Lesson #3 –Became an Animator RECAP
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!
————-Are you still motivated and convinced to go ahead? COOL! Let’s see what’s the first steps to do…
- 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)
- Watch some tutorials for the software interface! This programs are pretty complex so at the beginning, just focus on the interface for Animation———————————————————————-
- Study the PRINCIPLES OF ANIMATION
TIMING / STAGING / ANTICIPATION / FOLLOW THROUGH / ARCS / EXAGGERATION and so on…
- 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…
- 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——————————————————————–
- Now you can try with facial expression! Use some references to create some of the more common expressions: HAPPY / ANGRY / SAD / DISAPPOINTED / SCARED——————————————————————–
- 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!——————————————————————–
- Chose a nice rig on the web and create your first ACTING SHOT!
Take a short audio track from a movie and… animate!——————————————————————–
- Create your ANIMATION REEL! Where to mix together the best exercises ands animations you created and …look for a company that needs animators! 😉——————————————————————–
Short guide for those who want to became 3D Character Animator!
Lesson #2 – Creation of a 3D Project RECAP
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:
When a concept, the idea of the project, is approved… we have the permission to move forward. This is a phase called Green Light!
So now we can start with the Pre-Production, this are the main distinct phases:
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)
- 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)
Character / Environment Design
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.
In this step the storyboard artist create a visual description of the entire project divided by sequences and scenes.
- 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)
- 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. A 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.
A cast of voice actor dubb the script so that we will have a voice track to use for the production.
3D Asset Modeling
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.
3D Asset Texturing
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.
3D Asset Rigging
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.
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.
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.
The production started!! Let’s see all the main steps of this phase:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
The same for this process: the sound designer fixes, adjusts, adds, and edits the audio, music and sound fx.
Now the project is done, everything is finished with the approval of the directors and producers, and we can export the final project!
Ok let’s sum up the main job titles:
and…THAT’S IT! 😉
A very fast “tour” in the pahses that make up the creation of a 3D Projects! 🙂
Lesson #1 – Animation Techniques RECAP
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 characterI always says that…as animators we moves and lets speak these characters, in practice, we control their movements like “actors” and… in this way we create the…an 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!
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!!!
Main Animation Techniques
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)
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! 🙂
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.
Here a quick talk about the “role of an Animator” and the “different animations techniques” 😉
What this Blog is about..and why I decided to use “great part” of my free time to create and share this stuff! 🙂
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! 😛
Run Cycle Tutorial recap and TIPS! 😉
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?
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:
1- Straight Leg (sx foot)
12- Straight Leg (dx foot)
1- 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.
3- 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.
5- 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.
8- 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.
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.
Refine 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.
Bend the feet and the Toes
Keep attention to the arcs of the feet (use motion trail if necessary)!!!
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:
- Arms Refine: offset the key of the forearm and the wrist of 2 frames. And…add a variation between the two arms! 😉
– 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:
If you’re planning to start an acting shot, maybe Mary could be the rig for you! 😉
The Rig is well done and functional (the facial blendshapes and controls could be improved IMO)
There’s a set of blendshapes for the facial expressions:
Some hair locks controls:
Deformers controls for arms and legs:
I recently bought this nice pack of Rigs from “Long Winter Member” site:
In the pack we have this 5 Rigs:
The simple and clean design is perfect for body mechanics and action animations.
Run Cycle Tutorial
I’m working on this new tutorial based on this RUN CYCLE made with: Steel Rig
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 CURVES
- COG CURVES
- Hip CURVES
- Chest CURVES
– Female Walk Cycle – Workflow Tutorial –
In this Tutorial I show my personal workflow to create this Female Walk Cycle (in place)
Rig: The Eleven Rig http://elevenrig.blogspot.de/
Animation test with Eleven Rig
A quick animation test I made using Eleven Rig elevenrig.blogspot.com/
Time of work: 4 / 5 hours
Action, Run and Walk Cycle
having fun testing Steel (one of the rig from the Cash Pack) by Long Winter Studio longwintermembers.com/
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