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 :

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Eyebrows are quite out of control here @_@ :

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

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

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Added eye roll when he moved back.. :

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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! :

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

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Splined! :

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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 :|

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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

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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 :

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Deleted the jaw keys and focus on the body mechanics :

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Tracked the arcs ...

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The 2d preview that i previously mentioned :

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Added a bit of moving hold on the blocking :

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Jaw pass, basic mouth shape, and eye brows :

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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..

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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 :

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

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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 :

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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.. ^^;

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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 :

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Trackin' that arc~ :3
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