Sunday, April 3, 2011

PRJ350 - Week 11 Progress Journal

Animation Blocking

I spent some time working on getting the base poses down for my character's initial walk-on before I realized I was being too hasty - I wasn't following my vid ref or my thumbnails, and with the complexity and length of the animation I had ahead of me, I really needed to have a better roadmap. To this end, I took my original vid ref into photoshop and began tracing over each major key pose onto unique layers. Doing this gave me a better insight to the lines of action in the pose and was a much more accurate and quick way to sketch out the poses then it would be to do so by hand on paper just using the video as reference.

Once I had these initial sketches, I composited them to the sheets above and printed them off. I also began adding them to Flash on the original frame numbers so that I could watch how they moved. This is a lengthy process, so I only got the first portion done, but it is very effective. One benefit of this process is I can quickly and easily play with timing, rather then trying to push and pull dozens of keyed object keyframes in Maya.

Once I have a little more time, I can start playing with the timing and get the rest of the frames in, but I wanted to make sure I had a chance to work on getting initial poses into Maya. I brought up my animation file and worked on getting the first pose right - it tends to be one of the most important ones. In the case of my animation, I actually started with the second pose, the first that the goblin is fully on-screen. I can work backward to have him walk on, but I needed to ensure that I had the right starting position figured out.

I then worked on following my thumbnail roadmap, being careful to exaggerate each pose to really enhance the action and to fit better with the character's proportions and anatomy, and really try to make sure I had the right arcs in place for the IK hands - a tricky process. I got the first part of the walk in, his notice and take and his approach blocked in after long hours of moving him around, and already am noticing severe issues with the skinning I'll have to address - this was part of my plan, as I knew they'd start making themselves more noticed once I started the actual animation, and I'll be working on them soon enough.

All told, things are coming along well, and the animation is working out okay, although I'm already noticing major problems with the timing. The beginning of this week will be spent getting the final models for the props in, getting the lighting resolved and blocking in the next portion of the animation. I'm right in the thick of crunch time now, so everything has to really count, but I'm really excited to see the little guy coming to life.

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