Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Class2 Finished!

I just finished class2 body mechanics and it was a really difficult term. There was so much to learn. The transition from the ballie character into a full body character wasn’t easy. The first time I got stewie with hands I was so overwhelmed by the hands and limbs controls. It took me sometime playing with it to get used to it. The posing practice we had in class1 really came in handy to understand basic posing. We had got to pose the character before but were only restricted with the animation. Animating with the full character was a totally different thing. It’s a lot more fun when you are given a challenge.

The Lectures for this class were jam packed with Very important things one needs to understand thoroughly before even attempting acting in animation. Body Mechanics is all about understanding the physicality of animation. The main focus of the class was to know how the body works, the gravity, balance, physicality of the character. Other important aspects covered in the class were some advanced use of principles of animation that we used in class1. One important thing I had to balance was to not go overboard with the acting and at the same time keeping it interesting. Its really important to focus on the body mechanics since there is plenty of time to study acting in next classes but if the body mechanics is not strong enough, then the acting performance is any way not going to feel convincing to the audience.

My mentor was Joe Mandia. Apart from being as amazing animator, he has been a great mentor. Joe is one awesome guy who just lives animation. He also has some good experience in the industry working on films like IceAge2, OpenSeason, Surfs Up, Chicken Little. Presently he is working in Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) for games animation. Each and every QnA was damn fun. He was always there to share his experiences while studying animation, working in the industry. The rest of the class was no less fun. The class had some really crazy characters. There was so much inspiring stuff being done by my peers, it was great to see such variety of ideas and styles of animating.
Almost every week we had Joe demo some cool stuff for us. He gave out some important tips that are vital to understand the process of animating as well as learning from classic animation examples.

One HUGE thing of animating I understood this term was Workflow. It is essential to have a good workflow so the animation is done within the time-constraints of the studio environment and keeping the process of animating organized. I’ll say more about it in an upcoming post.

This term we had pick-lists to choose assignments of different levels of difficulty. The grading isn’t affected by what assignment you choose but by the quality of the animation that is attained by the student. Since I am a full-time student at AM, I chose to take the difficult assignments. This term I had more fun with the assignments since we have more freedom with the animation idea once we choose the animation idea among the pick list.

For the first assignment, I chose to do a 180* turn on ballie. I did a test where ballie is hit hard with a ball that is thrown at him and then he turns around to take a look at what hit him. My mentor Joe sure had an eye for detail, he could clearly point out things that weren’t working well. This assignment was to be completed over 4 weeks including the video reference and the final refining and polish. Along the way I learnt a lot of things like posing the hips for more interesting attitudes, clarity, weight, adding some moves in the character to make its motion more believable. I had to really work on the timing for ballie’s reaction to the ball’s hit. Its amazing to see how small, subtle things affect the believability of the character.

The next assignment I chose was to do jumping stewie. Now this character we were given had no hands but a full spine, a neck and a head with two small eyes. The absence of hands helped us concentrate on animating the spine and head. It is fun to work with the overlap and reversals in the spine. There is so much to explore in the posing the spine. This time around I thought of doing a small idea, Stewie is standing facing the poles and turns his head around to catch a glimpse of something horrifying. He gets shocked, reacts to what he sees and just sets off jumping from pole to pose keeping his balance and also making sure the thing isn’t catching on to him. This was way tougher than I had thought. The overlaps in the spine, the head, the timing of jumps, the balance of the character is such much to work on. Joe helped me see the problems in the overlap of ideas I had in the animation and to add clarity to some poses.

The final assignment I did for the term was stewie trying to open a sticky door. I had quite a few ideas for this one and spent a lot of time just trying out different ways to stage it and animate it. After a loads of video reference shot and a lot of thumbnails I finalized some reference to jump into the Maya. Wow, this assignment was HUGE for me to understand contrast in timing. I learnt a lot in this one. The timing is so important, it can make it look just awesome or if not done right can be really boring to watch. In short it can make or break a shot. The posing was totally fun stuff. I got to push the poses, though I dint go wild I got it to exaggerate quite a bit. At the end of doing the assignment I felt there is so much to learn about contrast in animation. Contrast in timing and posing can make something stand out. Now I really know where to put my focus on.

In this term I was a peer buddy to some class1 students. A peer buddy is supposed to provide support, help and encouragement to AMers in lower classes. I liked being a peer-buddy and as they say, it really helps strengthen our eye for animation.

Ah! This post got too long. If you reached here, I really appretiate your patience :D After this fantastic term, I am enjoying this week-long break. Its time to relax a bit and get batteries recharged for the next term which is going to be hell of a ride – Introduction to Acting !
WooHoo !


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