Thursday, 2 August 2012

Jump: Dare Audio

Spent most of today adding breakdowns to Malcolm and making changes to the audio, then changing the breakdowns to fit the audio. It's been great working in the university labs with my classmates. The company really helps and I can get feedback pretty much instantly which is fantastic. Here is today's efforts in three steps. First being what I have first and the last video is where I'm up to.

Step 1. Where I started. The 'lame' stood out too much and not even in a good way.

Step 2. 'Lame' was taken out of the audio but then 'C'mon' started to stand out, particularly because it's said twice and quite closly to each other. It was also confused and people thought that Aaron was saying it twice and wondered why Malcolm was moving.

Step 3. It was decided to change Malcolm's action to reactive rather than acting on thought. The scene flows much better.

Rachel's Blog

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Jump: Fight scene Blocking

Here's where I'm up to in blocking the fight scene so far..

I've been blocking Aaron as well as it is much quicker and easier to get the timing down straight away as there is a LOT of character interaction in this scene. It is probably the most difficult scene we're going to animate.
Since I'm not so savvy with Morpheus as Rachel is, she's going to go through it and tidy up Aaron's poses and make changes here and there where necessary. Quite happy with the work so far but it can stand to have much more work done to it but the foundations are down now which is what we really needed. Saving now and sending to Rachel.

Here are the sketches I've done for the headlock part of the blocking. We had reference for that part so I sketched the key poses I wanted.

Rachel's Blog

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Jump: Updated Progress Animatic

Rachel's been doing an excellent job of keeping our animatic up to date with all the most recent work we've been doing. Here is the most updated one so far.

 We've now added the 2D clouds (Option B won outright) and I have to say I am very surprised at how much the overall look of the animation has improved. I didn't see it before but not only were the 3D clouds distracting they were also blending the animation together too much. The 2D clouds now look like they are in the background and are much more subtle than the previous clouds, allowing the focus to be on the characters which now seem to pop out a lot more.

I'm also glad I made them transparent because they look amazing when they go through the 'Jump' title (or when the 'Jump' title goes through the cloud). I do need to draw some more clouds from another angle for when the characters jump out of the plane but that's not urgent right now.

Rachel's Blog

Jump: Tree Scene Blocking

Blocked Malcolm in the last scene.

Going to pass the file on to Rachel so that she can block Aaron. Here's the sketches I did for the blocking. The sketches stop before Malcolm falls because the reference was a bit different to what Malcolm could do in the scene (branches were a bit closer than the 'branches' in the reference footage). I still used the reference for timing but I had an easier time working it out in Maya straight ahead as I could see the space I had to work in better.

Next I'll be blocking Malcolm in the fight scene.

It was suggested that we take individual control of some scenes (for example, I take control of this scene and say Rachel controls the fight scene) and block the entire thing ourselves. The main reason was so that we didn't have to pass it back and forth for timing and changes.
We've thought about it and decided that we were happier doing it this way, even if it's maybe a bit unorthadox. We've already started working the way we're working now (I primarily block Malcolm and Rachel blocks Aaron) and we discussed each other tweaking each other's timing or making minor adjustments to the other character and have agreed that it's fine to do so. So far we've had no problems working in this way. And as they say 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'.

Rachel's Blog

Monday, 23 July 2012

Jump: Clouds

The 3D clouds were distracting in the previous renders so it was suggested we go for a 2D background that would blend in with the overall scene better. I've rustled up a few different attempts at a 2D cloud background with the intention of picking one and using it in our scenes.

I dislike D. the most and like B. and C. the most. Rachel likes B. and C best too. I think I'll post this up on the Masters facebook group and see what the others think..

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Jump: Reference for last scene

Clipped together some reference for the last scene (Tree scene). I'm going to go through and draw the key poses I want for the blocking stage.

I've started making a point of going through the reference and drawing the poses I think I'll use for the blocking. It helps me picture the character in the pose and I seem to notice the smaller movements better when looking at the reference closely. I'll think that I quite liked the curve of that movement or that it wouldn't work for the character and change it slightly. Basically I feel that I analyse the animation and plan a lot better if I take the time to go through the reference frame by frame and draw what I see.

Rachel's Blog

Jump: Swim Trick blocking

Completed the swim trick blocking after fixing the arm. Might try to block another trick if this one isn't working but for now I'm going to move on to blocking the last scene as the blocking stage needs to be done soon.

 This still needs more breakdowns to get a better idea of how it's going to look. However the animation needed for making the characters look like their falling through the air is a lot of flapping about and if I blocked that now it'll look weird and distract from the character acting as this stage. I'll leave that until we add the final breakdowns before moving on to splines.

Rachel's Blog

Saturday, 21 July 2012


During feedback this week, it became apparent that the hand stand trick was pretty weak compared to the rest of the poses. It wasn't really better than the previous pose so it was suggested to try something else.
Two things suggested were a swimming trick and a bigger, better back flip perhaps with more flare. Here's a WIP of the swimming trick and the quick stick man sketches I did to work it out.

 As you can see, the arm's shoulder rotation has skewed. It's possible that I've knocked something and not realised until now, I can't find a way to fix it. To be honest, I'm not sure IK is really the best way to blocking the arm animation. I think I could get better results blocking in FK as I could control the upper arm, lower arm and wrist better, rather than control the entire arm from the wrist and using elbow vectors. I think this would achieve a better 'floaty' (not as in drifting but as if in the air, later I will building upon the blocking to look like it's being affected by air rushing past) this way. Since I would have had to re-block the arm anyway due to not being able to fix the skewed rotation in one go, I decided to get rid of the blocking on both arms and re-block in FK to see if I could get better blocking.


