Animation rigs normally offer two options when animating eyes: “world space” or “local space”.
“World space” allows you to lock the eyes in a specific world location, and pose your character without having to worry about the correct eyes direction. That kind of space sounds ideal when animating a two character shot as the aim of the eyes will not move.
Instead, “Local eyes” allows you to lock the eyes in relation to the head so when rotating the head, the eyes will automatically follow the head movement which sounds … pretty useless and unrealistic doesn’t it?
Throughout Animation Mentor, I was a “world space eyes” animator. I didn’t understand why anyone would use Local Space but during a Q&A, AM superstar graduate Mike Stern who had already landed a job at Dreamworks, planted a seed in my brain when he mentioned he was using Local Eyes rather than World and from that day on, I knew I would need to get more experience with Local Eyes and see what advantage this method would bring.
Having worked in games mostly in my early career, I never really got a chance to do much acting, let alone testing eyes parent spacing. Going into TV series and taking part in AnimSquad finally allowed me the opportunity to get more familiar with the two methods and I would now mostly animate eyes in Local Space.
“World Space” allows you to accurately lock the eyes in a specific direction which seems great at first but the eyes often end up looking totally disconnected from the head and requiring just as much finessing than Local Eyes.
People might get angry at me as this is not what is normally done in education but sometime ago I had found a great example of unsuccessful eyes animation that clearly showed the use of World Space Eyes instead of Local Eyes and it is time to bring the example back!
Don’t worry I have already told the animator about it and hopefully he will take my comments in consideration in his next pass.
The shot I am referring to is the first one and specifically what is being done on Bishop.
Using this method, the eyes are perfectly locked in space but since they are not reacting to the motion of the head, they seem to be floating around the orbital cavity and totally disconnected from the head which looks very odd and inorganic.
Now that I have more experience with acting and having had Malcon Pierce insisting on eyes focus for literally HOURS during an Animsquad expert workshop, I have fully grasped the necessity to lock the eyes firmly on the head rather than on the environment.
Eyes direction in relation to the head and eyelids is the ultimate component of acting after all. Aside from the exception of blinks, even though I will talk about this an other time, a slight variation in the position of the eyes will convey a totally different emotion so you want to keep a tight grip over the positioning of the pupil and iris.
I hope this article was useful to you and I will leave you with a little something to test your … eyes ;-)
This is a shot I animated some time ago. Do you think I animated Bishop’s eyes in Local space or World space? People with experience will have no trouble spotting the space used but see for yourself!
A friend who is a professional TV series animator was telling me yesterday that he wants to attend a body mechanics workshop rather than an acting one. My answer was unequivocally to do an acting one instead.
Acting is the most difficult skill in animation and being a professional animator, one already have a grasp in body mechanics, substantial enough to support any performance.
If what you want to end up doing is acted performances and you are already a professional animator, don’t waste time and focus right now on producing shots that will show the recruiter you can do the job you want to do. With all the feature animation gigs going on right now, there is an urge to jump on those opportunities. In one year time, those productions will be finished and it is very likely that you will be facing the competition of hundreds of seasoned feature animators who took those opportunities when you didn’t.
I just came across that video by pure luck some time ago and it showed me how little I knew about acting. Too be fair we don’t all want to create that kind of performances in animation but it is a good wake up call. I am adding the Captain Underpants theme song as ….. we don’t all want to end up doing serious animation after all!!! ;-)
Using yourself as a reference when animating is great but can be very limiting as we can only refer to ourselves and our experiences. Also, people react very differently when in a crowd like in the following examples so there is nothing better than going online to look for ideas.
A while back, Buzzfeed posted some amazing references of people being scared at when visiting “scariest world famous haunted house attraction in Niagara falls”.
Here are just three examples. See how some people use their friends to shield themselves by grabbing them, have a gander, it is pretty hilarious.
Some time ago I was asked to animate kids and I know how different kids move compare to adults or teenager but I didn’t dare looking for references on Youtube and risking to be flagged by the Internet police ;-)
Fear no more! I just found “Hajimete no otsukai” a great TV show featuring kids asked to run some errands for their parents while secret cameras are recording them ;-) Perfect reference!
Here is one video and you can find several episodes at the following link:
I had never seen such a good example of how much the ears can move up and down when the face stretches. We are talking about nearly 1 cm here!!!
I just discovered some really fun and catchy music videos based on News footage with very colorful characters and doing a bit more research on how those were done, I realized they were using a music software plug-in called Auto-Tune which allows to tweak the pitch of an audio clip.
