Thursday, December 22, 2005

December Lango Notes

Keith Lango VTS December 05: Phrasing

Timing: How long a move takes. Pose A to Pose B in 10 frames.
Spacing: The nature of the movement inside timing. Slow out—fast in, slow out—slow in, fast out—slow in.
Phrasing: The timing of a given number of moves or actions in combination.

Phrasing is the "music" of animation. Look at the sound waves of Beethoven’s 4th Symphony.

-People/characters are not machines that move to a constant even beat. There are rhythms that people move to but it is not a rhythm that is hit evenly. It is more like something we feel.

-Phrasing is all about changing gears.


m-o-v-e . . . t-h-e . . . c-h-a-r-a-c-t-e-r . . . s-l-o-w-l-y then fast t-h-e-n . . . s-l-o-w-l-y . . . a-g-a-i-n THEN FAST AND LOUD!

-You can pull the audience in with fast action then pause as the audience anticipates what’s next.



How Do You Add Contrast?
-complex vs. simplistic
-line of action
-small vs. big
-squash and stretch
-closed vs. open

Phrasing is MUCH bigger than timing!

Watch how James Baxter uses phrasing with Quasimodo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame. His animation is very simple and doesn’t use complex moves but his phrasing is amazing.

Every character will have their own rhythm or tempo.

Example: Ice Age
Manny the Mammoth à slow and brooding
Sid the Sloth à fast and stupid

How Does This Work Practically?

Example: A man running out of his burning house.

Take the actions/character feelings and write them down as phrases.

Man opens door and runs out of the burning house. The man stops. Remembers his cat. He turns around and runs back into the house.

Now look for similarities and group them together.

Man opens door and runs out of the burning house. The man stops. Remembers his cat. He turns around and runs back into the house.

Remember to emphasis the contrast. Remember to show case the main idea. Look for the key idea of the scene. In this case it would probably be "the man remembering his cat".

Sometimes dialogue does the phrasing for you.

Monday, December 19, 2005

More Lango Learning!

Keith Lango VTS November 05: Weight

Weight is a key ingrediant of animation. Without proper weight your animation won’t work.

Definition: The more mass an object has the more energy it takes to defy gravity. A heavy object will not move up quickly (unless acted upon with a termendous force) Once a heavy object is up it takes a lot of energy to keep it up. Once it starts coming down (again unless acted upon) it will come down fast. It takes a lot of energy to defy gravity at all levels).

Think about a heavy step. It takes a lot of energy to pick up that heavy foot, so it will move up slowly. Once it has reached it’s peak it will rapidly pick up speed, then crash into the ground.

Timing: how long you hold a pose or the time it takes to make a move.
Spacing: How you move from pose A to pose B (ie fast in/ fast out; fast in/ slow out; etc)
Phrasing: How you group together and transition through mutilple actions. (or another way to put it) how quickly you move through a section of animation using timing and spacing.

There is more to weight than timing. Staging and camera angles play a part too.

-To quickly select the different rotation modes (gimble, local, global) hold down the "E" key and select the active window, then chose your mode.
-This works the same with the translate mode and the "W" key.

HOW TO SOFTEN A KEY POSE (or How to add weight to a pose)
If you are animating a bouncing ball and you think that the key pose of the ball in the air is "hitting too hard"

In order to soften up pose # 2 to add some weight go to the graph editor and in spline mode do the following. Add two new keys a frame or two near your old key pose, stretch them out and then delete the original key # 2 pose.

This will enable the ball to float there slightly longer. DON’T RELY ON ADJUSTING THE TANGENTS ON THE SPLINE CURVES TO FIX THINGS. You need to add more keys to better define the path of motion.

Poses and Timing have a connected relationship

"If it is a weight problem, take a look at your poses and if your poses hold up pretty good your weight will be seen in timing" – Keith
Translation: Timing is the meat of most weight problems. Pose fixes will strength a timing fix to a weight problem. But Pose fixes only rest on the foundation of Timing.

The same ten poses of a walk cycle can basicly work for a slow heavy walk and a fast light walk. Just the timing will be different.


Shot Heads & Tails
1)Action within the first/last 6-8 frames of a shot won’t have enough time to properly register with the audience.

2)Any movement that ends within the first 6-8 frames must be a finishing of a move started in the previous shot.

3)Any move started within the last 6-8 frames of a shot must be shown finishing in the following shot.

4)Moves that occur within the shot can finish up in the last frame. Just don’t start a new one.

Monday, December 05, 2005

October Lango Notes

VTS October 05: Offsets

Offsets- off setting different parts of the body/character to loosen up things a bit. Adds sense of weight and flow.

Like herding sheep. The sheep don’t all arrive at the destination at the same time. Some get there early (before the crowd), the majority arrives at the same time, and a few get there late (after the crowd).

