View Full Version : Animation: Character

07 July 2003, 07:47 PM
Hello all. This is an animation for this months ten second club. The sound clip is Jack Nicholson and from "A Few Good Men". Lightwave was used to animate the spot.

I tried to keep it subtle to fit the dialogue and making the character appear to think (hopefully). I'm looking for some crits, tips, ideas, etc. to make the spot better. Please tell me anything that looks out of place or that bothers you, even if you are not sure how to fix it.

I may be slow to update (heavy work load), but I'll certainly attempt to entertain all critiques. It's due at the end of the month so it'll be finished whether it's done or not by then. :)



Animation 1.4 meg divx ( <------Updated

07 July 2003, 09:29 PM
Only two things to critique. One try making him look mad when he looks down as he is thinking of the Cubans. Second is you should have used Maya. We all know that according to LA real animators only use Maya. So redo the animtion in Maya and you'll get better results and maybe more repies to your work.


07 July 2003, 09:47 PM
I think in general the expressions could be more exagerrated. It may be a little hard since Jack is pretty monotone but the should be more punch in the gestures especially since it is a toon character.

07 July 2003, 11:14 PM
hello rogue great to see you posting again! everything works for me, but i agree with gmask about adding a little more punch to the gestures. if you added a little more upper body movement that might help. I also am a little distracted when he looks down on " trained to kill me". I see what your doing, but I think he might be looking down a little too long.

07 July 2003, 11:55 PM
Thanks for the replies guys.

tOd: I'm learning maya, so that makes me half an animator. ;)

gmask: Are you talking of facial expressions or body language or both? I've had some problems getting that punch you are referring to. My first run through I had him really snappy and exagerated poses, but it just didn't seem to fit the voice track. it was too, I don't know, energetic. I toned it down some and now it's kind of boring. Maybe I can find a middle ground that will work.

As for facial expressions, the model doesn't give me much to work with before it starts looking strange (my own inadequacies). When I try to really break the symmetry in the face, it looks weird. I'll do some work to the morph targets and see what I can do with it.

tubby: Hey man, whats up? It's been a while...I've been tied down to other things for a while. It's time to start animating again though. :thumbsup: I'm going to push the poses a little more (see reply to gmask above) and that will add some more body movement. Hopefully I can manage a happy medium. I'm not all that happy with his look down either, but I really like when he looks back up. So I'm in a bit of a dilemna. I'll work with it and see what happens.

Thanks again for the replies.

07 July 2003, 04:55 AM
Originally posted by tOd
you should have used Maya. We all know that according to LA real animators only use Maya. So redo the animtion in Maya and you'll get better results and maybe more repies to your work.


I don't know about you but it's not the software that makes the animation good. And any "real" animator would not show such ignorance towards other 3d software. They all have strengths and weaknesses.

C&C: i think the body needs a little more movement to give it a sence of weight and ballance. And maybe you can do a bit more with the eyes.

07 July 2003, 05:27 AM
hehe, don't fret mefestofel, I work with tOd and it's an in house joke that he directed to me. He dabbles in just about all the packages and would be the last person to say something like and be serious.

Yes, it seems the subtle movements are a popular crit. I'm going to address it soon. Thanks for your feedback.


07 July 2003, 06:43 AM
I agree on the eyes part. They look a bit off too me. A little flat.. almost projected? I like the specularity and the movement on them. Overall very nice :)

07 July 2003, 09:48 PM
Originally posted by Neoklassik
I agree on the eyes part. They look a bit off too me. A little flat.. almost projected?

That's because they are planar maps. :) He was built some time ago and his eyes aren't round, they're oblong to fit his head. I've got a set of modeled eyes that look good that I want to give him and his counterpart, but it's not easy getting the shape of his head accomodating the round eyes. I'll eventually get it taken care of but I like animating, so I tend to scimp on other things. ;)

Thanks for your reponse.

07 July 2003, 03:56 AM
It's well animated, but I think the animation is wrong for the dialogue. He has to look dismissive and relaxed.
I don't have any problem with the way the character looks, I'm only talking about the animation.

I think making him look down, especially for as long as he does is a big mistake. You wanted to make him look like he was thinking but unfortunately it makes him look like he's not very confident in what he is saying.

He's challenging someone and telling them off, very sure of himself. It's ok to have him look right when he gestures to the "cubans trained to kill", but it should be brief, his eyes shouldn't dart around, his eyes should go right back to focus on the person he's talking to.

You're good up to "300 yards", then his his eyes drop and dart around a bit. Instead, try a quick blink, and the eyes go back to focus on the person he's talking to, and tilt his head to the right, so he's look sidelong at them for "4,000 Cubans", then bring his head foward again.

