Obstacle Course – Blocking + Disappointment

I hate to start a post off so negative, but I’ve buggered it up and I’m not going to be able to deliver this project.  The first failed project for me period, and it’s a bitter pill indeed.  Following the previous step (2D concept), a game project began which took all my time away for the subsequent two weeks.  I know, I know I shouldn’t have focused on one project only, but I didn’t want to let them down and being a former games student myself I knew how important getting those 3D assets asap meant.  In my ignorance I said the worst statement any project planner could state, “It’ll be fine” as I figured I’d be able to crank this 3D animation project out in one week because 3D reasons and I’m good at 3D, even though I’ve never properly animated in my life.  This sums it up nicely I think.

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But lesson learned and I just have to press on and get as much of it done as possible.  Speaking of lessons learned though boy has this project taught me a lot about body mechanics.  Even the simplest of actions has a chain reaction of movements all designed to weight and counter weight each other in order for balance to be maintained, or not I suppose.  I mean take a look at this picture:

Screenshot 2016-04-30 10.22.35

This pose was one of the first poses I had to do and it literally took me 40 minutes to figure out.  It seems so simple, a character pushing themselves up but the amount of weight shifts through the process and the little tiny details it effects is profound.  So all the weight is primarily on the right hand with the right leg taking the rest.  This means in order to keep the center of gravity stable every spinal/torso section needs to be right side heavy.  From the base of the spine to the head the weight is tilted and emphasizes leaning to the right.  However as the character is pushing himself up with the left leg, the weight needs to have a counterbalance in order to keep from tipping over which is where both arms come into play.  It might seem obvious that the left arm is going back to counterbalance the weight, but the right arm is also adding balance by applying force as it ‘shoves’ off the ground.  How bout this one from different angles:

Weighting helps communicate the emotion of the character as well.  This particular moment is after Mr. Bean notices the huge void he must cross and is in a sort of a queezy daze.  His weak knees depicted by how they’re angled inwards instead of straight and how the character has to lean his weight on the box in order to prevent him from falling down.  So much is going on here that this is another pose that took me the better part of 40 mins to achieve.  The way the characters weight is being supported more from the top side rather then the legs required careful placement of each torso section.  Not only did the force of leaning need to transfer well throughout the spine but the shoulders played its part in allowing the crossover of the arms and emphasize which arm was taking more of the weight.

Apart from the weights, the fundamental principles of animation also enable animations MrBeanBlock_0100to communicate effectively.  I’m fairly green on animation but I am trying to get all the principles into this animatic.  The first one is appeal, this one is so easy because Mr. Bean is totally appealing, you can’t not smile the moment you first see one of his unique postures.

Staging is another principle I’ve used which is imperative really for any animation because when done right, the audience can understand what feelings the character is having in any single pose.  Here’s some good ones:

Stretch and squash can exaggerate a characters pose to also communicate emotion, however I’ve found in 3D so far it’s mainly used in extremes.  Some examples:

 For my methods so far I’m using a combination of straight ahead and pose to pose animation.  Straight ahead is when you create poses one after the other until you reach the end of the scene.  However I’m only using it to act out certain actions so that the block communicates to the audience more effective the chain of actions.  For the most part I’m using pose to pose as it helps me block in the critical elements first and also aids in getting a feel for the timing.

Follow through is another principle I have in which whenever Mr. Bean moves he tends to lead by his hips.

Unfortunately, as I haven’t completed the block yet I can’t really implement the other principles of animation liking timing, slow-in slow-out, and arcs however these are easy concepts to grasp.  Timing is simply the time it takes for each stage of action to be completed.  Slow-in slow-out is where an animation will either start and/or finish slowly then the rest of the animation, like a car coming to a slow halt.  Arcs is the path an animation takes through the air when it has momentum.

Even though I haven’t completed the block yet, I rendered out what I have so I have something to show in class tomorrow to prove I’m not a layabout :s.  I was pleasantly surprised that creating some shot cameras and rendering was straight forward in Maya.  I distinctly remember many frustrations trying to work the same things out with 3DS Max.  For rendering I set the ‘Resolution Gates’ for each camera so that each frame would be rendered into the correct size as per the technical brief which was 1280×720.  This also enabled me to ensure that the animation was safely within the shot frame so none of it would accidentally be cut off.  Then in the render settings I assigned a frame range for each of the cameras that I would then edit later on into a coherent video, checked the colour balance option to enable the JPEGS to apparently be more vibrant and then batch rendered them.  The rendering in Maya is certainly more technical than Max as Max visually shows you the rendering process, where as Maya shows it via script language which is a bit weird for an art specific program.  But then again I’m new to Maya and it might simply be a settings tweak.

That’s it. First part of the block is done and rendered out.  I tried to make each pose as believable as possible using correct weighting, balancing and animation principles but I certainly have a long way to go before I’m comfortable with animation.  Here’s the rendered video to have a snozey at:

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