Will Sparticus - Animation Session 11 - Action Cut


I will be using the Troll from www.rigging101.com and Maya.

The idea I decided to run with is a cowardly troll opens a door.

Well, wait, let me elaborate on that one.
The Character notices the door shake, and very hesitantly opens it, terrified of what might be behind it. The Action is opening the door, which the troll, despite scared, decides to do all at once, like ripping off a band-aid. The Cut happens mid swing.

Behind the door is nothing scary and the troll sighs with relief. Oddly enough I havn’t decided what is behind the door. I thought maybe a mirror or another troll in a ‘kid mask’ would be pretty funny.

Here’s my concept scribbles and the action drawn out a bit.

The action elaboration (and the cut) takes place during the third frame of the concept sketch.
I wanted the opening motion to be driven by his spine, snapping like a whip or a snake.

That’s it for now



I’ve never worked with such polished models before. What’s a good place to start laying down some keyframes? The overall position? Should I animate his limbs first, then his position to match it? Saving details like facial expressions and hands/feet for last?

Or should I go to a few critical points during the sequence and key his entire body, and work on the inbetween stuff once that is down?

Anyone have suggestions?



Create key frames for the whole shot with rough body poses first until you get the timing right. Only then start on the transitions and facial expressins, fingers etc. .


I always animate my fingers in the blocking stage as well…although small, key to some really good poses.


Thanks, that really helps - I was havin trouble gettin a good flow with my character.



yeah, I create a mel script that sets a key on all the main keyable objects in the whole rig - so when I set up the key poses i just whack the script and it makes sure I don’t miss anything out. This keeps the dope sheet clean and it’s very easy to alter the timing of the animation during the blocking stage and beyond…


Suricate and Remi - wow, that really helped me out. I was able to work on it a bit today and it was surprising how much easier it was to get what I wanted.

Stu_vaz - I gotta thank you too, I took your advice and it made the project a whole lot more managable. Of course, now I’m making Mel scripts for every little thing. Even things I don’t plan on doing more than once.

Well anyway, I keyed up four important poses and saved the playblast. There’s not much to comment on, but I figured I might as well post my current WIP. This is the first 50 frames, right before his big cut action/reaction of opening the door.

If you do comment, remember I havn’t done any inbetween stuff, transitions, or details yet. Just pose -to- pose.



Well, here’s my latest WIP.
Sorry about the server speed, my webspace is free, and that’s about it’s only good quality.

I keyed up maybe eight or so important poses throughout the sequence. I also put the cut in about where I thought it would go.

I think I need to re-tool the entire thing. There’s too many actions occuring to be told effectively within 100 frames. In fact, I KNOW I need to retool it, I’m just reluctant to admit how many poses I need to scrap. I’ve fallen in love with them all, and each pose seems critical to the storytelling of this scardey little troll.

Ack. I need to clear my head.



you definately don’t have to re-tool the whole thing. Here’s what I’m thinking…

  1. change the 2 poses where he is being scared and make it one pose. this will save some time and allow for a little more thinking time. right now it feels a little “pose to pose” if you know what I mean.

  2. stay with what you had in your drawings! when he opens the door, have him hide behind it and look. he doesn’t even know that there is nothing there. he seems to get relaxed without any reason. I actually had to go back and look at your sketches again to figure out what was happening. you had a good idea. continue with it. on the door grab, have him slide behind the door in one move, looking around the corner of it.

hope this helps


Yeah, I should really go with an open-eye door open.

I had the eyes shut because there was going to be a broom falling out of the door. I thought it would be cute if the broom hit the ground, and the noise made him jump, and he looked down and sighed with relief. But there just isn’t enough frames to relate that whole sequence.

I’m changing it back to eyes-open and hiding behind the door.


-oh, and the only animation so far (besides the door) is just eight poses strung together. That’s probably why it feels a little ‘pose to pose’

sorry about being so defensive of my stuff. I just didn’t want you to think this was near finish or anything.


ha ha. you don’t sound defensive at all. in fact you sound very responsive. this is kinda challanging with only 100 frames, but sometimes you have to make stuff work that way, especially when it comes to the industry.


Ugh. What a horrible last week of classes.

Anyway - didn’t want a week to go by without an update - I’ve crafted some nice MEL scripts to move all my keyframes around, and I’ve been playing with the timing. I had to sacrifice some emotional transitions, but it does look much better with a longer ‘thought’ time. Tommorow I won’t have the burden of college classes that I did last week, or the lovely hangover that I had today (gotta celebrate the stoppage of said classes!) so hopefully then I’ll have enough changes worthy of an updated playblast.

For now, please enjoy this screenshot:

I think he’s a Comp-Sci major too. Poor Buddy. Don’t sweat it, it’s almost over.



Rendered a playblast of the small changes.
It’s still pose-to-pose, I’m still messing with the timing.

Dec14 MockUp

My current list of things to modify:
-first turn has to be slower, right now he is the Troll equivlant of the Flash.
-Not enough time for him to go open door, confusion, realization, relief. I’m gonna cut the latter two and just go with open door, confusion.
-camera angle two needs to show his face more.
-Some of his poses he will eventually need to ‘hold’ for a while. I need to factor that in before I put the timing into stone.

I welcome any additions to the list.



looks good, the camera cut works really well (i didn’t even notice it the first time I watched it )I think his reaction at the end needs to have a more dramtic shift, even though you feel like there’s not enough time for it you can register some relief … for example, he seems to inhale with fear before opening the door, so a beat after he opens the door his whole body sags with relief on the exhale…
or not :stuck_out_tongue:



I agree with monester about the cut and more dramatic ending.

I am missing any reaction from him after oppening that door. He was so tense to open it… Why? Who is in the other side? I guess you could work on it!



You were right, relief is so much better for the end reaction. I did a quick abridged ‘recogniztion’ emote right after opening the door, and had the rest be a big sigh.

I tweaked some animation and added the troll in a kid mask behind the door.
(He made it out of a paper plate if you can’t tell)

I didn’t have time to add details between the key poses, but it doesn’t flow too bad without them. Here’s my last render for the action cut:sniff… it’s over…

Last Render



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.