On March 9th, I hosted two two hour workshops for Higher and Further Education VFX students at the Institute of Creative Technologies in Nottingham.
The aim of the workshops was to give students a taste of what it is to animate CG characters in Maya, looking briefly at the 12 Principles of Animation and working through my own workflow, looking at pose to pose blocking, timing and posing to create appealing animations with a lot of character.
The workshops were hands-on, so each student had pre-arranged files in front of them. It was my task to talk them through the steps of posing and timing whilst giving an explanation for my creative decisions. I used a great piece of video reference to kick off the process, focusing on an important aspect of Body Mechanics – the jump.
Above is the initial animation created to show off the fact that good video reference can create realistic-looking animations. This video was also used to show some of the key trajectories in the animation.
Next, I wanted to play with the timing in the animation to add more of a snappy, cartoon feel. Extending the contacts and apex points (squashed moments) and shortening the push off and come down (stretch moments), I gave a more interesting look to the weight of the character. Adding some elements of asymmetry (legs and arms) also heightened the appeal of the animation.
All of this would have required more time to teach than allotted, so I chose to give the students a simplified rig, going from a four-limbed character with a spine to a two-limbed character without. This gave the students less to focus on, whilst still giving them the experience animating a jump.