Friday, April 29, 2011

Acting Reference #52

I posted this one over at, but I figured I do it here too

I wanted to show this clip from The Way Back because it does a great job showing a fight or flight response. The fight or flight response states that animals/humans react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, priming the person for fighting or fleeing. Males and females tend to deal with stressful situations differently. Males are more likely to respond to an emergency situation with aggression (fight), while females are more likely to flee (flight), turn to others for help, or attempt to defuse the situation. This clip is a great example of someone going through the fight or flight response.

It starts with Ed Harris piecing a lie together, he has this great subtle little smile once he has figured out the girl has been lying to him, this little moment of realization before he speaks helps the audience know he’s figured something out. Saoirse Ronan’s character instantly gets confrontational, its not over the top, but her voice and pacing let you know she’s afraid/upset. Her reaction is perfect the moment he says “your parents weren’t murdered” the quick head turn, the eye blinks, you really feel she’s afraid, that she’s going into “fight or flight” mode. I love clips like this cause it really shows the battle going in within ourselves, sometimes that battle can be far more interesting than external ones. Mark my words, Saoirse Ronan will have an Oscar in 5 years or less (she’s already been nominated once when she was 13)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Animal Fights

Lots of sweet animal fighting reference

Character Design

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Battleball Process

I decided to talk a little about the process I used when animating on Battle Ball. The thing that made this project interesting was how fast I had to animate. As I mentioned in the reel I posted, most shots were completed in 5-12 basically a day for each shot. Here's a hopefully in depth look at how I animated a shot for this project. I've broken it down into steps with videos for each one. This shot took me about 10 hrs to complete.

The first thing I did when starting on this project was research. After coming to the conclusion that my bball skills aren't quite amazing... I decided not to shoot reference of myself and instead search for videos of people who are far more talented than me. I spent a long time basically just looking for videos of stuff that was cool, it was a blast. Later I started combing this videos and making notes...use this dribble, then that dunk...and that celebreation, etc etc. For this animation I combined 2 reference videos..a dribble and a dunk. I mainly just used them as rough reference, as this dunk is one that a human couldn't do in real life and I ended up changing lots of things in the dribble too. I like how in a lot of street ball players would bounce the ball off their opponents I also decided to add that in...but in a more extreme way haha. Here's a clip of the combined reference

I actually animated the dribble in the beginning in a previous shot, lots of the moves in our game share dribbles (as they were the most complex to animate) so I won't go through the step by step of how I animated that...but here it is.

The 1st thing I usually did when approaching these dunks was a real quick pass on the timing of the jump. This helps get a sense of how much hang time there will be. I only animate the root of the character and basically treat him like a bouncing ball.

After I get a rough feel of the timing I switch to stepped mode and start blocking in my keys. I break up the animation in 2 parts - The Jump & The Hanging on the rim. I tend to break up my animations into chunks like this and work on them in sections, it helps me not feel as overwhelmed...especially on long shots. So this is rough blocking for the 1st part of the shot

After I finish blocking on the 1st part, I move on to the second. I now have the whole shot blocked in.

After I get the whole shot blocked I spend a bit of time adding more inbetweens and refining the timing. I try and make sure I have enough here that when I finally spline it I hopefully don't have a lot of clean up to do (which helps save time). The more keys you add in in this phase, the less inbetweening the computer will do...which is good cause they can be dumb :P For adding inbetweens I use the tweenMachine plug in..I find it super useful.

Then I hit the spline button and cross my fingers. This is what the whole shot looks like right after I splinned everything....not too good...but not too bad. The legs and arms are doing all sorts of wonky things (since I'm doing a lot of ik/fk switching) but all in all not too bad. In this step, if things look too broken..or parts of the animation don't quite work/make sense, I go back to stepped and add more inbetweens/rework things, then spline again. In this shot I didn't have to do that.

I now start to polish the shot up. I read a tip by Shawn Kelly where he mentioned he hides the legs when cleaning things up and I've found that to be really helpful when animating more physical shots like this. I again am only working on the 1st half of the shot. I start with cleaning up the root and then work my way up the body. In some of the shots I'd even turn off the arms...but I didn't do that here.

After I'm semi satisfied with the 1st half of the shot I start looking at the last half...following the same plan as before....starting with the root and working my way up through the body. I've also added a little celebration bit to the end of the shot.

Now that I've got the upperbody feeling pretty well. I go back and repeat the process for the legs. It's now much easy to clean them up with the root/upper body more of less finished...I just go through and make sure the footfalls are in the right place and add overlap/drag for when he's in the air. As I've been doing throughout I start with just the 1st half of the shot.

Once the 1st half is cleaned up...I move on to cleaning up the legs in the last half

This is the final shot. I've went back and made sure everything hooks up well with the dribble I'm using and I added the reaction to the second character. There are definitely things I would want to fix, but lots of times when animating on games or in short timelines its about finding a balance of quantity & quality. This process helped me to animate quickly, but also end up with a result that I was satisfied with considering the time constraints. You can see my reel of Battleball animations HERE

Friday, April 8, 2011

Battleball Reel

So the game I worked on a couple months ago went into open beta today. If you got facebook you can play the game here. This is a showreel of some of the animation I did for it. The timeline was pretty short & as you can see most of the animations were done in 5-12 hrs, but still a lot of fun to work on.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Acting Reference #51

So most of these acting reference videos I have posted have been more about emotion and character. I figured I should try and get some more interesting movements/gestures. Here's one from The Big Lebowski. The little foot shuffle that Jeff Bridges does after he gets up from the couch is really cool and has a great "sneaky" feel about it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Acting Reference #50

This is a Subaru commercial I saw on tv and I really loved the little girl in it. The way she plays with the seat belt while she talks feels very natural & childlike. Oh..and #50!! woohoo!