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A jam submission

Mika and Bot - Animation SequenceView project page

This animation sequence was made for the Search For A Star competition 2020.
Submitted by ebisset — 3 days, 4 hours before the deadline
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Mika and Bot - Animation Sequence's page


CriteriaRankScore*Raw Score
Research + Development#14.0004.000

Ranked from 3 ratings. Score is adjusted from raw score by the median number of ratings per game in the jam.

Judge feedback

Judge feedback is anonymous and shown in a random order.

  • Your attitude to research was spot on. You covered all the basics and foundation from researching existing material to utilising the power of real-life reference (amusing choice of reference for facial expressions). Even going as far as to include any unused information. Your storyboard was clear and easy to understand and has been reflected in the creativity of your animation. And to finish up, the presentation of your pre-production was to a high standard, and going as far as to personalise it with your own branding! The animation itself was very creative! As an avid Overwatch player myself, I can most definitely sense hints of Mei and Brigette's personality oozing out of your character! I liked the idea of having a sense of companionship with your protagonist and her sidekick, so I was not disappointed when I saw them interacting! Your asset files were nicely organised and labelled well as well as easy access to your animations, whether video or SketchFab. As for areas of improvement, the animation does suffer from some issues such as floatiness and slow-moving limbs. I used to make this mistake quite often but with practice, it'll become easy to avoid it just as easy it is to fall into it. I'd recommend watching this video to help: In addition, I would have liked to see some blocked out poses that would have shown the 'baby steps' towards the creation of your piece. Overall, this was still a brilliant piece that spurs out creativity and a keen eye for detail, keep it up!
  • Pre Production When undertaking a piece such as this, the exploration and planning stages have a big impact on how the final work turns out. Looking through your research, it was great to see the time you had taken to film and breakdown reference footage for the shot. Having props, even makeshift ones definitely helps get into character and understand how they might move. The difficulty with props is often recreating the weight of an object and is something even high-end mocap productions struggle with. Overacting in these situations and really emphasizing the weight of the object can offset some of these issues in the reference vid. A storyboard is a great tool for figuring out shot composition and posing. They are cheap to produce and promote the exploration of ideas quickly. Something that can be of use when building the personality of a character and look, is to create a series of poses for that character. Initially start with rough poses to get multiple ideas down, before then adding additional variant poses in and around the strongest one. Idle + Idle Full The idle gives the player a lot of information about who the character is, from personality to their current state. A minor shift in weight onto the back foot compared to the weight being firmly on the front foot can completely change how a character is perceived. Mika’s idle pose forms a strong A pose that matches the determined, confident character described in the backstory. Something as animators we have to be conscious of when posing our characters is the camera perspective in-game. The A pose is powerful pose with a strong silhouette from behind in a 3rd person perspective but can become difficult to read from the side or over the shoulder angle. Offsetting the feet and opening the shoulders out slightly can help the pose read better from all angles if the intended game had free camera movement. The playfulness of the bot in the full idle is a fun animation that gives it a lot of charm. One way to build on this animation could be to emphasize Mika’s weight shift as the bot does their spins. Shifting the left foot and Mika’s stance from the A pose might further show off her relaxed side. Areas to watch out for: - Fingers are splayed and quite tense, but the facial expression is neutral. Either relaxing the finger poses or giving the character a more determined look will help clarify their state of mind. The minor movement will help on the fingers aswell. - Hip translation in the Y-axis. Watch the knees don’t lockout here, their right on the cusp. The amount of movement the character has in their breathing idle again depends on the final camera angle. The further away, the more exaggerated the movements need to be, however, when closer to an over the shoulder angle this movement should be subtle. - Play around with the bots curves in the graph editor. Currently, the translation is quite linear, but with a minor weighting towards either the up or the down, it can give the bot a different feeling. Adding movement in the X and Z axis as well as the rotation can make even a simple animation more visually engaging. - Transition back into an idle loop