Post-mortems

A collection of past and present exercises with an accompanying brief postmortem. 

Sunday
May202018

EW: After Hours (April 2018 - May 2018)

Testing out a more complex infinit loop.

 

 

Credits
Character Rigs- @davidoreilly

 

Tuesday
Apr242018

Leisurely Stroll (April 2018)

I had a few free hours and wanted to play around in Maya.

 

Credits
Happy Guy Rig- @davidoreilly
Lowpoly models- @quaternius

Tuesday
Apr032018

Academy Ekko vs Cyborg Zombies (January 2018 – April 2018)

No one believed Ekko when he said he was late to class because of zombies...

A leap outside of my comfort zone! This exercise was to focus on snappy timing, stronger poses, and polish.

 

 

 

Lessons Learned

1. Posing

This seems obvious, it's one of the first things you learn as an animator. I recieved a lot of great feedback from Jason (shout out to @shumface) and one thing he brought up was the “Movie Poster” idea. Take a look at your animation, pick a frame at random and ask yourself “would this look cool on a movie poster?”. It's extraordinarily difficult to accomplish, but it's a way of thinking that leads to being less reliant on Maya for in-betweens.

2. Spacing

Most of my past work skews towards realism over a cartoony style. Having exaggerated timing is something that I've always wanted to try. I have a bad habit, when it comes to tracking arcs, to make the spacing even. It's a problem of becoming too focused on what an object looks like from one frame to the next frame rather than what the object looks like over a group of frames. Straying away from “clean” spacing and making it “dirty” is something I still need to work on, but this was good practice to take a step in the right direction.

 

Things that went right

1. Polish

Development schedules are often tight and you don't always get the chance to polish as much as you'd like. I took the opportunity to really focus on tracking arcs and taking the time for secondaries. This model has a bunch; a bag, three screwdrivers, shirt flaps, collar, headphones, and a chain. It's something the viewer may not necessarily notice upon a first viewing, but hopefully something that they feel.

2. Taking a break

I started this shot less than a week after finishing the Riot/Polycount contest (which lasted three months). I had multiple freelance jobs at the same time while trying to work on this piece in my spare time. In the beginning I was excited to work on something new and a different pace, but after a few weeks I wanted nothing to do with it.

I reworked the ending and I had a lot of back and forth conversations with Jason which were very insightful and usually reinvigorated me. Since I was trying something new, pushing the style, I had a lot to learn. On top of that it was ~10 seconds long and involved four characters. It was very daunting at times and I got burnt out. I realized I needed a break and took an entire week off of any animation that wasn't necessary and it helped a ton.

Without getting too preachy, this industry tends to glorify working overtime. I feel guilty when I'm not progressing my career or skillset. It's okay to take time off and recharge! Gather motivation and inspiration from other sources. Animating with pure focus for one hour can be more productive than five hours of distracted animating.

 

Bonus: Cutting room floor

 

 

 

 

As mentioned earlier I originally had a different ending in mind. My goal was to showcase his time-control ability while taking advantage of the rig props (screwdrivers!). The idea was to activate a time-stopping bubble, throw the screwdrivers into the bubble (causing them to freeze and act as platforms), have Ekko traverse the screwdrivers up to grab his bat that is stuck in the wall, and end by stabbing the last zombie cyborg.

The issue came with trying to convey the amount of distance from Ekko's initial starting point to where the cyborg enters. The space is very wide, but the camera foreshortens the view. Having the camera chase Ekko made it tricky to get the right feel and posing so I decided to cut it.

 

Credits:

Cyborg rig- https://gumroad.com/truongcgartist

Ekko model- Riot Games

Ekko rig- https://vimeo.com/kenzchiang

 

 

Wednesday
Jan312018

Riot Creative Contest 2017 (November 2017- January 2018)

Polycount hosted another Riot contest! This year I did a Walk Cycle and a Recall of an adventurer and her pet jellyfish.

 

Lessons Learned

1. Clarity

It's a habit of mine to make ideas that are overly complex or adding too many ideas, I've talked about it in previous shots. I don't believe this was one of those times! I kept the idea for the Recall simple, but I made some changes to make it more clear to the audience. I go over it a little in my WIP Polycount thread. I had multiple people tell me it took them a few viewings to understand that the Adventurer was, what I like to call, “searching in the Jellyfish's pockets”.

Part of this was due to the camera angle being high and part of it was due to the anticipation/motivation before the action. The original idea was for the Jellyfish to get bored and start sucking on its arm. The Adventurer was not pleased with this and that would motivate her to search for something else to put in the Jellyfish's mouth. Jason Shum gave me some great feedback and pointed out that, even though it may be a bit more cliché, having the Jellyfish point towards it's mouth (signally hunger) would be more relatable and clear.

There were a few more moments that also happen quickly so it's important to make sure they read. Such as on the Recall Winddown (when the pair return to the screen) and the lollipop is flying through the air. Making sure the Jellyfish is tracking the lollipop with his eyes and opening his mouth to show anticipation to jump up and eat it. There's a lot of motion happening so it's good to help lead the audience in more ways than just a body anticipation.

 

Things that went right

1. Style

League of Legends has a distinct style that includes exaggerated timing. I wasn't experienced or comfortable with this style in the last contest they held. This time I made sure to study reference and not be afraid of breaking the rigs. Although these characters may not fit visually into the League universe it was still my goal to make them feel as though they belonged there. 

2. Readability

This is a bit different than the “Clarity” I talked about above. When I say clarity I'm talking about “can you understand the idea that is being conveyed” and when I say readability I mean “can you tell what is happening from the game camera”. League has a top down camera, that combined with the relatively simple rigs provided some challenges.

I consciously made the decision to match the characters. Neither one overshadowed the other in terms of visual busyness and they both have appeal. The Cuby rig has a large central mass with stumpy appendages which made it difficult at times to make her read clearly from a distance. The Jellyfish rig had six arms that were positioned underneath him, which made it hard to see them from a high angle.

Knowing the camera and how the characters will be seen in game does allow you to take advantage of those facts, however. The Recall will only ever be seen from one angle so I was able to cheat some poses towards the camera. I took the opportunity to separate the characters on the Walk Cycle by popping up the Adventurer because having one character on top of the other can also muddy the silhouette.

 

Credits:

Cuby rig- https://vimeo.com/francm127

Fish model- @quaternius 

Jellyfish rig- @ylsiew 

 

Thursday
Sep282017

Shardbound work (July - September 2017)

A small collection of some of the work I did on Shardbound.

Animation list
Trauma guard: Warcry, Warcry, Idle*, Idle to Active Idle*, Active Idle, Attack
Shocksword Officer: Summon to Idle, Idle*, Idle to Active Idle*, Active Idle*, Attack
Pack Awakener: Warcry, Warcry Loop, Warcry to Idle, Idle, Idle to Active Idle, Active Idle, Attack, Idle, Run

 

Credits:

Trauma Guard: Aleksey Bayura(Concept), Oskar Kuijken(Modeler), Josh Book (Animation first pass) 

Shocksword Officer: Mads Ahm(Concept), Blair Armitage(Modeler), Ira Goeddel(Rig, Animation first pass)

Pack Awakener: Aleksey Bayura(Concept), Anthony Lee(Modeler), Dr.Reels(Rig)

*These animations had a first pass, but were completed or completely reworked by me.