So I am not going to talk about Auto-tune, instead, I want to share with you a nice video clip where X-factor’s Simon Cowell does a great “Take” following a contestant’s attack on one of the jury. This is almost a “double take” and it is so cool to be able to see his thought process so clearly and more than anything, the fact that it happens at the same time he was finishing his previous action (he was lowering his “cold pop”).
Obviously, I also have to share those other fun music videos I found. Those are real characters!
We hardly ever hear how stand up comedians and comedy writers work out their jokes so this is a short but pretty interesting video I think where Jerry Seinfield explains his thought process.
The video is pretty short but offers a starck contrast with an other New York Times interview where Seinfield’s co-creator Larry David explains his work practices. Skip to 7mins20 to hear his explanation ;-)
I wouldn’t be able to give you a clear answer to that but I think we can all agree that the following example is a really fine piece of acting starring child prodigee Henry Thomas during an audition for 1982 Spielberg’s E.T.
The video just surfaced on the internet at the same time as an interview for Esquire magazine where he explains how he approached the audition.
“I read a scene from some early version of the script, and then I was asked to do an improvisation. I think the gist of the improv was, “You found someone, and they’re going to take them away from you, and it’s your friend, and you really don’t want your friend to go away.” So I started crying, and really going for it I guess.”
According to the Huffington Post, legend has it that Thomas drew his inspiration for the scene from a deceased family dog.
Okay kid, you got the job!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hV0vYQcmWK0
I don’t normally watch TV but yesterday night I was so exhausted by a long day of doors sanding/painting and gardening that I only felt like switching on the evil box and got very lucky!
The evening started pretty badly with a weakly acted French TV series featuring an OCD striken police inspector reminiscent of Monk, then I found out that Dustin Hoffman was playing on two channels at the same time!
I had never seen “The graduate” but I loved it. It is a very light hearted movie with a fun spirit that reminded me of the French New Wave cinema for it’s very creative use of editing and reaaaalllly long shots. As noted by Mathieu Kassovitz in an after movie discussion, at four hundred, the amount of shots is well below the usual thousand to two thousand shots. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike Nichols got some inspiration in watching Jean Luc Godard 1960’s “Breathless”.
The movie also features some really fun sequence transitions similar to what Ronnie Del Carmen boarded on “Up”, with the environment changing while the camera tracks the main character in the middle of an action. We see for example Hoffman leaps out of the swimming pool to lay flat on the bed of his lover ;-)
So! Such a long introduction to a very short shot that could have probably lasted few more minutes. I still think it is a great reference for Take/Thought process as it is very well acted and shows a clear change of thought. Beware, this is the very end of the movie so it contains a big spoiler.
The scene only starts 3 mins 56 into the clip but I created a bookmark just before so you don’t miss the very comic shot with the entire bus starring at the youth. A shot that probably summarizes part of the movie. Here is the bookmark http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahFARm2j38c&t=3m46s followed by the entire clip.
Ken Fountain just released “Attitudes and Acting Beats”, a new video tutorial at the incredible price of $10.99.
Judging by the official blurb and teaser, that one is probably more about acting and motion analysis so it should appeal to everyone from beginners to professionals.
If you want to become a good animator, do no hesitate to buy that tutorial. At $10.99, don’t come up with silly ideas and tell me you can’t afford it! Ken Fountain worked on many movies at Dreamworks, graduated from Animation Mentor and is a current teacher at Ianimate so you are getting way more than a 90 minutes video.
I haven’t seen the tutorial yet but seeing all the effort he put into the last one, that one is a must buy.
Here are the official blurb and teaser:
The new video is officially released! Whew. My intent was to be able to focus on some of the specific areas of my process that people had asked me to elaborate on, and hopefully introduce some new ideas as well. So, in that light, this 90-minutes of lecture/demo is devoted entirely to the planning, video analysis and blocking processes, and the tools and concepts I use to execute these phases with consistency, clarity, and hopefully emotional appeal.
This video is heavy on analysis. I get very specific regarding the structures I use to breakdown a performance and turn it in to pose-able emotional moments; like text, context and subtext, a structure I use to really understand my character and their circumstance; and the pillars of my workflow – attitudes, beats and textures – to create the right body language and interesting rhythms I need to engage my audience. I also take the opportunity to go deeper in to the concept of character centers and how that can greatly effect you character’s movement as well as the graphic quality of your shot’s staging. And, as usual, you can watch my approach to staging and posing for a specific shot; one that I will carry through to the next two videos.
Thanks again for all of your input. I hope to be able to address it all over this 3-part series. And keep them relatively affordable (only $10.99!).