Arm is now fixed and I've got both arms almost as blocked as they were before. They both need more breakdowns but I wanted to get the first round done so that I could finish blocking the trick. Breakdowns will be added at another time. I think I've achieved a better blocking already, though the timing needs to be refined and it will look better once I've finished blocking the rest. I think Malcolm's left arm definitely looks better when he pulls out the sign. I remember having trouble with that part when blocking in IK. This time I was able to get a nice arc movement in the elbow and wrist and therefore the sign as well. Smashing!

 Next I need to finish blocking his trick and sort out the timing. Then I will be done with this scene for the time being (unless there are problems, as always) and move on to the last scene for blocking.

Rachel's Blog

Jump: Last 'Dare' Blocking

Completely forgot to post this update last week before I left to visit family! Basically, me and Rachel decided it would be best if she re-adjusted Aaron's timing after I'd finished blocking Malcolm according to the reference timing. Here is where I got to before passing the file on to her:


 When I got back she had gotten this far!


 She'd also put it together with the other video files and animatic as we were suggested to from the feedback


 It is much better viewing the whole thing like this as we can see how it works together all the time, making it easier to see if anything isn't working or something could happen differently. Unfortunately I haven't scanned the remaining sketches for my blocking so watch this space and I'll get those up asap.

Edit: Scanned in the sketches!

Rachel's Blog

Monday, 9 July 2012

Jump: Blocking 'dare' test 1

Here is the first playblast test I did to have a look at the characters' timings. I used the edited reference for timing but Aaron was blocking without reference (we didn't have it at this time). The characters at the moment are out of sync so we have a few options which I've just posted up on our facebook project page to discuss with Rachel. We need to tweak the timing on one of the characters. Basically we either tweak Malcolm to respond to Aaron's timing or tweak Aaron to match the reference material. Then it comes down to either I shift the keys about while I work on this scene or finish Malcolm and let Rachel have the file back to tweak herself. The only difference will be how long I work on this file for. I honestly don't mind either way but as it is Rachel's work I would rather she decide.

 Here are the sketches I've done so far which are what I used to decide my key poses and block Malcolm up to where I've got to. I will be continuing this way. To draw these key poses, I looked for good pose in the reference material and sketched them down as Malcolm.

There's a lot more detail to these sketches because I had reference to look at and I was noting/sketching down some of the small movements that I particularly liked. This will be very helpful when it comes to putting in the breakdowns and going on to linear as I will be able to better animate natural movements.

Jump: 'Tricks' Sketches

Yaaaay got to a scanner! These are the sketches I did for the 'tricks' scene I was working on. There's not a lot of detail other than the key poses I thought I wanted because our supervisor thought it would be best to just go for it on this scene. I ended up adding and/or changing some things because I thought it worked better otherwise. I'm glad I just went straight ahead with this scene and went into linear probably sooner than usual because it made it easier to create breakdowns between the key poses to keep an airy and floaty animation.

There are a lot of notes on this however because there were certain things I wanted to remember for creating Malcolm's posing. For example, I felt it was important that Malcolm's arms were as straight as they could get when he flings them down in anger. It gives a good 'looney tunes' feel to the animation plus his arms need to be that straight to look like he's resisting the air (by locking elbows).

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Progression shots

This progression shot from Tangled was posted on our facebook Masters page and I came across another one from Ice Age.

Progression of an Animated Shot: Gothel & Rapunzel Disney's Tangled from Jamaal Bradley on Vimeo.

Ice Age Animation Walkthrough - Jeff Gabor from Stewart Jones on Vimeo.

The level of detail that goes into blocking is incredible. I love watching these progression shots because to see industry level work is amazing and invaluable. The biggest thing I want to take from watching these and put into my own work is definitely more detailed blocking. I believe if I put more breakdowns in my blocking (where necessary of course, more everywhere is just going to clutter it and make more work for when I need to polish it) I can get a better grasp on timing and a better looking final animation.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Jump: Edited Reference

Just posting up the edited reference I'll be used to block the 'dare' scene.


 Also I've realised that I haven't put up the pose sketches for the previous scene so I'll get them scanned and upload asap. Watch this space! Rachel's Blog

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

JUMP: Feedback

I showed the last playblast I did and Rachel's blocking from the first scene at the feedback session today.

It went well, our tutors seemed happy with what we had so far. I took some notes from the feedback everyone was giving me and I typed it up for Rachel, here is what I wrote:

# They thought the clouds may have been too distracting and think a 2D background would be better, less intrusive. So I'll refer back to the tests I did and mock up some backgrounds.

# It was suggested by Siobhan that we edit what we've done with the animatic in future, so they can always see the full picture. If that makes sense?

# It was also suggested that we consider helmets or something to help with the falling illusion (flappy straps I'm guessing). Basically stuff to wobble about I think.. I'm unsure about what else we could do but I said we'd consider it.

# Just said to consider the camera (that was aimed more at mine, since I hadn't cut it or anything ~ I explained how we were planning to cut the shot which was why Siobhan suggested editing with the animatic just to make it clearer).

