Saturday, November 24, 2007

iTutor Update _Part 1

I am a little behind in posting my progress but, hopefully that will change. I am heading into my 3rd week with Pixar animator, Stephen Gregory, and so far its been more the worth it. Going one on one with him really opens my eyes to certain aspects of my work that I have either neglected to focus on, or otherwise just really need to work harder on.

So before I go into any sort of recap I just want to give a few plugs to the other lucky animators being tutored by Stephen. And a few of them are blogging their progress as well.

Bobby Pontillas
Dave Vasquez
Adam Gard
Sandra Murta
Jim Levasseur

Ok an now for somewhat of a recap of my first week or two....

I have to admit that making the transition from 2D to 3D animation has definitely produced its difficulties. One is getting used to manipulating the characters in 3D space and using Maya as a tool. But like any animation tool, whether it be pencil and paper, Flash, clay, sand, or paper cut outs, it's still animation, and the basic principals will always apply, so it's just a matter of becoming familiar with the new tool.

One such difficulty I have come across in Maya, is maintaining my arcs on every part of the character. You'll see what I mean in my first assignment below, but I just to comment on it now, and hopefully it will make sense. When you animate a character in 2D, you have total control in how you draw a pose since you don't have to deal with the 3rd dimension, but rather you are creating an illusion of depth. So you can cheat perspective, volume, and depth just by drawing the proper line. But in 3D you don't have that kind of control, because there is the 3rd dimension. And even though when you pose the character he may be anatomically in the correct position, when looking through your shot camera you can easily lose an arc of the motion because that arc may be running parallel to the camera plane, thus giving the illusion of the motion being in a straight line. Now I am not sure if that makes sense, but if you look at my assignment below, watch when my heavier character's chest as squats down into his antic, and then pushes off into his jump. It looks like he is going up and down in a straight line, when in fact he is bending forward. So to remedy this, Stephen says sometime you need to cheat certain attributes so that the arcs become more apparent in the perspective in which you are viewing the motion . So for example, Stephen says that maybe if I pull the hips back a little further and arc the back a lil more, which in any other perspective may look a little unnatural, it'll restore the illusion of an arc in the camera view.

The first assignment was to animate a character jumping with specific personality and or characteristics. For example a fat guy jumping, or a confident guy, a light person skipping....etc. I chose to do a heavy guy jumping into the arms of a lighter guy. As you will see the heavier guy is the only one thats fully animated (for now) but they will both be finished at a later date. Ok enough blabbing, here is my first assignment, pre notes from Stephen.

There are a couple other areas where I need to adjust the character to get better arcs and better posing as well. Particularly in the arms, there are a few moments where the forearm and hands get lost in the bicep, creating kind of a stump if you were to look at the silhouette of the character, so Stephen recommended I drag the hand and forearm a little more during those moments to get the separation for a better pose. This too goes along with what I am talk about in terms of getting used to that third dimension. When drawing the character, I would have already avoided that by specifically drawing the drag in the arm, or separating the hand and forearm. But since the character is moving in the third dimension I need to pay more attention to every pose to make sure that the pose/arc/motion doesn't get lost in the shot because of the perspective in which the camera is viewing it, and if it does, I need to make the proper adjustments to restore that illusion.

Other than that, Stephen's biggest note was evenness in the beginning. He illustrated it to me by counting the number of frames it took to get from one pose to another, as well as the number of frames I held on certain moment. He says this is something almost every animator struggles with from time to time, which was reassuring, but he said that by just taking a closer look at the frame counts for each action, and making sure there is some variety in the durations of thing by adding or shaving frames here and there, you can easily remedy that. So you know what I am talkin about, I uploaded one of the video notes Stephen sent to me, illustrating the evenness of the beginning.

I plan on going back in and revising this animation to completion, but for right now it is a work in progress. The other great thing about this tutoring is that Stephen and I can share our computer screens with Macs new OS, so he can point things out, make notes and sketches right on my work as if he were sitting right next to me.

I am very thankful for this opportunity, and hopefully I'll be able to take my work to the next level. I hope even the slightest bit of this made sense for those who care, and for those who don't I hope you at least enjoy some of the work I post.

All the best, and check back soon for the next installment of my second assignment!!

Thanks for stopping by!!


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cold Hard Flash

I know I know, less talk and more sketches. I promise, soon. But for now, check out

Some of my recent work that I did for Brooklyn based, Dancing Diablo is featured on it under Monday's date. Check it out!

Thanks Aaron!