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

AM - Class 4 / Week 8 - Lecture

Walk-Through: Animating Dialogue.

Its is important before you start animating a dialog shot to know how people actually speak in real life, and to study how the movement of the jaw, the tongue, tongue against the teeth, the lips, will all affect the way we speak.
In this lecture Jason Schleifer talks about the mechanics of speech as he is animating a shot with dialog.

Before he jumped into Maya, Jason started of by listening to the audio clip he wanted to animate for few times, wrote down the words from that dialog on a sheet of paper, then on top of that he rewrote it again but Phonetically (how it actually sounds) then he circled out the strong vowels that needed to be emphasized, you'll find an example for this in my next assignment.

When animating a lip sync, anything that happens in the front of the lips is super important to hit in order for it to read clearly, I'll mention some of the main letter that Jason pointed out:
Both lips on P,B,M, & O  -  Both lips & teeth on F, & V  -  Tongue tip & teeth on TH   -   Teeth on S, & Z.

Here is a list of things to be aware of when thinking about how sounds coming out of the lips can affect each other:

- Co-Articulation: when the vowel shape affect the consonant that comes before the vowel, as in the words Steam, & Stu.  
- Dip-Thongs: a vowel sound produced by dropping the jaw in the middle of the vowel.
- The Consonant R: pinching the corners of the mouth as you're saying the vowel to get the R shape.
- Cognate Pairs: two sounds which are different, but made using the same mouth shape, as in Buh & Puh, Fuh & Vuh, 
 Duh & Tuh, Zuh & Suh.

As a general tip, you need to shape the mouth a frame or two earlier before the actual letter is actually pronounced to make 
a more convincing lip sync.

Don't forget about the personalty of your character and the emotional state he is going through, because that will dramatically influence the lip sync performance you're animating.

AM - Class 4 / Week 7 - Lecture

Walk-Through: Animating Facial Expressions.

Like all art forms in general & animation in specific, its always good to build your foundations based on reality, in case of facial expressions its important to grasp a basic knowledge in anatomy, behavioural science, & of course the world around you. Victor Navone, the host of this lecture recommended three books to learn more about facial expressions:
The artist complete guide to Facial Expressions, Unmasking the Face, and Man Watching.

An important thing to consider before you start posing/animating the face is the character's physiology, whether its 
a catoony or character or a realistic one, in both cases you want to respect the design of the face, pushing the facial controls too far will make the character not look the same anymore, the character should always look consistent even
when the facial features are moving through poses.

Lots of the animation principals also do apply to facial expressions, like squash & stretch, overlap, follow through, exaggeration, avoid twinning, etc.

When tailoring Animation Mentor's Bishop model, keep in mind that female characters has a thinner & higher eyebrows, smaller mouth & nose, larger eyes, and overall curvy features, while male characters has heavier lower brows, bigger nose
& mouth, and more angular features.

Its always appealing to play with curves & straits when working on facial expressions, for example, when posing the eyes,
a curved upper lid with a straight bottom lid looks much more interesting than having them both curved in a similar manner, also a curved lid that is favoring one side is a lot more interesting than a curve that looks like a perfect arc, same rule applies to the mouth.

Quick notes:

- Design your facial expressions according to the angle of the camera for maximum readability.
- Make sure that all different parts of the face are connected & working together.
- Make sure that all facial expression are simple & easy to read.
- The eyes are the most important part of the face because its what we look at first as an audience, its essential for communicating thoughts & emotions.
- Avoid symmetry when posing eye lids, & when posing both eyes together.  In general you might want to avoid S curved shape on the lids unless its very subtle.
- If the character is looking three quarter to camera, you want to keep the far pupil visible to camera & not hidden by the nose.
- Eyebrows should feel connected to each other as they move.
- The inner part of the eye brows tend to move more than the outer part.
- Victor referred us to a helpful article on his website for eyebrows posing
- All the above rules Apply to the mouth.
- Pose the facial features to reinforce the direction of the eyes.
- In order to give the feeling that facial features are connected together, its good to shape the nose according to the mouth, shape the eyelids according to the pupil, lower eyelids according to  the mouth, upper eyelids according to eyebrows.
- Lead the body change of pose by changing the facial expression first, followed by the body, & remember keep the head still when changing facial expression to read clearly.
- Don't make the facial features move all at once, either lead with the eyes followed by the mouth, or the other way around.

AM - Class 4 / Week 6 - Lecture

Walk-Through: Introduction to Dialog.

In this lecture, Delio Tramontozzi, Animation supervisor at ILM walks us through his way of animating a shot with dialog, he doesn't get into details of facial animation, its more of a guidance for animators on how to start working on a dialog shot.

When looking for a dialog clips for your exercise, there are few rules that you might want to keep in mind: Clear Voices, No Profanity, Contrast in Emotions, Stay away from Famous Clips & Animated Movies.
Here is few sites I found that offers dialog audio clips:

Quick notes from Deilo process:

- Animate the idea NOT the words, you need to look for the emotions behind the line of dialog you're about to animate, and add that into the character.
- Listen to the audio over & over again, break it into beats, then look for the moments where you can put the key poses.
- Knowing the back story for the character is important to animate a shot with dialog.
- Shoot a video reference, a good tip is to act the shot without exaggeration because its something you can push later as you're animating.
- Draw thumbnails from your video reference, try to add contrast in shapes while drawing the thumbnails.
- Fill out Animation X-Sheet.
- Start animating.
- Animate a basic jaw pass with a basic facial performance,just to get the sense of it with the rest of the body.
- After all that, you can work on the lip-sync.

While animating, an important thing to keep in mind is not to be afraid to blow out & redo a full section that you don't feel is quiet reading the way you thought it would.