Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Breaking bad habits

I don't know if many people do this, but If I see something that inspires me, and I dont know how they did it, more often than not,  I'll shoot the artist an email, pay them their props, and ask them how they did it!  Or I'll see him or her in the hallway and ask about it.

Well as you can imagine, that's already happened a lot here.  And luckily for me, people are more than willing to help me out.

When I had a few weeks off inbetween jobs, I went back and took a good hard look at my reel.  I studied what I thought was weak about it, and I made a list of all the things I could work on, in the hopes that I'd start to find it in people's work here.  I've watched a lot of training videos here, and talked to a lot of people and realized how differently everyone works.  Bottom line is, these folks are way better than me and I want to be on their level.

So during this first animation test, I'm trying to break all of my bad habits.  Which is just doing things the way that I'm not used to.  And so far that includes blocking a different way, taking more notes and doing more thumbnail sketches, even shooting video reference differently ! 

Specifically, I know that my work tends to get a floaty & mushy really quick!  I tend to block out main keys and go ahead into splines.  So after shooting a message to one animator here who's test I came across and was blown away by, I was lucky enough to get a response:

Hey Bobby,

Thanks for the kind words, I'm glad the test was inspiring.  I did shoot reference for the shot.  I actually tried to get really sad that day and just act out what felt natural, then build on that.  I often block out the animation pretty tight, sometimes every 2-3 frames.  I like seeing as much as I can before I hit the spline button.  

When I start splining I often push things/poses more, add some more subtle stuff, or offset things,  but all the keys are usually there.  Anyway,  if you wanted to talk more about it just stop on by.  Here is a path to my last blocking pass,  if you look at the spline version next to this, you'll see where I pushed some of the head motions,squash poses,subtle stuff etc.

Look forward to working with you man.

 Hope this helps anyone else who thinks their work is feeling a little on the floaty side, and I know a lot of peeps have trouble with the dreaded transition from stepped to spline, hopefully this helps you too!  In my case, the best way to break out of the progression stagnation is to break outside of my comfort zone, and shake up my workflow a little bit.


  1. Thanks Bobby! Much appreciated. I was already doing a pose every 5 frames minimum, and every frame for fast actions, so it's reassuring to hear that pros work that way as well! :)

  2. Awesome post. THANK YOU SO much. I've got 2 weeks left in Class 2 and I'm about to get into splines TONIGHT actually. SO this post is perfect!
    Thanks again!

  3. Yes it was! I'm currently using that shot as the benchmark I'm shooting for, for this test.

  4. Hey Bobby! Thanks for sharing this. I am trying to overcome floaty and mushiness myself so any tips along the way are super helpful!

  5. good benchmark! lookin' forward to seein' it.

  6. Inspiring post dude! I'm really enjoying reading your animation journey, admitedly with a slight twinge of envy!