Monday, 30 April 2012

Revisions of Shot 2 and Shot 8

I have recently redone some of the animating for two shots of the Synaestheisa film for several reasons.  These are shot 2; in which she approaches the cooker and looks at the kettle and shot 8; in which she approaches the piano and sits down.  Shot 8 has seemed to take the longest to do out of any shot as it has a range of different types of animation.

Shot 2

This shot was reanimated to have more shoulder movement in her steps because in the first version of this animation, she was gliding along and her movement was incredibly upright.  Our tutor, Dan said that she needed to have much more rotational movement in her upper body and that I should focus less on the vertical movement of her body for this shot.

Furthermore, her focus needed to be more on the kettle; I initially animated her head looking up at the particles that would eventually be present, but we decided that her focus should at least start at the source of these particles; the kettle.  Once Amelie has created the Dynamics for this kettle, I may perhaps add some upward head movement as then, there will be something to animate the head against.

In order to work out how she should approach this kettle, I decided to record myself in Valentino and Arpit's kitchen approaching a cooker with a kettle on it to figure out how one would make 1 or 2 slow steps towards the cooker.

As you can see, this movement is very much driven by the rotation in the shoulders; as Alex's legs are not visible in this shot, the main way that I will be able to convey a walking forward movement is through the shoulders and arms.  In this video, my shoulders start off aligned, but then when I make the breakdown movement, my right shoulder come forwards and then my left shoulder eventually snaps back into alignment.

I have incorporated that movement into Alex's movement as this is a very short and slight movement, yet effective in conveying a walk.  You will also notice that Alex now focuses more on the kettle, but that she slightly moves her head up and smiles.  When I first joined this project, I initially imagined that this Synesthete is "suffering" from her condition and possibly timid as a result of her Synaesthesia, and she was therefore animated by me in a way that conveys this.  However, when I had a listen to her recorded dialogue, I found that she has actually adapted very well to her condition and is content with her condition and herself.  As I will elaborate on when I talk through shot 8, I have reanimated these parts to present a more confident and joyful character.

You will also notice that there is a brand new shot that has been added to this scene, which is a close-up shor of the kettle, which will eventually have some Dynamics applied to it.  We added this extra shot mainly because we found that the previous shot was going on for too long and we could not come up with enough poses or variety in the poses to last that long.  We got the inspiration for this shot when we were filming reference for Alex to approach the cooker and we tried different angles; one of the angle we came up with was an extreme close-up of the kettle, which you will see in the video below.  We decided that this extreme close-up would make a good climaxing shot to this scene.

Shot 8

Most of the animation for shot 8 has been redone to accomodate this more confident character that I now know I need to portray.  The previous animation was very rigid and had a lot of anticipation which indicated that Alex was perhaps unconfident, hesitant and maybe even reluctant to play the piano.  First, she approached the piano and stood for a few seconds and then she awkwardly pulls herself on to the stool before moving up and waiting a few more seconds before she plays.

After giving the audio a proper listen, I found that she is not awkward about her condition and she is in fact confident in her ability.  In this scene, we will see that she knows how to play notes on the piano to orchestrate the patterns and colours that she sees.  Her movement in this sequence would need to involve her approaching and sitting at the piano more swiftly, with any anticipation added just to emphasise the natural movement.

The shot originally had a few technical errors which needed to be amended.  Firstly, there was not enough rotation in her shoulders and chest during the walk cycle.  In addition to this, when she sat at the piano and put her hands towards the piano, her hands make a strange circular movement in which the rotate around the keyboard before touching the keys.  In reality, this would be a more diagonal movement.

With these points in mind, I decided to film myself approaching and sitting down at the piano in Valentino and Arpit's house to figure out how one would sit at a piano naturally, so I could apply the same to the Alex character rig.

Several pieces of movement in this clip caught my eye and helped inform the animation work; first of all, rather than pulling myself onto the stool or focusing to lean on the stool, I make the rather simpler movement of stand in front of the stool, which I approach by putting one leg forward and then simply sliding the other into position.  Secondly, I do not use my arms to aid myself in sitting down, I look to see where the stool is and I just rest my weight down on it; my arms move to rest my lap during this piece of movement.

As I mentioned, the movement of my hands from my lap to the piano keyboard is simple and diagonal rather than the circular motion I came up with previously.  I used these aspects of my movement very strongly in the revision of the shot 8 animation, which made for a much more natural and relaxed piece of animation.

This walk cycle and sitting animation is far simpler than what I had come up with in the previous post, but then again, it is a simple set of movements.  There is still anticipation in this animation sequence, when she looks down at the seat, but this is merely for the character to calculate where the seat is and therefore where she should aim to rest her weight; her focus is very much fixed on the piano itself.  Interestingly, Arpit and Valentino both really liked this looking down action before she takes her seat.

The shoulders in this walk cycle sequence are more animated now and do move forward with the weight of the body.  Lastly, her hand move in a more diagonal direction towards the piano keyboard; in order for the hand to not go through the keyboard, I broke the tangent right at the end of the Translate Z  channel in the Graph Editor and rotated it to accommodate for of a curve.

As these two shots have been redone or tweaked and shots 3, 4 and 5 have also been finalised, this now means that I have completed a total of 5 shots and that I now have 5 shots left to animate.  I am halfway towards finishing now.  Next, I need to start working on the dog scene in which Alex strokes her dog, shortly before it dies and fades away.

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