Having missed Semester 1, I utilised this stage as a process to gain some knowledge on the principles of animation. I was referring to Richard Williams’ Animator’s Survival Guide and learned about various elements of animation such as squash/stretch, action/reaction, anticipation and so on. I felt that to allow this understanding to show in my work I needed to enhance my rig further and add potential for breathing and blinking (see here for details). I plan to expand further on this in Summer and consequently second year.
For The Sidekick, I had to create 5 key animations/shots, listed below:
- Idol Position: a stance that The Sidekick would take up in all other shots that he is in – this meant him breathing, wings flapping and looking around.
- The Approach: The Sidekick flies into the showdown alongside Wayne, looking at ‘Blue in fear.
- The Reveal: first close-up look at The Sidekick. He is looking around sheepishly and cowardly, blinking and breathing.
- The Reaction: The Sidekick is getting sleepy then has a double take as he sees the shadow of the giant shoe form on him.
- The Runaway: The Sidekick gasps and attempts to run away (but he gets squashed anyway).
During animation and rendering set-up we found there was a fair amount of overlap with our characters which worked well as we all had detailed and extensive rigs. I worked with Josh’s worm a bit on the opening shot/reaction-to-shoe shot.
You can see my final animations here.
*NB: Kharis rendered the Wide, I just animated my character for it. It’s hard to see, but you can view the Maya scene for the animation here. This acted as an idol position.
We began with some simple render tests to both see how long it would take and also if the environment and characters looked appropriate. See my first render test here.
What struck me was how flat and plain it felt. I researched and discovered the depth of opportunity in Arnold with camera – including lens types and DoF settings. I ended up using the 16mm and 35mm theatrical lenses across all my shots alongside – albeit minimal – depth of field (achieved by a low aperture and accurate focal distance dependent on the distance from the lens to the character using Object Details on the Heads-up-display).
I feel this improved the appearance of my shots massively and made it seem more cinematic and professional.
See below a (colourless) render test of the 35mm with depth on the long shot of Josh and I’s characters:
We also used various lights around the character alongside a dome light to create a dynamic look. This was particularly needed in the scenes with the shoe’s shadow to make the animations somewhat visible and not absolutely silhouetted.
Liam and I found the Directional Light and Area Light really useful for this. For the shoe shadow, we simply put an Area Light above a large oval and key framed it across so the darkness would slowly shroud our characters.