14 September 2011

Pixar Class Week 2

  • Not showing anticipation-----feel like some other force applied to
  • accelerate until foot leaves
  • after contact frame-----spacing is getting more small
  • need show very obvious contact frame!!
  • it is difficult to stay at the same place when the torso moves so much spaces-----step forward
  • contact frame is STRAIGHT
  • at least 3 frames are required to let audience see what it going on the screen
  • heavy ball takes a lot more frames to stop-----root is the heaviest part of the body(ball)
  • every frame should be able to tell a story-----posing is very important
Polish Checklist
  1. Show People
  2. Pose++
  3. (Drag) Loosen Body
  4. PBJ-----Physics Believable Jiggly
  5. Intersection
  6. Arcs&Spacing-----trace root, nose, wrists, elbows, feet and knees
  7. Show People!!
  • Trace nose-----can see what causes weird movement going on the torso
  • Jiggling-----(ex, 4frames-6frames-8frames start move around with 4 frames)
  • SEE contact poses!! not only feet but hands, contact pose is straight!
  • Neck-----massage overall shape of the torso

09 September 2011

Plan Plan Plan out!!

I used not to take so much time on planning before...just only because I could not stop myself from "I WANNA ANIMATE!! LET ME USE COMPUTER!! YEAH!!" feeling. but this time, I spent SO MUCH time on planning. I did everything that I had learned as planning like, thumbnail, video reference from the internet and shooting a reference by myself. I spent almost whole 2 days without actually animating (oh wait, planning is actually the most important part of animation...). and turned out my blocking is much better than I usually have at that point. I planned out until

I know how he acts throughout the shot. I know every key pose. I know how the timing should look like.

so what I gotta do rest at that point is just to execute what I have planned. Another my personal tip from this experimental blocking is that

I can chunk them into some big pieces so that I can go into the shot more carefully and specifically.

07 September 2011

Pixar Class Week 1

A brief summary of my first pixar class, oh, it seems like there are a lot of great animators are there :D
  • Rhythm, Timing, Beat
  • Rhythm-----pattern, texturing, timing
  • Learning drawing is vital!
  • Anticipation------every movement in animation should have
  • Arc-----every single thing in body should have
  • No overshoot, no energy
  • exaggerate first and then pull it back until it's fit with animation(Don't be afraid of exaggerating too much)
  • focus on PRINCIPLES-----staging, posing, anticipation (mainly missed)
  • Rhythm, Timing, Spacing-----nail them down FIRST
  • They never seen good timing and spacing for Jump assignment
  • contact frame-----right before and after the energy applies, foot touches the ground, stretch legs
  • look for contact poses-----key
  • video reference-----cool motion, we could get the acting that people can't think of consciously
  • video-reference-----push things more, search what makes animation unique
  • show 5 times before dailies
  • be careful the gap between keys-----graph editor
  • Smooth out until the keys faded out-----I don't know which frame is the keys, ease-in and ease-out

AnimSchool -- Selections From Animation Principles Lecture

Looks Awesome :D

06 September 2011

Animation Curve

How Do You Deal With the Animation Curves for a Character?

While working in the Pose to Pose Method
In step mode key every control on full poses- By keying every control for a pose you will be locking all of the elements of the character into position and keeping your curves clean. You will most likely not be utilizing every control, but you want to make sure that you are holding it's value. If you don't key it in and that control is used in a pose further down the timeline, eventually that value will drift over a series of frames causing floaty movement. Sometimes I do not include the facial controls when keying the full character.

Work clean- Keep track of what controls you are using to form a pose and try to stick to the same ones for your next one. By keying the same controls you will avoid animation curves that counter each-other.

Use tight break downs- Well what do tight breakdowns have to do with using curves? If you use breakdowns to fill in the gaps of your animation you will be relying less on the computer in-betweens. That way you will be saving your use of curves for what they are best at...refining.

When my keyframes are all set and I start breaking down my shot. I like to insert full breakdown poses on every controller on at most every 4 frames. When I set the break downs I am focusing on my transitions. Will this breakdown pose favor the previous pose and act as an ease out or will it favor the following pose and act as a fast out? Should I add a breakdown after my key that overshoots the pose? I keep these things in mind so that I use the posing of the character to dictate how the animation curves will be shaped.

