Lesson #4 – Principles of Animation Introduction

Quick Introduction to the “Principles of Animation”

In the next lessons I’ll explain each principles in more detail with tutorials and exercises! 😉

REF_Lesson #3

Lesson #3 –Became an Animator RECAP

here the LESSON

mfq
This is the most common question I receive so I decide to make this very fast introduction to the Animation World and guide a bit those who want to work as 3D animator:

Be a Character Animator…is GREAT! I love this job and I wouldn’t change it even if sometimes it makes you angry or frustrating, but all the emotions that this job can give you (whether good or bad) worth it! 😉

But, any other job, it have his Positive and Negative aspects, so…let’s make a list!pos_cons.png

————-Are you still motivated and convinced to go ahead? COOL! Let’s see what’s the first steps to do…

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  1. Download a TRIAL version of a 3D software: you can choose between different softwares available, Maya and 3D Max (both by Softimage) are the most common.

    I always suggest Maya! It’s probably the best if you want to do animation and is very used in production companies. (3D MAX maybe is more suited if you want to specialize in Modeling IMO)trial2.png

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  2. Watch some tutorials for the software interface! This programs are pretty complex so at the beginning, just focus on the interface for Animationinterface———————————————————————-
  3. Study the PRINCIPLES OF ANIMATION

    TIMING / STAGING / ANTICIPATION / FOLLOW THROUGH / ARCS / EXAGGERATION and so on…principlesurvivalKit.png
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  4. Start to do some simple and basic animation exercise on Maya.
    Don’t use any complex character. You just need a sphere…
     

    …let it BOUNCE….and bounce………and bounce again…

    bouncingBall.png

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  5. Chose a simple character and start to create some poses! Standing. Pushing. Runnning. etcetera… Study the rules for posing a character:

    Lines of actions / Silhouette / Appeal poses——————————————————————–

  6. Now you can try with facial expression! Use some references to create some of the more common expressions: HAPPY / ANGRY / SAD / DISAPPOINTED / SCAREDexpressions——————————————————————–
  7. ASK for feedbacks! Be sure that your are doing right…

    DON’T start to do too complex animations before you learned and well understood this principles!feddback——————————————————————–

  8. Chose a nice rig on the web and create your first ACTING SHOT!
    Take a short audio track from a movie and… animate!acting1——————————————————————–
  9. Create your ANIMATION REEL! Where to mix together the best exercises ands animations you created and …look for a company that needs animators! 😉reel——————————————————————–welcome1.png

 

Lesson #3 – Became an Animator

Short guide for those who want to became 3D Character Animator!

mfq

REF_LESSON #2

Lesson #2 – Creation of a 3D Project RECAP

here the Lesson

The process to create a 3D Project (like a movie or a tv shows or a short film…etc…) is classified in 3 different stages:

  1. PRE-PRODUCTION

  2. PRODUCTION

  3. POST-PRODUCTION

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PRE-PRODUCTIONLesson0002_02ProductionStage.png

When a concept, the idea of the project, is approved… we have the permission to move forward. This is a phase called Green Light!

lesson0002_05productionstage

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So now we can start with the Pre-Production, this are the main distinct phases:lesson0002_06productionstage

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Screenplaylesson0002_17productionstage

One or more screenwriters are in charge to write the script for the project.
In the screenplay we have the narrated story, the dialogues, the actions and the descriptions of the environment:

  • (example beginning of a screenplay I made for my concept for a tv show for kids)
    lesson0002_20productionstage
  • Project Title (in this case it’s Puppet House)
  • Number of the Episode
  • Title of the Episode
  • Scene heading (a short description of the location and the time of the day of that sequence)
  • Action Description (a narrative description of what happen in the scene)
  • Dialogues (name of the character and his own speech)

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Character / Environment Designlesson0002_28productionstage

It’s time to define the design, the aspect of the characters and the environment and props. The concept artists create illustrations and sketches with different design for the characters and everything that need to be defined in terms of design.Lesson0002_29ProductionStage.png

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Storyboardstoryboard

In this step the storyboard artist create a visual description of the entire project divided by sequences and scenes.

