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Time. 


Yes for me that is the thing that controls what I do for what it is that I am trying learn. 
I have stated that I don't think high quality animation is that important for good story telling. It's not that I don't think that good animation is not important. Movies with good interesting stories, high quality graphics and excellent animation are definitely the best movies.

It's just for me at the moment high guality animation is not the most important thing. I am already confident that if I put enough time into it I can do reasonably good animation.
I have spent a lot of time in the past working on animation without worrying too much about good graphics and interesting story telling because I could not do neither and I needed to learn how to use iClone and part of that is animating things. I am now reasonably confident with what I can do there but I am at the point now that I am not at all confident I can make an interesting story of my own. 

Now, in order for me to get there I need to practice how to make interesting stories, part of which is doing animations that help tell the story, but not necessarily doing great looking animation. That is why I say things like I have seen many cartoon movies with very simple graphics and animations that I totally loved watching. That's why it is learning how to create good stories that I am focussed on for now and that's what I want to spend my time on and not slow down my learning process for that by spending too much time doing what I am confident that I can already do if I put enough time into it. I know I am not going to be able to make a movie I can publish professionally. I am in the learning process of how to make interesting movies, once I feel comfortable with my abilities on that then maybe one day in the future I will be able to write a story that I think might make it to the professional world?  I don't think I ever will (getting too old for one thing) but if I ever did, If I felt the story I am working on was worth the effort to perfect everything as much as I can, then that is when I would spend my time on everything for that movie.

So, the point I am trying to make in my comments is not that animation perfection is not an important task for making movies. 
Rather, for us work work as one person movie makers,  it is that we each need to work according to what it is we are trying to learn or achieve.
Anyone who is confident with story telling but not animation then maybe animation is what they need to spend the majority of their time on.
Anyone confident with animation but not story telling then learning to tell stories is what they should spent the majority of their time on.
Anyone confident with animation and story telling but not graphics..........
If you are fortunate enough to be effective with all of it then doing all of the above to make movies for professional release maybe what you should spend your time on.

But in the first 3 cases doing videos and showing them here between us who are all trying to learn the things needed to make good videos can be enjoyable or poor for us to watch.
The video might help us to improve our own abilities regardless of whether they are good or bad.
Also comments made by others can assist our improvement regardless of whether we agree or disagree with their comment.

Going above what I wanted to say in this next comment but
I have seen so many times, so called expert animators coming here telling us how stupid we all are for posting our low level videos and hoping to see good comments.
Well  pthhhhhhhhhhh to them. If we were as expert as they think they are then maybe we wouldn't be posting our videos here. Maybe we would be working at publishing them professionally.

Finally I just want to thank the people and express my appreciation for the help they have provided in posts such as here and in filmmaking verses animation and so many other topics.
The comments made have assisted me with getting started with learning to tell good stories. Will it work for me? I don't know, I shall see.


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uncwee (1/19/2018)

justaviking (1/19/2018)

ANIMATING TO A SCRIPT:
In this case, I wrote the script, nearly in its entirety, before starting any significant iClone work.  So in that case, I was animating to a script.

When I saw this... I'd hope the justaviking thread would contain "Animation" talk of "How-To"...follow a script using iclone animation tools.
Thank You for the advice.


I hope I didn't disappoint you too badly, but you do make a good point.
Let me see if I can at least begin to partially address it, and perhaps others will join it.
(Maybe someone will even decide they have something useful enough to post that it justified starting a dedicated thread.)

First, are you animating your own script or someone else's?
And, are you animating for someone else (probably, but necessarily, the person who wrote the script) or for yourself?

Assuming you are doing this for someone else, then some for of storyboarding and/or mock-ups will be valuable.  You want to be sure you have a common vision.

Storyboard or not, you then want to assess:
- The length of the video
- The sets, environments, and props required... indoor, outdoor, number of locations
- How many characters are needed
- Are special skills needed that you haven't used before (PopcornFX, PhysX, Global Illumination, and other tools like Blender or Photoshop)
- How much time are you willing to dedicate to the project, and maybe even actual money (for props, etc.)

Then... start.
Share your work in progress (WIP) to ensure you and your "customer" are still aligned.

I'm not sure what else to say.  In general, you need to make projects.  Start small and simple.  Gradually add complexity (more/better lighting, PBR props, special effects, character-to-prop interaction, character-to-character interaction, speaking, facial animation, blending motions... the list goes on and on).  You can do all that with one and two-minute projects.  Then when a script comes along, you'll have the skills available to make nearly any movie you can envision.




