Friday, 16 April 2010

Guard Rig

Today I finally received te Guard rig, although I haven't had much time to play with it. He is also on his scooter which helps me especially for the lightening scene that I can start work on straight away this weekend. I also hope to have completed the NEVER lip sync by Sunday so that I can start on his body movements. I am still waiting for the Captain rig and Walker, but at least I should be able to block out at least two of my scenes by the start of next week.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Pirates Scenes

Today I finally found out which scenes I will be animating for the Pirates of the Produce Aisle team. I originally only had three scenes, so asked my fellow team member Marliuz for a couple of hers as she had around eight scenes in comparison.

Screenshot of the shot list:

I have also had access for the first time to some of the models the team have made that were on the Public folders. I am pleased to see the ship and the other characters apart from Patches in particular because I will be using them in my scenes. The characters I will be using are Walker, Breadbeard and The Guard. Here I have been experimenting with the Pirate ship and Walker, even though he is not rigged in this case and I will have to wait a little longer to be able to animate him.

Ship close up, (Walker will be firing a melon from the cannon in my scene)

When I imported Walker into the ship scene he was extremely out of proportion to the shio, so I had to scale him down. I must warn the team to make sure they realise this so he can be scaled easily when rigged and ready to animate, as it may cause problems further down the line.

Here is the animatic for the three shots I was initially given, as well as this I will be animating scenes 17 and 18 where the Guard is struck by lightening.

For now, I will have to wait until the rest of the characters are finished, and start blocking out the animation as soon as I receive them. If I am emailed the Guard by tomorrow I will hopefully have him blocked out by the end of the weekend , and have at least finished his lip sync for the final scene. I aim to have a rough animation by the end of the week, ready to improve the week after. Hopefully this will be acceptable for the Pirates team.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Lip Sync Test: Usual Suspects

So this is what I have been working on today, using a scene from the Usual Suspects, I have lip synced the Kevin Spacey character of Verbal Kint. I used this scene as he is quite emotional and I could use a lot of exaggeration on his mouth movements. Having finished the lip sync, I am going to move onto animating his eyes to give him suitable expressions of being quite upset. Finally I will use his body language to make him hunched and similar to how he is in the film.

Another aim for the week was to start drawing, and here is my first one of Lara Croft :) I know I have messed up the guns somewhat, but I like her facial expression and that her head is tilted to one side. I am unsure what to draw next and think I will look into more full body poses so that I can show the whole of the human anatomy. I may also do some very quick sketches to show a range of timescales.

Animation Principles

One of the main things I want to convey in my Showreel is a knowledge of Animation Principles and that I can apply them to my work. I have been reading The Animator's Survival Guide by Richard Williams and mainly The Illusion Of Life for research into the principles. Here are a few of my drawings/research pages:

I am particularly looking into adding Follow Through and Overlapping Action and also Anticipation to my work, to make them seem more realistic, for example having the hands continue to move when a character is walking even after the step, or building up to the step. I also want to make my movements more exaggerated but not in a fast pace where it will look blocky and odd.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Reflections: Week Three

I am now into my fourth week of the term, and I cannot wait to get started properly on the Pirates film. I have enjoyed playing with the Patches rig, but think I personally animate better when I have something to work towards, so it will be better when I have a purpose for my scenes.

Otherwise, I realise I did not do much work at all last week due to being at the Mill and running, but I am now fully focused on my University work. I am quite pleased that I achieved my goal to choose areas to work on and I am going to start to do so this week, especially with the character animation pieces and the Mr Bean walk cycle as i think this will add humour and personality to my showreel.

I did receive an email from the Whack'd team saying they may not use me to animate unless they are struggling at the end of the project, which in a way is good for my schedule so I can concentrate on the Pirates project and my own work rather than trying to rush everything.

Positives for the week:
  • Running at the Mill I got to see some Maya cloth work, which I may try and use in my own showreel to show I am able to use it
  • I know a walk cycle I wish to re-create by the end of the term, and I will focus on this one for now and try and get it to a high standard before continuing with the other sneak and run I started
  • I also have a clear aim in working for the Pirates team


  • I didn't actually do much animation last week
  • I am still waiting to see which shots I am going to work on for Pirates and also if the rigs I need will be ready for me to use

Aims for the week ahead:

  1. Start the Mr Bean Walk cycle, even if just blocking out
  2. Continue with the Usual Suspects lip sync
  3. Find out which shots I am doing for Pirates (hopefully will be Wednesday)
  4. Start animating these scenes!
  5. Begin drawing some more, I want to add some images to my disc if I can of my drawings. This will include concepts from my environment porject as well as character and fan sketches.

