I want to be…an Animator ✏️Mention


When I started this channel….I just had in mind to create a couple of video tutorials, just for fun and test myself in something new..trying to explain my animation method to others through quick and simple videos demonstrations. I wasn’t sure to be able to do that and I was ready to “delate” the first video uploaded if I would have received a flood of insults 😅But…this didn’t happen and a lot of aspirants animators just founded my videos easy to understand and a font of inspiration, so ..I want to say thanks to all this people that supported this project and when I read my Blog listed in article like “10 Awesome Animation Blogs for your Inspiration”….I just feel happy😁Thanks Florian and Introbrand.com for the mention!!!😊

Tutorial 10 – Breakdown of a Dragon Animation “RECAP”


Here a detailed RECAP of my last Tutorial “Breakdown of a Dragon Animation”

here the Tutorial

indexw

-RECAP-

In this tutorial I’ll show the breakdowns for this animation I made recently

final.gif

 

I will explain STEP BY STEP my process starting from CONCEPT to the FINAL RESULT

In my last lesson I explained the principle of  FOLLOW-THROUGH AND OVERLAP (here the Lesson #09) and I also made a little tutorial “Animate a tail” and a simple exercise for beginners!

Now I want to show you something more advanced: in this shot I have two characters that have parts that perfectly show this principles!

 

We have the tailed head/ball (that I used for the previous tutorial), this character has a very simple and basic animation and then I have this awesome and much more elaborated and advanced rig made by Josh Sobel, called ARC, that has a more complex animation. Arc is a customizable Dragon, with huge wings and big tail that is really perfect to show you the concept of overlap, drag and follow-trough applied to a more complex animation


 -ANIMATIC-

So, for this shot, I started from a SKETCHED ANIMATIC – the 2D animatic is very important to study the rhythm, the story and how to represent the personality of the characters!

sketches.gif
TIP: I’m not a good drawer so for the dragon I first studied the rig and tested some poses that I used as reference for the sketches. It’s a sort of blocking but with very few rough poses that you can exaggerate in 2D and have a better idea of what you need

 


-STORY-

The story of this shot is basically a “Dangerous-playtime” between this little bouncing creature and a young dragon that play with fire!

I imagined that they are actually friends, so…the dragon doesn’t wants to hurt him is just that he’s too ingenious and he has no control of his dangerousness!

 

For the dragon’s attitude I got inspired by my lovely/crazy dog. I had in mind my playtimes with her, that usually gets so excited when we play that she literally loses her control and the play-time becomes actually a “fight”!

 

So, with my little crazy dog in mind, I decided to animate the dragon with a doggy attitude in the first part, when he enters in the shot and when he smells the ground trying to sniff out his friend. And in the final part, when he jumps in the air with his wings and when he goes out of frame, I switch to a more classic dragon attitude

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.33.47.png


-Set the Scene-

So starting from this animatic, I set the scene on maya

For the background I just have a plane and some rocks, something very very simple

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.34.03.png

As usual I use a surface shader so I don’t have to worry about lighting and I have the 2d effects that I personally love.

I set the camera, with the same frame of the animatic

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.34.14

I add a plane in the background where I import the animatic video so that I can use it as reference during the blocking, in this way I can see the timing and the main poses

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.34.26.png


-Tailed Head/Ball BLOCKING-

So now… I import the tailed ball character and I create the blocking

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.34.31.png

I start to pose the “body/head” so I go to hide the tail

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.34.46

I go to animate the creature like a classic bouncing ball but very cartoony, I follow the animatic key poses so we have the bounces at the beginning, I squash it and stretch it and I check the contact with the plane, this pass is very fast cause I have the animatic as reference

 

So, he’s running away from something, he also looks on his back in few frames just to see what’s going on behind him, to check where is his friend and in time to see the flame coming towards him (I add a place holder fire effects just to have an idea of the timing)

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.35.05.png
When he bounces behind the rock he trys to hide himself super frightenedtrying to be as smaller as possible, using his tail as protection

The tail is not very big, I don’t have a lot of control of the shape so what I can do is just to give the idea that the tail covers the body

I also add a very fast shake any 2 frames ’cause he’s trembling

 

 

He hears the dragon coming closer so he has a reaction turning in the opposite direction

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.35.40.png

and…when the dragon jumps on the rock he has a bigger reaction jumping hight in the air (I imagine him screaming here so I add a little shake), and the he just runs away faster then light

