Thursday, November 22, 2012

Scene 01 - The Office

Good day!

As the title says, this post is about the first scene of my movie. When I had made my first draft of the story plot, I had conceived that the movie would start with Flint doing a run towards the Bank, Starting so in the middle of the action already. This was bugging me for a very long time, as I was not sure whether or not the starting scene was explicative enough about why and what was Flint doing running out in the middle of the street towards a bank.

 During the time I spent modeling, rigging etc, I came up with a better entry scene, that would strengthen, explain and even add to the motive why does Flint need to go to the Bank. So my idea was that my character would start inside his office, just like any other day at work, he would be tiding up his desk putting some files away, when he realizes that there is a file that needs to be delivered during that day, and not and not that much time after he notices such file.

Why is this better? Because, simply, it starts my action with a clear, demonstrated inciting incident. And as a plus it adds up to the drama and brings out the urgency of delivering the file in time. This scene also allowed me to insert a comic run from his office towards the bank, that completes the idea or urgency and makes the action rampage towards the last scene.

So before I go deeper into anything else, the following image illustrates the scenario of the scene, as well as the "cartoonish" style of the movie.

Animating the first scene had four crucial points: The first one is pictured in the image above. It´s the moment when he notices the paper on the file, and I tried to animate it to provide the feeling of movement to reach closer and read properly, and also make his thoughts come out through expression, by behaving as if he couldn´t believe his eyes. In this movement, the Key poses are:

-  when his head goes all the way back, his upper body leans with it and his facial expression is simple. His flow lines all point to the head.

-   when his head is down close to the paper, after having performed a curved movement leaning to the right first, and then reaching the paper. His upper body follows. His flow lines direct to the paper.

The second one is the moment he reaches for his suitcase. This is the point where a fast action that starts on from this moment and only stops when he reaches the Bank building, on scene 02. My idea when animating, was that he would act swiftly in reaction to the inciting incident, and would show and transmit urgency by picking up his suitcase from the floor and slam it hard enough in the table, quickly open it, toss the file inside, close it and stand up. 

Everything was looking good except for the arm swing. It was not energetic enough and the movement was boring. This was happening because I was leading the movement with the wrist. I decided to try and lead the movement with the elbow instead, both up and down.

It worked so much better. Specially because it was a fast action, less than a second. As these are not the extreme keys of the movement they don´t illustrate the body lines so accurately, but the way I drew them is close to how they move on the film.

At first, both the head and body movement on the first moment, and the body and arm swing on the second movement, were looking monotonous and flat, just moving around. The movement arcs were nice, but they were going from A to B. I decided that it was needing to go somewhere after leaving A and getting to B points. So I added middle key positions that would break the movement and give it a more natural feeling. To finalize these changes, I also added in-betweens to slow down the movement at the start of the actions and at the points where movement was changing directions. It worked wonders. I am very satisfied with how it turned out.

The last two key moments where the standing up and the opening the door. 

When he is standing up, I used the same technique as is the head movement I mentioned before. Before the character did the movement to stand up, he first bended closer to the table and then he moved in the opposite direction. This gave more strength to the movement and made it flow very naturally.

He then reaches for the door and this was such a fast action I had a hard time to figure out where to set keys to correctly move the character. I used the same technique, he first slightly leaned to the door and then moved back so that the door could open. It´s possible to observe it in the preview coming in the next few lines.

I think my character is being able to transmit the feelings I want him to transmit, and all these details I added to strengthen the movements and emphasize feelings really add up to the animation. God bless the "animator´s survival kit"!

 Here´s a playblast of the first scene: