Sunday, May 15, 2011

Two Character Dialogue - Blocking Plus

Here's my latest playblast for my two character dialogue.  I added some little nuances based on Mark's eCritique (i.e. - "Rarely do you pick anything on your body and not take a look at it." HA!) and then stumbled across some things as I went.  It's still making me laugh, so that's good!

"Hey, look, I found something squishy..."

Here's a bit of advice, and it's easy to take at this stage of the game (blocking plus instead of polish!)... If something's not working, feel free to save a version, wipe out that section of animation and try again.  In the fourth shot, the businessman turns to the homeless guy and berates him.  I had something that was ok, but it just didin't feel right.  So, I did what every mentor's been telling me for my entire time at AM... bookend the animation with keys, kill it and start new.  It works, trust me.  I acted out what I thought might work, tried some quick ideas, and after a few tries, it seems ok now.  It's better to delete a section than to keep working a dead animation.  Plus, it keeps the frustration levels down and motivation up!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Looking For A Job Dressed Like That?!

I feel like someone's going to say that to me when I try to get my next job... hehe... ANYWAY...

I'm having far too much fun with this shot.  So many ideas, so few frames.  HA!  Here's a quick movie of the breakdowns I did for my assignment this week.  I have a few things to adjust, tweak, add, subtract, but in general, I'm really enjoying it... and so is Mark, so that's good!

Facial Poses.... FTW!

Not to brag, but the facial poses are really working for this shot.  I hope I can bring the magic all the way to the finish line with this one.  Something tells me Mark won't have it any other way.  HAHA!  (P.S. - He's an amazing mentor, in case you wanted to know.  Something about those Canadian animators!)

I'll be posting the updated movie this week with the few tweaks, some of which will make me laugh (and hopefully anyone who watches it!).  Either way, I'm having fun, and that's half the battle.  GO JOE!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Are You Employed, Sir?

... I am, but not in animation!  But that's not the point here.  What is important is my newest assignment and the big slice of pie at AM, the two person dialogue shot.  Here's what I have in mind...

The Dialogue - The Big Lebowski

The dialogue I chose comes from the Big Lebowski.  I really wanted something where the contrast between characters wasn't because of gender or anything "shallow", but because there was something a little deeper inside the characters.

With a little help from a friend, I thought it would be funny to switch this up to a homeless guy and a business man (not that far off, really!).  The ending came to me when I did some research for homeless people and I started noticing a lot of the people were pictured a ton of things like electronics, pets, etc.  I found myself saying "You have no home but you have items that are not necessities in life...".  The punchline of my animation was born (to be shown at a later date.  STAY TUNED!).

Characters - A business man and a homeless guy meet on the street...

Here are my initial character setups.  Somewhat of a stereotype, but I needed them easily recognizable because the entire shot is only 15 seconds!

The Businessman.  Props will be shown later.

The Homeless man.  Props to be shown later.

Keep your eyes peeled.  I'll be posting my layout soon.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Facial Poses - Part 3

Here's another...


Ninjas vs. Pirates...

There was a Ninja v. Pirates competition on the Animation Mentor Forum this past week and, glad to say, the Ninjas won.  Of course, is there really a loser when these two battle it out for the crown?  Anyway, here's a few awesome clips I wanted to share.  GREAT animation and seriously inspiring.

Pyrats - Great 2D/3D animation.  Lots of really fluid overlap and squash and stretch.  Pretty funny too.

Ninjai - Oh man, this is great 2D.  I remember watching this forever ago.

Bad Drawing - HAHAHA!

And, last but certainly not least...
Kung Fu Panda - Skadoosh.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Out With The Old...

So, this was the last week to work on my line of dialogue with one person.  I'll be honest, I'm not happy with it from a body mechanics point of view, but the lip sync and facial expressions are definitely getting there.  Eventually I'll go back and make it the way I want (ditch all the acting and do the shovel idea I spoke about in a previous blog post).

Side note: It's amazing how much you can see when you're refreshed and not burnt out anymore.  There's so much about this shot that I cringe at, but it's good because I at least know what to fix!  I feel like Neo in the animation matrix (... *sigh* oh boy).

