Animation Principles Completed Sequence

Well, here it is, the completed sequence. I've actually had this done for almost a week now but I was too embarrassed to upload it! 

I'm really not at all happy with how the cleanup stage turned out. I feel a lot of character has been lost in the process and the animation just looks a lot stiffer now than it did before. The stair climb, especially — I originally animated it on ones but shot it on twos and it's really suffered for it. I can still see so many mistakes — missing inbetweens, dodgy arcs (particularly on that angry walk) but I think there comes a point you just need to say "I'm done working on this." Have I said that on my Digital Skills blog already?

I opted not to add the bannister on the stairs. I found it difficult to draw without it completely getting in the way and it just looked sort of odd, floating there — plus I quite like the idea that the character is almost a kind of mime — though that excuse would work better if I'd not drawn the stairs ;]

Still, it's nice to see it finished after so much stress and strain. The sound isn't too sophisticated... a bit hastily slapped on but I think it adds a nice little finish. It sounds a bit squiffy when burned to a DVD for some reason so I may need to look at tweaking that a little.

I'm not entirely sure what I'm typing at the moment. Feeling pretty tired, so forgive my incoherence!

Whilst I'm here, behold my DVD/menu designs:

I'm secretly quite pleased with these. Normally I'm horrendous at this kind of thing; design and presentation aren't usually my strongest points (gulp) so it was nice to see these come together fairly well. Simple but effective I feel! Not yet gotten around to the box design but it will be in a similar vein — I'm thinking of using the scene with Gustave at the bottom of the stairs or something. We'll see what Mr Photoshop conjures up...

Animation Principles rough sequence

Pretty much the completed sequence at this stage. Certain parts I'm really not happy with — resuming the walk after kicking the ball and landing in the puddle, specifically. Two very minor things that are causing me immeasurable frustration. I think I must just be really tired — I can't seem to focus, can't seem to get them right and it's really, really getting to me.

Obviously there is no visible puddle yet... still need to add that in, which I'll probably do during the refning stage. I'm thinking I may repeat the 'happy' cycle once more just to give the puddle a bit more time to enter the screen.

It's still not quite long enough though, only 19 seconds — and he's off-screen for at least two of them. This is really worrying me as aside from repeating the happy cycle and shooting the stair-climb on doubles, I'm not sure how else I can extend the time. I don't want to stretch and pad out what's already there too much — might make it feel a bit artificial and lose credibility/presentation. aghhh

Happy walk V2 w/ inbetweens

That didn't take long! Quite pleasantly surprised with how it's looking so far I must say. I think it could use another couple of inbetweens here and there to smooth out the arms and add a bit of interest to the legs but otherwise I think it's turning out alright. I think I messed up on the arms — seems to be a point at which I get confused and they switch places but it's not too noticeable in motion. There's a weird kink in the back arm and it kind of flails a little bit but that should be easy enough to rectify.

Happy walk v2

Long time no update! Essays and Digital Skills catchup have been dominating much of my life these past few weeks but I've been happily animating away all this time and have the majority of my animation blocked out in rough, which means I can spend the Christmas period simply cleaning up my lines. All I need to do is adjust certain parts of the sequence to get it all in order and it's ready to go!

I have about 18 seconds so far, around 300 — 400 frames on a mix of ones and twos. I think that once I've made the final tweaks to my sequence and doubled up some of my frames I'll be well within the timescale. Vimeo is currently still processing it so I'll whack that up later today, but in the meantime here's the last part I've been working on:

I needed a happy walk cycle for the section after he kicks the ball, something really quite jaunty and upbeat with large, high steps and swinging arms. I took a lot of inspiration from Milt Kahl's "Pinocchio" style walks. Some people very kindly animated Milt's thumbnails on Youtube:

There was also a very nice Milt-style walk in the Animator's Survival Kit that I kept glancing back to to make sure I was getting the posing right. 

