Break the Cycle – Animation Project (part 1)

Work began and continued on my “Break the Cycle” project for our Animation class. While re-doing my ident is technically task one of the project, task two actually pertains to the new animations. The main goals are as such:

You should choose two animation exercises from the list on the following slide. They are organised into various difficulties. […] Focus on quality rather than quantity. A short quality animation would be better than a long unpolished animation.

Use pose-to-pose animation

Use animation blocking.

Batch render your animations using an infinite white background and 3-point lighting with nice soft shadows.

Overall, these goals don’t seem to deviate too much from the previous ident animation exercise we did earlier. The different choices were:

AnimationExercises

I decided, since this was more a project to practice the steps we’ve learned rather than anything else, that I would pick some achievable exercises instead. I previously had issues with my own ident animation and I wanted to make some animations that were more structured. We have the Richard Williams’ “Animator’s Survival Kit” at home – it’s become our bible for these exercises – and I was going to rely on it heavily for making a character sneak/walk and jump.

Instead of using Moom, we were told by Gary that there were a couple other rigs available online we could use and I thought Beefy’s handles worked really well. I liked the forward/inverse kinematic set-up for him and I thought, due to his massive size, Beefy would look quite funny sneaking around as my first animation cycle. I thought I would make the sneak like a tiptoe motion and looked through the book for reference. I found a number of examples on how Williams would draw out sneaking cycles:

sneakcycle

The first thing I did after loading up Beefy was to start with blocking out the important poses for my pose-to-pose tip-toe animation. I knew that I needed three main poses (in black in the illustration above) that would complete one cycle, and then the passing positions to see that the less would move properly past one another – after that, I could smooth out the animation with the contact and in-between positions. I was going to be relying heavily on the graph editor as well, especially for seeing what the blocking would look like once I’d keyed these five poses.

Sneak_Hypergraph_Stepped

The graph editor above showed the similarities between the motions, it was just down to opposite legs doing them. The sneak cycle was going to be very much like a walk cycle, which only really has a handful of key positions and everything else is about smoothing the motions and finer details.

For the playblast, I had to loop the animation. The whole tiptoe scene itself lasts for 24 scenes, so it’s one second long. I then knew I could loop the final render to lengthen the whole thing, but according to what I read a walk animation (or sneak cycle in this case) really only should last that long and should loop back on itself to create the animation. I thought this made sense and it was then easier to map out the key poses for the blocking stage.

Now I just needed to add any extra keys for the feet contact, to make sure they’re touching down properly, as well as smooth out the in-between poses. I think the hardest part about these animations will be thinking about the weight of these figures – Beefy is… well, beefy and big, so his weight has to shift in an almost exaggerated manner. Luckily, the model has all sorts of handles to accommodate the shifts, where the hip tilts, back angles, head bobbing, etc. can all be manipulated. His feet and toes can all be changed, which was why I first thought of making him walking on the base of his toes rather than have his feet completely touch down.

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