Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tutoring w/ Stephen Gregory week 3

Wow! Week 3 was such a great session man. Even made me forget about all the tech problems I was having last week. Not only because it was virus-free, but Stephen had a bunch of visual aids and we framed by framed some shots, both work in progress and finished.
Here is what I submitted to Stephen this week, basically incoporating his notes, and adding breakdowns and smoothing out holds. "Blocking plus", but far from polish. I felt okay about it, but after a while I never could tell.

And here are Stephen's notes.

Honing in on a specific part of the assignment. Essentially breaking down where I could begin to go in and clarify the acting ideas by specifying how I wanted to move in and out of the storytelling poses. The spacing and timing of key things like anticipating and dragging of the head, pushing the arcs on the chest and shoulders, for example, would all contribute to what the specifics of the acting would be.

Which to me was the biggest lesson of the night, the key poses would tell the story, how you animated between those poses would sell the acting, and therefore the sophistication of the animation of the scene.

Following blocking and getting into rough animation, he usually starts really animating (working out the curves) with the hips and branches out into the spine, then to the extremities, head, and so forth. Usually working in FK arms. He works pose to pose but usually ends up "hiding the poses" as to make it feel more organic. Breaking up the different elements of the body helps achieve that.

I asked him about moving holds and my attempts to throw in "random, ambient movements" to keep a pose alive. Nothing should be random, subtle movement shifts (keep-alives) should come from thinking about the physics and inertia of moving from one pose to another. How each part of the body settles, overshoots, or begins to sets up another pose, at times independently from one another. Its actually very difficult for anything to come to a complete stop without some specific residual movement. Well, where is that coming from? None of it is random.

I also heard in the recent Spline Doctors Roundtable that Stephen felt that you could essentially do a scene with one pose. I mentioned that while I was at Animation Mentor, the biggest comment I'd hear watching the acting classes was to consolidate the number of poses. That "you have 3 poses here when you could be telling it with one." He showed me a scene he did from Monsters Inc where he blocked out the whole scene with just pose. A story pose in which, you could be able to read the jist of this scene with just this one pose. That kind of "less is more" approach struck a chord with me. Thats what generally describes my taste in all art. Now obviously, he would later go on to animate so it was more than just that one pose, but it all would work within that key pose and support it. This whole idea may seem contrary to the paragraphs preceeding this one about "hiding the pose", but I think its just a way of simplifying your scene. And to not have to feel like you have to hit a different pose for every single beat of a dialogue.

We then went through a James Baxter scene in the Rescuers Down Under, of Wilbur, the albatross, dancing while he delivers some dialogue. This scene was a prime example of one being able to spot the key poses if you frame-by-frame it, but you can also see how in depth James is thinking about moving in and out of these poses, and thus not making them so apparent so the whole thing feels organic. When the shoulders are leading the movement here, bringing up the ribcage but dragging the pelvis, so as to cause a nice stttrrretch in the body. How, when the pelvis comes down it makes a nice arc in its path of action setting up the next pose. How the wings are leading or dragging, while the graphic arrangement of every element in each drawing stages the action so that it reads clearly. I mean, there was just so much going on there. I felt like I was watching a magician at work, as cheesy as that sounds. But it was beautiful man.

We contrasted that scene with the one directly preceeding it, that he thought kinda sucked. It had the same character, essentially moving from one pose straight into another, with seemingly little thought to what lead to what was inbetween those keys. And sure the keys were okay, but it lacked that the particularity of movement inbetween those keys. And it paled in comparison. I was really quite blown away by the difference.

Stephen was like." right now your shot is that scene, "this week I want you to get it to James Baxter level."

Haha, Surely I wont come anywhere near that . But I'd probably get alot further if I shoot for that degree. So thats next week's assignment.


Dan said...

Nice Bobby,

I'm psyched for us that we are fortunate enough to take advantage of this opportunity. I'm a week behind the rest of you, and even more behind on posting my progress, but never the less it's more than inspiring and exciting to read about it.

Can't wait to see more.

Good luck with this scene.

Anonymous said...

Great man! Thanks for this informative post and posting quicktimes so we can frame through what your talking about. Very revealing!

Katy Hargrove said...

I know I don't animate, but it was cool to hear you talking about the single key pose. It seems like everything is all about the silhouette in art. The big key pose is the silhouette for the whole scene and then from there you get the second tier of silhouette, adding in individual character keys, and it keeps breaking down like some freaky pyramid of detail. It can get as crazy as you want it, but the big base pieces have to be there or the whole thing collapses.

Bobby Pontillas said...

Ooh deep Katy! I think you're spot on, its the good ol' general-to -specific adage.

Another thing I've been thinking about is how you lead the eye w/ how much movement you give a character. Where in the focal point is where most of the movement would be, and from there you sort of radiate out to much more subtle movement. So as not to take attention away from the focal point.

It kinda goes in line with the illustration idea of contrasting detail w/ rest areas.

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