Body Mechanic

When it came to deciding what to do for my body mechanic I had a hard time choosing from the wide variety of references which I had watched. However, after watching Masahiro Ushiyama‘s videos I was more interested in doing something athletic rather than simple as a challenge to myself.

From here I went on to look at my options and decided on a weight lift as I thought this would be an interesting thing to look at. As I wanted to challenge myself, I planned on animating a snatch, a type of weight lift done in the Olympics. The objective of a snatch is to lift the weight from the ground to over your head in one fluid motion and so I decided to try my hand at this. When looking at tutorials, I found this step by step showing the key poses with in a snatch for those interested in learning the technique, this was a great resource when it came to blocking out my animation.

This was my first blocking pass for my weight lift body mechanic. While blocking out the key poses I realised how over complicated I had made this for myself by planning on doing a snatch rather than a normal weight lift because of the added jump before throwing the weight over their head. So, I decided to get rid of the jump and just wing it.

I asked my group for some feedback on my blocking pass and Lorna was honestly so helpful. The advice she gave me was this, “I think he should stay crouched down longer, his body is too upright when the weight is only at his torso (though maybe it looks more upright as it is front the front view?) Bending his spine more could get a nice curve in there. His arms should be closer and his elbows more noticeably bent. (again may be because of front view though).”

As well as asking my team for critiques on my weight lift, I asked Alec who told me that he feels the character should bend down more before he lifts the weight and also that he bends back too fast, therefore should be straighter around frame 32.

When it came to polishing my animation I kept these critiques in mind and also tried to ensure that the weight felt heavy enough when he was lifting it above his head. I think that over all the animation reads okay, but the weight still feels a bit light.

Walk Cycle

As can be seen from my previous posts, I looked at a lot of references and tutorials before beginning my own walk cycle to see how other animators had approached this.

I found Francis Jasmin’s waalk cycle compilation very helpful, particularly the second and sixth cycles and found it very interesting to see how changing the key poses within the walk could affect the attitude or personality of the character.

I also found these walk cycle reference videos by EndlessReference incredibly helpful when it came to figuring out the key poses within the walk cycle.

Unlike with my body mechanic, I decided to try and animate my walk cycle in a straight ahead, rather than blocking out the key poses before hand, and kept note of the key poses which I had done. I found this method to be much more difficult than I had originally thought it would be, especially trying to ensure the start and end frames were the same so that it would loop

After completing my first attempt at the walk cycle I asked my group and other members of my class for feedback. Jonny’s feedback for it was to fix the arms to make sure they mirror each other and Lorna was an absolute gem (honestly, my lifesaver in terms of this assignment!) and gave me a very in depth critique.
“Initial movement is sweet, especially the legs! Left arm is good but its movement back seems to be too fast/ snappy. I would offset the elbow key frames to the should by one frame, the do the same from the wrist to the elbow but 2 to see if that helps it be more fluid, cause its timing to the leg seems right. Head and torso are great. Right arm doesn’t seem to move back as much as left, nor is its timing the same by the looks of things, have you mirrored the key frames over so then both arms start/ middle/ end at the same spots but just opposite?
Also did you copy the key frames to carry on the walk on loop it on the graph editor, cause the start of your walk is great, but then it seems to forget some key frames haha.”

I completely could see where they were coming from with their critiques and so tried to take them on board with my final animation.

I did my best to apply what I had learned from these critiques in the final version of my walk cycle, but still has a few mistakes. The arms seem choppy and I feel that there is too much movement in the head, but, overall, I am happy with it. Although I have learned a lot during the course of this assignment, it has really helped me see that animating is not an area within which I would like to specialise!

Body Mechanic References

 

Before beginning to block out my body mechanic, I decided to look at reference videos to see what other people had done and what I could potentially do.

I thought this sit down, get up cycle by Henrik Tvinde was really stunning  as although it is a fairly simple mechanic it is done incredibly smoothly, and the details and subtle movements within this action are gorgeous. I also loved that he shows his reference video and blocking passes along with the final animation.

Masahiro Ushiyama‘s videos were massively helpful when looking to simplify the shapes to get a smoother, less robotic feel within a body mechanic. I also think that his style of animating is very cute. His boxing animation opened my mind up to the range of possibilities there were within body mechanics, beyond just jumps or standing up.

I then looked at examples of different body mechanics, especially those which show clear weight distribution within the references. I found this post by Steven Holmes incredibly inspiring as it shows clearly how the body reacts to weight and the steps to take when animating someone lifting the weight.

I remember speaking to Edward Boyle about his body mechanic and so looked at his blog to see if I could use his piece as a reference or find something helpful within his research. Seeing his blog reminded me of how helpful the Animators Survival Kit could be for this project as well as my walk cycle.

I found this when looking for tutorials that could possibly help me, and found it very entertaining, if not slightly frustrating.

