Sunday, November 18, 2012

Week 8: Introduction to Walks

This week, we were introduced to one of the most pivotal aspects of body mechanics: walks. They are the quintessential piece to creating a compelling animation. Why is that? Walks help define personality. Every walk is going to be different from the next. Typically, when a production gets underway, an animation supervisor or lead will take the rigged characters and do simple tests with them. Normally, these tests are walk cycles. This helps define the character for the production team and also helps figure out the style in which they will be animated. So, walks are pretty important.

They can also be very difficult. What makes them so difficult? Everything is always moving during a walk. Hips, legs, feet, toes, torso, shoulders, and head - it all moves! Luckily for us, the character we would be using is called Ballie. He’s named this way because it’s merely a ball with legs. There isn’t a torso, arms, or head to worry about. Before I delve too much further into the assignment, let me explain a little more about walks.

There are quite a number of different ways to animate a walk. Go out to a public place and take a seat. Start observing people as they walk. What you’ll find is that no two walks are exactly identical. Some walks will have more up and down motion, some will have greater hip swing, and heads will bob in a different fashion. All of this makes animating a walk more difficult. Luckily for us, the assignment this week stripped the walk of any personality and we were told to animate a "vanilla walk."

A vanilla walk cycle is just like it sounds: basic, standard, and run-of-the-mill. There is no personality to this walk and the timing is already laid out. Each step will take 12 frames, or half a second. What is a cycle, you might be asking? A cycle is a full stride from one foot to the other and back. With this walk, and any other walk, there are three main poses: contact, breakdown, and extremes. What exactly do these mean?

Contact: the moment at which the heel makes contact with the ground
Breakdown: our way of defining the trajectory from one key to the next
Extremes: Just after the breakdown, it’s the highest or lowest point of a walk

With just 48 frames, the walk cycle would contain 4 steps total, contain keys, breakdowns, and extremes, and would be submitted in stepped mode.

Planning: Vanilla Walk Cycle

Animation: Vanilla Walk Cycle Blocking

To round out the week, there was also a pose to complete. This week was all about strength.

Sketchbook: Physical Strength

Pose: Physical Strength

Have a great week!

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