Example from Disney’s Treasure Planet: Hawkins and John Silvers introductory handshake.
Animator genius Glen Keane offsets the speed of the hand (moving fast) and the body (moving slow) to draw attention to the hand. The contrast of the hand and the body emphasizes the hand. (An audience’s focus generally is drawn to the fast moving object of a scene.)

-The sheep arriving first and last stick out from the rest of the herd and garner more attention.
-What is the star of the shot?
-What do you want the audience to see?


-You can’t just take your planning poses and drag out your keys
shoulder-X - - - X
elbow----X - - - - - X
wrist-----X - - - - - - - X

- You MUST think it through ahead of time and build it into your original poses
In The drawings above they will both hit at the same time but example #2 will feel like the hand is hitting later. This is because most of the hands’ movement happens between frame 5 and 10.

- But to do this example right THINK through it some and add in an extra blocking/key pose. This will add an ease out to the body and drag the hand out later than the body.

REVIEW (a receipt for a fast/slow contrast): To add emphases to a late arriving body part, drag it slow at the beginning (so it will have to move fast at the end) and ease out the rest of the body (so it will be moving slowly at the end).

-Never let the computer do what you don’t want it to do.
-Think about your rotation axis’s.
-Take what the computer is giving from pose A to pose C. Then modify pose B into the pose you want.

If you are done with the blocking stage, have poses time out, and are ready to add a breakdown.
1. Switch keys from flat to linear.
2. Go to a break down frame and use what is already there. Polishing the pose till it is acceptable.
This way you will avoid weird rotations and won’t have to wrestle with the computer to get what you want.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Belief quotes #2

What is the difference between genius and stupidity? Genius has limits. –Albert Einstein

Collaborations with people from a wide variety of skill sets will also serve to expand your view of what is possible. The result will be a mix of creative energy that can offer originality and test your assumptions on how things are done.

Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind other than in the one where they sprang up. –Oliver Wendell Holmes

Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility and most people are frightened by responsibility. -Sigmund Freud

Reality is merely an illusion albeit a very persistent one. –Albert Einstein

Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ambition is the last refuge of failure. –Oscar Wilde

Every creative act involves . . . a new innocence of perception, liberated from the catarct of accepted belief. –Arthur Koestler

Design (Animation) is not a Commodity! Its not a formula. It’s a structure that needs to be tested and re-examined as it evolves and reveals life to the creators and those who view the process. Its up to us to push the envelope. These efforts will define and effect the community at large.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Belief quotes

A couple of days ago I came across the Pollinate video by the design studio Belief. It was very cool and inspirational. Mike and Cain (who names their kid Cain?) the founder and producer at Belief talked for 40 minutes about creativity and how to nurture it.

I love quotes and love to collect them. Here are some quotes from the video.

What then is the goal for doing what we do? As designers (animators) and producers we should inspect alternative ways of looking at the entire business of broadcast and promotion and the role that we play in the process.

Big budgets/small budgets… they all exert their specific pressures and pitfalls. Every scenario places its own set of demands on the production process.

Don’t just steal from TV (animation) cannibalize the world.

Originality is nothing more than judicious imitation. –Voltaire

The secret of creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. –Albert Einstein

What is originality? Undetected plagiarism. –D.W.R. Inge

Brilliance exists in the broad search and the clever linkage of one seemingly unrelated event to another. That sort of functional and engaging translation of one graphical language to another, when handled properly, contains a built in punch line.

A wonderful harmony arises from joining together the seemingly unconnected. –Heraclitus

Imagine a picture of a bear. Next think of a different bear. Now dig deeper and attempt to conjure a third visual of a bear. This is more difficult to imagine. This is the threshold from which original ideas are spawn.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Old Comics

I have decided to move all my comic experiements off my website and on to my blog. Currently my website serves as my portfolio and my comics aren't portfolio quality yet. Below I have posted three comics that I did based on three characters I created Martin (an over imaginative 12 year old boy) Rubus (an average run-of-the-mill bigfoot) and Zap (a their silent alien friend).

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Lango Notes: September continued

Keith's Blocking (posing & timing) Technique

He likes to separate Posing & Timing during the blocking stage.
1. He sets out the major poses.
A. "Draws" on successive frames the "key" points in the action.
B. Uses the whole body (the drawings are complete as possible).
C. Marks out the beats.
D. Works out squash & stretch, arcs, drags (weight), center of gravity, silhouette.
E. Works like a traditional animator drawing the keys.


2. Next he adds in the in-betweens. I had a question about this so I emailed Keith and here is his response.

3. Once he has great drawings he takes the drawing and times them out.
A. Keys are set to flat.
B. Typically his actions lead the words.
D. Add the eases/breakdown in.
E. Play with the timing (energy) of the eases/breakdowns.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Lango Notes: September


Eases: The change in velocity of an object in motion over the perceived distance of the motion to build visual interest and weight to that objects motion.
Technically there is no defined ease in and ease out some people use ease in for ease out what is important is that "ease in" or "ease out" means a change in velocity.

