Jill Box Lift Progress

I started by creating a GIF of the video reference that I found (front reference and side reference) and then I made frames from the GIF using the GIF Scrubber app for Chrome. This created 70 frames from my 6.4 second reference. I took every 8th pose and posed my model in Maya the same way. I forgot the do the math and finished on frame 70 in Maya but of course I should have check the length of my reference first and realised that I should have had around 154 frames. Once I had the poses on the correct frames I went back and started to adjust the timing between each pose.

This is my animation before I added the box to the action:

Jill Box Lift (Without Box) Side View:

Jill Box Lift (Without Box) Front View:

This is where I tried including the box with the action. Of course, the arm spacing to begin with wasn’t correct to hold the volume of the box the whole way throughout, so I had to go back and tweak the translate/rotation values for the shoulders, elbows and arms. This was quite difficult as the hands would often move away from the box between the poses so I ended up setting quite a few keyframes. There is still a lot of slipping and sliding that I need to fix and I think that I could also work on the weight a lot more. For example, there could be more anticipation/gathering of energy before she lifts the box above head height.

Jill Box Lift Front View:

Jill Box Lift Side View:

Creative Development Reflection

I think from the beginning of this project I over estimated the amount of work that I could get done in the time given. As a result there are a lot of areas I didn’t get completed for the deadline even though I’ve been working a lot. I’m not sure if this is because I focused on the wrong areas – like maybe I should have taken time away from research and development and put it into final polish. At the same time though I keep coming across talks where the importance of strong design over a nice image is stressed. Maybe my problem is more to do with using time efficiently and getting ideas out quickly.

Even though this project was more self directed I think we could have benefited as teams to find a way to be more organised as a unit from the beginning. For example, perhaps we should have made a more defined list of tasks to work through together and set frequent mini-deadlines for feedback sessions. This is probably easier said than done though as we did agree to do certain tasks but didn’t set strict deadlines.


Marv Walk Cycle (Heavy Male) Feedback Added

Some of the feedback I added:

The arms were stiff while moving forward so I loosened it up by adding more drag.

I hadn’t widened the base of Marv enough making him look off balance. To fix this I spaced the legs farther apart and also worked more on the sideways arcs of his feet.

He was also unintentionally looking quite feminine. His walk seemed to become more male when I widened his base more to suit his girth.  The outward angle of his arms to his body also made him look more feminine which I was having trouble fixing without them cutting through the body a lot. The problem didn’t seem so hard to fix after coming back to it.

I also worked more on how his feet were planting on the ground and rolling up as they were a bit glitchy looking.

Marv Walk Feedback Playblast 01 Front:

Marv Walk Feedback Playblast 02 Side:

Marv Walk Feedback Playblast 03 3/4-view:

Marv Walk Feedback Playblast 04 Top:

Marv Walk Cycle (Heavy Male) Before Feedback

These are playblasts from my walk cycle for Marv. This version only contains feedback from Abigail about having the shoulders too high. I’ve since added more feedback. With this walk I was mostly concerned with how I could create a sense of weight through the timing. I choose the bulky Marv rig for this reason (more extreme). My main references were the Digital Tutors tutorial, Richard Williams’ The Animator’s Survival Kit, Conann’s class and a gif (which I’ve blogged about here).

Marv Walk Playblast 01 Front:

Marv Walk Playblast 02 Side:

Marv Walk Playblast 03 3/4-view:

Marv Walk Playblast 04 Top:

Walk Cycle Reference Gif

Someone posted this gif on the Animation Belfast facebook page which I found quite helpful.

 photo walkcykles_zps6iqebzfn.gif

I took screenshots of the poses on each frame I wanted according to Richard Williams 33 frame cycle. This way I could get a better idea of how weight affects how slow/fast the character moves between poses. I was mostly interested in the heavy walk for reference for my attempt at Marv. Heavier movements require more energy, will therefore take longer to lift and will stay suspended for a shorter time.

Keith Lango: Building Overlaps, Breakdowns and Micro-Anticipations into Your Workflow

Keith Lango (October 2005) VTS 08 Timing Part IV

My notes:

Offset the timing of different parts of the body. Everything doesn’t usually arrive at the same time. Look at the Treasure Planet (2002) scene where John Silver offers his knives hand. Look at flow, weight, emphasis of space. The hand goes out first and the body settles in after. Actions like this can’t be made by simply offsetting the keys. This is why we need forethought and planning when creating our poses.

 photo treasure planet_zpsombsrhwz.gif

Treasure Planet (2002)

Flow and rhythm. Think of where you want your point of emphasis e.g. the hand is in contrast to everything else in the scene above. Emphasis can be created by moving at a different time – late/early- and also by timing fast versus slow. What needs to be emphasized for the story?

i.e. Think through the scene. What needs to be looked at? Emphasize this with offsets.

