Saturday, December 6, 2008

Animating A Walk Cycle

"Why hasn't anyone made a good video tutorial about animating a walk cycle?" I asked.

Well a few minutes into recording myself animating one it became obvious to me that there is just so much to cover that it is hard to make sure you fit everything in. But that didn't stop me from trying. I may have had to move quickly through some things, but I hope I still covered most of my process. At the very least it should compliment the other information on walks available on the ARC.

Making a video tutorial is quite an exercise in self awareness. As I started to talk and was realising that this would be out there on the net for all to see I realised just how much I know of animating walks is self taught. At the time of posting this I am about to start my first job at a games studio where I imagine walks will become a big part of my work, it will be interesting to see how my perspective changes after working in this new field for a while. I'll keep you posted :)

Anyway, I hope you find this useful and interesting.


Ajit Singh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
frank said...

Hi Ian

Just watching Part 1 and was thinking about a comment from an "Idleworm" turorial about walk cycles that I wanted to get your opinion on.

Dermot pointed out that the personality of the walk is determined on the key poses when both feet are in contact with the ground.

That is to say, in my understanding, that there is a heirachy of importance in determining the attitude and thoughts of the character in a walk. The top of the heirachy, the most important, is in the extreme contact poses first.

Then, having done a playblast (set on stepped tangents), or a line test to make sure the timing matches the story being told in the contact poses, working on the other keys, such as the passing position and then the break-downs, where the character isn't in total control of their balance but being propelled by the forces from the contact poses.

That is, the forces governing the secondary break down poses underneath the contact/extreme poses in the heirachy, is split between physical laws and the force of emotional states. These 'secondary poses' can have adjustments made to reinforce the attitude determined by the extreme/contact poses but need to be mindful of physics and weight. And, in fact, probably are important to demonstrate the effects of physics and weight on the walk. Where as the thoughts and emotions of the character are more powerfully told with both feet on the ground.

It all comes together as a whole and the job of each key pose isn't exclusive to any other. But thinking like this might help beginner animators like me understand how to combine clear character emotion and personality (contact poses and timing)and believability (weight and force) into a walk, if I'm on the right track.

As an example, to try and articulate more clearly, that would mean working hard to get the poses clear on the contacts and be confident that the emotional story is being told right there on those key poses. Then add to the story telling in the breakdowns. But be aware that the character is as much governed by laws of physics, like gravity (subconciously catching themselves from falling on their face), as they are by the thoughts that are driving the attitude of their walk.

It is taking what you have described so well but defining it further by highlighting the importance of the story of the emotions of the character being shown mostly through the contact poses, primarily.

Are these observations on track?

Ian said...

Hey Frank

Didn't notice this comment for a while so I'm sorry for the late reply.

I think this is great, the basic rule of thumb is that the less you can do to tell the emotional story the better.

If you can tell the story with less poses then that means you are more likely to experiment and explore posibilities before you get bogged down in all the physical and technical stuff.

As a teacher you will find that 95% of students don't want to experiment with the performance at all. They just want to put something (anything) down and get on with it. Its because they are under the false impression that the "getting on with it" part is what animation is.

Anything you can do to keep them in that early part where they are asking, "why is the character doing what it is doing?" the better. So breaking down the importance of the major keys sounds like a great idea. :)

One footnote I might add is that the amount of change between the extreems and contacts is important to the attitude in the walk too. This is why I like to have the passing points there with the extreems, but I can see how that could still be done as a separate layer in the process.

Michael said...

This is gold dust for a beginner like me.
Thanks for presenting it all so clearly, and taking the time to encode and up these videos.
Much appreciated.

Ajit Singh Yadav said...

Thanks :)

Cassandra Vanderkop said...

Thanks so much for the great tutorial! This is really helping me polish up my own walk cycle.


nutlis adward said...

Thanks to share this 3d. you I want to create my on and this really helpful.

Ray Huang said...

No The video have been reomoved,Im a beginner for Animation ,That's a really Bad news for people like me...

Frank said...

Ray, try this as an alternative :