AN EXAMPLE OF ANIMATING TO SOMEONE ELSE'S SCRIPT

Lastly, and I should have thought of this earlier, I have animated to someone else's script.
This was done for someone who was launching a real estate services web site, and they wanted a few introductory and explanatory videos, 30 to 60 seconds long.
We spent a fair amount of time working on the look of the spokes person... hair style, dress, body style, etc.
The wrote the script, I made a few minor suggestions (some incorporated, some rejected), and I did the animation.
This was done in iClone 6 with Character Creator.
I will say there are things I would like to do over again, and some things I would like to change, but overall it was a success.
Here is one of the 30-second spots:


That video is in a playlist:
- Videos 1-6 are 60-second clips ("Rev B")
- Videos 7 and 8 are 30-second clips
- Videos 9-14 are "Rev A" of videos 1-6
- Videos 15 and 16 include technical bloopers
- Video 16 is the very first WIP

Animation (technical) notes:
- All hand-animated.  No motion capture.  No facial capture.
- Interactions with the web pages was a fun challenge
- Issues with the hair and dress (see blooper videos) made it a challenge

Filmmaking notes:
- Originally, it was envisioned to have a much grander "fly-in" with the camera.  At least that is what I envisioned, and I think the customer liked the idea too.  But it took too much time, and for a short "web" video, it risks losing the viewer before the video even started.  You can't have the opening scene from "The Sound of Music" for a 60-second commercial.  So the opening segment was drastically shortened, which was a good call.



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First, are you animating your own script or someone else's?

Neither

And, are you animating for someone else...

No.

From the Start....
I'm not trying to write a story, movie, nor film.
My goal is simple to understand, yet difficult (For ME) to achieve.

I get great satisfaction when "Animation" comes together for a specific "Idea".
It doesn't matter what the animation is... so long as I make it fit that specific need.

Your Kidnap story or rampa's Kitchen Scene story... or any story / script.

Example 1: (Animate Upper Body Motion)
Now Change upper body motion.
Adding  secondary animation.
(Animate - NOT blend mocap)

Example 2: (Animate Lower Body Motion)
Now Change lower body motion.
Adding  secondary animation.
(Animate - NOT blend mocap)

Example 3: (Full Body Motion)
A simple walk..... stumble and fall.
Now animate the character... Standing Up.
Adding  secondary animation.
(NOT Blend mocap to stand up).

Learning these steps would allow me to quickly blend mocap and (Adjust it properly)
Now I'm ready to follow a script.

...was hoping seasoned iclone users would show me (A Better Way) to produce awesome iclone animation.


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The reason (for me) to start out with a story is to keep things interesting for myself.

And while animating the story, I am confronted with problems/challenges I have to solve (how do I animated this or that). I learn by trying to solve those animation challenges. This is the opposite of leaning in a systematic way. Of course, there is nothing against that if that fits your learning style.

I got some rudimentary animation training, but never in character animation, and it took my a long time before I could produce something worthwhile. And, still, every new movie is a learning opportunity.

I will now talk a bit about the script. The other thread revealed some differences in opinion between Dennis and me about structure. To clarify, I'm not against structure, I just don't believe that there is a single fits-all story structure. However, for longer projects, I do write a script, which you can think of as a blueprint of sorts for the movie. It is not the movie itself, but it helps you focus. When you work alone, and there is nobody to tell you what to do, the script is a great help, because it will tell you the next step and keep you straight. While working on your script, you can also envision how you are going to visualize this or that.

Which brings me to another point: the action has to take place somewhere, and I find it helpful to have a model of the environment. It's like in a storyboard, but for me it's easier to just do something in iClone rather than trying to draw.

It's way past my bedtime, but as you can see there are many ways in which to approach a movie. And, sometimes, it's good to challenge yourself to the extreme, as Dennis has done for his Pinhead contribution.


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@Uncwee - I am not sure there is a solid, linear answer to "How to animate."  There are so many aspects and layers to the task.  Different people have different workflows.

I do suggest watching some of Reallusion's webinars, if you haven't' already.
https://www.reallusion.com/customersupport/user/webinar_archive.html
The "iClone 7.1 Curve Editor Fun" webinar is the one that was mentioned a couple of times in the "Filmmaking versus animation" thread.

