I establish character traits, make a note of what the character
is thinking and feeling, and make sure I know the lines of
dialogue before I shoot reference video. I shoot the reference with the dialogue track playing in the background and also shoot a
reference with it turned off. This first reference helps me establish the beats/timing of the dialogue. The second reference
with the original track turned off, helps me get ideas for a more naturalistic performance.
Maya Set-Up: This is the set-up I use for animating:
Having the graph editor open at all times allows me to clean up
and tweak the range of movements. This is usually done in the splining stage, but since I'm using auto-tangent from the start,
I use the graph editor to make sure the animation isn't floaty.
I like to work in the perspective view because I believe every body
part is either affected or affecting each other. So I've found that
cheating things to camera can end up in really messy animation.
The gui controller picker is on the other screen so that I have
maximum screen space for the perspective view to see everything
clearly. However, I might dock it on the same screen for faster
I also have my notebook with me to draw thumbnails that are
exaggerated versions of the poses from my live action reference.
I use it to try multiple cartoony ideas that are not in my reference
video. So I would animate multiple iterations until I find an idea
that works best.
Blocking one involves thinking about several principles of drawing, animation and filmmaking.
First I think about line of action and I exaggerate the characters poses.
I also incorporate overlap and the other principles of animation into the pose. I get the timing down from my reference videos, so I make sure I key all controllers and then move them to the correct position on the timeline.
Blocking Plus involves cleaning up arcs, spacing, ease in and ease outs. I create playblasts often to watch the animation at speed, and take notes of areas that I need to fix.