Q&As With Scott Lemmer

So Class Five is finally over!  This term was very hard for me because of the amount of work I had at my day job and the difficult shot I was animating for AM.  But thanks God! I'm still alive, I didn't get fired, and I'm still married :)

Scott was a great mentor, he kept on pushing me to enhance the character performance to be more reasonable and believable, facial expressions, and eye direction. Here is my student assessment for this term:

Areas of strength: Great work this term! I really like how you worked with me and addressed all of the notes. You ended up with some nice acting choices and some nice execution of the animation principles.
Areas of improvement: Overall there isn't a whole lot to say but I would pick out that lipsync still needs some work. I also thing that you need to pay attention to eye lines a bit more. Also don't forget to support eye shape changes with the brows and brow shape changes with the eyelids. Try to make sure you get the upper and lower lids involved as well as the cheeks where possible.

I wish Scott best of luck in his career.

AM - Class 5 / Week12- Assignment

This is the final version of the sequence, I'm not really happy with it though, I'll give it an extra push in the final term :)

AM - Class 5 / Week11- Lecture

The Language of Film.

Up to this point, AM has been teaching us how to be a great character animators, but its very important to us as well to grasp all aspects of the medium that we're working in, and that means understanding the rules of film making, camera, framing & composition, and film editing.

In this lecture, Glen McIntosh, animator & animation director at ILM, talks about the language of film and the history of film making.

We are lucky that the art-form of film making has gone through its evolution in the past century and the rules are already set for us.  Film making started since Thomas Edison invented the first camera and has been developing ever since & still on going as the technology is pushing further & further.  The style of film making has always been governed by the evolution of the technology. In the old days; film were staged in a theatrical ways where everything is placed in front of the viewer, static cameras, actors entering from screen left to screen right, very similar to a stage play.  But when we look at movies nowadays, we see cameras panning right & left to keep characters in frame, there is a narrative structure for the film to help the audience follow the story.  Basically the director can now decide where the audience are going to look, and when.

There is a set of rules always followed in the process of film making, but its very subtle that the audience don't even perceive it.  As animators its important to know these rules because it will effect our animation & performance dramatically.
Creating a film requires a collaborative effort from script writers, actors, set designers, costume designers, audio mix, editors..etc, all that should follow the vision of one individual, which is the Director of the film.  The directer will enforce his vision on the film to steer it into the direction he wants.

Glen took shots from famous movies like 'Citizen Kane'' Full Metal Jacket'' War of The Worlds' & started explaining why the directors of these movies choose to frame it in certain way, and what's the hidden message behind the camera angles.
Then he showed us how editing can make a huge impact on the audience, either by heightening there tension, or calming them down.

At the end of the lecture, Glen strongly recommended students to do the same, look for impressive shots from movies you like and analyze them in terms of framing, camera angle, editing. This will be a source of inspiration & will reflect on your work.

AM - Class 5 / Week10- Lecture

Walkthrough: Subtext and Subtlety.

Subtext in animation is what's going behind the scenes, what's the character is not really saying, what's his/her thoughts internally.   Its the message behind the words.
Subtext can changes the meaning of a sentence entirely, you can say the same words but with completely deference subtext & it will deliver the viewer a completely different message. 

In the real world, subtext is always there, the gestures we do with our hands as we speak, the subtle facial expressions, smile, squint, all will tell you what this person is thinking or feeling without even listing to what he's saying.  Sometimes a person will say something but there is a hidden thought beneath the words that is contradicting with what's actually being said.

In this lecture,  Matthew Munn animator at Sony ImageWorks breaks down a shot he animated from Surf's Up where a character is delivering a line & the subtext is contradicting from what the character is saying. such a great shot!

Few notes:

- Subtext is very important in animation because its a powerful tool to add reality to the shot.
- Subtext can go a long with the spoken words, or it could be completely the opposite.
- As an animator you have the time to inject real life performance into the characters, & add a subtle movement to make the characters look believable.
- Subtext will reveal the nature of your character to the audience.
- Subtext is not an afterthought, its something to be considered in an early stage of animation.
- Ask questions about your character, What kind of person is he? whats the mood he's in? what he's thinking?
- Before shooting a video reference, put yourself in your character's shoes, think the way there supposed to be thinking when delivering there line of dialog, and subtext will show naturally in your reference.
- In the polishing stage, pay extra attention on emphasizing the subtext.

