If you'd ask me to predict how 2012 would unfold I wouldn't have even been close. First off, we're all still here so the Mayans were totally full of shit.
2012 saw me move to a new City almost blindly. What started as a 2 month foot in the door in the animation industry turned into an awesome year full of awesome projects. Couldn't have asked for a better way to get started in this crazy animation business! My wife and I have made lots of great new friends, found lots of great food carts, and drank lots of great beer. But hands down the most awesome thing 2012 brought us was the birth of our gorgeous daughter Eliana Shae Hayford. Definitely didn't see that one coming in 2011!
2012 has all in all been a pretty great year with hints at great things to come in 2013. Here's hoping that 2013 will not just live up to, but surpass 2012!
Happy New Year!
I took some time off to celebrate the holidays with family but now I'm back at it! This pose is a good example of how you don't always have to just copy the image. With this one, the picture i found *inspired* the attitude i put on the model.
Well I didn't always! When I first started learning CG animation I was coming from a 2D back ground. I never worked professionally mind you, but that's what I studied at University. In 2D, i worked Pose to Pose, drawing the strongest possible key poses and working between them. It just made sense!
Naturally, when i switched to CG, the stepped blocking method was the obvious choice. Like 2D, you block your key poses in, making them as strong as possible and work between the poses, breaking them down and forcing the computer into submission. Because on playback the interpolation between keys is stepped, you only see your key poses and modifying timing and adding breakdowns without seeing all the weird computer inbetweens really teaches you to NOT let the computer do as much as possible.
Because i didn't understand the Graph Editor, I avoided using it at all costs. To the point i was breaking shots down on 1s in many cases. This often gave me really nice blocking and blocking+ passes, but once i got into polish my Graph Editor was such a mess it was a nightmare to navigate. Things would be popping all over the place and the only way i could fix it was doing my own inbetweens.... ON EVERY FRAME. Now, there's nothing wrong with this approach mind you, it's just... kinda stupid.
Somewhere around halfway through Animation Mentor i was explaining all this and how i just couldn't understand the Graph Editor and my Mentor at the time suggested i just block in Spline. I got all 'Well I hate the layered method no way man!' But then he explained a bit. He told me not to change my method of blocking but for two things; Keep the GE open right next to you as you're blocking, and switch the tangents to spline. So i still blocked out my scenes the same way: Pose to Pose, Breakdowns, Flipping between keys, all exactly the same way i would do it in stepped. In fact, when I playblasted my scenes, I would still switch to stepped for viewing. The only difference is the keys were in spline and because I had the Graph Editor open next to me I started to understand what the curves were doing.
I can't tell you how much this improved my workflow and my work in general. The big surprise however was how much it really sped up my work. Having the GE open while i worked and seeing what the splines do when I'm trying to hit my poses was a huge thing. Reading about the graph editor is one thing, but seeing it work on your poses in realtime is a game changer. I don't spend nearly as much time freaking out trying to fix things in the polish phase anymore because i don't break things to start with. As a bonus, you can see when something is gonna cause a problem later down the line. That means less chance of breaking things (or hitting gimbal lock) when you get to polish. HUGE TIME SAVER. I also learned, though the computer is still horrible at animating, it's not as useless as you might think. It'll often give you decent starting places. Not having to do breakdowns on every control completely from scratch is another HUGE TIME SAVER.
I've used this method ever since and it still serves me well. When i first tell people i block in spline they often freak out until i explain i do things exactly the same as a stepped technique. Most people I've encouraged to give this a try found it pretty helpful themselves. There's a million workflows out there and no one knows which will work the best for them. But if you're struggling with the graph editor and looking to try a more efficient workflow, give it a try!
I wanted to do a test where i could focus on some nice hand animation, so i through this together the other day.
This is my first Blocking pass. I block in spline rather than stepped (perhaps I'll talk more on that in separate post) and this is probably a little more detailed than I would typically go for in a first pass. Because of the subject matter and subtle movements in the hand, i felt it'd be better to do my blocking pass straight ahead, so i probably put way more keys in than i normally would. The result however, puts me in pretty good shape going in blocking plus, and is already looking pretty close to what I'm going for.
This is about 6-8 hours work so far. Feedback is always most appreciated! Thanks for looking!
I'm currently working on a test that's a close up on subtle hand animation. Seems like a good reason to work on some hand poses!
This was done with the AnimSchools free rig Malcolm. Probably just about the best free rig available. Get it at the AnimSchool's website.
Animator, artist, musician and all around pretty awesome guy.