Animation – Part 1

Within this weeks post I will be discussing figure 1’s animation progress with play blast videos.

Figure 1. Animation play blasts version 1.

Go to the submission page to see the final more refined versions of these animations.

This is a content list from figure 1, I will analyse it chronological based on order of content:

  1. “Ah” and throwing the umbrella
  2. Close door and walk to the vase area.
  3. Flower petal touch.
  4. Pick up flower.
  5. Place flower in memorial vase.
  6. Put down vase in kitchen.
  7. “I wish I could have grown old with you”, the smiletrical. the look at toolbox shows the smile not change – I decided to change that expression into one where he looks a little surprised.

1. “Ah” and the Umbrella Throw

  • The first play blast is how the blocking looks once it is transferred into spline. The poses are mostly there, however the movement is not smooth at all.
  • Bit by bit, I worked through the poses to smooth them out.
  • Then, I altered the timing of the poses, to add anticipation, a clear staging layout of action, follow through on the limbs and the correct timing.
  • The intended timing that I aimed for consisted of a held position for the down position (the wind up), a fast movement for when the arm moves to throw the object, and pausing on the ‘leg go’ position.
  • The centre of gravity and chest movements were adjusted accordingly, exaggerating each position as much as it felt natural.
  • The head followed the object, most of the time. It would not make sense for the head to follow the object constantly. So, I aimed to have to head look at the object during the down pose especially. Then, on the ‘let go’ of the object pose the head looks to the character’s right side, but not directly at the object.

2. Closing the Door and Walking to the Vase Area

  • I developed this part of the animation quite thoroughly using poses, and timing. Although, I am still not happy with the end result.
  • The main focus was the centre of gravity, that made the ‘effect’ of the walk cycle. Since during this part, I did not have to worry about the feet as much, since they were out of the frame.
  • The turn of the body was the most tricky part, the timing and offset of the body parts was tricky. I could not find the most effective way of turning the body realistically, and opted for the smoothest animation I could do instead. This was a challenge in itself.
  • You should be able to see the offset with slow ins and outs that include follow through. If you look at the head and chest timing in the turn.

3. Flower Petal Touch

  • At first, the blocking poses seemed in the correct position, for the camera and the flower. However once I placed everything together in the scene, including the flower position, I decided to redo the poses. (compare the previs to these play blasts)
  • I implemented my own hand and other secondary references, to produce a natural finger pose.
  • I deliberated whether I should have the index finer actually touching the flower. Or to have the flower petal actually move. However, for the sake of bigger picture task lists and time constraints, I decided to have the finger almost touch the petal.
  • This scene should be quite ‘dreamlike’ and poetic. I intend to add depth of field with a higher aperture on this shot to exaggerate this.
  • The timing of the poses was my next challenge. I experimented with how long I should hold each pose for. With each version I tried, about 0-2 seconds each time. The play blast above is the result of these experiments. Though, I believe that the ‘flower touch’ pose could have been held for longer.

4. Picking Up the Flower

  • Having the character pick up the flower was challenging for multiple reasons:
  • Firstly, I had to apply the appropriate poses where they did not obstruct the flower (by going through the mesh) and the flower had to connect with the hand in the correct position.
  • The timing of poses. I made the ‘picking up’ part realistically fast, and then the arm movement towards the camera slower. To produce a cinematic effect. The audience has a realistic portion of time to understand what is going on and the ‘out of focus’ camera blur effect is aesthetically pleasing. That being, when the flower moves close to the camera for effect.
  • I used a parent constraint on the flower prop, though this made the method more difficult than necessary. Especially since the stem of the flower was excessively long. I ultimately had to reposition each key frame where the flower stem moved out of the vase lip region, before it exited the vase fully. A better method would have been to use an IK driven movement.

5. Placing the Flower in the Memorial Vase

  • I held the position after the flower dropped. This way the flower was hidden from view. The flower dropped quite quickly, therefore it did not matter if the flower passed through the character’s hand.
  • I added an animation to the flower after it dropped into the vase. As though it is shifting its weight along the rim of the vase, to the correct held position. This was a great addition, though as I previously mentioned, the flower is hidden from view at this point. Therefore, I mostly made this animation in vain.
  • Next, I needed to adjust the poses so that the hand did not pass through any of the other flowers on the table arrangements. Unfortunately, I had placed these flowers very close to the prop animation area for this shot.

6. Putting the Vase Down in the Kitchen

  • I implemented an FK-IK switch for the movement of the vase.
  • In this shot you can see the character putting down the vase, therefore, an IK-FK switch was necessary. I implemented duplicate models of the arms and chest to provide references for placements. Though I still found there to be a large jump between the switch of the controls types. Perhaps, I should have extended the duration for the switch. Considering how there was an attribute within the FK-IK switch called ‘blend’, this would have smoothed this issue out.
  • I applied the physics effect of weight as much as I could. With slow in and out movements when the vase was being placed on the table. Then, a quicker, freer movement when the character did not have any weight to carry afterwards.
  • While these play blasts do not show the best representation of my process, they do show some of the issues I faced and the mid point (the second video for this section).

7. “I Wish I Could Have Grown Old With You”.

  • Firstly, the first video in this section shows the animation with the lip sync anim layer turned off. This is to focus on the facial animation only.
  • Also, the camera of the memorial shot definitely needs to be adjusted. It seems to wonder where it shouldn’t for some unforeseen reason.
  • The facial expression at the end is intended to show how Graham is trying to keep a smiling face on, look past his grief and move on. Therefore, I added an expression that was smiling but very unsymmetrical. As can be seen with the eyebrows. As though he is pretending to smile, and it is not completely sincere, but forced. Showing the change of emotion from a depressed expression.
  • The head turn to look at the toolbox does not have a natural movement, that needed to be adjusted. Since, in the initial videos of this section, the head turn was only based on blocking poses. The same can be said for when he moves to pick up the toolbox. While these animation are acceptable in terms of poses and timing, they need slow in and outs added to the graph editor curves.
  • To create more natural character movements, I added subtle eye or face movements, even when the character did not move. Not to mention the breathing movement of the chest. Which I separated from the main animation using layers.

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