Matthew's advice at the end of the lecture was to always stay passionate about animation; keep a close relation with the team members around you, bounce feedback to raise up the quality of everybody's work.  The minute you forget what animation is all about & start treating it as a job you will lose the ability to learn and develop your skills, & that will reflect back on your work.

AM - Class 5 / Week 9 - Lecture

Advanced Polishing. Adding the Final 10%

This lecture is similar to the one from class 4. Kenny Roy grabs a shot that a student had animated; and gives it an extra pass of polish, pushes some poses, scrape out the segments that are not reading well & reanimate them from scratch.

AM - Class 5 / Week 8 - Lecture

Subtext And Subtlety.

Subtext: is the implicit meaning of a literary text, its not what's being said but what we come to understand about the story or a character.
Subtlety: is so slight to an extend that its difficult to detect or describe. In character animation subtlety is not just a small move or a small weight shift, it also could be a subtle/unnoticeable change that develops over a shot or a series of shots.
Context: is the part of a statement that surrounds a particular passage and determines its meaning, in animation it means how a shot or a series of shots fit into an entire scene.

Quick notes:
- Interior monologue vs Exterior dialog.  Meaning; the thought process inside the character's head compared with what he's actually saying, sometimes they could be the same but sometimes they could be completely different.
- Acting in the eyes, if somebody is talking we mainly focus on his eyes, eyes can convey a whole range of emotions.
- Acting in the body, the body gives a message whether the character is relaxed or nervous, happy or sad.
- Using simplicity to convey ideas clearly, simplicity in posing, simplicity in gestures.
- The purpose of every shot we animate is not to glorify us as animators, but to tell the story in context, so what every we do should serve that purpose.
- The diffidence of status between characters in a shot will tell us a lot about there personality
- Character's emotions arcing over a scene will make it very interesting. The scene starts with the character very happy, and through the progression of the scene the character will become sad because of something he/she had learned.
- It will be great if you can convey to your audience how characters are feeling to each other without having to say it.
- Don't concentrate on the mouth when double checking a lipsync, look at the eyes, and if it feels right, you're probably in a good shape.

AM - Class 5 / Week 7 - Lecture

Advanced Look At Entertainment.

This lecture was presented by Doug Sweetland, animator at Pixar, and director for the famous Pixar short film Presto.
Here we go!

What is entertainment?? from an animator's point of view, entertainment is using his bag of tricks like Overlap, follow through, blinks, double takes, gestures, etc.. all this is great, but these tricks by themselves are not necessarily entertainment, they should be used in a way that serves the meaning of a greater context, otherwise, they're pointless.Audience don't go to the theater to watch the animators bag of tricks, only animators do, the audience are looking to be entertained by a good story, so animators should find a way to use there techniques to add meaning/entertainment value to the story.

A 'Story' is a serious of events; An 'Event' is a gap in expectation, it raises questions about outcome that compels the viewer, same as Jokes, a Joke has a setup that will imply one outcome, and a punch line will deliver another outcome.
This is the anatomy of an event: a Setup or expectation, and then the outcome, the outcome begets another expectation that will lead to another outcome.  this series of events will create a story, a story over all is generally raising the big question, & we know that the story ends when we get the answer for that big question.  Its very important to know the anatomy of an event/story because that will help you to focus on the idea your animating, whether its a setup or an outcome.

Here is few notes from this great lecture:

- A character SHOULD NOT do anything without needing to do it.
- Create poses for the characters specific to the situation at that moment in the story.
- Entertainment is heightening the juxtaposition between what the character wants and the reality of the situation, heightening the juxtaposition of what's being said & what's being felt.
- In your acting choices, chose the action that expresses what the character is feeling, not what the character is saying.
- Sometimes you need to sacrifice a certain performance that you initially had in mind for service of the main context.
- Identify the status of your character, whether he's a high status important person or low status person.
- Looking for new ideas is good, but also experiment with using old ideas in a new context.
-  Avoid making the performance of your character one dimensional, don't think of happiness as just happiness, & sadness is just sadness, that is very flat, you want to find a way to approach emotions not in a direct way.
- Emotions is inferred by the audience through the event, but should not be forced on them.
- The best shot you'll ever going to animate is the one that your animating right now!

