Sunday, 23 May 2010

Drum roll please ...

Ladies and gentlemen, the moment that every AMer dreams about has arrived ... starting dialogue shots!

It's really weird to actually be here now. I still feel like I've just started, but actually all of a sudden I've worked my way through all the classic AM rigs - and have finally got access to the Bishop rig. He's got eyes that blink, and fingers that move and is generally a fairly complete humanoid character.
However, as with everything at AM, they ease you in gently. So we don't have full facial controls yet - just a jaw that can open and close, and eyelids that can open and close. All the rest of the goodies come next term.

So the assignment is to find a piece of dialogue, spoken by one person, that has some kind of texture or emotional change in it, and animate your character to it. I've been thinking about this assignment pretty much since I started, so have been keeping an ear out for great dialogue. I think one week isn't really enough time to come up with something good when you've got the entire history of film, TV and radio to trawl through so I think it pays to start early.

That said, the piece of dialogue I actually ended up using, I think I found in the last week! But it's nice to know you have some other options.

I decided to go with this piece of dialogue for several reasons:

- I'm confident that very few people will have heard it before, so won't have any pre-conceived ideas about it.
- It's English, so a bit different to the usual reel stuff and, you know - I'm English.
- There's a nice change in emotion and timing.
- It's by Joyce Grenfell, one of my all time favourite comic actresses.
- It makes me laugh.

My original video reference that I shot was of the character sat down writing, but my mentor said that was too boring and that I should re-shoot with the character stood up and working with props. I thought I was going for nice subtle acting, but as he pointed out, all the acting is in the face, and with no facial rig till next term, I wouldn't have a whole lot to work with.
So after gathering together my slightly crushed ego, I re-shot the video reference, working with a tray and some teacups, and my mentor loved it.

So here's how the shot is looking at the moment - this is my blocking plus pass.

Dialogue - Blocking plus from Sarah Knight on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Pantomime shot

Apologies for the delay between posts, I've basically been ill for the whole of April, so have been struggling to keep up with my animation assignments and the day job, let alone blog posting!

However, I'm feeling much better now, so thought I'd get you up to date on my animation.

Class 4 is going great (illness aside!). I have a fantastic mentor who gives great feedback, and lots of it! He is Justin Martinsen, currently working at Double Negative in London, so I actually have a decent Q&A time! 8 in the evening - woohoo! My eyes are open, I'm not wearing pyjamas - it's incredible! You can check out his work (and even his acting skills - check out the Reference comparison section in the animation menu) here.

Our first assignment of the term was a pantomime shot (i.e. telling a story with no dialogue) where we had to pick a scenario that had two contrasting emotional beats in it. Originally, I was going to have Stewie sat crying, and Tailor (the ball with a tail) comes along and snuggles up, trying to cheer him up. That doesn't work, so then Tailor jumps on Stewie and runs all around tickling him and making him laugh.

I really liked that idea, and got a lot of positive feedback from other students about it. HOWEVER, it's my mentor's opinion that counts, and he thought that having Stewie sat there would be too static and that it's good to keep practising the ol' body mechanics. And I agree.

So after several re-thinks and different variations, this is the final shot. Still a story with Stewie and Tailor, and I'm relatively happy with it. Still don't feel like I've really made my animation sing though ... but maybe nobody feels like that about their own shots. Got a fair bit of polishing left to do, but it's getting there.
Let me know what you think!

Pantomime shot from Sarah Knight on Vimeo.