Creating pose ‘a’, breakdown and pose ‘b’ and then offsetting in the dope sheet can lead to unexpected/unwanted results. Possible alternate solutions: Build your drags and offsets into the breakdown. E.g. In an arm and torso twist – Hold the arm back longer compared to the turn of the torso. Then add another pose/drawing where the arm arrives later. Think also of how the torso eases in. The torso could still be slightly easing in as the hand arrives. Think of the mechanics of the weight happening.

Build breakdowns from what the computer gives you between pose ‘a’ and pose ‘b’.

Micro anticipation – something you feel rather than see. A micro-anticipation will give more pop and energy to your action. Don’t do it with whole body e.g. head/shoulders/elbows as this will create a stutter.

No micro-anticipation:

 photo lango_micro_anticipation_01_zpsg28bnevr.gif

Micro-anticipation added:

 photo lango_micro_anticipation_02_zpsm0aiehg4.gif

You can also add smear poses (like smear drawings), where the form elongates, during a fast movement. This creates a feeling of flow in the forms.


Keith Lango: Breakdowns, Anticipation and Eases

Lango’s VTS06 and VTS07 provided some great revision for breakdowns, anticipation and eases. Seeing Lango’s blocking workflow, which we also looked at a bit last year, was also useful. Thinking this way might help us for blocking out a lip sync/acting scene if we get time to try it as part of our project. I think Lango will be going through this more in later videos.

My notes:

VTS 06 (August 2005) Timing Part II

Breakdowns: making stuff move. It helps define the flow of imagery from one pose to another.

Illustration of poses: power, line of action, storytelling

The speed of the action determines how big the breakdown needs to be i.e. timing determines breakdown intensity. Fast moves usually require more intense breakdowns. In this way, we can see the breakdown intensity as being proportional to the energy required to move a weight – more energy is needed to quickly move a weight. However, greater distances across the screen also require more interesting breakdowns.

increasing breakdown intensity = increasing speed

increasing breakdown complexity = increasing distance across screen

Anticipations: a sub/minor pose, of varying degrees of intensity, that announces something is going to happen.

Anticipations, like breakdowns, are dependent on the timing and distance of the move. To make things move, you need energy. If a large move is going to happen within a small timing then a large anticipation will be needed to show the build-up of energy. Showing the build-up of energy creates the expectation/anticipation of movement.

VTS 07 (September 2005) Timing Part III

Eases “are your primary tool for spacing” (but not the only tool). Eases also create weight. You don’t need a slow in after a big anticipation. Be mindful of what you need to use. A large anticipation followed by a large release of energy might make an ease-out look strained. Try a ‘settle back’.

 photo lango_ease_anticipation_zps93zwdl1i.gif

Think of where the energy is needed to build up and where it is lost after the move. Make your own fcurve rather than relying on an inorganic cg made curve.

Blocking – block out the main poses/drawings (plus lip sync of syllables). Space out the poses to where the lip syncs are. Before you think of timing, just focus on what the poses will look like on certain syllables of what is being said (plan ahead). Try and figure out as much as possible through these initial poses: weight, arcs, drags, squash and stretch etc. Try to capture what the character is feeling through each body part. Space out the poses to where the lip syncs are. This blocking-workflow allows you to fix poses independently without having to worry about timing yet and vice versa.

 photo lango_blocking_zpsopfzh3d2.gif

Fill in the eases to understand where the energy flows.

Walk Cycle Based on Digital Tutors’ Tutorial

This is my attempt of the walk cycle from the Digital Tutors’ tutorial Creating Walk Cycles in Maya.

Blue Alien Walk Cycle Side Playblast:

Blue Alien Walk Cycle Front Playblast:

Blue Alien Walk Cycle Top Playblast:

The top  view shows up some areas I could improve upon. The character’s left arm seems to have a nicer arc and the arcs of the feet as they move back and forth, into and away from the body, could be more exaggerated.

Blue Alien Walk Cycle Translated Playblast:

I’m just noticing some problems in the toe flap from this view also.

