Many thanks everyone, I think I have my answer
A friend of mine gave me some great advice years ago when I started teaching music that has always stuck with me, he said 'teach what you are passionate about and you will inspire your students and that's the secret of being a good teacher'. I strongly believe he was right.
The thing is in this case, that although I make part of my living rigging and doing technical stuff like working with mocap, scripting etc etc, that has always just been a job to me, animation is what I'm actually passionate about. I only learned rigging in the first place so that I could have rigs to animate with. Same thing with scripting, for me it's just a way to cut down on boring repetitive stuff and get to the fun stuff sooner.
Regarding animation tricks.. well apart from some workflow stuff (like using mirroring scripts to create walkcycles faster, or using my 'tween' scripts for controlling spacing more easily - both of which I've already given away) I don't really have any, I think being a good animator boils down to the same thing as being a good musician, or a good dancer or a good anything-else : practice!
Where can I actually blend motion, and where does it look cheap and artificial?
IMO - blended animation, even blending IK/FK over a few frames always looks terrible, those are frames where you are giving up control over the motion and letting the machine do it for you. If you want good animation with a spark of life to it I don't think you can ever do that really.
So maybe something like: character walks across the room, picks up the phone, sits down, has animated conversation (no pun intended), stands up, throws the phone at the wall…
What always was kind of misery to me is workflow of talented animators involving complicated sets of motion. Something like jump, roll, jump again and hold to something, then swing and jump while back-flipping.
Well, to address those two points (and the others along similar lines about complicated motion). I've done 3 14 week workshops at iAnimate in the last couple of years. I've watched some of the best animators in the world (I'm talking about people who work at Disney, Bluesky, Dreamworks etc) demonstrate their processes, and really while they have different methods (some work more layered, some more pose to pose, some stay in stepped longer, some block in spline, some rely a lot on video reference, some thumbnail or rough out in 2D first) ultimately they are all working on the same thing - the principles! They are all constantly checking arcs, weight, overlap, spacing, timing etc etc!! There is no trick!! it's really observation, understanding the principles and training your eye to see.
Even those guys would not find any of the actions described above easy to animate so there's no way I would attempt to teach something like that in an hour long lecture. The people in the studios that tend to get the shots with crazy physical actions like that are typically the ones who know how to do those actions in real life. There's an animator called Michael Kiely for example ([http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0452493/](http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0452493/)) at iA that as well as being an amazing animator is a highly trained martial arts expert, as one of his friends who has worked with him at Disney said 'it's lucky he's such a nice guy as he could probably kill you with a thumb if he felt like it' LOL.
Even with someone like that on the team though you can be sure the studios will bring in experts to create video reference for the animators. The 'secret' is quite boring really - it's observing the actions in real life until you understand them well enough to be able to animate them convincingly. Great example of this here BTW - [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwON8qNTfyQ](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwON8qNTfyQ)
Well, for my part, I believe that there can never be too much focus on foundational techniques. Not just the how’s but the why’s. When I used to teach Kung-Fu, even after nearly 10 years, I still practiced my white belt basics daily, and it improved every other facet of my skill-set in that art.
I feel this is one comment that gets where I'm coming from! People said about master animator Milt Kahl - 'he made sophisticated use of the basics'.. which might sound like a put down, but ultimately the basics are all there are! Being able to apply them in a masterful way is how you get great art, or great skill in any discipline.
So, I guess I've rambled on long enough but hopefully some of this is useful, I appreciate everyone giving their thoughts and to be honest they confirmed what I had suspected anyway.
I'll keep it in mind for the future if I do get inspired to do a more 'tech-style' tutorial again but really these days I'm very focused on becoming a better animator so that's what I spend most of my time thinking about, hence my enthusiasm for the idea of teaching it.
I understand that's not what the majority are looking for though and there are a few other factors involved too, so all things considered I think I'll give it a miss this year.
I enjoyed the lectures I gave in the last couple of years but I don’t feel excited that I have much to add to them on a technical note (plus if I give away all my rigging secrets I might starve ) and ultimately I’d rather not do it if I’m not going to give it 100%.