Switching over- Once you have full poses on every control of the character on every 3-4 frames than you are safe to switch into a spline curve type. I like to use a spline type that will show a nice preview of my animation without having to clean up any tangent handles. I do this by using plateau tangents or spline with the auto-tangent script.

Hold off on offsetting- Once I switch over I will hold off on offsetting keyframes until I have taken a pass to tighten up the timing and posing. This is the first time I am seeing the animation on ones so there may be some tightening up to do. I will push full poses around on the timeline to adjust the timing and adjust the placement of certain body parts so that I can work some built in overlap into the poses. By working this way I am able to get my animation pretty far along before digging into individual curves.

Tie down your curves. -Usually, the first time i adjust animation curves on a pose to pose shot is the tie down. In this pass I will go through and edit the curves on the main body parts. (Usually the root spine and head, sometimes limbs) When I go through to clean up the curves I am looking for places where the curve is obviously not flowing like it is supposed to. For example maybe there is a curve that makes a hard transition that ends at two equal keys that form a flat. If I am not looking for a hard stop in my animation I will adjust that first keyframe that makes up the flat to ease out of the transition.

Cancel out counter animation- The tie down pass enables you to clean up your curves but it also serves as a pass to help you get familiar with what is going on under the hood and which controls are doing the heavy lifting. You should keep an eye out for counter animation during this pass. Counter animation happens during a transition where the value of one control cancels out the value of another. This tends to happen frequently on the rotate Y axis for Stewie and Bishop. If you see places where one control counters another see if you can remove the animation from one of the controls and add it to the other or redistribute the movement equally between the two controls.

Timing and Spacing

Animation Mentor Webinar "Timing and Spacing"



overshoot relates to the heaviness of the body part

ex) woody's head is heavier than his body so his head is doing overshoot little bit

timing and spacing is really important to show the weight of the character

timing ans spacing is making a completely different feeling

Check list

Can You Tell Us About Your Animation Checklist?

Checklist of Questions at the Launch:

1) What is the context? What happened directly before and what is going to happen directly after the shot?

2) What are the main story points that need to come through in the shot?

3) Is there a particular emotion that we should be feeling as audience members watching this shot?

4) How much room is there to work the idea? Some shots need to stick pretty close to the boards, while others leave a lot of space for the animator to work with. It's our responsibility to know what type of situation we are dealing with.

If I know the answer to all of these questions, than I am ready to start planning my shot.

Checklist for Planning my Shot:

I use different methods for planning out an acting shot versus a physical shot. For a physical shot, I will try to find some good reference of the movement and then jump right into thumbnailing.

For acting shots, I like to spend some time analyzing the line. My checklist is as follows:

1) Go for my gut instinct. I like to get my initial instinct out on paper and possibly on the camera. I may come back to this, but I may not. Sometimes it helps to get my idea out there so that I can clear it out of the way to make room for better ideas.

2) Analyze the dialog. There are a few things that I look for in the dialog when I am planning my acting:

Dynamics: Find the places where the line has inflections. These are great places to hang acting ideas.

Phrasing: I try to assign specific verbs to go along with parts of the line. If I can assign a verb to describe what the character is doing or thinking, it is easier for me to create a pose that communicates properly.

Meaning/Subtext: Many times, characters say something that implies something more meaningful. Digging out the true meaning of the line can lead to some really fresh acting choices.

3) Research:

Character Reference: I always try to think about the character. How would they react to this situation? If this character has been animated already, how did other animators handle this type of acting?

Film reference: See if this type of situation has been handled in other films. Sometimes this will help to inspire acting ideas in a different direction.

4) Video Reference. Now that I have analyzed the scene some more, I shoot some reference. I leave the camera running until I feel comfortable. I switch it up between acting and doing. When I am "acting" I am trying to feel the line out and see what comes naturally. When I am "doing" I have a specific idea in mind that I try to imitate with my body.

Get other animators involved in the reference. I find that if can get direct feedback as I am acting, it can help the ideas develop faster. I take turns acting and directing.

Analyze the reference, find the truths. Sometimes it helps to cut together a super take with what you feel are the best choices for each part of the shot.