"Down here, flash a badge, make me nervous" is all good, particularly the flash a badge part, but I'm not sure I like the way he leans foward for "make me nervous". Makes his look like he's getting ready for a fight, but that line is actually dismissive. He's telling someone to piss off, so maybe he should look relaxed with an incredulous glare, maybe an eyeroll or something, rather than tensing up like that.

07 July 2003, 03:37 PM
McCronin, thanks for detailed critique.

I had reservations about making him look down for that same reason you might make him look less confident. I even animated him looking towards the guy without looking to the side and then down, but choose to do it the way I did for silly reasons. Thanks for confirming my fears. Tubby had mentioned something similar and I bet that's what he was refering to.

I think you're correct with the leaning forward thing at the end as well. It does look out of place. I'll take care of it.

Thanks for the alternatives. Hopefully I will have the time this weekend to correct these things and get an update out....I didn't really want to mow the yard anyways. :) Ahh, I'll have to.

Thanks again for the crit!


07 July 2003, 05:35 PM
I watched the little clip over and over thinking he isn't exaggerated enough on a whole. What I mean, with a big sweeping brush, everything can be more exaggerated. But... then I realized, maybe the camera is too far away.
There's a clear difference in the composition between your clip and your avatar. Your Avatar has a much tighter crop. Anyway, perhaps move the composition focus. Maybe even while he is talking, shift the focus of the camera. It might intensify the punch of his monotone voice.

07 July 2003, 06:19 PM
Interesting thought Stoehr. Certainly worth some experimentation. I'll move the camera and see what happens. Thanks for the suggestion.


07 July 2003, 10:47 PM
I've updated the link with some of the suggestions given. There are some curves that still need some tweaking but I really would like to see what you guys think of the direction it's going now. Personally, I'm liking it more, but there's always room for improvement.

What do you think? Anymore crits and suggestions would be appreciated.



07 July 2003, 10:04 AM
hey thats looking great! what if on " flash a badge" you lean the head forward and add a head shake. i think it all works, its just missing a little something to add variety to the head. I could be totally wrong, and usually I am, but thats what I would do.

07 July 2003, 06:23 PM
Thanks for giving a look tubby. I'll see what I can do with it.


07 July 2003, 12:27 AM
Add the badge. Its a cartoon character so make it just appear when he raises his hand. You can easily make something and parent it under the finger, then just key the visibility of the badge. Piece 'o' cake.
The animation is going pretty well, I'll look at it a couple hundred more times and see if I can think of any more changes.

Ex Tessera
07 July 2003, 01:59 AM
Few things: first off, when you make the "3" sign with your fingers you usually hold your palm outwards, not inwards.

He should become angry on 'so don't think', not 'for one second'. You could put it on 'for one second', if you had him preparing to make an angry face, IE, pulling his head back or something, and then move his head down hard on 'second' and his head kinda stops fast at the end of the second sylable. Right now the acting doesn't really fit.

07 July 2003, 03:07 AM
I'm inclined to disagree with Ex Tessere. To my knowledge, I have never done a palm-out three symbol. Always palm inward for me.

I have to add that I am glad you put the 'breath' into the character, very nice timing there. And really professional.

So far the only thing you need to add is tail action. It's not moving at all yet and really will add that extra bit.

I've only watched it about 32 times so far. I'll let you know if I reach 100.

07 July 2003, 03:58 PM
Ex Tessera: I've always done the palm in with the 3 finger thing. I think it's worth doing it with palm out just to see if it looks better. It's worth experimenting with. Also, I think you're right about the angry expression happening at 'so don't think'. That makes more sense. Consider it done.

dmcgrath: Thanks for watching it 32 times thus far. :) I've sort of neglected the tail and was considering hiding it all together so that it wouldn't be an issue. ;) I've still got some animating to do on it and address some of crits so I'll get it moving then.

I appreciate your responses guys. Thanks.


07 July 2003, 05:38 PM
Ok, felt inspired to start from scratch and do it from a different approach. He's sitting in a chair now. There's much tweaking to be done, especially with the arms and hands. I tried to setup an IK chain for the arms but I just couldn't get it to work.:annoyed: So please excuse the arms interaction with the chair...I'll have to track and cheat it the best I can when I get the overall movement done.

Just seeking some crits and ideas. I've got one more night (tonight) to tweak and/or make changes, so let me have 'em!



