Leg Ball Jump (LBJ)

Please refer to FOL for grade value and due date

Leg Ball Jump. (LBJ)
Using a basic Ball-with-Legs rig, animate a simple forward jump from a standing position. You'll need to show an appropriate anticipation that matches with the size of your jump. You'll also need to include sufficient recovery after the landing. The physics should show that your character is approximately the size and mass of an average adult human. Playblast from a 3/4 perspective view. Featured principles: Anticipation, Staging, Posing (Solid Drawing), Exaggeration. The scene must be exactly 4 sec. long (96fr)

What I'll be grading on this assignment:
  • Do you meet all the required parameters of the assignment?
  • Does your character properly shift weight and balance in a convincing way?
  • Is there a clear and consistent sense of mass to the character?
  • Are you effectively using principles of Anticipation, Timing, Ease In/Out, Arcs, and Posing?
Hand-in file parameters:
  • Movie file type must be either an .MOV or .MP4
  • either H.264 or MPEG4 compression
  • 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • File size must be less than 50 MB (check "encoding" in play blast settings if it's not)
  • No .zip or .rar files please
  • File must be named as follows:

       <Your last name>_<Your first name>_<assignment code>.<file type>
                  eg. Latour_David_LBJ.mov

! A few important tips:

  • Don't animate the Main control.  This is the large ring at the feet of the character called "Main". On rigs this is typically referred to as the master control or 'God' control. If you animate this control it will be very difficult to get the feet to properly lock down. It will also make getting a proper arc next to impossible! Use it to place your character at their starting position in the scene but DO NOT ANIMATE IT.
  • Switch your legs to FK when your character is airborne. Use IK feet when the character is on the ground. Switch to FK when the character is in the air. FK means the legs will  interpolate in arcs. This has the benefit of creating more pleasing results, requiring fewer keys and speeding up your workflow. Use the plus shaped controls next to the hips called "FKIKLeg_R" and "FKIKLeg_L" to switch from  IK to FK. On the attribute "FKIKBlend" A value of 10 = IK mode, a value of 0 = FK mode
  • Show up to class and get feedback. Getting guidance while your work is in progress will be critical to achieve the best possible outcome. While it is possible to complete this task without instruction, it's much more difficult and takes a lot longer. 


Part 1 - Remember the Bouncing Ball?

At it's core, this is the same notion with some small differences. As long as well have good Arcs, proper Ease In/Out at the apex and Squash/Stretch (in the posing, not deforming the ball itself.) The results on this assignment should be great!

Grab the Ball with Legs, Advanced Skeleton rig (v1.1) 

First start by auditing the RIG and making sure you know all the controls and how they function. Try a couple of useful poses as well - a crouching (squash)  pose and a fully extended leap (stretch).

Now that we have a handle on the rig, start your planning. You can rough out some thumbnail sized sketches of the action, search online for some standing jump reference, or shoot some video of yourself leaping. Any one of these methods should work. If you're using video, remember to trim down and analyze your clip or all that effort is not going to help at all.

*IMPORTANT* When you start this assignment, don't just copy my plan and reproduce the same animation: you must come up with a unique plan of your own. Otherwise your work is just plagiarism.

Here's my plan for this assignment with a quick sketch of each main key pose. I also included some lines to suggest line of action and the character's balance. As you can see, pretty drawings are not needed here.

Start laying in your key poses in Maya (about 7 in all). You should have a relaxed starting pose, a crouching anticipation, a fully extended leap, the apex of your jump, stretching to land, squashing impact and the final position.

Once your keys are in place, shift them around to get the timing you want. If you're working with video reference, then you can just place them according to the timing in your video (easy!)

Here's my first pass with just keys:

Make sure you have this much progress to show for next class


Part 2 - Anticipation and Exaggeration

First the Exaggeration: I'm taking a second pass at my scene, starting with my key poses. I'm looking for places to push the poses further. I lower the crouching pose, raise the apex of my jump and give the landing a bigger impact. All in order to heighten the contrast in my poses and exaggerate the action.

Now the Anticipation: I insert some breakdowns to help further define the action. Using breakdowns, I create a small rocking back as an anticipation to the main jump. Remember - anticipation is about signaling your audience that something is about to happen. The little rock back before the big jump is going to help the whole thing read more clearly.

Finally I tweak the timing to "punch up" some areas (make them faster) or "soften" them (slow it down). I won't tweak timing too much while in stepped mode, as I find the switch to spline mode changes the perception of timing significantly.

Here's my second pass, still in stepped mode. With broader movement and some breakdowns added:


Part 3 - Spline it Out, and Visualize with a Primitive Object

I'm happy with my keys and breakdowns and my overall timing. I convert everything to spline mode. First, I refine my timing (to resolve that change in perception from stepped to spline)

Next, I check the arc of the character's center of mass. There isn't an animation control that aligns with with the c.o.m, so I'll just animate a primitive sphere as a guide instead. Remember; this works similar to a bouncing ball. Once the character leaves the ground their lateral speed is linear and their up/down should be a nice symmetrical parabola. I'll slap an animated motion trail on the sphere to make it easier to visualize. If you haven't already, take a moment and read the online article; Alejandro Garcia: Physics and Balance. You want to be certain that you fully understand the concepts discussed therein.

Once I have the arc and timing of the sphere working well, I reconcile the character to match it. I add a few more breakdowns to create a bit of a step back to accommodate the further lean back I needed (based on my sphere animation). Once the character is lining up with the sphere, it's on to polishing. To help with polishing, here is a simple image showing some common issues:

First, I adjust my camera position to make sure I have the best possible staging (composition). Now that I know my view, I can track the feet so that their path of action is nice and smooth. Finally, I smooth out any hitches in the knees and I should end up with a nice convincing jump.

Here's the final result, with added audio for fun. (Check out Freesound.org if you'd like to find some audio clips to add to your animation.

Here's a link to the YouTube video of me animating the the first part of the assignment.

Good luck and work hard!
 - Dave