Sunday, 20 February 2011

FYP Update

It's been a while since the last update. My short film is going great! It's been about 6 months since I properly started this project and I've been working on it non-stop, practically full time. The animation is mostly there now, I'm just doing all sorts of tweaks here and there to finesse the details and adding the final touches. I'd say it's about 85% complete by this stage, I want to spend a good 15% of the time to really clean up and polish the hell out of this piece to really push it to the next level. That means about another month of animation tweaking, I know it sounds crazy but I am a true believer of doing the best I can and love nothing more than a wonderful polish. 

From what I gather, most students get to around this point of 80% complete and call it finished mostly due to lack of time and possibly even being sick of the animation by this point. No one really spends quality time cleaning and polishing their animations these days! 

It's at this animation stage where tweaking to get better animation is also incredibly satisfying and rewarding that really boosts motivation! Yeah, this is me being motivated to keep going! Go go go :)

You can expect a finished render near the end of March and if I'm still not done by that time, you can start sending your hate mails. 

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A Systematic Approach

There are many times during animation where I'd get frustrated and exhausted by the complexity of the scene or character, when the animation just isn't looking right or when there is just too much going on for me to handle. Often when this occurs, and I still continue animating, I'd quickly burn myself out and end up animating blindly and hoping for amazing results. More often than not, it ends up with poor animation, possibly adding keys all over the place, making the organisation a lot worse than before and just plain messy/bad animation. Did I mention you'd also burn out really quickly? So it's a lose-lose situation, things just get worse if you go on like this.

Things start becoming incredibly complex when you start worrying about too many things. For example, I'm trying to do animation tweaks to my character and I have a few many things to watch out for:- 1. Entire body animation and how it affects movement, checking which parts lead and which follow, 2. Needing to add keys for moving holds in between 3. Comparing current animation to video reference 4. Worried about translation and rotation axis on the hips and how it affects the position of the arms. And that is just one shot, as I move on to the next shot, new problems arise and I may be focussing on different things like facial animation and needing to re-pose some key poses that aren't working as well. When all that comes into play, trouble is at hand and my brain goes into panic with all the information it has to manage in real-time. And if you're working on a full scene with many shots continuously like I am, you can see just how complex and varied the tweaks and considerations are going to be like as you go through it.

The solution to this mess is in the workflow I believe. If you approach the scene systematically, or in smaller parts/chunks, it becomes a lot less to worry about, a lot easier to handle and is also a lot more rewarding and motivating when you get that small chunk done. The task no longer feels like infinity miles away when you meet smaller deadlines and go at it step by step - you can see the progress being made and it keeps you SANE and saves your motivation from drowning.

You can approach the animation in a few ways, but the key is doing it ONE STEP AT A TIME. I can either split my scene up into shots and work on them on a shot-by-shot basis and crossing them out one at a time or I can approach it in smaller passes. By passes I mean focussing on one object/idea at a time throughout the whole scene. For example, I can do a hips controller pass whereby I look into the graph editor and clean up all my curves for translation and rotation. Or I can attack my tweaks one problem at a time, if I need to repose some keys, then I should work on those first before attacking the moving holds. Basically work on one idea at a time and tweak them in passes so it's a lot more organised. That way you don't forget what you're animating and you apply the same amount of effort and care into your work and have consistent animation.

Did that make much sense?