Thursday, November 1, 2012

WEEK 9: Motion Studies - Game Cycles -- #1 Treadmill Walks!

You're going to get lots of practice setting up game cycles: walks, runs, jumps, and finally, blending them seamlessly together.

First cycle on the agenda: Walks. It's time for a whole new level of picky: treadmills.  You are about to become very involved with your Graph Editor. If that scares you, it's time to learn to love this indispensable tool.

When animating complex motions like walks it's a very good idea to study live action reference, or even create your own.

Walk Reference:
Treadmill Walk: Dude
"Endless Reference"'s You Tube channel (also see sidebar link -->)
Monster's Inc
Iron Giant

Getting good at cycles requires patience and practice. You should try a few different ones so you get faster at setting them up. It's always better work from reference. Shooting your own reference can be invaluable so you understand the mechanics.

Your final cycles are all due near the end of term but we'll have lots of in-class time to work on them.

We're using a new rig for this term, a more complex, TV-quality rig called "Eleven" made for the Eleven Second Club. Click to download the latest v1.2.

Remember to open Maya, REFERENCE in your rig file, and then save your new scene.

Assignment 4: Animation Cycles - walk, run, jump sequence
Assigned: November 2nd
Due: December 14th in class
% of Final Grade: 40%
The sequence must contain loopable cycles blended together into one scene. Include a few loops of each cycle and add any necessary blending between each cycle. Animation should show all 12 principles of animation, especially strong posing, weight, and overlapping action. The character should have believable weight, a clear personality, and move with fluidity and clarity. The cycles should blend together cleanly with all necessary weight shifts, anticipations and reactions added to the final file. Animation work-in-progress will be critiqued in class. The final blended animation sequence will be graded as one project.

Please submit all work to our shared DropBox folder using the following naming conventions and settings:


File Format: QT
Encoding: H.264
Quality: 100
Image Size: Custom
Width: 560
Height: 316
Good luck!

Monday, October 29, 2012

WEEK 9: Texturing & Shading 1: WIP, Hydrant, continued

We'll do a brief recap of the first 2 assignments.

Next we'll introduce two more types of maps:
Normal and Specular.

Normal Maps are like Bump Maps on steroids - they create the illusion of extra detail using not just height information, but angle as well.
Specular Maps define the shininess of different materials. 

All three examples at right are just simple planes. Their appearance has been changed using diffuse, normal, and specular maps.
There are many ways to generate normal maps. 2 common tools for creating them from our diffuse textures are CrazyBump and nDo.  We'll go through how to install and use both of these tools in class. You will need them to complete your homework. If you can't install them at home you will need to complete your assignment at school.

nDo tutorial:

You should also be learning how to bake them from high-res models. For this assignment we will be focusing on creating them from images. This technique can be combined with baked normals.

Please always bring a stylus - they are required for painting your texture maps.

WEEK 9: Character Acting 1: Run Cycles using mocap data

Speed drill o' the day: Back Flip! - I recommend a simple back tuck from a standing position. Don't forget the antic!

Transitioning from walk cycles to run cycles this week -- we'll start dealing with blending cycles together. I don't want to see just any ol' computer-tweened morphing from you guys! I want a real transition! Think about how you'd go from walking to running. Slap on those runners, hit some pavement or a treadmill and feel the difference between the two gaits. Make sure it's obvious in your animation that you understand a new action requires an anticipation.

Does your COG drop a bit lower before it springs higher? Do you need to lean forward? Do you take one big walking step before your first running step? Exaggerating things like this to make the audience appreciate your analysis.

We'll look at some video analysis of running. There are so many kinds of running -- sprinting and long-distance running, jogging, barefoot running, and all sorts of speeds (spm) and styles, including cartoony.

Read up on runs:
Richard Williams dissects the run in detail
Richard Williams' "Animator's Survival Kit" pgs 176 - 200

Assignment 5: Run Cycle using mocap data
Assigned: 31/10/12
Due: 14/11/12
% of final grade: 20%
Submit to DropBox using the following naming conventions: (for video reference files) 

File Format: QT
Encoding: H.264
Quality: 100
Image Size: Custom
Width: 560
Height: 316 

Animate a treadmill run that clearly shows the personality and attitude of the character.

Your file should include the walk cycle and the transition to the run as well as several running steps.
Use any mocap-suitable rig.

The timing (both frames per step and timing of secondary actions such as arm swings and head drag) should support the attitude and personality. The character should have a believable weight. Steps should be symmetrical (apparently if not mathematically) and the motion should be fluid and smooth without obvious pops or bumps. Body parts should be offset from one another a bit so every part of the action doesn't occur on the same frame.

Exemplary: Clear personality and attitude, strong apparent weight, fluid motion with a strong grasp of all animation principles.
Excellent: Apparent personality, weight and almost entirely fluid motion with a good grasp of nearly all animation principles.
Acceptable: Some personality and weight. Motion is mostly fluid with minor errors or missing animation principles.
Not Acceptable: Generic run not convincingly heavy or not fluid with quite a few glitches or missing animation principles.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

WEEK 9: 2D Digital Art 1 - Sidescroller Level Design, continued, plus: special guest Jamie Richards CEO of Alien Concepts

Please note class will be from 9am - 12 pm this week only!

At Risk sidescroller for the Toronto Zoo
This week we'll continue working on our sidescroller games for the first half of the class.

At 11 am we'll move to the Octagon (515) for a guest speaker.
Please welcome Jamie Richards, veteran game animation pro and CEO of Alien Concepts.
Night of the Scarecrows
Before starting his own company, Jamie worked as a level designer at Pseudo Interactive and an instructor at both Seneca and Centennial College.