AM - Class 5 / Week 6 - Lecture

Mechanics & Acting.

In this lecture; Bret Parker, Animator at Pixar explains how she starts animating acting shots from a pose to pose approach, focusing on incorporating a proper body mechanics into the acting in early blocking stage.
As we've mentioned earlier in class one, there are three methods of animating: Pose to Pose, Layering, and Straight a Head. Sometimes we use a combination of all three depending on the type of shot/character we're animating.

In this lecture, Bret played a short sequence from Ratatouille that she animated back in the day, and showed us the progression stages it went through starting from the way she received the shot from the layout department at Pixar, all the way to the final polish.
Here are some notes from the lecture, ordered from blocking to polish:

- Before you start working on a shot, be very specific of what you want to do with it.
- While Staging your shot, you need to present your idea in away that its unmistakably clear, that can be achieved by knowing exactly the purpose of that shot & how it falls in context.
- Take your time planning your shot, write down all the questions you need to know about it, act it out, explore different options.
- Analyze the personality of your character & the its relation with its surrounding as your planing.
- Keep in mind as you're making the composition to lead the audience eyes to the things you want them to see.
- Layout pass should include the basic timing for the character as it enters, moves around, or exits frame.
- Bret advises her student to push the layout stage a bit far in terms of posing, to get a better understanding for the character and its intentions.
- Focus on your key poses first, then place your inbetween, after that work off the timing.
- Incorporate eye distraction in the blocking stage.
- Consider your arcs as you're blocking.
- Start thinking about breakdowns as your building your key poses.
- Make sure to get all the physics correct in the blocking stage.
- As your blocking the key-poses, establish the character's focus with the full body not just the eyes or head direction.
- Approach a dialog shot the same way you approach a pantomime shot, Don't relay on the dialog to tell the story but sculpt your key-poses in a way that it will tell the story for you, the audience should be able to read the emotions & intentions of the shot through posing, even with the dialog turned off.
- If your shot has two characters dependent on each other you might want to block them both together at the same time.
- Constantly keep checking your key-posses if they look appealing.
- Be aware not to fall into even timing through out the animation.
- While animating a simple movements; something as simple as a finger pointing, incorporate the whole body in that movement starting from the root up.
- Bret prefers using FK arms when a character is gesturing with its hands.
- Don't be afraid to rip out a pose or to change a full segment of the animation as you're splining to make the shot look better.
- Overlap, Ease in, Ease out.
- Simplify the animation of the hands & face, more is less.
- We hear a lot the 'Keep Alive' term when in comes to secondary characters in a shot, keeping the character alive dose not mean to add simple movement or a blink, it means going inside that character's thoughts & reflect that into its performance.


AM - Class 5 / Week 5 - Lecture

Walk-Through: Advanced Dialog Part Two.

This was the second part of Navone's Over The Shoulder lecture. The final version of the shot looked nice!

AM - Class 5 / Week 4 - Lecture

Walk-Through: Advanced Dialog Part One.

This is the first part of an Over The Shoulder lecture by Victor Navone showing his way animating a shot from start to finish!
It was very nice to watch but I couldn't take any notes, a lecture like that you'd have to watch yourself :)

AM - Class 5 / Week 3 - Lecture

Multiple Characters.

In this lecture Jason talks about the things we need to keep in mind while animating a shot with multiple characters, and
how to get a good relation in between characters to keep them connected.

He started off by labeling the types of multi-character shots :
Over the shoulder, characters facing camera, one character in focus & the others are around it, two characters having a conversation with a character off screen, & last, an Action shot. The list could go on & on but these are the famous ones.

Be a ware of the relationship the characters has in the shot, for instance, if you have shot with two characters & they know each other well they would stand close and more facing towards each other, if they are strangers they would keep some distance.  So just based on the character's position in frame will let us determine there relation & intimacy. 