I have a busy week a head of me, but I feel if I get the main starting blocks done this week then I can just keep improving my work over and over to get it to an impressive standard by the end of term.

Side note: I have not placed a schedule on here yet as I am going to wait until the Pirates meeting to see when they are setting deadlines for. After this I will create my own to incorporate their project as well as the side ones I have listed so that I have clear time set aside for them all.

Patches 02

My aim for today was to experiement a little more with the Patches rig and how he would walk. I have tried to make the walk more bouncy and here are the results. The first walk is bouncy by making the passing position quite high, but it is still quite slow as there is 12 frames per step. I tried to make the second one faster by making it 7 frames per step, although this is too fast for my liking and it looks all over the place.

Finally, this one is just for a bit of fun, but i made Patches hop rather than step. I quite like this one in that his movement seems more together and his arms flop nicely by his side, but as a walk cycle it isn't very convincing. I am going to try and do some lip sync with him next, but I will wait until the meeting tomorrow to see which characters I should focus on.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Mr Bean Walk Cycle

I have also been watching different programmes for walk cycles so that I can create an individual one for my showreel. This will give my walk an edge rather than being quite basic. I have chosen to use Mr Bean as my inspiration, and in particular this scene where he has a stone in his shoe because it is over the top and I believe it will be different to what you normally see on a showreel.

I think I will use the Max for Maya rig for this and see how it looks, if I am not completely happy I will try one of the rigs I downloaded at the start of this project.

Patches 01

Woo I finally have been able to play with the Patches rig. I have been trying out some experiements with his Blend Shapes and some movement with a walk, although I have struggled with it a little bit and will change the walk again tomorrow.

Very quick facial test using Blend shapes:

This is just a little test trying his expressions in a little bit of a context of him scratching his head. It is only a quick attempt and by no means perfect (especially as I did not animate his fingers), but it helped my to get to know the Blend shapes better and also the limits of the arm movements. I am going to try more with Patches tomorrow, hopefully we will get on a little bit better.

Finally I tried to make him walk. I originally tried him on 15 frames per step but soon shortened it to 12 and then eventually to 10. This is because I feel he would have short little fast steps due to his small size and especially his legs.

I do not really like this walk cycle, as although the legs look ok, I want him to have more of a hop, kind of like a bunny rabbit walking (-if that makes sense?) so I am going to try and simplify the walk cycle tomorrow to the contacts and a bouncy inbetween/passing position and maybe not even include the up and down keys with it being so fast.

The arms are what bothers me the most, I am going to give them minimal movement tomorrow as they look ungainly and all over the place compared to his stumpy body and legs, so will prove too distracting if I move them too much during a walk.

My focus for tomorrow will be to continue with Patches, create a new walk for him (even if it will not be used by the Pirates team it is still good practice for me) and also try out a bit more character animation for him using the team's animatic for a guide.

We will be having a meeting with the Pirates team on Wednesday to determine the shots we will be animating for their final piece, and I will hopefully get my hands on the Guard rig too. Exciting stuff!


This week I have been looking into some of my old abandoned projects to see what I can update for my Showreel DVD.

One of the projects I started last year was a scene from Cast Away, where Chuck is rubbing sticks together to try and create fire. I abandoned it at the time because it did not have enough speech in the scene to create enough lip sync, but now I would like to return to it to create some exaggerated expressions. Here are a couple of the key poses I started, and it will be good to show a change from annoyed to happy in both his facial expressions and body demeanour.
Last year we had a storyboarding project and my group created the opening from the Magic Faraway Tree. Although the project left a lot to be desired, we did create some good characters for it and I would like to improve my character modelling by making a couple of them 3D in Maya. Here is the start to MoonFace. I know he has simple shapes, but I want to bring him to life with my texturing.

Finally, I have been trying different effects such as this water coming from the shower, yet I have had some problems making it hit the surface of the bath and not going through. Ideally I want to add Moom or Max for Maya to this and have the water bounce off of them as I feel this would be great for my showreel and show effects as well as character interaction with their environment.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Reflections: Week Two, Pirates and Plans

After sending Lewis from the Pirates group my walk cycles, this is the response I received back:

'Hi Hayley,These are really nice. Very good work. I'm impressed. We should have acharacter ready for animation very soon.Could you look through the animatic and see what shots you are interested in?coolio x'

I am very happy, although I do not know for sure yet whether the Whack'D group want me, and if they do I will have to ask my tutor to make sure I can work on both projects. For now until they have character models ready, I will look through the Pirates animatic for shots I like, and I also want to decide which of my previous University projects I would like to improve so that I have an even better showreel and portfolio for my DVD. I already know I wish to add a character to my environment project, as the last section was a disappointment to me and I feel it would be greatly improved by adding character animation and also a background. I may even make it more of a dusk evening than night time so that the lighting has a warm redish hue and is more dramatic.