Digital Tutors: Creating Walk Cycles in Maya

I started this tutorial from Digital Tutors in September and only got around to finishing it in November. It was a great introduction to getting my head around walk cycles and it was also very helpful for understanding the graph editor better. There are so many ways one little movement can be tweaked!

Digital Tutors (2010) Creating Walk Cycles in Maya: Link

This is my own attempt: Walk Cycle Based on Digital Tutors Tutorial

These are my notes from the tutorial:

2. Setting up the sceneframe rate and tangent type. Tutor starts with a frame number of 33 (length of cycle) and creates the poses on odd numbers with even spacing. The midpoint falls on 17 for a symmetrical cycle. Lock down the first and last frame to avoid popping. In the graph editor – set post and pre infinity cycles. Set view to infinity to see how these curves blend together. Make sure the arms are set to fk as this is good for walks and runs. The rotation axis may need to be set to gimbal and the rotation order may need to be changed under the attribute setting.

3. Beginning the walk cycle – Plan the poses. For the first pose – lower the character, extend the legs, pose the heels and open/rotate the hips.


Lean the chest forward for balance. Counter move the swing of the arms. Pay attention to the angles of the shoulders, elbows and wrists – and also their distance from the body.


Pose the fingers and then copy the first pose onto the last frame. To copy this pose onto the last frame – while on frame 1 select the animcharacter set, middle mouse click on frame 33 and then hit ‘s’.

4. Finishing the contact pose. Switch the values of each foot onto frame 17 (mid frame). This way we will be working with the same extension for each foot as a base. Enter the reciprocal values of hips and chest also. Transfer the reciprocal values of ‘y’ and ‘z’ between each shoulder and then copy the ‘x’ values. We then need to fix the curve of the foot movement back and forth so that it moves at a flat rate – linear tangent.


5. Adding the down position. These positions will be on frames 5 and 21. Plant one foot firmly on the ground to carry the weight and roll the other to start into the lifting position, then do vice versa for frame 21. Exaggerate the down position on frame 5 and 21 by bringing the body down. Adjust the weight in the heels by bringing the heel keyframe forwards by two frames.

6. Completing the extremes – Bring the character to it’s highest position on frames 13 and 25. Start to plant the heel on 13 and plant it fully on 9. Copy the keyframe over to the opposite side of cycle and make sure the tangent is flat. On frame 9 make sure the passing position is high but not as high as the peak position in frame 13. Use the graph editor to flow the curves together.


Copy and paste the value into frame 25 also. Check that the cycle is working with playblast and remember to knock off the last frame.

7. Refining the Upper Body

Smooth the transition between the cycle and infinite cycles.


To reduce locking of the knees from over extension – shift select the contact keys and move the character down slightly. Increase the degree of the foot roll by selecting the rotate x of the ball roll on frames 1 and 33 and moving up in the graph editor. Copy and paste this value into the other foot. Check if the heel comes far back enough and if not, adjust with the translate z in the graph editor. Adjust the curve of the foot roll between frames 25 and 33 – delete the key on frame 29, break the tangents and adjust the curve to fix any popping. Do the same on the other side.

8. Balancing the character in the front view.

Think of where the weight is being shifted as the character moves from foot to foot. Shift the weight on frames 9 and 25 to the leg that’s carrying the weight as the other leg passes. Smooth the curve between cycles.


Next consider how the foot arcs from side to side as it goes back and forth. E.g. It goes out on frame 10 as it passes and comes closer to center line as it plants. To keep the foot straight and then angled – paste the keys from frame 17 onto frame 1 and 33 i.e. The foot won’t be slanted as it moves back. Copy the reciprocal values across to the other foot.

 9. Animating the subtle rotations of the feet

Rotate the feet to angle outwards by selecting the rotate y keys in the graph editor and moving them. Then rotate the whole foot slighlty on the z axis as the foot comes up and forward (frame 8 for right_foot). It then rotates the other way (outward) soon after, on frame 13. The foot needs to be planted on the contact pose so zero out the rotation.

10. Animating a toe flap for fluidity

Use the toe z control to bend the toes back as they move forward – follow-through/drag action from the force of moving forward. Then when the foot is about to plant bend the foot backwards. Fully plant a few frames later. To give this more weight move into the graph editor – break the tangents. Make the tangent of toe z fall more abruptly. Blend the fcurves between post and pre infinity cycles.

11. Adding weight to the hips


The hips fall towards the leg that is lifted and stays high on the support side. Rotate ‘z’ on the down positions. Create moving holds between 5 and 17 and the reciprocal between 21 to 33.


