Thursday, April 30, 2015

Physics of Animation; would you actually do the course?

I found through the San Jose State University, they are offering this class for free with Alejandro Garcia.  

When you are wondering what to watch on TV tonight, don't. Instead start this class, to attend click here.

Dealing with procrastination; the downfall of the Animator

Why is procrastination such a heavy burden for creative people? 

There is several reasons;

  • You set the standard to high without a way or the path of achieving it.
  • You have created high quality of work and you are scared that nothing else is going to measure up.
  • You are just scared of failure.
  • You are scared that the commentators/critiques are there because you have failed.
  • You set yourself such a tight deadline not even a supermodel could fit in and so therefore you didn't get it done.
  • You want; an original idea, motivation or inspiration. Sorry darlings, the original ideas have already been thought and the motivation or inspiration have to be self driven journeys.
  • Everything you have made this week/month/year you consider as junk.
  • You always work on something "safe". Something that you know how to animate already.   

 I could go on but you see that the one thing that ties these things together are the FEAR, the way that you deal with how you will not be the same as anyone else and how you hide when you get to the point of  FAILURE. The only way that you could measure if something is a failure or a success is ONLY YOURSELF! 

 There is many times that you are not going to be able to measure yourself independently from your ego as an artist and distance yourself from your art. That's OK, it takes time to move from the idea that everything you create is precious and you will get another gold star or pat on the back because you have created it. The only way to improve is to override the fear of whether success or failure that you have intentionally written in your brain is going to be the outcome and create a large body of work.

 Don't stop doing, asking, question and thinking. If it is going to make you accountable get yourself deadlines for your own work and let go of tweaking it after you have finished. Use other people even if they are not animators to view your artwork when you feel to close to the product since your eye will get skewed and you will not take the brash leaps to correct what is glaringly wrong without people pointing out to you.

 A lot of animators have accounts on forums or post on a blog so make sure you even if you are scared, post/submit even the ones that you feel that you ruined and take comments with a grain of salt. I used to blue tack up the comments from other people and used to remind myself of how they wanted me to improve.

 Don't overdo, we animators tend to work very hard and do not take breaks! So after 6 hours or more staring at a moderately small screen, moving keys and straightening out the overshoots in graph editor you eyes are going to start feel strained and you are slowly pushing yourself on path to RSI or carpal tunnel. Take a break, get away from the computer! Learn some stretches for your hands and go and take in nature or look at what other people are doing. Get out of the office at lunch and spend time people watching even when you get home (Walt Stanchfield used to draw quick poses off what he saw on the TV, either while watching dramas or sports).

So happy mid week, keep on Animating!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

How does a human fall?

Gravity tens to be a harsh mistress, once the body is off balance and is not going to be able to recover we do only one thing, Fall.

So why am I teaching  you about falling? well if we are not standing in place indefinitely we are all falling be it walking, running, sitting down, non controlled falling (tripping, lose balance) and then controlled falling (dropping to the floor on the knees, planned place to land).

Torso governs movement, the hips control the directional movement of legs and the shoulders control the direction and swing of the arms. The chest governs posture and lean and the different between the sheaths of muscle holding the stomach and the spinal cord and the rib cage which is flexible to a point but is rigid in that if you move, the rib cage holds its shape.

One of our senses is our sense of balance, how we stay up. When our seeing and hearing does not match up, you have problems with balance (people with vertigo have a sensation of the ground getting magnified but their ears telling them they are up higher than what they see, resulting in feeling a little bit dizzy). When our weight cannot stay on balance, we cannot counteract the pull of gravity and we have to fall.

There is a difference between controlled falling and uncontrolled; the brain knows that it is falling it doesn't come as a shock that you are falling. Walking, the body catches itself on the next step. Running the body encounters one foot hitting the ground in the pass through, the body has to stay on balance with one foot.When you need to fall, sitting or other ways (in stunts, martial arts and in acting) you are conscious of not trying to protect the body while falling. You fall the right way, you don't' throw your arms up to catch yourself or towards the ground to brace the impact through your arm. You are limp and relaxed not tense and like a plank.

Next time you are watching a scene in a movie, watch the stuntmen falling/rolling on the floor, also notice the drawn out dying scene and at least once in most of these movies someone sits down in a chair. Notice how people negotiate with their bodies the idea of falling with doing it on purpose. Or you can always notice in the usual funny videos on YouTube for non-controlled falling.

Until, next time happy animating!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Why to not or to offset keys is the wrong question to ask.

Hi Everyone,
Now this is a little bit controversial, we have always been told to either offset them or not.

 Now really in the the major keys (golden poses) most of the movement hits the beat. This is where all your keys should be together or at least one or two frames forward or backward from the pose. This is where you really need to get into the habit of fleshing out your storytelling poses before getting into the animation program.