 

In a second time I add the tail poses. I follow a path, just like I showed in the previous tutorial, I draw a line on my paper so that I can better follow the arc and I just do this for the length of the shot

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.35.16.png
So this is the ball blocking, I mixed the principle of the bouncing ball but I also added some cartoon movements, it bounces with physic but it’s a character, so it has life and we can break some physic principles or exaggerate them to make it more appealing

 


-Dragon BLOCKING-

Let’s add the dragon

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.36.34

As I said before, this rig has some customizable options, we can change the face design and the texture colour

 

I choose the young version for the head and the black textures

(If you want to know more about this rig I also created a post on the blog or you can just visit the official page

I start to create the main poses, this part it takes most of the time, the character is quite complex, it has a lot of controls and parts to pose, so I take my time….

I use some reference from dogs and dragons

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.37.37.png

I try to make him cute enough: at the beginning he has a very innocent expression

 


He just stands there for a moment, very calm and apparently harmless, his raised leg helps us to catch that he’s looking for something, trying to be quite

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.38.00.png

I continue to block the shot using the animatic as reference for the timing and this is the first pass of blocking for the dragon

First_Blocking_Dragon.gif

There are not too much poses: there’s the first part “the entrance”, we see the forefoot coming in first and I keep this pose with a moving hold

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.39.40

Then we have the reaction, he knows his friend is near there so… before moving forward he makes an anticipation with a jump in the air

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.39.52

First I create the key pose with eyes closed, squashed head, both the legs flat on the ground and the opened wings that he will use as push for the jump within the legs

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.39.57.png

When he moves upward we have the overlap of the wings, we don’t see them cause they are out of screen, but we can imagine that they are pointing downward as reaction to the drag movement of the leading part, the body, same for head and arms that are dragged so they point downward

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.40.09

He makes this arc jumping high and straight first

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.41.32.png

and then he lands forward creating this arc with the body, the tail and the wings

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.41.41.png

Then we have some steps while he’s sniffing the ground

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.41.49.png

I create this curve with the body, the typical exaggerated classic dog sniffing pose, with the upper part of the body almost flat on the ground and the backside pretty up

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.41.54.png

The tail is pretty long so it really has to be soft and smooth and overlap for the entire shot. It always moves creating a nice curve and following the follow through principleSchermata 2017-12-10 a 22.42.42.png

I move each section of the tail with a delay

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.42.47.png

To make the sniffing action readable I add just 2 poses in the blocking, increasing the size of the nostrils, moving up and down the nose and the eyebrows. Is enough to make the action clear in the blocking and then I will smooth it and add more details in the refine

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.42.58.png

He felt something so he turns in the super excited mode

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.43.09.png

I add this big anticipation before he moves forward, just to emphasize the reaction and to create a nice path of action

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.43.39.png

The anticipation is made with the eyes, cause he already looks towards the point where he want to jump

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.43.21.png

and also with the body movement, ’cause he moves backward raising the back, the tail and the wings

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.43.34.png

Then we have the jump poses, always creating a path with body and a different one with the tail

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.43.39

He turns upward the head following his friend movement

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.43.53

And then another jump in the air, flying in place with a couple of movements up and down with the wings, staring at his “prey”

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.43.59.png

l add an anticipation moving backward before going out of frame very fast creating this line of action and with a very aerodynamic pose with the wings closed to the body

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.44.05.png

As I said, in this first pass of blocking I have very few poses but for this kind of animation I want to add some other keys just to make the refine easier

I add some breakdowns here and there and some moving holds, for example I added the leg poses at the beginning:

1) one pose with the raised leg with the toes pointing backward

2) one pose of contact with the toes upward

3) one pose with the leg flat on the ground

Schermata 2017-12-10 a 22.45.00.png

I add more breakdowns and in-betweens during the steps and others for the rest of the shots and this is the second pass of blocking with more keys:

Second_Blocking_Dragon.gif

During all this process I help myself using the silhouette visualization to adjust the poses and check if everything is readable

So… in this phase I focus on the timing and the poses and I watch it and watch it several times to check if everything works well or… if I can do something better or add some poses if necessary 😉


-Tailed Head/Ball REFINE-

The blocking is done and now I can turn off the dragon and refine the head/ball

As before, I hide the tail and I refine and polish the ball, for this character the refine process is pretty easy, there’s not much to polish, I just use a lot the graph editor to make the ball movements clean and smooth, I check the arcs first for the ball/body, and then for the tail

