For the second animation in the Break the Cycle project, I picked the achievable exercise of making Beefy jump. However, I didn’t want to have a straight up-down motion, but rather add something else to it to spice it up. Instead, thinking about how Trinity jumps up to kick the security guard in the first Matrix movie, I thought I could do something similar with Beefy.
I referenced the movements of a basic jump from the Animator’s Survival Kit, although didn’t find anything exactly what I wanted to do. This didn’t matter to me, I just wanted to get the nuances of the jump right and start blocking out the motions.
Given what I’d read, the entire cycle was likely going to be 40 – 50 frames long. The peak of the jump could be a little earlier than the half-way point, allowing for sticking the landing and returning back to the starting position. I would start by blocking out the starting position, the anticipation crouch, the peak position, the landing crouch, and the end position. I settled on the length of 54 frames after moving these five poses around and seeing how the timing felt (any less and it just felt too quick).
It’s a bit difficult to see the steps in the graph editor, just because of how many handles Beefy had, but the general idea was that the movements were subtle enough and the height of the jump worked well with the timing, so everything seemed to flow nicely together. If nothing else, I got the peak pose position that looked a lot like what the Matrix did – this was actually one of the easiest positions to get Beefy into. It was the squash and stretch of the weight shifting that was the most challenging to think about. Smoothing those out during the in-betweens would be the most important thing.
I thought showing this animation from the front rather than perspective worked well in the playblast, since it shows the height more than anything else and the feel for the speed of the jump. I figured I could play with the feet and hands to key them separately after I got the blocking/timing down right. Overall, this animation has been more challenging than doing the first sneak animation, if only because I didn’t have a direct guide to follow. Instead, I took some liberties with the flow of the animation, toying with the timing, which will hopefully pay off in the end.
Now, I have to smooth out the animation, put in any extra keys I might need to get the feet/hands looking right, and then set up the infinite plane to rend it out. I feel like I had to do a lot more research for this particular animation cycle, but I think it will pay off more than the first one!