Creative Strategies: Reflection

I have learned a lot from working on the walk cycles, body mechanics and the scene and I have loved every but of it. I was very interested in all aspects of these areas and want to continue to learn more of it. I feel like I have made some portfolio worthy work from the scene and feel happy that I am making more progress in the work that I do. I do feel like I need to look into UV mapping more as well as bump mapping as I would love to add more detail to my models, but I’m certain that with my continued persistence that I will be able to become more confident in these areas. Within these projects team communication and feedback were great, I always got help when I needed it and I was also always there for my other teammates when they needed extra help with these projects as well.

Creative Strategies: Overall Time Management

Time management was great within the team, I was able to meet all of the deadlines that we had set so that we would have time for any problems that may have occurred but luckily not many problems did occur, except for when it came to rendering and the render randomly errored during the night, and noticing that the table was floating in the render but luckily we scheduled that we start rendering 3 days before the final deadline so that we had the time to correct ourselves. As for the Walk Cycle and Body Mechanic I was able to meet the deadline for this and finish them up early so that I was able to focus more on the scene. Below you can see our final asana list for the project;

asanaend

Here is our final prop list that we completed as a team, starting with Robert, Michelle, Kristina then me;

propsasana

Creative Strategies: Sources

Alec Parkin gave us a lecture today and suggested for our research that we should use SketchFab and Artstation so that we can see their process on how the artist made them, as well as their topology. I found that SketchFab was really useful to see how artists do their topology on their models and how they broke down the different areas of the models. Artstation is also a great website to go on for breakdowns of models as they show you how they actually made it and what they would have used. This is a great website to use to learn more about the different areas of animation.

Alec then went on to talk about doing animations for games and that when you’re creating an animation for a game you would have to do multiple animations as unlike movies the character is always on screen and always needs to be doing something even when idle, for example; you would need various movements for a character, run, walk, idle, etc, you never just give them one animation because then it would look weird when you are playing that character or see that particular character in the scene. Game character are usually low poly depending on the platform that the game is going to be on, as well as the directors specifications that they want for the game, this means it relies a lot on high textures to make up for the low poly model and then this makes it suddenly looks high quality. You can definitely see this within models that people have made on Sketchfab, as a lot of artists models are low poly but look beautiful due to their textures.

Going into the gaming industry would be something that I would be highly interested in. Gaming has always been my interest since I was young, it was my release and allowed me to escape into a whole new world.

Creative Strategies: Run Hug Spin!

When it came to deciding what I wanted to do for my Body Mechanics I liked the idea of using both of the rigs, Jack and Jill, and wanted to do something with them. I thought about dancing but I was leaning for towards a hug and was inspired by this animation by Habib Louati who also worked on Despicable Me as a storyboard artist.

 

Since you can’t see the feet in this I didn’t know how to get the right placement and make it look balanced and natural. So I recorded someone else spinning as if they were to be catching someone so I could see the placement of the feet. So basically when someone’s putting pressure on you, your foot going to go back and your heel is going to go down due to the weight, then they weight is on your back food so the other will go round which will start the spin and continue;

I then found this stock video below that was a really big help in finding the right way to do the movement of the body. Although I find that she jumps a bit too late in the video but it still works well to get a better idea on how I want my animation to look;

Click for video source

Using my research I was then able to block out the main frames in the flying hug spin and I then uploaded the blocking in video on sync sketch where is was given feedback, which you can see here;

https://syncsketch.com/playground/d4ee74fd2c9a4c518275fe5a4f5dcc59#113053

Throughout the process of me adding in in-betweens my teammates helped me by giving me feedback. Michelle said I needed to add more weight to my jump and make the legs low better in the spin, which I completely agree with.

I was also recommended that I take the wave out, which I agree with, it is unnecessary and isn’t quite clear why she does it in the first place so it takes away from the overall fell of the animation.

I then took this feedback and created my finalised outcome, I do feel that I went very ambitious with this and I definitely would love to spend more time ironing out the kinks like getting the legs smoother in the spin and making it more weighted in areas. Overall i’m fairly happy with how i’ve done;

Body Mechanics: Research

For the body mechanics part I wanted to do something to show weight, so I looked into different animations that have already been made that show weight and timing really well;

I also looked at Thought of You by Ryan Woodward who is an amazing animator that created a contemporary dance styled animation. This was done beautifully showing the movements really well, as well as the timing and weight. There is parts that go really fast while other go slow all adding to the emotion of it. Not to mention the beautiful poses.

