Run Cycle (RC)

Please refer to FOL for assignment weighting and due date.

Run Cycle (RC

   Using the character rig provided, create a smooth cycling run animation that is a ‘treadmill’ type animation (the character does not move forward in space. Character should be facing the positive Z axis. Animation should be broad and exaggerated: much bigger than life. Motion capture is not permitted for this task: it must be keyframed. Be sure to gather reference, analyze the material gathered, and plan before attempting to pose in 3d software. Character must be well framed in 3d from a ¾ front view, facing toward screen right. 

Working in the graph editor will be necessary to complete this task successfully. This animation must loop smoothly so pay close attention to the in/out tangents of your keys at the start and end of the animation. 
Consider that, in animation, audience expectation is as important as reality. While using reference of real video of people running is important, the animation must be broader and more exaggerated than reality. 

PRO-TIP #1: Start your animation on frame 0. This will simplify the task of creating a symmetrical cycle where both halves of the cycle are the same number of frames, with poses in each half being mirrors of each other. For example, in a 20-frame cycle starting on frame 0; frame 10 would be a mirror of the pose at frame 0. Using a tracking tool like bhGhost will also make this task easier.

PRO-TIP #2: Include ‘airborne’ frames in both halves of the cycle. The big difference between a run and a walk is that there are moments where the character has both feet off the ground. If you don’t have these moments, your character will look like they are speed walking.

PRO-TIP #3: Consider switching to FK mode the moment a foot leaves the ground, for better interpolation and faster posing.

This animation should be between 16-24 frames long @24fps. Featured principles of animation: Squash & Stretch, Overlap/Follow Through, Slow In/Out, Arcs, Exaggeration

Drawing from 'Cartoon Animation' by Preston Blair

Hand-in file parameters:
  • Maya ascii file (.ma)
  • Movie file type must be .MOV  or .MP4
    An example of suitable staging for the run cycle

  • Either H.264 or MPEG4 compression
  • 960 x 540 resolution 
  • Animation controls, resolution gate hidden
  • Frame counter (current frame) visible
  • File size must be less than <250 MB
  • File must be named as follows:
  • No zip files, please
       <Your last name>_<Your first name>_<assignment code>.<file type>

What I'll be grading on this assignment:

- Cycle Integrity - Does the animation loop smoothly and symmetrically without pops or hitches?
- Physics - Is there a believable sense of mass, Squash/Stretch, Balance, Ease In/Out?
- Arcs/Path of Action - Do the limbs follow sensible paths of motion and are easy to follow?
- Feedback Applied - Have you shown work in progress and made fixes as directed?
- Staging/Submission Requirements - Is you submission well staged, and meet all requirements?

from Richard Williams' book 'The Animators Survival Kit'

Step 1
How much work is achievable in one week? It needs to be enough progress so you're able to assess student understanding of concepts shown as well as ability to apply them effectively. Example: for bouncing ball with tail, just have them complete the core movement.
Step 2
The next chunk of work for students to accomplish. Consider that revisions on Part 1 will likely be needed or in some cases a complete re-start on the assignment. Peer feedback can be especially useful at this stage as issues are typically easy to identify and simple to fix. Example: for bouncing ball with tail, just have students revise their earlier project and add squash/stretch.
Step 3
The last chunk of work, mindful that revisions may be needed on both Parts 1 and 2. A shorter assignment completed successfully is more valuable that an large incomplete attempt. Manage scope carefully and adjust based on student progress in Part 1. Example: for bouncing ball with tail, just add the tail animation along with any corrective revisions.
Final Notes
Feedback on all prior elements to have students complete assignment. Focus on generating a polishing list that students can execute. Include an exemplar of the finished assignment.

An excellent example of this assignment by Andrew Brown. (ANI 2020)

Please be sure to check your staging before submitting.

Here are some additional resources for further reading. Have fun!

 - Dave