In the end, this is what I came up with: (Keyframes, doubles, 12fps until I get the inbetweens done)

It's not tremendously original but it's been a very useful exercise in observing timing, not to mention drag/overlap on the arms. If I can get the inbetweens finished today then I'll be sorted! The day is still young!

Sad character walk V4

In between coughing up the contents of my lungs, I finally plucked up the courage to re-tackle the dreaded sad cycle! I want a medal.

I'm still not totally happy with it (as always) but I think (or hope) it's better than before. Still needs a few more inbetweens to get the timing right — mostly where he picks his feet up, I just feel it needs to be a little slower.

There are some arc problems with the hips, especially on the front leg's up positions. It should be easily fixable, I think I just need to bring it back a little bit. I don't really think the arms are working either. The swing seems a little excessive for his mood — I wanted the lower arm to appear really heavy and swing very loosely from the elbow to give the feeling of weight but I don't think it really worked. I animated the arm separately and it looked fine at first, but adding it to the body really changed the way that it reads. I think I need to drop the shoulders a little lower as well, to make him seem a bit more sad.

The more I look at it the less happy I am (dammit Alex) but hey-ho, they're all things that can hopefully be fixed fairly easily...

Angry walk V2

Technically V3 or V4 but I was stupid and didn't post the previous revision...!

(sorry, it's a little hard to see — should have looped it!)

This is for the scene just after he steps into the puddle — so he'll land in it around the centre of the frame, get annoyed and then storm off-screen in a rage.

Made a number of revisions to this, mainly in the legs. I removed a lot of redundant inbetweens and changed the way the legs move. Rather than striking the ground with his heel on the contact post I felt it would have more impact if his foot came straight down onto the floor. I think it serves to give the whole thing a greater feeling of weight. I think I'd like to tweak the foot a little more and have it tilt upwards very slightly just before it comes down. I think that might give it just a touch more power.

The arms and head were driving me crackers for ages — I just couldn't seem to position them correctly and was having real trouble visualizing how they should move. Nick was really great and sat with me for ages, helping me figure out what to do with them. I have no idea if you're reading this Nick, but if you are — thank you again. You're a godsend.

Got some good feedback from Ron on it as well who helped me tweak the arms and figure out the kinks in the initial head movement. I think I've got it to the stage where I'm mostly happy with it now! All that's left is to clean up the lines. My plan is to get as much animation roughed out as I possibly can before Christmas and then spend as much time as I need over the break refining the lines if necessary. As long as the basic movement is there it should be fine.

I'm now at that awkward position where I need to figure out what to work on next — everything I still have left to do is pretty tricky so I'm afraid to tackle any of it! I should really get back to that godawful sad walk cycle at some point...

Angry walk V1

Naughty Alex, working on things completely out of sequence...

Mucking about, trying to get an "angry" walk for the last section — I think it's going alright, just having some trouble getting the arcs on the hips right as he brings his leg up and over. I find animating walks on the spot much more difficult in terms of planning arcs — I'm going to try spreading it out so he walks across the screen to see if that makes it easier. I think the trouble is that he raises his leg too high when he brings it up. I could probably make it work if I tweaked it hard enough but I think I might just try dropping it down to see if it makes it easier.

I think I need to try delaying the knee slightly as it's in the air to help give the leg more power when the heel comes down to strike the ground. Probably need to bring the leg on the contact position forward a bit too.

Rather than having the heel rise up on the up position I might try keeping the heel flat on the floor. I like how the pose looks with him really thrusting forward but I'm wondering if that's causing difficulty with getting the leg arcs right. I think he needs to drop down more on the inbetweens between the up and contact positions. His leg bends but his body doesn't drop much — I think I probably messed up the leg lengths!

I'm trying to shoot things on twos instead of ones to cut my workload in half. I'm not very good at planning things for twos — always comes out looking too slow!  

(Agh, I know what I mean to say... it's been a long day and I'm tired!)