Character animation question

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Old 08 August 2002   #1
Character animation question

This question may be off topic, and I apologize to the moderators if that is indeed the case. I am just curious as to what other people have difficulties with? For example, I'm currently working on a project where a character is standing still, turns around and walks the other way. It is totally kicking my butt!!! I've finally got a decent base to work from but I worked on it for hours, then started over from scratch, and then worked on it for a couple of more hours.

I've still got several hours of work to do for the subtleties (spelling?), but am finally comfortable with the timing.

I also had some difficulties on another project where a character was walking and turned 90 degrees to face the camera. I was never really completely satisfied with the results.

This brought to my attention that many animation tests are walk cycles, run cycles, and acting excercises. I've seen few animations where the character turns, accelerates from a stand still, or come to a stop, or something along those lines. I find that these sort of things give me the greatest difficulties. Walk cycles and the like are common place and while not easy, seem to be much easier (at least for me) than a character changing speed and/or direction.

So my question is: What's the most difficult character animation sequences have you guys done?
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Old 08 August 2002   #2
Rogue,

Your post is not off topic...

HINT: Change in speed or direction always stems from a weight shift on the object/character...lead the turn with either the hips or the head...then everything else follows...

When in doubt, act it out...

Good luck.
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bentllama
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Old 08 August 2002   #3
yeah...try to work of live footage (or mocap data!! ) , it'll make your life a LOT easier..

Hardest sequence I've had to contend with is haveing my character scratch his head, and notice something else at the same time......and getting a believeable motion from just a shoulders up shot as his arm drops forgotten.
Pretty simple, but took a lot of tweaking (and I'm still not happy with it)...but...we'll I'm jusy a hobbiest, no a pro (yet )
 
Old 08 August 2002   #4
Yeah, it's funny how sometimes something you think will be a relatively simple task can become a time consuming burden.

Believe me Bentlama, I stood on the sidewalk and performed the motion of this character more times than I can even guess at. The problem I was having was making the shifting of weight from one foot to the other as he turned around, and accelerating into a walk. It just took forever until I was satisfied. The character is a cartoony blood cell that essentially looks like a cert with arms and legs, so I was unable to get a twisting motion (e.i. counter rotation) from the torso.....considering that the torso is his face. I think that was a large part of the problem. In addition, he was carrying a suitcase, which only compounded the weight issue. It sounds like it would be no problem, but I sure had a ton of difficulty with it.

Oh well, I finally finished that shot. Hopefully, I have gained something from it that will lend itself for future reference.

So, hasn't anyone else animated something that they thought would be simple and it ultimately turned into a nightmare?
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James Coakley Jr
 
Old 08 August 2002   #5
Getting up

Man this must be the hardest thing every. getting your character to stand up from a laid down position!!! Getting the weight shift right and al,l very difficult to get it to look right. i'm actually working on an anmation that focuses on weight shift

check it out!!

http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=18476


John
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Old 08 August 2002   #6
Quote: I'm currently working on a project where a character is standing still, turns around and walks the other way. It is totally kicking my butt!!!

haha, yes, it sounds easy but it is not.

I remember an animation where I had a character knocking a door, then turns around walks the other way, goes out of the screen and then comes back running to break the door down. Both "turning" and "running" kicked my butt for quite a while...

Walkcycles are one of the most difficult things to do in animation, but also, are something you MUST learn. A really great walk cycle often means you are (or you can become) a great animator.


Cheers.
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Andres G. Lazaro
· andytoons ·
 
Old 08 August 2002   #7
neolee40: That's a neat character, I'm looking forward to seeing the animation.

Frinsklen: I'm glad you experienced the same difficulties with turning around....now I know I'm not alone.

Also, I wasn't suggesting that walk and run cycles and such are not neccesary for learning animation. It's crucial. I just meant that we see them all the time and seldom do we see characters changing speed and/or direction. It makes me wonder how many character animators have actually had to do it.

