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London rap artist Leano produced the following inspirational short film, bringing together 15 animators to inspire people to smile.

I think this is an awesome use of animation, and one I’d love to see more off.  I often think as animators we focus far too much much on meaningless entertainment, rather then telling real stories or using the sheer inspirational power of animation.

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So I’m in Class 2, Body Mechanics of AM now.  I have some of my work up on my youtube account. It’s been a very interesting time.  I had a very difficult time at first; I couldn’t understand what my mentor was talking about in the critiques, I had a hard time figuring out how to do things (I think they pushed us a little too fast in this class), and a bunch of other issues.

I eventually figured them out, mostly, and I think I’m starting to get a handle on it, yay.  I’ll have to post some new shots on the youtube channel of what I’m doing now.

So, my experience with the 11 second club was not a pleasant one.  Oddly enough, everyone who gave me feedback were the act-it-out-yourself-no-reference type of people, which was entirely unhelpful because at the time I couldn’t physically do that (I was hoping people would actually give feedback on the movements I already had, how they were wrong, and where to go to find usable reference material that’d apply).  I really had no idea what to do, so the whole thing just degraded into an utter horror for animation everywhere.

But the biggest thing were people’s reaction to the model my rig uses.  It’s just a somewhat old makehuman model, chosen because I figured it wouldnt be too hard to write some scripts to easily move my rig onto any makehuman-generated character (which didn’t pan out, since they’ve changed their model several times since then).

It really frustrated me, because I didn’t think people would care so much.  The truth is, I find almost every publicly available (almost always cartoony) rigged character as visually horrendous as people reacted to my model.  I don’t know why, I just can’t stand any of them, and the ones I can stand just don’t have good enough rigging to be usable.  But I can still watch other people’s animation on those models and appreciate it just fine.  I expected other people to do the same for me.

Anyway, I now need to model a new character.  I’m thinking some sort of cartoony cat.  Something that’s exaggerated and comic-ish, and very different from all the many cartoony models already out there.  It’ll probably take me a while to do this, since I don’t really have time and it takes quite a while to model+rig a character.

I just started Animation Mentor a couple of weeks ago. While watching one of the lectures, I had the idea to do a crappy little animation of a blobish thing, but doing every frame manually (with no interpolated keyframes).

I did it just for fun, no planning or anything (I was way too tired to sketch stuff out). I found doing all the frames manually was actually easier; if I had used keyframes I would’ve had to spend a lot of time planning things out for the same result.  I also really like the feel of animation done primarily on twos, something you don’t see often in CG.

I’m doing an exercise animating a hopping ball; being such an animation newbie, I figured it’d be good practice.  You can see what I have so far at:

http://vimeo.com/2151930

The first 2 hops are actually from another exercise, and are a little more refined then the rest of it. I’m still figuring out how to work out beforehand the movement of things (a hopping ball is a little difficult since I can’t just do it myself or easily find reference).

I’m going to spend some time on previs (of some sort or another) then probably start from scratch.  It’s easy to think of a cute little sequence of a hopping ball interacting with a cylinder, but actually animating a sequence in your head (I quickly discovered) is a really stupid thing to do.

As part of my ongoing effort to improve my very sucky animation skills, I made this one-hour block of an animation yesterday:

It basically followed some ideas I read in the Animator’s Survival Kit (great book btw).  It also pointed out a weakness in my rig, in that it was fairly difficult to invert the arch of back and have the hand stay in the same position, without using IK on the arms.   I also used a parent constraint on the box to move it, which caused problems of its own (I had to disable rotation inheritance to have it look even halfway decent because of the IK); I think it would’ve been better to hand-animate the box in this situation.

I’m thinking of doing several of these one or two-hour blocks in the future, since I don’t really have time to really produce polished pieces of animation, especially since I’m not even sure I can, without more practice.

Since I seem to have a lot of free time this summer, I’ve decided to start a rigging and animation blog.  This site will mostly feature various books and tools that sound cool, but will also document some of the knowledge I’ve accumulated in my past adventures learning the black art of character rigging.

Note that I’m in no way a professional or expert on animation or rigging (though I am fairly good for an amataur at rigging, I think).