Break the tangents and make the curves snappier to create a feeling of weight.


12. Animating the rotations of the upper body

The body rotates back and forth on the rotate ‘x’ – back on 5 and forward on 17.


Then animate the side to side on the rotation ‘z’. The body rotates away from the forward arm. Rotate ‘z’ on frames 1 and 17 with reciprocals and enter the same values into 1 and 33 for a smooth curve.


13. Working on the chest

The chest follows through with the upper body rotation. Rotate the chest back on 5 and forward on frame 17, back on 21 and forward on 33. Offset/move the graph a few keys right and enter new keys on 1 and 33 to keep the graph within range (outside of the pre and post infinity cycles) and make sure they blend by breaking the tangents.


 14. Animating the head

 The head moves back on 4 (moving into down position) and forward on 9 (the passing extreme). Copy these keys to the equivalent frames on the other side and blend between the infinity cycles.


Then offset the graph for follow through action. Shift one frame to the right for delay. Add weight by making the animation/graph tangents snappier where the head falls forward.

Correct the rotation of the head so that he’s looking forward throughout the cycle. Correct the rotate ‘y’ on 17 and then paste the reciprocal into frames 1 and 33. Now add tilt from side to side on the rotate ‘z’ and follow through. Tilt the head towards where the weight is being planted. Now loosen up the neck using the translate values of the head.

15. Correcting the motion of the upper arm

We want to add the weight from the forehand and wrist onto the motion of the upper arm. This can be done by selecting ‘weighted tangent’. Then select the key and select ‘free tangent weight’. The tangent handles can now be stretched allowing you to adjust timing and spacing without adding any more keys. Break the tangent to influence one side only.

Note – you can pin curves to keep them on display. The weight of the tangent can also be edited by selecting the keyable attribute’s node from the hypershade, opening the attribute editor and edit the values in the spreadsheet found here.

16. Wrapping up the motion of the upper arm

Create an arc as the arm swings – it swings outward as the arm moves forward and it moves closer to the body as it moves back.

17. The follow through and over lapping action of the elbow

Keep in mind weight and momentum. As the arm starts to swing back the elbow will still be going up – animate in the rotate ‘y’ axis. As the upper arm swings back the weight of the lower arm will carry it forward quicker. Create drag by making the f-curve overshoot the key. The arm drags as it starts to come back up.

18. Adding follow through to the wrists

As the arm starts to pull back the wrist will rotate up and as the arm moves forward the wrist will move back (y axis). Also pay attention to the wrist rotation on the z axis as it rotates away and into the body as the arm swings forwards and backwards.

19. Finalizing the wrists

The wrist rotates inward as the arm moves forward and outward as the arm swings back.

20. Refining the shoulder movement

Add follow through from the shoulder to the arm. Delay all the shoulder key frames by about 2 frames.

21. Finalizing the walk cycle

22. Translating a walk cycle forward

Translate forward on a linear curve.

Make sure that the curve for the foot planting forward is linear to prevent the appearance of sliding.

Compare the planting pose to the translating forward and adjust until there seems to be no sliding.

23. Utilizing animation layers to add more life

You can add controls to animation layers and make the character do an action e.g. a head turn that breaks the repetition of the cycle.

 24. Smoothing the character via a custom…

Keith Lango: Timing, Spacing and Phrasing

This video was useful for understanding how timing can be broken down and thought of as different sub areas. The analogy of timing, spacing and phrasing as a sentence was particularly helpful.

These are my notes from the video:

Keith Lango VTS05 (July 2005) Timing Part I

Timing and posing greatly rely on each other to create weight and believability.

Lango splits timing into 3 main area:

  1. timing
  2. spacing
  3. phrasing

Timing is how long it takes to get from pose a to pose b. Timing has to be acted out. This cannot be figured out from your chair. Get the poses right and then figure out their timing.


Spacing is the speed within timing, the lingering and rushing. Spacing creates the character.


Phrasing – is timing and spacing within context. Phrasing is how the timing and spacing of each sub action is arranged together to emphasise the most important action of the scene. Timing is like the words in a sentence, spacing is how fast or slow each word is said to give the sentence character/flavour and phrasing is how each sentence is put together in a paragraph to lead to a point of emphasis.


Be aware that timing problems need to be fixed by changing the timing and pose problems need to be fixed by changing the pose (even though both inform eachother).