# Definitely consider dialogue ~ they really liked the reference, particularly the shouting over the fan.

# Timing (more aimed at mine but without the cutting it did seem slower than it should, also explained that and they understood - again edit with animatic)

# They were happy with yours and are looking forward to seeing both the characters move.

Hope that made sense, if something doesn't just ask 
Penny mentioned something about being away in August, sometime around the 6th - 24th... just a heads up really.

Useful thing the examiners said about last years dissertation reports is that they weren't reflective enough. So we need more 'why I did this' rather than 'what I did'. So basically more reflection and critical analysis. Word count is 10,000. I think it was mentioned you can go up to 14,000.
The two reports Penny sent us are the best to look at, both were A grades.

...I think that was about it.

I also spoke to Penny about the project specification we have to write. I've already written a rough go and she said I should outline how we're going to go about researching the topic i.e. look at what other animators have done and realism vs. cartoons. I shall get that done and sent to Penny for feedback by the end of the week.

We need to start thinking about the written part of our final project which is a 10,000 - 14,000 document. I'm putting off starting it until I go to see my parents next weekend as I won't be able to animate while there so I'll be doing that instead. Here is a list of things I need to look into again for research which needs to go into this document:

# Skrat from Ice Age - particularly when he falls.
# Wile E Coyote - 2D and 3D
# Possibly Rio, for the background character hand gliding - slightly different to skydiving but the air affecting the character still applies.
# Tex Avery
# Animations other people have done (skydiving)

# Point break - skydiving scenes.
# Power Rangers - skydiving scene.
# Youtube videos of people's skydiving experiences.

#Skydiving information - websites etc. For technical details.

Rachel's Blog

Monday, 2 July 2012

Jump: Linear Test 8 - Fixed

Fixed the problem in the previous post!


 Couple more things popped up while I was fixing Malcolm's rotating through himself. The head and one of the wrists acted the same way. The problem was me rotating them the wrong way (shame on me!). Another factor was that for some reason the rig disagreed with the back flip, it probably stemmed from my rotating parts incorrectly but when I deleted some keys and redid them it still behaved odd. To fix it I had to put in a lot more breakdowns than normally required to keep it on its path. Note to self; watch which way you rotate joints! I think I've reached a point where I can stop now and Rachel has also hit a dead end with her file so we're saving and swapping. The only things that need fixing on Malcolm in the 'Tricks' file (the one I've been working on) is the few hiccups and shakes in the linear animation and the timing could do with adjusting, especially around the end. These things can be done when I get the file back for further work. I'm going to work on the file Rachel has been working on ('Dare' file) as she's reached a point where she can't adjust the timing any further without Malcolm's blocking (for his reactions etc). Rachel's Blog

Jump: WIP - whoa...

Here's a work in progress video!


 I'm pretty sure you can guess what I'll be fixing next... wasn't expecting that to happen! It looks like I've rotated it incorrectly during the blocking stage (my first guess) or there's not enough breakdowns so it's chosen the shortest/fastest way between the keys. Either way, it's my mistake (schoolboy error) and I'll be fixing that now. Hopefully it won't be too problematic. If it is it should be a case of deleting the entire key and re doing the whole pose but I can't see it going past deleting just the hip keys at most... I could be wrong though, I am no maya wizard yet. The way the sign is taken out needs to be fixed too as the rotation is off. More breakdowns should be enough to remedy this. I'll be switching the last 200 frames or so back to stepped so I can block in more breakdowns. I could have just fixed everything and then playblasted the animation instead of showing my mistakes but I think it's just as important to document your mistakes as it is your successes. I'll bet even the best animators still make silly mistakes here and there and if not they will have done once upon a time. They learned from it and that's exactly what I'll do now. Get better. P.S. Plus, I did not see that coming so I laughed when Malcolm just defied biological sense and rotated through himself. I'm sharing the laughs! Rachel's Blog

Saturday, 30 June 2012


Last Thursday I borrowed Scott and Kristian to act for our reference. We tried to do some ourselves but I think the biggest problem we had was we had the animatic stuck in our brains and couldn't think of alternatives! Another problem is something we cannot help, we're just not boys so can't really act 'laddish' very convincingly (pointed out by one of our classmates).

So here is the raw reference we shot. I plan to edit it properly (when I've finished with the scene I'm working on) and clip the bits I like together to use as reference for the appropriate scenes. I will talk about the bits I thought we should consider now.

 Even though our animatic is silent and we originally intended for no dialogue, I let Scott and Kristian speak and say whatever seemed natural. It was mentioned by someone that there should be at the very least mouthing of words when the brothers interact. It's something that humans do when they either don't want to shout or feel there's no point in shouting but want to communicate. We also put on a massive fan for them the shout over! The sound of rushing air is something we definitely need to consider when having the brothers communicate and for the soundtrack as well.

 It is really difficult to find a youtube video of skydiving without music over it! Finding an example of the wind and someone screaming/shouting/anything took me a bit and couldn't find anything better than this:


 This makes me think; should we do funny faces on the characters? Ha. The lads shoved each other about a bit which I thought we should definitely incorporate into the scene. Always needs more brothers shoving each other. Also, Aaron (played by Kristian) pointing down to get Malcolm's (played by Scott) attention away from his back so that Aaron can shove him was a really good idea. 

 I really liked Scott's expression when he catches sight of the watch (altimeter) on Kristian's wrist. Definitely want to get that expression in! I also liked the idea of Malcolm falling out of the tree when trying to get to Aaron at the end. We talked about it and the idea of Malcolm chucking a rock from the bottom (off screen) would be a nice touch to keep them even.

