Posts tagged tips & tricks

Ball bounce : in depth

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There is a VERY informative and in-depth breakdown of bouncing balls and what you can learn from them over at the Follow-Thought blog.

Head on over and check it out.  It is definitely THE most comprehensive post on what you can learn from a ball bounce that I have ever seen.


Q&A: Parenting

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As previously mentioned in the Ted Ty Talk Back post, due to limited time we were unable to ask Ted all the listener questions.  However, we will handle some of the extra questions in separate posts; here is the first.
Thanks again to everyone who sent in questions 🙂

Q & A: Parenting

Olov asks:

I always get intimidated by scenes involving props so i though i could take this
opportunity to clear some things up. do I constrain hand to prop or the other way
around? how do I get nice arcs, should i think about the arc of the prop or on the
hand, or both? I am also having real problem posing the hand so that it looks good
on the prop.

Great question Olov.  Props can be tough.  When constraining props it always depend on what you are planning on doing with it, but there are some general guide lines that are a good place to start.  For small, light props in most cases you will constrain to the hand.  For long, or heavy props in most cases you would constrain to the prop.  This all depends on how you will be animating the prop and what will be the lead and follow.  If your hand is driving the action, constrain to the hand, if the prop is driving the action constrain to the prop.
If you are having trouble plotting arcs I’d recommend installing an arc tracking plug-in in your software.  If you can’t find one, just get a dry erase marker and draw on the screen, but be careful, not all screens are good for dry erase(some lcd monitors).  If you cant draw on your screen you can always get some clear acetate and tape that over your monitor.
Yes, you should think about the arc of the prop, especially if its a sword or something that will be traveling across the screen a lot.
For posing the hand, do your reference.  The best is if you can hold the prop yourself, if not, find images on line and really study what the hand is doing.  The hand shape always supports the prop.

I agree with Steve in most respects.  For light-weight small objects (cups, pens, toys) you should really always parent the prop to the hand, and for larger, heavier objects (boulder, refrigerator, car tire) I would parent the hands to the prop.  I’m pretty sure this is the same idea Steve is suggesting, but my way of thinking about it is different:
Rather than what is driving what, I think about what weighs more.
If your character is picking up a really heavy object you want to make the object feel really heavy.  In order to feel heavy the object needs to take a long time to start moving or change directions, which can be difficult to accomplish convincingly if it is parented to the hands.  The slightest rotation on the wrist will send the other end of the object a good distance across the screen space.
So if the character is picking up a boulder, his arms and hands are physically ‘driving’ the action, yet I would do it the other way around to be able to have full control over the placement/rotation/timing/spacing of the boulder that I feel I cannot have as simply if it is the child of another object.  Obviously, you run the risk of making it feel like the boulder is floating and the hands are just attached to it (well, they are…) so that’s where your understanding of weight and force will come into play by ‘faking it’ and making it look like the hands are picking up the boulder and not the other way around.
If you were animating traditionally then nothing would be parented to anything, you just have posing and timing and spacing at your disposal to make it feel convincing.  When in the computer, do whatever is technically easiest to achieve that.  The more time you spend fighting your setup, the less time you spend animating.

Animation is like an Onion

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Oh I get it, It has layers!  Today I wanted to talk about a concept that really helps me when I’m animating.  I don’t know if it has a term but I like to think of it as layers of character.  I know some people like to animate in layers, but what I want to talk about is not a workflow but rather a way to understand all the things that make up your character.  The better you know your character, the better the performance you’ll be able to give.

The bottom layer is the “what” layer.  What is your characters physicality?  What your character is and how it’s built will describe how the character moves.  For example, Shrek and Donkey.  They are not built the same, they won’t move the same way either.  Some things to keep in mind are:  Age, Sex, Weight, Height, Physical ability, ect.  If you are animating an animal do your research.  The more you know about how that animal moves the better off you’ll be.  All of this may sound obvious, but I’ve seen this layer forgotten.  For example, an old man won’t move the same as a child and women don’t walk the same as men, yet I have seen these types of characters animated interchangeably many times.

The middle layer is the “who” layer.  Who is your character?  This layer is all about personality.  Just like in the “what” layer it’s important to do your research and know everything there is to know about your character before you start animating.  Your character’s personality will determine how they interact in their world.  It defines how they see themselves and how the world sees them.  Even the character’s silhouette should tell you something about their personality.  Take Eeyore and Donkey for example.  Both are donkeys (I know one is stuffed) but they both have drastically different personalities.  You can see this in the way they move and how they carry themselves.  Donkey is more like a dog, very playful and has a bounce in his step.  That doesn’t mean that they will only display one emotion, and that leads me into the last layer.

The top layer is the “How” layer.  How does your character feel.  This layer is all about emotion.  How your character is currently feeling about something is the strongest driver in the performance.  Characters are not flat, they can feel the same range of emotions as you do.  It’s their personality that will define how they show them.   Donkey isn’t happy all the time  and Eeyore can feel joy.  It’s how they show these emotions that tells you more about their character.    Your characters current emotional state is the strongest driver in how they will interact.  Emotion drives motion!

Here is one last example to help tie this all together.  Take Bagheera from The Jungle Book.  He doesn’t just move like a believable panther, he moves and performs like a stuffy panther.  When he gets angry he isn’t just an angry panther, but a stuffy, angry panther.  It all layers on top of each other.

So that’s layers of character and how I approach all of my shots.  I hope it gives you something to think about when you start your next shot and can help you keep character in mind and the multiple ways we can show it.  Just remember:  What, Who, and How!


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