There was a great article made about the Face and Hand Breakdowns of Zootopia which is really useful to see as it shows you their in betweens that they put in to make it look less robotic and more smooth.

Parkour is a popular one that a lot of animators do, there is a lot of running, jumping and face paced movements, you really have to think about weight a balance as it is so important when it actually comes to doing parkour in real life because one slip of your foot and you life is at risk. That’s why people who do parkour are fit and practice in gyms with obstacle courses. I think this would take a lot of time to do because there would be so much going to when you animate it but it’s still something I can consider doing.

Walk Cycle: Trail and Error

Originally for my first walk attempt, I did it from memory of walks that I had looked at online which was not the best idea, but it got me used to the controls so it was definitely good practice. After this I then properly started researching and worked on it more.

For my second walk attempt, I researched more into walk cycle plans which gave me a good idea of where my legs should be positioned at each frame and I imported it into the scene for the walk and animated it to go to the next position every 10 frames so they were evenly spaced and I could tweak the timing easier afterwards.

walkcycleplan
John McMurrough

I started from the bottom up using the walk cycle plan as an image plane in the background to give me a basis for where to place the legs. like mentioned before I spaced each pose frame in tens so that I would have enough space and equally, to then fix later. I positioned the feet first (placement and foot bending, angling them to rotate in a smidge and go in front of the other ) When I got the right placement it was time for the inbetweens, Michelle gave me feedback on how it looked floaty and to add more weight into the legs.

Then the hips, rotating, because I wanted to go for a model type of walk, going off the research from Kristina’s walk, I made the hips sway more. I also made sure to make the hips go in time with the feet. I also moved it up and down to create the “bounce”

Once I got the basic movements of the lower part of the body I then tweaked clipping that was happening in the legs and also added auto-stretch to the legs so that I can have the straight leg still there and have in not click weirdly.

Once the legs looked correct I moved on to the torso and rotated the torso, when the hip rotates up on one side, on the same side the torso will rotate downward

I then moved on to the arms, for this I remembered what I was taught when doing the arm swing last year, the upper arm has the main swing while the elbow then follows through and then the wrist will follow the elbow. I made it more arm like making the follow through more subtle so it still looks like they have control over their arms. I then  used the graph to fix the flapping outwards of the arms when it swung to the middle and moved the arms inward but I kept where it swung in front of the body as it looked less robotic, this then gave me the idea of rotating the elbow more inward when they went past the sides of the body.

fix

Lastly, I moved on to the head and neck to make them less robotic, I made the neck stay straight instead of following the rotations of the torso and then made the head sway slightly as on some walk cycles the head slightly rotates towards the shoulder that is the highest. Doing this gave it a more fluid and realistic look to the walk cycle.

Once I felt I was done I sorted out the timing and made it faster then looped it;

After getting my second attempt done I showed it to my tutor Alec Parkin and my teammates then had a look at my walk cycle and gave me a good few pointers to adjust to my walk cycle “the walk is a good start, looks a little slow/weightless at the moment. Raise the hips a bit as the standing leg goes past the center of the body (standing leg should be mostly straight there)” which I completely agree with.

Kristina and Michelle both had great walks done that looks weighted so I asked for them so help me along the way as I made adjustments and they were always there to help as well as Robert. My teammates said that they like my arm swing and that i got that on point, I just needed to adjust the weight more, which did take me a while to get right but once I got it, it definitely made a whole load of difference.

Taking the feedback into consideration I then took this and created my finalized version. I did want it to be a relaxed walk not too fast, yet not too slow;

Walk Cycles: Recording

Our team got together and decided that it would be a great idea to video ourselves doing different walk cycles. I suggested it would be a good idea to show different angles of the walks so 1 person stood in front, the side and behind. After we had recorded out different walks I used after effects to put the different videos together;

This is really useful as we were able to use this to see how not only the walked, but how the weights in the body movements worked. I want to do feminine type of walk so I think I will focus on Kristina’s walk at 0:23.

I found that if I take the videos that our team took together and play them in quick time I can watch the videos frame by frame and study the walk cycle reference videos by putting the setting to it. This is really useful for when I will be looking into the breakdowns of the walks.

I also looked at different walks that Franis Jasmin had done who uses a lot of exaggeration in the walks that he does and also shows some realistic which is a really nice variation to see;

I also really love this video of a female walk cycle as you can really see what parts of the body are moving and how they are moving, whether they are rotating slightly at the hips and how the torso moves.