 

I also adjust the tail poses frame by frame in some parts, where I want to exaggerate the shapes or add some further movements

Here the Head(Ball Refine

Ball_Refine.gif


-Dragon REFINE-

Then I turn on the dragon again for the refine

I switch all the curves in auto tangent and this is how it looks like (I didn’t touch anything, this are just the blocking poses switched to auto)

Spline_Dragon.gif

and ….it defenetly needs a lot of work! 😀

I start splitting the scenes in different sections, for example: I start to refine the part when he enters in the screen and I stop before the jump. So… I reduce the range of the time slider

I go to adjust spacing, contacts, breakdowns for the entire shot but moving forward by a range of frames, splitting the scene following the different actions, refining them one by one

I draw the path on my transparent paper so I can easily follow the path with each part of the body, frame by frame I go to adjust the poses where needed

When you refine an animation can happen that you just realize that you need to change a bit the timing or the spacing of your blocking! It happens, some movements result too slow after you switch from stepped to spline or vice versa, so in this cases…just move your keys to reach the better result or add more breakdowns that were not necessary in the blocking but that you need in the refine!

With a loooot of patience I finish the refine of entire shot, I can’t show you each step ’cause it would take too much time


For the entire shot I spent 5/6 hours for the blocking (for both the characters) and around 15 hours for the refine

I add the motion blur in the render, the the 2D fire effect I made and…that’s the final result!

final


I hope you enjoy this video, show the entire process for the creation of a shot is not easy and I tried to show the most important steps for me.

When you plan a good and efficient blocking, the refine process will be easier so… see you for the next lesson and tutorial, thanks for watching! 😉

In a Heartbeat – short movie


The animated short movie many animators (and not only them) were waiting for!

Hey guys! I’m really excited today ’cause I’ve seen this beautiful and touching piece of animation that I want to share with you! 🙂

iNaHeartbeat2017.png

Finally, someone brought up a theme that has never been addressed so directly, so far…

Beth David and Esteban Bravo just did it, and in the more adorable and subtle way as possible.

In their animated short movie “In a Heartbeat” they follow this super cute redhair boy in an internal conflict (not so internal…actually :D) while the boy he likes is walking to school.

“A closeted boy runs the risk of being outed by his own heart after it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams” this is the plot… and I just love it! 🙂 (from the official Facebook Page In a Heartbeat – Animated Short Film)
The idea of this little “brave” heart popping out of his chest… is just BRILLIANT!
Or, do we want to talk about the moment when the heart/boy touches his hair….. ? Beautiful…

I found this short really INSPIRATIONAL, you know…. when I see this kind of things I really believe that we do “the best job in world”
Besides this, I really loved the character design, renders and…..the MUSIC! When everything can be told with not a single word…. really well done!

So, all my respect to this two great guys and…Thanks for made me dream today! 😉
I really look forward for new projects from you! 😉

Ok, now… LET’S GO BACK TO ANIMATE!!! 😀

The creators:

Lesson #8 – ANTICIPATION


A new Lesson available! This time talking about ANTICIPATION and the different types of animations that need it! 😉

In the Lesson I’m using my NEW “cute and super cool” (♥) personal and official channel’s rig INK!!! 😛


Anticipation RECAP

One of your first goal, when your are creating an animation, should always be to make something that is perfectly readable! You can create awesome poses and have a great concept, but…if you don’t make it clear and readable… would be impossible to catch the sense of what you are trying to communicate!Anticipation01.png

Anticipation02.png

that’s why we use ANTICIPATION! That, as the word suggest, is nothing more than the “preparation to the action”!

We can haveAnticipation03.png

let’s see some example:Anticipation03b.pngwhen the movement of a body (or an object) prepares for an action

Example #1: if a character throws something far, he would prepares the action by moving back the arm with the object (preparing for the throw)

In this way he will have enough energy but this movement also prepares the users for what will happen. From this anticipation, you already can imagine that he will throw the object!

Example #2: a character running out of the screen, is made more readable thanks to an anticipation of the character moving in the opposite direction and raising one leg!

This helps the user to read a very fast action. Without this anticipation…. the user could have some problems to read the scene!

Example #3: or you can use it for a very cartoon effects…. or for something more realistic, with a much more soft anticipation!


