#1 09-10-2012 5:07 pm

wolfor
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Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

Hi!
Taking up on Stefans original thread, this thread is supposed to help you get a grasp in the first footsteps of animation, and doing it right and in the correct order is vitally important here.
(I just thought this might be a worthy 3000th post smile)
I also assume you read and understood the principles of animation as I am using them in these tutorials. (naturally big_smile)

I am also going to add some pretty pictures and stuff like that very soon. smile

If you think you're done with the basic stuff, make sure you check out Camaro's exercises thread and J.K.'s blogpost on 51 great animation exercises as well!


EDITmarch 2017 due to changes in how dropbox handles public links, I can only recreate the few example movie links that point to my dropbox. So, until Stefan updated his movie files I linked here, there are currently only a few examples to look at. Sorry bout that! I'll try to resolve taht issue asap smile

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#2 09-10-2012 5:08 pm

wolfor
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

First things first, you start off with a bouncing ball, the bounce is starting at the top, is looping and non-decaying.
There are several tutorial on bouncing balls on the internet, so I'll just keep to the basics, for further infos, Steve compiled quite a lot of really good tutorials on the 11secondclub blog site and I very much suggest you regard some (or all) of them before starting this exercise.
As a ball rig, you can use whatever sphere you like, there are tons of rigs out there, too, and I made one as well (for Maya only), which is freely downloadable, together with an obstacle course (you might need that later on) here.

So, looking at it physically, when a ball is bouncing, gravity is pulling it down until it hits an obstacle (the ground), the energy it gathered while falling is converted to elastic energy (the squash) and directly converted back to kinetic energy the other way, driving it back up until this energy is less than the gravitational pull that makes it come down again eventually. There is also a fundamental law of physics that no energy is ever lost.
So, in an ideal universe (not the one we live in) this could happen, without any further interference, indefinitely, which is what we assume in this first 'lesson'.

At this point, we halt the physics lesson until the next step, and look at it from the more artistic side:
While animation can break the laws of physics in every way the animator wishes, good animation still adheres these laws, while merely bending them. Joyce wrote some more about this in her brilliant article on  consistency.

When a ball is falling in real life, it actually stays near to round all the way (if you don't belive me, look at a falling drop of water), but in animation, historically mostly in order to compensate for the missing motion blur, objects have been made to stretch more the faster they get. This is physically not wrong, its just very exaggerated, and with us being accustomed to this behavior by looking at cartoons for the last century or so, stretching has even been made a synonym for movement. (When you're at the point of animating characters, you will come back to this principle and see the whole business in a whole different light)

So, in order to do this right, here are the main pointers:

-On its Zenith, the ball is not moving at all.
This fundamental knowledge (I am not kidding you) means that at this point only, the ball is nether stretched nor squashed.

-On its way down, the ball gathers speed exponentally
This of course means the decline of speed on the way up is happening in the same way. It also means that the stretch of the ball should not be much visible as long as the ball is not moving much, otherwise you'll have something that rather looks like a wobbly soap bubble.

-Immediately before and after the contact, the ball has its highest velocity.
This knowledge is fundamental, too, and means that, while the ground is changing the balls direction, it does not slow the ball down. (remember we are still in this ideal universe) In order to animate this correctly, you have to break the tangents of the upward movement's curve on this frame.
It also means that in the frame before and after the contact, the ball is stretched out the most.

-The ground contact is very short
meaning it usually only takes about one frame, seldom two. If you take longer, the ball suddenly has a will of its own, and we have a jumping ball, not a bouncing one. It's nice if you can do that, but lets keep the ball inanimate for the moment. smile
This also leads to a very big shape change in a very small amount of time, in order to not have this look strobing or have the onlooker loose the ball, we usually have the stretched ball touch the ground very slightly on the frame before and leave the ground by just a fairly small bit on its way up.



Repeat this exercise until you really nail it, and then probably repeat it some more. This is the fundamental on which everything else will be built on, even highly complex stuff like facial animation.

Here is an example how this exercise should look like, from Stefans original thread:
(remember that there is no use in copying another animator's example in these cases)

Direct Link

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#3 09-10-2012 5:09 pm

wolfor
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

Next step will be, after we nailed this, to take this ball out of its ideal universe in our own.
Thus follows another lesson in physics. (sorry big_smile)
As the ball looses its kinetic energy with every time it bounces, mostly due to heat and friction, but the gravity and the elasticity stay constant, the amount of height declines with every bounce. Like with most things in nature this decay is also exponental, and affects the frequency of the bounces accordingly.
Meaning: The bounce of the ball will decrease by a constant amount every time it bounces, and the lower the bounce, the shorter the time it stays in the air.


