August 20, 2013

Preparing for a Character Animation Scene!

Anyone else thinking of going to CTN Animation Expo this year? I've wanted to go every year that it's been held and haven't made it yet. Maybe this is the year to go. It would be sweet to go with other artists!

I've been incredibly busy recently, particularly this past week. I've started an online course to learn the basics of Maya with Animation Mentor. Tomorrow is going to be the start of week three. Every week there are two online Q & A sessions, 2 assignments and 1 video lecture. On Monday night I had to take the hubby to the hospital and we spent the whole night there with him to find out that he's got kidney stones. I napped for 2.5 hours in the wee hours of Tuesday morning and then got up to go to work. I've begun to really feel the pressure to get the animation (a baby dragon; hand drawn) for my day job completed. On Friday I worked on the dragon animation for 12 straight hours. Saturday was spent getting my homework completed. Then on Sunday I was back to working on the dragon! (I can't wait to share that animation!) So my entire week was a blur of working and sleeping and the occasional bit of Fez to relax.
a storyboard panel from shot 10
I have started to think about one of the big animation shots for Pickled. It's scene 10, the shot when Birdie speaks to Babette at the dinner party. Both of them have dialogue in this shot and it's the only dialogue in the whole film. It's pretty foolish (in an amusing way) how much walking there is in my film. Of the shots with animation in them, 17 have walking, 17 do not, and 1 has a character floating in a gravity-less environment.
Here's the scene:
Pickled: Scene 10 from Andrea K Haid on Vimeo.

I've got a really good idea of what I want to do with the shot at this point. The next step will be to film reference of myself acting it out. This is going to help me technically, and it will also give me a chance to crawl into the character's minds a bit more. The toughest part about animation, at least for me, is truly understanding and communicating a character to an audience. I've put the pressure on myself to succeed at this at least somewhat. It's so difficult! Here's the challenge: I have to think about what the two characters in the shot are thinking and feeling, and how that manifests itself in their body language and movements, as well as the messages that they are consciously and unconsciously communicating to each other through their body language, and make sure it's all clear for the audience to comprehend as well.

I shot a bunch of reference for the 2 shots that I've already animated. I put on an outfit similar to the character in the shot and acted it all out like 50 times. That kind of thing is so thrilling to me. I want to make sure I really get into the skin of my characters because... it is not easy at all and I want to look back on my work and know that I succeeded at least a tiny bit. Here's an example of embarassing footage of this:
That there is the kitchen I had when I lived in Australia!! Oh how I miss it. There's a dishwasher.... and a dining table... a microwave... organised utensils in a drawer... cake decorating supplies... such finery I no longer possess.

And this is why I will be alone when I film the reference for my next shot. It's a lot easier to act silly and natural for me when no one is watching.

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Rough key sketch of Babette!

I'm currently rough animating this shot.