Wednesday, 13 January 2010

As if that wasn't enough already...

And so the term continued.

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The next project after the neutral walk cycles was the After Effects, or Character Walk brief. After Effects is a fancy computer program that does all manner of crazy things, most of which I will probably never understand. This was my first encounter with the software, or indeed with any animating software and I found it a bit of a challenge to get to grips with at first. I got it done in the end though, so I can't complain. Our brief was to use this program to create another walk cycle, but this time integrating body language to show two emotions within the walk. My truly inspired classic is about a girl who really likes icecream, so much so that she is utterly ecstatic at the prospect of visiting the icecream parlor. However, when she gets there she finds the place shut, and her euphoria quickly turns into sheer uncontrollable rage. Like I said, she really likes icecream...

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And finally, my masterpiece of the term, the floursack. This brief is one that Disney gives to it's animators to train them in the art of body language. The sack is an inanimate object, so to speak, with no face, no real voice; so it's only real source of communication is through the way it moves. The idea was to show a change of emotion using only the character's body language. The other important thing about this brief was the introduction of storyboards, dope sheets and charting. I know that a lot of other people in the class found these things a confusing hindrance, so I felt slightly guilty that they were of great use to me... The difference, I think, was the sound. I recorded my sound before I did anything else, then used the dopesheets to find the points in the sound file where I wanted things to happen and lining them up with the keyframes.

I knew I was doing at least something right after my classmates continued to hum the rather silly piece of music I'd written for this brief for about a week after the animatic group crits. The actual animation, on the other hand, is something I'm not entirely happy with. Certainly, bits of it work. There are areas where more squash and stretch would have greatly improved it though, and other bits where I repeated a few frames over and over again to elongate a particular action that just kinda made it look like the poor floursack was having a seizure... I was reluctant to go back and make changes however, because the damn thing was 40 seconds long, hundreds and hundreds of frames, and on about five different layers. This meant that it took me about two hours just to put it into the line tester. Not something I was keen to repeat... I was assured that the changes were not important enough to merit disrupting the line tester queues for this amount of time again so the final product is what you see here.

And that pretty much brings us up to Christmas. There was a very brief workshop in 3D modelling, but I don't actually have anything to show for that...

Oh, one more thing. I mentioned in my first post that my weekly comics were one of my New Year's resolutions. Well it's now been suggested to me that I should include a record of my other resolution here. I'm not totally convinced that it'll be interesting enough to merit documentation, but we'll see.

I've basically decided to attempt to do at least one totally selfless thing every week. The first week, I'll admit, was a struggle. By Friday it really wasn't looking promising at all in fact. However, I was at a friend's party when some people I didn't know asked me for directions to the all night bakery. I wasn't hungry myself, and it was cold and icy out there so I started giving detailed directions. It dawned on me about half way through that my directions were fairly confusing, what with having come from me and all, so I sacrificed some personal warmth and walked some complete strangers to the bakery.

This week's good deed was a lot easier to attain. I was travelling home by train just after the rush main rush hour. For some reason, probably the snow, the train before mine had been delayed more and more, and by the time I'd found a seat on my own train it had been cancelled altogether. This meant that an entire trainsworth of people were now trying to get onto my train, which was already pretty full... By the time the very tired looking woman with the two kids and a dog managed to shoulder her way into the carriage there were no seats at all and people were queueing up the aisle. I did the honourable thing and gave her mine. Who knows what next week will bring?

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