(storyboard example)lesson0002_33productionstage-copy

  •  Title or the logo of the project
  • Number of the episode
  • Title of the episode
  • Number of the sequence (in this case this are all scenes of the same sequence)
  • Number of the scene
  • Number of the frames (the length of the scene)
  • Visual illustrations (a detailed image that show the shot, the camera take, the character actions into the locations)
  • Dialogues
  • Camera notes (for example in this case we have a track in and it’s represented in the storyboard)
  • Sound effects note (for example, i the first shot we need the sound of the rain)

Let’s see the difference between a SEQUENCE and a SCENE:

A SCENE is a part of the story with a specific camera take, any time the camera framing change  we have a new scene! So, until you don’t see a cut in the camera, is the same scenes.  scene6A group of scenes compose a SEQUENCE, this sequence takes place in a determinate location and time of the day. When we have a change in the location or time, we have a new sequence, but the number of the scenes is still progressive. SCEN11.png

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Vocal Trackslesson0002_45productionstage

A cast of voice actor dubb the script so that we will have a voice track to use for the production.

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3D Asset Modelinglesson0002_46productionstage

The design is approved so we can go forward to create the 3D models.Using a 3D modeling software, the modeler start to literally sculpt the mesh, following the design based on the illustration of the concept artist.lesson0002_51productionstage

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3D Asset Texturinglesson0002_47productionstage

In this phase, a texture artist create the texture, the surface that wll be applied on the character. He create this 2D image, for example with a software like Photoshp), after that, this image will be assign to a material which in turn will be assigned to the mesh.lesson0002_52productionstage

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3D Asset Rigginglesson0002_48productionstage

Once the model are done, the rigger can start to create the skeleton, the rig for the character. He add chains of bones, joints attached to the mesh so that in the Animation phase we will be able to move the character

Thanks to the rig we can select the controls of each part of the body and we can start to pose the character.  lesson0002_53productionstage

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Animation Test lesson0002_49productionstage

The Animators start to test the rig and create some animations, like cycles or acting or expressions test, in this phase is important to choose and set the style of the animation.

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Scheduling planninglesson0002_50productionstage

Before start the production we need a planning to set the deadlines and the plan that will guide the team during the production. In this way we can decide the time that we will need to finish the project.

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PRODUCTIONlesson0002_03productionstage

The production started!!  Let’s see all the main steps of this phase:lesson0002_57productionstage

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Layoutlesson0002_63productionstage-copy-copy

Using the storyboard as reference the layout artist create a 3D version of the storyboard. So they start to create all the single shots, setting the camera, import all the characters and the locations that the scenes request and set the length of the scene. Sometimes the layout artist also create  a rough blocking with some key poses in order to give to the animators a guide for the actions and type of acting they will must do in the animation stage.

layout

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Animationlesson0002_64productionstage-copy-copy

Here we are! Starting from the layout and reading the script and whatching the storyboard to have as much information and inspiration as possible, the animators start to think how to animate the characters: what type of acting,  emotions and actions are more appropriate for the shot.

The animation is divided into 2 different steps, BLOCKING and REFINE

During the Blocking step, the animators create some main poses of the characters, so that they can start to set the timing and the expression, the poses and the actions of the characters.blk
The curves of the blocking keys are create in “stepped” mode, in order to avoid interpolation between a pose and an other. If we play the blocking animation, this appears jerky, not fluid, it’s a pose to pose!
It’s far from the final result but it’s already enough clear to have a first supervision from the Animation Supervisor, cause the intentions, the timing, and the poses are all there, so is also a good way to save time in case we have to change something.
When the Blocking is approved we move to the Refine step. Here we take all the poses curves we created for the blocking and we switch the curves from stepped to “spline”.In this way our animation looks more fluid and we can go to polish the curves and finish our animation.
During all the animation process, the Animation Supervisor receive the shots from the animators and he gives them feedback or retakes (request of changes) for the shot and he has the last decision over the animations.ani

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Lightinglesson0002_65productionstage-copy

We need to place the lights in the shots. The lighting artist will do that. He will decide the illumination of the scene, the lights properties, the shadows and so on. Always keeping consistency between a shot and the others.

