Monday, 2 November 2015

Time to Enter the November 11 Second Club Competition!

Yoda speaks. Copyright Disney
What are you doing this November to polish your animation skills? Here at Animation Apprentice we encourage all our students to enter The 11 Second Cluba monthly character animation competition in which aspiring animators practice their skills and get their work noticed.

Animators from all over the world participate, animating a character speaking a line of dialogue. Entry is free, and this month's competition continues with the recent Star Wars theme.

So what are you waiting for?  Let's get started!

What's this all about?
The Eleven Second Club is a free monthly animation competition. Throughout the competition, participants can share their progress with one another and critique each other's work - just like in a real animation studio.  At the end of the month, all the participants vote for the submission that they like the best.

The idea of the 11 Second Club is "to give animators a chance to practice their skills in a fun, challenging environment".

To see the work of the winner of the September 2015 competition - follow this link.  But don't stop there.  Scroll down through the thread to see some of the other runners-up. What is remarkable is the extraordinary range of imaginative scenarios which different animators have dreamed up.

What about the November Competition?
November's competition has a clip of two characters speaking the following famous lines:

Luke:  "I won't fail you (pause). I am not afraid"
Yoda: "Yeah (pause). You will be (pause). You WILL Be".

How do you get started?
A good animator always imagines the scene in their head before starting out. What is the scene about? What is happening? Try to see it as a movie in your head. Of course, you can watch the original footage from the movie. But this won't help you too much. Part of your job is to re-invent the shot to do something quite different. Your acting needs to be true to the dialogue, but you need a new and inventive take on the lines. After all, you don't have a Yoda rig handy.

Best of all, act it out yourself - film yourself doing the acting on your phone. If you don't like your acting, try something different. Keep trying until you get something good.

Then, do thumbnail sketches, based on the key poses in your performance. You can import the footage into your shot and use an image plane to help create your key poses.

Once you have done your preparation, and you know exactly what you plan to do, execute the plan. Create character poses in Maya on stepped curves, and get the blocking of the shot right.

Get feedback from animators whose opinion you respect, tweak it, and, once you are happy, use the TweenMachine free Maya tool to help break down your poses.

Finally, when everything is working, spline your curves and refine the final result.

To see more about how the Eleven Second Club works, read this blog post. And to see more about how to use thumbnail sketches to create great animation, watch this short video.

And good luck! Entering competitions is a great way to raise your game as an animator.

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