Without further ado, now follows the lesson with the ball bouncing in place with a settle to a stop.

Here are some more pointers:

-The ball should stay consistent in all its attributes
meaning, that even if the ball is squashing like a pancake, it has to stay that way and, even though the amount of squash reduces with every bounce, it should reduce according to the decline of the bounce height. Same goes with the stretch, of course.

Repeat this exercise until you really nail it, and then probably repeat it some more. This is the fundamental on which everything else will be built on, even highly complex stuff like facial animation.

Here is an example how this exercise should look like, from Stefans original thread:
(remember that there is no use in copying another animator's example in these cases)

Direct Link

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#4 09-10-2012 5:10 pm

wolfor
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

Now I'm gonna swerve from Stefans original list as I am going to add another bouncing ball exercise before moving the ball forward.

In this exercise you'll repeat the bouncing ball exercise, but by varying the timing and spacing of the ball, as well as its size, bounce height and amount of squash/stretch, you generate the impression of different ball types, for example:

A bowling ball
A ping pong ball
A rubber ball
A balloon
A soap bubble
A lump of clay
...

Again some physics, as the weight of the object gets canceled from the equation, all objects fall with the same speed. The only way an object can fall faster than another is if you either give the object some sort of propulsion and speed it up or apply the air resistance and slow it down.
Meaning, the faster an object falls, the greater the air resistance, until at one point it cancels the force pulling the object down (the objects mass). The bigger the objects mass opposed to its aerodynamics, the faster it can fall. One example are parachuters: If the person falls down head first (reduces the air resistance to a minimum), he can get to a speed of roughly 300 km/h, if the same person spreads out his limbs and falls like this, his speed is reduced to (I think) roughly 120 km/h. A falling beetle would probably never travel faster than 30 km/h. (just to add a few numbers, Joseph Kittinger jumped from an altitude of 31,333 meters, and due to the lack of air resistance at this altitude reached a top speed of 988 km/h)
Though most of my guesses at these speeds are wildly inaccurate, I believe you get the idea smile

So, as the balloon and the bowling ball have roughly the same aerodynamics, but the bowling ball has a much greater mass, it will fall down much faster than the balloon, but(!) the acceleration until (in this case) the balloons maximum speed is identical!


A few pointers to that as well:

-If an object is non-elastic, it will not rebound
meaning, if a bowling ball is hitting the ground, it usually is the ground's elasticity that makes it jump up again, and not the balls.
This also means that if the ball (or the ground) is deformed above its elastic limit, there will be no rebound either or it will be greatly reduced. As an example, take a ball and throw it into the sand, or take a slap of clay and throw it on your kitchen floor.

-If a ball is extremely light, it travels downwards more or less linearly
meaning that if, say, a balloon is falling at 30cm/second, it reaches this speed very fast and then stays at this speed, until it hit the ground, from then on it decelerates, naturally smile
Having no big mass and speed, the Balloon will not deform much when hitting the ground.

-From a normal size/mass ration upward, the difference in speed due to air resistance can probably be ignored
from 1 Meter, a soccer ball falls pretty much as fast as a bowling ball.



Repeat this exercise until you really nail it, and then probably repeat it some more.

Here is an example how this exercise might look like, this time I made it, and it was a bit rushed so please excuse my sloppyness:
(remember that there is no use in copying another animator's example in these cases)

Direct Link

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#5 09-10-2012 5:11 pm

wolfor
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

Next up is bouncing a ball forward, with no decay in height or speed.
Now we're back in our ideal universe, where nothing keeps the ball from bouncing on indefinitely. Hurray!

Basically, you take what you have learned in the first exercise, and apply a linear forward motion to it, and rotate the ball forward while doing so.
As far as I know, there is no rule as to how much the ball needs to rotate while happily bouncing forward, just make it look good! big_smile

A few pointers, again:

-as long as the ball is not rolling on the ground, there is nothing stopping the ball from moving forward.
the air resistance is not applied yet.


-as long as the ball is not rolling on the ground, there is no reason to change the rotation speed it inherits



-the stretch should always be in the direction of the movement so when the ball is moving forward and down, the stretch of the ball should be pointing in that direction, too.


Repeat this exercise until you really nail it, and then probably repeat it some more.


Here is an example how this exercise should look like, from Stefans original thread:
(remember that there is no use in copying another animator's example in these cases)

Direct Link

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#6 09-10-2012 5:12 pm

wolfor
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

Now we take the last exercise, again, and place it into our universe, again.
So we now have a ball bounce across the screen, each bounce shorter than the last, eventually coming to a stop.

