Since the middle of April, the animators have been working on some dialogue tests!
Going into this assignment, my only real objectives were to animate a man and to do something that was more tame, given that my natural inclination is to head for things that're more lively and energetic. That also happens to be part of the reason why I change my mind on what I'm going to be doing at least two times before or during the assignment.
My initial choice was to do a line from I Love Lucy or The Golden Girls but then that wouldn't have given me the opportunity to work with male characters. In wanting to do something more vintage, lines from Psycho were eventually chosen. Little did I realize how difficult that would be. The thing with Norman Bates is that he's so reserved. His delivery of his dialogue is stiff, deadpan, and calm. Even when angry, his voice barely raises in volume. So this results in an animation that's dependent on the subtitles of behavior and more reserved motions, all while trying to keep this remotely interesting to watch.
A little while back, Kelly introduced me to Flipbook. For this assignment, I finally got around to using it so I could storyboard out everything I intended to do! Until this semester, I was extremely guilty of not giving much thought into layouts & blocking in my poses. I just sort of winged it and it showed. This was the opportunity to knock myself out of those bad habits and put the effort into making something better than before! Storyboarding this animation really helped me this go around by keeping me from changing my mind 20 times into the process, getting a better hang of timing, and considering what the layout may look like. So, here's a look into the very early stages!
After I storyboarded everything, I brought this video into Maya (which was something I got to learn how to do just for this, it was really helpful) and blocked in every key pose. Theeeeen it was decided that I had to scale back some of the actions because they were far too expressive & hammy in juxtaposition to the audio.
As things went on, I took the advice to mute some of the poses and work more on my transitions. I also took the opportunity to focus more on staging than I did before, I found some free-to-use furniture models on various 3D sites, slapped them into the scene, and added some mood lighting. It really helped to sell the entire thing.
In the middle of this all, I realized that I had to take some time to look into a very important part of the assignment: the lip flaps. Yeah. I didn't give that all that much consideration since I was way more preoccupied with how the body moved around. Luckily enough, I found a great tutorial on how to do them! Though, like anything else, I just need a lot of practice to be able to refine this. I'm working on it though!
I did a 30min dialogue pass using this tutorial's methods with another piece of dialogue from Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, specifically from the character Sho because he's so ridiculously expressive in his voice that it made things much easier to play with.
After messing with this, I found that I had to work a lot more on my timing & exaggerating the mouth shapes. The mouth motions for the phonemes end up coming out a little late in the playblast and it throws everything else off. Even so, if I exaggerated the mouth shapes a little more, you'd still be able to read the character's lips and guess what they were saying!
After that test a few days ago, I've spent a lot of my time trying to refine this dialogue test. It's not there yet, but it's already come a long way from what it used to be just a few weeks ago. I'm hoping to get this finished during the course of Summer Break so it'll be something nifty to place on the demo reel.
As for other things? On Friday, there was a visit to the upstairs Character Animation program from Walt Disney Feature Animation. Who visited us? The Director of Talent & Outreach, a Visual Developer, a Look Developer, and a Producer. We got a look into the inside of the Disney Feature pipeline! That was especially exciting. They went over the process of concept art, animation, technical considerations, visual effects, and management. Each of the speakers there covered their own journeys that led them to the Disney company and the work they have done there! We got to see a lot of their contributions to Zootopia and Big Hero 6. With those two being some of my favorite Disney films, that was especially exciting. They were even awesome enough to show us some of the demo reels & current projects from their interns and apprentices (while filling us in about some details about that program :3c). We got to see the level of quality we have to compete with in regards to animation, layout, concept art, and rigging. I left that talk feeling super inspired and geared to apply for next year's apprenticeships. ♥♥ And also there was a desire to explore the world of layouts & storyboarding much more than I have been. It's apparently an under-considered career, but something that I could use my animation knowledge along with 2D & 3D skills. It's something to think about!
Sooo, that day ... I wasn't all that productive. So, I decided to finally draw a little thing for me after over a month of not doing that. :3c And I wanted to draw some Hispanic women in traditional dancing costumes.~ So the first three on that last were from Mexico (Jalisco dancing), Colombia (Cumbia dancing), and Puerto Rico (Bomba dancing). When there's time, I'd like to either refine these or add in some more from other countries.