Friday, November 26, 2010

Acting Theory - Preparing a Character

After reading Ed Hooks Acting for Animators recently I have decided to go back and read some of his influences and the context from which he is teaching. But also to see if I can gain more of an understanding by reading the source material.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Research Poster

Here is my research poster for the Research Skills & Methods module assessment. 
Click the image to embiggen.

Developments in Game Technology

I have recently watched a couple of interesting videos showcasing some new technology being used in computer games. The first of which is the trailer for a new game called 'L.A Noire' from Rockstar Games developer Team Bondi.

What is most striking about the trailer is the facial animation specifically the lip-sync. Using a new motion capture system where they 'capture without using markers ... the exterior of people instead of bones.' (McNamara 2010) the developers have been able to really raise the level of realism of facial animation for games. Although I would definitly not go as far as saying it eliminates the uncanny valley as McNamara states in the interview for Game Informer this is a huge step forward in what has been seen in games up till now.

The second video shows the new Character Creator from the upcoming EVE Online expansion 'Incursion'.

The graphics and high level of detail of the model are impressive but what I find even more impressive is that the user can make changes to the proportions and shape of the face and body very easily, intuitivly, all in real time. This kind of intuitive interaction for character creation is something I would love to see intergrated into a 3D animation package such as Maya.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bill Plympton Notes

Going over my old Ed Hooks lecture notes I remembered that I had also attended a talk by Bill Plympton around the same time. He gave some advice on producing independent animation. These are my notes.

Plymptons Dogma

1 Short (5mins)
2 Cheap ($1000 per min) (2-3 Months)
3 Funny

'I don't need the prestige, I need the money.' (Plympton, 2008)

Guard Dog image source article.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ed Hooks Lecture Notes

Ed Hooks Acting for Animators Lecture Notes from Jan 2008

Ed Hooks introduces the idea of his main acting principles.

1 Thinking, Emotion, and Physical Action.

Thinking tends to lead to conclusions.
These conclusions lead to an emotion. (Automatic Value Response)
Emotion tends to lead to action.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Life Drawing 05

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Madame Tutli-Putli

Creating Atmosphere and Mood using Animation.

The atmosphere and mood of the film at the start is quite lonely, somber and uncomfortable. These are reflected in the character of Madame Tutli-Putli, we see through her movements she is uncertain, nervous, filled with anxiety and is quite solemn and lonely. These characteristics are heightened even more as the atmosphere and mood grows darker, more hostile and tense as the film goes on.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Animation Fun Times

After a hiatus of over 2 years I was finding it difficult to get back into producing animation. I think the main hurdle putting me off was a severe lack of practice combined with trying to jump in at the deep end thinking I could just pick up were I left off. My skills are rusty so to warm up I have decided to go back to the basics for some practice and also to get comfortable working again in Maya. Just a quick bouncing ball and run cycle. Underwhelming but essential. 

The Bouncing Ball

The Running Man

The Goon Rig was used for the run cycle.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Meet The Spy

Meet the Spy is is the 8th short animation based on the game Team Fortress 2 created by Valve Software.

The Meet the Spy short is a very good example of the style of animation that I am interested in creating. Everything from the way it is rendered to the character models and animation is very stylised and exaggerated. Although quite cartoony everything still moves in a believable way so as to not be too unrealistic.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Character Research

One of the things I want to have done as part of the masters course is to make a short film. Initial discussions revolved around idea of a science fiction story with the main character being a robot or a cyborg. Preliminary research was to look at films and television programmes (such as The Terminator Series, Star Trek, Aliens, Battlestar Gallactica, I Robot, Ghost in the Shell and A.I.) and how they have portrayed that kind of character. What interested me most visually is the stark contrast between the organic and the mechanical and the way they would be connected.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Life Drawing 04

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Left 4 Dead Intro

The Left 4 Dead intro is quite unique in that it as well as setting up the context for the story and introducing the characters it also acts as a gameplay tutorial. Every moment of the trailer is there to inform the player of all of the main game mechanics and gameplay devices before they even start to play the game. By using the framework of a short film the developers are able to inform the player of the techniques and knowledge needed throughout the game to survive. But doing so by showing them through the actions, choices and mistakes that the characters make throughout the story in the trailer.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Abstract

Adam Thomson - MSc Animation and Visualisation 4/11/10 
Research Skills and Methods - Abstract 
Research Title: Research developing character and personality through movement, action, appearance and performance.
“When we speak of the illusion of life in animation, it boils down not to mannerisms and naturalistic movement, but to emotion.” - Ed Hooks  
As an animator I feel that I have reached a point where on a technical level I am quite advanced but in terms of character performance my work is far more functional than emotive. With this in mind I wish to become a more accomplished animator with a better understanding of performance animation with more of a focus on why something moves than how it moves. The production of animation exploring and experimenting with character and performance will help me to really be able to get to the heart of why characters move the way they do. 

These animation tests will include but not be limited to basic walks and runs to more complex performance based animations with single and multiple character interactions and dialogue pieces. Some of this work will be used to take part in the monthly 11 Second Club animation competitions. 

To support the practice based research I will be reading into different acting and movement theories such as Stanislavsky and The Actors Studio, Ed Hooks Acting for Animators and Laban Movement Analysis and will also talk to local actors and performers to find out about their approaches. 

The work I want to create is very much based within the context of researching and producing animation focusing on developing my understanding of character performance and then applying this to short character led animations.

Hooks, E. (2003) Acting for Animators: a complete guide to performance animation. Revised Edition. Porstmouth, NH, Heinemann