Marc Godfrey Animator

Monday, 10 November 2014

What Have I Learnt So Far From Aardman?

I was wondering what I should write about for my next blog post, and whilst browsing through my Learning Diary of what I've learnt on my Character Animation course at Aardman (yes, I do keep a diary of all the things I'm learning each that tragic?), so thought I'd share with you some of my biggest learning triumphs (or Eureka Moments, as we've affectionately started calling them) from the first couple of weeks. So, here they are:
1) Lines of Actions and Posing.
If you have good poses, you will be on the way to making good animations. Life Drawing has really helped developed my eye for posing a character, and ultimately creating the right feel for weight and balance. Finding the lines of action in the body, and putting them into my characters have really improved the way that I'm working, and ultimately animating!

Some of my simple Lines of Actions Drawings from Aardman
Some of my simple Lines of Actions Drawings

2) Check the Silhouette.
It's all very well posing a character, but does that pose tell your story? If you're not sure, check the silhouette. Is the body shape that has been created readable to the viewer? Is the attitude of the character clear? A simple way to check, is to look at the silhouette and simple ask friends or colleagues what they think is going on. As long as you haven't set up any lights, a super simple way to check your silhouette in Maya is to press 7! Easy!

3) Favouring.
If you're transitioning a character from A to B, a much nicer way to pose the body is to make the lines of action in the body favour one side, over the other. So, if you're moving across a plane, lean back from where you came from, then as you cross the half way point, maybe lean towards where you're going, or still towards where you came from...but just don't create a straight line in the middle...ever (well, hardly ever, at least)'s boring.

4) The Bouncing Ball is Everywhere!
If you've studied animation, undoubtedly, you've animated the bouncing ball. It is a vital part of the animation learning process. The bouncing ball is everywhere. One of my biggest eureka moments, was realising that the bouncing ball is all throughout the body. Especially in the pelvis, or the hips. Of course, it seems obvious, but it wasn't until my tutor pointed at the hips on my rig, and simply said "there is your bouncing ball", that I realised. Keep dem hips moving and a'bouncing!

5) Plant Your Feet.
This is another obvious one, put if you're going to be shifting your character's weight, to make it convincing, make sure the feet are firmly planted to the ground. They can't be floating or sliding. They need to be solid, and supporting the weight, before any weight is moved. Got it? Good!

I'll add more snippets of my learning in another post soon, but for now, that's all...hopefully you can take something away from this. If you do, drop my a line and let me know, and let's share the glory of learning!

Marc :)