Sunday, June 24, 2007

Some thoughts on Weight/Balance

A week or so ago I found this music clip for a Lilly Allen song featuring a "sexy" animated woman singing in a dingy club. I wasn't sure weather to post it or not because its not all good. After some contemplation however, I have decided to post it with some notes. Its probably better to watch it before I go on.

Not to shabby hu? Well I've seen much worse in video clips that's for sure. But can you remember many scene in there where you can see the animated character from head to toe? I count three in all, which is fine and may just have been the way the director wanted the character to be shot. But I suspect its got more to do with it being harder (more time consuming) to animated the character from head to toe because it becomes very obvious then whenever the characters weight is not properly supported. At Oska I had to animate women prancing around all the time, and because of the nature of the product you almost always got to see the entire character, I can tell you its very hard to keep a character graceful and on balance all the time. It really makes you appreciate the amazing way the human body works, everyday we float around without falling over and it takes billions of complicated calculations.

I'm not putting down this clip, it was very likely made to a tight budget and framing your character cleverly so that you can save time (and money) is one of the best ways to cut corners without the audience ever knowing. I've been there.

Now by way of comparison I offer the brilliant opening sequence of Cowboy Bebop, in particular the last scene where the main dude walks in and turns around. Watch it and then I'll point out what I mean.

Its all great, but lets have a look at this one shot.

1. The character enters and centres his weight over both feet, there is a tone of balance stuff going on in the walk, but lets focus on the turn.

2. As he starts to lift his foot to our right his weight swings across to the left so its over the other foot.

3. As his body moves over it eases in and out again, giving him time to put the first foot he lifted down and start to move the other back.

4. Now that he has a foot back on the ground over to our right (there are actually two steps in there but I'm trying to keep it short) he can shift his weight back over in that direction.

5. Finally he just tips back a little more so that his weight is further over to our right enabling him to slightly shift his foot to the left. He doesn't even lift the foot all the way off the ground but his weight still shifts. Mmmmmm subtle.

So in a simple (HA!) action shifting his weight to our left and back to our right he has accommodated a series of complex weight and balance relocation's. The more effortless it looks for the character from the hips up, the more confident and controlled it will seem. That's the trick with a hero or a sexy character.

Don't get me started on the climactic fight scene in Cowboy Bebop, two characters physically interacting (pushing each others weight around), without a single simple side on shot to be seen, but often showing the characters from head to toe. Introducing all that extra perspective makes it even harder to track your characters balance. They pull it off with class.

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Frank said...

Since it's raining and I've got writer's block on a script. I might just opo down the DVD palace and get Cowboy Bebop to study.

Ian said...

Money well spent Frank :)

Dan said...

Ha study indeed, im gunna study this bag of Cheeto's then study this JD and then complete my thesis on the back of my eyelids. NO but seriously that was a great movie just watched the opening scene again from the link, beautiful stuff, especially love the marriage between the music and the animation the timing was impressive as hell, might be a bit hard to reach with our anim8 but who knows.