14 May 2011

Some (of my) Common Beginner Mistakes:

Sorry for the lack of post recently... But sometime, "life" take a lot of your time and your "virtual life" is (hopefully for you and me) not as important :D As for now, I'm animating 1st person weapons animation (as Call of Duty) at our top-secret studio and guess what ? Our game is gonna be announce soon at E3 !

Say hello to my animation notes !

When Eric Scheur publish his last post on the 11 Second Club, called : The Top Five, which list some of the common mistakes beginner will make in the Club's competition. It gave me that idea of just going through all my animations notes I had take at work since the beginning of the universe ! And do a list of the mistake I would normally made (or had made). This is really personal stuff, but I think it has the merit to show that everyone make more or less the same mistakes at the beginning.

-“Glitch” of all kinds and nature! :
As when it look as the character or parts of the character are hitting an “invisible walls” or being pull by “an invisible rope” or being “teleported” from one point to the other. A glitch may also exist when some part of your body change direction two times in a few frames. As when you have an elbow or knee snapping back and forward to a full extension to a non-full extension in one frame. To fix this, you should make your elbow or knee snap a few frames so that it doesn’t look like a glitch.

-Weak pose or having a bizarre pose somewhere in our animation :
If you frame-by-frame in your animation, there shouldn’t to be any bizarre or “gay” or weak pose. Even if it “just” an in-between (a drawing that you get from the interpolation of the computer) and not a key pose there should not be any bizarre pose out there.

-Having poses in motion, paid attention to poses than should not exist :
I remember I once did a mistake when I spend around 15 minutes building a pose that did not exist in my animation. I was doing a backward step, one where the character was doing a subtle jump from one position to the next. And as I was working on my animation I spend some time building that pose where my character had still his two feet on the ground. But obviously, if I wanted my character to make a small jump as he was making that backward step, he should not had that pose where he had his two feet on the ground at the same time. By doing so, I was making a pose that did not exist (the two feet on the ground) in relation to what I wanted in my mind.
So we must think of what a pose should look like at one particular moment in the animation, so that it is representing an idea (intention) at a certain moment in time. We should not know at What Time it will be yet (on the timeline). But we know that at this moment (the moment where my character is drinking a cup of hot coffee for instance) that pose should look like that (where he just realize the coffee is super-hot).

-Not having enough change, angle change, position change, pose change : Well Contast. It's about abstraction of masses and not seing your character as different body part but as a few big Boucing Balls. Bellow are two animations I could remember showing a good examples of no contrast and contrast. The first animation is from the Spungella Online Workshops (check out the first and second critique by Jean-Denis Haas) as the second one is from Kevin Webb animation blog (seem to have been hacked !)

"Also, think of contrast, visually. How can you make this interesting without crazy poses and fast timing. Try to incorporate visual changes so that tone wise the shot doesn't feel stale." -Jean-Denis Haas

-Sometime I put too much emphasis on the feet, which is not always necessary since the audience look generally at the head.

-What to paid attention and look for when we animate the feet :
  • Do some little step will give more life to the character. Or as a negative way to see it, doing no little step when a character is moving/jumping around will seem too much perfect and will take away some realism.
  • Feet slide and rotate generally on the toes.
  • Because we want to conserve our energy, we don’t lift our feet high when we do a step.
  • Planting the feet on the ground and they stop moving 100 % on one frame will give an IK feel to them.

-Arms and legs are moving independently from the rest of body:
As if my arms were moving (more than in a subtle way) and were not affecting the rest of the body at all. Changing shape will show deployment and absorption of forces. If my torso and hip doesn’t react when my character is climbing a ladder and my arms are moving independently, I am not showing the deployment of force with changing shape that should happen in the body.
The character body is an integral system so even seemingly separate movements involve the motion of other parts of the body. For example during a head turn in dependence of the situation the character will slightly move his shoulders and his centre of mass. During a walk the entire body will be involved in the animation not only the hands and the legs, even the head will have specific movements.”

-Put a key on the hip every time I’ve put a key on the arms or legs :
In reality I can move my legs and arms without affecting my torso very much or even my hips (if I was doing circles with my arms; my arms will need a lot of keys, but not my torso and hips). To finesse some part of the body, it is not necessary to key the entire body, or my blocking will become very hard to manage as I won’t know anymore where my important keys are when I look at the dopesheet. And managing the Hip rotation and translation will be hard to as there are too much keyframes of these.

-Add more Breakdowns (keyframe on the timeline) to “correct” a movement that is already wrong. If it doesn't work,  do I need to add more poses ? No ! (See the end of that other text I had written on posing).
-I had the tendency to spend too much time in my first blocking pass with my keys next to each other’s, and not working on my timing until I had many keys and breakdown in my timeline. The good side of it is that you are not “distract” with your timing (more on Flip Online). But the bad side of it, is that in this “non-interpolation” blocking stage it can be difficult to see if your animation really work as you intended or to track your arc (easier to see them when things moves). More on this here :
-It should be obvious, clear what is happening in the animation when we look at our blocking (Check this post by Shawn Kelly). Or in other word, your blocking should tell a clear story (More on this here).

-Sometime when I begin to just “move things around” as the hand more there, or that feet more there without a clear goal in mind, I will then ask myself question as: what I’m doing, what I want, which pose I want… Or this “I’m just moving things around” mind-set can really be time consuming. We just don’t care if that hand is 5 cm more or less to the right, what is important is the general movement. When that happens, maybe it’s time for a break!

More common beginner’s mistake I had noted:
-As someone tell me one time: Don’t worry about the timing yet, worry about the poses, your important poses to get strong silhouette and dynamic line of action. Worry about the poses and spacing first. Not the timing.
-Begin to animate before we know what and how to animate something…
-Pose-to-Pose syndrome VS Overlapping Action…
-Not taking into account inertia and momentum of objects.
-Character not in balance...

-Giving a beat to your animation will add the spark that it need.
-Having too much ideas, poses (movement) for a specific period of time so that we get “readability issue”, or on the contrary not enough movement.
-Having a lack of contrast on poses and timing so that our movement seem “even”, uninteresting.


vicky rajkumar said...

Thanks for your amazing article !

Julie R. said...

This was really good and instructive
was using "gay" in a depreciative way, in the same sentence as "bizarre" and "weak" REALLY necessary for the understanding of how important posing is ? Not sure.
Words are as important as poses.

Marcelo Maldonado said...

Very good tips.