As I've already said, I'm going to edit the reference to get the bits I thought were good together to use for our blocking of the other scenes. 

Rachel's Blog

Jump Linear WIP

I added some more breakdowns in the first 200 frames and adjusted the timing. I also animated the background (which will probably be tweaked later on, depending if it needs to be faster or slower - it works for now) to complete the look.

 I think this is looking good enough for me to leave for the time being so I'm going to leave it here, unless feedback tells me of a change I should do, and begin blocking more breakdowns in the later frames. After that I would like to start blocking another scene if possible so that we can keep to the schedule (which I will upload when I figure out how as it's a .PDF file.)

Rachel's Blog

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Linear Arm Timing

Changed the timing of the arm movement. It works better now I think though it could probably stand to be a bit faster.

  Rachel's Blog

Linear Arms

Moved the first 100 frames of the scene I was working on into Linear to see how it looks. The timing is the biggest thing that needs sorting out.

The timing of the arms was the most obvious so I've added some breakdowns and I'm going to tweak the timing next.


  Rachel's Blog

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Jump: Blocking Test 6

After figuring out how to animate visibility I added some more blocking, specifically the last bit with the sign. Hoping I achieved the ideal look that I mentioned in a previous post.

 Will be sending for feedback. Next I'll work on what Penny suggested by going straight ahead with the beginning. After that, unless there are any major changes/tweaks that need to be made, I'll be looking at sending this scene to Rachel so that she can work on Aaron. Plan! Rachel's Blog

Animating visibility.

Was having some trouble following Scott's instructions so I had a look on the internet and managed to find a good short video of how to animate an object's visibility. Turns out I was looking at the wrong visibility option (I hate Maya for this sometimes...)


 Pretty simple when you know which bit you need to be looking at!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Jump: Blocking Test 5

This is a quick playblast of where I'm up to now. I'm about to start blocking in the part with the sign which I anticipate might be a bit difficult as I will have to animate the visibility of the sign too.

I asked my classmates if you can animate visibility in Maya (I imagined you could but didn't know how) as it was something I used in Softimage a lot. I used to animate parenting too which I've also asked about. Scott answered "Yes, right click on the visiablty in the attribute editor, then select - key selected" What I'm most concerned about is the manner in which the sign appears. We wanted a Looney Tunes style hammer space from which the sign would appear. However I don't want the sign to look like it just appears in the character's hand. The best example I can think of this is from The Sims games, where objects would just appear in the game characters' hands. We don't want to sign to be visible on the side of the character it is not coming from nor before it is whipped out. As the sign idea was very much influenced by Wily E Coyote, what better example of this to use than from one of the masters of hammerspace! Here is what we want the bringing out of the signs to look like, only in 3D animation of course. Rachel's Blog

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Jump: Blocking Test 4

Updated playblast of where I'm up to.

Feedback on Tuesday went well. People seemed happy with what I had at that point and Scott mentioned he liked how the character looked like he was thinking. I'm glad because I've been working on creating more subtle character acting, particularly thinking. Our project supervisor, Penny, suggested to go straight ahead with it. She thinks it's one of those things that don't suit blocking. She and Siobhan also said to block everything else in the scene (sky and clouds) to get a full working idea of how it will look. I'm going to finish blocking Malcolm and then block the scenery. After that I'll try to go straight ahead with the beginning if I can.

We've already come across the problem of lack of reference, particularly for the first scene. The reference we did isn't enough and it's very obvious (says one of our classmates) that we're not boys! Mark, who runs the green screen room, is currently on holiday (until Friday 22nd I believe) and Rachel leaves for the States today for 2 weeks so getting a group session in the green screen for more reference is difficult. I'm hoping that one will be booked next week so I can get Kristian and Scott to act for us!

  Rachel's Blog

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Jump: Blocking Test 2

Added further blocking, mostly the 'panicky' movement while Malcolm finds his balance. This is the first section done, the animation will cut after this to Aaron for his backflip.
I'm not sure about the arm movement I've blocked for his panic. I may change it later after some feedback on Tuesday. Or before then if I decide what's wrong with it. In the meantime, I'm going to have a look at some skydiving videos to see if I can find what I'm missing.

Rachel's Blog

Jump: Blocking Test 1

Started blocking yesterday, here's where I am so far.

I can already see that Malcolm's movement needs to be more erratic. It's just the way I work. Sometimes I find it difficult to start blocking because of everything I need to consider so I block key frames every 25 frames (for the first 5 or so seconds) and then move them about with timing in mind. Usually they are very simple key poses so I block further detail into them and then block some more key frames for the key breakdowns. It just helps give me a place to start and get into the blocking stage. Depending on the animation and its length, sometimes I like to block in sections instead of the whole thing at once. I find this helps take away the daunting feeling of starting something huge.

This is the first quick playblast I did when I had blocked key frames every 25 frames. You can see the different already.

Anyway, before I move to the next section, I want to block in more panic to Malcolm's struggle for balance in this section.

Rachel's Blog

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Jump: Start Blocking!

Spend most of yesterday setting up, re-doing and setting up again the scene I will be starting to block in.

