Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mannequin Walk Rough

Here he is! Mr. Mannequin of Death:


And I don't think he looks too bad! I have a group crit tomorrow from 10.30 - 12.30 so we shall see what other people have to say about him. I've not even nearly had the chance to do him from the front, but, to be fair, Sharon did say she didn't expect us to have the front walk complete. Apparently she's doing things a little differently to last year, and technically we only need to have this done in time for assessment in December. I'm not becoming lazy and complacent (the HNC taught me NOT to leave things to the last minute - I pretty much didn't sleep from May through June of that year) but at least it doesn't need to be in by the end of the week.

This is just a short post for now. I have a couple of 4th Year Peer Reviews to write up (basically commenting/crit-ing on the 4th year's end of year films) which I will share with you at an hour that is not after my bed time. Tonight is Mr. Mannequin's night, and the rest can be saved for tomorrow.

Till then.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Gaits of Hell

Thank you to Mark Grossi for today's post title. Something the whole class is sharing at this moment is a slight hatred for the damnable walk cycle. We are all, however, slowly but surely learning to do them thanks to the endless amounts of trial and error and hundreds of thousands of used, crumpled up sheets of paper.

I have mastered my skeleton walk cycle! Or at least I like to think I have. It comes to a point when you have spent so long doing something that you become too scared to change or redo anything in case it ruins what you already have. The idea of starting again makes you want to cry a little and you accept what you have is as good as it can be.

I decided to concentrate solely on the arms and shoulders after my mini-crit on Thursday morning. The main problem it seemed to have was that the arms were too symmetrical. Arms aren't symmetrical. When the arm moves backwards it is pushing the body forward so it moves with power and speed. When the arm moves forward it is simply recoiling and balancing the body. The arm, therefore, slows when it is in front of the body but speeds up and "snaps" back when it is behind the body. My arms were speeding up when going past the body and slowing down when they reached their furthest apart. This was wrong. I also had to work out the shoulder movement I had missed out in the first walk (the one at the end of my last post) and in the end came up with two very different choices:


Both tests are still only keyframes but you can see the first has still a more evenly spaced arm movement, while the second has more frames on the front half of the body and less at the back, so his arm speeds up when it's behind him but slows when it's in front of him.

I had about 3 different people look at it with me, because by this point I wasn't even sure what an arm did anymore. They all agreed that they thought the first was more appropriate for a neutral walk cycle, so I went with it. I inbetweened and FINALLY came up with this:


I am glad we went for it because, when I inbetweened, I found I had spaced the keyframes better than I thought with more frames of the arms at the front of the body rather than at the back, giving me the speed-up and slow-down I was looking for. Inbetweening the second choice, I think, would have just over-exaggerated the movement even more that I already had.

Skeleton complete! YEY!

Unfortunately though, after the skeleton comes the mannequin... and good gracious do I dislike the mannequin. Let's introduce him:

Again this drawing was provided by our tutor, Sharon White, as a basis on what he should look like. With the mannequin we learn how to do a walk cycle with volume. I'm not going to lie, it has been a torment but I am slowly (very slowly) getting closer to finishing him. This is where we are after two days of trying:


Perched on my light box to my right are the keyframes and a pile of fresh paper waiting to help me inbetween. I must have him perfect AND drawn in front view by Thursday so I am away to get a move on.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Neutral Walk Cycle 01 - Keyframes Explained


I finally bothered myself to log into windows and break down yesterday's walk cycle frame by frame. Like I said in the last post, the four main keyframes in a walk cycle are contact, down, passing and up positions. Now, before I begin, I'd like to mention that everything I've learned is mostly from reading. Mainly from Richard William's "Animator's Survival Kit", which is all your animation answers in one handy animation bible of godliness, and websites such as which is written by an "angry animator" man called Dermot O'Conner who not only talks you through animation basics but has lots of lovely flash animation to demonstrate what it is he's explaining. These beautiful sources have taught me that a walk cycle has, as I mentioned before, 4 main keyframes per step (gait). If it had been up to my own observations, I would have guessed it at 3. This is why I am still noob.

So here they are as I have come to learn them, starting firstly with mr. contact position:

Contact position is, as you may guess, when the "leading foot" (in this case the right foot) makes contact with the ground. It's usually a pretty good place to start with a walk. At this point feet are at their furthest apart in the cycle, with the left foot about to leave the ground and the right foot about to take the weight. The arms always work in opposition to the leg, so here because the right leg is forward the right arm is back, and vice versa. This helps to balance the character and propel them forward into the next step.

