Sunday, November 29, 2009

Stu's Concerned

Not sure I completely nailed this pose because, like my mentor said, he could have a headache or was nailed on the head by something. The bummer is, he liked the "praying hands" drawing I did in my sketchbook (look for the circled number 2 in the pic) and I was afraid it was too cliche. Oh well, a few minor tweaks and this will be OK.

Concerned drawings with experiments for each pose.

Panhandling maybe?

I've Been Waiting To Hear These Words All Session...

I was bound and determined to pour my heart and soul in to this assignment, the Vanilla Walk. There was no way I was going to have a knee pop, a slipping foot, an unbelievable bob to the hips. I stayed up late the night before (5AM to me exact!) polishing and tracking each knee, adjusting, retracking, readjusting, retracking... you get the point. I knew I did fairly well, but I also knew Mark had an eye that would catch those things I couldn't and he'd make sure I was aware of all the little things. Don't get me wrong, I'm not upset that he critiques me that hard. In fact, quite the contrary. If he picked apart my work on a higher level, it would mean I didn't even get the gist of animation instead of the minute details. Anyway, I turned the assignment in and waited. I knew when the iPhone dinged at 9:15PM it was him... "You have received a new critique!" A click later, I went straight to my grade instead of the critique. There it was, the holy grail and man, I drank from it with a huge "WAHOO!" I raced to the critique, listened to his ideas on my Stu pose and watched the time tick by. The critique was only 7 minutes long and 3/4 of the way through it he hadn't looked at my walk. After he finished (with great information, by the way), he said he was going to check out my walk. One loop of the animation.... he stared.... second loop... "Nice"... third loop... "All right" - a little more excitement... fourth loop... "Man, I think you nailed it." That's all I needed to hear. I was stoked. The words that really hit me were his last few, which made it worth staying up until 5AM and making sure I was hard on myself about the details...

"You know, for a Vanilla Walk, this totally works. I wanna see how you did it (animation gibberish I won't bore you with). The knees aren't popping or anything.. All right! Sweet! He he. I'm so happy to see that, that's great. Cool man, well, I got nothing to say. Nice job Micah." I'm speechless too. Thanks Mark!

"If you don't walk on 12's, you're not normal." - Richard Williams

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vanilla? But I wanted CHOCOLATE!

So, this weeks assignment is a Vanilla walk. Yep, the old common and ordinary walk with zero attitude or style. It makes sense since we need to know the basics before we exploit them and I'm totally on board with that. So, here's my first pass at Blocking (Key poses and Breakdown Poses). It stutters because I left it on stepped keys, which means the pose will hold until I create a new one.

Ballie is taking a 4 step stroll through Maya

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tailor Assignment and the Need For an A

This past week was a great assignment on overlapping action and drag. The basic idea behind this is how do things react, like a tail, when the object they are attached to moves. They don't all move at once, but, instead, move in succession. It's amazing when you "get it" how good the animation looks.

So, I was bound and determined to get an A (close, B+) because I wanted to impress my mentor and also feel like I was getting this principle. I struggled a bit with the pendulum (haven't uploaded that yet, still working out the kinks) but concentrated on this one to really nail it. Other than a few spacing issues, Mark thought it was really good.

Speaking of mentors, I stopped and thought today about my mentor and the e-critique's I was watching from him. I kept getting frustrated about what I hadn't achieved (an A) and how I missed something to keep me from being the best. I don't mean to sound like I have an ego (I do), but I'm not used to not achieving what I want. The A is the holy grail of grades. It would mean, what I created is good enough to be a final shot in an entry level position at a studio.

During a simple conversation with a buddy I work with today, I realized I was missing the best part of these critiques and what my goal really should be... I was learning animation from the best AND I was impressing a guy who animated Buzz Lightyear and Woody. So what if I wasn't at the A level (not sure anyone in the class was getting them), when he would stop and say that the scene was really nice and how I was only a few tweaks away from something great, THAT'S what really matters. I'm learning and from the best and I'm getting better with each assignment. I'll get there, I just have to keep aiming for that A.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Devastated Stu

So the assignment was to create a pose where Stu looked devastated. Not sad. Not slightly inconvenienced by an unhappy event. Completely, and utterly devastated. Not an easy task and the hardest assignment of it's kind so far, in my opinion. I wanted to nail this one so I made sure I researched a ton of reference. I looked up events from the past few years that I knew would show imagery of people completely wiped out mentally and on the verge of letting go. It was a pretty emotional investigation, but I feel like the sadness that these pictures were showing, came right through and in to my pose.

I'm not sure if this dude was in battle or his girl just left him, but either way, he can't keep himself on his feet. Poor Stu...

Squash and Stretch

Kept it simple and I think it paid off. Believe it or not, I worked on this for 4 days just to get the timing, spacing and trajectory right. Whew!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bouncing Ball - Light vs. Heavy

Simple bouncing ball animation with a light versus heavy ball. I didn't want to change the size of the ball because I think people try to to sell stuff with scale rather than good animation (including myself!).