Basically, you take what you learned in the second lesson and apply a forward movement to it.
The speed it moves forward with is decaying, again, exponentially, until it stops bouncing, then this exponential curve is steepened (but stays exponentially)
The most taxing exercise here is getting the ball to roll forward on the ground without seeming to slide. There are scripts and expressions to do this automatically, but these have the downside that they are in most cases more hindering than helping. I wrote the following instructions someplace else, and am just going to repeat it here:

While working in studios for a number of years now, I only very seldom saw any animator utilizing a script (or even just an expression) to harness the rotation of such a ball to the forward movement. The reason for that is that as soon as you apply this script/expression (usually does pretty much the same) the rotation is bound to the forward motion, even if you don't want it to later on in the shot, or it need to roll sideways, etc...

Here is what I strongly recommend you do when animating this:
1) Find the amount of way it travels on the ground (use the measure tool or something similar)
2) Find the circumference of the ball, its just simple maths: take the diameter of the ball (use the measure tool or something similar, again) and multiply it with Pi (that's roughly 3.14)
3) Divide the way it travels by the balls circumference and multiply this with 360, and you have the amount the ball is rotating forward when traveling over the ground.
4) now comes the magic, if you make the forward movement and the rotation curve look similar, the balls rotation and the movement are bound to sync. Of course, these two curves are usually by a factor of something around 10 - 100 differently sized, but I'm just talking about the shape of the curve.
Here is an example:
Look at my entry on one of the mini challenges here:
http://www.11secondclub.com/forum/viewt … 20#p106120
and here is a comparison of the translation to the rotation graphs of the ball:
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10299684/bounce_vs_roll.jpg


That's a wall of text, isn't it? Let me know if that was too much maths smile


Pointers:

-the forward movement is reduced much faster when the ball is rolling on the ground than when it is still bouncing


Repeat this exercise until you really nail it, and then probably repeat it some more.


Here is an example how this exercise should look like, from Stefans original thread:
(remember that there is no use in copying another animator's example in these cases)

Direct Link

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#7 09-10-2012 5:15 pm

wolfor
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

Next up is the classical pendulum exercise. The pendulum is swinging, and eventually coming to a stop.
To create a pendulum, you can of course download a rig from the internet, but you can also just 'create' one by making a simple joint chain consisting of two joints.
Although this exercise seem rather easy, if you want to make this look really good, you will find that animating a pendulum is the maleficent under the beginner exercises.
I tried to nail this exercise and have been sitting on it for a whole afternoon, while trying to research the movements to it.

Let me explain further. A pendulum can be simplified insofar that the frequency of the swings stay the same, regardless of the amplitude of the swing. Meaning, the swing of the pendulum will always take the same amount of time, regardless of how far the swing is. Sounds incredulous? Take a close look at your grandfathers clock, then. This is also the reason for the frequent usage of pendulum for measuring time.

To animate this simplified pendulum, the rotation value of it just follows a sine curve with, as you might have guessed already, an exponential decay.
http://physics.mercer.edu/hpage/Low-Q.gif

That way you'd have quite a nice pendulum. But, as this is only simplified, of course making this look awesome is a pain in the butt smile
Because, especially if you have the pendulum swing out further, the time it takes for it actually get longer, but in an odd way. Furthermore, the swing of the pendulum changes its characteristic, the time it takes longer on each swing is not in the swing itself, but on the part it changes direction.
look at this:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a2/Pendulum_30deg.gif
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/80/Pendulum_60deg.gif
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/55/Pendulum_170deg.gif
See the difference? Does this make sense? So, here lies the difficulty in nailing this exercise. I'm still trying to find the regularity in this behavior, but as of now, I couldn't find any. (any pointers welcome smile) Alas, you have to do this by shear eyesight alone (best way to learn something, in this case, anyways big_smile). Have fun with it!


Some Pointers:


-A pendulum only decelerates because if the air resistance this means it will swing for a long time, so if you have the pendulum swing for 10 seconds until it stops, you cant have it start swinging out for 150° without it seeming to be held by an invisible force.

-Again, a pendulum swing takes more or less the same amount of time, regardless of the amplitude


Repeat this exercise until you really nail it, and then probably repeat it some more.


