Monday, November 19, 2012

GRAPH EDITOR: Off Setting 101

This post is for animation Students but hopefully it gives some insight to non-animation artists for those who are looking for it.  
Dear Curves,


-A Student

      I could write 100 blog posts about the graph editor (graph editor is a tool animators use to move and adjust their characters in the computer. ) but no amount of lectures will substitute raw first hand experience. You have to get frustrated and go through your OWN epiphanies. In my experience with the graph editor I have come across a few tricks/understandings. In this post I will share one of my understandings with you. I will keep it short for I find when something is over explained, it can make a simple subject very confusing.

OFFSETTING in animation:
      -When you break up the moving parts of the body to help show that there are different muscles working at different times to achieve one giant general movement. In the graph editor that just translates to: shifting your curves so that they all are not working at the same time. This is something everyone knows but its tricky to get it to look RIGHT/or ORGANICALLY in your animation for someone who is still learning.
      My tip is, even though we are taught that when things start and end at the same time is bad, TECHNICALLY under the hood (graph editor) it needs to happen at some level. If you look below you will see a very simple turn. (All we will focus on is the body and the head). When you first offset a curve it might look like the example on the lower left hand side of the page I have provided below. Most new students will leave that as is and then wonder why their animation has hitches and pops. You must remember that EVERYTHING moves on the human body at the same time, but somethings move more than others; which gives the illusion that somethings are not moving at all.

My drawings of the curves might not be accurate but its the concept I am trying to get across. 

     So do you notice how my curves will start moving at the same time? Though the curve for the head 'takes off' before the other curve for the head does. The body curve is moving at first but only very very slightly, then it slopes up to catch up to the head curve. When you make the curves harmonize and 'wait for each other' before coming back to a 'flat' stop, it will help with making your movements feel less mechanical and broken. 
EXTRA TIP for a head turn: Using counter animation to your advantage. If you look at the next picture, you will see a situation where you are forced to use counter animation.

       Below: Is how that curve will look in the graph editor. Notice how the 'hump' in the head curve doesn't extend the amount of frames needed but works within the frames given. in maya terms: All you need to do is set a key 3/4th of the way through the head turn and then raise it up in the graph editor.

     I can go more into why I believe these tricks work and, how should i put it.. I can talk more THEORY on the subject but I shall leave you with the solid basics and spare you the dense explanations. Try experimenting with these curves yourself. Adjust according to your needs. My drawings are not accurate to real situations but the curves are drawn only to get the point across. Take my tips and make them your own, you might discover better ways to accomplish what I'm trying to teach here. My way by far is not the right way or the only way. I do hope this helps for those that might be struggling with their fundamentals.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

WRECK IT RALPH: sketches


     I hope you all have gone and seen the movie! It was a lot of fun helping create such a fun film. I thought I 'd share some sketches I did while on the film. They are just little doodles and chicken scratches on post it notes and toss away pieces of paper.

ONE of my first sketches of ralph... when I actually had time to draw

     Hmm, Well working on the film feels like you and your co-workers are on a giant boat. Everyone has their job to do and something to help out with. You learn and become close with your 'crew' bc you end up seeing them more than anyone else, even your family and loved ones. So they in some sense.. a sort of family to you as well.
     And just like a real boat there are rough times and easy times. During the harsh times, there is no sleep, everyone is hard at work, we are all stressed, and it feels like there is no end in sight. Smooth times always come early on in the making of the film. It'll ramp up and get busy until a climatic few weeks of overtime and hell... and then.. its done. Then you have to remember how to live life again and find out what were your old hobbies, and remember that people exist outside of your work life. And you have to be social! (unless you can not remember how to be social by this point)
    Watching the world react to the film through Facebook and reading the reviews in all the magazines is a pretty crazy feeling. It's kind of having a venerable sort of feeling in your gut as you read what people say about the movie. Last but not least, seeing your name in the credits.. makes a landmark checkpoint of emotion that causes me to reflect and see how far I've come and to be excited about the future. I have a lot of life to live and my road is just getting started.

      There was always something to do! It left very little time for drawing, but the sticky notes above I did while animating those characters. Drawing on post it notes is a very good way to become detached to your drawing and let loose. You find yourself drawing very fast with out being precious about each little line you do. And even though that line isn't perfect, there is some energy captured in it that no amount of fiddling and perfection would repeat.

      Animating Vanelope was very fun. I was intimidated by her a lot until I was given a few shots with her.  Vanelope has a very cartoony 2D appeal to her that we always had to be aware of. Not as much as king candy but still a decent amount.

Sometimes when I'm stuck I figure out my problems with drawings

     I spent most of my time animating in Sugar Rush as you might figure out if you look at the ratio of candy racer drawings to everything else. I also animated a lot of characters in the Game Central Station, the Felix party in the beginning of the movie and at the climax of the movie. I do have a lot more sketches but I'll save them for another post. I hope you all enjoyed the movie and make sure to watch it a second time to find all the hidden things in the back ground (hint: look at the graffiti on the walls in game central station)