Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Walk that Walk

Day 3 and 4

The exercise this time around is a walking animation and looks like it will take several classes to complete. The requirements are to animate a simple figure walking across the screen. We are doing this on 8's, which means the figure must complete a step in 8 frames. And to walk across the screen, he must do a minimum of 5 steps.

Here are some early tests:

The way I did this was on one sheet of paper I planned out the walk.

Starting out with a series of 5 contact positions (where the forward foot is contacting the ground). The feet for two contact positions should overlap. with that done, I then focused on all the intermediate head positions. When walking the head moves in a wave shape with the head moving up and down between the high and low points. I then figure out the 8 body positions to go along with those 8 frames, along with the feet and arms. The arm positions are opposite of the foot positions (right foot fwd, left arm fwd, etc). I got a little crowded with the positions, so I moved to working each of the 8 positions on each sheet. These made up the first 8 frames. Using the plan sheet I continued with the 9th frame marking where the head should be, then using the first frame as a guide to trace off the rest of the body. I continued this for all of the rest of the frames. I did have to remember to slightly modify for the alternating arm/leg positions between each step to match which leg was the forward step.

In my final animation, it actually crosses the screen in 3 steps, but it seems to be enough to see the walk. He has a bit of the stretchy leg thing going on though...

Here's the "finished" product:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Ubiquitous Bouncing Ball

Day 2

Today we worked on timing and spacing. These are key to creating good animation. Timing is the point at which a major event takes place. Spacing is the pacing of images to get to those major events. The ball bounce exercise is used to illustrate these key skills.

We started out with mapping out the bouncing ball. As a ball bounces gravity affects it. The ball loses energy and the arc becomes smaller and smaller. In this exercise, I had four bounces, the four impacts are considered the timing. The pacing of the frames between these bounces is the spacing. As a ball bounces, there are varying speeds at which the ball moves. Speeding up as it approaches ground and slowing down as it reaches the top of the arc.

The first arc has 20 frames before first bounce, second has 16 frames, third has 13 frames and final has 10 frames. Because we were given those guidelines for the arcs, it was somewhat difficult for me to get started. After fourth attempt, I figured out that the planning was the important part. So, between frame 1 and frame 20, the middle is frame 11. I had to map out the spacings for the first 10, and last 10, attempting to get spacing wider going towards ground and tighter as it approached top of arc.

Here's the finished product:

I don't like the result so much, but it did illustrate that timing and spacing are critical for getting believable action. Given that these exercises occur within a three hour time frame, I have to consider it fairly successful. With more practice and more time, I think I could get it to be smoother and more believable.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Basic Animation Class - morph

Ok, I'm jumping on the blogbus with everyone else... I started a basic animation class this week at Austin Community College and I thought I'd write about that...

Day 1

We did a morph animation. This involves taking two different objects and morphing the one into the other. And it works like this... We had a total of 12 frames to draw. The 1st frame is object one. The 12th frame is object two. These are the starting and ending frames. All frames inbetween are the various stages of object one slowly turning into object two. I used a bowling ball that turns into a bowling pin.

Bowling Ball (frame 1)

Bowling Pin (frame 12)

Ok, so before going through the morph process, I need to cover the supplies I used.
-You need a light table to see thru the stacked paper for doing your drawings. Of course you can get by in other ways...
-Pencil and paper obviously.
-A peg bar - this is a plastic strip that has some pegs that fit nicely into pre-punched holes in your paper. This allows for the paper to be stacked in a precise manner so your drawings line up. Again, you can get by without if you are careful about stacking and lining up your drawings, but can be a pain.
-A camera for capturing your shots to computer. A scanner could also be used...
-A program that allows you to capture and sequence your shots. I use iStopMotion on home computer and the class uses Adobe Premiere...

Step 1
Frame 1 and 12: Draw bowling ball and pin.

Step 2
Frame 7: Stack these and draw middle frame (7th frame). This drawing will be a guesstimate of a blend midway between the ball and pin.

Step 3
Frame 4: Stack frames 1 and frame 7 with new sheet. Draw blend between frame 1 and 7.

Step 4
Frames 2 and 3: Stack frames 1 and frame 4 with new sheet. Draw blend between frames 1 and 4, noting that this will not be exact middle but one-third of the way (frame 2). Then do another new sheet with same method but for two-thirds of the way.

Step 5
Frames 5 and 6: Stack frames 4 and frame 7 with new sheet. Draw blend between frames 4 and 7, noting again that this will not be exact middle but a third (frame 5). Repeat for frame 6.

Step 6
Frame 10: Stack frames 7 and frame 12, with new sheet. Draw blend between frames 7 and 12, noting not exact middle again.

Step 7
Frames 8 and 9: Stack frames 7 and 10, with new sheet. Draw frames 8 and 9, using methods above.

Step 8
Frame 11: Stack frames 10 and 12, with new sheet. Draw frame 11.

Ok, drawing portion is done. Now using the mounted camera I snapped photos of the drawings frame 1 thru 12. Frame 1 has 10 shots as a setup. Frames 2 thru 11 have 2 shots each. And frame 12 has 10 shots as a finish.

Here's a link to the "finished" movie. You'll need Quicktime to view it. FYI, you can view each of the frames in Quicktime by using the left and right arrow buttons to navigate frame by frame. (Ok, that doesn't work when embedded in web page... will work if saved to computer and viewed with QT).