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Tuesday 27 January 2009

Guardians of Ga'Hoole

I'm currently at Animal Logic in Australia, back where I animated on Happy Feet. I'm now working on their next animated feature The Guardians of Ga'Hoole.

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Clym's Walk

Clym Smith, an animation student at Ravensbourne college asked me to critique a walk he has done -

Excuse the pause at the end of the movie, that was accidentally added by me.

It is a good start and there are some nice poses in there. My first impression was that it was perhaps a bit fast, and maybe it needs to be inbetweened to make it feel a more natural speed.

As I watched it a few more times, a pose jumped out at me as looking a little odd. This one -

In this pose, the character is too off-balance and looks like he's falling over. It doesn't quite fit in the walk, and it makes the character feel as if he's tripping on something.

It also stands out in this composite of the walk. We can see the head is generally moving forward at a constant speed until this frame, when it suddenly shifts further forward and overlaps the next drawing.

So Clym, that would be the main thing I'd fix along with the speed. But I also thought I'd go through the other drawings and suggest some subtle ways to exaggerate the poses and movement you have.

As I've shown below, the up and down motion you have on the character is quite even. I would be tempted to push this into more of a bouncing ball motion.

Let's start by looking at the first pose in this sequence; the contact position. One thing I noticed is that his body is in a very neutral pose, it would liven the action up if this was altered, and we had a stronger change of shape occurring.

We can see this by drawing a line following the spine, this is our 'line of action'. At the moment the line is straight.

By simply pushing the line of action, and therefore the body, into a slight curve we create a stronger more interesting pose.

So, this is how I would alter the contact position. By adding a more dynamic line of action and also raising the body up. I've also straightened the rear leg to better follow the flow of the spine.

In the next pose, your 'down' or 'squash', I have pushed the line of action the other way. This will give us a change of shape when we play the animation which will add extra life to the walk. I have taken it to quite an extreme here, you may want to be more subtle.

I have also lowered the pose and changed the rear leg. In your drawing it felt as if the leg had shrunk a bit.

In the next pose, the crossover, I have kept some of the curve of the previous pose in the body. I have also changed the lifted foot slightly as I felt it had slightly too much drag in your drawing.

I haven't shown it here, but it would also be a good idea to show part of the hand or the elbow protruding outside the figure's silhouette. At the moment the arm is contained in the shape of the body which means we lose it in motion.

The next pose is the one we mentioned earlier. I pushed his lifted leg further forward, and flattened the toes of his rear foot to look like they are still in contact with the ground. I also changed the angle of his body, so it looks less like he is tripping up.

We then arrive at the opposite contact pose, which I have altered in the same way as the first.

Here is a composite of all my drawings over your original ones. As you can see the heads now have more of a constant motion forward.

While the character's vertical motion forms a bouncing ball curve.

One last thing I think would help the animation. In this drawing you have the arm straight with the wrist dragging as it moves forward, which is good. But you could create a very fluid motion if you then bend the joints the other way as the arm swings back. I have indicated in red a rough approximation of the shape that you might want.

This is called 'breaking joints', Richard Williams describes it very well in his book, The Animators Survival Kit.

And that's it. As I said before, the walk is working well and these are just small changes to add to what you've already got. Hope it has made sense!

Good luck and all the best,


Wednesday 7 January 2009

Batpod tests

Happy New Year!

As The Dark Knight is now available on DVD I can now show you the pre-production tests I created of the Batpod. They had made a practical version but because of the huge wheels, the movement was very limited, especially in it's ability to turn. It became obvious that a computer generated version would be able to achieve much more dynamic movement.

This is the first test I created to show how flexible it could be. The idea is that the mechanism is gyroscopic, keeping the wheels flat to the ground while the rider leans into the turns.

Batpod 1 from Brendan Body on Vimeo.

The next test I made was intended to show other aspects of the Batpod's movement. The jump shows how the machine's suspension might absorb impact. The next part shows how the batpod might recoil from the cannons firing, and the last part shows how the bike could lower to avoid an obstacle.

Batpod 2 from Brendan Body on Vimeo.

This last animation is of something the director was keen to see work visually. He wanted the bike to drive up a wall, then it's body to twist round to land, ready to drive off in the opposite direction. This idea made it into the film.

Batpod 3 from Brendan Body on Vimeo.

I enjoyed making these animations, and it was also a rare opportunity for me to do the rigging.

In the final version the Batpod's movement was toned down a lot from these initial tests. It looks much stiffer than how I envisioned it, which makes sense as it matches more closely up to the practical Batpod.