Author Topic: 3D animation research & notes  (Read 1277 times)

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Offline trodwe02

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3D animation research & notes
« on: April 18, 2015, 11:51:09 AM »
Hey guys,

I made this thread to share any information, research, tips and tricks I find on 3D animation, as I am very interested in getting better and practicing my skills.

I am currently watching this tutorial on

Here's some notes/info i made from the tutorial:

Cartoony Animation

-Carcicatured style of design and movement
-Even more exaggeration than typical animation in posing
-Even more exaggeration than typical animation in timing
-Ending actions in 'overshoots' as opposed to 'slowing in'
-Extreme 'slow-ins' and 'slow-outs' between poses


-warner bros' looney tunes
-broad humor - slapstick
-Tex avery

Key elements

-Exaggeration in poses
-Exaggeration in timing
-Occasional distoration in features or body (when necessary)

Planning and Reference

-Always use refeence to get timing ad movement on point
-Helps to create nature motions
-Can act out reference, knowing where to the huge exaggerations will occur later (as your body sometimes does not push to the extremes of your character)
-Reference from other sources of actions
-Reference from other examples of style and genre

Ask yourself: what will our scene be?

Creating Reference

-record video reference from 2 or more angles if possible
-Create thumbnail drawings of where pose exaggerations will occur

Undo-ing camera moves
- square brackets ([) key to go back a move
- alt+Z to go back a camera move
- camera attributes -> movement options -> tick 'undoable actions', this adds the cameras movement to history

Feel free to add anything you find useful to this thread :)

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Offline trodwe02

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Re: 3D animation research & notes
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2015, 11:54:42 AM »
Hey guys,

Here's some more very useful information that originally posted on my own thread.

I have always had a love/hate thing with animation where sometimes i will get it, and other times i just dont understand whats going on. The reason that was happening is because i was trying to just do it my own way, and that was incredibly stupid of me. I think a lot of us try to figure things out our own way without learning the basics and using the resources around us. Anyway, now that i've been looking into things a bit more and experimenting (with guidance), i think i'm starting to understand how to break down an animation shot. I watched a great short tutorial series:

Here's an image from the tutorial that i replicated (because it was so informative)

-The black line is the stepped tangents. 3 poses
-The red line is the next stage, where we convert our stepped tangent to linear curves. We copy the key poses and paste them just before the next pose.
-The blue line shoes the smoothed curves, where we apply auto or spline tangents, and adjust some positions to fit.

I really liked this diagram, because you think of animation as formula. Obviously there's a lot of creative control and decision making to do, but when you start with this basic formula, it is much easier to approach.

To sum that up, it's basically
-Block in stepped
-Convert to linear and copy poses
-Smooth and adjust (to your liking)

-*the final stage involves adding all the character or 'texture' to you animation. You can add little wobbles and noise and all kinds of things eg. a couch or head not, or more blinks. As long as the final curve, with all its extra keys here and there, follows the flow of your original smoothed curve, it will work out.

Here's an image showing that final layer of finessing to your curve

Just to be clear, this isnt my material. I did draw the images, but only to cement it into my mind a bit more.

Here's the animation i did whilst following along with the tutorial.

It's not great, but it has decent timing and spacing, which is one of our main issues. I didn't go into the 4th stage of really finessing, because i'm no where near that level yet.

Here's my notes from the tutorial about some of pitfalls of working in stepped and a few other things:

pitsfalls of working in stepped animation

-potentional large rotation values that cannot be seen until curves are splines.
The computers only shows one pose to the next, so the interpolation could be anything.
(tip to avoid this - everynow now and then, convert your curves to linear to check them, and then back to stepped,
when you've finished)

-you must key all curves on the rig that have been animated prior, otherwise they will not be blocked
together. This can give very weird results. eg. say you had two poses of the whole rig, and you wanted
to add an inbetween only to the head. You might make your adjustment to the head and then think everything is good to go.
This isnt the case, because the rest of the controls will only know to be in the first position and last. You need to key them all
at the inetween pose, even if you didnt move them.
(tip to help with this - every now and then, select the entire character and go through your keyframe poses, and key everything.)

-you want to add some detail to your blocking, you do this and now you have a lot of messy keyframes.
Your options are to key the entire controls on all these keys or to leave them how they are.
The real solution is to not go into this detail in the blocking stage. Save it for later when things are smoothed.