Here is an example how this exercise could look like, from Stefans original thread:
(remember that there is no use in copying another animator's example in these cases)

Direct Link

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#8 09-10-2012 5:16 pm

wolfor
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

Next up is the so-called wave principle, an exercise in oscillating a flexible object (opposed to the rigid pendulum).
This can of course be any flexible object, like a whip, a horsetail, seaweed, a chain or even something as simple as a rubber pencil.
If you don't have a rig of anything fitting, you can also just create something by making a joint chain of something above three joints. The more you have the smoother it looks, but if you're using 100 of them, this exercise might take a while big_smile

First, I'll post a picture by the great Preston Blair (to be found in this great book), who so very descriptive explained this without using 1000 words:
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-oyf28OiXtZU/TfCwtraCVYI/AAAAAAAAA-Y/LVOMgnQxRxw/s1600/Screen%2Bshot%2B2011-06-09%2Bat%2B12.40.38.png

The physics behind it are more or less the fundamental law of inertia applied to a succession of pendulums.

The law of inertia states that every body with a mass wants to stay in the state it momentarily inhabits. To change this state, you have to apply force. The more energetic the state is (e.g. more weight, more friction, more speed...), the more force you will need to change that state, naturally.

For example, if you want to move your car which is standing in its relative idle state in your driveway, you need to apply force. If you pushed it, you took it out of its idle state into a moving state, and you will need force again to make it stop again. If the car is only at a walking pace, you might be able to do that by your strength alone, but if this car moving at 60 mph, it is in a much higher energetic state and you might want to use something more than just your bodily strength to stop it, or this might hurt a lot smile

Why am I telling you this? Because this is making the object behave like shown in the upper picture.
Take a look at my wonderful drawing:
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10299684/mini_challenges/wave_principle.jpg
Here you can see that each part of this tail is moving independently, and would keep on moving in the direction it is already moving if it wasn't dragged back by the portion of the tail which has been moved back already because it has itself been already dragged back by the force that is wagging this tail.


Pointers:

-this movement is non-reversible, meaning you have to complete whole back-and-forth cycle before cycling the animation.


-You can treat this like a succession of pendulums hanging on each other, which of course means that most of what applies to pendulums also applies to the wave principle


Repeat this exercise until you really nail it, and then probably repeat it some more.


Here is an example how this exercise could look like, from Stefans original thread:
(remember that there is no use in copying another animator's example in these cases)

Direct Link

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#9 09-10-2012 5:17 pm

wolfor
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

Here comes the last beginners exercise, a bouncing ball within an obstacle course, best including a pendulum as well. (and maybe a rubber pencil? why not? big_smile)
The goal of this exercise is to apply and combine what you learned already. An obstacle course can be made pretty easily, but I guess there are tons of obstacle courses to download from the internet. I made one, too smile
So, why not have some sort of pendulum push a ball from a ledge and then have it complete a nice obstacle course with bounces, accelerations, deceleration, light balls, heavy balls and whatnot.
Here comes the first real opportunity to apply some ingenuity and imagination to your animation.


Here are some last pointers that you should take care of:


-while in the air, there is nothing that can make the ball move forward faster or slower or change direction (except maybe some wind smile), so keep this movement constant. By this, I am not referring to the speed changes in the up/down movement caused by gravity.


-to have a ball travel around a tube, a simple way to do this is to place a locator in the exact center of that tube and constrain the ball's translation to it's rotation. For further knowledge on constraining, check Camaro's series on parenting.

I highly suggest you repeat this exercise as well, to get a hang of it all, and the pure fun of it!
Take a look at this example I made, it took about one afternoon, and I think I put in a bit of everything, maybe except different types of balls.

Direct Link


Please don't take this uninspired and oversnappy piece as reference, or try to rebuild it. Try to think of something of your own, and, most important, HAVE FUN!

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#10 09-10-2012 6:20 pm

Kreator
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

Dang, cool stuff Wolfi, keep going smile

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#11 09-10-2012 7:29 pm

AGoodFella
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Posts: 891

Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

Some good stuff, especially about the rotation of a ball.

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#12 09-11-2012 7:21 am

Zino.G
From: ALG
Registered: 08-24-2012
Posts: 18

Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

awesome stuff wolfor, thank you smile

one question, as beginners should we learn/worried about the concept extremes/keys/breakdowns/inbetweens in every animation we do, or should we left that later and try to make the animation believable for now.

Last edited by Zino.G (09-11-2012 8:46 am)

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#13 09-11-2012 9:46 am

wolfor
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

Hi!
Thanks for the kind words, guys! I'm doing my best smile
Zino, the concept of keys/extremes/breakdowns is fundamental and can be applied to every animation, even a bouncing ball. So yes, learn about this concept in every animation you do.

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#14 09-11-2012 1:35 pm

StefanLipsius
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

darn. Great write ups, Wolfor. Thanks for doing that! Definitely explained that much better than I had.