Me and Rachel have agreed that one of us should work on one file at any one time to avoid losing any work. We've split the animation up into 4 scenes so that we can work on different bits at different times which are:
#Scene 1: Plane (where the characters are interacting in the plane and then make their jump)
#Scene 2: Tricks (the characters start to compete with each other)
#Scene 3: Fight (the characters fight, we decided to separate this from Tricks as it could be a challenge)
#Scene 4: Tree (after the crash, characters fight again in the tree)

This is also an insurance decision, if the animation was to be done in one file and something happens to that file (corrupts for example) we could potentially lose a lot of work. Splitting the animation up means if one of the files goes wrong, we've still got the rest and it's not a whole animation file we'll need to re-do.

As Aaron takes most of the lead in the first scene, Rachel will be working on that one first. While she's doing that, I'll be working on Malcolm in Tricks. I had to make a new scene yesterday as the original was suffering from major lag. I couldn't find why so I started a new fresh scene with only the necessary things imported/referenced. Other things will be added when necessary. I will be starting to block today.

Excuse the blue, the lighting is a little bit too intense at the moment! That will be sorted later!

There will be 'show and tell' classes every Tuesday for feedback from the tutors and the class so I'm sure I will be posting up the feedback we get every week.

Rachel's Blog

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Jump: Scene set up

Rachel and I have been working on the scene set ups today. After some initial hiccups, Rachel has put together a master file for us to work from which is extremely useful. The idea being that we create all scenes using the master file as a foundation and saving as a separate scene file.

From it I've sorted out the last scene with the tree I made yesterday. Here's what it looks like at the moment:

There are no clouds in the background as of yet because we need to sort out some consistent images to use (sky and clouds). The grass I want to change, I don't like the square grid we've got. Perhaps we could draw from our main influence, the Bricklayer's Disaster and have a plain white floor and have the clouds fade to white towards the ground.

Rachel's Blog

Monday, 11 June 2012

Jump: Back!

After a much needed few days off, I'm back on track!

We aim to get all scenes set up and ready before we start blocking. That way we can both work on different ones at the same time.
I've started modelling a tree for the last scene in Softimage (figured it would be faster as I know it better than Maya, modelling in Maya will be a hurdle to jump another day):

A lot of things are not working here. The background at the moment is just there until we get a proper one. I was experimenting with the texture on the tree and I'm not convinced. It might look better with a textured background (with clouds and all) but if not, I think it'll be a plain lambert (non-shiny!) colour like the 'leaves'.
More importantly, I tried to get the shape very similar to what was drawn on the animatic as it will be important for when the characters are placed.

The picture above is the sort of shot we'll be looking to do which is very similar to our animatic!

Monday, 4 June 2012

2 Days to go...

Been busy with some last details over the past few days. Me and Rachel have met up to discuss what last things need doing and sorted out a to do list for ourselves.
Mine was to:
@ finish sky dive test animation (done)
@ write an 'about me' for documentation (done)
@ Sort out a folder containing everything we want on a CD for the hand in. (done but still needs video diaries)
@ Make the images for our pitch presentation slides (done)
@ Make video diary

Here are the 3 images I've done for the presentation. We're not putting together slides with writing because it's only a 2 minute pitch, half of which will be our animatic. This just puts up something to look at while we're talking and hopefully having something visual will help the audience understand the idea.

Going to put them into a powerpoint unless Rachel thinks there's a problem.
Here is the final sky dive test animation:

Rachel's Blog

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Sky Dive Test 2

Added some more animation, particularly to the head and torso as advised. I made some tweaks to the right hand as it wasn't 'flapping' as much as the left and was too slow. I also added another layer of clouds which will go faster than the background and some camera shakes to help with the illusion of free fall.

I think it looks okay actually. Waiting for feedback as I'm sure there is something I can do to improve it but so far it's gone better than expected. The intention of this was to see if I could create the illusion of falling so that me and Rachel would know how to do it in the final animation. It is absolutely vital we get this looking decent because otherwise, if we don't get it at least believable, the whole animation will suffer for it and look 'floaty' and wrong.

Rachel's Blog

To do today.

Been sketching a bit of Malcolm and Aaron in photoshop:

Today I need to:
@ photoshop some clouds for adding layers into the test animation.
@ work on test animation - sort of right hand, torso and head, clouds and camera shakes.
@ work on Synopsis and Treatment.

Rachel's Blog

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Sky Dive Animation Test

I've been looking at other animations that involve falling/sky diving for what they have done to create the illusion. It's mostly movement of clothes and some limbs. The background should be animated too, with things farthest back moving slower than the foremost things. Here's some of the videos I looked at:

I tried to apply what I saw in these animations into a test animation, just to try out creating the illusion.


 Not bad but he needs his backpack (which I don't have at the moment but it's not necessary for the test) and maybe an altimeter to complete the look. I think I'll apply some camera shakes to help enhance the illusion of being in free fall. I noticed some subtle camera shakes in the example animations which I think really helps.

  Rachel's Blog

Animatic - Problem?

I only noticed this morning that the opening scene is missing from the animatic. I've re-rendered it and uploaded up again but it seems that Youtube disagrees with the beginning for some reason and outright cuts it off. I've tried to upload it on Vimeo, it uploaded some of the beginning but not all of it:

I don't know why it's doing this but the original video is fine and I will keep a copy of it on my usb for showing, rather than using Youtube. Especially for the pitch next week.

Rachel's Blog

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Final Animation

Finally completed the animatic! No idea how people just churn out these things, they always take me longer than expected. Maybe I just need to get better. Anyway, animatic with added dare scene in the right place!


