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Old 07-13-2003, 07:11 AM   #1
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Julian Lloyd
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Character animation timing...

hey guys, I've had very few oppertunities to play with fully rigged characters (mostly just plain bone rigs) but Ive never been able to time it so it doesnt look jumpy or too fast.

Does anyone have some tips, techniques and/or tutorials that I can check out so I can make my character animations a bit more fluid, and natural?

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Old 07-13-2003, 02:57 PM   #2
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Jared Lindquist
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It helps to rough things out before fully animating a character.
For example, a walk cycle would esentially have 2 or 3 poses for each step. On average, these poses would be about 1/3 second apart. Once you have a pose every 8 to 10 frames, you can adjust the keys to get the speed you want, then you start offsetting them so the walk won't look so mechanical. The same process can easily be applied elsewhere.
Old 07-13-2003, 04:29 PM   #3
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Judd Simantov
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Hey Gremlin,

I would honestly recommend watching a lot of animation and watch the timing between poses and stuff. Probably the best way to develop timing is to carry a stop watch with you and time everything that interests you. So if you want to know how long it take to stand up out your chair, just time it

But more importantly that anything, get on the computer and practice, practice and practice. It takes years to really develop good timing. Just keep working at it.

Old 07-22-2003, 01:55 AM   #4
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Galen Beals
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Re: Character animation timing...

Originally posted by Gremlin
hey guys, I've had very few oppertunities to play with fully rigged characters (mostly just plain bone rigs) but Ive never been able to time it so it doesnt look jumpy or too fast.

Yeah, I'm sure this is an issue that you'll soon overcome. After experimenting for a while you'll soon see what works and what doesn't. There's also a really great book out there called "timing for animation". It covers everything in great detail.

Just start simple and work your way into something with a story to it. You don't need to make anything elaborate; just something that has a beginning, middle and end.

I've been working in computer animation for about 6+ years. I've worked on commercials for M&M's, Hershys, Tyco and so on. So, I have some experience in character Animation. Not that doing for so long make you a good character animator. Actually, I've still got quite a lot to learn and I'm learning every time I work on something. So, I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think there's a point at which you become a "master" in animation. Although I can think of a few people that I think have very little left to learn. ;-)

Here's what I usually do when I start working on a scene:

1. I usually go over the scene with the director to make sure we are both on the same track (you obviously don't have this step). Then I flesh out the poses on paper with little thumbnail sketches that define the key movements in time. You don't really have to worry about timing just yet.

2. Block out the poses. This means that you go through the scene inserting the poses as key-frames where you think they should go in time. You can do this in one of two ways: One method is to key-frame the entire body at each key pose and is thus called “Pose to Pose”. The other way is to key-frame all the gross actions like the pelvis or head or feet in the first pass, Get those things working, then do a second pass of the arms, then the hands, then the fingers and so on and so on. I guess you could call that “Progressive refinement”.

When you start out blocking, you can either do "flat" key-frames (where the tangents are flat), linear or stepped keys to start out with. I usually just start out with flat keys but sometimes I find that it can affect your perception of the timing in a bad way. So, you'll need to experiment with the different methods and find what works best for you.

3. run a playblast and look at the timing. Not the actual poses... Just the timing. you should be able to see where things are working and where there not.

4. Open The Dope Sheet editor window and show all the parts of your character's body. Now you can see all the key-frames in relation to each other. You can move the key-frames (which are just Poses if your doing 'Pose to pose') back and forth to adjust the timing.

5. Now it's up to you to start refining the rest of the animation. You can do simple things like offsetting the key-frames of each part of the body to create overlapping action and follow-through. Don't forget that you may need to add in some anticipation before large or quick motions. Actually, I can't stress enough how important that is. Sometimes you'll need your character to move or rotate parts of it's body in a fashion that's not humanly possible. Without Anticipation, it just looks jerky or Alarming.

My last bit of advice is to never leave your keyframe tangents flat. There will almost always be some amount of drift in a character's movements. Even when you want them to come to a stop and hold. If you look as Pixar's movies, you'll see this in action. The exception to this is of course, when some part of the body makes contact with a hard surface like a foot on the floor or a hand on a table. Flat keys are fine for that. It's ok to start that way. Just adjust them a little bit afterwords.

Originally posted by Gremlin
Does anyone have some tips, techniques and/or tutorials that I can check out so I can make my character animations a bit more fluid, and natural?


Here is one of the best tutorials I have seen for “Pose to pose” animation on the web so far:

Well, that's it for now. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Old 01-15-2006, 04:00 PM   #5
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