Pointy pointer...

Coming up... two person dialogue.  WOO HOO!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Facial Poses - Part 2

Another set of facial poses.  Nothing new to say except they're pretty fun to work on.  :D



Friday, April 15, 2011

Makin' Faces

Part of last week's assignment was facial expressions, which was actually a lot of fun.  Here's two I put together, one is subtle, the other not so much.  I kind of planned it that way because I felt like I've been doing a lot of big motions in animation, so why not try subtle stuff to see if I can pull it off.  I think they came out pretty well... of course I'm slightly biased.


So this lady was easily the best image I found of winking/happy on  I really liked the asymmetry and how "big" her face got with excitement.  To give you the inside scoop, I started large (tilted the head, general eye open/close, jaw open) and worked my way down to the smaller details (lip sections up/down, eyelid edge shape) as I went.  I didn't focus on one thing and get it perfect because it seemed like so much effected everything else.  The face definitely has a lot of push and pull going on depending on the expression.

Somebody looks a little evil...

Same thing with this guy.  Even though parts of the face don't look like they are being influenced, they really are.  His face is squished on the camera right side.  His cheek pushes out because of this, his lips curl, eyebrow comes down.  Kinda cool to look at the tiny stuff.  It's also good to think about a slight rotation to the head... up, down, left or right.  Straight to camera is not as interesting as a slight twist... especially with this guy.  Makes him look a little more distrustful.  :) 

One last "hint".  I really find that the asymmetry of these faces works well when you think of things in terms of greater than/less than symbols... wait, WHAT?!  Hehe, no, seriously.  Here...

See?  When one side of the face pushes, it looks really nice to have the other side pull the other direction.  Even in the subtle face you can see this and it helps keep it interesting without being symmetric.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Intro to Acting - The Second Shot, The Mexican


Hehe, It's tough looking back at these shots.  I was definitely feeling the pain at this point and even thought about retaking Class 4 because I was so disappointed in my work.  Well, I'm forging ahead and looking back, learning from my mistakes.  My advice would be to take your time with AM.  If, for whatever reason, you feel burnt out, you don't have to push through it.  The best thing I did was take 6 months off.  Sure, I miss the people I started with, but my life was pretty hectic the last little bit.  AM waited and my brain and animation will be better for it!

Anyway, here's the first dialogue shot I did.  I took a line from The Mexican (2001 - Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts).  I love the movie and this scene was actually great to do since Julia Roberts was sitting in a bathroom stall the entire time.  I never saw her act the lines out so I had no preconceived ideas about what she should do.  Sadly, I just did a lot of arm swinging!  Here's my blocking pass...

Have you seen my dead body?

Yeeeeah, so there you have it.  The issue going on here is there's a ton of presenting of the dead body in the trunk.  It's like "Look... a dead body.  By the way, did you see this dead body?  Yeah, that dead body over there."  Nothing is subtle and all the character does is swing her arms to show you the body!

Jumping ahead, here's the final shot without lip sync (which wasn't part of Class 4).  Paul gave me great ideas to chop down the presenting stuff but it still does nothing for me.

Better, but definite polishing issues...

So, yeah, there's issues with the polishing.  Spacing issues, the turnaround and back, etc.  The cool thing is, I can really see it now.  Again, after a 6 month break and feeling refreshed, I would love to go back and redo this shot.  There's a good chance I'll do that in Class 6 since I came up with a really great idea while on "vacation". 

Here's my advice to anyone doing a shot.  Ask yourself "So what?".  Seriously.  Plan out your shot, look at it and ask yourself why your character would be acting that way.  For example, with this shot I made... 
  • What's this woman doing with a dead body in a car?
  • Who's she talking to?
  • How did the body get there and why is she involved?
  • Why is she so annoyed at the person off screen?
  • What's she planning on doing now that she's in this predicament?

