Monday, 7 September 2015

Why Not Enter the September Eleven Second Club Competition?

What are you doing to polish your animation skills? Here at Escape Studios we encourage all our student animators 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, which is provided every month by the club. Best of all, entry is free! So what are you waiting for?  Let's get started!

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 consider the best for that month - so it's a very democratic process.

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

This month's competition is, as ever, an eleven second piece of dialogue.  The eleven second clip of dialogue for the month of September goes as follows:

First Man: ""This is heavy duty Doc, this is great. Does it run on like, regular unleaded gasoline?"
Second Man: "Unfortunately no, it requires something with a little more kick  Plutonium!"
First Man: "Plutonium...what? Are you telling me this sucker is nuclear?"

The sharp eyed among you will spot this as a line from Back to The Future. Usually, the club selects audio that is a little harder to place, a little less well-known.  Famous lines of dialogue from clasic movies come with a lot of baggage - the audience already has expectations. So the challenge here is to find an approach that honours the original movie but is also inventive and different.

To find out more about this month's competition, follow this link.

As ever, a good animator 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. Best of all, act it out yourself and film yourself doing it on your phone. 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.

Thumbnails sketches help you plan your animation

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. Remember to leave the lipsync to the end - this is the least important part of a good acting shot.

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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