Animation Exercises (Animated Narratives)

Throughout Semester 2, we explored many different animation exercises that helped us to develop our skills. I have logged what I learned in this post.

Basic Animation

The ultimate bouncing ball exercise introduced squash and stretch to me as I was not in Semester 1. Completing this exercise alongside the robot jumping one really helped me to gauge how different joints react to contact with other surfaces, which was super helpful in animating my character.

I learned doing this that:

  • There must always be an anticipation to the action
  • There must be a reaction to the action
  • If something stretches upwards, it must stretch inwards as well i.e. the volume should retain the same if the shape changes. This was particularly useful for creating lifelike breathing in my character.

Lighting and Rendering

Mike’s class on lighting was really exciting as it was the first time we were able to see what we were doing in Maya come to life in the environment using lights. We experimented with many lights as well as many camera settings (I was super excited to see the variety of lens choices on offer in Maya – I have a keen interest in cinematography and photography so it was exciting to be able to delve into this huge box of tools that would cost thousands in real life).

IPRs were a super useful thing to discover in this class, as they – especially when rendered at a lower setting – give you an efficient and useful view of your outcome as you’re creating animations and placing lights.

I also learned about depth of field in Maya here – which has two places. One was within the scene itself using the Maya renderer (which does not look great), and another was enabling DoF via Arnold, which breathes a whole new life into the scene. Using the HoD and specifically Object Details, you’re able to select a focus distance that brings only your subject into frame. This is super useful for creating unique and dynamic compositions and helpful for us specifically as we were going for a play on Westerns which are famous for being cinematic.

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