Wednesday, November 3, 2010

deconstructing Kevin Webb

Re-Bitten by the animation bug lately, trying to absorb new ideas. Gonna be watching some Ratatouille & Horton later, but started with Kevin Webb.

He's starting with a real appealing character, so makes it easier. But this simple facial rig test is appealing and fun to watch, and analyzing it, I think it's because he's doing the Richard Williams thing: key pose Breakdown key pose. Often the breakdown has a blink, but not every time, and it can be as subtle as just a slightly different angle so the head arcs instead of traveling in a straight line. I thought he was overlapping so the mouth gets to it's pose a little after the head (which would be nice to not have everything hitting at once) but realized he's just easing in to his last pose. Also interesting is the head squashing which makes it feel more fleshy, but isn't big enough (usually) to be noticeable.

Facial rig test from Kevin Webb on Vimeo.

Then watching his awesome dialogue. It's interesting, the body doesn't do that much movement, basically 1 pose per beat. Transitions between poses are simple straight across with ease into the 2nd one. Then there's some slight adjustments if the limbs are moving big enough to insist on it.
Head and Hands are offset from the torso, usually arriving afterwards. Hands don't actually move that much, maybe once per phrase (instead of per beat like torso) and head is just a little more, Head is kind of bobbling a little during it's poses to sell the feeling of words coming out of her. If the head moves, it feels like it's getting tugged to it's new pose by the eyes. Brows seem to move about as much as the head. Eyes move a ton, never still for long.

Eyes | | | | | | | | |
brows Head | | | | | | |
Hands | | | | | |
torso | | |

Zooey Lipsync from Kevin Webb on Vimeo.

Animation scene blocking from Kevin Webb on Vimeo.


Anonymous said...

I love seeing his blocking choices!
Thanks for putting those great videos on the ARC, they are very good, clear. I've watched the revision part so far and they are really helpful. Gotta finish up the college work first but it's encouraged me to try out some short sweet exercises I'm planning, because I need to learn how to create character and emotion, like these videos here. I'm still struggling with mechanics right now. Thanks this helps!I like the Jean Denis-Haas short challenges that you blogged about previously!

Ratul Sarna said...

Hey Alonso,
Kool deconstruction. This is a great idea and I hope you do this more often, maybe with some feature film clips too! Seeing it broken down this way helps a lot in understanding what works and what we can use in our own work.

Regarding this dialogue piece, the pose to pose nature works for this dialogue because she's thinking in phrases, like every line is very deliberate as she doesn't want to upset the guy she's talking to. Do u think this kind of animation would work everywhere? I personally think that sometimes we really need to hide that we're going from one pose to another, and just let the movement be really one unit and flow naturally.

Anyways, great exercise!

Ratul Sarna said...

Oh forgot to say that the dialogue piece is awesome! I wasn't criticizing it....

Alonso said...

Hey Michelle,
Here's some advice that I should really follow more myself ;) Keep things short and simple. You'll improve your skills a lot faster if you do quick simple little exercises that are just for yourself where you only concentrate on 1 thing. There always seems to be someone doing some little exercise that is awesome demo reel stuff, ignore them. Whenever I try and do something like that it spirals out of control and eats way more time than it should. I would improve my skills faster if I would take 1 topic and tried to nail it (like the body mechanics involved in climbing over a fence, or really selling the thinking leading to a gear change) and allowed it to be boring. So many building blocks needed to make good animation, it makes sense to make sure you can make each block right on it's own before you try and build a little house, and building an animation brick should take a lot less time than building an animation house.

Hey Ratul,
First I'm far far (very far) from being an expert, so don't give my opinions anymore weight than your own. If you listen to Ken Duncan (on the animation podcast) he talks about what a shame it is that CG guys try and hide their poses. I think pose to pose is a very useful method of working for a lot of people (not everyone). I think the style of the show dictates how much you see the poses (Madagascar hits poses and sticks 'em, Ratatouille rolls through the poses) the difference being how much movement happens in the moving holds, and how much overlap of timing happens as parts come into and out of the pose. I think an advantage of working with poses is we can really focus on getting the emotion and attitude we need to get through in a piece distilled into an iconic image. Someone said the audience remembers images so you need to make sure that the image they'll remember is the right one. I think a useful acting method is to have 1 pose per acting beat, so the change of pose shows that the overall thought/emotion has changed as well. A danger with acting (especially with animated acting) is to have too many unimportant things happening that don't really mean anything and distract from what does matter. Kyle Kenworthy has a lot of live action clips on his blog, you can watch some and see if it feels to you like they hit a golden pose and milk it. I need to research it more but somewhere I heard that Milt Kahl was the master of acting with poses, but Frank Thomas acted with movement, when you look at Frank's stuff on a page there's not much there, but somehow when it's all flashing by at 24fps there's some magic there.

So that's my rambling thoughts. What do you think, do you agree, disagree?

Can you tell me how to grab clips from movies? I don't know how to.