06 September 2011


What Kind of Workflow Do You Use?

"Step 1 - Research:
- Talking through the shot with the director or supervisor
- Checking out the storyboards
- Checking out the surrounding shots for continuity
- Researching any available information about character personality
- Gathering model sheets or other character resources

Step 2 - Planning:
- Shooting video reference, trying various takes and editing the best together
- Gathering online video or photo reference
- Studying reference
- Sketching rough thumbnail drawings of major poses to find the best silhouette

Step 3 - Blocking (on the computer):
- Blocking major storytelling/acting/action/key poses, most often in
stepped curves mode, and most often keying the entire character
- Blocking in extremes and changes in direction
- Blocking in important facial expressions
- Blocking in important hand poses
- Pushing poses around in time to find the right rhythm for the shot

Step 4 - Breakdowns:
- Putting in breakdown poses between major key poses, often still in stepped
- Defining rough arcs, overlap and spacing
- Repeating for the face and hands
- At this point I'm usually trying to put every major idea into a pose
- At this point if it's a dialogue shot, I will go through a similar
process on the mouth and face that I went through with the body

Step 5 - Spline
- Hitting that dreaded button to convert to spline curves (or clamped,
or linear, or auto-tangent, whatever you prefer to use)
- Usually making some slight adjustments to overall pose timing
- Shaping and cleaning curves to more accurately define spacing

Step 6 - Polishing
- Focusing on details
- Finessing contact points, often frame by frame
- Offsetting keys as necessary to refine overlap
- Layering in minor secondary action, like breathing or eye darts
- Doing anything required to make the shot as clear and refined as
the deadline will allow

Step 7 - Watching the shot get pried from your fingers and forcibly taken away
- It's rare to feel like a shot is as finished as I'd like it to be
Often deadlines come quicker than we obsessive animators would like

One final thought to keep in mind: this workflow is rarely linear."

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