Sunday, June 29, 2008

Critique - Weight and polish

Here's another clip and the person was asking why the animation looks so spliney.
> so is it like a matter of timing?
Absolutely. The reason why it feels so spliney is because everything is always moving, there are no holds, no pauses. The section that works the best is from x162 to x218 (roughly), because he lifts the suitcase and rests for a movement, which makes sense in that situation. But before and after you never feel like any body part gets a break, everything is always moving somehow, but not in a keep alive way, it's just too busy. By having everything move you don't create enough contrast, it makes the audience restless and then bored because there is nothing to focus on and it makes your character look like he's just a puppet and not a living, thinking being.

> So what should I be looking to do, technically... just move keys around to tight things up? Make the tangents flatter for holds? Is this like a small thing to fix or a major thing...?
Almost yes, kinda yes, and depends. :)

Almost yes, because you do need to move the keys around to tighten things up, but you still have to think about where and why. The movements need rhythm, it needs to have a sense of flow. So when he gets hit by the shoe at the end, have him take the hit, the when he's done with the movement screen left, hold that moment, because he's trying to make sense of that situation "Wait, what just happened? Did I get hit?", then have him turn around and look at the door because he realized what happened "SHE hit me!".
Kinda yes, because you do need to have holds and flattening the tangents will help, but you don't want to start flattening tangents left and right. You need to be very selective about the moments where nothing moves and even then, the body needs to have little drifts so that it doesn't look dead. Look at the previous critique on the class site for a good example of holds and keep alive.
Depends, because it all depends on your sense of timing and rhythm. So if you have a good understanding of that, it's just a technical fix, so it's small, but if you struggle with the concept and adjusting the timing, then it can be a major fix.

The funny thing is, the animation can reflect someones personality at times. If someone is very bouncy and animated in person, with big facial expression changes and stuff like that, it can show up in the animation. But of course not always and some people who are very slow, just down in terms of feeling and attitude, can create really alive and animated performances.

> I feel like I'm missing the last step of polishing.. like I don't know how to take it further. So... I start out with all the blocking steps you went over... reference, block a pose every 5 frames or so, tangents on linear... then move keys around so I like the timing. Then blocking plus, add more keys for in betweens, if needed. Then for polishing.. the tools I use are... the graph editor and "perfect arc." Ok I know what your going to say... dry erase marker. Is that all I'm missing? maybe.... ok im going to go out and buy one right now.

Hahaha, you don't HAVE to use the dry erase, "perfect arc" works as well. Whatever you prefer to use to track down your curves and arcs. I just like the dry erase because it's fast and simple.
Your workflow sounds good, there is nothing wrong there, but don't get too worked up over the technical side.
Act out your shot, get a feel for the timing. If you would act out your clip exactly the way you animated it, you would be able to tell what's wrong. So act it out, over and over again, film yourself and study the footage, but first just in terms of timing. Don't start picking it apart for animation details or stuff like that, just observe where you move and where you don't move. But really be in the moment and act it out. Don't pretend and shortcut moments, don't act it out in front of someone because people tend to talk and explain what they're doing instead of actually doing it.

> Oh I know a lecture topic I'd like to hear about... maybe you could elaborate on the "polishing" step of your workflow? I think that's where I get messed up. I think my timing is better in my blocking phase and then things get a little messy when I try to polish.

That's a very good point. I've seen many examples where the blocking has great timing, but then the polished version lost its appeal. A lot of times it's because the holds you had, the pauses you get from animating linear or stepped, are gone due to all the spliney stuff (leaving you with the guy caressing his leg, from x262 to x280 - there's no need to have that hand move around like that, just put in on his leg, add some adjustment on his fingers, add some leg movement since there is added weight and pressure on it from this hand/arm, that's it). If the blocking is correct and your breakdowns are in place, the polish phase should only enhance the animation, get rid of sudden stops, add detail to facial expressions, fingers, contact points, give the overall moments the last little touch of rhythm and life. It's not there to change the timing. It reminds me of lunch, the days when I get the salad to go from the buffet. I put everything in a box. I know this is going to sound really weird... All the different things are in my box and that represents your blocking. All that is needed is the dressing. So I put that on top of the spots that need dressing. That's your polish. But what happens to many people is this: they close the box and start shaking it. Hey, the dressing/polish is everywhere, right? Makes it yummy. That's what you do, no? Put dressing over everything? Now it's all polished. Nope, you just made everything messy and lost the initial appeal of your work/salad. Only add dressing/polish where it is needed.


Ok, that comparison was really weird. But the moment of shaking my salad box just reminded me of how animation can get all messed up once you tweak your blocking too much. :)



nino said...

I dont like dressing on my salad by that was a great read!


Jean-Denis Haas said...

Haha, thanks!