01 March 2010

Fundamentals of Animation [month 8]

Blog Entries

Name: Jason Hutchins

Class: 1003

1: 1mar2010

A. Hours Lab: 0-0

B. Hours Home: 0-0

1. Regular log format changed by mandated “blog”ing, while this is an uncomfortable format and it really doesn’t flow in the format I like in a log … I guess I can use it if I have to.

Today was a non-lab day, so the work today was mainly setup for things to come. Going over suggested maya preferences and where they’re located at, most of which I wish was all covered in earlier classes as I’ve needed a few of the settings and had to find them online or simply reset to default after I messed something up. The new “b”log format says I’m also supposed to talk about the final project today, which goes against my normal format of logging what I do in maya as well as my hours in maya. So here goes the mandatory stuff.

Since we can do anything we want in the animation, but can’t do anything we want in the animation, I was thinking of something similar to what Craig had in his demonstration for the class … … only much simpler. Perhaps have the robot pop to life, look around, scrunch down to the ground, take off into the air for a few seconds before wobbling to the right and turning sideways/upside down and then lastly crashing into the ground. This way I can show a squashing during his scrunching down, as he gets ready to take off, and a stretch as he takes off quickly into the air. Overlapping action, as the legs will bob slightly in the air when he takes off and after he crash lands. Anticipation can be shown “Iron Man” style as the robot poses in a flight pose before he actually launches off. The arcing slow in and slow out can be shown as he slows into his position in the air, and then slow out’s into his falling phase of the animation where he’ll once again squash into the ground. If I have time I can add secondary actions of the “head” unit looking around during certain scenes … everyone loves a cute non-human robot.

2. Thumbnails!

3. Outline of Action:

a. Stage 1: coming to life

b. Stage 2: finish coming to life/take first step

c. Stage 3: turn head around/study environment

d. Stage 4: scrunch down with a great effort

e. Stage 5: quickly leap up into air from scrunch position

f. Stage 6: leg secondary action come to neutral position but body begins to destabilize to the right.

g. Stage 7: robot quickly destabilizes to the right and begins to plummet head first to the ground with legs trailing in the air.

h. Stage 8: robot crash lands with secondary action of legs and head unit also falling to the ground behind it .. perhaps bouncing a time or two and then settling.

Hours: 0

2. 3mar2010

A. Lab: 0900-1300

B. Home: 1800-2000

1. Was unable to complete everything in lab, so when I tried to continue working on the rolling ball file it would only partially work for letting me edit the graph. So the regular bouncy ball was completed in lab and the metal ball roll was “finished” at home.

Video: Hutchins_Jason_FOA_1003_RobotBounceRoll_1.m4v

Hours: 6

3. 8mar2010

A. Lab: 0900-1300

B: Home: 1800-0020

1. Animated all three files from today’s lab, I wish we could work on them in lab more than 15 minutes a piece so I didn’t have so much homework. Saved out the files to the proper format, then went back and playblasted the one file from lab 1, then went back and corrected my original thumbnails for the final project. Apparently they wanted something with a lot more steps … so I added a lot more steps. Then I re-described the steps and … now I’m off to bed. See you in 5 hours.

Video: Hutchins_Jason_FOA_1003_RobotFlying_Breakdown1_1.m4v



Hours: 10.2

4. 10mar2010

A. Lab: 0900-1300

B. Home: 1400-1600

C. Home: 1800-2300

1. Today in lab we turned in all of our animations’ maya and quicktime files, they wouldn’t take maya 2010 files so we had to convert them to 2009 before submitting them. If done properly it’s not a big deal, I don’t see why everyone is claiming maya 2010 is so full of bugs and issues … when it’s really not[unless run in osx snow leopard]. So after turn ins they checked off our thumbnails, where once again they made up a last minute demand on us: list frame numbers and descriptions on the thumbnail sheet itself, not just in the blog. Sooo I quickly made up some numbers and listed them as frames, I still don’t have a strong feel for timing vs. frames unless I’m scrubbing through the frames … I don’t see how making up numbers will help us develop that skill? After that we were –finally- allowed to begin working on our final project animation, which I’m actually very excited about. So far I don’t like the lab in this class at all, and lecture tends to put me to sleep off and on while we’re discussing menu colors or whatever, but finally we’re getting to bring this little round ball of steel to life! I found it hard to set key frames, per the norm. for me, so once I set them I went ahead and worked my butt off in mastering the first half of the animation: the looking around and jumping half.

