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Crafting a feature animation shot – AUDIO

Jul 16, 2012

in Mechanics

Disney's Nine Old Men - copyright Walt Disney Company. Early 1950s. Left to Right: Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, Frank Thomas, Marc Davis, Ollie Johnston, Les Clark, Milt Kahl, John Lounsbery and Wolfgang

©Walt Disney Company. Early 1950s.

So far I have posted on things dealing with the theory of animation addiction and the steps to deal with it, but theory will only get you so far. Practical is another great way to learn, hell that’s how the Nine Old Men and their generation did it – by learning on the job and from the great animators around them. We are going to start a series of posts based on the production of an animated feature shot that will spread out over a few weeks on animating a shot from start to finish.

We will dwell on our addiction from picking the audio through boarding, setting up the shot in layout, will spend time talking about workflows for blocking, blocking, taking into the dreaded spline and a way to ensure that every CTRL gets the love that only an addict can give it. We will talk about facial animation, lip-sync and into the final stage of polish (will throw a few curve balls in the way of director and sup notes) then finish it all off with a render.

Basically the goodies you would get from a “How to Animate a Feature Shot” DVD, but for free. I know you can’t beat that.

Crafting the Shot: Boarding, Reference, Blocking, Final

So here it goes. I am going to break this down to a few posts that will deal with each step of the creation of the shot. Obviously some steps will take longer than others (such as the animation) but I’ll do my best to keep it up. Before we dive into this little fix, let me start by saying: this post and those to follow will deal mainly with the creation of an animation performance and its mechanics. The rig I am using is self made (with a little help from some close friends) and I won’t be getting into the tech side of it too much (at least not now).

And offfffff we go!

Audio vs. Idea

When you start a shot at work you are “handed” information like the shot length, boards, audio, layout and some kind of direction of the shot by a Director, Supervisor and any number of other people in the room. Since this shot is not a part of any real production as of yet, it has no importance or role to play in a film. It poses a big challenge, we can do anything – a blank piece of paper… That’s the scariest thing to me.

For this demonstration I decided to start with an audio file I found online a while back. It’s from the film A Knight’s Tale, 2001. The audio is fun and odd at the same time and doesn’t really point to time period, so, I thought it was a nice safe choice. Below you’ll find the audio clip. Now, in a run of the mill production you would go ahead and break down the sound and look at the boards and rough layout of the shot. Since we don’t have any of those, we will have to create them ourselves.

Audio monologue from A Knight’s Tale, 2001

We will dive into the boards in the next post, for now I will show a visual breakdown of the audio and keep in mind, that when you choose or trying to choose a good audio piece, you do not only want create a shot – you strive for a shot that’s part of a whole SQ. Try to create a back story and think where the characters came from and where they are going. You want to try and really make it feel like something that was pulled out of a film rather than a one-off shot for a reel that calls out Look at me ! Look at me ! ! ! .

Eh… Interesting question actually. Yes, and, at the same time, a huge resounding No. It’s… more sort of involuntary vow of poverty [breath] really.

This shot will allow me to dive into the dark side of my addiction and for something a little more broad than I have had the chance to do in a while, it should be fun and I look forward to sharing the final result with everyone in the upcoming weeks (the shot is about 75% animated).

Stay tuned for updates!

Herman Gonzales Jul 17, 2012 at 11:06 pm

New to your blog, Great stuff.
– Fellow Addict

Nick Barber Jul 20, 2012 at 3:59 am

Awesome stuff Tal! Can’t wait to see more.

Margaret Garcia Jul 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

Useful content and awesome design you got here! I want to thank you for sharing your solutions and taking the time into the stuff you publish! Sublime work!

Aloke Aug 6, 2012 at 12:24 am

i am very much excited about the next part!!!!

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