Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Weight lifting character

The assignment was to animate a character lifting an object, and to make the object appear heavy.

While thinking of what key poses to use, what pace to aim for etc... i gave the 3d character a "thinking hard" pose to start off from. I thought it would be a good starting point to show character righ away.
I didnt care for originality in this one. I figured i would instead make him do a very standard procedure of lifting the thing, and focus on getting the animation itself really good.
I thought about the different steps of the action.

1: look scepticly at the thing. This would illustrate that he is thinking about how he should do it. Or if it is at all possible.

2: Show that he is ready with some handmovement like, rubbing hands, retracting sleeves or spit in hands then rub... I think this is also good for anticipation.

3: Engage the object in a swift move and then go straight into main pose (lifting).

4: The lifting. I figured he should give it a couple of tries. And have the main lift pose be a bit more exaggerated. Also spiced with some anticipation to show that THIS is it.

5: The overlapping of the lift. I basicly wanted him to do that thing where when you lift something to a certain point, the object kind of drops onto your lap... if that makes sense?

I started animating using character set in maya. I didnt like it.
And since i havent really tried that before, im sure i must have done every possible mistake to make it harder for myself.
I guess it takes practice, so ill probably try it again, but the thing i dont like about animating from key poses and then gradually filling in the inbetweens, is that you sort of keyframe the whole body... which makes it harder to go back and change the movements (graph editor) and secondary animation like arms, fingers, the head etc. in other words the good parts:P
I like to picture the animation in my head and then start animating the innermost "limb" and work my way out to the outer ones. meaning from torso to toes/ fingers:P

Anyway, i got so frustrated with the mess i made using key poses/ key frames, that i figured i might as well start the whole shebang over again and work one limb, one axis at a time...

I noticed right away how much better off i was. And doing it this way kept my graph editor nice and neat.

If one thing more than the others, i tried to get the timing good and varied. Especially with grabbing the object. That needed to be fast. To show that theres serious manpower needed for this action, but also to contrast from the struggling of the lift, which will be slow.

Here is the final animation:

Im actually pleased with both the poses and the timing. The best ive done so far.
But of course they could have been better.
I should have gone even extremer on the most importatnt poses (the anticipating grab, the lift itself and the very last bit where he balances the object).
And the "sumo steps" in the beginning could look more stomping. He seems too much relaxed.

The struggling of lifting the box could have been more characteristic. He just bobs back and forth for a bit. I should have had one try first, then a pause, then maybe two or three quick jerks. And then the anticipated main lift with, like i said, a strong and exaggerated pose.

I tried to position the camera so that it would capture as much of the poses as possible. But i didnt realise i should animate TO the camera. That is a thing im definately going to get better on the next one.
But apart from those things im happy with it.

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