#1 12-08-2008 12:00 am

eric s
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New Helpful Hint: Breaking Out

It's been a few months since there has been a new Helpful Hint here at the 11 Second Club.   But now we're back with a brand new one, and I wanted to make sure that this one was worth the wait.

Our first Helpful Hint focused on some technical issues folks might have run across when trying to encode their entries for each month's competition.

The second Helpful Hint was directed towards how to make your work more presentable in the Works In Progress section of our forums.

This time around, I wanted to offer something more directly related to animation.  So we'll be looking at some basic thoughts about staging your character in order to set the stage for a natural and compelling performance.   Where you place your character can make the difference between Dullsville and Amazingburg, even if the performance is exactly the same--and we'll be looking at how that works.   

Ready?   Here we go!

Helpful Hints: Breaking Out


(note: all 11 Second Club Helpful Hints are available from the Resources page)


The world is full of diamonds; go out and find them.

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#2 12-08-2008 2:42 am

DharAM
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Re: New Helpful Hint: Breaking Out

Another excellent presentation, Eric. Thanks.


"Technology doesn't make the motion picture, people do. You're not an animator just because you can move an object from point A to point B. (You're) someone who breathes life into a character, which is something the software and technology can't give you."

- John Lasseter

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#3 12-08-2008 3:46 am

Monkey Boy
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Re: New Helpful Hint: Breaking Out

i agree once again you have created another excellent helpful hint, i would love to use this on the peace im working on for University but i don't know if the acting will work if i did.

could you suggest anything for it, i have been hold by the lecturer that during the animation the camera can not move, so the staging has to be right from the start to finish.

Direct Link



any help would be great, i hope that you can get back to me before Wednesday as thats the day of hand in and im already stressing out about the work as it is, i just don't feel that its good enough to pass at the moment.

thanks in advance guys and girls

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#4 12-08-2008 4:55 am

eric s
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Re: New Helpful Hint: Breaking Out

Thanks for the compliments, Dhar and MonkeyBoy.   I'm glad the article is useful--it was a lot of fun to put together.

MonkeyBoy: I'm sorry to hear you're stressing about your animation assignment.   I think that you've got a decent start on it right now, and I agree with your professor that there's no need for a camera move.   But I do see that there could be some more interesting staging than what you currently have.

I'd recommend asking yourself "Who is my character speaking to?"   Now, admittedly, you've got a bit of a difficult audio piece to animate to right now.  Choosing a good audio clip for animation is not as easy as it looks.   (believe me, I've seen how many clips Aja sorts through every month to come up with a good one!)   If I remember correctly, this piece of audio is from a mostly voice-over track, which is usually directed an audience instead of another character--right away this makes it difficult to inject actual performance into the track.

But I like where you're going with it, having a mental patient who is clearly NOT a chihuahua say the lines, which adds to the joke.   So, once again, you have to ask yourself "Who is my character speaking to?"   Is it another mental patient in the cell with him?   Is it a psychiatrist sitting in a chair?  Is there a glass wall with people behind it?   Once you know who your character is talking to, and where that person is located, you can start to think about where to place the camera.   Maybe the camera should be a little higher, looking down at this guy--maybe it should be lower.

Even with the staging you have at the moment, you have an opportunity to address someone off-screen.   Imagine taking your character's head in that last pose and rotating it, along with his eyeline, so that he's looking to screen-left, as if there's a person sitting there.   Imagine him doing that "rawwrrr" gesture towards that screen-left person, instead of towards the camera.   Can you visualize that?   Seeing it in your mind is the first step.  Try to thumbnail some different variations of that last pose with the character looking past the camera in different directions.

I know that you're under a tight deadline, but believe me, once you try some sketches (instead of trying to do it in 3d), you'll be a lot clearer about where you're going and a lot more likely to feel solid and secure about your piece.

Good luck!   smile


The world is full of diamonds; go out and find them.

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#5 12-08-2008 8:24 am

ydiaz
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Registered: 06-24-2007
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Re: New Helpful Hint: Breaking Out

Great tip, Eric. Indeed one of the most common pitfalls on all the entries, together with moving the camera in 3D space for every beat of the audio, I guess that's subject for another tip. Can't wait for that one big_smile

Keep it up!

-Y

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#6 12-08-2008 5:31 pm

Monkey Boy
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From: Middlesbrough
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Re: New Helpful Hint: Breaking Out

thanks for the advice Eric, i did this re-staging before i read your reply so i'll be taking on what you just said in my next update but let me know what you think.

and once again thank you.

Direct Link

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#7 12-08-2008 9:38 pm

eric s
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Re: New Helpful Hint: Breaking Out

Hey Monkeyboy,

I'm glad that the advice was helpful.   If you intend to tweak things after readin what I said, then I'll wait until I see the new version to comment on it.   I look forward to seeing what you come up with.   smile


The world is full of diamonds; go out and find them.

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#8 12-11-2008 12:40 am

Monkey Boy
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From: Middlesbrough
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Re: New Helpful Hint: Breaking Out

hey Eric well hand-in was today, sorry i didn't get back with a upload sooner but i really didn't have time but you can read al about it here http://www.11secondclub.com/forum/viewt … 986#p24986 in my other posts

but here is the video of my final animation render

Direct Link



but as i said i talk a lot more about the animation and the issues and stuff of that nature in the other post.

anyway let me know what you think, i went for the character talking to a doctor that is standing in front of him thats why he's looking up almost past the camera.

