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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Drawing For Animation Week 01 – The Basics











The first example (below) shows a ball bouncing in a very linear way which is unrealstic. The motion is very calculated and angular.

This time I altered the trajectory path of the ball, using the principles of Arcs I was able to curve the path more realisticly. The ball now moves in a more natural way.

Squash and Stretch Task 01 – Light Ball

Squash and Stretch Task 01 – Stone Ball


Balancing on one foot was challenging to animate, Below is my first attempt to do so. The premise of the premise of the animation was to have the character try and avoid stepping on deadly land mines. Firstly I set my main keyframes between each pose. I wanted to try get the overal timings nailed first before any tweeking of the inbetween frames. Looking at it, it’s clear there are more than a few things wrong with the animation. The movement of the character lacks inpact and is not very interesting. There’s no Dynamic to it, making it rather dull.

I wanted to try making it better. Firstly I acted out the motion myself, balancing on one foot and looking down imagining i’m trying to avoid something on the floor. I could feel how my joints and muscles twisted and how my knee bent it places. Keeping balace was difficult, often leaning back to counterbalance. Below is my next attempt, this time I tried to add more randomness to the movement to make it less predictable. I tightened some keyframes and their timings at certain points to try to create some dynamic movment. Such as loosing balance temporairly. It kind of worked at certain points but it produced jerky results. I also tried to pay attention to squah and stretch, making sure the knees bent at the right time and then extended to help with blanacing.  This time I based my animation on a giant worried about stepping onto the people below.

My last attempt wasn’t an absolute victory, there are many areas it can be improved upon. The timing could of been better done, when the car drives under the giants foot. Also the recoil from the moment of imbalance could have been animated better.

Week 01 – weekly challenge – applied animation

This week we learned how to create a simple hand wave inside of 3d studio max. Learning to animate the characters hand to wave proved to be more difficult than first anticipated.The basic motion was simple enough, however realistic motion wasn’t. Not having any references to go by meant I was solely relying on my imagination and memory of what a wave actually looks like. This was not ideal.  So I set off to do some research to give me a better idea of what a realistic wave actually looks like.

George Bush Waving


Waving is such a basic human interaction, we do it everyday, and many of the characteristics of a wave are subject to many different attributes and factors. The situation, i.e. waving for help, waving to stop a bus, waving to say hello, waving to say good by, waving to get a waiters attention, is what first defines the type of wave we use, there are just so many reasons to wave.  There can also be certain restrictions such as the age, size, weight of a person, physical limitations can all affect how a person waves. Even personality can affect the way in which a person waves, from personal observations, shy people tend not to want to draw attention, so their waves tend to be short and lower to the ground. Confident people tend to put their hands up as high as possible and wave faster and for longer, sometimes overly flamboyant in behaviour, from research I have come to the conclusion, that a wave is similar to a hand shake, in the sense you can tell a lot about the person from such gestures.


As Part of my research I thought a good place to start would be in the form of personal observations, primary research. In a crowded area in Leeds city centre, I observed many different types of people waving.  As previously mentioned, physical size and age seemed to play a significant role in how a person waves.  Two old men waved goodbye to each other, the waves were slow, slightly laboured and at one point it appeared the two were stuck in suspended animation.  The polar opposite happened a few minutes later when a young girl waved goodbye to her father as her mother took her into a near by shop, her wave was fast energetic, un co-ordinated and floppy with huge long waves back and fourth, the kind of wave you would expect from a child.

I gained a lot of insight from my observations, in away it’s nothing new, I’ve seen thousands of waves through the course of my life, but I’ve never actually really stopped and asked why a person waves the way they do until I conducted this research. Although I gained a lot of insight from what I observed I needed to look else where to find out more especially considering the kind of wave I wanted to animate, wasn’t something you see everyday.

I’ve decided to base my new wave animation on the “wave for help” or “Emergency wave”, the kind of wave when your or somebody else’s life depends on it being seen.  To research this wave, I looked at films featuring waves of desperation. I also looked on Youtube as a form of research.


Films such as, Castaway, 28 days later, Vertical limit and Die hard all feature characters in some desperate situation waving for help or for warning others to some sort of impending doom.

These films were great reference materials for my character animation. The waves in these films all had one thing in common; most of them were high-energy waves, performed using two arms and hands. It seems that in desperate situations, for maximum attention two arms is needed for maximum effectiveness. In 28 Days later, while trying to get the attention of a Military Jet flying by, the characters even jump up and down in conjunction with waving, you can really see the desperation in their actions.

(28 days Later- DVD screen grab)

In the film Cast away (below)  Tom hanks is stranded- He’s been on a raft for days and is suffering from dehydration,  sea sickness and exhaustion which is all affecting the way he waves. His wave is simply holding out his arm and reaching for help. It’s a half conscious effort on his part, not being totally aware of what is happening to him.

(Cast Away- DVD screen grab)

One of my last parts of research was to play the part of a survivor on a raft in the middle of ocean, upon seeing a passing cruiser I then imagine I’m yelling and waving for help. I tried to think about how desperate I would be and then attempt to exaggerate even further.  Recording footage of this actually helped the most with my animation. I could act out exactly how I wanted the character to act. My own bodies motion recorded made the animation more realistic than if it were made with no reference at all. See Below for Video.


Continuing on I decided to have another go at animating my hand wave, this time trying to make it look like the character is waving for help or somebodies urgent attention. This was actually quite difficult, animating a character to show a sense of urgency in their actions is no easy task, even with reference material. It’s clear from the poor atempt that it was my technica Skills which let the animation down. It’s not a very good animation for a number of reasons.

