It's been an interesting year, I've learned a lot, had a chance to further my animation skills at least a little. Passed my 1st year and already made it through half of second year, created some animations I am proud of and some, not so much. I also decided where I want to specialize, which is a massive leap for me :D
I came onto this course being completely in love with all animation styles and techniques and didn't really know whether I wanted to go into post production, pre production, production or other things.
It was only at the end of 1st year that I decided that the thing I'd most like to specialize with, is 3D Character animation. I really enjoy working in Maya and trying to bring characters to life, using this method sounds perfect for me :) Subtle eye and body language are things I always seem to pick up on in films, so it'd be nice to learn and get good at bringing characters to life myself.
We recently got set an 11 Second animation project, to the November audio clip from the 11 second club, you can see this below.
I spent a few whole days working on this animation, paying attention to as many little details as I could, even though the rigs I was using (Nico and Fox 1.0 from Creative Crash) didn't have as complex facial controls as a human rig would've. I enjoyed playing with the ears and tails especially, working on follow through and overlap motions.
I received some incredible critique from my 'mentor' that I posted about a while back, so I'll be improving this animation and working to his feedback very soon. He's given me a lot of tips and advice on how to improve the way the characters interact, along . Infact, I'll post it below, as it's really helpful advice may help others too, plus it'll make it clear what I'll be changing at some point.
"First off nice job so far! You've really improved since I saw your first animation! Also, an 11 second 2 character dialogue shot is NO small task! Don't sell yourself short with "only 11 second short one." Thats a lot of animation!!! Even professionals at Disney and Dreamworks average 4-5 seconds per week. It's pretty ambitious!
First things first, that camera angle! Flat on the side is the most boring camera angle you could choose! Switch it up, put a 45 degree angle on the center of the shot. Play with camera changes, over the shoulder type things to really keep the shot interesting!
It will also free you up from being stuck to forward/backward awkward movement. In terms of the acting, some of the choices work, some don't so much. At first for example she's coming on strong in her voice, but she backs off when she's saying it. It doesn't sound like shes intimidated by him or anything, so maybe try reversing that move and having her come forwards towards him when she says it.I'm definitely going to work on removing some animation from her, as well as posing. I really love the idea of her starting out from sitting, as I struggled to get her sitting animation to look authentic. I'm not sure whether I'll get all of this done for the deadline, as I still have an essay and 3 production reports, among other things due this month as well. But I'll be sure to try my best with it, and even if I don't complete it for the deadline, I'll rework it for my show reel anyway, so expect that on my blog soon! :)
Same thing when she curls up and sits down. She's taking a lower position than him on screen and psycologically, which makes her look weaker. Again, she's coming on pretty strong. Get her up and strong! She probably can't get above him height wise, but you could perhaps lower the male wolf a bit in order to make that happen!
That being said I like his body language when he says "I don't cry." It makes him seem proud the way he puts his head up, which he sounds like! But then you drop it down instantly! If he's really proud, he's not going to go into sad mode again! He might look away or look at his foot or kick the dirt or something, but lowering his head again makes his proud statement not so strong.
Those are just some general ideas to think about as far as the acting goes. The body says 1000% more than the voice does!
In terms of mechanics, I would take a lot of time focusing on those! Study how a dog should sit and really work on making it seem like she's sitting when she sits down in the middle! Make sure the feet aren't sliding around. You've got a fairly large pop around 2 seconds in when she sits down too.
I realllly like the mechanics you have going with the dog on the right. He's not moving too much (a common issue is wayyyyy too much movement, or what might be called "over animating") He's kinda backing away at the end which feels nice enough mechanics wise (Acting wise I might place that more towards the beginning because he's put his pride on the line after his statement) You wen't really simple with him, WHICH IS GREAT! It's such a smart decision and it really helps him feel nice!
The girl is what I would say is overanimated. She's walking back and forth for no real reason, she sits down and stands up for no real reason. You can do something like this easily with two poses. Maybe start with her sitting and then come up on him when she says "you know what'd be really nice?" (Not saying change your whole shot, just things to think about in the future!)
But again, super nice progress as far as where you came from! It's honestly not horrible, but it's got a long way to go at the same time! You're doing great! Keep it up!"
Another thing I wanted to talk about was Kieth Lango's tutorials. Kieth Lango's blog was suggested to us in first year, because of his amazing article on Pose to Pose animation. What I didn't know, was that he used to do a series of VTS animation clinic tutorial videos every week, that could be subscribed to like a magazine. One of my friends at University recently noticed that he was selling 60 hours worth of these VTS tutorials in a bundle for £18. This was only for a couple of days, so I was really lucky to get in on it, but from what I've seen of them so far, they're incredibly, helpful and detailed tutorials, ranging from timing and poses to character animation itself. I can't wait until after deadlines, so I can really get stuck into them! For anyone interested, he's still selling these 60 hours of tutorials for £60 on his website here, I'd definitely recommend them! It's an incredible price for so much knowledge.
Just before I end this post, I thought I'd put up some Digital Paintings I've done recently, the first 3, practicing Lighting and the Final 3 practicing colour :) The first 3 were some pre-vis concepts for my Production Bible, which have since been scrapped, for a different style. The second 3, being random warm-up doodles whilst I was home for Christmas c:
and finally, the end of year showreel!
I'm slowly trying to phase out most of my 2D animation, replacing it with newer 3D work. Mostly because the majority of my 2D work is very old or sloppy to the point that I am unhappy with it. But also because I want to have a more specialized and detailed 3D show reel that I can continue adding to :3
I still really enjoy 2D animation and will probably continue working on 2D animations at one point or another (I've already applied to be a tweener/clean up animator on a couple of the 3rd year 2D films as well as a character animator on the 3D project Lone Wolf, so I'm looking forward to 2014!)
I hope you've all had a wonderful year,
See you all in 2014!