Feedback today went well. There was wasn't much issue this time as everyone seemed to like the story. The only thing that did come up was how hard it was going to be to make them look like they're falling and not floating. We agree, it will be hard, but we have thought about it. Things like flappy shoes and hands, squinting, hair if it can be moved, any item they're wearing that can be moved will be animated in such a way to help give the illusion of falling. Unfortunately we cannot animate the clothes just because it is not possible on the rigs we've chosen (they're pretty much one with the rig). Another thing that came up was Malcolm's anatomy was a bit off. Agreed, he is not anatomically correct but that was the way Animschool made him and his geometry isn't customizable. I know modifications can be done to him but I don't know what and it's way out of my knowledge base anyway. We chose downloadable rigs because neither of us can build models and rigs, we knew this would limit us in some way but we'd rather that than a broken rig. So far so good!

Rachel's Blog

Monday, 28 May 2012

WIP new animatic

Not sure if I'm going to be able to get this finished for tomorrow morning but it'll be done for Wednesday definitely! Just uploading a wip now in for tomorrow.

Rachel's Blog

Let's talk about something else for a bit.

It's still about animation, just not about my project work :P

So I saw this recently and I think it's got to be one of my favourite animation.

It's a lovely, magical piece that is only enhanced by the wonderful music. I like how it's not crisp and neat because it gives it a textured look which is actually really nice. The animation itself is amazing, I only wish I could do something like that in my second year (this animation was done by someone in their second year at CalArts). The way this piece works in harmony with the music very much reminds me of Okami the video game. Clover Studios, the company that made Okami, doesn't exist anymore but it produced beautiful games and my favourite was Okami. Another (and the biggest) reason Crayon Dragon reminds me of Okami is the way doodles and art trailer behind the running character. Okami has a similar thing, only with nature and it changes with the character's running speed (plain grass - slowest, small blooms and grass, big blooms - fastest). This trailer has the best example of that run (difficult to find a video sample of it without it being bad quality or someone talking over it!)

Animation in games is just as interesting as the animation in feature films and shorts. The two are treated a bit differently but if done well both can look just as awesome. Though there's not so much detail in the animation in this game (e.g. all but the main character's faces don't really move, just squash and stretch when talking, even then that doesn't always happen), the cutscenes are well animated enough to tie in with the high level of style and music. Like the Orange Flower Dance for example! Yes it's very silly (one of many bits of humour in the game) but you can see a lot of animation principles there such as Timing and Slow in and Slow out. The weight isn't quite there but generally you don't see an old man breakdancing! Still, I think it's good for what it is and it suits the game style. Now on to another animation by a group of students fueled by peanut butter sandwiches! Firstly, I love the painted textures and backgrounds. I really like some of the 2D effects they've put in to. I've seen a few animations with 2D effects in, including a one or two of the group work animations this year at uni, and I think it's a really nice and stylish way of adding effects like smoke. Obviously it should suit the style of the 3D animation (which as far as I've seen it has) but it works really well when done right, like in this animation. Next thing is when things get trippy and the roads go all curly. I have no idea how they could have achieved that but it looks fantastic. The animation of the characters is great too, I like the contrast between them (one thing and noodly, the other big and stocky). Really interesting style of animation!

New Storyboards

Right, as promised yesterday, here are the new storyboards. It's missing the dare before the scuffle on the plane because the change wasn't made until after I'd drawn that part. I've added notes on the storyboard and will be adding the dare in the animatic which I'm working on now!

Rachel's Blog

Sunday, 27 May 2012

The drawing board, we went back to it.

We had some feedback from our classmates and tutors and we now feel that the banjo homage isn't going to work. So on friday me and Rachel discussed what to do because we were getting no closer to hammering down a story. After some bouncing of ideas, we came up with this:

So if we start with them in the plane. Aaron pretends to shove Malcolm out of the plane. Malcolm recovers and understandably backslaps Aaron in the chest or something.

Now I'm not sure whether to have the 'after you, no after you' thing start here or just have Aaron jump out and Malcolm take a breath and follow.

Anyway, Malcolm is unstable at first but finds balance and is rather pleased with himself. Until he sees Aaron already showing off (insert mildly impressive pose here). Malcolm rises to this and attempts a simple trick (insert etc etc). Aaron does something a little more complex and Malcolm again attempts something a bit more trixy. (we could do this once more, we could even work in a pose for both of them together if it got them looking at the ground - like that surf one)

Whatever way, they notice the ground/altimeter and Aaron indicates that its time to pull the chutes. Malcolm goes to pull his but Aaron starts doing chicken impressions. Malcolm stops and holds out, he gestures 'after you'. Aaron pretends to go to pull his but makes a show of not doing so, he returns the gesture. Malcolm looks down and back at Aaron, making his decision. He crosses his arms or something, set on not letting his brother win. (We could have Aaron start to look nervous at this point but doesn't want to look the weak one)

Approaching impending tree crash shot. Black out with sounds. Both in tree, Malcolm looking annoyed and Aaron looking rather amused. Aaron gives Malcolm a playful shove (aah that was fun!) but Malcolm back slaps him again. Perhaps they carry on punching for the end.

