ANIMATION WORKSHOP OUTLINE
::DISCLAIMER: This information is a compilation of notes from various sources. I would like to credit the following people for their knowledge and inspiration: Mike Thurmeier, James Chiang, Tom Saville, Juan Carlos Navarro, Carlos Baena, and Keith Lango
useful animation websites referenced for this workshop:
Great Rigging Books:
Great Rigging DVD:
Before We Get Started:
1. Setting up your work environment
1. Explain body language/facial expressions - "great poses make great animation"
5. The basic head turn
1. Fundamentals of timing
1. Working with dialogue - "Acting has almost nothing to do with words. Its about the emotion behind the dialog"
Evaluate your animation:
~ use the following checklist to evaluate your shot (www.keithlango.com)
1. wrist- you need to keep an eye on these to fight that marionette feel
2. elbows- if you're using IK arms, then you absolutely MUST check your elbow arcs
3. feet- track the heel & the toes to see if you're getting clean arcs on both
4. head- the most obvious motion hitches will show up in the head. It's usually a torso problem, it just shows up in the head arc
5. knees- watch for pops and skips
6. hips- the center of mass is vital to believable weight, so check the hip arcs.
8. props- so many time we forget that the prop the character is holding/using is as important to the motion as the character
9. eyes- when they turn, are they linear turns? If so, add some arc.
10. face (lipsync)- make sure your face doesn't linearly go from static morph target to target. The face needs to feel organic.
11. tails- way overlooked, and very tricky to get right.
12. check break downs and make stronger if needed- weak arc? Push that breakdown pose.
13. no two motions should have same arcs- feels very unnatural. Weave the arc lines like a tapestry of interesting motion.
14. cross arcs and overlap for interest
∑ Have you pushed your line so it reads clearly?
∑ Is your line interesting?
∑ Is your line strongly concave or convex?
∑ When going from one pose to another can you invert your lines for stronger contrast?
∑ If all you had was one still frame to show for this pose, is your line of action capturing the kinetic energy of your character like a good illustration would?
∑ Check for twins. Shifting one arm by a frame or two is not fundamentally addressing the issue of twinning. You need more than that.
∑ Does it fit for you to offset the hand from the elbow? The elbow from the shoulder?
∑ For this move should your arms lead the torso or do they follow it's weight?
∑ For this move should your hand lead the arm or follow it's weight?
∑ Does your upper torso move independently from your hips?
∑ For this move, should the head lead or follow?
∑ Have you seen if offsetting your rotation keys from the translation keys adds any life to the character? How about individual rotation channels from each other?
∑ Do your fingers each move independently from the other fingers?
∑ Should your fingers flow after the hand or stay tight to it?
∑ Is this the right place to use the offset (aka "pixar") blink?
∑ Are you overlapping too much? Is it too soft? (mushy)
∑ Are you not overlapping enough? Is it too hard? (sticky)
∑ Are your motions distracting? (poppy)
∑ Does it feel like your ease outs are too linear? (robotic)
∑ Will this move benefit from the successive breaking of joints?
∑ Do your body parts overlap with believable physics? Are the hands too slow (heavy) or too fast (light)?
∑ Donít blindly trust overlap or lag plug insÖ check each frame for accuracy.
∑ Does the size of the anticipation match the speed of the subsequent action?
∑ Does your character flow well from one thing to another? Should they?
∑ Does your character's body language and gestures' energy match tone & energy of the dialogue?
∑ Look for ways to build texture into a shot- building across phrases and releasing. Not every pose or move is the same length.
∑ Move your character around on their feet to keep them believable. Nothing says "I'm not believable" like frozen feet.
∑ Does the energy of your character keep building up during hold when appropriate? tip: if the pose hit didn't have an extreme with a recoil, but is rather meant to build energy for release (like an anticipation hold) then you'll keep growing the energy up into the pose, like a long ease into the extreme.
∑ Does the energy of your character keep settling with gravity during hold when appropriate? tip: If the pose hit had a settleback after an extreme, you'll generally want to keep the held energy settling into gravity.