Make your choices. At this point I usually pick one or two ideas that I like best for each beat and start to prep those ideas for blocking

5) Apply the Principles. I look for places to add physicality, reversals, lead and follow. I make sure to exaggerate the ideas in my reference and push the things that the reference is hinting at.

6) Thumbnail. Depending on the shot, I thumbnail instead of shooting reference. On certain shots, I thumbnail after doing the reference to make sure that I am pushing the poses and the physicality.


At this point, I have a pretty good idea of what I am going to work into the shot. It's time to start blocking. For most shots, I work in stepped mode for my blocking. This enables me to do detailed poses that communicate clearly without having to worry about the in-betweens.

1) Block in my keys.
These will be the main storytelling poses in my shot. I don't have any limit to how many keys I set on my first pass of blocking, but they tend to be pretty sparse. Sometimes I will leave as many as 10-12 frames between poses. I will block in a full pose including rough ideas for the hands and face.

2) Test it and time it.
I playback my pass of keys and move them around on the timeline until the beats feel like they are in the right places.

3) Break it down.
I add my breakdowns as a part of my blocking pass. I tend to break a shot down until I have a key on about every 3-4 frames. When I add my breakdowns, I think about which key that breakdown should favor. At times I even favor different body parts to different keys. I am also thinking about my paths of action.

Once I have a pass of blocking, I will ask some questions again:

1) Is it clear? Will someone get the idea of what I am going for without any explanation?

2) Did I push the posing and timing enough?

3) Do I like the idea? I try to be the first judge of my work before I get the supervisor and directors involved. Chances are, if I don't feel good about it, then they won't either.

Get Feedback

After I am happy with my blocking, I usually take one or more of these steps before moving into a first pass.

1) Show my peers. I will send out my work to other animators working on the film to get their opinions and check to see if the idea is reading clearly.

2) Show the animation supervisor. I always show my blocking to the animation supervisor to get feedback before showing the directors.

3) Show the director(s). Once I incorporate any blocking notes from the animation supervisor, I put my work up in front of the directors.

I present my idea through my blocking and see if it is in line with their objectives for the shot.

First Pass

If I get a buy-off on my blocking, or even if I receive some minor adjustments, I take my animation into a first pass.

During the first pass my checklist is as follows:

1) Switch my curves over to a version of spline and preview the animation.

2) Push full poses around to work out the timing.

3) Adjust full poses to work in some more overlap and try to solidify the mechanics as much as possible.

4) Tie down the curves. At this point I take a look under the hood and see how the curves are looking. I clean up the flow of the curves and any obvious hitches to ease the process of cleaning up the animation.

5) Keep my keys organized. At this point, I am still trying to keep my keys clean and aligned on full frames. Since the directors have only seen the shot once there is still a chance that I may get some feedback that will require me to rework parts of the animation. If I keep the shot clean, I can easily make those adjustments.

4) Face pass. I take a pass on the face at this point. I add the phonemes for my lip sync and start thinking about how the expressions will translate from one to the next.

Get More Feedback

Once again, when I have taken a first pass across my shot, I show it to the animation supervisor. Once I get the go ahead, I move the shot into polishing.

Checklist for polishing my shot:

So now that I have buy-off on the idea, I can feel comfortable taking my shot past the point of no return. I will use a series of different animation techniques, including layering and some straight ahead, to get the physicality working in my shot.

During the polishing phase I start to work heavily with curves. To make things more focused I crop my animation timeline and focus on 50-100 frames of work.

I use tons of checklists when polishing a shot. The all-encompassing checklist is as follows:

1) Find the driving force in the shot. In most cases, it is the center of gravity at the root of the character. I make sure to get the root movement working well because everything else depends on it.

2) Work from the root up and the head down. Once the root is working properly, I work my way up the torso into the chest, shoulders, neck, and then the head. I make sure that any movement on the root follows through these joints. If there are certain accents and inflections I want to hit with the head, I will animate those directly on the head, and make sure that movements are either led or followed by the rest of the torso.

3) The limbs. When I have the torso of the characters working correctly, I focus on the limbs. Sometimes the adjustments that I make to the torso can disrupt the original animation on the arms and legs. At this point, I feel comfortable blowing that old animation away and approaching the limbs straight ahead.

