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!!