∑ Are you motions too even across the shot?
∑ Are all the motions too fast?
∑ Are they too slow?
∑ Do you have an appropriate mix of fast moves verse slower ones?
∑ Be aware of the appropriate speed for a given set of appropriate actions.
∑ Mix up the pacing of motion. Fast flurries followed by long simmering holds. Great contrast.
∑ Don't make every move the same speed & flavor.
∑ Favor the anticipation or the breakdown or the ease out. Meaning: think what works best for a given action- slow in/fast out? Or fast in/slow out? Or even in/out but fast breakdown in the middle?
What would Character A move like compared to character B?
∑ Do your poses read clearly in plain black & white?
∑ Funky lines in the silhouette? Check elbows to see if they're sticking out unnaturally.
∑ Check spine & your line of action.
∑ Think of ways to compressing the pose/action into planes in space for cleaner reads. Perpendicular to camera plane, or parallel to it. think Woody's "cool sheriff" walk from the cardboard box in Toy Story 2. Look at how his motion is compressed into a single easy to read plane that is parallel to the camera plane.
∑ Check for IK pops
∑ Look for and fix hitches in the arcs
∑ Smooth out any hiccups in line of motion
∑ Destroy any and all distracting moves
∑ Do you overshoot on moves too much? Not enough?
∑ Is there enough "keep alive" on your moving holds? Is there too much so that you're adding noise to the signal?
∑ Clean out any and all distracting nasty geometry intersections. The small single frame ones in the middle of big moves, forget about those. Nobody will notice.
∑ Do your character's gestures & actions lead words appropriately in dialog?
∑ Feel free to play with physics a bit to add some texture. Give some jump & hold to things in the air.
∑ A move should never be linear and it should never be even.
∑ Are your physics believable (weight)?
∑ Break up long holds with secondary action (scratching, wiping nose, weight shift, etc.)
∑ For visually pleasing images compose on thirds
∑ Avoid staging your character directly down the middle unless you have a reason to.
∑ Use those lines of action to add visual angles to lead your viewer's eye where it needs to go.
∑ In production you must keep the integrity of the layout composition and then plus it with solid lines of action & silhouettes.
If your character is doing something important, make sure we can stinkin' see what's going on!
∑ Track your eye as you watch. Where does it go? Is it where it should go? Do your eyes feel like they awkwardly jump from cut to cut? Is this the desired effect (sometimes it is)?
∑ Stay true to character. Buzz Lightyear will not flail like a spaz like Woody would.
∑ Does acting match dialog intensity? Are you being too vaudeville?
∑ Do the hands & body merely illustrate words that your character is saying? How many times do you make a punching motion with your hands when you say the word "hit"? Not many. How many times do you make a kicking motion when you say the word 'kick"? Not many. How many times do you spread your arms like an airplane when you say the word "fly"? Not often. Guess what? Neither should your character!
∑ Do the eye emotions match dialog?
∑ Reveal your character's inner thoughts or emotions beginning with the eyes first. Cascade out from there.
∑ Emotion drives motion. Motion does not illustrate emotion. (no vaudeville. See above note) Also, thought does not drive action- emotion drives action. Thoughts merely drive decisions. but decisions are not acted upon without the emotion to drive them.
∑ Avoid overacting. Keep it simpler.
∑ Donít try to do too much in one shot. Less is more
∑ If your character's face needs to show an emotional shift, it's easier to read that shift while they are in a pose hold, not in a move. Emotional shifts should occur when the character is generally held still..
∑ Who owns the shot? Donít upstage the owner of the shot. Keep the secondary and background characters from being distracting with their motions. Sometimes breathing & blinking is enough.
∑ When the time comes to transfer shot ownership from character to character, make sure it's a clean hand off. Only one owner at a time. The audience should instinctually know who to watch based on what you show them.
∑ Maintain proper intensity levels appropriate for where character is on character arc. If your character has a major anger blow out in the third act, don't show that level of anger anywhere before that point.
That's A Lot
to Check. Anything Else?