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Animating A Fight

Down time. It’s what you get when you have a break between ads (isn’t that ironic?).

The by-product is you’re itching like a flea-ridden woolly jumper to do something that keeps you on your toes.

A little while ago when I had down time back in Brisbane and was hunting around with my itchy jumper on, I came across this series of videos from Animation Mentor called “Anatomy of a Fight”. I watched them all and found they were fascinating body mechanics to study.

I’ve loved UFC for a while now and always admired how they can create so much force with a strike. If it weren’t for the fact that I need my money makers (my hands), I would actually take up MMA as a hobby. But never fear! As an animator, we have a tool called the computer that will let you try out your hobbies risk free!

Well, RSI and obesity caused by a sedentary lifestyle aside, practically risk free. So why not save my hands in the short term and just punch something digitally?

SKETCHES

Per usual, I started my study with thumbnail sketches of fighters in action.

sketches_fighting

I was pretty happy with them. Fighters can be as graceful as dancers I found.

STRIKE

I decided to start with a punch or strike first as a test.

I found an elbow strike that I really liked from this video. I chose it because the camera was fairly still, the movement was quick and it looked like the striker wasn’t holding back too much in delivering force:

strike_post

Source: Youtube.

Using the lessons I’d learnt from the videos, I tried to convey the power in the reference while animating. I used the gorilla rig at work from the Vellfire ads to animate my strike along with the reference.

playblast_strike_plate

As you can see the animation follows the timing of the video but exaggerates the poses on some of the extremes for more impact. Like a lot of realistic animation, if you don’t wind up the poses and just follow the reference exactly, the animation feels quite vanilla.

You can see above that most of the exaggeration involved twisting the torso more and changing the angle of the shoulders.

And here’s how it looks from the front with my grease pencil notes.

playblast_strike_notes

I couldn’t see the feet so I assumed there could be a step for a weight change and made sure to capture the snap in the hips.

I never realised how important your core is for driving the slingshot movement of a hit until I watched that series of videos I mentioned earlier. Dr. Stuart Sumida said (basically) for punches:

Your arm isn’t actually where you get the most power. If you just used your arm to punch, you’d look like one of those kangaroo pens with boxing gloves. *Which are awesome in their own right. Hours of entertainment on a writing utensil? Yes please*. Nor is your shoulder the actual base of the power.

It all starts at the root of the chain. So if you can whip the root of the chain around first, your secondary links (your core, your shoulder, your fist) will also follow through like a whip, delivering more force for you to whip it good. *Dun na na na nah! Dum, pshh, dum, pshh.*

KICK

Then after that test I started thinking about kicks.

A great reference for kicks (or any fight sequence for that matter) can be found in the movies of the legendary Jackie Chan. This video not only explains how he achieves such perfect action-comedy fight sequences physically, but how he films them as well:

I decided to focus on finding a kick of Jackie’s that I like with an extra gorilla in there for the sake of showing impact and found this one:

wb_post_kick

Source: Youtube.

I liked it because it has the little hop before the kick where his screen left leg scrunches up and then POW! snaps out.’

Using this video reference I planned it out with thumbnails.

sketches_sidekick

Then I used the video ref to create help with the timing of the stepped blocking and came up with this:

wb_playblast_blockingkick

With a bit of re-timing and polish, I finished with this:

wb_playblast_kickpolish

Not perfect (even now I can see potential tweaks) but it was an exercise so I’ll forgive it.

Luckily my lead animator Chris was on hand to give me tips on the timing and how to make the impact of the screen-left gorilla hitting the wall jolt more realistically. Really throwing the head back and then jolting it forward two frames later makes the impact feel more intense. I did a bit of that on the legs too, making them have some rebounding action off the floor.

With the screen-right (SR) gorilla, it was hard to not make him feel too snappy when he extends that leg for the kick. I had to slow down the SR arm by a frame or two so that the spacing wasn’t too far and the arm didn’t whip back and forth like Willow Smith’s hair.

What Dr Sumida (roughly) said about kicks is also true:

wp_hiptorque

Guess when it comes to finding power in fighting you could TORQUE about hips all day huh? AHHHHHHH *badum tsshhh*.

