Module 1 - 5 Character poses - Action/Sad/Heavy/Happy/Scared

Notes: Have samples of prior animation work for the Instructor to review. *Assignment 1 to be handed in next class*.

Lecture/Demo: The Graph Editor is extremely important, and one of the strongest tools in 3D Animation. It’s important to understand the splines, and how to get the most out of the graph editor. We’ll discuss spline hygiene, tips and tricks, general workflow etc. We will also learn how to set up your character properly for animation and how to set up your shot. We will talk about composition and staging in animation.

Activity: Students review their own prior animation and try to identify areas of specific deficiency: Where do they think they need the most improvement? Provide students with a movie clip and have them pick out key poses, and then have them pick out breakdown poses. Explain the difference in the type of poses and when to use them.

Assignment: First assignment is to warm up the student and get everything set-up. Assignment 1: 5 Emotions. Pose out 5 different emotions with a character. The 5 poses are: 1) action, 2) sad, 3) heavy, 4) happy and 5) scared. Some poses can be full- body or waist up, depending on what you’re trying to tell the audience. Set up Maya preferences and play around in Maya graph editor for familiarization. This assignment is due in module 2.

Module 2 - Character standing up/sitting down. BLOCKING

Notes:  *Assignment 1 to be handed in*. Character standing up will be a 3 week assignment. 1st pass blocking due next class.

Lecture/Demo: Draw over students posing. Demonstrate how their poses could be pushed or stronger. Provide demonstration on working in different orientations and when to use them - Local/World/Gimbal. Learn how to set-up your first assignment so that it’s clean before animating.

Activity: Students should start planning their first shot and character. Set up Maya to facilitate workflow, including shortcuts and scripts. Provide student with a reference video of myself standing up and have them pick out the key poses.

Assignment: Assignment 2: Stand Up/Sit Down. Animate a character standing up or sitting down. You will have three weeks to animate a full body character standing up from a sit down position, or animate a character sitting down from a stand up position. This week, research the type of character you would like to animate sitting down/standing up; this will guide you on the type of personality and timing. Come to next week’s class with blocking to show and your reference/planning. This will be due in module 5. (4-6 sec. long.)

Module 3 - Character standing up/sitting down. IN PROGRESS.

Notes: Instructor will review assignment and reference video or sketches for character standing assignment.

Lecture/Demo: Explain to students that sometimes you’ll have to go back and shoot reference because of the new notes from the director; discuss how to prepare for that type of feedback.  Posing: Show drawing and still frames from movies. Explain why the pose works. Draw over the images to highlight areas that work. Show areas and demo the common mistakes students make. Pick 1-2 student’s work to demo how to add in-between/breakdown after blocking is approved. Transition into “In Progress” (IP).

Activity: Give students time to fix their shots, and help them adjust and make changes.

Assignment: Continue working on Assignment 2: Character standing up/sitting down. For next week, the animation should have more breakdowns/poses.

Module 4 - Character standing up/Sitting down. POLISHING.

Notes: *Assignment 2 to be handed in next class*.

Lecture/Demo: Instructor will choose 1-2 students, open their Maya files and give a demonstration on how to polish their shots correctly. They will Explain what polishing means and show examples of great polishing. Viewing examples from animated, live action movies to see what makes a great shot. Take a look at storytelling and character, to see what makes a good character. See examples of good weight and physicality, as well as examples of orientation and the benefits for being in IK and FK. Provide demonstration on offsetting and overlapping the body.

Activity: Supervised work on assignment 2 with individual feedback as needed. Special focus will be given to weight/physicality. We will complete a group critique. Using samples from class, identify strengths, problem areas and suggest possible fixes.

Assignment: Finish Assignment 2: Character standing up/sitting down. Address notes from class and head into polishing. Assignment 2 is due for hand in next class.

Module 5 - Character jump. BLOCKING.

Notes: Course Evaluations for Week 5 (Fall/Spring Only). *Assignment 2 to be handed in*

Lecture/Demo: Provide directions for jump assignment. The jump needs to be in side view camera so we can see the arc of the jump. Jump will be 3 weeks. Further discuss how to be efficient by creating a workflow and using shortcut keys in Maya. See a demo on how to be clean in the graph editor and what tools/scripts to use. Discuss and see examples of jumping. What makes a good jump? How do you make it feel heavy?

Activity: Final review of Assignment 2: Character standing/Sitting. Start planning ideas for character jump.

Assignment: Begin Assignment 3: Character Jump. Animate a full body character jumping. The camera should be placed on side view and we should be able to see the full body jump. It can be a high, small or hop jump. Most important is to understand weight and physicality. Be prepared with blocking of the jump for next class and show reference/planning. This will be due in module 8. (4 sec. long.)

Module 6 - Character Jump. IN PROGRESS. 


Lecture/Demo: Review blocking assignments and breakdown how to keep breaking down your shot. Discuss how students can fix their own shots. For instance, if the director gives you a big acting note, how would you approach and plan the note? Pick 1-2 students for this demo. Provide demonstration on how to turn off certain body parts when animating so they could focus on cleaning and polishing their animation.

Activity: Fix notes from class critique. Continue working on jump

Assignment: Continue Assignment 3: Character Jump based on lecture and feedback, continue with jump assignment.

Module 7 - Character jump. POLISHING.

Notes: ~Midterm Grading~ *Assignment 3 to be handed in next class*.

