here if you need any help! Have a great week, Happy Animating, and Have fun everyone! :)