Things tend to be weightless and robotic without eases.

Animation is all about managing the energy of a motion.

Three aspects of timing
1) Timing
2) Spacing (see snappy motion tutorial)
3) Phrasing

There are no rules!
The most important thing is the feel. Are you playing with gravity? Then characters can zip across the screen (i.e. Roadrunner) or hover in mid air for a few seconds before falling (i.e. Wiley Coyote). Or maybe you are trying to be realistic and the motion needs to feel real.


This next section might not make much sense without seeing the example animation. Keith used a sphere that traveled in the postive X direction half way across the screen to illustrate "what feels right". I hope that if you wanted to my notes are clear enough that you could recreate the example.

Add even more anticipation to the move. With more anticipation you can make the move even faster(see above).
Something feels weird about the anticipation and the slow out. So try hitting an extreme and then settle the move back instead of and ease out.

There are NO RULES to whether you should ease out or hit an extreme and settle back. You have to go with what feels best. You make that decision by considering the energy of the move and the properties of the object.(FORCE)

You could even add a micro anticipation here (or an anticipation to the anticipation). These micro anticipations must be very small (MICRO) or it will become chattery. Generally a single frame anticipation works best. Remember there are NO RULES!

Keith Lango Notes

Ever since Keith Lango started up his subscription based Video Tutorial Service I have wanted to check it out. But I avoided plopping down the $14.95 a month because I thought it was too much money. Luckily I came to my sense in September and signed up. Ever since I can’t wait till the 15th of every month comes around when Professor Lango post another tutorial. I have even begun purchasing all the tutorials that I missed. Keith really knows his stuff and is an excellent communicator. Every animation student should check this out. It is worth more than its weight in gold! (How much does a QuickTime file weigh?) This stuff is so good that I plan to keep my subscription going even when my Animation Mentor classes start up.

Each class is about 20 to 25 minutes long and I have watched each one four or five different times just to get everything out of it that I can and to cement it into my memory. I have also taken detailed notes. After email Keith he gave me permission to post my notes here so I can share them with you all. But trust me these notes are not even a fraction of what the videos are. They could never replace the real thing. They are more a written catalyst to help me remember what I have learned.

So heads up I will start posting them soon.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Mountain Bike Action

I am pretty sure there is going to be mountain biking in heaven. There just has to be. If heaven is a cool place mountain biking has to be included. Well maybe not but here's a picture I took from my bike this last weekend. And yes, Lisa (my wife) often looks at me like I'm wearing my underwear on my head.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

More Jack (step animation exercise)

Here are my thumbnail sketches for this exercise. I'm pretty happy with the way this animation is going so far. Enjoy!

The sketches below are go before the last row of drawings on the page above.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Louie Comic Rough Draft

Below you can see the rough draft for the comic I have been working on. Let me know what you think. I know what you're thinking, you're saying "Man! Whuz up with this sucka? He be going to animation skoo not no comic skoo!" Let me say in my defense that I decided to create this short comic for a couple of reasons.

1) to improve my drawing skills.
2) To improve my storytelling skills.
3) It sound like a lot of fun.

So there you go. Please critique the poop out of it, don't hold anything back. I would especially love to get some help with dialogue. Me no write too good.

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Page 6

Page 7

Page 8

Page 9

Page 10

Page 12

Page 11

Page 13

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Animation Planning

I haven’t been animating as much as I would like lately. So to get me in shape for Animation Mentor in January I thought I better do a couple of simple animation exercises. For my first exercise I want to do a box step. Here are some quick character planning notes for my current animation exercise.

Hatchet Jack: (This name comes from a story a family friend used to tell my brothers and me over the campfire to try and scare us. Hatchet Jack was a homicidal dentist who wore a necklace of human teeth.)

• Jack is single and in his 30s. He graduated near the top of his class from Berkeley with a degree in Economics (that means he is smarter than I am). After graduating he got a job in a large accounting firm and soon became a CPA.
• Even though Jack is book smart he lacks common sense.
• Jack has lots of friends but not many close friends.
• He is very good at doing what he is told but not very creative (which is very good trait for an accountant).
• He fears the outdoors, spiders, car mechanics (or any handyman), and heights.
• His goal in life is to marry the woman of his dreams, make a safe amount of money and retire comfortably by the age of 55.
• Favorite TV shows: The amazing race, Friends (owns the complete DVD collection), football and basketball.
• Loves to workout at the gym, play basketball, Mexican food, and the Gap.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Why Blog?

With all the blogs out there these days why should I spend my energy producing a blog of my own? What will I get out of blogging? The answer is simple, I want a blog to help organize, categorize, and share my experiences as I become an animator. I also want a place where I can share my works in progress. This blog is a place to share my passions and how they affects me.