Video: Hutchins_Jason_FOA_1003_FinalProjec_1.m4v

Hours: 11

5. 11mar2010

A. Lab: 0-0

B. Home: 1700-0001

1. So even though today wasn’t an FOA day, we have this weekend and tomorrow off so I was able to stay up and work on the animation project. J I got a lot of passes worked out on the legs to get rid of the intersecting geometry on the first half of the animation, so now I get to go and start in on the other half of the animation … starting with the jump and ending with the quick fall. I’ve been using the graph editor a lot lately, and sometimes I venture into the dope sheet … but I’m still not really sure how to read it all so I don’t know what I’m moving over half of the time. I do know I’ll need the dope sheet for my final pass on the entire project to push entire sections around for proper timing over the entire animation. So, I’ve got until then to learn more about it.

2. Grades posted for 2DA really early this month, I got a B+ and I’m happy with that. Now we’re just waiting on F[l]OP to post … which probably won’t happen until the first week of next month just like this month. :/

Video: Hutchins_Jason_FOA_1003_FinalProject_4.m4v

Hours: 7

6. 14mar2010

A. Lab: 0-0

B. Home: 1300-1500

1. First weekend in a while, so I decided that even though I –really- don’t feel like doing anything school related I’ll make an effort … before making my way over to the ps3. I worked straight ahead and set up the overlapping action of the antennae as well as working on clearing up more intersecting geometry I apparently missed in the first half of the animation. She still looks pretty rough, but I’ll get there I guess.

Video: N/A

Hours: 2

7. 15mar2010

A. Lab: 0900-1300

B. Home: 1800-2300

1. Received critiques in lab today, and they took me back down from spline curves to step “curves” which screwed up the entire animation. So I got comments like: “your timing is off”, “you have sliding”, “there’s intersecting geometry”, and the like. I found it very hard to just take the critique as them trying to help me, but I remembered comments from other teachers about how directors would be doing this IRL and in front of the rest of the crew. So I ended up biting my tongue, literally, and nodding and smiling … much like I used to do in my army days. Nod and grin, agree with them, and then when they walk away keep working on the project at hand.

2. Once I turned my files in went ahead and continued working on things the lab instructors had pointed out that were still in the animation even with spline curves. I set up the “air dance” that I had screwed up by not zeroing out the body to the main base .. so pretty much after I fixed that it completely screwed up the legs through the entire rest of the jump/crash. So fixing that as well as getting a better crash landing is where I left off for the night. If the animation the instructor shows us is a “c” grade average, then I really should have spent this entire past weekend, and I’ll need to spend the rest of my “free” time, on this animation to get a least a little better than that.

Video: Hutchins_Jason_FOA_1003_FinalProject_6.m4v

Hours: 9

8. 16mar2010

A. Lab: 0-0

B. Home: 1900-2200

1. Light CMF day as far as homework goes, so I’m taking this opportunity to try out my brand new monitor that just came via fedex today. Mebbe now I’ll be able to see the graph and the animation at the same time? Today I went through and labeled the videos that go along with this blog, that I had apparently completely forgotten that we needed to at least list in the blog. Oops! So, Let’s hope there’s not too many points off for that one. The other thing I want to do tonight is go through the timing of the legs after he jumps, I think the body timing is pretty much perfect but I need to get the overlapping action to follow-through just right.