Secondary or background characters are active participants in the shot, position them in a way that is related to the main character, background characters position reveals something about there relationship to the main character, adjust there head to be facing the main character, this will direct the audience eyes towards what they're looking at which is in this case the hero character, don't just make them standing there doing nothing, add eye-darts, breathing, & some subtle facial expression to keep them live, but remember not to over animate them because it will get distracting.

Here is Jason's workflow when working on a multi-character shot:
Study the intention of the shot, then setup an initial staging of the shot with rough poses; submit your work to the director/supervisor for approval If it gets approved then you can move to the blocking stage.
When blocking keyframe all characters at the same frame, this will make things easier for you later, & don't worry bout all the technical stuff like constraints & parenting, keep all that for later, while blocking try to make the rhythm of the shot feeling good, get the director's approval, then move to the first animation pass.  At this stage you can work on the main characters first then jump to the secondary ones. As for polishing, you should focus on finessing each of the characters as if you're working on a single character shot.

Quick notes:
- When animating a shot with a group of characters (three or a above)  you would need to control the actions of these character so it will not be a chaos, and use them to drive the eyes of the audience to where you want them to look at.
- When ever a character is talking in a shot, the other character's performance is tuned down.
- When animating multiple characters in a shot, make sure that each one of them has an individual purpose & state of mind, and also they have to work well together to serve the purpose of the shot.
- Secondary character's gestures should support the actions of the main character.
- Contrast in action draws the viewer attention to what ever is different, whether its a slow character in a fast moving crowds, or a fast character is moving a slow crowds.
- Always let the first character finish its action first, then let the other character start its action.

AM - Class 5 / Week 2 - Lecture

Storytelling Through Cuts - editing 101

In this lecture we will understand the rules of editing that we've been watching in movies & TV shows for years, and get the logic behind it.

Editing is actually physics and ballistics! what dose that mean??
Ballistics in editing is a description of one complete cycle/movement, let's take the famous a bouncing ball as an example; starting from the moment the ball leaves the ground to the moment it touches it back, is a complete ballistic cycle that loops until the ball comes to a stop.

Ballistic movements (or cycle) consists of few major parts : 
Rest, Maximum Velocity, Constant Velocity, Full Extension or Impact, Recoil or Rest.
To understand this further, the host of this lecture takes the cannon ball as an example, the ball inside the canon starts with Rest, as soon as it fires up it accelerates to Maximum Velocity, then keeps moving with Constant Velocity until it reaches the farthest point or Full Extension, then it falls on the ground and bounces a couple of times until it comes to a stop or Rest.
Same in a walk cycle, the foot starts at Rest, then it lifts up in Maximum Velocity, moves forward in Constant Velocity, then the heel touches the ground which is the Full Extension point, then plants on the ground to a full Rest.

We need to know when is the perfect point to cut in a ballistic movement, its the job of the editor to make a sequence of cuts flowing & seamless.  Usually, a Cut happens at the end of a ballistic, you don't want to cut in the middle of it because it makes the audience feel interrupted, so let the movement complete then cut, in most cases the cut happens few frames later after the a ballistic movement is finished.

In shots with dialog, sentences share the same ballistic principle as well, they have an explosive beginning from a silence, constant velocity in the middle, then end up with a period or rest.
You can make a clean camera cut in a dialog shot on one of these positions:
Cut on a Period, Cut on a Comma, Cut on a Pause, Cut on a Plosive (loud word)
But never cut in the middle of a word or flow of words, because again, the audience will feel interrupted.
Interestingly enough; in horror films they do cut in the middle of words & sentences intentionally to make the audience feel disturbed, but usually not in a casual dialog sequence.

As for camera placement in the scene, the main rule is to place it in the most clear position possible, & that is called in the film business ' The Best Seat In The House',  as animators we are fortunate to have a full control over where to place our camera, a full range of lens with a click of a button, a complete freedom to offer the audience the best seat in the house.

