Monday, June 11th, 2018:
Today is my first day at House of Moves (https://www.moves.com/), where upon arrival, I went through the basic rundown of filling out paperwork, touring the studio, meeting the team along with my supervisors, and figuring out what projects I will be working on.
In my proposal to get credit for this work, I stated that I would explain:
* What project(s) I am working on (if allowed)
* What scene(s)/character(s) I am working on (if allowed)
* What the expectations are for the week in relation to outcomes/production
* The challenges of the week/what I found most struggling
* What this company demonstrates in terms of ‘industry experience’ – how this experience is teaching me things I couldn’t learn in school
* Disclose some videos/files that I have been working on (if allowed)
I signed an NDA upon arrival, which means I cannot explicitly state what projects I am working on, the scenes, or the character names, but I have gotten permission to give details and describe what I am doing, just not specifics.
I was also granted permission to show the area (just not any pictures of the animation area, since that would show screens of work). So here are some photos of the stage, building, prop area, etc.) The 'Mocap Stage Manager' here is Troy Reynolds, who showed me the area, props, and equipment. They have two stages (pictured below), one with a 54 camera system, and another with an 88 camera system. They use Blade, Shogun, Faceware, etc., so when talking with him and explaining that I know those, he said he would bring me on for some capture sessions to help with the process!
What I can say for now is that there are two video game projects that we are working on. So before doing anything, I'm spending the morning doing research on the history, cinematic, aesthetic, and audiences of these games, to see what skill sets I need to focus on when being assigned to them.
SHADOWING AN ANIMATOR:
I also shadowed one of the animators here, Brandon Yates, for about 4 hours to see his process of what the style of animation is desired here at H.O.M. He had a 'combo' shot (taking two action moves for a game that need to merge into each other in case the player hits two buttons at once). He animated in MotionBuilder (H.O.M. animates about 90% in MoBu and maybe 10% in Maya), so he was able to show me his flow. He also said that an average time for an animator here to work on a shot (also this depends on the project, if it is an animal vs. humanoid, if there is facial, if there is a prop, etc.), but on average, it takes about 6-9 hours per shot.
They also have there own path directory and saving system called Shotgun, which will save their work and directory folders for multiple people working or individual sequences within a master folder.
FIGHT LINE: I noticed he works mainly in profile and front views, to stay along the 'fight line' (essentially the 0,0 area in the graph) for all of his actions, and making sure that at least one part of the body, ligament, or prop is always touching that.
TIME WARP: Brandon taught me a curve editor tool called 'time warp', that really helps the animation in video games with speed and smoothness. When taking the motion capture data, it's so humanly slow that it takes too much time. Time warp will allow the data to be adjusted in time where it shows as a FCurve, with two key frames, respectively the same length of the original animation.
BLENDING: When blending between two shots to make a combo, the rule of frames is '5 frames to blend'. This will allow a smooth transition to hit the stance and read, without having the curves 'hit a wall' of weird funkiness.
SUBTRACKS: Subtracks are like override and additive layers in MotionBuilder, but in the story tool. This allows us to steal animation from previous clips to morph into the story and blend.
BAKING: Brandon bakes his animation onto the control rig probably as much as he saves. This makes sure that the animation is always updated and that he is working with the right clips and frames without having to go back and rework past data.
DAILY HOURS: 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (9 hours)
CONSECUTIVE HOURS: (9 hours)