Sunday, October 14, 2012

Week 3: The Bouncing Ball

This week was very interesting; lots of fun, but also extremely busy at the same time. The first animation assignment, a bouncing ball, was the main focus. The restrictions for the assignment were simple: a side view, 50-100 frames, and the ball had to be similar to that of a basketball or soccer ball. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, I was soon going to find out that it wasn’t “that” simple. I took the time to plan out the action of my soccer ball using sketches. You might be thinking: ‘do you really need to plan a bouncing ball? I mean I know that it “basically” bounces up and down and translates in the direction of the trajectory...’ Even sketching something as simple as a bouncing ball will really help you to tie down timing, spacing, and exactly what is going to happen throughout the animation. It’s definitely a good habit to develop.

Based on what I know from physics, various balls decay at different rates. After doing some research and watching reference video, I found out that the height of a soccer ball decays about 40% each bounce (so, if the ball starts at 10ft, then the next bounce will be roughly 6ft). After planning and research, I proceeded to set up my scene in Maya to begin animating.

The up and down motion was fairly easy to accomplish. This part was merely inputting values into the Ty channel and then adjusting the tangents in the graph editor to get it to look like what it needed to be (for a bouncing ball, the contacts with the ground need to be a sharp “v” shape and the arcs need to look like an upside-down “u” shape). For me, the most difficult part was getting the translation across the screen to look right. I ended up trying it four different times before I figured out what looked right. I had heard that the translate curve should look similar to the decay of bounces (exponential decay). I also knew that the ball had to ease in to the final pose, which mean that the first half had to be linear and the second half had to have a nice ease in. After an hour or so, I finally managed to get it down. I also added rotation to the ball to make it seem much more believable.

Planning: Bouncing Ball

Animation: Bouncing Ball

The other portion of the assignment was to go out and find people exuding excitement. Once I had my sketches drawn, I needed to pick one pose to refine. This was tough because I had preferences, but I knew clich├ęs were an issue, especially with an assignment such as this one. So, after some great feedback from my fellow classmates (thanks guys!), I proceeded to work on my pose. After a few iterations and some great feedback, it was ready to be turned in.

Excitement: Sketches

Excitement: Final Pose

Also this week, Shawn Kelly hosted a Q&A for Class 1 students! It was such a fun Q&A, and he answered so many questions. After just the first five minutes, you could tell he was extremely passionate about animation and thoroughly loves Animation Mentor. The Q&A was only supposed to be an hour, but he went for nearly TWO HOURS! How awesome is that! It was quite late when it finished, but I’m so glad I got the opportunity to sit in and listen to him talk about his journey, his tips, and his love of fried chicken! Hopefully there are more Q&A’s like this in the future.

Have a great week!

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