 Try to figure out not just arcs (since the body will always arc since that's the way the body is designed) but how movement affects secondary movement, it's not separate and secondary movement is not always the follow through of the primary movement.

 The body shifts and and limbs are always going to offset in the breakdowns because the movement looks wooden if you have everything move at the same time or you have not accounted for overshoot or extremes (this doesn't mean cartoon style action, just look at a slow motion video of someone punching a guy or throwing a ball).

 If you tend to keep exaggerating with just pushing the movement in the way it was flowing it is then going to look floaty and you also going to miss your beats, people! So try to keep that in mind. The reverse is always true if you try to always get the poses to pop then you can end up to overuse this affect and it will then turn into jerky and you will come in short with your beats (since the mind of the audience needs time to read the action, that is why moving holds were invented) the beat is just going to need to hit and then slightly stay on pose before the next pose.

 Since the mind is always like this: Action-Reaction-Anticipation-Action. We are designed to capture at 24 frames per second, we read action at 12 frames second, we react to about 6-8 frames per second and we might consider 4 frames important unconsciously . That doesn't mean that the brain is lazy it just has to deal with constant feedback and it tends to focus on fast movement, hands (gestures) and the face (emotions and eye movement).

 Maya or max are really, really lazy inbetweeners and sorry you will never get to fire them and hire a better inbetweener. That means that when offsetting try to leave at least some idea of what is what (not just key every single frame) so when you need to go into the graph editor it's not like someone has tried to make spaghetti in it. When looking at the program that your animating with tend to go with the perfectionist stream of thinking if it doesn't look right then it's not right, why it's not right you have to really work that out quickly before you go onto your next pass or next set of keys.

When looking at video capture, spend time not by drawing poses but by real analysis of why the movement is like that, what is it telling you. Figure out how gravity is either assisting a movement or not assisting the movement. The mass of the body and how it is affecting the movement.Thinking is what we need to do always as animators, animation is not blind luck it's about carefully controlled elements to produce amazing likeness of real flesh and blood movement.

Thanks for reading, happy animating!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

12 Principles of Animation by Alan Becker

We all have to brush up the basics every now again, or at least check back.

Have a very happy Sunday, keep animating!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Believing in you - Are you happy right now?

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.
Donald Rumsfeld

 The loud speaker crackles "animator 3106 ; please step forward" you hasten to the front of the line to get paid your dues, for all that time spent training and animating your little heart out. You get a cushy job doing something you like getting an awesome wage and with people that will like you and you will get along with.

Wouldn't that be nice?
 If the world at the end noticed how hard you were working. Not just working at another job that does not pay to be creative, doing less than two hours a week animating on the side. Not up there with a resume in hand, the show reel in the other and a personality that said "hire me quick!" stamped on the front of your face so much so it leaves a impression on people.

I love one of Bon Jovi's songs "welcome to wherever you are" which has the following lines as chorus;
"Welcome to wherever you are
This is your life, you made it this far
Welcome, you gotta believe
That right here right now, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be"

We believe so much in getting passive feedback about how we are progressing that we forget to do the stuff that matters to ourselves. We in the end believe we are only as good as that job that pays our bills and for our crap, forgetting that we are only happy when we are creative by ourselves or with other people. 

Now do you believe that you could do better? be a better person and a better animator? If you push to achieve then you will always get there in the end, no success story is without struggle.

Thank you. Until next time, Happy Animating!

"Around here we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." Walt Disney

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Artistic dilemma or ESP? Why animators are not usually good storytellers.

Good news first, I am going to be writing some brilliant articles as a guest over at Animation Salvation for DJ Nicke. Which I'm looking forward to when I finish them  and of course I will link them over here so you can peruse them over there at your leisure.

In the process of writing them, the internal dilemma stepped in and kicked me neatly in the face. Most of the posts here that have had traffic from other sites have been the anatomy ones and those are the ones I will be writing more in depth over at Animation Salvation. 
 Animators do not need knowledge of physiology or clinical medicine, nor the memorization of so many muscles in groupings that it makes your brain fall out your ears and make your eyes bleed. Sorry for that last mental picture, but you know. 

We live for stories and for the simple explanations for many more complicated answers as Eisenstein said “If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.” 

The problem with the creative mind is that it mostly assumes that it can explain things the way it wants to and that everyone is going to get it;

This is what we do with stories cram them full, since everyone loves details right? We want to put all our ideas forward like precious new babies wrapped in bubble wrap that no one will break. We make the story confusing, muddled in the unnecessary. 

Most of the most the powerful stories can be told in the same space of time as knock-knock joke, not that you want to. We remember the things that identified with us as individuals, love, betrayal, guilt, loss, grief and being happy. We are primary driven by emotions, the conviction that we are feeling is right and most of us are empathetic with others that are showing emotion. 

To sum up, we need and crave simple. The comfort food for the soul is stories and people that can play in tune with the heartstrings.

So happy animating, til next time!

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