Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Class F.A.Q.

As students send me questions I will post the answers here for the rest of the class. Make sure that you check this site daily, as class updates, critiques and lecture (extensions) are being posted here.

Homework - the moment you are done with your clip and you need feedback, post it on your site (or any site that offers hosting), which is the preferred method, or you can send me the clip via email. Make sure you keep the file size small.

Movie Files - they have to be Quicktime, with a frame counter visible (go to this site for frame counter information or download it directly here). To keep the file size small, use the H.264 compression codec as you export your .avi file to quicktime.

- Once you did the playblast in Maya, open that .avi movie in quicktime. Then go to File>Export..., choose Movie to Quicktime Movie, then Options. Under Settings use H.264, Key Frames: Every 100 Frames, Quality around 65. OK all that and save the file. Voilà.

Syllabus - you can choose the assignments outlined on the AAU syllabus or you can make your own syllabus. Think about what you want to do and what area needs improvement. Do you need more practice with cycles? Do that. More acting? Body mechanics? Look at the body of work you have right now. Ask yourself honestly, did I completely master the basics? The conventional order of exercises would be a bouncing ball, then a character walk, jump, weight lift, pantomime, monologue and dialogue. Since a lot of you are graduating in a semester or two, you might have done a few if not all those exercises already. But again, did you master them?
As you prepare your own syllabus, make sure that you don't take on too much. Give each exercise enough time. The main point though is that you have to go beyond the exercise. Your clip has to stand out not just animation technique wise, but also from an entertainment point of view, the presentation (by that I mean the staging, the composition of the shot, not a fancy render (which helps but is just the icing on the cake)), etc. You need to be creative and avoid the current cliches. How do I know what is cliche? Take a few hours and go through people's reels, sites like the 11secondclub, animation forums, etc. After having seen 200+ clips, you will know what is being overused.

Animation Clips - Focus on making your clip more than just an exercise, give it context. Don't just have a guy lifting a box. Who is that guy (or girl or thing), where is he and why is he lifting this box? Avoid the default model (grey Norman for instance), give it character.
When doing a walk cycle, please have at least a front and side view visible in ONE movie.
When doing a bouncing ball, please use "side" view camera, not perspective, unless it is for more elaborate shots where the composition is telling a story. If you are doing the basic "heavy, medium, light ball" exercise, please have all three balls in one movie. And again, a frame counter should be visible.

Your own Website - get a host as soon as you can. Your site doesn't need to be fancy, just clean and professional. Don't wait, you need an online portfolio ASAP.
Don't have movie files on it which are 100MB. Yes, broadband is nothing new, but still, try to keep the file size small.

Audio Files - before you start with a monologue/dialogue clip, send me or show me at least 5 different ones. Really try to get the audio off a DVD, so that the quality is high. It's okay to find something online, but once you decided on the right clip, get the sound from the DVD because web clips usually are of poor quality.
For full guidelines, read this post.

Maya Setup - set your animation scene to 24fps

Future classes - read this post


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