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Thursday 30 November 2023

Camera Blocking Class

Here’s how I used to explain camera blocking to students. I showed them this step-keyed animation scene staged in different ways. Often students, would present their scenes in a neutral way, often with poor composition and flat staging. Perhaps something like this -

Flat, Static, poorly-framed Camera Blocking

'Soap Opera' Camera Blocking
Here's the same animation but presented as a wide establishing shot, then a series of over-the-shoulders. It’s basic but works a lot better than before. The characters look more appealing in 3/4, we can read their expressions better & we know who to focus on at different points.

If we look at the camera placement you can see that the camera stays the same side of the characters. There is an invisible line between the characters called an axis of action and, to avoid confusion, we keep the camera on the same side of this line.

Cross The Line
Here I have the camera on the wrong side of the line. The characters now face the same way over the two shots which feels odd. I was always frustrated this ‘wrong’ version wasn't as jarring as I’d hoped. I think because we have the table and other character to orient ourselves.

Refined Camera Blocking
From our basic example we can start to plus it, enhancing the story with subtle changes. Here the shots gradually get tighter during the sequence ending up with singles on the two characters. This gives the middle part of the scene more intensity.

I've also added dollies to the shots where the boy puts his head on his hands - emphasising his dreamy reverie. I use a stronger up shot on the girl as she stands and shoot the boy in a down shot, which gives her a greater feeling of dominance.

Sign Opening Shot
It’s interesting to experiment with the establishing shot, it can have a big affect on the sequence. Here, starting with a shot on the cafĂ© sign emphasises the location.

Point Of View Opening Shot
Here I start with a close up on the boy character and add a point of view shot as he looks to the girl, now the audience are encouraged to see him as the protagonist in the scene. Their empathy for him will be stronger, giving his emotions and eventual rejection more weight.

Main Gaits for a Horse and Panther

I did these quite a while ago for an iAnimate creature introduction, part of me would like to redo them to fix all the mistakes but unfortunately I don't have the time right now, so I'm just posting them as they are. Maybe this is helpful to some animators starting out with quadrupeds.

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Trex Scene

To learn a bit of Arnold, I did a quick render of a Tyrannosaurus scene I demonstrate in my iAnimate Creature Workshop. I also added some sound effects from

This is a video of the class, edited down to some highlights but will hopefully still give you some insight into my approach and process for a scene like this.

Since the animation was pretty simple, I thought the shot would benefit from some extra creatures. I hoped these would add some interest and a greater sense of life to the final result. Here I've highlighted these animations - a flying pterosaur and some small scavenging dinosaurs based upon compsognathus.

Thursday 4 June 2020

Intro to Creature Animation Course

I created a quick series of videos for iAnimate and thought it might be helpful to post them in order here -

Episode 1 = Intro
Episode 2 = Principles
Episode 3 = Anatomy
Episode 4 = Walk
Episode 5 = Trot
Episode 6 = Gallop
Episode 7 = Canter
Episode 8 = Polish

Thursday 7 May 2020

Weight Theory

Creature Animation workshop 3 - Lecture: Scale from iAnimate on Vimeo.

Here is a little animation experiment I conducted as part of my iAnimate fantasy creature workshop to demonstrate how I think about adding scale and weight to characters and creatures.

Tuesday 4 September 2018

iAnimate Podcast

I was asked to be a part of the iAnimate podcast series, the results of which can be found here

I'll be an instructor on their upcoming creature workshop on Flight and fantasy creatures. More information available here

Monday 16 April 2018

Goose Animation from Bird Flight Demo

I recently did a bird flight demonstration at an animation conference called Move Summit in Scotland. It's always a fun, if a somewhat daunting challenge to animate in front of people - not least because anatomy expert Stuart Simida was in the audience!

In the demo I created a basic flight cycle using a goose character, here is the animation below with an added background and glide.

I've also added a donate button to this blog. Many people have contacted me to say that they have found my bird flight tutorial useful. That is great to hear and I am happy to give this and my other tutorials away for free but the website does cost me money to host and I don't really use it for anything else now. So if you have enjoyed my bird flight tutorial and you have a spare buck or two I would really appreciate the help and you would make sure the tutorial continues to be a resource for yourself and others to use. Many Thanks!