The hand waves are too robotic and not organic enough. It doesn’t seem natural to watch. Feels unrealstic and doesn’t bring the character to life. There isn’t anything good I really have to say about this animation. I think for my next attemp I shall try something easier, I feel as my character animation skills are limited, I need to first improve on them before my animations are to become more complex and interesting. I would rather to a simpler animation that looks good, than a complex one that looks rubbish. Once my Skills improve my animations will become more ambious  but for now, I’ve decided to do another “Help” wave but this time with only one arm doing the most of the work.

Below is my latest Attemp at animating my hand wave..

This is my latest hand wave animation, I would say it’s my best so far. It’s not perfect, the wave is to erratic, although hand waves are not perfectly symetrical in motion. They do tend to follow some kind of rythem which I think I haven’t quite accoplished yet in my animation. Overall it’s not brillient but I believe it’s slightly better than my first try.


What I learned, and What I need to Improve on….

Looking back at last weeks challenege, I realise that, if not researched properly and throughly, even simple animation can be a problem, what you think looks relastic might not be the best apporach, it’s better to look at reference material, even if the motion is to be exaggerated, it’s good to make thre animation based on realistic movement, and then exagerate it, or amplfiy the movment. As for my animation, I am dissapointed with it, although it’s a start, I will concentrate on making it a lot better. I need to get a more organic feel from the character, at the moment it’s stiff and robotic. I need more free flowing movment. The motion of the wave in particualr needs to be more natural. I understand what is needed to make this animation work better, what I need to concentrate on is improving my technical skill in 3ds max in regards to contolling the chracter rig to get the desired results.

George Bush Wave pic –

CAST AWAY screen grab taken from DVD

28 Days Later Screen grab taken from DVD

Written and directed by Sylvain Comet this whimsical adventure pulls you in and holds you tightly from distraction for the whole length of the film.

Madame Souza’s grandson is kidnapped during the tour de france, with the help of her trusty dog Bruno and the once famous Belleville triplets, they set of on a daring rescue mission against uncertain odds.

Belleville is parisian in style, but not structured to reality, the buildings, streets and everything in the city is just as caricatured as the characters, complete with impossibly steep banks, to insanely high rooftops and short stumpy stores. Everything is mixed up and out of proportion, it’s as if they city was modelled out of wet clay and before it dried somebody dropped it. The colour scheme also stands out, when it’s night, all the colour is suitably washed out, grey, dark and mercy looking, pale in comparison to the day time which turns the city golden. Strong yellows can be seen everywhere, makes for a nice contrast between day and night. The Tour de france scene where the kidnapping takes place, is as what you would expect. Vertical hills and suitably rocky. It’s quite a nice looking scene, it’s summer, so it’s full of yellow and red hues as well as plenty of brown.

The characters contained within Belleville are extreme exaggerations of people. Similar to caricatures found in political newspapers featuring politicians. Madame Souza is short and hobbit like, one leg is shorter than the other,which is made up to size with an oversized shoe. Her obvious physical limitations are overcome and don’t interfere with her resolve in getting her grandson back, you can’t help but admire her because of this, which is why the character was made this way. An un limey Hero that steps up to the challenge. Her Dog Bruno is not really of any use in the film at least to the characters, he’s more of a fixation for the audience, He’s certainly adorable, his huge bulging body supported by his matchstick legs are enough to make anyone love him. You see much of the film through Bruno’s eyes. Including the stand out dream sequences, Where Bruno seems to always be moving fast on some locomotive or other method of transport. Perhaps a connotation for a dogs love of sticking their heads out of car windows. You also have the gangsters who all look identical, like huge black rectangles with feet. They are stiff and rigid, maybe an implication of having no soul or heart. Madame Souza’s grandson is also quite disproportional. He’s a cyclist and like most cyclist they have defined calf muscles, but his are like tree trunks while there rest of him is skinny, his nose is long and at times, he resembles a race horse.

From an animation standpoint, there are breaks in the Inbetweening frames. So when the characters stop moving or doing something, there is sometimes a pause until the next action or movement, usually the body pauses while the eyes continue to move in order to appear as if nothing has stopped. This kind of animation is typical in a lot of animations such as in the studio Ghibli films. Which is opposite to disney who use realistic motion or as close to real life as possible. Most of the time, the motion like the design of the characters is caricatured, the french waiter is a good example of this, he’s very stringy and bendy as if made out of half cooked spaghetti.Which is totally opposite to the gangsters who move very wooden fashion as you would expect given their shape and size.

Research plays a heavy role in any animators job, but what makes things even more interesting is when that research is applied in a different way. It’s clear that the cyclists in the story are treated like prised race horses, not just in how they are captured but also in the way they move, gasp for air as well as their long faces. Instead of looking at how a human gasps for air, or moves, they looked at horses and applied that research to a human being, which created the unique style and look of the characters.

The film apart from sound effects and the score, is mostly silent, there isn’t any real dialogue, just the odd sigh and laugh here and there. This was perhaps a clever way to get over the language barrier and making the film more accessible to a world wide audience.

The film is what it is, I wouldn’t say it has many weaknesses apart from the style of animation might not be the taste of the average movie goer to seeing Shrek and toy story. This particular style of animation is more directed towards adults and a particular target audience, most likely art types, or people into animation as a passion. Strength wise, it’s never boring at any point and manages to maintain a steady pace. Visually spectacular and most of all, fun to watch…