While attending the University of Texas at Dallas, I decided to take an animation class. One thing about this specific class is that it was over the Summer session and not only that, it was an accelerated course. Meaning, it was a semester's worth of learning (~four months) mashed into roughly one month. It was rough, as I took it in conjunction with another class (Experimental MOCAP) but it was well worth it.
Single Ball Bounce
Two Balls Bouncing
The professor was Midori Kitagawa, a very cool, Japanese woman. She began with the basics of animation but we jumped onto the computer very quickly. Not only did we work with inanimate objects, we worked with basic biped rigs that we could animate as though they were people. I know their walks look a bit weird but that's because the quirks of the human walk have been exaggerated. We were paired up so our partners could record reference videos. I do have those but I don't really plan on uploading them so tough luck.
Assignment 3 Part 1
Assignment 3 Part 2
There was a specific character in mind for this walk. Basically, the person is a really hungry guy, pretty much literally starving. He's a big meat eater and he's spotted a cow. A very, delicious cow.
I'm really proud of the outcome here. I thought it was really clever. The idea here was to animate this face as it is reading a letter. The content of the letter was completely up to us and I wish I could find it. Alas, it seems to be lost forever. Anyway all I remember is something about an inheritance or something similar, crazy Hulk-like anger and extreme shock at the end. I found out that you can animate Maya shaders/material which probably isn't something done very often.
Emotional Face Read
Topics in Animation: Experimental Motion Capture
I figured I'd throw this here since I only have the one video to show and the class was taught by the same professor. I took this class at the same time as my Animation class, so the workload was insane.
Let me say this: the first assignment was HARD. I think part of this class worked on the assumption that we all had some MOCAP experience. Luckily, the first assignment was basically an intro to general MOCAP. Our group had never interacted with anything MOCAP so we had to learn everything from scratch. I don't know if everyone was in the same boat as us but regardless that made this class extremely informative.
So, since we had never touched MOCAP, we decided to capture two people, not realizing marker data would be so tough. The recording/capturing went fine and was really fun coordinating the fight. I was in control of fixing the marker data and wow that was an experience. I didn't learn any tricks; I just went through basically frame by frame and attempted to correct the markers that were obscured, blocked, removed and everything else that can happen with marker data. I stayed up late almost every night while working on our project just to get it done. Most of it came out really well but as you can see in the video, some markers were probably switched.
Will Collins and Blake Dowd did a lot of work in Motion Builder and the final stuff back in Maya. Basically, the process was you import your marker data into Motion Builder and work with the body setup you have there. When that is done, you bring all the motion into Maya and put that skeleton into a character (or in our case, two characters). You play it out, capture or render it and throw it into a video editing program. That's how the video above came into existence.
The second assignment was another group assignment but this time we couldn't just capture people and animate that. We had to do something experimental and screw around with whatever we decided. The group this time was myself, Alyssa Lee, Michael Wonser, Samantha Bratton and either Will or Blake (sorry, can't remember which and I don't have every file from that assignment). I know I wanted to work on some sort of creature so I teamed up with these peoples. The final thing was a caterpillar. We MOCAP'ed a grabby thing (the extra arm that you can use to grab stuff, picture above) and used that as the head and pincers. We used a cord or ropes to get the flow of the body. I think for the legs we actually just captured someone's lower body. We combined those two with traditional frame animations to create a bug that moved pretty well. Sadly, I don't have the video from that but I hope you got the idea. :)