4) Additional Layering. At this point I should have the majority of the movement working properly. I go back through and do some additional layering to make the movement feel organic. I do this by comparing curves and offsetting. For human characters I like to take a layering pass on the shoulders and hips. For non-human characters this is where I consider overlapping on tails and wings etc.

5) Facial animation. I take a pass and really focus just on the face. I get into the eyes to make sure that the eyelines are correct. I like to get very specific about the eye movements by using linear curves and editing my darts down to the frame. Once the darts are working, I add lid movement to support them. I plus the shapes in the lip sync and make sure that the rest of the face is supporting the lip sync movement. I tend to treat the face as a unit. When the mouth opens and closes with the sync, I make sure that the cheeks, lids and brows are all affected. When I focus on the lip sync and facial movement, I also include the head in this equation. I add more texture to the movement of the head to fully support the beats in the sync.

6) Details. At this point, I should have the majority of my animation working, but I still make sure to take another pass for the things that take a little more love, such as areas of contact or IK switching. Sometimes I frame through my broad movements and see if I can add some scaling to enhance the way things transition.

That was the big list. Now I start to use some smaller lists.

I play my animation back and list out the things that still need more attention. There are usually a couple of things that are screaming pretty loud, so I hit those first. I continue to watch the animation, make a list of things to fix, fix them, and then repeat the process.

Pushing for final

Now that I have taken all of my passes on the animation, it's time to show for final. Once again, I hit a checklist to make sure that I have covered all of the bases:

1) Is there anything that stands out as unbelievable or possibly distracting from the point of the shot?

2) Does it still have all of the ideas from the approved blocking?

3) Is the physicality pushed far enough?

4) Is there enough texture in the movement?

5) Am I happy with it?

Now it’s time to show for final. I run it by the animation supervisor and then put it in front of the directors.

Ship it

Alright, I got the final call in dailies. Nice. There is just one more list I need to run through, and then this shot is headed down the pipeline.

1) Run and check all the simulations. If the character has hair or a tail or if I am using any type of simulation, I want to make sure that it has been run with the latest animation and is looking good.

2) Check the render. I run a full resolution render of my shot on the render farm to make sure that everything looks right. Sometimes environmental elements load differently in the animation software than they do on the render farm.

3) Save and check in all of the files. I check all of the files into the server so that they can move on down the pipeline.

4) Let 'em know. Once everything is in the right place, I let the production staff know that the shot is ready to be sent on so that the next artist can start their work as soon as possible.


Can You Provide Some Tips For Good Pantomime?

The biggest challenge of pantomime is clarity.

A good technique for judging how clear your poses are is to look at them in silhouette.

Also, video reference is incredibly useful as a tool for good body mechanics.

-Strive for clarity in your pantomime so that an audience can clearly understand both what the characters are doing and also what they are thinking and feeling.

-Focus on strong, clear poses that are both aesthetically pleasing and tell the story.

-Make sure that the timing in your shot helps the character feel like it is thinking as well as doing.

-Give the eyes plenty of attention in your animation, because they can totally sell your character's internal process.

-Make sure that your acting choices feel real and not contrived. Avoid the cliches when possible. Pantomime can be cartoony or realistic, but the character needs to be believable in either scenario.

-Use video reference as a tool for planning your shot and as a reference for body mechanics.

-Be sure to enjoy yourself. Shots always turn out better when you have fun working on them


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."

Beat it

What's a Beat? Do You Have Any Tips on the Best Way to Find the Beats in a Shot?

"That's a good question, and one that can be difficult to nail down. It's a bit abstract and can change from shot to shot.

I tend to define a beat as any important storytelling moment. This can be as major as a change in emotion, or, if your shot is a more focused on physical action, it could be a weight shift or change in direction. Look for any moment where you are introducing a new idea.

I've heard that a good test for finding a beat in your shot is to look for a change. This could be a change in expression or a change in direction; if you're working with audio, it could be a change in volume, speed or tone. If a change is occurring, chances are it is a moment you can define as an important storytelling "beat.""

Act it out...How many times have I heard?

