Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Could You Discuss Blocking Techniques?

I am a copied-pairs-blocking kinda animator. I never knew there was a name for this technique until I started mentoring at Animation Mentor! I am the first to admit that I have issues with switching between different types of tangents when I'm animating. :) I think animators with a classical animation background find blocking with stepped keys to be very intuitive, since that mimics closely how blocking animation traditionally would work. I think choosing a method for blocking has much to do with your sensibilities, and not as much with how other folks say you 'should' or 'shouldn't'. As with other facets of animating, every animator will find a way of working that makes sense for themselves.

My background is in performance...acting and dance. So for me, it's about creating motion, which in my view is perceptionally different from thinking about it as a series of still images (even though it is essentially just that). I tend to visualize my shot as a series of moves rather than a series of poses. When I'm blocking my shot, it is just as important for me to work out the timing of my main poses of course, but I find it much more intuitive to also see how the pose transitions are working right off the bat as well. So with copied pairs, I'm getting the pose timing happening, along with more fluid breakdowns going from one pose to another by using splined tangents rather than the stop-motion-on-fours feel that you get from blocking with stepped keys. You can definitely get a good sense of the timing from either method - it's really just a personal preference. And I find it much easier to go into adding more detail and developing the shot from that base rather than having to switch types of tangents after the initial blocking.

Guest Blogger Dana Boadway


mattanimation said...

I agree, I think it's a personal preference. I like to jump back and forth from stepped to flat. Stepped helps me create stronger poses and then flattening them helps me with timing

Virgil said...

I work in splines a lot too, for simpler animation I do everything in spline. there are tools for auto-orienting your splines (in maya I think it's a michael comet script, in houdini it's built in) which means you can get a fairly correct flow in the spline very fast and easy. I used to think splines are hell, until I heard the spline doctors talking about... splines, and then I read victor navone's splinophilia article and understood more about working clean and efficient with splines :D I think animating directly in splines is great :D

Anonymous said...

so, what is copied-pairs? why is it called copied-pairs?

kjb said...

Copied pairs is a method of blocking where you key your pose at the beginning of the time you want your character to be in that pose, and again at the end of that time that you want him/her to be in that pose. You can make the tangents constant at both ends of the pose, giving you a time period in between with that solid pose, which ends up looking much like stepped keys until you get to the pose change.

When you move your character into the next pose, you will put several frames after the first one (how many depends on how fast you want the pose to change), then key in your next pose (beginning and end again, of course). The transition between poses will be very boring and weightless initially because of the computer interpolation, but I go in and add breakdowns to the hips, arms, whatever's moving from one pose to the next, right away in the blocking stage so that I can already 'feel' the weight properly shifting from one pose into the next.

kjb said... yeah, it's called 'copied pairs' because there are a pair of keys for each pose, one at the beginning of the pose, and one at the end. You make the pose, then copy it later in the timeline where you want the timing of that pose to end.

Incidentally, I find it very easy to shift around the timing this way as well, because you can grab the pose keys and move them up or down the timeline to lengthen or shorten the poses, and transitions as well. Keeps it nice and simple during blocking so I can get the timing just how I want it before adding lots of other details and offsetting different parts of the body

Unknown said...

Am only a beginner in this field. Doing my B.Sc degree in animation. My sir said Its too difficult to manage timing animation being a girl.Is that correct? Am a girls .Is girls have less opportunities
or talents in this fields?

kjb said...


I'm so sorry that I didn't see this way back when you posted it. I'm doing some writing on animation blocking and I just came back to review this page and I saw your comment.

Not sure if it's too late or not, but what you were told is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard!! Women can work out animation timing just as well as men. What a silly thing for him to have said to you.

:) Dana

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