Video: Hutchins_Jason_FOA_1003_FinalProject_7.m4v

Hours: 3

9. 17mar2010

A. Lab: 0900-1300

B. Home: 1900-2200

1. Today was critiques again in lab, and this time the lab instructor actually looked at the animation instead of changing it’s settings and then pointing out all the mistakes those changes had made. I was told to: add a bounce before the slide/crash at the end of the animation, step out the intro one motion at a time so it shows hatch/head/legs in an overlapping action, delay the falling robot somehow so the viewer can actually see the robot rotating in x as he falls so when he hits the third camera it’s not a mystery as to why he’s suddenly rotated almost upside down, and lastly I was told to keep the robot’s legs from sliding as he’s anticipating his jump as well as to get rid of the grasshopper rear leg. So in fixing all of that, the only thing I didn’t do was to get rid of the grasshopper rear leg and to keep his legs from sliding back. I left those because I had purposefully put those in there to show 2 things: a spring-like motion from his back leg propelling him into the air, and his other 3 legs sliding back as he’s “clawing” at the floor at such an effort as to pull himself forwards. So instead of getting rid of it I think the issue is that I’m a bad director … the camera needs to show the front legs pulling back and not just one of them like the camera angle I have right now shows. So to fix that, it means I’ll have to animate my first camera from the close-up to the full shot, instead of trying to get the best of both worlds with the medium shot I’ve had it at.

Video: Hutchins_Jason_FOA_1003_FinalProject_8.m4v

Hours: 7

10. 19mar2010

A. Lab: 0-0

B. Home: 1500-1730

1. Once again I decided to look back at my critique notes and try to make things look a little better. I started with camera movements, smoothing where possible and hiding them from view when necessary. The other thing I did was to make sure every part of the robot I wanted the viewer to see was in frame at all times, I’m hoping this will at least help with the jump … as I really like the robot scraping his feet across the floor to show how hard he’s pushing off to move forward/up. I also changed the camera 1 to a close-up that slowly spins a 180 degree rotation around the robot once he begins his transformation and his look-around. I think it looks cool without trying to make it look like a bullet time effect or any other kind of slow-down effect … just me trying to do a close up and show off as much detail as possible while slowly backing away from the robot. Then just before the robot does his push-off/jump I have the camera come to a stop. None of the other cameras move while the robot is in frame, though camera 3 does hide from view while camera 1 is rotating around …. I also fixed some more of the leg movement during the camera 2 scene where the hidden leg could be seen going the wrong direction when all the other legs were going the other way. Oops! So after scrubbing in maya and in quicktime I decided today would be a good time to ask for an email critique from our instructor, taking him up on his offer. Hopefully we’ll get some good critique correction notes so I can get an A in this class … I could sure use one after all these B’s I’ve been getting lately.

Video: Hutchins_Jason_FOA_1003_FinalProject_9.m4v

Hours: 2.5

11. 21mar2010

A. Lab: 0-0

B. Home: 1330-1430

1. Since I haven’t heard back from my instructor about any kind of critique, I went ahead and scrubbed through the frames in the quicktime video. Sure enough I spotted the antennae jumping ahead of the motion instead of following it in two spots. So I’m glad I didn’t just take the day off just because I didn’t get a critique like Craig said he would do for us over this weekend. So I scrubbed through many more times and … well .. I don’t know where else to go. So I uploaded it to facebook and decided to show it off to my classmates and other friends, all of who said it looked great – though they said that it looked great with the antennae still facing the wrong way. So I’m still unsure as to where I stand for a grade, I’m just glad I’m this far and not trying to play catch up.

Video: N/A

Hours: 1

12. 22mar2010

A. Lab: 0900-1300

B. Home: 1830-2400

1. I got a lot of good critique in lab today, most of it with the camera work, and most of it I ended up deleting as soon as I got home anyways. Why? Well that critique I had asked Craig for he finally gave us all in class today, and that included camera 1 stabilizations. Other things included:

a. offset leg placement as the ball opens up, proper leaning for weight as the robot looks around, jumping seems to pop, ease into the highest jump key, give more time for the arcs in the air, back off camera 3 to show even negative space placement to match that of camera 2, put higher arc on initial bounce from crash landing, and make all the bounces and sliding occur within a 1.2 - 2 second time period.