Here are the most famous type of shots in cinematography:
- Wide shot to show the surrounding environment arround the character.
- Medium shot, to show what the character is doing, usually the hands will be involved.
- Medium closeup shot, where you don't show hands but concentrate more on the head & shoulders (like the shampoo lol)
- Closeup shot, for showing emotion on the face.
- Extreme closeup, for more facial features.
- Extreme extreme closeup, just for the eyes.

This takes us probably to the only way where we can cut in the middle of a Ballistic movement, and that is to cut from a medium shot to a closeup shot, or from a closeup to extreme closeup, for instance if you have a shot of a guy punching, 
you can cut at the middle of the shot (before the fist reaches its target) to a closeup when the fist is smashing the target.
Of course rules could always be broken, but its better to play by the rules first, then break them latter, if you dare!

Last, I leave you with a nice quote from the host of this lecture: if you can dance you can edit, if you cant dance you'll be able 
to dance after you learn how to edit :)

AM - Class 5 / Week 1 - Lecture

Walk Trough.

In this lecture, Jim Brown talks to us about the stages of animating his shot The Winds of Victory.
Few notes:

- Acting drives any decision you make, from character development, to staging, camera angles, posing, & facial  animation.
- Before you start animating a character in a shot, ask your self : who this character is, & what is its intentions.
- Think about what external elements you can add to the shot to add more depth to it.
- While posing the character in Maya, make sure to keep the attitude of the character showing through the pose.
- There should always be a reason behind any camera movement you add into your shot.
- Animation looks a lot more interesting when breakdown poses are favoring one of the key posses (before or after)
- Don't be afraid to adjust initial key posses to correct bad spacing issues.
- Lead the action with one part of the body, then followed by the rest of the body.
- As you're cleaning/smoothing curves in the Graph Editor, keep an eye on the perspective view and be careful not to lose any of the performance you've already put into the characters.

Class FIVE!!

Unlike the previous terms at AM, now the student gets to pick who mentors him for a full term, I picked Scott Lemmer.    Scott is an awesome animator currently working at DreamWorks, he animated on cool features like: BoltIce Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, RioIce Age: Continental Drift, and most recently The Croods which is scheduled to be released early next year.
Check out Scott's page on Vimeo, so Awesome!!


Q&As with Marek Kochout

Although I did not manage to attend lots of the sessions, but it was a great learning experience with Marek. He has such an eye for details when it comes to acting, he used to analyze every gesture in my shots to make it look right, not only animation wise but also to work well with the mental status of the character in the shot. Marek was Awesome! I wish him all the best in life!
Here is what he wrote for my student assessment of this term:

Areas of strength: Manar is an absolute joy to work with. His shots are of an extremely high quality and he would fit in easily at any animation studio world wide. He takes direction very well and his shots are very entertaining.
Areas of improvement: Just keep doing what you are doing, its working for you. Maybe just keep pushing yourself and try as many different animation styles as you can. You already did this with your two shots, one more cartoony and the other a little more serious. I would just try every style you can to give yourself a really diverse background. Its been a pleasure. All the best.

Last, I'll share a check list by Marek to consider before & while your working on a shot in a proper production environment.

Before Starting A Shot: 
1. Did I study my shot's story panels in continuity? 
2. Did I look at the latest version of the sequence and understand its overall story purpose? 
3. Do I understand the purpose of my shot in the story? 
4. Did I look at the latest layout movie and understand the geography, eye directions and hook-ups? 
5. Did I get all the information I need from the directors to animate my shots? 
6. Do I understand the subtext/underlying emotion of the characters in my shot? 
7. Do I have a clear idea on how I will stage my shot and create an interesting composition and does it work with the camera? 
8. Did I identify the key moments and accents in the dialog? 
9. Have I looked at any live action reference - lipstick cam, me acting it out, directors acting it out, scenes from films? 
10. Have I brainstormed/thumb nailed/visualized/acted out and chosen a performance that is simple, clear, in character; original and entertaining? 

