Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Notes on Animating Human Characters by Jamy Wheless

Legendary animator Ollie Johnston once said, “Find that golden pose in your shot and hang everything else around it!” What did he mean by that? What’s a golden pose? In animation, that would mean capturing an “attitude or personality” in one snapshot. A great pose represents how the character feels and conveys his or her emotional state. We are experts in human movement because we’ve been studying ourselves and other humans all of our lives. So naturally, we recognize when something doesn’t ring true about a character, even in a pose. The human character is extremely complex and animating them can be daunting and intimidating. Below are some notes that will help you get started in bringing characters to life and inspire you to discover more about this unique art form called animation.

The Animation Essentials

1. Planning and Posing

You’re only as good as your reference. Study the drawings in the Animatic and apply the poses that have already been sketched for each shot. Ask yourself what is the attitude of the character in the shot. Use that as your guideline for posing your character. Do simple thumbnail studies of the action. Video reference is also a great way to find key poses and get your timing down. Always check the line of action through the body and make sure it reads clearly in the frame.

2. Animate from the heart

Always give your all in animating a character. You owe it to the audience just as if you were on stage performing. Put yourself in place of the character you’re animating. It’s important that you know what your character feels because that will shine through. Get up and act out how Batman would throw a punch. Have some fun doing it. You might discover something new.

3. Animate the forces

Force is a funny thing in animation because it doesn’t really exist. It’s implied through line of action in the body, the arcs, balance and timing of movement. The human figure is full of force. Even when standing we are being affected by gravity and force is being applied. Jim Lee’s drawings imply force by a clear line of action through the body and the thickness of his pencil line. In 3D animation we’ll need to understand the principles of animation which will help us create force in the human character.

A few Principles of Animation as described in The Illusion of Life,

Squash & Stretch – A great principle in animation that gives weight and flexibility. In our DC characters we will not be squashing and stretching the body but will convey it more through dynamic poses and overlapping action.

Anticipation – Extremely important. This is where you show preparation for an action. Example: Before Batman delivers a punch he would pull back first, then thrust forward.

Follow Through & Overlapping Action – Another vital component to making your animation look realistic. When a character changes direction, body parts will continue in it’s previous direction. Batman’s cape is another example of follow through. His cape should react based on the body’s overall movement.

Slow In & Slow Out – An animation will be more believable when the human body shows acceleration and slow down. Study any video reference of a runner starting and stopping and you can find the variation of movement in the body.

Arcs – Most every movement we make goes through arcs. Human actions occur along an arched trajectory. Only machines have linear mechanical movements. If you don’t pay attention to the arcs in arms, legs, elbows, and knees then the body motion could look stiff.

Secondary Action – This is used to emphasize the main action of a character. For example, when Superman lands on the ground, his arms will carry through in a natural motion. It compliments the action of the body giving life to the character.

Timing – This is important in the storytelling point of view. It can convey what the character is thinking and also gives character personality. Always pay attention to the spacing of your keys and think in terms of weight and how heavy a character or object is.

Exaggeration – The level of exaggeration is very crucial in a characters movement. Base all movement from real world physics first and then embellish from there. Our heroes have to remain true to reality but can be pushed beyond realism because they are super heroes.

Finally, remember, we are only as good as our reference. Video reference is a powerful tool because you can slow down the movement to get a better understanding of the mechanics in the human body. Look for the strong poses that convey what’s important for that shot. Break it down and deliver a clear message. And most of all have fun! Your audience will

appreciate it!

by Jamy Wheless of

shot Instructions for dc-universe.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


About DCUO

DC Universe™ Online is an action-packed, physics-based massively-multiplayer game set in the DC Universe.

DCUO offers a dramatic online setting where players can enter the DC Universe and battle alongside or against their favorite DC Comics heroes and villains including such icons as Batman™, Superman™, Wonder Woman™, and The Joker™, as well as many other fan favorites such as Green Lantern™, The Flash™, Catwoman™ and Martian Manhunter™. The action and drama will play out in such well-known locations as Gotham City™ and Metropolis among others.

DC UNIVERSE™ ONLINE JOINS WITH MASS ANIMATION TO LAUNCH the DC UNIVERSE ONLINE / MASS ANIMATION – ANIMATION CONTEST! in partnership with Sony Online Entertainment is to create a cinematic game trailer and in game animation for "DC UNIVERSE ONLINE

  • Animate shots in a cinematic trailer for the new DC UNIVERSE ONLINE game; winners get their names included in the video credits plus cash and prizes!

  • Or animate character gestures for in-game Emotes; winners get cash and prizes plus if the winning emote is used in-game by SOE, their names will also be included in the final game credits! Collaborate with the DCUO development team and talented people from all over the world to bring this innovative “mass animation”
The final trailer will be debuted to the gaming community in the Sony Online Entertainment booth during the 2010 E3 Expo.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Motion Builder

My first motionbuilder experience,

Commercial freelance work for Turkish company Lama production, this for TV serial.
the work is in Turkish language and done in motion builder.

these are one of the few shots that i have work on...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Great 3d animation secrets

Character 3d animation is an art, it is not a lifeless method that can be learned in one day. It is an art that has to be practiced in order to get appealing results. So how a successful 3d animator differs from other character animators that are not so great? Each good 3d animator behaves strangely once in a while. He can creep, jump, run and make faces, most of it in front of a mirror. This happens when he is trying to act like his animated object. So the artist is trying to understand the main point of his animation. The amusing thing is that the the subject of animation is often not human; it can be a bear, a dear or even a monster. In such a way the animator understands better how the masses move, where the center is, what limb will start moving first and what arm will follow. A successful animator is actually living the animation, he is experiencing the emotions of his character. This is how you create amazing 3d animations not by applying a trick. 3d animation is something that you must definitely try.

Monday, March 30, 2009

learning is unfinished job. my first lipsync!!

Alright finally i have completed the 11 sec animation . i started this shot nearly about 16 / 17 feb and its end of march nearly a month. it took lots of time for this animation.

well as i was learning and experimenting parallel with how to act with facial expression and camera staging , that whats i have taken so much of time in making this shot. as its my first dialogue animation and unpublish attempt in 11 sec club thou,

blocking stage

final stage

Thursday, March 12, 2009

push up

No post from long time !!

I was busy learning lip sync and facial expression. working on some acting scene from 11 second club audio, i will post it next time when its completed till then i had done some simple push up test for quick character exercise for some freelance work.
time taken less then hour.

Monday, February 2, 2009

working with live music has just completed

Working with Reelfx has just finish as whole week was busy
finalizing the shot to fit for continuity. it was nice working with supervisor Tim Lennon, director Yair landau and there team
this was my first team work and that to on international level. it was nice experience to get look at what quality and pipeline they used for complete the short with their web based software Reelfx insight where one can work from any corner of the world to assemble the film in team.
And offcource this will be my first paid job, and screen credit too.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

2nd "hard" shot live music #25 (GB- 0290)

2nd and final hard shot to mass animation
Shot Description:Wide shot as RIFF starts riffing in the lead, spinning
frame - 19


Friday, January 16, 2009

1st "hard" shot live music #76 (HN_0810)

1st hard shot to mass animation
Shot Description:Medium shot of RIFF as he kicks up the bowl of picks
35 frames


Thursday, January 8, 2009

2 shots accepted

WOOHOOO!!!!! Woooww!!!! got noticed for two shot that submitted are selected as Grand Prize Winner
($500 per shot) a great opportunity & screen credit .