When converting keyframes to splines, we notice everything seems a lot slower. We actually have to move our keyposes around for them fit
where we thought they did with our original blocking. The smoothing process makes it neceasssry to change our key poses slightly. This is known
as the timing cheat when working when stepped-smoothed.

when we create our blocking, we have blocky curves that look like steps. We first convert these to linear, and now we are going to need double the keys.
we create a key on either side of where our original blocking key was. (see image#1)
Then we convert these to spline curves and smooth them out.
The final stage is to add in whatever you feel is necessary, but as long as the overall flow of the curve is kept, it will work.

With the first stage (converting to linear), we copy the key poses just before the next one starts. This is why the linear curve in the image looks flat.

I hope you guys found this as informative and interesting as i did!
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Offline trodwe02

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Re: 3D animation research & notes
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2015, 09:50:16 PM »
Hey guys,

Here's some more great notes I collected whilst watching a series on digitaltutors over the break.

Here is the series I watched:

It's a great watch, as it cover's the whole shabang of animation, and you start to realise where you should be spending your time and what's most important.

Here's my notes:

when animating,

holding shift + s + left mouse button takes you to the keys menu, where you can
add inbetweens

Do all poses and major inbetweens with 'in tangents' as linear, and 'out tangents' as stepped

Adding offsets whilst blocking can help

Blocking doesnt have to be large chunks of information every such and such frames or so. If your character is doing a quick run, you might block in every frame for that section.

After blocking, you move onto smoothing out your curves. But before this, it's important to lock down your poses, to prevent sliding.

You can convert to 'plateu' tangents first to see where major sliding occurs, then convert back to stepped and start to lock down those areas by adding holding frames.
You can adding 'moving holds' where,  instead of adding a holding keyframe, you move and rotate the control ver so slighty, and auto-key adds the key for you. This gives some extra movement.

GraphEditor Tools

curves -> weighted tangents

This helps with adding weight

Keys -> free tangent weights

Alt + Shft + right mouse (up and down, or left and right) will zoom-skew the view respectively to the direction of your mouse

To get some quick organic looking camera movements, you can add a slight camera movement offset every chunk of frames (say 100), just by viewing inside the camera and moving it very subtley.
Then, inbetween each of these frames, if you add a slight offset in the camera Y axis. Then, in any large spaces left where there aren't many keyframes, add some offsets in the camera's X axis.

When moving onto the polishing phase, you may find that you still have a few moving holds or holding keys to place.
In the polishingh phase, you can add in small things inbetween poses, eg. double take

moving to a keyframe / pose on the timeslider and then middle clicking another point in time on the time slider and hitting 's' , will create a holding pose at the new place, with the pose from the first keyframe

using motion trails can help to create nice arcs for particular movements, eg. hand reaching to grab something from frame 100 to 110. Create a motion trail from that range and edit the mid point so the overall motion is a nice curved arc

using character sets for blocking can be useful, as it creates a key for everything inside the set, when ou key any object in the set. This helps lock down a whole pose.

character sets can be used when in the final stage of polishing / smoothing, to help adjust poses. But generally, you should work with no character set when smoothing / polishing.

for space switching, try and place the switch where you know you'll have a large movement, and go on a frame-by-frame basis to get it looking natural.

instead of right clicking and copy/paste keyframes from one time to another, you can click  on the frame you want to copy, and then middle mouse click on the time you want to copy to, and hit the S key

blinks are generally added when the character has a change of thought, or rapid head movement. a blink can be over the scan of about 6 frames.

In the blocking phase, it's really important to spend a godo amount of time getting the perfect pose you desire. Look at the silhouette of the character, and make sure all your intentions can be seen from the shot camera

I think the main points I got from this tutorial were:

-Blocking is very important, spend a lot of time getting a solid block. Work on the silhouettes and line of action
-The clean up stage takes the longest. Go into animation knowing this. A good block is like 25% of the way there, and then it's all about how transition those key poses to each other, and where the offsets are placed.
-Learn the tools in the graph editor. There are some fantastic tools in there, like the weighted tangents tools.
-Always check your render camera for what's being seen.. You could be doing hours of point animation that won't get seen.

Oh and here's the animation I created from the course!
« Last Edit: July 28, 2015, 09:53:48 PM by trodwe02 »
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