Tuesday, November 8, 2016

[Guest Post] 3 Small But Important Things to Know About 3D Animation

Guest Post by Helen Clark

Animation is certainly one of the fields that are most difficult to master and monetize adequately. Both software and hardware technology have been improving so much and this is why people require and expect amazing quality.

It doesn’t matter if we are talking about games, movies, cartoons or anything else, people expect to see great progress from year to year. It is tough for people to remain trusted 3D animation professionals.

This puts people who do 3D animations in tough positions, as they are expected to improve their work each year in order to deliver top quality products and services. You will always have to learn new things. In this job, there is no end when it comes to your own development, and we can only guess what the future will bring, as well.

Fortunately, there are some techniques and work methods that can help you grow your animating skills faster. If you have the right approach, then you will be able to learn animation more easily. In this post, I will try to explain which of those small, yet very important things you need to know to understand 3D animation.

1. Animate all acting shots separately

When working on phrases, it is essential that you have a full-body pose, even if you have to sacrifice some smooth transitions. This is especially important in the beginning. Animations go by phrases and beats, with all of them having their individual purposes.

For a scene where an animated character enters a store to buy something, one phrase could be the consumer looking for the things that he/she needs and the other might be pulling out a wallet from their pocket in order to pay at the counter.

Treat all of the phrases individually. Reduce the timeline so that you can display only the phrase you are currently working on. Take time to create the beginning, the middle, and the end of the idea you are trying to animate.

 2. Work a lot on your body mechanics

When you have learned all the basics of 3D animation, you should start working on body mechanics as well as acting shots. However, you will never be able to animate amazing acting shots if you haven’t worked on body mechanic skills and you don’t have a clue in terms of how humans move.

The best method for doing this is to take people as references and watch them while they’re walking, running, swimming, climbing, doing gymnastics, etc. Take your time and study how our bodies move while we perform these actions.

Start off by animating shots of a person walking and only after you have managed to do this can you start working on more advanced body mechanics. Keep all of your shots short, just 3 or 4 seconds long. Repeat similar shots until you notice that there is visible improvement. Then, you can you start working on something longer and more complex.

3) Relax when working on contact

When animating contact, you should look to avoid locking whole bodies at their point of contact. During most actions, especially those quick ones, the moment of contact will not be seen at 24 FPS. What’s even more important is that you will bias the whole moment towards its final culmination when the contact has been made.

Let me give you a good example on how to do this. When animating a hand that is going through a window, overshoot the contact point, while at the same time making sure that you are still on nice arcs. After you’ve done that, correct the position of the glass and it’s constraining in order to make up for the moment of contact that has been missed in between frames.

Becoming a good 3D animator is a tough, ongoing process. You need to learn it chunk by chunk and have the right mindset. Don’t give up, focus on animating short shots in the beginning and you will start seeing results. It is important to remember that it’s not the length of the shot you can make that makes you become better at 3D animations, but rather how many successful animations you were able to pull off and how you learned more with each shot you made and explored different options.

Helen Clark is Senior Content Developer at VideoCaddy.
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