Monday, April 13, 2009

Bale rant Animation process: 'Animation'



I wanted to start testing how far and how well the layering method would work on this one… so I decided to work only on about 40-50 frames and try to finish it up… at the same time I was experimenting on the settings… rendering quality… so I could think and try to imagine how it would look as a final product or final “drawings” for the whole shot. Here are the examples:

When I started to go further on the lipsync, I realized that I couldn’t push as much the mouth shapes with this technique… so I started a clean slate in the lipsync and with the help of Flipbook and Jason Ryan’s lipsync webinar I had this done in about 30 minutes:

I think it looked waaaay better than the versions before… so I went back to my shot and polished this up until I have something I was happy with:

At the end after having this 40-50 frames “done” in the layering method… it took a lot of brain power and concentration to really see what I was animating and not getting distracted for the rest… I realized that I could get a bit lost in the performance on the whole clip and my acting pattern could suffer because of this… so I decided to have a complete rough blocking of the main idea of the shot:

The rest of the process was similar to the many pose to pose or layering tutorials on the web, so I just had my important key poses and expressions down and started working in small chunks until the end… and of course after switching from stepped to flat splines, I went back to the layering method… working my way up from the root to the face :)

After a few notes I got from friends and animators, I changed a few things and this is what I can call “the final version”:

Well… that’s all I can say about my animation process on this shot.. it was pretty fun and challenging for me to present it to the spline doctors, and I want to thank all of them and all my friends for the kind feedback! :)

I hope this was helpful.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bale rant Animation process: 'Planning' - 2/2



After sketching for a few days and trying to act out how the character would behave and perform, I had a clear “road map” of the overall acting… so that’s the time when I decided to shoot some video reference at home.
I picked some of the clips where I found more interesting acting choices and also included a hand reference shot at the end. All this really helped me solve some motion problems in the animation process when I started to struggle with posing or acting patterns… looking at this reference was always inspiring and problem solving for me :)

After watching this reference over and over I came up with a list of parts I liked the most:

-Line: "What the F*** is it with you"? - Clip 4

-Surprise take on Line "No...NO!.." - Clip 2

-Line"The..the F*** are you DOING!? - Clip 1

-Keys pressing and "Gimme a F*** Answer.." - Clip 2 or 4.


For me, this is very important in the planning process for a 3d animator. After I got the planning down for the performance (sketches, thumbnails, animatics, video reference, etc.) I wanted to prepare myself to fight the computer and its restrictions in terms of rig, technicalities, controls, IK/FK choices.. etc etc.

So I made a list of animation/technical choices for this animation shot:

- I wanted to go between subtle and cartoony animation. The shot layout is very close up so I didn’t want too much movement. Trying to concentrate on the facial animation performance… so I decided to start out with the “Layering method” (even though I switched later on to stepped mode blocking “pose to pose”)

- Considering that the character was going to be seated and typing most of the time I decided to go with IK hands in the whole shot.

- I also wanted to try to go clean on the rotations and dealing with only one axis at a time so I could have better control on the rig… I used to animate in local mode for the rotation, but at the end I ended up having influences in the other axis as well… probably the rig… but to go super clean I chose to go with Gimbal-mode rotations for the whole shot.

- For the translation part it was simpler… I just used the regular ones (world and local) for posing and in-between… BUT, I knew that in the polishing part I was going to change to “screen-mode translations” which translates from the flat camera view so you could track your arcs way better.

I will post my Animation process step by step on Sunday... thanx for stopping by and..stay tuned! :P

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bale rant Animation process: 'Planning' - 1/2

When Spline Doctors presented this challenge I got pumped right away with the audio clip and the idea of being able to have feedback and critique from them… awesome!! so I put some extra hours after work to start thinking on how I would approach this animation challenge…
I came out with the “swearing at the computer” concept, inspired by the amount of times 3dsmax crashed on me at work and at home… hehehe… so I opened the audio editing software I have (Adobe Audition) and start trying things out with the audio parts that I could find more interesting from the 4 min Bale rant… I also added a kind of “farm-ish” environment background sound, so the cuts of the parts I selected were blended with it.

Considering time for the animation (I didn’t want to do more than 15 seconds) and trying not to pick the same concept or audio of other contestants… this is what I came out with:


I tried to listen to the edited audio as much as I could at work and at home… and tried to sketch the concept or the situation of the character on the scene… try to find the right pose or inspiring facial expressions, composition, staging of things on the screen, etc etc.

I also did a break down of the audio on paper so I could relate better with attitudes and the character performance through the shot. At this point I had a list of a few questions and answers for myself to make this process easier for me… this are the ones that had a more relevant role on the animation:

Where is the character?

- He is inside of his farm house working on his computer. It’s a nice day around 11am.

What was the character doing before the shot?

- He was working on the computer (typing, browsing, doing taxes, checking or paying bills, etc) and suddenly everything started to slow down (jerky mouse pointer, webpages taking too long to load, the little sand clock appeared for too long on the screen).

What is the character’s personality overall?

- He is an average farmer on his 40’s, grumpy most of the time… tired and stressed for the routine of dealing with a computer which is the object he doesn’t feel the most comfortable with.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Won 2nd place in the Spline Doctors Challenge :)


Just wanted to say that I am very happy to have won the 2nd place in the Spline Doctors Challenge... it was very fun to animate the Christian Bale rant... and as a prize I got some Pixar swag that I will be receiving in a couple of weeks.. YAY! :)

you can check the rest of the entries at the spline doctors website:

In a couple of days or so I will be posting my animation process on this animation for the people who are interested... so stay tuned!.

Thanx to Andrew Gordon and all the doctors for making this fun contest.. I hope they keep doing this!... :)

Disney Master Classes (WALT STANCHFIELD BOOKS)

Just for a quick update to say that I got the WALT STANCHFIELD BOOKS today!!! :)

I just took a quick look and they look awesome so far.... great resource and inspirational stuff.. I can't wait to read them both!

thanks to my wife Christina who ordered them for me! :P