Excited Pose - "Same Same-y"

An assignment I had for last week was to create an excited pose for Stu. I took plenty of reference photos (probably should wear shorts next time, not boxers!), drew out my ideas and made sure I thought about non-cliche poses. I was pretty happy with what I came up with. Stu looked happy and so was I.


I found it interesting in my critique from Mark that, even though it conveyed excitement, I didn't push the pose as far as I could. I was paying so much attention to lines of action, that I didn't realize I had equal negative space, "OK" lines and just a "meh" pose. Mark descibed my pose as "Same Same-y", which he admitted wasn't even a word, but really made the point that I needed to hear. Everything was there, but my character wasn't popping off the screen and was sorta happy compared to WAHOO! happy.

Same Same-y - Equal negative space and meh pose.

I few tweaks later, I think it makes a world of difference and breaks up the same same-y monotony. Now Stu's stoked and so am I.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sweeper Stu Update

I updated my Stu pose from a few weeks ago after my first true critique. Mark pointed out a lot of good stuff, like the broom lining up with Stu's leg and causing some distraction, the bend in Stu's ribcage area, which wouldn't really happen, etc. Subtle changes that make the pose a lot stronger. It was an eye opening experience and it's helped a lot already.



Toy Story, 14 years later and a different perspective

I went to see the Toy Story double feature the other night after work. I felt an obligation but also a great excitement to watch two of my favorite flicks with a whole new arsenal of information. I wanted to go in an watch it on the big screen, but from an animator perspective, not a joyous person who loves cartoons (they're close, but as the latter, you tend to gloss over the real magical "ah ha" moments AND why they are so magical). I would love to say I picked the movie apart, but I found it hard to keep my little kid excitement behaving so my scrutinizing animator-in-training eye could take the 3 hours to study.

I found it interesting that there was such a huge difference between 1 and 2. I know they pumped up textures or added little details, but I really feel like the animation grew from one to the next (remember, there was 4 years and A Bug's Life in between the two movies). I won't supply examples, mostly because I forget the exact details, but I was so happy to view them, together, this way. I saw things that made me think, that made me wonder why they did it that way and also scenes where I was like "Oh, now that was cool to see". I watched a scene where my current mentor, Mark Oftedal who animated early on at Pixar, told us how he planned out the scene and how he accomplished this back and forth between Buzz and Woody. It was an amazing moment to play his information in my head as the argument scene played out before me. Amazing moment.

Now, I know I'm not breaking ground by saying any of this, but knowing something about the art going in, I now know why I love it so much. Why someone who doesn't have the knowledge can be drawn in for and hour or three and be so happy the entire time. It's amazing to know these animators were bringing computer math to life to the point where you really felt for the characters. Just an awesome experience... and I can't wait to do that everyday.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Much to View at the Mall

I have an assignment every week in my newest class at AM, Principles of Animation, to go somewhere and sketch people. I wanted to go to the park, but I feared mothers would call the cops on me and I'd have some serious explaining to do. So, not being interested in having mugshot online, I turned my attention to drawing at home. I had decent results, but I was staging everything so it wasn't natural. Every pose looked like I planned it that way and I wasn't discovering any nuances of movement. Where was the character? The life? The interesting "stuff"?

Well, I had the opportunity to find all that and so much more when my wife asked me to go to the mall with her one night. I love to crack jokes about the people where I live, but, let me tell you, observing them in their natural habitat and really watching them... well... let's just say it's given me plenty of ideas if I want to create some funny animations. For example, there was a dude who was obviously not interested in being at the mall. He was there to push the stroller and wait, "patiently", outside the stores while his wife apparently bought nothing. I sat at a table and observed him, trying not to be too creepy and found that this guy had an odd stance. He kept his weight balanced from left to right, and even front to back, but he arched his spine so much it looked like he was sticking his crotch out as far as possible (and I was worried about sitting at the park sketching... ). It was bizarre to me. Was it comfortable? I suppose for him it was, but when I tried to reenact it, my lower back was shot in seconds. Hm. Maybe he had heavy stuff in his pockets pulling him forward... aaaaanyway...

So I came out with some great sketches and felt like posting them here. I admit, I have been doing graphics on my computer so long, I have lost my edge with drawing... but I'm getting it back more and more each day. I took a character AM gave us, Stu, and translated the drawings to 3D. It was pretty fun. I kept finding myself thinking about the people I was posing and what they might be thinking at that time... I quickly passed by "Heavy Pocket Guy" with a shiver.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Start of something good...

So, I just finished my first class at Animation Mentor, Maya Springboard, and I got the inspiration from my mentor to capture my journey somewhere. What better place than the wonderful WWW?! So, here it is. Tidbits about animation, flicks I'm working on, whatever. Just an outlet and a reason to keep doing cool stuff.

Here's my last assignment for Maya Springboard. We only needed to learn the program, but the mentor taught us way more than that. Hints, tips, tricks, whatever he thought we'd dig (and I did!). It's not much and I'm sure it's mediocre, but you have to start somewhere!

Until next time...