Anticipation09.png

Another way to use an Anticipation is to create a funny effects!
Example: if you see the same run anticipation of the run we’ve seen before, you imagine that he will run away super fast…but…adding a pretty slow run just after this big anticipation…you will create an unexpected result!Run_Fun.gif


Anticipation10Or… you can use it to direct the attention to something that is going to happen or leading the eye in the right screen area.

Example #1: if your character is standing in the middle of the screen and something is going to enter from the right, if you don’t add an anticipation, the users would probably miss the first part (when the second element is entering in the screen) ’cause you are looking at the character in the center.

But…if you add an anticipation of the character looking on the right your attention would be re-directed in the right area, just in time to better follow the action!

Example #2: in case the character is going to take something, a fast look at this object prepares the users to what he’s going to do

Or you can use the anticipation with the hand, holding it in the air for few frames, this is an other way to communicate to the user that he’s going to take the glass!


Anticipation15.png

Example: thanks to the anticipation you can better feel the weight of the character in two different jumps.

In the one on the left he makes a soften anticipation cause he’s pretty light.

In the one on the right he’s bringing an heavy backpack so he needs more energy for the jump, he needs a stronger anticipation, bending and keeping this pose a bit more


Anticipation17.png

depends on the action!

Usually with fast action or big change in position we need more anticipation!

Like for the fast run or the cartoon one, both this examples has big anticipation, and a very fast action just after them!
Or, an angry reaction like, a character smashing a door, would require a big anticipation to enphasize the action and after, the door is closed in very few frames


Anticipation20.pngSome Anticipation must be really subtle!

Example #1: an hand that is going to grab a light object would have an almost imperceptible anticipation! The hand just goes upwards for few frames before going down to grab the apple

Example #2: in a simple take we have a little anticipation, a very small movement with the character moving upwards before the take, few frames of anticipation, is there but it’s not so visible


Anticipation24

Example: the door settle doing little movements back and forward in few framesAnticipation25


Anticipation26.png

You absolutely don’t need an anticipation for every single movements of your character…with practice and experience you will get used to it and you will naturally know when an action need it, as I said, usually we use it before big and or fast action, but also to make the movements more fluid and readable! 😉


Now that you know how to use ANTICIPATION you can follow the Tutorial #08 “How to Animate a Throw” and try to do de Exercise #4 following the steps of the tutorial! 😉

My Animations


11 Second Club – February Competition

I had some free time last month so I attended for the first time the 11 Second Club Competition 🙂

Time of work: 3 days
Rig: Eleven RIg http://elevenrig.blogspot.de/
Audio from the movie “Ghostbusters” 2016

Ref_Lesson #4


Lesson #4 –Principles of Animation RECAP

here the LESSON

The secret of animation is enclosed in the Principles of Animation!

That you will have to learn, understand and well “impress” in your mind if you want to became a good animator! 😉principlesAnimation.png

but let’s quickly see “how animation works” first. The first thing you should understand is that animation is composed by:

A timeline (the series of frames that compose each seconds, sequenced over the time)keys1.png

On this frames we create some KEYS (the poses that we create and impress in the timeline, in the software are represented by the red stick)

we start setting the KEY POSES, the most important and stronger poses that describe the action (in case you are doing an Acting animation) or the EXTREME KEYS (in case we are doing an action or something connected to body mechanic like a walk cycle)  this are the pose at the start and the end, or the extreme lower and higher position, or the forward and backward. keys3.png

Between the Key poses (or the extremes)  the software will create an automatic linear interpolation, too avoid a mechanic and linear movement we add some BREAKDOWN KEYS approximately in the middle of the 2 key poses, and can be called also Passing Positions cause are the poses that we have during the movement from A to B, “how we reach position B from position A”. keys4.pngAfter the breakdown, we go to create some  IN-BETWEENS KEYS (it’s not necessary to have a key on each frames, but just the strictly necessary to have a nice movement). With the in-betweens we take control of the interpolation created by the software: adjusting positions, spacing, arcs and so on.keys5.png

Clear? 🙂 Let’s sum it again:mainterms

Ok! Let’s see all the Principles of Animation, that were showed in the amazing book “Illusion of life” by two Disney Animators in 1981:illusionLife1.png

———————

Let’s start …!

timing1.pngThe TIMING is the speed and the rhythm of your animation, it change depending on where you set the Extreme Poses.

