I just found a video of a very cool rig demo featuring some new features I have never had the change to play with.
- No twist arms and hands
- Deform point system
The creator tells us he made the full rig with facial in a week with his own autorig.
I am using this opportunity to plug an old article about World orient head and shoulders. I am amazed how many professional rigs don’t have such a simple constraint switch that makes animators life much easier and allows us to reach higher quotas and quality.
[disclosure: This blog post might be biased as Mike Makarewicz gave me a free Tshirt to thank me for supporting Animation Collaborative ;-) ]
Some of the conferences were a bit too generic especially the ones hosted by people who didn’t know the guests very well but there were plenty of great ones that went into the nitty gritty part of the animation process.
Animation Collaborative had a one of a kind demo this year with their “4 different approaches to Acting : context and creativity with Michal Makarewicz, Victor Navone, Rob Thompson and Aaron Hartline“. For that presentation they used a pretty bland audio clip that sounded like a Brian Tracy unless it was a Napoleon Hill audio book, and they went on explaining their tought process for animating a character to that audio clip. Michal had to shorten his presentation unfortunately but the presentation was really interesting. Ah, Victor was the only representative of the Step Key workflow, all the others used the Spline method.
I also attended an other demo with Michal Makarewicz which was way more insightful than the title implied: “Animate a take like a pro”. I know Michal pretty well as I attended Animation Collaborative last year, had a pretty long chat with him at Siggraph few years ago and he was also featured on several Animation Mentor lectures. Mike is also known to be one of the fastest animators at Pixar so it is always very interesting to see him animating and this time, despite the issues he had with Maya and one TV dying on us (compatibility issue with the Cintiq we got told), his demo was great.
As the title implied, using a Norman mod that looked like Sulley from Monsters Inc, he showed us how he would animate a take, using as reference, the shot from the famous Chuck Jones tribute sequence were Sulley fears Boo is being crushed in the trash compactor.
I knew Mike was a “layer animator” but I didn’t know how much he relied on properly setup hotkeys and additional scripts. As he said, all the interactions with the keyboard should be very intuitive and rely on muscle memory instead of having to look down where you fingers are going everytime you want to do something.
As such and with great difficulties, he set up all his Maya hotkeys to be on the left side of the keyboard. “You don’t want to cross the keyboard” he commented. If you have been following this blog for a long time you know I share the same views and I posted several workflow tips on how to make Maya more animator friendly. [Having only recently used Maya 2011 and 2012 I have had to face some incredible issues with the new hotkeys interface and eventually found a fix which I will share it with you very soon, I hope this was fixed in Maya 2013]
His other tip and probably the core of his fast workflow is to work in spline and copy the graph editor curves from one channel to an other as often as possible and scale, mirror or offset the curve when needed.
In the demo for example, he took the Hips TY (translation of the hips in Y) and copied it to the shoulders after inverting and offsetting it. There was also some nifty graph editor value operation using the *=.25 expression which was an “ahah moment” for a big part of the crowd and a never seen, at least for me and a good chunk of the audience, lattice graph editor scaling script which he used to create some residual energy for the head Y rotation on the settle.
He also explained that we shouldn’t “mess with the math” in the graph editor and never create kinks or overshoots with the tangents (Mike uses weighted free tangents only) instead you want to flatten the tangents and play with their weight. Here is an example of what he would do for a bouncing ball.
Alright that will be it for today, ah just to finish, I went to see Wreck-it Ralph at Disney’s El Capitan theatre on Hollywood boulevard and it was very good. I was expecting something a bit commercial with all the pop culture references and product placements but there was a great surprise with a specific scene I don’t want to spoil for you. Let’s just say, there was some of the magic from Tangled in the form of some very hearful moments were we couldn’t help feeling for the characters.
My post already brought some questions so here are the answers.
What is this *=.25 thing?
In the Graph editor, it is possible to adjust the value of a selection of keys by entering some expressions in the Key stats box. Here is how it works (click to enlarge the pictures):
And by checking the Maya online documentation, I realised the Lattice key deformation tool he used is not a script but actually part of Maya. Here is where you will find it and by double clicking on it you will access more options
I don’t like when people just post links to stuff without taking the time to write an introduction or some commentary but this is what I will do today ;-)
Hehe, actually I still have to write a little blurb as Google’s Doodler Creative Lead Ryan Germick is once again hosting a great interview with this time “Wreck it Ralph”‘s director Rich Moore.
I love Ryan’s interviews as he always does a lot of research before interviewing people and has a lot of great questions which he asks with a lot of humour.
“Wreck it Ralph” hasn’t opened yet in France but I will certainly see it next week after attending CTN. By the way, I am free if someone wants to invite me at Disney for a visit next week, even if it is just to lead me to the gift shop ;-)
Thanks Google, Ryan and obviously Rich Moore!
Mark Andrews and the Google Doodle Team
I just got told that the first two ReelFX’s “Looney tunes” shorts are now available online.
If you missed those look no further and watch them in their full 1080p glory on their own Youtube channel.
The TDs did an incredible job to allow the animator to push CG animation to an extent that was never permitted before. Crazy smear frames, multi limbs, out of the ordinary facial and body poses.
I am still waiting to see the entire Daffy’s Rhapsody but the wait shouldn’t take too long.
I also want to point out that ReelFX’s Supervising TD Josh Carey and the other guys from Rigging Dojo have an incredible source of information on their website so you must subscribe to both their newsletter, and blog’s RSS Feed, even if like me you are not a professional TD but only want to understand how things work and learn few things along the way.
Lately they have had some really good interviews with Sony’s Character and Animation TD Martin Orlowski for his work on “Pirates ! Band of Misfits” (I am wondering more and more how much was stop motion now….) and Sony’s TD Tim Coleman for his work on “Spiderman” and “Hotel Transylvania”. The latter was only available on the Newsletter so this is why you need to subscribe to both.
That’s it for today. I will write a longer article about the importance of communication between TDs and Animators an other day.
Thanks Amy for the heads up.
[update] Well the class sold out in probably less than two hours, this should give some ideas to other online schools like CGMA/CGMW (I can never remember the name, but I highly recommend the storyboard and character design class). CGMA has a 2 hours live class with the mentor every week, Schoolism doesn’t. Come on CGMA, there are plenty of great Feature Animation Vis Dev artist out there.
Check this out, Bobby Chiu’s Schoolism just announced a pretty awesome online class titled “Designing with Color and Light with Nathan Fowkes”.
I have been following Dreamworks visual dev artist Nathan Fowkes for a bit and I had to rush to book the course, granted I will have a slight issue compared to other students, I am slightly colour blind. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue, some people say Van Gogh was also colour blind and this is why the palette he used seems so vibrant to non-colour blind people.
Schoolism has also a bunch of other great classes from Zbrush to Storyboarding (with Kris Pearn) I would encourage you to check out
If you enroll to one of the courses and you want to support Animation with a Moustache, please give them the following promo code 75qs0
I should use this opportunity to thanks the two people who refereed me and I would like to hear which courses you took and how you found them.
I just found a 12 minutes introduction video to an other workshop he helds in L.A. that should give an idea to what to expect from his course.