We wanted to return to the 'fun' we wanted to have in our animation in the beginning so put tricks back in. We met up the next day to talk about what tricks we wanted to put in. We wanted to build up the tricks so we agreed that the first tricks each character does should be a standard and plausible sky dive trick. Aaron is to do a backflip and to retaliate Malcolm is going to do a handstand and look like he's walking on his hands.
We wanted to escalate from here into something unusual. I personally was worried about how to proceed as the banjo's were described as 'too far-fetched' by our tutor. I wasn't sure if this would apply to any prop we thought of. Then Rachel reminded me that this is a cartoon, we didn't want it to be a realistic representation of skydiving. If cartoons can get away with hammer space then so can ours. So as a homage to Wile E Coyote, the next trick will be Aaron will pull out a sign saying 'You Suck!' on it after not being impressed by Malcolm's trick. Malcolm will pull out another bigger sign saying something like 'Yeah well your face SUCKS!' This sparks some anger and the two begin fighting in mid-air. No serious combat moves, just sibling fighting. During the fight they would notice the ground getting closer and then proceed into the daring as before.

We were both happy about this so I started storyboarding today and Rachel started character profiles and document templates for our hand-in.

While storyboarding, it occurred to me that we could actually finish the air stuff right when they noticed their tree impending doom and then have them crash into it. We could either take out the dare completely or put a shortened bit of it into the plane scene. I let Rachel know my thoughts and she agreed that this would allow us to spend more time with them in the plane and on the tricks. It would also ensure the animation wouldn't get too long. Apparently the idea is flexible enough for us to re-arrange things when necessary! Yay! Since this way had a nice pace to it, we agreed to change it to this:

Plane scene as normal, bit of a dare and then a playful shove and scuffle. Aaron falls out plane first and Malcolm follows. Tricks then fighting in which Aaron gets Malcolm in a headlock. Malcolm notices altimeter is in red and both look at the tree speeding towards them. Black out with sounds of crashing. Return to see characters in tree, Aaron thinks it's funny and slaps Malcolm on back, Malcolm takes offence and hits him back. Pair start scuffling again.

Will upload a storyboard soon. I've already done half of it so the dare won't be in the plane section but I'll add that to the animatic. The storyboard will just be cut at the fight scene and I'll add notes about the dare.

Rachel's Blog

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Doodling Malcolm and Aaron

Been doodling Malcolm and Aaron in preparation for drawing another storyboard, which I have now started on.

Also had a think about the background in the animation (clouds particularly); whether it should be drawn, simulated with particles or have it is a projected image. I have used particle simulation before but in Softimage. The hardest part was getting the render right and while I'm aware it is possible to do in Maya I suspect we might have the same problem or a whole other one. It's probably best not to consider it as an option.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Burn your children and make a new one.

So our idea pretty much fell apart last Tuesday. Basically, it wasn't working. As an instructor there would be absolutely no reason why she would crash or let Malcolm crash. And if we were looking at it that realistically, a parachute wouldn't fail either and if it did, there's a back up parachute... So the instructor-pupil relationship wasn't really working. In fact, it caused more problems than it solved. It took away the possibility of crashing.

Another problem with the story was where we wanted Malcolm to try and impress Kat. If he signed up for instructions/to be taught, he wouldn't be able to do those tricks. And Kat should have been giving more signals to him and generally not let him out of her sight.

We also suspected that because the characters were a male and a female, people assumed there must be some sort of relationship there in a more than friends way. Originally, we just wanted them to be friends. Competitive friends. No hint of any romance. However, the stereotypical idea that guys and girls can't just be friends has an element of truth to it. Not because a boy and a girl really can't be just friends but because people on the outside can't see them as just friends. For some reason it is generally assumed that one of them at the very least must be attracted to the other. I'm sure many people have had this assumption on them and their friends at some point. I know I have, my childhood best friend was a boy and there was nothing else.

SO! One of the main changes we've made is the characters are now both male. They are also brothers and as such are competitive because sibling rivalry is just natural. We wanted a simple relationship between the characters (just friends!) but it was becoming a chore and not fun so this should hopefully be simple but satisfactory.
The new idea takes bits and pieces from the other ideas plus a new one (my other half showed me the movie Point Break and now that we got this relationship mess sorted, I was influenced by the particular dare scene shown below).

Malcolm and Aaron are set in the doorway of the plane getting ready to jump. Aaron is the leader of sorts out of the brothers, he's always teasing Malcolm and instigating the scuffs and quarrels between them but is not malicious. He playfully shoves Malcolm, pretending to push him out of the plane. This scares Malcolm a bit and when he recovers, he 'backslaps' Aaron on the arm. Aaron laughs and punches Malcolm in the arm. Before Malcolm can retaliate Aaron drops out of the plane. Frustrated, Malcolm follows.
Malcolm is doing a standard skydive pose (on his stomach), pretty content with himself until he notices Aaron has a guitar out. He plays a bit and looks at Malcolm, waiting. Malcolm brings out a banjo and plays a bit back. They start duelling and end up play together. Very much like the duelling banjos and guitars in the films Deliverance and August Rush (Clips below). Aaron plays with one hand and Malcolm retaliates by playing with no hands, which results in him losing the banjos. Aaron looks victorious and checks his altimeter. He idly tosses his guitar aside and indicates to Malcolm, pointing at the altimeter to sign that it's time to pull the parachutes.
Malcolm goes to pull his when he sees Aaron making chicken gestures at him. He stops, almost disbelieving that his brother being serious. He considers and then gestures to Aaron to say 'after you'. Aaron pretends to go to pull his but makes a show of 'bailing' out. Malcolm shows some annoyance and looks down, the ground is getting closer. He looks back at Aaron who is now gesturing to Malcolm to pull his. Malcolm looks suitably uncomfortable but decides he isn't going to back down, despite impending doom. Aaron looks down and then back at Malcolm but appears calm. Malcolm is starting to look nervous, he tries to maintain his determination. The ground is getting closer. Malcolm shuts his eyes and the screen cuts to black. The sounds of parachutes being released can be heard. Then an impact with a tree sound.
Both are hanging by their backpacks and strings. Malcolm looks pretty rough and is recovering from the terror. Aaron looks up and shakes his head, not as rough as Malcolm. He notices his brother's state and laughs, punching him in the arm again. Malcolm flips and hits him back. They start hitting out at each other and the animation ends there.

