Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Class 1 / Week 8: Introduction to Walks / Blocking

This week we finally got introduced to a very important animation body mechanic, walks. Personally, this  one of my favorite subjects to study in people. I always found myself observing how people walk and how each person's walk is different from one another. There's so much you can tell from a person's way of walking. Are they walking fast or slow? Maybe their torso is up straight? Or is it be hunched over? Is the person limping or skipping? All of this little nuances like this can give out so much information about a person's personality or history.

For this week, our assignment was to create a "Vanilla" Walk. In other words a "basic" or "standard" walk. This means it shouldn't have any personality or character. Or like my mentor said: "Keep it boring!" Also, the STU pose for this week was strength.

Walks are hard! Animating walks is one of the most difficult things to do. The entire body is in motion during a walk so it's very important for us as animators to understand how it all works together. Luckily, for this assignment we start off with the "Ballie" rig so we can focus on understanding the mechanics of the hips and legs and their relationship to one another without worrying about the spine, arms, hands and head. We'll be introduced to full body mechanics in Class 2. Yikes! ;)

For this week we only had to block out the animation in Stepped Keys and creating our basic key poses that make up a "Vanilla" walk.

For a Vanilla Walk all we need to do is follow the recipe. There's 3 main components that make up a walk:

Keys: contact positions
Breakdowns: passing position
Extremes: lowest and highest points of the walk

Timing: in two's /  2 steps per second (24 frames)

From Richard Williams The Animator's Survival Kit

  • Keep an eye on your forward translation . It should be a constant smooth line at all times. One trick I used was to switch from stepped to linear every now then on your Graph Editor. If the translate z/x looks a bit jagged, smooth it out and go back into stepped mode when you're done. You might have to go back and reposition the legs and feet. You'll thank me for this later, it will save you lots of work during splining.
  • Always keep the contact foot "grounded" it should not move until it peel's off the ground. Otherwise you might get some sliding on the feet as it moves forward. Check those values on your channel box and make sure are identical.
  • Keep track of the arcs and the spacing of the hips, legs, and feet between your poses. Any drastic change in spacing between the legs/knees and it's going to give you some pretty bad "pops' on the knees. Knee "pops" are unavoidable at this stage but if you keep your spacing nice and even with clean arcs, it might save you some headaches and a couple of keyboards smashes down the line.

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