Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Time to Enter the December 11 Second Club Competition!

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 start animating!

Cosette from Les Miserables
 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, though this time the words are sung, rather than spoken.  The eleven second clip of dialogue for the month of December goes as follows:

Girl (singing) "I know a place where no-one cries, crying at all is not allowed. Not in my castle, on a cloud". 

It's a sad, sentimental piece, the song sung by the orphan girl Cosette in the hit musical Les Miserables. You can see the version from the movie below.

Since this is a famous segment from a hit movie, the animator's challenge is to re-invent it in a new, fresh and appealing way.  A good animator tries to imagine 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 imagination.  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. To find out more about this month's competition, follow this link. And to see the winner of the October 11 Second Club, which was an action piece to the sound of Star Wars light sabres, click here.

Below is a good example of the high quality of work exhibited at the Competition - the winner in February 2015. It's well animated - and also stylish and inventive.

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To apply for our new BA/MA starting in September 2016, follow this link.  

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