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.