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Renderinglesson0002_66productionstage-copy

The last process of the production. The render artist will convert the three dimensional data  into a hight quality 2D images. So  he go to create sequences of bidimensional images,  based on the shots we crated so far, with textures, lights, shadings and the characters set in the highest quality.

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POST-PRODUCTIONlesson0002_04productionstage

The last process, the Post-Production, it’s finalized to take togheter what we have done in the production and, basically, edit, cut, add effects, adjust everything for the final export.

This are the phases:lesson0002_72productionstage-copy

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Compositinglesson0002_73productionstage-copy

Using a compositing software, the compositors takes all the renders, he combines them together and starts to adjust colors, lights, adding vfx in order to deliver optimized final images of the project.

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Video Editinglesson0002_75productionstage-copy

Now the editor proceed to finalized the editing of the project, adjusting the length of the shots, cutting scenes depending on the request of the director, adding fade effects and so on.

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Sound Editinglesson0002_76productionstage-copy

The same for this process: the sound designer fixes, adjusts, adds, and edits the audio, music and sound fx.

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Exportlesson0002_77productionstage-copy

Now the project is done, everything is finished with the approval of the directors and producers, and we can export the final project!

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Ok let’s sum up the main job titles:lesson0002_79productionstage-copy

and…THAT’S IT! 😉

Lesson #2 – Creation of a 3D Project

A very fast “tour” in the pahses that make up the creation of a 3D Projects! 🙂

Ref_Lesson #1

Lesson #1 – Animation Techniques RECAP

here the LESSON

Quick introduction to the animation world! I will quickly explain what’s the role of an animator and the different animation techniques!

What does a Character Animator do?

Be a Character Animator means…BRING TO LIFE a fictional characteranimrigI always says that…bringlifeas animators we moves and lets speak these characters, in practice, we control their movements like “actors” and… in this way we create the…illusionan example of an Animation (on the left) and a totally Mechanic/Lifeless one (on the right). Can you see the difference? If you do, you are on the good way… 😉

let’s see the main differences:

create asymmetric expression to give more appeal!

and don’t forget to smooth any movement with soft lines!

draw05
 I drew a lot  but, I can’t say that I’m a good drawer…

So, we must dispel this fake myth.

No, you don’t need to be a good drawer…to became a good 3D animator!!!

draw04Main Animation Techniques

animtechniques

Traditional Animation

Is composed by sequences of hand drawings created on a series of pages . All the drawings are made on an Animation Desk or Light Table!

A light table has a translucent surface illuminated from behind with a light collocated into the table, on this surface you put the sequence of papers: when you draw the animations, thanks to the light inside the desk, you can see in transparence the drawings on the previous and following pages.

An animation is composed by a sequence of frames, each frame is represented by a drawing.

The Frame rate, the number of frames per second can change depending on the type of project (THIS APPLIES TO ANY TECHNIQUE)

framerate

Computer Animation

Is the animation of objects created in a three-dimensional space.

Using a 3D Software like Maya or 3D Max, we animate a 3D object.

We start with a mesh, “the Model” that is created by the “Modeler”, on this mesh the “Rigger” will create the skeleton, “the Rig”, the series of bones, joints and the selectable controls that the Animator will use to move the character!
Selecting and moving the controls,  we create the motion! 🙂

Stop Motion

With this technique we physically move a real objects, a puppet!

Frame by frame we pose the character and we take pictures of it.

The puppet usually has a structure inside, like an iron skeleton, that allow to easily pose him.

Lesson #1 – Animation Techniques

Here a quick talk about the “role of an Animator” and the “different animations techniques” 😉

animrig

Introduction

What this Blog is about..and why I decided to use “great part” of my free time to create and share this stuff! 🙂

My Animation

In-game Animations for a Mobile Game

This are some of the animations I created for a Mobile Game (Maya-Unity)

I loved this project and this little cute creatures were really funny to animate! 😛

Ref_Run Cycle

Run Cycle Tutorial recap and TIPS! 😉

here the Tutorial

Before start…take your time to plan the Run and chose the style.