The next keyframe is down position:

Here the right foot is flat on the floor taking the weight as the left foot is just about to leave the ground and make it's way forward. This is where the body reaches it's lowest point as the front leg is bent "catching" all the weight of the step. Also, since the arms are always a beat behind the legs, it is at this position, and not the contact position, that the arms are at their furthest apart.

After that we have the passing position where the legs and arms pass each other and the body. Here the leading leg (right) becomes the trailing leg and vice versa. Same goes for the arms. Here, because the right leg is straight and directly beneath the body, holding it's weight, the body is lifted up, so in this position the body is more raised than in contact position. Finally, the left foot, although you can't see it very well in this drawing, will pass only centimeters over the ground because, since we're such sensible beings, we naturally want to conserve energy we only lift the foot as high off the ground as we need to. This is why we stumble and trip so often.

The final keyframe is the up position:

The trailing foot (right) pushes off the floor propelling the character forward and stretching the body to it's tallest point in the cycle. The body leans into the next step, and the leading (left) foot is thrown forward to "catch" the body as it "falls" into it's next step.

Now, these are only the keyframes for one step. The second step would obviously be the same keyframes but the legs and the arms are the other way round. After that it loops and hey presto you have a basic keyframed walk cycle! Huzzah!

So having done all my keyframes and all my inbetweens (I resorted to only one inbetween, instead of two making the cycle 16 frames in total and not 24) here is the final .avi:


The main adjustments I was thinking of making were sorting out the expanding/shrinking feet and shoulder problem, stopping the hip "pop" and fixing the arms when they're at their furthest apart (they seem to hover a bit). I also want to add in more of a shoulder movement, so that when the arm is forward the shoulder is forward, that kinda thing. As of right this very minute I'm redrawing the keyframes for walk cycle 2 (walk harder) inbetween typing this up. I've fixed the feet and hip problem and I'm about to move onto the shoulders, then arms last. I'm aiming to have it inbetweened and line tested tomorrow, hopefully in time for a mini group crit.

After that we move from the skeleton (or android as Craig calls it) to a more fuller-figured maquette.

Till then.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Neutral Walk Cycle 01


This week we are concentrating on walk cycles, or more specifically neutral walk cycles. A neutral walk cycle is one without emotion, gender, weight or anything that might suggest something about a character. It is to be a textbook this-is-how-a-human-walks walk, if you know what I mean, and boy is it harder than it looks.

As a basis, Sharon (our lovely module leader) gave us this little chap as our non-descript human:

Timing is tricky with a walk cycle, and it can be really frustrating when you realise you've missed something and have to go back and rework a frame. It takes time but you do eventually get there. So far I have him keyframed, as in I have drawn the most important positions in the movement, and I have just started to inbetween, literally fill in all the frames inbetween the keyframes. In every second there are 25 frames, and an average, average, average person's walk cycle is usually about a second long (about 12 frames a step to keep it at nice round numbers). Within a step there are four important keyframes: contact, down, passing and up. In each set of 12 frames these each happen once, meaning there is a keyframe then two inbetweens before another keyframe.

The .avi is the keyframes of my skeleton, and you can see that even without the inbetweens, it's okay for a rudimentary walk. When I can I will upload the individual drawings of which keyframe is which and provide a better explanation of what happens at each stage.


Tomorrow I will hopefully have the inbetweens in which will help it flow and look a little more realistic.

Till then.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bouncing Balls


I am beginning a BA Animation at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD, or DoJ for short). We're encouraged to keep a blog of work so, to start off with, here are three of my first ever hand drawn animations.

Animation 101 usually starts you off with the Bouncing Ball. It teaches you three of the twelve Fundamental Principles of Animation: squash & stretch, timing and arcs. I'm looking into acquiring a scanner of some sort so I can upload my notebook work which explains this all further. Meanwhile the .avi files on there own will be here to keep you company.

This was my second bouncing ball, a correction of the first which was missing some pretty important frames.


Having grasped the concept I decided to play around with the setting. This bouncing ball is on a diving board:


Here I decided to play with perspective:


All three still have some creases that need ironing before I can hand them in to be assessed but overall the feedback I got from the Group Crit (constructive criticism class) was positive.

Next week: Walk Cycles.