Friday, January 25, 2013

Animation Layer Quick Tutorial

Hi everyone!
There is one tool that i use quite a lot when i polish my shot, it is animation layer! Honestly, I have no in depth knowledge about it, but i thought i'd like to do a quick how-to tutorial about the tool. So here is the video:

I find this tool is very helpful and it kind of feels more organized. In my humble opinion, i think it could save us from destroying the previous animation that we've already had before we polish our shot. I mainly use it for adding small details such as breathing, head or hand shakes, staggers, and squash & stretch. I'm sure that it can be used to layer in a lot of other cool stuff as well! I hope the video is clear and i hope it helps. Please let me know if you had any trouble with the tool or if you had any questions about it, i will try my best to get back to you asap.

Thank you all for watching and Happy Animating!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Overview - Animating a Contact

Animating a Contact is one of the hardest thing that I have ever encountered so far. In my 2 people dialogue shot, i had a lady stroked a girl's hair and then caress her cheek. I remember that every week, i always asked and told my mentor that i had a problem with this. My mentor explained that a contact is indeed one of the trickiest and hardest to animate. The reason for this is because sometimes, the object is probably not even touching the other one and this may be caused by the camera angle or maybe we want to have a clear silhouette for the pose and we have to find a way to make it as if the objects are touching. I like to think this of this like an illusion... it's not there but it Is there... I hope this make sense..

The other thing that i learn from this shot is that we need to be always aware with the relationship between our characters. I came up with few 'reminder' questions for myself, such as Are they siblings? Are they related? How close is their relationship? Ultimately is What will your character do? Not us, but what will she/he do? I found out that it is very easy to make their movement not exactly right even though it seems like it is the right and proper one for me. At this point, i do believe that peer feedback and taking countless video references are some of the ways that will help us to find the solution.

Couple things that i noticed when i took video references for this shot is that it was important to take a close look on what is going to happen on the surface that i touch and how the object reacts to the touch. In my case, i unfortunately did not have a person that i could rely on becoming my test subject and i am to shy to act it out to other people.. so, i act it out on my own cheek, my giant Winnie the Pooh doll and my dog ('_';). I probably did not get an optimal result from this because those objects are not human and they obviously will not react like one. However, it was really cool to notice some micro eye movements when the hand is approaching to the face and see a bit of head movement, the subtle change on the cheek as the finger touches it and how the fingers move as they touch the cheek. These are some of tiny details that i usually missed to notice because they are so subtle. The other tool that i used a lot was a mirror and i found that just by doing the hand movement every now and then was very helpful as well. In the end, i sort of combine all results that i got from all of these references and gave my best to translate the research to the animation.

At the end of class 5, my mentor told me that the lady's last touch was almost there. It really took me a long time to polish the movement and i was also scared that i might be noodling on it way too much. As the term proceed and almost at the end of class 6, it really just came to me that in order to polish this hand movement... there is no other way but to get into each of the hand and finger controllers.. It is inevitable ... :D

 Below are some playblasts for shot 2 progression :

Week 6 : I think i was still refining the lady's body movement on shot 2

Week 7 : The hand contact was still very rough

Week 8 : I had a problem with the timing of the lady's hand movement when she raises her hand to touch the girl's cheek

Week 9 : Still refined the lady's hand movement, it still felt too fast and not gentle enough

Week 10 : Still refined the hand movement, my mentor suggested to add something on it so that it will show there is a Real contact and not simply just moving her hand from the girl's forehead to her cheek..

Week 11 : Still refined the hand movement. That week, my mentor suggested to add something more special for the hand movement, something like another hand strokes on the cheek..

Tweaked the movement and added another hand stroke..

Changed the angle of the hand like it was mentioned on the critique...

This is the last version from week 12. At this point, I did not manage to thoroughly refine the lip sync on shot 2.. 

I did further polishing for this shot in Class 6, but I'm going to wrap this post now and i will continue to write about polishing this shot on my next post :) Thank you everyone for your time to read my post..

Have a great week and Happy Animating!