Once I'm through with this project (which is due this coming Friday, so soon), I'm going to start tests animations of changing direction and things like that. It seems the next logical progression.
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James Coakley Jr
 
Old 08 August 2002   #8
character tunring around

Well rouge

this teaser for my film you know the little devil guy. move's around every where? and turn's every where! The weight transfer was pretty tricky to get right. And the bit where he's hanging off the pole was also tricky cause as he swings the bosy swing's as well you;ll see. i will keep updated the animation is compltet but i just need to render it in Radiosity!! It's a bugger. Take too long!

JOhn
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Old 08 August 2002   #9
I'm looking forward to seeing it, like I said, I don't see much of it. So it's always welcome and when it looks good, it's always a treat.

I think the stuff that Spellcraft studios doing for there upcoming short is great stuff...the Yeah Boss thing. I'm totally amazed with their work.

Well, I'm glad you guys say it's tricky. I'd like to watch an established animator from a major studio (oh, let's just say Pixar) animate a difficult sequence.... just to see his or her approach and the thought process for getting it right. It'd probably be one those inspirational AND depressing things.
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James Coakley Jr
 
Old 08 August 2002   #10
I STRONGLY DISAGREE!

There was a quote I read somewhere [I think it was Shamus Culhane] "Just because you did a walk cycle doesn't mean you are an animator..."

The fact of the matter is that there is so much more to animation than just the technicalities of a good walk cycle. You need to make the characters believable both physically and emotionally.

Animation is about showing purpose...showing the character thinking.
Why is the character walking? Where is he going? is he determined, cross, cautious...

No offence Frinsklen, but I think one needs to focus on more than walk cycles to become a great animator!

Peace.

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Frinsklen


Walkcycles are one of the most difficult things to do in animation, but also, are something you MUST learn. A really great walk cycle often means you are (or you can become) a great animator.
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Last edited by bentllama : 08 August 2002 at 06:05 PM.
 
Old 08 August 2002   #11
ok ok, I think you get me wrong, Bentllama, or I just didn't know what I was saying.

That quote, "Just because you did a walk cyle doesn't mean you are an animator..." is obviously right, and I couldn't agree more.

I mean, a walk cycle is a very difficult thing to do. If you did a really good one, it demonstrates several things, like you have a good sense of timing and weight. And it means that you may have the abilities to be a great animator, but obviously, as you said, "animation is about showing purpose...showing the character thinking" and walkcycles don't show that kind of things.

"You need to focus on more than walk cycles to become a great animator". Yes, that's true too..

If you've done a great walkcycle, you can be proud. That's what I meant.
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Andres G. Lazaro
· andytoons ·
 
Old 08 August 2002   #12
No harm no foul...

I still get proud of good walkcycles too!
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bentllama
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Old 08 August 2002   #13
wow, that was a instant reply. This is almost like a chat

good to see we both agree.

I'd better go animate a walk cycle.
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Andres G. Lazaro
· andytoons ·
 
Old 08 August 2002   #14
ahh...

Animation is such a massive undertaking in any case, and it takes a life time to perfect. To me it's every part of it is challenging, from doing a technically correct walk to a character doing nothing. To me giving that glimer of life, the spark the essence of being to a character is the hardest thing. And it takes a lifetime to perfect. Learn and and keep learning is what i rely on, going back to the key essentials: squash and stretch, timing, overlap, anticipation, staging. And always asking yourself why. Why is the charater standing still, whats its motivation and where it going to. My teacher told me to tell a story in every shot you do even if the characters just standing and looking around. And to give your character empathy. I always act out shots to, trying different versions and seeing which one is the most consistant, and stands out, and also fits the characters.

Keep learning, and trying things out and always ask your self why.

Eek
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Old 08 August 2002   #15
This post sort of deals with an earlier post by Neolee40 about making a character stand up from being down on the ground. I actually did a little animation test a few months ago for fun that you may want to check out.


http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/kristie...ation/GetUp.avi

It's actually not as hard as you would think. Just make sure you always keep in mind the shift in weight as the character pushes his way up off the ground. My suggestion is to get down on the ground yourself to feel out the movement. If you have a mirror in front of you even better.
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