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!