Tips for refining your animation

During this long journey of continuous animation learning I've learned, along with my friend Nick , a few tips that can be really helpful especially in the last stage of your animation, when you can't see what's good and what's not, when your eyes are simply tired of seeing the same thing all over again. The best way to refresh your eyes is to step away from your work and come back later. The longer you'll stay away, and the more things you'll notice that could be improved. I'm sure that many of you have already heard that. But sometimes it's just not possible to stay away for long enough to have a clearer view of your work. Here are a few methods I use that I think are really good.

1. Have a look at your silhouettes
In Maya, simply hide any light and background that you have ( you can put them in a layer and hide them ) and press at the button 7 or in the panel view options go to Lighting - Use all Lights.
You'll be able to see your character all in black against the background. I assure you, you'll also see a lot of mistakes that may have been difficult to spot otherwise.

2. Horizontally flip your animation
If the first tip isn't enough, here is another one. Playblast your animation, open it with Quicktime,and go to Window-Show movie properties; a window will appear, where you'll select Video track, and finally select Visual Settings in the tab below. If you look carefully you'll see a flip rotate button , that can basically flip or rotate your video sequence. Again. when you flip your animation horizontally, you'll suddenly see your animation with fresher eyes, as if it was a completely different piece of work.

3. Change your animation Frame rate

Ok, maybe you already knew the first 2, but there is a third super useful tip. Right inside Maya, you can change your animation frame rate, make it for example a lot faster or slower. This will help you see mistakes more easily, especially with pops, or if your in-betweens aren't working as expected.
You can change that by going to Window - Settings/preferences - Preferences, and in the new window, in the Time slider category , you can change the playback speed. I usually switch from Real time( 24fps ) to half ( 12 fps ). This makes the animation play 2 times slower.

If you want you can even mix those tips together, like having your animation in silhouette mode, flipped and in a higher framerate :)
Hope that these will help somebody :)



Happy Chrismas to whoever is reading this. :)
I know , it's Chrismas, and I should be staying away of my computer lol. I will do it, but before that I wanted to post another of my recent findings.
For those animators who draw directly on their screen to work on things like their spacing, timing.or for any other reason,  the alternative would be to use a software called Annotate Pro , that basically lets you add notes on top of your desktop using your graphic tablet and pen, saving you the hassle of messing with your computer hardware. The only problem is that it's not free ):
The good news is that there is another software that does nearly the same thing as Annotate Pro, but this time for free. It's called ScreenMarker

Update ( 01.05.2011 ) :
ScreenMarker has been quite useful to me, but I found it a bit limited in functionality.
There is an even better tool that I use now, and it's called Sketch It!


Greedy Boy

Hey everyone.
here is another gem that I found, it's called greedy boy, by animator Kim Young Ha. A very energetic and inspiring piece.



Today I came across this beautiful piece of animation, by Pixar animator Rodrigo Blass. The theme is a bit dark but very inspiring.


Animation tools

Hey everybody.
For the past few weeks animating I've discovered a few tools that can save some time when doing some repetitive tasks during your animations. I use them all the time now and find them extremely useful:

-cMotionTrail : a very powerful arc tracker tool for Maya. With this Mel script you're able to track your animation arcs and see the spacing of a moving object.

-Ghostman : another awesome tool! it lets you create copies of your poses and acts like an onion tool for those used with 2d animation. You can easily see your next and previous key and adjust your poses accordingly

-AutoTangent : this is a script by Michael Comet that I can't work without. For those that usually spend hours in the hypergraph trying to correct those overlapping curves and tangents going in the wrong directions, here is the solution! Simply select your curves and on a press of a button, they're all looking good again!

-TweenMachine : this tool will help you easily create your in-betweens poses.

-Maya hotkeys

To end this post I wanted to share a couple of hotkeys I know that can save a considerable amount of time when animating:
* , and . hotkeys that are used to move to the next and previous keyframe
* alt+, and alt+. , for previous and next frame
* have a look at those timing hotkeys from animator TJ Phan. Great time savers again, and very useful when moving large amounts of keyframes at the same time

That's it for now, but I'd be really happy to hear about other tools that could be used when animating.


Class 211

Last week's was spent refining my dance animation.
There was just too much to do, and the end result still isn't perfect.
What did I learn from this exercise ? I think that I'm starting to understand a bit more how to use all of these animation principles at the same time. And the main problem I encountered was how to effectively use drags and overlaps. Below is the final version of the dance.
I received a few more suggestions on how to improve my shot, especially in areas where the arcs aren't working very well.
On a side note, we're finishing our second class at Animation Mentor and it's really being amazing.
I'll be posting my new progress reel very soon.


Dance blocking plus and refining

The last 2 weeks have been extra hard. After having studied the dance I'm animating I realised how hard it was going to be to animate. I've noted that for a dance to be well animated I had to make sure that the different body parts were not changing directions at the same time. For that I found myself putting a big amount of keyframes and ended the blocking plus stage with nearly everything on 3s and 2s. Even that wasn't enough when I moved my curves into splines. The refined version isn't finished but right now I have a very big mess with my keys. I tried really hard to keep everything organised but I think that the last stages is really difficult to keep clean.
Still looking for a solid workflow.....


New blogger template

I was a bit bored this afternoon and decided to change my blog's template.
I've discovered that there are a few sites with some great templates available.
Mine was taken from http://www.bloggerstyles.com.
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