Here at Escape Studios we encourage all our student animators to enter monthly Eleven Second Club, a character animation competition in which aspiring animators practice their skills and learn the craft of character performance. 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!
At the end of the month, everyone gets to vote for the submission that they consider the best submission for that month.
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:
Man 1: "Can you describe it to me?"
Man 2: "Er...about 2 foot tall...long slender neck"
Man 1 "yup"
Man 2 "black bill..."
Man 1: "anything else?"
Man 2: "Well, it's a swan"
The dialogue comes from the movie "Hot Fuzz", a comedy about bumbling policemen in rural England.
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 smart phone or camera.
Once you are happy with your basic idea, do some 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.