Actually, you may already be on the correct path more than you realize.  Pick a task, and try to accomplish it.  It could be almost anything:
- Pick up a coffee cup and take a drink (without animating the coffee - at least not the first time)
- Walk up a stairway
- Shake hands with another character
- Give a short, but emotional speech with lots of facial expressions
- Walk around a kitchen, from the fridge to the sink
- Practice lighting (sit by a campfire at night, and office space, a romantic dinner, burning desert sun...)
Then start combining those things.  If you can do that, you're ready for almost anything.

As you work on each individual skill, and encounter issues or questions, come to the forum with specific questions.

Additional thoughts:
- Showcase what you're best at
- Work on your greatest weakness
- Try something you've never done before


@Animagic,
Though we have differing approaches, I think we're still fairly close in many regards.  Some of it might be more "in our heads" versus "on paper," but our thought processes might be similar.
To be clear on one thing (you probably understand me, but there are others reading too), I've made it abundantly clear that I generally favor the concept of "structure," especially when writing longer stories, but I'm not promoting "The One" magical structure for writing.  I don't think there is one specific format that ensures success.  But the longer and more complex a story is, the more useful it is to have a roadmap to help you not get lost and improve your odds of success.
Your methodology has worked well for you, as I've enjoyed your stories.




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justaviking (1/20/2018)
@Uncwee - I am not sure there is a solid, linear answer to "How to animate."

It makes since to start with a story or script. It keeps one grounded.

Take your Kidnap video:
You first animation...

1. Remove the "Robotic" motions.
2. Add "Secondary" motions.
These two steps would bring new life to that video.

Nobody talks about animation steps.... only say.... look here.  Why?
Can you remove the "Robotic" motions and add "Secondary" motions?

...if so, is the reason you did not perform this steps is because of (Lack of Time)?
I'm hoping you can perform these steps and "Explain how you would initiate them."


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(Character) Animation steps:

1. Any voice work first (why?  Because it's much harder to add/refine the proper lip sync if other animation is present with the face).
2. Facial emotion next (why?  Because if you are moving the character around you can't get the face right unless you trick it with something like a face-attached camera)
3. Body motions next.
4. Hand motions last (hand positions support body and face motions to tell the story)
5. Now set camera angles and positions -- you don't want the camera moving at all while you are animating your character.

Note that any or all of the above "rules" can be violated -- one might, if one knows the camera is not going to show a character's face, set up the camera shots first and then, from another camera that doesn't move around, you can do the above steps -- but in general these are good guidelines for doing character animation.  It's what we follow for 2D work, and serves well for 3D.

How you do any or all of the above depends on the tools you have -- if you have Faceware, for example, you'd be foolish not to at least lay down a first pass at lip sync with it.  Same goes for body mocap -- while it may never be the end product, if you have a good mocap setup you will want to use it whenever possible to capture subtle and natural body movements.  But those specifics CAN be found on various tutorials linked to here and elsewhere.



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Kellytoons,

Thanks for the steps.
For step 3... Body motions.
If you didn't have a mocap system in place... Blending mocap sounds like the way to go.

But, how would you add secondary animation to each clip?
Making sure the end result has no robotic behavior.

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You're basically asking "how do I animate?" because whether it's body motions, or a car moving along the screen, the mechanics are the same.

With body motions you move a limb, move some amount of frames, move it again (more properly you move parts of the limb at different speeds and at different frames).  With the curve editor you set the right curves so the motion works correctly (although you *can* do this manually -- a curve editor just reduces the work and amount of keys necessary to create the proper motion.

All of this is true with or without mocap, and with or without other motions from libraries.  It's just the basics of animating, and the first thing you should learn and practice (even with just a simple sphere -- as I said, the principles are exactly the same).

There are some AMAZING books on doing all this, but the one that should be in EVERY SINGLE ANIMATOR'S POSSESSION is Richard Williams' The Animator's Survival Kit (I'll put an Amazon link to it at the end).  This book is the bible for ALL animators, and if an animator doesn't have it (or, worse, has never heard of it) I immediately know they are no animator but an amateur who WANTS to be an animator (nothing wrong with that, but if you are serious you will need this book).

I have TWO copies -- my first is basically worn out (it's fallen apart over the years) although I keep it because my notes in it I don't feel like duplicating.  I am never without one within arm's reach.

https://www.amazon.com/Animators-Survival-Kit-Richard-Williams/dp/0571202284


 



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