We're hoping that the tutors like this idea because we're not really willing to change it (tweaks are fine) as we have two weeks until the deadline and we have our work cut out for us now because of this re-write. Rachel is working on Aaron now while I start making some final sketches and concepts for the final document and pitch document. Once she's done that we're going to start looking at storyboards and animatics.

Here are all the clips we've been looking at as research and inspiration:


August Rush:


Point Break - Sky Dive scene:

 Rachel imagines that Malcolm and Aaron's brotherly relationship would be similar to the brothers Dean and Sam from Supernatural, after watching this I agree!

Rachel's Blog

Monday, 21 May 2012

Animatic WIP and why Kat might crash

Update on animatic posted just earlier. Going to start to next bit soon. Been thinking about why Kat won't be able to pull her parachute in time, being an instruct and therefore a professional this kind of mistake wouldn't happen so there needs to be a reason why she can't - something needs to happen. I thought if Malcolm were to lose control, he'll probably go into hysterics and grab Kat and not let go. This would hinder Kat greatly and if he has her arms as well, this would mean she cannot pull her strings. I sketched out the idea to show Rachel
Rachel's Blog

Animatic WIP

Working on the next part of the animatic. This is what I have so far, still have to do Kat's backflip and Malcolm's reaction and attempt at a backflip. I'll start a new file to do the ending.

Need to think about why Kat can't open her parachute, perhaps Malcolm is freaking out too much to pull his own and clamps onto Kat when she's trying to help him in such a way that restricts her arm movement - cannot reach her strings.

Rachel's Blog

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Planning looks like kiwis.

Jotting down the plan me and Rachel have discussed. Generally what we need to have done for the hand in. I'm still working on what is turning into the animatic and Rachel will work on character views, props, test renders / animation. She will also look into logo design for the company Kat is working for which will also be used on our documentation. 

For the development pack:

@ research material
@ mood boards
@ test render / animation

@ character views
@ prop views - googles, flower, boards, backpack, plane

Pitch Document:

@ animatic
@ treatment

@ Logo work for skydiving company Kat works for.

Need to ask Chris and Ellie about video diary.

Rachel's Blog

Friday, 18 May 2012

Animatic Work

Our tutors, Chris and Ellie, think we're at a point now where we can start getting some movement planning. Particularly with the camera shots as we could be quite creative with it in this animation. I've worked on the first scene today and am about to start having a play around for the middle section; the free fall.

Scott Ramsey kindly brought the opening of the first Power Rangers movie to our attention as it contains the characters skydiving, one is even sky boarding.

This is the first scene that I've worked on, the timing might need adjusting but the idea is down.

Rachel's Blog!

Feedback from Tuesday.

Our tutors wanted to us to consider camera angles that may be used for our animation. As I had work that night, Rachel volunteered to experiment with the rigs and camera for the next day because she's lovely.

Check out what she came up with! (The host of her blog - seems to be down at the moment, I will fix this as soon as it's up again.)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Storyboard for Alt idea.

We waited for the some feedback from the group but only one person gave us his, which was for the idea with the female character (now called Kat) kissing Malcolm on the cheek at the end. So we went with that.

I've drawn out a rough storyboard for this idea while Rachel has done some character profiles and sketches.

Rachel's Blog

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Feedback from Tuesday

Just a note first, I'll be adding a link to the other Rachel's blog at the bottom of every post so that both sides can be seen/read.

Me and Rachel presented our sketches and storyboarding on Tuesday and explained where we were up to with our development.

The main question that was asked was 'Why does she win?' What does the female character do right or what does the male character do wrong to lose?

It was suggested that the female character should be scared and male character should push the female out of the plane, giving a good reason why he should lose. Our only concern was that if the female was scared she wouldn't be doing any poses. Then a classmate said that contrast is funny. Can't argue with that!

So I've sketched out this idea (will add scanned sketches tomorrow when I get to a scanner!). Rachel brought up the idea of a gender switch, so the characters could switch places in this scenario. Perhaps with some variations.

Rachel came up with a lovely idea of the male character trying to impress the female character by doing goofy things. She would be a professional skydiver and unimpressed by his antics. And being the professional she is, she'll be keeping an eye on her altimeter watch and pull her parachute when it is time. However, the male isn't paying that much attention and ends up pulling his too late and end up crashing into a tree. He'll be hanging there when she approaches him, wishing the ground would just swallow him already. And she'll give him a kiss on the cheek. Aww :)

This was going to be a sketch for this idea but he's too fearful of the fall to logically want to try and do tricks to impress the famle character. However, the drawings still work for the gender switch idea.

At the moment, we're unsure what to go with as we were a bit fond of the original idea and feel everything's been tipped upside down a bit. We're determined though so we're going to put these ideas to the rest of the class and get their opinions.

Rachel Rubenstein's Blog!