The point I'm making is all these things will lead to what she needs to do, before, during and after your shot.  After asking myself all these questions (and more), I figured this chick is not exactly on the "straight and narrow", she needs to dispose of this body ASAP so she doesn't get in trouble and the person she's with is obviously incapable of doing the job right... so she needs to do it herself!  So, why not have her digging the grave while ripping in to the person off camera?  Just a hint at what I hope to do with this... :D

Intro to Acting - The First Shot, Sleepy Stewie

So I said I was going to do it, and here it is.  My first shot from Intro to Acting (or Class 4 for you AMers!).  I've never been happy with this shot, and I think part of it was the business and feeling that I needed to pack a ton in to it.  I wanted a belly scratch, a head swing, a pause for "dramatic effect", etc.  It would have been a much nicer shot if there was much less happening.

Here's the initial blocking pass which isn't half bad.  I think I should have realized that it was a bit much at the time since none of my characters actions had any time to breath.  They were just firing off, one at a time.  Since this guy was supposed to be exhausted, his walk would have been incredibly slow with feet dragging, maybe a pause when he got to the door, etc.  Everything just... went.  No time to let him doze off, let the audience really get a sense of his exhaustion... he just moved from action to action.  Looking back, I'd strip out the belly scratch (secondary action) and have him wobble a bit when he gets to the door.


Skipping a few weeks ahead, here's the final piece.  I did end up ditching the ending and Paul Mendoza gave me some great advice, which sadly never really made it in to this shot (at the time I was beyond burnt out and rushing every week).  If I had it all to do over (and I will!), I'd definitely polish this thing a lot more, spend the much needed time on the body mechanic issues and also make it a lot simpler.


Here's my advice, for any shot... KEEP IT SIMPLE.  Yeah, I know, they tell you that constantly at AM, but it's true.  Seriously, plan out your shot and then sit on it for a day.  Go back and check out what you have and see if you your character takes any time for himself... is he constantly going from pose to pose?  if so, is that the theme/tempo of the shot?  What can you strip out and still get your point across?  It will probably make it read a lot better and you can really delve in to great poses instead of trying to figure out how your character is going to get from here to there in 3 frames!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Advanced Acting... It Has Begun...

So my new class is Advanced acting with Mark Pullyblank.  I haven't met him yet (my class is from 12AM-1AM on Thursday morning... UGH!) but he seems like a cool guy in his profile.  He has worked at Rainmaker Digital, Frantic Films, Weta and is currently at Sony Imageworks in Vancouver.  Cool!  He has some cool stuff on his blog, which I'll link here as well as on my sidebar.  Definitely check him out!

So I'm ready to tackle my assignment this week, even though I'm not thrilled with the result from last class.  I'll be blocking out the mouth shapes this week and I'll post it either this weekend or after my eCritique.  I'm actually excited to add this step and I'll make sure I fill you guys in on what I learned or other "stuff" that's come up!

Off to watch my 2 hour class!!!  WOO HOO!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Back in to the mix...

It was almost 6 months ago that I took a leave of absence from Animation Mentor.  I admit that I was burnt out and needed a break, but more importantly, my wife and I were proud parents for the second time.  Keegan was born in January and life hasn't been the same since (not to mention super crazy with two kids needing attention!).  Now that he's over 2 months old, it's time I got back to finish AM.

Monday I hit the ground running, whether I'm "in shape" or not!  I'm sure it'll be a struggle to get back in to it the first week or so, but I know it will all turn out for the best.  Only two classes to go!  :D

So, I decided, as much as I'm not perfectly happy with Class 4's work, it needs to be posted to this blog.  I'll have it up within the next day or so because, after tomorrow, the posts will be 100% devoted to the future!  I've also decided to add a little extra to my posts since I've noticed a lot of traffic from all over the world, mostly students looking for AM reference.  I was there too and I wished people would have posted not only what they completed, but any ideas, breakthroughs or insight on their projects.  I'll do my best to give as much info as I can without breaking the AM rules.  Also, feel free to post comments or questions and I'll be more than happy to help with anyone's work.  I love to critique, help out and can even make it a point to visit your AM page.

Thanks for reading!  See you guys in a few days with some more great animation!  :D

- boywundr