Learning to Walk

This week, Alec showed us a demo of how to animate a walk cycle and the steps he would take when animating a walk cycle. In this demo, Alec broke the walk cycle down to different phases; working on the legs first, then the body, arms and finally adding a slight bob to the head.

I found this demonstration incredibly helpful because, although I had looked at tutorials and such, actually finding the best way to approach it for myself was proving very difficult.

So, I studied Alec’s demo files for a while and then went back to looking at tutorials and reference videos.

I found this tutorial by Q-hyun Kim incredibly helpful as he looks at the relationship between the shoulders and hips in the characters movements from the front as well as the side.

Alan Becker’s walk cycle tutorial was also very helpful as it shows a wide variety of walk cycles and breaks up the steps of the walk cycle well.

I really liked how Dermot from TheAngryAnimator approached the walk cycle in this tutorial, again clearly demonstrating the relationship between the hips and shoulders. He also shows the advantages and disadvantages of animating a walk cycle in place vs walking forward which I found very interesting.

Thomas in my class went out one lunch and got a video of people just walking normally, carrying out their normal lives. This was really interesting as it showed the immense variation in people’s natural walks as compared to those which are aware that they will be used as a reference.

Starting the Walk Cycle

Before beginning my walk cycle I did a lot of research in to how other’s have approached walk cycles and what it is that makes a walk cycle good. Starting this I realised just how helpful the Animators Survival Kit would be for this project as it has several pages where Williams goes in to great depth about walk cycles and how timing can affect how the walk comes across to the audience.

step-and-catch-img

In his notes, Williams describes walking as “a series of controlled falls.” We are repeatedly catching ourselves before we lose balance and fall flat on our faces, “we lean forward with our upper bodies and throw out a leg just in time to catch ourselves.”

Williams then goes on to look at the science of walks and how they work in reality. Below is the most true to life walk cycle in The Animators Survival Guide, and can be used as a good first reference for blocking out a standard walk cycle.

science-of-walk

He goes on to highlight how important it is to understand a ‘standard’ walk cycle before we look at walks with more personality. He also explains why setting a tempo for your walk is vital; the same poses with different timing will read completely differently to the audience.

Williams explains that setting a beat for your walk is vital. It has a massive impact on how the walk is read by the audience, deciding the mood and adding personality to the character.

4 Frames = a very fast run (6 steps a sec)
6 Frames = A run or very fast walk (4 Steps a second)
8 Frames = slow run or “cartoon” walk (3 steps a second)
12 Frames = Brisk, business like walk. Milt Kahl refers to this as a natural walk (2 steps a second)
16 Frames = strolling walk, more leisurely (2/3 of a second per step)
20 Frames = Elderly or tired person (almost a second per step)
24 Frames = slow step (one step per second)
32 Frames = …”show me the way…. go home…”

tempo.png

Although 12 frames per step is considered a natural walk, it is more difficult to divide than if the walk is animated on 8’s or 16’s and so adding acting and other aspects to the scene becomes more difficult.

I think taking the time to research walk cycles beforehand has really given me a good knowledge base to work from. I have a better sense of the weight distribution and timing within a walk and this will allow me to apply it to my own.

Posing

Posing is critical when it comes to ensuring a characters actions and intentions are read well. To help us with this Alec asked us to try and recreate a few action poses of our choice using the rigs we’d downloaded for our walk cycle animation.

genxcore-toysrevil

GENX-Core by Takara

I began looking at references to try and decide whether I should try a stationary pose or active pose. I first decided to try a pose where the character was in the middle of an action as I felt it would be easier to read because I would be able to more easily apply the principles of animation.

The first pose I attempted was a man running. I looked at multiple references for this, including Plate 63 – Nude Male Running at Full Speed from Eadweard Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion.

plate_63_nude_male_running_full_speed

(Muybridge, 1887)

After looking at these references I attempted to pose the character so that it was clear he was running. I tried to exaggerate the pose in order to make sure the action read well to the audience and I think I achieved a good result over all.

running-pose

running-pose-2

I found these rigs really fun to work with, though there were times when the rig would break or misbehave.

References

Eadweard Muybridge. Muybridge’s Complete Human and Animal Locomotion: All 781 Plates from the 1887 Animal Locomotion, Courier Dover Publications, 1979

 

Part 1: Animation

The first aspect of our Creative Development assignment is Animation. For this part of our project we have been asked to create a series of animations using the Body Mech Rigs by Joe Daniels. These should include a walk cycle and at least one form of body mechanics (examples: getting up from a seated position or laying down, turning 180° or jumping across a gap) and should be based upon the principles of animation.

As part of this, it is important that we look at different animation techniques, for example, blocking vs. straight ahead animation.

Another important part of this project is ensuring that we’re working from references for our animations. We should watch people around us as well as having video references which we can base our work off because otherwise the actions we have our characters do may look floaty or lack believability. Reference photos may also come in handy as we can use these to help block out key poses within our animations.