Sunday, February 19, 2012

Run Morris, Run. Part 2

Hello again:
I'm very glad to see the number of visits my blog has gotten over the last week, this only makes me want to write more.
So last week I left off at the approved 2D planning phase, this week I will be talking about the jump into the 3D blocking which took me a little longer than I anticipated due to the set up of the shot.
Since Morris was hanging on the light post at one point, and then had to run on the house at times and jump freely in the air at some others I had to use 3 different constraints with space matching function, thankfully our TD masters helped me setting up something "animator friendly".

This is how the scene looked like. The UI World/House were set up to help switching spaces. Thanks to Bohdon Sayer.

After that was done I went through our reference folders "Which were loaded with Buster Keaton pictures and videos" and I collect all the material and the poses I liked to include in my shot (some of which were full poses and some were little details and nuances that Buster was known for) , so here's my 3D blocking.

As you see, my 3D blocking was very close to the initial 2D planning that was approved earlier in the game, in fact it was identical, but that didn't mean the directors were going to let it go easy, which is something I learned more about as time passed by; you do something good (anything, animate, light, composite) the directors love it and give you the go ahead then they see it again with a fresh pair of eyes and they want to either "plus up the shot" or add their own touch to it because good is not good enough, it has to be great, and this may feel frustrating at times but we must GET OVER IT, it's easier that way.
So after my 3D blocking was green lit I progressed into breaking it down even more just so I have total control over my performance. Remember those 3 constraints? animating with constraints requires a lot of control, a lot of key frames and a lot of organization (Which constraint turns on and which one turns off and what frame do they switch on) it can get super angering sometimes. For some reason I don't have the stepped mode 3D blocking with breakdowns so I'm posting the spline mode, which was the scariest thing I had to clean up, here it is.

Did you see this? changes were added to the shot after the breakdown phase was done, here are the changes I was asked to do:

1- on frame 3-4 when Morris rotates down gymnastically to sit on the edge make him hold longer on his arms.
2- on frame 21 don't let him hit the window cause it feels too dangerous and impossible to recover from, instead make him jump high with his legs spinning (Keaton like cartoon gymnastics).
3- the house seems too light, it flies away too fast slow it down.

While the directors were thinking about plussing up the overall feel of the shot, I was thinking mainly about plussing up the performance -after all I am the actor here- so I went in and added what I thought is needed for the performance to read well:

1- as he's getting up Morris's eyes were too locked on the book, and considering he's on a the roof of a floating house in the sky he needed to be a bit more cautious so I changed the eye direction to the roof where he was stepping which made him look a bit more aware of what he's about to do next.
2- on frame 14 when he slid on the shingles I decided that a slide of that magnitude needed an over shoot on the arms and a circular swing to balance himself which in my opinion looked real good at that point in the shot.
3- after that gymnastic jump the directors wanted to see on frame 23 it felt appropriate to add a slow cautious compression on the knees.

So you see how it goes, the directors look for one thing in the shot and you as an animator look for another and that's how most shots come to existence. Next week I'll address introducing the book into the shot and the final touches. I really hope you're enjoying this and if I left anything out please email or comment and ask away.

Have a great week.


Iestyn Roberts said...

Hey Jamil - this is incredible to see. I'd love to hear more about the Constraints side of stuff, as it sounds Hellish - but you've managed to make everything work together so beautifully. I love how Morris moves, such a great tribute to Buster. Looking forward to seeing more!

Martin Joas said...

Awesome posts! Keep it up :)

Jamil R. Lahham said...

Thanks guys,
Glad you're following this post. Lestyn I edited the post to show a snap shot of the set up I was provided by our TD. The house/World UI were automated to switch between spaced. In terms of the light post, I used a simple Maya parent constraint on a group node and animated it on and off over one frame in stepped mode. Hope this helps.

Iestyn Roberts said...

Waw, that's really great to see, thank you for updating the post Jamil, really appreciate it. I've just recently managed to get my head around Constraints, so it's something that really interests me, and seeing something that looks so complex like this is great.
To match up the space between the switch, did you use anything in aprticular - or did you and the TD manage to set up a really robust system that the switch happened in the same location? Matching the space between switches is something I still haven't figured out well. Thanks again!

Jamil R. Lahham said...

I don't even know how constraints work at their core. The TD lead here Bohdon Sayer "who has a real good blog you should look up" helped me with the set up. It's amazing what a good TD can do, specially when you get the chance to talk and discuss your animation needs, this way they know what to provide you and how to provide it the best way possible. I'm sorry I don't have much info on Maya constraints.

Iestyn Roberts said...

Hello Jamil - ah excellent, I know of Bohdon's Ninja skills, I already use some of his fantastic scripts. Thanks for your replies, and I shall look forward reading more from you!

Nagy Péter said...

Congratulation for winning an Oscar for the team! Fantastic work!
I also looking forward to seeing more and more about workflow! :D

Dogmation said...

Ganaron!!!! Los felicito!!! Se lo merecían... :) Saludos desde Colombia!!!

Jamil R. Lahham said...

Peter, thank you so much for your nice words ..I'm recovering from this whole night and I'll get back to work asap.
Dogmation, thank you for your nice comment.

Iestyn Roberts said...

Huge Congrats to you guys for the awesome news! Well deserved!