Friday, July 3, 2009

Chaos Theory: First Pass

Due to the fact that I've already done the facial animation for "Cant Get Involved," my mentor felt it a better use of my time to try another piece of dialogue. He suggested I think of something that doesn't require much body animation, as I only have 3 weeks to complete the entire assignment.

The shrunken heads from Harry Potter 3 popped into my mind, and I thought it would be really fun to animate the one hanging from the rear-view mirror. I grabbed a line from Jurassic Park in which Ian Malcolm is describing the Chaos Theory, and turned on my Flip camera:

This is my favorite take, but I probably shot it about a hundred times. I prefer to shoot a few takes, watch them, decide what I liked about some of my performances, and shoot again. It usually takes three or four passes before I've got a take I like. More often than not, I don't get "a" take I like, so I scavange what I did like from multiple shots, then stitch together a "final" reference video.

I then go into sketching out the animation, finding the most important frames of the video reference (or thinking up different ones where the reference is dry). In the case of this assignment, I have no scanner and the drawings are simply scribbles, so I'm not too worried about posting them. Perhaps I'll post them later, but for now, here's the blocking:

There are a lot of complicated mechanics involved in this shot... well, actually... one: He's supported by a string attached to the top of his head. This creates some real difficulties with things such as head nods, and every motion has to have an abnormally pronounced anticipation, since he's basically swinging himself around to make any sort of gesture. However, more than a mechanics exercise, this is an acting exercise, so I've blocked out the main performance with only giving minor thought to the mechanics of his support. On my next pass, that will be my primary concern: making sure the mechanics support the acting, not the other way around.