Animation – Blocking & Passes

Today we looked at animation workflow, in the form of blocking and animation passes. This will hopefully help us to get a much better end result for our own idents.

The first pass in any pose to pose animation is the blocking pass. All the key poses/movement in the scene will be blocked out with no motion in between (also known as a pop through) the end result is something akin to a more polished animated storyboard (animatic). Animators will then take a second pass, focusing on a particular action in general and get the feel and timing correct, then pick another action and so on. The whole process is far more broken down than I ever realised. I can see the benefits as this lets you nail down all the major timing first and then refine individual aspects over time, rather than getting lost in the bigger picture. Here is the example video that was given to us, showing the animaton passes in Disney’s Tangled.

A blocking pass or pop through can be easily achieved in Maya by setting the graph editor to tangent – stepped, which will prevent Maya from splining (new word I always thought it was tweening) inbetween key frames. Unfortunately I have no picture examples because I spent this week finishing my storyboards and getting very lost and confused in the world of rigging.

When I made my robot I initially thought it wouldn’t be too hard to rig him up for animation. He had no legs, his head only swivelled, no hands (just a fixed claw), but he did have two arms. Surely setting up two measly arms wouldn’t be that hard?! Oh was I wrong.

As a mature student with some prior knowledge, I’ve so far sailed through the first term. So it is so irritating when you finally hit a wall and you’re thinking damn, that was a little too soon for comfort. There is a reason that animation usually gets a degree all to itself in University and I’m pretty sure its mostly going to be rigging. The two thirds of a year I did of an animation degree was all on a light box, so a very different kettle of fish.

I sat with Matt for ten minutes while we went through the process of how to setup an arm with bones, setup inverse kinematics and NURBS control surfaces. I am ashamed to admit almost none of it sunk in, so my plan of action is to track down Matt before next session, attempt to take a few notes and return to this post to write a more fleshed out guide on the process. At least that way I may remember it for future. I’d rather not let a week lapse before I can fix this issue if I can help it. Also I really love my robot and would prefer not to abandon it and use a pre-built rig from the internet.

Here is how the scene is looking from the hypergraph hierarchy and perspective camera with the working arm. I just need to learn how to replicate it.


So I’ll be back soon to finish this post!



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