2. When I got home I deleted camera 1 movement and started fresh for the 6th time on it, and this time it appears to be more stable. I used a hidden cube polygon where the robot sits to constrain/aim the camera as it pans around the ball, and I used some measuring sticks [also polygon cubes that I left in the file for reference] to make sure the camera gets further away from the ball the more it moves over to the “left” side of the area. I used the graph editor to completely offset feet placement, as I had already had 3 offset, but this time all 4 of them are offset so I don’t want to hear about it this time. I increased the robots leaning stance a little bit as he looks around, he already had a little bit of a lean but it wasn’t enough to tell apparently? The jumping pop is still a mystery to me, I could barely see it before and now that I deleted one of the random keys in “y” I really don’t see it … so let’s hope it’s gone? I can’t tell! I manipulated the curves in the graph editor without moving any of the keys to help ease into the highest peak of the jump, but it still doesn’t help any. I’d have to completely move the key to get rid of how hard he hits … and if I do that I’ll have to redo his legs or find all of their keys and move those back too. So for now that’s all I’m going to touch on those. I didn’t get to adding more time in the air … as it still takes me a while to navigate anything in the dope sheet … but I’ll get to it. I did back off camera 3 to match the exact size of the robot in camera 2, I’m not really a big fan of backing it off like that and when I make my next playblast I’ll definitely have to be more careful about clipping the robot at the edge of the camera view. I started on modifying the bounces as he crash lands, but didn’t quite get it finished by the time I went to bed … so I still need to work on that and then attack the dope sheet for making it happen faster, as well as go back to making the flying take a little bit longer so it’s not so quick … mebbe another 12 frames spread across the whole air time.

Video: N/A

Hours: 9.5

13. 24mar2010

A. Lab: 0900-1300

B. Home: 1930-2400

1. In lab we had to spend the whole first half critiquing another students’ work while they critiqued our own. This should have only taken 15 minutes tops or so, but since no one really had a play blast ready … much less a camera … it took all the time while I waited for other people to get done. After break we were able to get some time in working on our projects, so I went ahead and finished up my list of the last few critiques from Craig in our last class.

2. After the final exam and class review ended we were allowed to stay after to get another critique of our work from Craig. A lot of the same things were pointed out this time that I figured were good enough: robot legs clip the edge of the camera. Why is that bad? I dunno, but I guess I’ll place his whole body in there at all times. Woooo. So the other thing he pointed out is once again that “grasshopper” back leg. No one likes how I’m using it, so even after many edits I’ll go ahead and go in and turn it into a regular non-jump producing leg. He pointed out I still need to smooth out the air time a lot more, and also the bounce on the end – though it looks better it now still needs to be sped up. His suggestion was to make the bounce translate out further to help speed it up. I’m liking that one ….

3. I spent the last several hours tweaking the curves, which meant a lot of spline surgery, but I think now … now everything but the final cut is pretty good. I ended up making an error that just got pushed to the back as I dug through the curves. Fix it next time ….

Video: Hutchins_Jason_FOA_1003_FinalProject_14.m4v

Hours: 8.5

14. 26mar2010

A. Lab: 0900-1300

B. Home: 0-0

1. My last major issue was timing on the fall and getting everything to fit within the shot, so that was my goal in lab today was to do that and turn in my final. Once I had the timing feeling fast enough on everything I realized the legs and antennae overlapping action were completely screwed up, and had to be redrawn. So That’s where the entire lab went was redrawing the action paths and then resetting the cameras to fit within the new time line as well as the minor fitment adjustments.

Video: Hutchins_Jason_FOA_1003_FinalProject_15.m4v

Hours: 4

Total Time: 80hrs 30min

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