This post follows on from part one, two and three of the story, if you would like to read them first they can be found here - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Saturday Morning (hours worked = 88.5)
Submission - [V06]
EL 03/07: What can we do in the time that we have? I would prefer to spend the time to hit the Rough notes, otherwise at least getting some more OS hip shifts on Soren (that would translate/overlap up through his torso, and the snake) as he stumbles through his footfalls a bit with the surprise of the impact and the mere fact that the snake is here. We just feel too locked on our mark here, so I am looking for anything to make the moment play more real at Soren's core. Also, need to continue to refine overlap on the snake relative to Soren, and snake lip sync. Soren can still have a bit more incredulous default facial, with occasional smile coming in, weight it still more toward incredulous (eyes wide, mouth agape) particularly toward the end. Copying previous notes just to track them: EL 02/07: Let's get one more pass before Rough, refine snake sync, and crank incredulous where you can, esp, with Soren's broken up, shuddering, gasping breathing. Make sure this breathing comes from his core and that the rhythm does not get too even. (time-wise, focus on the end.) The look to cam still plays odd, too defined in and out, too present (almost plays like embarrassment) Try breaking it up in steps, and spread it out longer, perhaps use body rots more in the turn as well, but trailing one step behind the head... and counter animate the snake head position back in world-space to keep the same read/ focus on her as he shifts around underneath. Also, still need more wide-eyed, jaw dropped incredulous on Soren's look to the others.
My heart sank as I saw the large amount of text next to my shot. His opening statement suggested he wasn't really happy with it, that he was just looking to for improvement in the time left and had given up on getting the shot he really wanted. I had just one day left to work on the shot. Realistically I couldn't change it very much in that time. Had I made a disastrous mess of the shot? And the snake sync note again, I'd gone through it and it looked pretty dead on in terms of timing, what was going on? Was it possible I had the wrong audio in my shot? This had happened a few times on the project, an update gets missed along the way and someone has to redo animation due to them having the wrong audio. Had I just spent 7 days animating to the wrong dialogue?
My old camera had a slight drift on it which had subconsciously given the illusion of Soren moving around more. The new one was more locked and I could see it made him look very still. My co-ordinator arranged for me to do an upload to him at lunchtime so he could see where I was at and prioritise what should be worked on. I grabbed the translate null and Soren and tried to find places where it felt appropriate to move him. This was tricky as he had to end up in the same place so that Mrs P's position would stay the same at the end of shot. So every time I moved him forward, I had to find an opportunity to move him the same distance backward. I had got the note to make him incredulous again, I clearly still wasn't getting this right. So I decided to be brave and push it as far as I could, and just have his mouth wide open for most of the shot, I also exaggerated the head shake I had in there and submitted again.
BB: have tried to loosen him up a bit, moving him back and forth to address the "locked on our mark" note, weighted expression toward open mouthed default. Hoping to spend rest of day pushing chest and snake overlap. Not sure what to do about snake sync note, Andrew and I went through it yesterday and I made some adjustments, looks pretty tight to me now. Which bit is the problem? Is it possible you have different audio?
Lunchtime Saturday 3rd July
Sumission - [V07]
brendanb wip rough
EL 03/07: Great progress! Sorry Brendan to clarify, the snake lip sync felt a bit steppy and off-model for Mrs. P's normal asymmetry…run it past Christian S and see if he has any pointers. Do your work today and submit Arbs for Rough approval.
Wow. My quick fixes had been enough, to lift the curse off the shot, I could now see that Soren's mouth being open affected it greatly, he now felt genuinely shocked at the Mrs P being there and his spluttering and trying to speak was working better. My crude translating around was working better than I had thought it would and made Soren feel more looser and more natural.
I fixed Mrs P's mouth shapes in a clean-up pass and that was it- the shot was done! I want to be clear that I don't think this shot is a masterpiece, when I look at it now it seems obvious to me that the shot was done quickly and has been kept relatively simple. If I had had longer I might have attempted a more dynamic and exaggerated stumble on Soren, and not keep him so side-on throughout the shot but I think for how quickly it was done it's reasonably successful. It was quite a roller coaster ride to get it out in a week. I was pleased that I had turned it around to something the animation director was happy with.
Here's the final rendered version -
And here's a progression reel of the shot so you can see how it evolved -
It's funny looking back now, at the time I felt I had to make some pretty big changes to the shot but in fact the physicality of the shot changed little from my initial sketches and first block to the final version. The intent and energy of the characters was lacking in my initial approach but this was something that was layered over the top of the action.
It's also strange to look back and remember how upset I was when I thought it was going badly. It was an intense week and the tiredness I was feeling at the time certainly was a factor but also, as an animator you have to invest a lot of yourself into your job. It's almost impossible to detach yourself from your work and put it out of your mind, or resign yourself to producing an unsatisfactory shot. Animation is a consuming occupation which can contribute to your life in positive and negative ways. After all, the fact that we care so deeply about our work is the main motivation behind working such long hours.
Thanks for reading. A huge thank you to my sister Frith for acting as editor for these posts and also to Eric Leighton who very kindly allowed me to use his notes.
I would also like to thank Spungella and On Animation for recommending this story on their blogs.