MORE FRAMES: slower movement

LESS FRAMES: faster movementtiming1.pngtiming


spacing1.pngThe SPACING is the variation of the speed during the change of position

SLOW SPACING: less change in position

FAST SPACING: more changespacing2.pngspacing.giftiming_spacing.png


slowInslowOut1.pngSLOW-IN & SLOW-OUT are used to  soften the movement at the start and the end. To make it more fluid and nice to see, we manage the position of the in-betweens, if we move the in-betweens closed to the starting pose, the extreme one, the movement will starts slower, and if we do the same for the in-betweens closed to the final pose, the last extreme, the movement will also ends slower.slowin_slowout


squash_stretch1.pngA bouncing ball would STRETCH its volume before the contact and would SQUASH when it’s on the ground. During a walk the body chest would squash when the body go down, because of the weight, and would stretch when the body go up. In facial, when a character close his eyes (especially during a big change of expression) it would squash the head when the eyes are closed, and would stretch for few frames when it open the eyes again.squashStretch2.pngsquashStretch3.pngsquash_stretch


anticipation2.pngThe ANTICIPATION is used to make a movement more readable or to create a more cartoon funny effects, it’s a movement that happens before the main one, usually in the opposite direction.
If the object moves forward, we add a backward movement 3 or 4 frames before. anticipation1.pnganticipation1anticipation3.pnganticipation2


follow1.pngIf we are animating a character turning from right to left and the head leads the movement, the rest of the body follow the head. So the head moves first, then the chest, then the arms and so on. This parts FOLLOW the head movement. During this movement we can have different reactions of each parts: before turn on the left, the arms could bend in the opposite direction, OVERLAPPING the ACTION.follow2.pngfollow_trough.gif


secondary2.pngTo make the action more interesting, or to make the intentions and the emotions of the character more clear, we can use SECONDARY ACTIONS to intensify the general feeling of the animation. During a walk, the main action is the movement of the feet and hip, but we can make the character turning his head looking around or the arms swinging, this are secondary actions.secondary4.pngsecondary1.pngsecondary_actions.gif

 


exaggeration.pngWhen we create a pose, we can EXAGGERATE it to make it more appealing, or during a movement we can make it stronger and extreme to emphasize it. NEVER BE AFRAID TO EXAGGERATE! 😀 Always think, is interesting or readable enough? Take inspiration from reality but always add your creativity!exaggeration2.pngexaggeration


appeal2.pngAPPEAL MAKES THINGS INTERESTING!

The APPEAL of a character mostly depending on the design and the story, but…we can make it more strong with poses and animation. Emphasize a pose to make the appeal of the character instantly readable!appeal.png


arcs2.pngAny movement we create, follows a path and generate an invisible ARC.

A smoothed, circular arc makes the movement fluid, more realistic and nice to watch. A straight path makes thinghs more mechanic.arcs.png


staging.pngWhen we create a shot, first of all we need to plan what where are going to show and we will try to focus the attention in the correct way, so we need to work on the STAGING. Setting the camera, the character and any other assets in the scene in a way that the main action is clearly readable and with a good rhythm, so that anybody can follow the scene and well understand what’s going on!staging1staging2staging4


poseToPose.pngThere are two way to start an animation: STRAIGHT AHEAD & POSE TO POSE

If you chose for STRAIGHT AHEAD means that you start creating the first pose and you go “straight ahead” up to the last one.streightahead.pngIf you chose for POSE TO POSE means that you start creating the main poses, the ones necessary to tell the story and better describe the main actions, and in a second time you go to add the other poses, breakdowns and in-betweens.posetopose1.png


This was just a quick explanation of the Principles of Animation, in the next lessons I’ll go trough and deeper to explain each of this principles !

So… don’t miss the next lesson: TIMING!

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

——————–

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

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

————-

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)

——————————

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

————-

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

————-

Vocal Trackslesson0002_45productionstage

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

——————-

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

——————-

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

——————

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

—————-

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.

———————

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.

——————–

PRODUCTIONlesson0002_03productionstage

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

——–

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

————

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.

————

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.

——————–

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.

—————

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.

—————

Sound Editinglesson0002_76productionstage-copy

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

———-

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!

——————
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! 🙂

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.

TipRun_05

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.

z_curves_foot.pngBend the feet and the Toes

footBendings.png

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:

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:

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/

—————–

“Female Walk Cycle” – RECAP (INTERMEDIATE)

In general, before you start your cycle, you need to decide what type of walk you want to create, the style, the timing, the mood of the characters etc…

Make a research, shoot yourself, watch other walks, make some test. There’re infinite ways to walk and it’s important to chose the right one for your character!