  • Which type of run do you want to create?
  • Where’s he/she going?
  • Why?

Follow the design of the character: this can guide you to make your run more appealing and interesting!   Be creative!!! 🙂

Decide the Speed of your run, make some test during the blocking to find the best speed!
When you calculate the length of the shot consider that you have to sum the tow step, plus one frame at the end that is just a duplicate of the first one, so:

  1 step frames + Second step frames + 1 frame

Start the Blocking with the main poses:

run_021- Straight Leg (sx foot)
3- Down
5- Push
8- Up
12- Straight Leg (dx foot)

run_03.png1- Straight Leg (sx foot) the leading leg is straight forward but doesn’t touch the ground yet. The right leg is behind in the air.

run_04.png3- Down translate down the COG, the left leg is flat on the ground and starts to slide backward. The right leg start to pass forward.

run_05.png5- Push Translate Up the body, the left leg is behind, bend the foot that is close to leave the ground. The right leg is almost in front.

run_06.png8- Up Push a bit more Up the body. The left leg is behind in the air and the right leg is pretty high in the air, bended, in front of the character.

blkrun

Speed UP the Spacing between the Straight Leg pose and the Down pose, then Slow Down between the Push and the following Straight Leg pose, the result will be a sort of “pause” in the air, and the run will result more snappy and cartoon.

spacing_armdx1spacing_totalRefine the animation

  • Feet Refine:  in the Graph Editor adjust the curves and switch in Linear the part where the feet touch the ground and in Spline when they are in the air.

z_curves_foot.pngBend the feet and the Toes

footBendings.png

Keep attention to the arcs of the feet (use motion trail if necessary)!!!

spacing_body03pallinoarm_leg_curve

Here’s the final Curves of the foot on Z:

Here’s the final Curves of the UP and Down of the COG and the Chest Refine:

Tutorial #3 Run Cycle

–  Run Cycle – Tutorial –

Let’s see how to create a run cycle! 😉
Video tutorial created with the Rig: Steel by Long Winter Members Long Winter Member

here other animations I made with this Rig:

I like to present: Mary Project

If you’re planning to start an acting shot, maybe Mary could be the rig for you! 😉

Free Download in The OFFICIAL SITE

maryThe Rig is well done and functional (the facial blendshapes and controls could be improved IMO)mary5mary4

There’s a set of blendshapes for the facial expressions:mary2

Some hair locks controls:mary3

Deformers controls for arms and legs:mary1

I like to present: Crash Pack

I recently bought this nice pack of Rigs from “Long Winter Member” site:

Long Winter member

In the pack we have this 5 Rigs:

The simple and clean design is perfect for body mechanics and action animations.

COMING SOON

Run Cycle Tutorial

I’m working on this new tutorial based on this RUN CYCLE made with:  Steel Rig

Ref_Female_Walk_02

Female Walk CURVES & Graph Editor

Here’s the main Curves for Feet / COG / Hip / Chest, showed in the Graph Editor,
based on the “Walk Cycle” I posted in the previous Tutorial ( Walk Cycle Tutorial)

  • Leg / Foot CURVESleg_ctrlfoot_ctrl
  • COG CURVES cog_ctrlcog_ctrl
  • Hip CURVES hip_ctrl

hip_ctrl

  • Chest CURVES

chest_ctrl

chest_ctrl

Ref_Female_Walk_01

Tutorial #2 Female Walk Cycle

– Female Walk Cycle – Workflow Tutorial –

In this Tutorial I show my personal workflow to create this Female Walk Cycle (in place)

Software: Maya
Rig: The Eleven Rig http://elevenrig.blogspot.de/

My Animation

Animation test with Eleven Rig

A quick animation test I made using Eleven Rig elevenrig.blogspot.com/

Time of work: 4 / 5 hours

My Animation

Action, Run and Walk Cycle

having fun testing Steel (one of the rig from the Cash Pack) by Long Winter Studio longwintermembers.com/

MY ANIMATION

Animation Test “Pole Dance”

This time I wanted to try something different 🙂 not easy but really funny to do!

Time of work: 3 days

Rig: Mery project meryproject.com