Walk Cycle: Unique Walks

I found this interesting article by Jim Giles about how cameras know you by the way you walk, this just goes to show how unique everyone’s walk is and can actually be used almost like our fingerprint. This just puts into perspective that there are an unlimited amount of different walks that can be animated, someone may be heavy footed, while the other could be light footed and this will change the way how they move their weight onto each foot, therefore making a unique walk cycle.

Walk Cycle: Research

Time to move onto the actual walk cycles, but as always we need to start with research! When doing research for walk cycles looking into Weights and Balancing is extremely important to think about, as when you walk your weight shifts to each foot. Balance is also important in your walk cycle as you want it to look realistic and not like your model is going to fall over

Centres of gravity and supportThe muscle factor

Running
Click for source

For a body in motion, we look at things differently. Imbalance is the motor of any motion, in fact you could say motion is a controlled loss of balance. So for this we are going to set aside these two centers as less relevant, only bearing in mind that the further a stance is from the idea of balance described above, the faster, more dynamic, more dramatic the movement it expresses. The following are pointers for kinds of movement that often come up in illustration.

The faster we run, the more we bend forward. The rule here is that, at its fullest extension, the front foot must hit the ground in alignment with the head (or close). If the head is way ahead of the legs, this is an uncontrolled run that can only end flat on its face!

Medlej, Joumana. “Human Anatomy Fundamentals: Balance And Movement”. Design & Illustration Envato Tuts+. N.p., 2014. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.

I also looked at a Life-drawing book by Gottfried Bammes which had a part in it showing the different walks and runs and how these effect the balance and weight of the character. I also love how it shows the skeleton so you can accurately see how the body is posed.

Bammes, Gottfried. Die Gestalt Des Menschen. Leipzig : Seemann Verlag, c2002: N.p. Print.

Robert also shared Alan Becker’s video on explaining walk cycles, this gives you a simplified view on how to get started, the two main walk poses that you need to take into consideration is the contact and passing poses, this will get you started with how you want to position the feet of your walk, you then add in the in between down and up poses so that it wont look flat and without weight. Other factors that you can take into consideration is the timing, position and offset of the character, this way you can also determine the type of walk that your want to do whether is a happy bouncy walk or a sad hunched over walk. This will give your character more emotion, as well as showing weight more clearly.

A user called accioly00 did a study of the walk cycle in isometric perspective. This will come in very useful for when planning our where the different limbs should be positioned and how it should look for all angles.

isometric walk cycle by Accioly00
Click for Source
This walk/run animation by Felix Sputnik has a very stereotypical girl run that is used a lot for females, but it is really well done as it shows weight and balance, as well as the walks and runs being done in different styles. I love this because you can see how he made it the walks and runs smooth from all the different angles. You are also able to see how he move each of the body parts to show a fluid run and walk;

Felix Sputnik also did an animation walk cycle tutorial which covers how to first start a walk, as well as overlapping animation. He also talks about how he used Vector shapes is Flash when he was making the video and took in consideration the perspective that would be used;

Having this project also made me think of Ryan Larkin’s Walking animation that he did in 1968, I have mentioned him in previous blog posts which were about animation history and theory. In his video you can see his take on different walks, you can see how he does it in different angles but it still looks very realistic and smooth, even when some parts are exaggerated it still flows. I love how with each walk that he has illustrated in his animation you are able to get a feel for what the character is like, even with the more silhouetted people at 2:32 onwards hes still able to show their character while making the walk believable and smooth.

The Animators Survival Kit was another book that I read and had very useful information that helps with walk cycles, as well as having great advice from top animators. I love how it goes into detail about the different areas in the walk cycle and what to keep in mind, it is definitely a recommended book to any animator out there.

“A walk is the first thing to learn. Learn walks of all kinds, ’cause walks are about the toughest thing to do right.” Ken Harris

walk1walk2walk3walk4.jpg

Williams, Richard. The Animator’s Survival Kit. London: Faber, 2001. Print.

 

Creative Strategies: Time Management

Time management is extremely important so I immediately set up the Asana group just like last year in our short animation project as it worked so well for us. I put in the tasks with the help of my team and we all discussed when we were wanting to get these tasks done by, while also taking into consideration our other projects that we needed to get done, as well as taking into consideration the fact that there may be times where there are trails and errors that will hold us back or even life events so we will need to make a schedule to suit this.

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