Before checking in with the Supervisor/Director: 
1. Do i like what I have done? 
2. Am I communicating my ideas clearly and do I have enough information in my shot in order for my Supervisor/Director to understand my intentions? 
3. Am I animating in the style of the production?
4. Is my shot original and entertaining?
5. Am I animating in character?
6. Are my poses well thought out, fully realized and nice to look at?
7. Does the voice feel like it's coming from the character (is the character breathing?) 
8. Have I checked the camera view for the most basic principles and problems: eye direction, clear silhouettes, contact, weight, balance, etc.? 
9. Are all the characters matching the previous and following shots in action, momentum, emotion and positioning? 
10. Have I checked my animation with all the appropriate environments and props turned on? 
11. Have I made significant progress on the notes I have received in the previous review session? 

Before submitting MY shot for final:
1. Is everything moving for a purpose? 
2. Did I check my timing? (Should i speed anything up, slow anything down? Do I have enough contrast?) 
3. Is there any floatiness in my shot? 
4. Is there any stiffness in my shot? 
5. Do my characters have weight at all times? (Do I feel gravity acting on my characters? Do things bounce?) 
6. Do my characters have the right amount of change of shape (squash/stretch, etc) ? 
7. Did I check my spacing - are there any pops, clicks or stalls? 
8. Can I see my characters eyes clearly? Have I checked my eye lines and checked the lit movie if available? 
9. Am I animating my lip sync at least 1 frame ahead of the sound? 
10. Am I holding "m, b, p, ss and ch" for 2 frames where possible? 
11.Are my feet and hands in real contact with the background? 
12. Are there any penetrations or clashing geometry? 
13. Have I animated the "handle" frames of my shot? 
14. Have I run all the simulations in my shot? 
15. Have I checked my entire character to make sure it is alive at all times (eyes, hands, face, tail, etc)? 
16. Did I show my shot to other animators? 
17. Check in your curves. Run your render on the farm. Double check your farm render. 
18. Go get a coffee. 
19. Did I take a bathroom break and remember to wash my hands? 
20. Did I call my mother/father/spouse/children

AM - Class 4 / Week12- Assignment

This is the final version of class 4 progress reel, I hope you like it !

AM - Class 4 / Week12- Lecture

This was a quick round up for the lectures we've watched in class 4. Some notes:

- Understand the shot your animating in context of whats comes before & after it.
- When animating your shot, you have to be Sincere, Honest, Clear, & Simple.
- The thought that motivates the movement is driving the entire body of the character, not just the head or hand.
- A final animated shot should look fluid but not floaty or even, it should have texture & rhythm into it.
- Avoid Cliche ( overused ideas )
- Animate phrases not words, animate what the character is thinking as its talking, & concentrate on the strong phrases.
- Best animated scenes are the ones that you can mute the sound & still understand everything.
- Get the acting simplified & clear so its reading almost instantly by the audience.
- Proper staging, & clear silhouette.
- Build a library of video reference that you could jump back to when needed.
- Don't get settled on the first idea that comes to your mind, explore!
- Secondary action is about adding believability to the character without distracting the audience from the primary action.
- don't force the secondary action in the shot, make it feel natural.
- Stand up & act it out, & be spontaneous.
- Create nice patterns in the body gestures, like arcs, & figure 8.
- Observe the world around you & find new inspirations away from your desk.
- Understand how the character thinks & feels, & remember that your animating an idea.
- While blocking keep in mind to add drag & overlap, it will make your life easier later.
- Physicality brings strength to gestures.
- When animating lip-sync, keep in mind how the mouth, tong, jaw shapes to make each sound.
- All parts of the face are connected, overlap and follow through rules also apply to facial performance.
- Design your facial expressions according to camera view, even if you have to cheat it.
- Add a blink on head terns, on a thought, or a change of emotion, give blinks a purpose.
- Eye darts keeps the character alive.
- keep in mind what the character is thinking VS what the character is saying.
- Whatever the idea your conveying, keep it as simple as possible.
- Polishing is not smoothing keys in the GE, its reevaluating the whole shot, taking things out, adding things in.
- Residual energy adds a lot to the shot, but use it carefully as it could be distracting.
- Look for the extra 10% that you can add to the shot which will dial it up & make it stand out.


AM - Class 4 / Week11- Lecture

Walk-Through: Introduction to Polishing.

