Monday, July 9, 2012

CLASS 13 : Modeling and Animation II: Intro to 3D Animation in Maya. Final Assignment - "Action Analysis"

Please note time change to Wed July 25, 6-9 pm in room 503
Please welcome guest instructor Jakub Pazera who has several years' experience as an animator in character animation and visual effects.

The next level of applying the Principles of Animation is the most elusive: adding personality to our characters. Staging, solid posing and appeal will come into play even more in this last 3D animation assignment for this course.

You'll be taking a few weeks to find, analyze and animate a short live action clip of your choice or creation.
student examples of action analysis
Assignment 5
Luxo Lamp: Action Analysis
Assigned: 10/07/12
Your animation is due in 3 stages following the typical stages required in a studio.
Blocking Due: 25/07/12  -  show this to Jakub in class
WIP Animation Due: 01/08/12 
Final Animation Due: 08/08/12
% of total mark: 20%

Find a live action clip no longer than 10 seconds. Download it using 'Save Vid' or another downloading tool (see sidebar links).  You'll need to save the video file locally as a QT so you can stop-frame through it easily. Analyze it frame by frame looking for keys, breakdowns, arcs, timing, and any other noteworthy details that make the clip interesting to you.  Take notes on paper or draw over stills. You can also import the clip into Maya. 

Animate Luxo acting out the clip using any other primitives you need to sell this piece. Zero marks are given for modeling, lighting, or texturing. This is entirely an animation assignment. The camera angles do not have to match the live action reference but make sure they're flattering to your action.

As with the jump, be sure to make the lamp look heavy by showing the effort required to move that weight. Now's your chance to add a little character and personality to your lamp.

The final output should be 3 files: your reference, your playblast, and your maya file.
Try to optimize your videos so they are as small as possible while maintaining image quality.
Please no .wmv's. No weird codecs.

Files should be named as follows:
tdonovan_luxo_vid_ref.avi or .mov or .mp4 or .m4v

The file number (000) should be whatever version of the file you hand in. You can hand in any version up to 999. This could come in handy if you need to resubmit. You can simply send me the new file with the new version number. Careful with your file naming. No caps. No extra spaces. No extra descriptors.

Exemplary: Advanced grasp of animation principles evident. Luxo has unmistakable weight, clear, snappy timing, convincing overlapping action.  Camera angles should frame action so that it is clearly staged for maximum readability with strong sillhouettes. Luxo has a clear personality and appeal.
Excellent: Strong grasp of most of the animation principles with few mistakes. Luxo has consistent weight, good timing, and good use of overlapping action. Camera angles frame the action well. Luxo has some personality and appeal.
Acceptable: Reasonably executed animation utilizing most of the animation principles with some minor mistakes. Luxo has mostly consistent weight, timing and overlapping action. Action is staged reasonably well. Luxo has a somewhat clear personality.
Not Acceptable: Lack of evident understanding of the animation principles with several mistakes. Luxo not heavy or smoothly-timed with little to no overlapping action. Camera doesn't frame the action well. Luxo doesn't appear to have any personality.

CLASS 12 : Modeling and Animation II: Intro to 3D Animation in Maya. Using video reference for animation.

We'll have a look at the Bouncing Balls and Luxo Jumps in class.

Working with Video Reference
We studied photographic reference of jumping to help us animate our Luxo lamps. We'll spend the next few weeks using video reference to help us bring more realism into our animation. 

When animators copy video footage frame by frame it's called "rotoscoping". This can lead to dead, lifeless animation such as you might see with bad motion capture animation. The trick to using video reference properly is to identify and clarify the keys in the action and subtley exaggerate the timing.

In the example below I used a live action reference video to quickly map out a simple Luxo lamp jump. The animation is not identical to the live action but an interpretation. You'll quickly see that with just a little exaggeration you can make your animation even better, heavier, and snappier than the live action footage.
Check out the video to see how I turned one of my students into a lamp... 

In-Class Exercise: 
Animation using Video Reference.

Assigned: July 10th
Due: July 10th in class
Total Value: 10%
Short in-class exercise to practice working with live action reference. 
Please download this tennis clip from our shared DropBox folder:

Create a new scene with Luxo and a ball and animate at least some of the action from this video.
Upload it to the folder "tennis exercise".

You can bring your video right into your 3D scene and have it on an image plane. This is a 2-step process: create an image sequence, and then play the sequence in Maya. If you import the movie and project it onto an image plane, it will not scrub in the viewport.

Creating Image Planes From Video Reference
-Find and trim the reference video you want and save it.
-Create a jpg or TIFF image sequence for it at 24 fps, aiming for the lowest tolerable quality setting (I got 11 kb/fr)
You can do this easily in QuickTimePro.
You can also use Premiere, Final Cut Pro, AfterEffects, etc.
In Premiere: -->File | Export | Media. Select TIFF as the format, and set source range to Entire Clip.

In Maya:
-create a new camera from the main menu:  Create --> Camera
-in the viewport, look through your new camera: Panels --> Perspective --> Camera 1 (or whatever you named your camera)
-in the viewport, create an image plane: View --> Image Plane --> Import Image, click on the first frame of your image sequence.
-View --> Image Plane --> Image Plane Attributes --> Select "Use Image Sequence"
- in Image Plane Attributes, select the visibility Display --> In all views
Animate through the perspective window or the camera if you like

Reminder: no class next week, July 18th. 
Next class: July 25, 6-9 with Jakub Pazerla