New Animation; 1.5 meg DivX ( July(2003).avi)

08 August 2003, 12:13 AM
excellent improvement.,., looking very nice.,.,
the only thing i see off hand is when he leans forward the eyelids stay still and the eyeballs roll up.,.,
but in fact, if you lean forward and look up with your head tilting down, the upper eyelids lift with the roll of the eyeball.,.,

08 August 2003, 02:31 AM
I watched the clip a few times now and it took me some time to figure out what exactly was bothering me about it. It's the phenomes. They're not all there and the ones that are don't look embelished enough for a cartoon character. His Oos and Ahs are to subtle. And the lip synk seems off a slight bit. And even though the animation is good I just don't get the feeling like he is realy talking.

Did you synk the lips yourself or did you use a 3rd party package?

08 August 2003, 06:09 AM
mefestofel: You're right about the eye lids. I've had other people say the same thing. I have not revisited the spot yet. I was actually planning on doing it tonight, then got side tracked. I'll get those lids taken care.

noden: I think you are right about the phonems. They don't seem 'defined' enough. I'll work on those and try to get them looking better. I use Magpie to do the lipsync, then export that as a file to load into lightwave. I definately will tighten up the lip sync.

Thanks for the input guys. Hopefully I can revisit this tomarrow night and get these issues resolved (or at least better :) )

08 August 2003, 06:29 PM
Opps, sorry about the name mix up guys.

Small update:

New Animation; 1.3 meg DivX ( July(2003)-2.avi)

Just did a few small things. Haven't worked on the lipsync yet, mefestofel, but I will definately do. I'll likely do it last and get the rest where I'm satisfied first. Still got some ear motion to add and some hand and finger movement here and there. I few of the expressions could still use some exagerating, I think.

Keep bringing the suggestions and comments please.


08 August 2003, 05:10 AM
Jamie! Glad to see you here and working oon your character animation. I know that is where your passion lies. I have been squeezing some animation in myself somewhat between work and family. I hope to enter the 10 second club myself sometime soon. I will definitely ask you for critiques when I do.

E-mail me privately and I will tell you a little more about whats going on and you can let me know whats going on at work.

Animation looks great, can't really critique any more than what has already been said. Some really good critiques on this forum. A definite improvement to seperate the seasoned artist responses from the "fanboy" ones.

08 August 2003, 03:21 PM
Hey Robbie. I'll get back with you on the private messages.

mefestofel: I worked on the lipsync. It looks much better but stil needs some tweaking. Keith Lango has a lipsync principles page that is a really good read. It helps alot.

Keith Lango's Principles of Lip Sync Animation (

Here's the latest update for those interested in seeing it.

Update (

All the other links have been removed to conserve space.

Thanks to all that made some suggestions!

08 August 2003, 07:58 AM
I honestly don't see that you have fixed the biggest problem to your animation between the first and last updates. Overall I think the animation is too shy. What i mean is he could be a bit more animated. To be precise:
"for one second that you can come down here" during that piece the only thing moving is his head, the rest of the body is perfectyl still.
It seems that when you animate a specific body part (hands or head) the rest of the body is not keyframed at all.
Also when he flashes the badge only his wrist moves and the animation feels a bit stiff again. He could rotate it around or something to give his motion a bit more personality.
It would add more life to the character if his shoulders moved when his arms move. Or if there are no shoulder bones twist the chest bone a bit to fake it.

08 August 2003, 04:59 PM
(In best Ed McMahon voice) Yes, you are correct, sir!!!

The upper body moves very little because I could not get IK to work on the arms. It popped and was totally unpredictable. I didn't have a great deal of time to figure out what the hell was wrong with so I had to track the arms to the chair and fake it the best I could. Yeah, I know, that's no excuse but since there was no clients, I was content to cheat. :p

Thanks for the input.

Ex Tessera
08 August 2003, 05:37 AM
Its gotten a lot better since the last time I've seen it (a while ago).

I really like that hand flick on 'kill me', but I think its timed wrong. I think you should accentuate it and move it a few frames earlier.

The getting angry part has gotten a lot better. I like the leaning forward, but what if you pushed that further, and had him put his hands onto the table, IE, his hands hit the table on 'second'.

This seems to be a natural time to 'step up' the action a little bit, establishing that he's more angry, and has stopped containing it.

Then, the rest of it can be a little bit more animated. He can move his hand around a lot more and roll his eyes or something durring 'flash a badge', he can point down at the table, you know, kinda poking the table on 'here' (make sure it's not on 'down' if you do this, that'll make it silly), and then the lean back to his seat is more dramtic as well.

By the way, I take it back, I like the hand palm inwards on 'four'.

08 August 2003, 04:48 PM
Ex Tessera: Thanks for giving it a second look. I like the ideas you have presented. Especially the one where he puts his hands on the table. I'll have to fix the IK issue though to do that.

It probably won't happen anytime soon, as I'm covered up again. Hopefully I can revisit at a later time.


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