from the full idle on Mika. It’s quite a harsh linear blend with her arms into the idle pose. Overshooting with the elbows and wrists could help with this blend. PowerUp –Full & Idle From the documentation, it says Mika struggles with the weight of the weapon. When initially reaching and pulling the weapon into position, it’s clear it’s not a light object, however, there are some aspects that could be added to emphasize this - When we lift a heavy object we first form a solid base and then use our hips to drive our energy into lifting that object up. - A shift in Mika’s base, where her right foot translates backward and into a split stance will give her a better foundation to cope with the weight of the weapon. In her current stance, she would be easily pushed backwards as she has nothing there to brace her against the force. - Use the hips to anticipate and react to the weight of the sword. An initial dip and drive up will help her lift the sword up before the weight of it drives it down into the ground and pulls her down with it. - Timing is key for showing weight. Heavy weapons tend to have longer anticipations and settle but still move quickly when in motion. A moving hold at the top, when the weapon is vertical before it then quickly drops to the ground, will help sell the weight of it. - Something to watch out for regardless is snapping knees. The eye picks up on these motions and it’s often better to have a knee that’s slightly too bent than hyperextended. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice might have some useful reference for this. **Release** Cool idea with the interaction between the bot and Mika and the bot. Timing feels better on this around the attack part, you’ve got the anticipation/moving hold as Mika is in the air and the slam the weapon down. It looks like the animation transitions into slow motion part way through the bot steps, will assume this is the case but not, some of the following might not apply. - Initial anticipation around frame 40: Really push the pose and have something for Mika to explode out from. - Feels like the run could be quicker with more emphasis on Mika driving forward and less translation in the Y-axis. - In contrast, though, I feel the initial jump off the bot could have a greater translation up in the y-axis. Without the stretch of the planted foot, it can look like the character is collapsing. - Same goes for the second jump, really drive off the bot and push that extreme reverse C pose in the anticipation. - If you think of the body and sword as a chain, the bottom of the chain is the feet, with the tip of the sword being the very end of the chain. To give an attack a real sense of power with the transition of weight. Lead with the base and root with the rest trailing behind (Whip strike is a good example). Can also cut frames to make it snappier and more powerful. - Similarly in the transition back to the idle, lead with the hips and have the rest follow behind. - Watch knee snapping and a minor blip of the hands on frame 146 **Recovery** Nice to see the interaction between the bot again, these moments really add life and personality to the robot. Similar to the power up, translating the hips will go a long way to demonstrating the weight of the sword. As the sword points horizontally out front, this is the point at which it will feel it’s heaviest. A step back before to brace and flick up will help get the sword past that point as quickly as possible. As the sword then comes down to rest onto the back, Mika could then cushion the additional weight by compressing slightly before returning to position. **Final Thoughts** Overall it’s a nice piece, that has benefitted from the time taken to produce storyboards and reference footage. There are some complex movements in there that are tricky to demonstrate the weight of both the character and sword. The main area this can be built upon would be by focusing on the root. All motion is driven by the hips (unless reacting to an external force) and so by focusing on the hips first, everything else falls into place. If there’s issues with the root motion, no amount of work elsewhere will help the animation. It may seem daft to return to, but the bouncing ball is a fantastic exercise to improve the transition of weight. Doing quick little exercises with this and some basic character attacks will help to get a better feeling for the root motion. It’s great hear you enjoyed the challenge of this piece and had fun whilst animating. You managed to get a lot of charm across in this animation which is not an easy feat. A shot that demonstrates this, is always good to see on a reel.
  • A cool piece of work, you've attempted something really interesting, using both characters together in a creative way. Some feedback, the animation speed overall felt like it could have been faster, also the idle was too similar to a T/A stance. On the robot, check your Fcurves in the graph area, generally in animation we try to avoid floaty keys but on a floaty character such as that robot spline gives you moving holds. We really liked the creativity, a very cool idea to use both characters together. Well done!

Challenge Tier

Search For A Star

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