Animation Studio 1 – 14 – Animators of the Caribbean

Introduction

Hello in this entry I will be talking about my final project for studio, hopefully in one very long post. This final project is the animation obstacle course, where we have to animate a character navigating a sequence of obstacles made by our facilitators. On top of that the character must have adopt the movement of an iconic character, in my case I chose Jack Sparrow. This was a very challenging assessment as it is by far the longest animation I’ve had to do to date, on top of that the added layer of giving it the movement of the character made it a real challenge.

ObstacleCourse_size_reference


Research

I started the process by watching through all of the movies, making sure to focus on the way Jack sparrow moves and to see if there were any specific moves that would apply to the course. The biggest elements with jack sparrow is the way he holds and moves his head, as well as the weird way he flaps his hands around as he walks and runs. I didn’t only want to make him blindly run through the course, so I made sure implement some of the elements of the film into the course such as him using his compass or him reacting to the dead man’s chest. Another part of the research was to obtain reference for certain actions that there is no footage of Jack Sparrow doing to sill implement accurate weight and timing keeping in mind how he would approach the action. I also gathered images of certain props so that I could make models of them to further enhance my animation.


Blocking (First Pass)

Part of the project was to gradually build up the animation starting with a first pass, which is a block out of the direction the animation will go and receive feedback on it. To accurately represent the actions I created a keyframe for each extreme, anticipation or followthrough pose. In this pass I was testing what worked with Jack Sparrow and what didn’t, without losing to much time. Despite this I still had to add and remove big chunks of animation when I  saw what it looked like in the further stages.


Inbetweens (Second Pass)

I received the following feedback for my blocked out animation:

  • Add more character and speed to the initial walk.
  • Make his feet slip when he climbs the wall.
  • Exaggerate his off balance poses.
  • Make him slide in stead of stepping over the step.

I fixed all of these issues in my second pass, in some cases completely changing the actions. Such as the balancing being exaggerated but in a different area, as it happened twice and I thought it was boring so I removed it from one area. In this pass I added breakdown poses to further define the way the character moves with each action, as well as add timing to each action, ensuring there was variation in speed in the different obstacles to add interest to the animation.


Breakdowns & Curves

I didn’t receive much relevant feedback for the second pass as I just had to work on refining all the motion. In this stage I added any breakdown poses to define arcs to the arms and legs, so it was smoother and to avoid clipping. this was especially important as I was using IK arms and the elbow controls need a lot of breakdowns to define the way they move accurately. After that the scariest part was turning on the curves, I had no major issues, except for some very choppy movement from the IK arms, next time I will add further breakdowns to IK arms, beside that it was polishing ease in and out, as well as holding certain anticipation poses and fixing the timing. I also had to key frame the IK FK blending as in certain spots the arms would just stretch back as the IK controls stayed back.


Rendering

In the brief it was outlined the resolution of the final video should be 1280 x 720 using the h.264 compression codec. As my current hardware is subpar and due to a lack of time  I wasn’t able to do a render, but instead made a playblast. I ensured I used the option to playblast with the render settings, where I set the correct resolution in, and I also ensured I was using H.264. The end result was a .mov file that accurately represented the scene, although with very low visual quality. I added a quick animated water plane preset and a very simple skybox, I would have loved to push the lighting and environment more, but time didn’t allow it.


Wrap Up & Reflection

This is the video I submitted for my assessment, the end result wasn’t the best but it was a long animation, so it just needs a bit more polishing which I will do eventually hopefully before my final presentation.It turns out I won the award for best 3D animation in my class, so I was pleasantly pleased with the result.

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