Before Moving on to Splining + Make sure the timing and spacing of your block is smooth, readable, has a good rhythm, snappy/slow where it needs to be to tell the story effectively (if you can move some frames over or delete unnecessary frames, do that now while your poses are all on whole frames) + Check to make sure your blocking looks smooth from camera angles outside of your render cam + Because our eyes trick or brain into seeing the motion when we watch a block, a good tip when blocking is, if you’re going for a fast motion, push the key poses together even closer than you would expect, and inversely if you want to make a motion feel slow try pushing the keys further away + Write down checklist of steps for polishing (Usually, start from the torso and move outward, but depends on the kind of movement)
Tips for Graph Editor + Use script for scaling keys, rather than stretching and snapping + Hold “I” key to add frames quickly + Be aware that making the curves “look pretty“ without consciously trying to achieve something in the animation, could cause the animation to appear floaty and watered down
Other Tips + Use motion trail to check the arcs of keys body points (Waist, Upper Chest/Base of the Neck, Elbows & Wrists, Knees & Feet, and especially the NOSE!) + For facial animation, start with the lip sync/movement, and quickly get a fleshy, lifelike feel to the face as a whole by copying and pasting animation from the mouth rotation to the cheeks, lip corners, etc. + Look for key points to add “reversals” in the characters acting decisions!
Top 5: Time Management Skills + Use a calendar as a visual for your schedule, to help you gauge how much work you have to do and if you can actually complete it within that time. This allows you to plan out and strategize your animation tasks. + Break up your day into several hour chunks + Customize your tools (scripts, shelves, shortcuts, hotkeys, etc.) + Watch/observe the work flows of other animators + Communication with your director, supervisor, and team!
Other Tips + Never walk blindly into a shot without understanding your intentions and knowing what you want the end result to look like + While most beginners assume every step of animation (including reference, blocking, spline, polish, etc.) should take an equal amount of time, the truth is you should actually be spending the biggest chunk of your time on the planning stage
This includes: + Reference footage, and online reference + Understanding the intention of your shot + Planning through storyboards or animatic + Staging of the shot + A successful Blocking (“successful” meaning that it must be readable and clearly express what is happening in the shot, have final timing/spacing as it will be a blueprint of the final shot which should only need adjusting/polish, and finally when you set all tangents to auto it must carry over in clarity and motion.)
Choosing your Dialogue for Acting Shots
+ First, understand the intention of your shot, and find your vision
Questions to ask yourself first: + Is it for learning or your reel? + Is it for body mechanics work or focused on lip sync? + Is it a happy shot or a sad shot? + Is it to show recruiters you can do comedy or drama? + Will it focus on facial animation or the hands?
+ The Do’s and Dont’s of choosing your dialogue:
Do’s: + Look for audio where something changes in the emotion, volume, etc. to make the shot more dynamic + If there are multiple characters in the audio, think about who you’re hearing vs. seeing in the shot, and if you want to animate statements vs. reactions + Look for interviews or podcasts (clear and fresh audio) + Record your own audio on your phone + Ask a voice actor for a piece of their work
Dont’s: + Don’t use a recognizable piece of audio because it will taint the recruiter’s perception of your shot instantly + Don’t use anything from an animated movie + Don’t watch the video on youtube when searching for audio, only listen when choosing, because seeing where it’s from will taint your acting choices for that audio
+ Reference video (Research/Different angles) + Reference video (Film yourself) + Draw poses on paper + 2d animatic style plan out
+ Block Key Poses + Remember contrast, line of action, pose energy + Every 5-8 frames
+ Focus on spacing/timing and offsetting (You don’t want every part of the body to move together) + Add breakdowns and in-betweens (2 frames usually, some 1-3 frames) + Work in chunks on the time slider + Keep planted feet and other static areas alive + Draw dots on top of reference to track movement and study timing of change in each part of body in relation to the rest (Example locations: Hips, Chest, Head, Ankles, Wrists) + If you need to figure out how the body might move, hide those areas and use Grease Pencil to draw frame by frame an animatic that works. Then roto the body to that drawing
1. Use Tween Machine to create the spacing and timing of all in-betweens (Ease in and out) (Don’t worry about perfect posing, just focus on spacing/timing) 2. Use motion trail to refine arcs (Order: Hips, Feet/Knees/Toes, Chest, Wrists/Elbows/Fingers, Head/Nose)
1. Open graph editor and set all curves from stepped to spline (It shouldn’t look far off, other than dirty movement, gimbal lock issues, and clean up needed) 2. Use motion trail to refine arcs
+ Make sure to keep body fluid, not stiff (Track chest to hips with drawn dots, then offset delays and squash and stretch using motion trail) + Delete unnecessary keys or problem keys + Don’t forget to track nose and other keys areas + Parent spheres (with cross designs) to the head, chest, and hips to help track translation and rotation changes at all times
1. Retime/offset keys (Don't forget to offset all spine controls, and arm controls) 2. Add fluidity
- Squash & stretch - Overshoots & delays - Moving holds - Settles - Extra rotation values to chest and head - Exaggerate/push poses 3. Final tracking of clean arcs