I've heard this so many times and I thought I understood how important it is but I didnt. When I was adjusting and refining my restaurant animation test and had been spending so much time on the last part. I almost didint know what is THE RIGHT TIMING. I was watching the same sequence more than 100 times and felt I was going crazy...but never turned out OK.

I kind of want to fix this problem more logically.

Why my timing did not look right?
What made this timing so bad?

I was not so conscious about those reasons WHY WHY WHY? but I figured the main reason why it did not look right is PHYSICS! I guess my animation did not look physically correct and eventually did not look believable as well. (my Pixar class I'm taking in this semester is called "Physics of Computer Animation" and running into this problem before its first class coming tomorrow is not so bad, by the way :D)

The reason why I thought like this is that I was just copying whole timing from my video reference (I used video reference for my posing and acting purposes but not timing) , and it suddenly turned out "Yeah looks nice :D". What I did at that time was just simply counting the frame numbers and applying it to my animation. I realize the problem was my physics.

Then next question is...

the, How can we know the right timing in terms of PHYSICS?

I guess simply act it out and count how long it takes is the best way. Now I feel like....what a foolish I am because I cant even remember how many times I had heard great animators saying "Act it out!! Use video reference!!". WHY NOT doing the same way...

I leave some great posts related to this...

"Animators act out an animation sequence to get ideas on timing (an animation principle), posing and a variety of acting choices."
"Acting it out gets the animation out of the brain and into the body."
"The core of animation occurs in our planning. And that is where we should concentrate our style, time and effort."
"Well, as far as I'm concerned, you've hopefully done some planning and know what your poses are going to be on what frames, at least generally speaking. If that's the case, then you're just going to a frame, sculpting your pose, and then saving a key on everything, and then moving on to do the same thing a few frames later or whatever, right? Hopefully, that is the way you are working. If you are only in the first five or six years of being an animator or are a student, then I strongly believe you SHOULD be working that way."
and some more from Shawn Kelly's Tips and Tricks called "Key steps to effective blocking methods" (I was searching for the original post on the internet but I couldnt but fortunately, I had screen captured yeah~ :D)
"Go through your video reference, and anytime you see a major change in weight or pose, draw thumbnail of that pose and write down the frame number that it happened on. Look for which frames feet pick up off the ground, or important breakdown poses between extremes, etc. Draw all of those, and for EVERY ONE be sure to put down the frame number it actually happened on."

I remember Sean told me it's good to go back to basic once we learn something new.

a summary of animation tutorial by Jacob Patrick

  • What is animation? -----Animation is all about bringing a life to the scen
  • Characters need to look believable
  • Take note!!----take note from your teachers, senior animators and friends. write them down spefically, frame number etc...
  • Use Video Reference!!
  • 80/20 rule----80% of the whole work finishes by 20% of the time and the last 20% of the work takes 80% of the time.
  • Look direction----not only eyes but also the brows changes the shape to indicate where the audience is supposed to look.
  • Order of event-----ex) eyes go first and then brows go up and heard turns...need to be specific before go into computer
  • Mouth arc-----mouth also draw arc when we are at polishing stage we need to look carefully all those stuff
  • Holding one pose-----Do not change each pose until the character need to change it with reason
  • When to blink-----do not have the character blink at random, characters do blink with reasons
  • Act it out-----step away from the computer
  • Use your SHOULDER ------most of the time, characters move their shoulder than we are thinking
  • How much anticipate-----big movement need to have big anticipation (equal with the movement itself)

01 September 2011


I love my family as much as I love animation....so which should I choose? I cant. I knew my family always wanted me to come back when I finish school BUT I wanted to stay here to seek for my career in animation...but I have been getting full support from my family now by promising I will be back, so I've always felt guilty, like telling a lie to them.

A couple minutes ago, my Mom sent me an email saying...they knew what I felt even though I didnt tell and allowed me to stay here. I cried.


having said that, I still love humid crazy hot summer life in Japan, and still hope some great animation studio grow up in Japan or Ghibli make 3D animation dept. :D (and actually I was writing as if I'm sure I could get a job here but I might not be able to get a job and might be forced to go back to Japan eventually hahaha)

who knows?? but this is a good start of new semester aside from PIXAR class acceptance.