In this tutorial I show you a very fluid and sinuous walk (I made this choice ’cause I wanted play with overlap) 😉

This are the KEY poses for this walk, focusing just on the HIP and LEGS (and below the hip positions in the in-betweens)

You can see the 2 CONTACT POSE with opposite foot leading (the foot forward), the DOWN position with the extreme DOWN pose of the hip, the PASSING and the UP with the extreme UP hip position.

Before start to pose the character, I usually hide the parts of the body I don’t want to see for the moment, I will start posing the legs and the hip, so I temporarily hide all the other faces

To do that, just create a new material (a lambert) and make it transparent, then select the mesh and the faces you want to hide and assign them this transparent material

After that, I also assign 2 different colors to legs and arms to better visualize left and right

-CONTACT-

We start from the CONTACT POSE. Use a SIDE VIEW and move a bit downward the body, then select the leading foot (in this case is the right one) and move it forward (the leg is straight, not bended) and rotate the foot upward so that just the heel touches the ground.

Move back the left foot and with the foot rool pose it so that the heel starts to leave the ground

In the FRONT VIEW move on X the feet so that they are almost aligned in the center of the body, one in front of the other

Then we copy the same pose at the end of our cycle (frame 31) and in the middle (frame 16) we add an other key, but this time we mirror the pose of the feet (now the left foot is the leading one)

To mirror the pose: go on frame 1, select the right foot ctrl and right-click on the timeline and select COPY, then select the left foot ctrl and move on frame 16 and right-click…PASTE. Then go in the channel box and change the + with the – (or viceversa) for the axis that are opposite for the other foot (translation X, rotation y and Z)

Again, go on frame 1, select the left foot ctrl, COPY, select the right foot ctrl and go on frame 16, PASTE, and mirror values. Do the same for the knee ctrl!

-DOWN-

Now select all the ctrls and in the graph editor be sure to have the tangents in SPLINE (or Auto), then select just the feet ctrls and switch to LINEAR the part where the feet slide on the ground

At frame 3 set at 0 all the rotations of the right foot (now it touches completely the ground), move downward the body (here it reaches his lowest position)

On the left foot increase the values of the foot rool so that now it’s alsmost detached from the ground, it touches it just with the toes

Both the legs now are bended!

-PASSING-

At frame 8 we create the passing pose, the moment when both the legs are aligned in the middle of the center of gravity, the left foot is moving forward and the right foot…backward

The body started to go UP again, the right foot is still complately flattened on the ground and the left foot is in the air (rotated downward and translated and rotated a bit externally)

Keep attention to balance the body in this pose. The right foot must be perfectly on the center of gravity (’cause all the weigth is on this foot now)

-UP-

On frame 12, move the body upward (this will be his highest position), the left foot is almost forward, pointing upward and the leg is a bit bended

The right foot is flattened on the ground but the heel started to detach from the ground a bit

Let’s copy and mirror the DOWN (frame 3), PASSING (frame 8) and UP (frame 12) poses on the other half of the cycle: mirrored DOWN (frame 18), mirrored PASSING (frame 23), mirrored UP (frame 27)

Switch ALL the curves in STEPPED and make a playblast!

-HIP BLOCKING-

Now we can add the HIP movement! Funny part 😉

Schermata 2017-07-18 a 10.48.57.png

In the contact pose (frame 1), the weight of the character is on both the feet, but we translate a bit the hip on the left, and  rotate it towards the left foot on Y and a bit on the left on Z so that we will have a big change of rotation of the hip between down and passing pose!

Then we skip for a moment the down pose, and we move directly on frame 8 (passing pose) and here we have a completed change of the weight on the righ foot, so we translate the hip on the right and we rotate it on Y and Z towards the right foot (this is the extreme hip pose on the right side)

Now add a key on the down pose where you just have to slow down the spacing between contact and down, so rotate the hip a bit on the left so that is more similar to the position at frame 1! In this way we have a slow spacing between contact and down, and a speed spacing between down and passing!hipROT

 

Do the same for the other stride. Move on frame 23 and create the extreme hip pose on the left side (copy the pose of frame 1 and increase the translation on the left and both the rotation of Y and Z)

Now you have an interpolation between frame 8 and frame 23 where the hip moves from right to left, add a key on frame 12 and move it to frame 16 (in order to slow down the spacing between the passing and the contact position and speed it up between contact and passing of the following step – between frame 16 and 23)