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#15 09-11-2012 1:43 pm

Zino.G
From: ALG
Registered: 08-24-2012
Posts: 18

Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

thanks, i am reading the animator's survival kit along the 11secondclub blog tutorials and this thread, they are awesome,and they cover a lot of materials,it will take me sometime to master.

i can't wait for the explanation of the rest of exercises...hurry up smile

Last edited by Zino.G (09-11-2012 2:21 pm)

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#16 09-11-2012 5:01 pm

jennifer98
Registered: 05-15-2011
Posts: 117

Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

hi stefan...

i posted this in Personal Work and Demo Reels..but i guess it will get lost there..so..posting it here... smile

y translate

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/74481708/y%20translate.jpg

hey..when you say the x translate needs to be more smooth..are you saying that the end should more slow??? i guess i will read through wolfor's post and not start with ball bounce with obstacle now ...
bdw nice stuff wolfor... smile

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#17 09-14-2012 3:48 pm

wolfor
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

Just to bump this thread, I think I more or less completed the exercise's explanations now.
I hope I didn't get too technical, so any feedback on this might be beneficial. Also on where i should add some pictures or links to tutorials, stuff like that smile

Is there any interest in me adding an intermediate beginners version of this thread as well?

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#18 09-14-2012 7:24 pm

TheAnimatroid
Registered: 10-01-2011
Posts: 171

Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

Wow, wolfor! This is really cool stuff, thank you for sharing all this information! I haven't read everything yet, but I learned a lot of new stuff especially on the technical side even though I'm already done with the beginner exercises.

And it would be fantastic if you do the same stuff for intermediate exercises as well, also with scientific and technical explanations.

Keep going! big_smile

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#19 09-14-2012 10:16 pm

wolfor
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

Thanks for encouraging me, I really hope I'm not leaning out the window too far with my physical half-knowledge. My dad would probably tell my that this is all complete nonsense big_smile (He's a physicist) So I'm not gonna show this to him, haha.
I'll see if I can gather some more advanced exercises based on these basics and pack them into some sort of training curriculum. Might take a while, though smile

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#20 09-15-2012 10:22 am

Zino.G
From: ALG
Registered: 08-24-2012
Posts: 18

Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

thank you wolfor for your awesome work, i think it is a bit technical for a beginner like me but nonetheless it is informative.
and yes do more intermediate exercises if u can smile
one request though, if u could cover on how to plan animation and what to use from video reference and not,
because i am struggling with that, i understood the  theories and concepts (what is a key...etc) but in practice i mess it up.
Cheers.

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#21 09-15-2012 10:52 am

wolfor
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

Zino.G wrote:

...
one request though, if u could cover on how to plan animation and what to use from video reference and not,
because i am struggling with that, i understood the  theories and concepts (what is a key...etc) but in practice i mess it up.
Cheers.

I'm not sure what you mean by that, for the use of video references Kelly Perez just now made a video tutorial on that, and I'm sure that is a great resource.
But as a beginner, I think you should rather think about the basics first.
Or, are you unsure on how to actually just start an animation scene? Did you mean that by how to plan an animation? Just to get you right smile

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#22 09-15-2012 11:12 am

Zino.G
From: ALG
Registered: 08-24-2012
Posts: 18

Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

what i meant is planning for animation in any level beginner or not.
and as beginner should we use video reference even for our simple exercises.
hope this clarify my idea smile

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#23 09-15-2012 11:46 am

wolfor
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

AH, now i see. I'll see what I can do, did you watch Jason Ryans free ramp-up-tutorials? They're a very good resource to begin with.
Also, regard this very awesome compilation of tutorials:
http://monstroanimation.blogspot.de/p/a … abase.html
Have a look at them, and if there still is something you don't know, and can't find anywhere else, I'll try to do my best in helping you out. But keep in mind that there are numerous ways in planning an animation scene, and I guess nearly everyone will tell you something differently.

For the basic exercises I described above, you don't need much video reference else for watching how a pendulum is actually moving, or how a ball is actually bouncing. Be careful when watching slow-motion videos, while being pretty interesting, they usually ruin your perception of how fast the action really is.

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#24 09-15-2012 12:06 pm

PivotGeek
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Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

awesome work wolfor .. tnx for that monstroanimation blog link big_smile


acting is a survival Mechanism-- Marlno Brando
My blog/Website

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#25 09-15-2012 12:17 pm

Zino.G
From: ALG
Registered: 08-24-2012
Posts: 18

Re: Beginner Exercises with examples, and explanations for you to follow!

wow, thank you for the quick reply and for those awesome stuff smile
those should keep me busy for a while.

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