Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Workflow questions

Every now and then I get workflow questions via email since I never finished my initial post (I do have more material for that post but I never finished the whole thing; I should just add what I have...).
After those years though I can say that I don't have one specific workflow. Each shot demands a different approach or a combination of different methods.
Either way, I thought I'd might as well post the questions and answers, in case other people are interested:​

> * do you use non-weighted or weighted tangents?


> * After you block in linear what type of splines do you convert to?

The keys are set to linear by default but I switch to splines immediately depending on the movement. If there's an arm swing, no need to keep it on linear, I'll select the keys in the timeliner, do a right click and switch the keys to spline.

> * Do you key the whole character in breakdown poses to adjust the timing?

Yep, I key all the major controllers (except face and fingers) for the initial blocking, so it's very much pose to pose with breakdowns. Then I can move those keys in the timeliner to adjust the timing until I'm happy with it. After that I go in and set more keys per controller where needed.

> * When do you offset things in the graph editor?

I offset the poses in the blocking already (most of the time). I don't work in the graph editor that much anymore. It's easier for me to adjust the poses and timing looking through the render camera. I only check curves in the graph editor to make sure that there are no funky spikes and stuff like that.

> if you will be able to finish the shot on the workflow page. it would be great to see a screenshot of the dope editor and the graph editor of one specific controller. I'd like to see how organized it is. some students seem to like blocking in stepped, then converting it to splines using the AutoTangent+ Non weighted combination.

Yeah, all in linear, I've never used stepped, only because I like to see whole thing timed out a soon as I can. If you don't set enough breakdowns during the stepped blocking and then go to splines, a lot of people freak out because the timing changes.

If anybody have more questions, let me know via comments or shoot me an email.



Brecht Debaene said...

Another good tip about retiming your animation is to use baking to your advantage.

For my workflow I use baking in a way that organizes your keys for you.

As you JD, I dont work in stepped anymore, I go straight to splines so I can get a feel for the weight and timing of the animation straight away. (I do however think this has a lot to do with the kind of work I am doing at this time (creature and vfx), and my workflow might be different if I have a more cartoony project)

I put keys on any controller that needs it, feeling my way through the animation based more on timing and weight than individual poses.

Then when I have the timing down, there are keys all over the place. At this point, I bake all the controllers that have animation on them, on 3's or 4's.

This now gives me the same animation as I had, but all the keys on the controllers are nicely timed on the same frames. I then go into these keyed frames, and clean up the poses.

Now that everything is neatly timed out, I can still select any part of the character and scale its timing in the timeline, all I need to do after is bake it out again on 3's or 4's to have my keyframes nice and clean.

Ive been using this workflow for a while now and I really feel a lot of advantages by working this way. You can get a feel for the timing of your character straight away, and timing changes dont screw up your keys in the graph editor anymore.

Although I do think I still prefer a pose-based approach to cartoony animation though, since so much comes from big shape-changes in that stuff.

Your thoughts on this workflow?

Barry said...

Good stuff, thanks JD! I love hearing about people's different workflows.

Brecht, My workflow sounds similar to yours. I start right into spline and like to see it moving right away, but I have never tried your baking method. Does Maya allow you to bake on every 3rd or 4th frame?

I work in 3DMax at work right now and I am not sure if it allows for that or not, but I think incorporating that into my workflow would help out a lot. I tend to focus too much on the timing and overall feel and don't always push my poses at well as I could.



Brecht Debaene said...

Yep, in the bake settings you can pick the intervals in which maya will bake out stuff.

I actually wrote a script that bakes your animation out in the intervals YOU define.

I create a key-reference object, that basically just has keyframes on it, wherever my anim poses need to be.

I just go through my splined anim, and set a key wherever I want it "baked", This allows me to have a denser interval for fast actions and then less keys for slower actions.

So that keyreference object then has keys where I want them to end up, I then select all the rig controls and select the keyreference object last.

Then I run the script, and it bakes the controls of the rig based on where those keys on the reference object are.

Jean-Denis Haas said...

I like the idea of baking out on 4s, that's a pretty neat approach. Thanks a lot for sharing that info!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Brecht Nice Method.. i will definitely try this on my some animation...