Polishing is not just about smoothing splines in the Graph Editor, its more about making the animation look physically correct, and adding the last bits that will make the characters feels organic and alive.

Polish is also about:
- Simplifying poses and taking things out to make it more clear.
- Adding residual energy to the characters, the kind of energy that remains in the bones & muscles after hitting a pose.
- Adding overlap to the elements attached to the character like hair, ears, cloth, etc.

The polishing phase actually starts immediately as soon as you're done with the blocking, so as a fact you're spending almost 80% of the time on polishing, polish also involve removing things, adding things, changing gestures, cleaning up contacts with objects, don't be afraid to redo a segment from scratch if you think its not working the way it should be, that is the most important thing to consider when polishing your shot.

Its always good to start polishing the root control first, then work your way up through the torso, the chest, the neck, the head, then the arms & hands.

Another advise is to use your time wisely, allow enough time to polish the parts that are most important to the shot, then get into the less important stuff if time allows. and try to spare some time to add an extra level of polish to character contacts 
with other surfaces because small details like that always pays off.

Tracking arcs of the hands, legs, nose, the corners of the mouth, will give the shot an extra level of polish.

The final steps of polishing is removing knee & elbow pops, its a bit tedious because you'll have to do it frame by frame, so its better to shift this step to the bottom of your check list and start working on it when the shot is approved by the director.

AM - Class 4 / Week10- Lecture

Walk-Through: Eyes & Blinks.

Quick notes:

- We blink to protect our eyes & to keep them moist.
- Pay extra attention to the animation of the eyes because it's the first thing that the audience will look at.
- Don't animate blinks randomly, give them a purpose in a shot to support an action.
- A general timing for a causal blink is: one frame open, one frame inbetween, two frames close, two frames inbetween, and one frame open again.
- When animating a blink, favor the open position as an in-between before the lid is closed, and favor the closed position as an in-between before the lid is opened, if you don't do this favoring you will end up with two in-betweens which have an equal opening, and it will look good.
- Its important to keep in mind that any thought process starts first with the eyes before it goes anywhere else in the body.
- Changing the head direction is always accompanied with a blink.
- Lead the change of head direction with the pupil first.
- Acting is all in the eyes, and almost any change of emotions happens in the eyes.
- Eye-darts makes the character come to life, usually its very quick (2 to 3 frames) and narrow.
- Eyelids helps emphasizing emotions of the character.


AM - Class 4 / Week 9 - Lecture

Walk-Through: Hands.

Hands poses are as important as facial expressions & eyes when it comes to acting because we always gesture & express our emotions through our hands, in animation a strong hands posing can make a full body pose a lot more dynamic, although they are a bit complicated to animate because of the amount of joints to work with.

What makes a dynamic hand pose is: strength & tension, clear line of action, the feeling of force especially in fingers.
We can find lots of great hand posing references in classic art, whether its a drawing or a sculpture, as well as modern comic books which are packed with strong poses, & of course we can always pose our own hands for reference.

when talking about posing hands you want to go to the most interesting pose possible, and in most cases you don't want to go for an evenly spread fingers hand, you generally want to group the fingers in a way that looks interesting,  whether its the two middle ones together, or the last two, just something to give the hands a bit of life & non symmetry.

Quick notes:
- Hands continues the line of action of the arms & body.
- Even in a primitive blocking phase; you would want to make a nice relaxed hand pose to get a better feeling of the character.
- Rotate the finger joints individually, usually fingers start curling in starting from the pinky followed by the rest of the fingers one by one, & from the tip of the finger, followed by the mid, then the base joint.
- Like the facial expressions, you need to pose the hands according to camera.
- Take your time to finesse the hands when they contact a surface to give it an nice organic feel.
- Use constrains to attach hand to objects, or objects to the hands.
- Avoid rotating the finger joints all at once.
- Avoid over-animating drag, follow thorough, and overlap with the fingers because it will start to look weird.
- Avoid hitting every pose with a hand gesture, it will look to distracting. 

Lastly, for a great inspiration on hands animation, check out this amazing short my one of the mentors at AM Mark oftedal