SEQUENCE

I ended my experiments with fighting there but if I could keep going in my spare time, I would aim to do something like this:

https://gfycat.com/ifr/EverlastingLinearAtlanticsharpnosepuffer

This is one of Steve Weebly’s animated loops (you should totally check out his website for more).

They’ve been travelling around the internet so you may have seen this already but all of his animated loops are AWESOME.

I liked the choreography of the fights so much that I actually sent him an email to ask him how he does it.

To paraphrase his answer, he talked about scribbling down all the ideas he would like to see come to life in the sequence, selecting the ones that work best. Then once you pick the first move, it’s just a matter of figuring out how many of those actions you can fit in so that it finishes somewhat similarly to the first move. After that, animate away!

The whole method sounds like figuring out the steps to a dance (which could be a little complicated for Miss Naturally Clumsy of the Year over here). Yet the idea of trying out a whole sequence one day sounds really fun.

Hopefully someone else reading this might decide to try it too!

Happy animating!

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Get it Girl

Sometimes Everyday I hear a song that makes me feel like dancing. So here are some sketches I did in my down time inspired by beautiful women dancing like rockstars in the Pharell video clip “Come Get it Bae”.

Take it easy on the clutch.

Take it easy on the clutch.

If you haven’t seen the video, take a look.

I will willingly take the blame when you inevitably start dancing too.

Competition Entry – Soccer Poses

Last month in honour of the FIFA World Cup, Animation Mentor held a competition challenging participants to submit their best football poses. I didn’t win some free lectures (dangit) but I thought I’d share my thumbnail sketches and my entry here anyway!

Competition entry

The pose I submitted.

The pose I rejected.

The pose I rejected.

And these are the thumbnail sketches I did to create the poses. As you can see, I did have some more “hero” type soccer poses like bicycle kicks, but I wanted to do something different from the other entries, and so I went in another direction. For reference I looked at top players like Zlatan, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Messi, Pele, Beckham and Rooney. Thank bejeezus I have a soccer-loving boyfriend who could point me to all these awesome athletes!

World Cup Competition Sketches

Click the image to enlarge.

Move and Play – Sloan Sketches

Sloan Sketches - Movement

These are my Sloan movement sketches from 2 weeks ago. I had quite a bit of fun researching these poses, partly because I got to laugh at the Corgi Flop over and over again:

– as well as Crufts competitions like Flyball!:

Then last week we had to draw quadrupeds at play.

Sloan Sketches - Play

And I got to watch this amazeballs orangutan roll around:

Ahhh, animation study. Such a hard life :D.

Sketches: My Concerned Exhaustion is in Balance

You know what I learnt (besides sketching is faster in Photoshop)? Drawing concern ain’t easy, mostly because you kind of need two characters: one to throw a pity party and another person to attend said party.

Concern. I could have sketched a lot of politicians for this one. Or celebrity fathers.

Concern. I could have sketched a lot of politicians for this one. Or celebrity fathers.

Exhaustion – now that’s something that comes easily! Drawing these poses was just about channelling my time at University and Japanese train commuters falling asleep while standing up. I have to say, even though I chose the first pose, I’m particularly fond of pose 3 slamming his face into the step:

Probably sketched from life. My life. Around 2pm in the afternoon.

Probably sketched from life. My life. Around 2pm in the afternoon.

No joke, that was a pose based on an image of a polar bear. HA!

Drawing balance was definitely the hardest to reference yourself. Normally I like to try a pose out myself so I understand where the body feels pressure and weight. Unfortunately I’m no Yogi or ballerina. In fact, when I tracked my Center of Gravity on Wii Fit once, the image it drew looked like a Pollock painting.

Enter Google Images!

Ahhhh balance. 'Karate Kid' at sunset anyone?

Ahhhh balance. ‘Karate Kid’ at sunset anyone?

Next time I post about emotions, it’ll be for my final renders!

That, or I’ll have watched ‘Atonement’ and need to throw a pity party on the internet. You’re all invited.

Week 8 Sketches

Work those abs!

Work those abs!

Here are my sketches from Week 8 showing “physical strength”! If only it had been “mental strength”, I would have been able to do a pose of Professor X from X-Men with two fingers on his forehead while he uses his mind-voodoo.

The pose I chose (woah, Dr Seuss moment) is so horizontal because it’s based on this amazing cross-fit chick. She makes me wanna eat about a kilo worth of chocolate feelings.