Now add a key again on frame 12 (just keep the interpolation)

On frame 31 just copy the pose of frame 1 and then add a key on frame 27

That’s it! So…the big change of position for the hip happens very fast (3 frames) between the contact – passing pose (this makes a more “sashay” effect)

When you are happy with the result…go forward with the REFINE! 😉

For this walk I just animate in Blocking the legs , the body and the hip, ’cause are the more complicated parts in a walk, and I will animate chest, head and arms directly in spline!Schermata 2017-07-18 a 10.49.49.png

 

Switch the curves in STEPPED and create a playblast! 😉


-REFINE-

Start refining what you animated so far, legs and body. In the graph editor switch again all the tangents in SPLINE (or AUTO) except for the translation Z of the feet in the part where they slide on the ground, that must be LINEAR

After that, cycle ALL the CURVES (pre and post infinity) and adjust the transition at the start and the end, using flat tangents (when you have just two extremes keys) or using the handles. REMEMBER to adjust the tangents of the first and last keys together at the same time (they must be the same)

If you want you can check my tutorial on the use of the Graph Editor and “Create a Cycle Animation”  –  minute 4.32 (also explained here )

-BODY (COG) REFINE-

Select the body (COG) ctrl

cog_ctrl

and add a small movement left and right: on frame 1 move it a bit on the right (copy the same value on frame 31) and on frame 16 move it a bit on the left. In the graph editor select the X axis and make the first and last keys FLAT

Then, keep open the graph editor and select the traslation Y and polish the curves

The result should be like this:

-LEGS/FEET REFINE-

foot_ctrl

At this point I just animate 1 leg and then I copy/past the animation on the other one (but if you prefer you can animate both the legs separately to have less symmetry in the walk). During the blocking is important to have both the legs animated to check timing and poses but now…you can hide one leg and animate just the other one! 😉

On frame 2 adjust the right foot and make it flat (set at 0 all the rotations) and animate the toes cntrl that must point upward (it doesn’t touch the ground yet)frame2.pngNow animate the TOES (offsetted from the foot movement) for the entire range of animation (ex. when the foot moves upward the toes point downward and viceversa)

If you have it, use DEFORMERS ctrls to adjust arcs and legs shapes! They will help to smooth your animation 😉

Now clean the path of your foot movement (you can see my tutorial on “How to REFINE a shot” minute 5.40 where I also explain the use of motion trails to adjust the arc!)

You have to create a nice, rounded and smooth arc for your feet! 😉

Also, you can use the knee deformer to avoid POP result during contact and down pose!

The KNEE should have a smoothed movement just like the feet but sometimes you could have a bad effects due to the movement of foot and body, in this case a knee deformer can helps you (animate it frame by frame during the contact and down positions)

Now you can polish the curves of the foot:

When you are happy with the result, copy/paste the animation on the other foot!

Remember to past the animation of ALL the controls you used for the first foot (foot, toes, knee, deformers etc…)

To copy the animation: select one control at the time, example: select right foot ctrl, in the timeline select the entire range of animation, right-click COPY –> select the same ctrl on the left foot, point on frame 1 and right-click PASTE

Do the same for ALL the controls and after that you should have the feet with the same animation at the same time (they should move together)

Select ALL the controls used for the left leg and, in the Graph editor, select all the curves and drag them forward in the timeline (the first keys should be at frame 16, exactly in the middle of the cycle)

Check you animation, does it works? Ok, now go back in the graph editor, with the same ctrls selected of the left foot, and add a key at frame 31, select all the keys after this one (31 included) and drag them backword up to frame 1, now copy the keys at frame 1 to frame 31! That’s it!

You can watch my tutorial “Run Cycle” minute 10.56 where I show how to copy/paste animation from a foot to an other! 😉Schermata 2017-07-19 a 17.47.10.png

Now polish the curves of the HIP ctrl and… you should have something like this 😉

-CHEST REFINE-

Chest controls (in my case I have 3 ctrls)

Schermata 2017-07-18 a 10.52.42.png

I use the upper ctrl to add a squash and stretch (I can use the other 2 just for rotation)

Use the rotation Y to add a visible Up and Down, the chest should squash with a bit of delay from the Up and Down of the body: with the Low extreme position between the Down Pose and the Passing Pose (around frame 5 or 6) and the Highest extreme position between the Up pose and the Contact pose (around frame 14/15)