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#9 12-11-2008 9:02 pm

eric s
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Re: New Helpful Hint: Breaking Out

Hey MonkeyBoy,

I think that you have made a good decision in where you placed the doctor.   Especially in that last frame, I totally get the idea that your character is specifically talking to someone.   Nice job!

As for the animation itself, I think your general ideas are solid.   There's a lot of room for improvement, to be sure, but one of the things I like about you is that you're clearly enthusiastic about learning and experimenting and taking advice.   I think that's a really strong attitude to have.   It lets me know that you're well on your way to developing into a really good student and animator.  (all animators are students, of course, whether you've been doing it for 6 months or 45 years)

The thing I'd advice you to work on with your pieces is to get your character into a pose and hold that pose.   Right now your character has a lot of "floatiness"--which is to say that the arms and head kind of drift around aimlessly.   Work on hitting a pose and then keeping your character in that pose--it's not the easiest thing to do, but if you can strike that balance between "held still" and "not totally dead" you'll be amazed at how much stronger your animation will become. 

Good luck!


The world is full of diamonds; go out and find them.

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#10 12-11-2008 9:43 pm

theultimatecoin
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Re: New Helpful Hint: Breaking Out

wow how could i miss this?

i just found this post. Thanks for the tip Eric! I realized in my animation works too I have the plain old boring symetrical staging. I'm still kinda scared to change out of it because it served me well haha. it was easy to animate to, and easy to place.

but i'm going to challenge myself now with my next animation to get the composition better. because it does make a huge difference. i just couldn't see it till now.

thanks for the inspiration and help! if i haven't read this i'll be doing it all wrong haha

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#11 12-13-2008 1:37 pm

Monkey Boy
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From: Middlesbrough
Registered: 04-19-2008
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Re: New Helpful Hint: Breaking Out

hey Eric thank you so much for the kind words it mean a lot to me, i love getting comments like that cos its such a confidence boost for me, and trust me when i say i need them non and then, especially when i look at other work on the net or from students in my course.

thank you again, im going to try and get myself a DV Cam so i can record myself for reference its just that there way to expensive, at the moment im using my webcam but its not the best to use as it runs at 30fps and the animation i do need to be at 25 so when i lay the animation over in XSI to work from it, and also sometimes it just plays back REALLY fast so i find it really hard.

i know what you mean about holding the pose without it looking dead its just really hard as you say, but im hoping that just all comes with practice, im going to keep at character animation till the day i die, nothing will stop me and nothing will stop me from striving to be the best animator i can be.

thank you again Eric, i know i have said it a lot already but it means a lot to me.

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#12 12-15-2008 6:53 am

eric s
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From: Portland, OR
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Re: New Helpful Hint: Breaking Out

theultimatecoin wrote:

but i'm going to challenge myself now with my next animation to get the composition better. because it does make a huge difference. i just couldn't see it till now.

I couldn't agree with you more.   Composition can make such a huge different in your shot.  I've found that composition can influence my acting choices greatly, and the better the composition the more compelling the acting will be.  Seriously, there's no shame in copying camera placements from movies you enjoy.   If you see a shot you like, try to use a similar camera angle and see what kind of performance you can create within that frame.   smile   It can be a really fun challenge!


Monkey Boy wrote:

thank you again, im going to try and get myself a DV Cam so i can record myself for reference its just that there way to expensive, at the moment im using my webcam but its not the best to use as it runs at 30fps and the animation i do need to be at 25 so when i lay the animation over in XSI to work from it, and also sometimes it just plays back REALLY fast so i find it really hard.

I believe there's already a topic about this in the Chit Chat forum, but I'll add my two cents here.   No matter what frame rate your video camera records and plays back at, the purpose of video reference is not to get exact timing of your motions.   You don't want a 1-to-1 ratio of live action-to-animation.   That's just rotoscoping, and often boring. 

The best use of video reference (in my opinion) is when you use it to try out many many many many different acting ideas and pull poses from it.   You can carefully scrub through and find little gems that you never would have thought of just sitting at your desk.   But don't try to duplicate the timing--that's where you'll want to put your animator's cap on and really play around with how things get from one place to another.   smile

As for affordable video cameras, I couldn't recommend anything more than the Flip Video Camera.   I got one a few months ago, and it's absolutely perfect for animation reference, or any other purpose you have for video--family gatherings, vacations, whatever.    For under $150, you get 60 minutes of full-res (640x480) video, recorded straight to .avi and easily transferred to your computer through the built-in usb port.   There's even a tripod mount on the bottom!   Seriously, if you're looking to do any video reference at all, this is the tool to have.   smile


The world is full of diamonds; go out and find them.

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#13 12-19-2008 1:58 pm

franko
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From: Australia
Registered: 12-04-2007
Posts: 1028
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Re: New Helpful Hint: Breaking Out

Hey nice work Eric. Have you ever been, or are you an animation teacher at an animation school? I reckon you'd be pretty good!

I've linked up the helpful hint to: http://arcreferencepage.blogspot.com/se … _Reference The Animation Resource Centre that beams out of Brisbane, Australia.

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#14 12-21-2008 12:53 am

eric s
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Posts: 353
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Re: New Helpful Hint: Breaking Out

Thanks, Franko!   I am flattered by how much you keep plugging my work.   smile  You have a great site and I've definitely learned a lot from following your resources and critiques of your own students!


The world is full of diamonds; go out and find them.

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