On reflection for the last week, I am really pleased with my walk cycles I think they have improved so much since my attempts last year and I have also completed them an awful lot faster than before (obviously as I know more about Maya and the userface now). I do want to add even more to them over the next couple of days, whether this be more steps or even an environment for the character to move in.

Plans for this week:
  1. Watch the Pirates animatic
  2. Decide which shots I would like to work on
  3. Try animating with Max these shots until I have the animated rigs from the Team
  4. Continue to contact the Whack'd team to see if they also would like me to work for them... then decision time
  5. Choose which of my previous work to improve
  6. Begin animating more with my old projects
  7. Start making new sketches to also add a gallery section to my DVD ( I want to add more life drawing so will take my drawing pad into London and make some quick sketches of people on the streets, and also some architectural pieces)
  8. Continue with my walk cycles

I am giving myself major starting points this week, as I am working as a Runner at The Mill and realise I will probably not finish my ideas, but have the strong foundations to work from so that come Sunday and especially my next University week I can devote my time entirely to drawing and animating. I am really excited about the prospects for this term now :)

My response to Lewis:

'Hey Lewis,Thank you so much I am happy you liked them! :D :D

I was wondering if your animatic appears on youtube or vimeo etc as I tried to watch it on your blog but it is a bit small and slow to watch via blogger. If so please can I have a link to it.

I was also wondering if we will be given one character to animate or for example if we choose a scene with like three characters then will we animate all of them?

I would ideally like scenes of varying difficulty so that some I can complete quickly for you where as others will challenge me, and I can devote time to making them of a high standard.

Oh and I was also wondering if any of my classmates are working on your film and what roles they are taking so I can start talking to them about the project too.

Hope you are well, Hayley'

Monday, 5 April 2010

Run Cycle

The main thing I have been working on this weekend is a run cycle. This is my first attempt and although it is only a few steps I think it is quite convincing so far. I want to add to it now and maybe have a narrative with comedy, perhaps he can run into a wall or something like that. I will work on that over the next few days and storyboard the scene first.

I think the arms are a bit rigid but because he is moving so fast it does not seem to matter as much because you do not see it for too long. The run cycle is on 8 frames per step, so I may try it quicker and slower to get the right level of speed.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Chair Jumps

This is my first attempt at making Max jump from the chair, I like how he steps onto the arm for leverage although the arm movements could do with a bit of work. I am pleased that I brought them back before going forward, giving him some anticipation.

Adding an Armchair

Before I start animating different ways of jumping off the chair, I wanted to actually add in a chair, because I think it will help me with scale and proportions of how my character will jump compared to just the basic blocks I had created beforehand. I am using the smallest armchair in this set and I think it fits Max quite well. I found it as freeware at

I realise that this will not be the final model as the Whack'd team will have already created that, but it is a start and like I said will be much better to animate with. I also think he would be able to get a little bit of bouce from the chair too, and it also has possibilies to fall over so fits the different types of jump/fall I want to try.

Muybridge Reference

Searching for jumping or types of jump online did not give me much feedback, so I have started to look into the old Muybridge photos for reference. These show different types of jump that I could implement into my work. The first is good because it is a standing jump which my character will have from the chair rather than a run up. I do think he becomes a little too outstretched for my liking and this may look odd in a quick movement off the chair. I do like the way he lands crouched down as you can feel the full weight of the jump.

The second image shows a running jump. This is similar to my google images in that the legs are tucked up and the arms counterbalance the action. I think this is definitely one I am going to try and reference from as I like the strong pose in the middle, although the landing is a little bit boring so I will add more exaggeration to this.

The final image is a little bit different and I have chosen it because the power in the jump comes from the arms pushing down on the body rather than the legs leaping into the air. Evidently the arm of the chair will not be as high as this person and the character will not get the run up either, but the position of the character leaning forward in the jump almost looking down and also the arms being lower are an interesting proposition compared to the other 'normal' jumps. The only problem for me is that the rig would probably have to have his legs very high and this may cause him to look somewhat like a gymnast which probably isn't what the team are looking for. But hey, it is an alternative I will try.