To do that: add a key at frame 1/16/31, then on frame 8 translate a bit downward the chest, and on frame 14 a bit upward. Then copy the pose at frame 8 on frame 23, and copy the pose of frame 14 on frame 29. Now select the handles of the first and last key and smooth the transition


Now we add a bit of Rotation on Y

select all the 3 chest ctrls together and on frame 1 (with the right leg leading) rotate the chest on the left (copy this pose on frame 31), on frame 16  (with the left leg leading) rotate the chest on the right

Offset 2 of this controls, select the one in the middle, select all the keys and move them forwards in the timeline by 8 frames (so now the first keys is on frame 8), then add a key on frame 31, copy this key on frame 1 and delate the key on frame 38. Now select the handles of the first and last keys to smooth the transition

Then select the upper control and move all the keys forwards (so that the first keys is on frame 16) then copy the key on frame 31 and paste it on frame 1 and delate the keys on frame 46!

So now the upper part of the chest is rotated opposite to the leading leg!


Now use the same process to rotate the chest on X, a small rotation back and forth. You can use just the upper ctrl of the chest: add a key on the rot X on frame 1/16/31, then on frame 8 rotate a bit the upper chest forwards, and on frame 14 a bit backwards, then copy the keys on frame 8 and past it on the other stride (frame 23) and the copy/paste the key of frame 14 on the frame 29. In the graph editor select the handles of the first and last keys and adjust them to smooth the curve, the adjust also the handle of the frame 16

Chest_ctrl


-ARMS REFINE-

Just as for the legs, you can animate one arm and then copy/past and mirror the animation on tje other one (or, especially for the arms, you can animate both of them separately, I always suggest to add a bit of variations in the arms movement! 😉

The arm are in FK, and you have 3 controls: arm, forearm, wrist + the shoulder ctrl

Before animate the arm, pose the fingers in a natural and relaxed pose (avoid rigid pose, ore fingers too separated between each other, or “paddle hand” effect)Schermata 2017-07-18 a 10.58.05.png

First of all we set the 2 main key poses in the contact pose (frame 1/16/31).

The arms always move in the opposite direction of the foot on the same side

On frame 1 we have the right foot forward, so we move back the arm (the 3 controls) and also the shoulder (for the shoulder you can also use a bit of translation back and forth)

Choose a natural and armonic pose of the arm, use deformers to adjust it or make it a bit more rounded and “soft”

When you have done with the first pose, copy all the 3 ctrls + the shoulder (and the deformers if you used them) on frame 31

On frame 16 create the opposite pose, with the arm rotated forward (and the shoulder also translated a bit forward)

Now create the passing pose (around frame 8) and, it depends on the pose you choosed for you arm, in my case I keep the arm straight during the passing pose and I break the joint a bit (rotating the forearm and the wrist backward and using the deformers)arm1

Now select the forearm and offsett it by 1/2 frames from the arm

Then polish the curve in the graph editor and do what you have done for the chest to keep the animation in the range of 31 frames

Select the wrist and now offset it by 1/2 frames from the forearm this time (add some in-betweens to overlap)

Then polish the curve in the graph editor and again, keep the animation in the range of 31 frames

When you have done, copy/paste mirror on the other arm or, as I said before, animate it separately!

Arm1.gif


-HEAD REFINE-

Let’s move to the head! First of all, add a nice and relaxed expression to the character, keep attention to the eyes look direction, we need the feeling that the character is looking at something to keep it aliveSchermata 2017-07-18 a 12.43.59.png

For the head we just go to add a small X rotation back and forth, following the back and forth movement of the chest: frame 5/6 extreme forward rotation, frame 13/14 extreme backward rotation

I also add a bit of animation to the hair, this rig doesn’t has hair ctrls, so I directly animated the mesh so…is something you can do just for your animation test but NOT IN PRODUCTION 😀Schermata 2017-07-18 a 10.59.49.png


-BREAST REFINE-

In this particular animation (due to the character design) is interesting to add a nice and exaggerated animation of the brest (just to have more overlap!)

We can translate and rotate them in order to create a circular movement + an Up and Down (use motion trail if needed) and animated them offsetted by 1/2 frames! 😉


THA’S IT! 🙂

So, don’t be shy and send me your walk cycle adding a link to your video in the page “YOUR ANIMATIONS”  to receive my feedback! 😉

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