Lecture/Demo: Ensure students know how to keep the graph editor clean so that when you do come back and make changes, it is easy to understand and change. Using existing curves: Discuss how to copy existing curves and apply to different body parts. The goal of this technique is to work fast and clean

Activity: Start polishing the jump in class and address notes from class.

Assignment: Finish Assignment 3: Character Jump. Be prepared to show jump shot next week for final.

Module 8 - Weight lift. BLOCKING.

Notes: *Assignment 3 to be handed in*. Students need to shoot reference for Weight lift assignment and show for next week

Lecture/Demo: Think about a character that you would like to animate and then think about what they would do to a heavy object. Weight:Give examples and show what makes things heavy, how we use our legs and arms, and how the body reacts to it. Show reference videos and clips from other animators’ work.

Activity: Start planning and setting up camera. Start thumbnailing ideas for weight assignment.

Assignment: Assignment 4: Weight lift. Have a character picking up something heavy. Start the character upright, bend down to pick up heavy object, and then adjust according to the weight. Shooting reference is required for this assignment. The weight lift assignment will be due in module 12. (6-8 sec. long.)

Module 9 - Weight lift. BLOCKING PLUS.

Notes: *Reference for weight lift assignment due today.*

Lecture/Demo: Show examples of good hand poses that show weight. See Glen Keane and Milt Kahl work. Discuss strong line of action when interacting with something heavy. Weight, continued: Show more examples and demonstrate good weight assignments. Open up a few shot of students’ work to show how to adjust curves. Explain how timing plays a big part of sealing the believability of weight. Explain how we use our legs to lift something heavy.

Activity: We’ll complete a collaborative peer critique by asking others, altering playback speed, inversion/mirroring and using other techniques to give ‘fresh eyes’ to the shot. Generate a polishing ‘To Do’ list.

Assignment: Continue Assignment 4: Weight lift. Have all Key poses with some breakdowns rough timed for next class.

Module 10 - Weight lift. IN PROGRESS.

Notes: *Assignment 3 to be handed in*

Lecture/Demo: Check in with each student to make sure they’re going into the right direction. Complete a facial animation exercise, focusing on the eyes, brows, and mouth. Demonstrate on eye darts.

Activity: We’ll look at each student’s file to make sure they’re setting up their shots correctly and cleanly. Good hygiene is important. Have students spend time addressing and fixing notes, providing help as needed.

Assignment: Continue Assignment 4: Weight lift. Have all Keys and Breakdowns with refined timing for next class

Module 11 - Weight lift. POLISHING

Notes: Progress Grading (Spring/Fall Only) *Assignment 4 to be handed in next class*

Lecture/Demo: Hands: We say a lot with our hands, so it is important to understand them. Discuss how to create strong, well thought-out hand poses, including what makes a strong hand pose versus a weak one, the do's and don'ts, best choices for acting etc. Focus on demonstrating good polish.

Activity: Check in on progress, and supervise students with their work.

Assignment: Based on lecture and feedback, finish Assignment 4: Weight Lift.

Module 12 - Gear change. BLOCKING

Notes: *Assignment 4 to be handed in*. Planning and Blocking for Assignment 5 due next class.

Lecture/Demo: Show blocking through polishing examples from past movies, and other professional animators. Gear change: Discuss changes in emotion and acting a little bit more in animation. Show video clips of great performances of changing of emotions. Discuss how to block acting beats, including how to convey your acting in blocking, and what to leave in and take out. Show movie clips that demonstrate great acting through change of emotion - The Master, There Will Be Blood, etc.

Activity: Start thinking about character and ideas. Have students brainstorm with each other and also join in.

Assignment: Assignment 5: Gear change/emotional change in attitude. Animate a one person character going through a change of emotion. An example could be a character asking another character out on a date, but being turned down. We would see and feel his emotion from being nervous to sad. Be creative and have fun. Assignment due in module 15. (6-8 sec long) Show blocking for next week. One character, one prop. Be prepared to also show planning/reference/thumbnails for next week.

Module 13 - Gear Change. BLOCKING PLUS.

Notes: *Blocking for assignment 5 due*

Lecture/Demo: With only a few weeks left, have students start preparing for final and clean up past work. Review reference/planning for Gear Change. Discuss rhythm and timing in animation, including what makes good animation great to look at and why is it appealing. Dissect shots. Pick 1-2 students and demonstrate breaking their shot more, heading into IP

Activity: Supervise and assist students as they incorporate notes from class and start heading into IP. 

Assignment: Continue Assignment 5: Gear change assignment.

Module 14 - Gear Change. IN PROGRESS

Notes: *Assignment 5 to be handed in next class*.

Lecture/Demo: Pick 1-2 students’ work to show facial polishing. Focus on micro movements, etc. Give polishing demonstration on how to polish an ease in and ease out. There are different ways to approach this considering if your animation is snappy or more realistic.

Activity: Supervised work on Assignment 5, based on feedback. Start polishing up for final class.

Assignment: Assignment 5: Gear Change. Finish shot and put EVERYTHING you've ever done in this class into one Movie file. (Quicktime, H.264 compression, 24fps, frame counter).

Module 15 - ~FINAL SESSION~

Notes: Final Grading *ALL WORK HANDED IN* 

Lecture/Demo: 10 min. recap of the major milestones achieved in this class. Discuss tips for success in the next term and beyond. Suggest additional animation resources and reading. Distribute teacher evaluation forms and open up for Q&A session on syllabus feedback, as well as suggestions for improvement to the course.

Activity: Hand in all your work from the course for final review. Watch movie files.

Assignment: Finish off Gear Change assignment. Prepare for next term.

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