My Journey into Animation

It has been a while…

by on Mar.31, 2012, under Uncategorized

Almost 2 months since  I last posted. That is too long to go but I got distracted by school. I did have a post in the works about a month ago but I was not able to bring my thoughts together in a way that I wanted at that time. My work lately has been focused on modeling projects for my 3D class. After the bike, I was able to build out another car based on a toy that I had. Below you can see the result. I also used my skills to produce an intro video with a design similar to the opening to Casino Royale which I really like. It needs some work. Also, just last night I completed my first entry into the 11SecondClub competition. I  consider this to be a good achievement mainly because the animation is unlike any I have done before. I will post that here in a few days.


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It’s February and I have not forgotten

by on Feb.03, 2012, under Uncategorized

So I know that it has been a while since I posted the animation of the character walking up the large mech. I wanted to take a short break and get some feedback before jumping back into it. Later that week I found out about the Malcolm rig that AnimSchool is letting people download to use. I was originally thinking that I would find a new use but now I plan to use it and go back to redo the character climbing. The reason behind that is that it became apparent, after some feedback, that what I was doing was not completely clear. Without a character with a face, it probably looked like he paused before climbing so the two were not connected.

Unfortunately  I have not gotten around to doing just that yet. School has started up again or me which means the workload is beginning to increase. I still hold by what I have said many times before and that is that the work isn’t hard, it is just time consuming. My flash class is just tedious while my After Effects class is a refresh of things I know all too well. It is just that I have to go through all the lecture videos to make sure I do everything in each assignment that is required and my instructor for both those classes does not like to get right to the point.

My class on Maya though has been rather nice. It revolves all around modeling with the first 4 weeks being focused on NURBs, the 3 weeks after being polygons, and then subdivs after that. The major NURBs project was to build a bicycle which you can see below. I think it has turned out pretty well and pretty accurate even though it is only about 80-90% complete. It lacks the technical components like the chain, breaks, and gear shifters.

That is about it for now. I will try to be a bit more consistent with my posts when I can.

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The Animated Climb – Part 1

by on Jan.14, 2012, under Uncategorized

So last week I posted the blocking for the animation project I started. This is the post for the first version of it completely animated. This project alone has taught my a lot more than what many of my school projects have taught me which I will go into below but for now, here is the video. If you could take a moment and give me some feedback/criticism, I would greatly appreciate it.


So I made a post about the walk cycle last week. Well I later found that what I had was a bit robotic when it came to walking. It all came down to a couple frames during each cycle for the forward position and the lifting position. Something so simple as a character setting his foot down a couple frames too fast makes a big difference.

Timing is another interesting subject in regards to this. I knew the basics of timing for the walk cycle but everything else was just estimation. Sometimes it worked out perfectly, other times not so much. Because of that, the animation has been extended by a few seconds but it makes a difference.

One of the tools that came in handy while editing this was Maya’s ability to display motion paths. While I had the graph editor open, it was not a very good way to see the path of an object. The only thing I think that would help with all of this was if the handles were a bit easier to modify. I am used to After Effects which as a tool dedicated to modifying the curve of points via the handles.

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Getting Started: The Walk Cycle

by on Jan.09, 2012, under Animation

So I have started off this animation project by relearning something I thought I already knew. As the starting point, I began work on the walk cycle using splines and adding keyframes as I refined the curves. Now this model that I am using has everything for the character tied to a master node. The last time that I did an animation test in Maya, I left the master node behind but this time I wanted to try using the master node to control the movement as he walked forward. The walk cycle looked great after I got done with it and the character was walking in place.

When I went to move the character forward, it became clear that the speed was not lining up correctly. The feet would slide a bit between the keyframes which meant that I would have to go in frame by frame and fix it. After a quick Google search about whether to use the master node or not, I found one mention online at CGTalk by user SirRon pointing out that for video games, the character should walk in place while in animation, he should physically move. It is an explanation that makes sense to me at least since video games are controllable instead of taking place on a set course.

Once I figured that out, I started on an alternate version with the master node stationary. After taking the time to try to salvage my original keyframes, I had to just start over. It was a matter of positions continually not lining up. One adjustment that I thought would fix it all ended up throwing something else out of whack and so on. It was all minor but a bit annoying. Probably best for me to start over anyways as I needed to get away from a couple of methods I picked up in my traditional animation class that were not fully accurate.

Time for me to get back to work on my overflowing amount of projects. Until next time,

– D. M.

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First steps into CG Animation… Well maybe my second steps…

by on Jan.05, 2012, under Animation

Despite all my animatic work, I am still pretty rubbish at animation itself. In After Effects I can easily move layers in 2D and 3D space to get the desired effect. CG animation is a whole different ballgame as far as I can tell. As one of the many steps I am taking before I start on my planned animated short, I am working on my animation skills. To do this, I am pulling together information from various sources. The main stuff is coming from my traditional animation course that I took last year. There is some that I am taking from books such as The Animator’s Survival Kit and The Illusion of Life. Online I have been getting a lot of tips from reading the Animation Tips & Tricks blog set up by Animation Mentor.

Now when I last did an animation test in Maya, the character didn’t have much life to him. At least part of the reason for that is because I let the computer do a lot of the work. This time I am changing things up a bit. Instead of using splines as I put in keyframes, I am doing steps and adding in the inbetweens later on. What you will see below is the blocking for the animation. It is a rather simple concept. The guy is trying to climb onto this large vehicle that has no clear way up. This version is the straight forward version where he just climbs straight up. Later  I will go back and do another where he has more trouble.

Please take a look at it and give me some feedback if you can. Right now I am a little more focused on timing as I will be adjusting some of the key poses some more.

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My Past Work

by on Jan.04, 2012, under Animation, Modeling, School

I thought it might be best to go over what I have done up to this point. Apologies in advances since this is going to be a bit lengthy. Back when I was in high school, I was apart of the video production program and ended as the main editor for the weekly news show. Because most of the work for me came in later in the week, I had a lot of free time and I used that time to teach myself After Effects. I was just doing basic visual effects and motion graphic type work as I figured it was just something to fill the void since I wanted to go into film editorial at the time. (continue reading…)

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by on Jan.03, 2012, under Uncategorized

Hello everyone. My name is Darrol and I am creating this blog as a way of keeping track of my work and what I learn along the way. Right now I am going to school but my major isn’t exactly along the path that I ultimately desire to go down which isn’t a total loss because I am still learning a lot of things that will be useful down the road. When I first enrolled at Mt. Sierra College, I wanted to go into visual effects. It wasn’t until later that things changed when I started to see things a little bit more clearly. It is hard to explain but I decided that I wanted to move in a different direction. I thought about what I enjoyed and what I have shown that I am good at which brought me to animation.

When I say animation, I don’t necessarily mean animation itself but rather the animation field. I have yet to fully experiment to find out what I want to do specifically so I plan to go through the full process. Or at least most of it. My goal by graduation is to have completed a short animated film. I already have an idea for it that I am continually refining it.

At this point, I don’t really know what will come of this blog. I think it will be a good way for me to keep track of my progress. It will also hopefully allow me to connect with others that can either help me or learn from what I am learning as I go.

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