View Full Version : 2d/3d Mnokey Run cycle - help critique?

06 June 2004, 06:56 AM
Hey y'all,

I'm working on a small piece of animation for a friend of mine. Bascially, it's a run cycle for a monkey, and I'll show it to you before I explain, in case you'd like to skip the big explanation:

Any critique you can give to make it better would be greatly appreciated. It's my first attempt at a run cycle.

Okay, now the explanation:
My friend sent me this piece of clip art from Microsoft Word. He'd like to use it for his film company's titles, and asked me to animate it running towards the camera. I figured I'd bring it into Maya, break it into pieces, rig it up, and try to do a pseudo-2D thing, kinda like South Park. You know, as if it were paper animation. So that's what I'm going for.

Obviously, it's not realistic... and the stylization of the monkey forgives the non-realism, I think. But I'd still like to be able to have a believable cycle so that when I move the camera forward, it looks like this guy is running. Right now I think it looks like a combination between running and, well, dancing. I'd like to minimize the dancing.

What do you think? :) I'm eager to hear your comments...

- M

06 June 2004, 05:58 PM
Just an update here. I loosened up the run a little.

I put together a quick test of the whole piece my friend wanted, just for timing.

There's still a few problems with it (bad typography--just a placeholder)... the horizon shouldn't move with the monkey, I know. That's next to tackle. But I feel like he actually does feel like he's running now.

- -

By the way, if anyone's interested, this is pretty much how the rig was set up and put together: (5.5mb)

I had fun figuring out how to get everything to work and look right, so I figured if anyone wanted to try a 2d thing, they could see my method and then use that, or improve it, or try something completely new...

The camera for the actual animation is orthographic, so everything lines up perfectly. Since an orthographic camera can't really move "forward," I created the movement by keyframing the Orthographic Width on the cameraShape node.

- M

06 June 2004, 07:06 PM
hehe.. kinda creepy there mooncalf.. it doesnt remind me so much of a monkey as it does one of those head-crabbed scientists from halflife

dont get me wrong.. but if you hadnt told me it was a monkey i would have no idea.. perhaps it's the shape of the head...

as for the movement? it kinda looks a little robotic

and, with a name like guerilla productions.. i think you'd want the fade in to be almost instantaneous... like you are getting smacked in the face with it.. the spacing of the letters also don't really do the name justice

interesting way of setting it up though btw

06 June 2004, 07:34 PM
Hey Floomp, ;)

Thanks for the comments.

I don't know if I'd be able to identify it as a monkey or not, now that you mention it. I think it's supposed to be some kinf of gibbon. In any case, it's certainly not a gorilla ("Guerrilla Productions"--I assume they chose the graphic because of the name). :)

I think that the director of the piece is going to add some sound... hopefully they'll be monke cackling/jungle sounds, to help identify the animal better.

You have a good point about how the name should come in faster. Maybe almost with a "ka-shoonk" kinda sound? That part (as well as the typography.. which, like I said, is just a placeholder here) isn't up to me. "Guerrilla Productions" is a friend of mine, so I'm just doing the animation.

I can see what you mean about the movement being a bit robotic... hm... I'll try to find some way of making it a little more organic...

Thanks again for the tips! :)

- M

06 June 2004, 09:44 PM
I think working with curves a little might help rid the robotic feel....everything feels very poppy....I agree alot with what mmkelly had said but as you say you're only doing the anim.....keep going and post some updates:)

06 June 2004, 08:14 AM
Ah well, the director accepted the animation as it was. I didn't get to clean it up very much, but when it's time to move on, it's time to move on...

This is the next pass:

I think making the monkey all black (which was always the intention) helps with the roboticness a little--you don't see the individual parts moving as much.

The director also wanted more violence as the monkey approached the camera. Actually, he wanted the monkey to accelerate, but I couldn't find any way to do that and have the monkey still "read." When the monkey moved too fast, you barely saw it before it filled the screen.

So, to increase the tension, instead of making him move faster, I tried something different. I have just finished reading Frank and Ollie's "The Illusion of Life," and they mentioned that after the Disney animators saw some of the footage from cameras on the frontlines of World War II, they noticed that the inpact of bombs and other ground-shaking phenomena shook the camera. So they took that information and included it in their Goofy shorts, any time he hit the ground violently. And that's what I tried to do here... with the ground-shaking getting more violent as the monkey gets closer.

I'm not a fan of the green, but that's the director. :) The ground is a little plain for my taste, and I have a little creative control over it... I just can't figure out what to do to liven it up without taking away from the overall piece.

(and if I were to do anything to the ground, I have no idea how I'd pull it off... there's some weird keyframing going on here because of the orthographic camera...)

Thanks again to everyone for your comments. :) If you have more, I'd be glad to listen... until my director says "No more working on this" I'll keep working on it...

- M

P.S. This'll be the first beginning-to-end animation project I've done without quitting in the middle, so I'm pretty happy about that, too. :)

Now I have to figure out something suspenseful (

06 June 2004, 08:42 AM
i would make him sway a bit more from the hips and mabey get a snake like rythm happening with his spine.

06 June 2004, 08:46 AM
i would make him sway a bit more from the hips and mabey get a snake like rythm happening with his spine.

Oooh... that would be creepy--I'll try it! :)

There's a bit of that going on now, but I'll see what happens if I really push it far.... thanks!

- M

06 June 2004, 10:14 PM
Alright, alright... let's see now:

I tried snakily slithering the spine a lot more... you can't really see it, though I think you can feel it. Plus I fixed something I noticed in the feet--they react to the ground better now, I think, and have better arc patterns. Also added the camera shake a little earlier:

And then, just because I stumbled onto the idea by accidentally rotating an arm too far, I spent a little time tweaking this:

I'm not sure if the second version is noticeable enough to stay in there... this thing happens so fast. Is it readble, do you think?

- M

06 June 2004, 11:39 PM
yeah. comp06 looks cool and a bit more threatening too i think with that last raising of the arm, kinna like he's gonna take a swipe at you.

06 June 2004, 04:25 PM
hey mooncalf!
I think you"re doing a good job on this and its great to be part of it from the beginning and see it improve...
I think its cool that he raises the arm in the end but I think you could change the position a bit to make it more threatening. also I would recommend to let him jump a bit higher within his steps and add a simple shadow to make his position to the ground clearer (if the director allows you....)
keep it up!
best wishes,

06 June 2004, 04:47 PM
Hey Olf,

Thanks for the comments... you make some really good points. :)

Unfortunately, the director "finaled" the piece last night. He went with this version, which has a little camera rotation:

It's a little plain for my tastes, but that's not my call. Gotta do what the boss man says. :)

For what it's worth, I absolutely agree with you about the arm-raising; the position could be more threatening. As a matter of fact, the whole idea in the first place came from an accident that I had while trying to get that last "eye-flash" to last 4 frames. I had to do some pretty severe rotations on the body, and one of the fames ended up with the monkey in this position:

Just that one accident mad me realise that I could have done the whole run cycle differently. Because of the extreme exaggeration, with the shoulders almost perpendicular to the ground, the arms cross the line of the body, and everything looks so much more dynamic. If I had a chance, I would have re-animated. But I'm going to chalk this up to a lesson learned, and hopefully be able to apply it in other projects.

Hopefully, if any other newbs like myself are reading, that'll stick as a good piece of advice: "Push your poses/characters far beyond what you would expect to be reasonable."

Thanks again, everyone, for all your suggestions and critiques--it helped immensely, and I hope I can someday return the favor. :) I love this community!

- M

CGTalk Moderation
01 January 2006, 02:00 PM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.