Thursday, May 26, 2011

Put a Lid on that Iris

Last week I learned a very fascinating fact about eyes and I haven't been able to stop looking at eyelids since.

When looking at eyes, generally the upper eyelid will keep in contact with the iris. Unless you're going for a specific expression; frightened, crazy, disgusted, dopey and hopeful etc. Something where the eyes are locked to a target (usually angled down) and the brows are pulling up, taking the lids for a ride.

Otherwise, in most cases you won't likely see any white of the eyes above the iris.

Now this might seem trivial, but it's just an extra step in giving the audience something they can relate to... even if they don't know they're relating to it. A step towards believability. Personally though I find this a very important aspect to be aware of, since the viewer pays attention to and connects with the eyes the most. Even more so at AM since we're dealing with a character that has such huge eyes.

Kevin Koch's Article on Saccades / Fixations

Check out the video at the top of this page and see the eyelid moving in sync with the eye darts (actually everyone should read all of Kevin's stuff about eyes, he's got a few articles that focuses just on eye movements). One interesting bit is that when the eye moves at the very end, the eyelid reacts pretty accurately to maintain it's relationship to the iris. There's sometimes a frame of drag or overshoot, but they're pretty spot on.

I've never taken that close a look at this before and when I heard about it (source being my Class 1 mentor David Weatherly, relayed by my study mate Michael Amos), I went around looking at AM assignments and animation at the 11 second club, the white bug eyes are rampant. So go study some eyes, read Kevin's articles, and infuse that gold into your animation!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Love for Learning

Long time no post. It's been pretty crazy at the Animation Mentor scene and just when I've sorta grasped the current concept I was learning, ten more concepts show up right behind it.

Sounds like a complaint, but it's really awesome. This part of my life has been missing since I was a kid: The quest for knowledge. I've always done well in school but there was no direction. I just aimlessly tried to get good grades because I was told that was the right thing to do. It wasn't until a few months ago that I started to get really excited about absorbing the knowledge of how humans and animals work in order to create more believable animation. I've been constantly digging deeper since.

I woke up today, sat down at my desk, and realized there are stacks of books surrounding me now. Before AM, you'd never see me with a book. It made me realize how much I've changed since opening that webpage.

Some of the books I've read recently that I found quite interesting:

Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre by Keith Johnstone

This book probably got the ball rolling. There are really crazy bits in this book and some of it was admittedly hard for me to sludge through. But the meat of this book is pure gold. And not just from an animation perspective, but a life perspective.

What Every BODY is Saying by Joe Navarro

An Ex-FBI Agent (who the TV Series "Lie to Me" was based on) deconstructs his process of human "tells" of the body that give away our inner thoughts and feelings. He goes through from head to toe and explains what, why, how. A very interesting and fun read.

Directing Film Techniques and Aesthetics by Michael Rabiger

One of the first books I read when I was just digging into film making. It delves into very specific examples and explains why certain choices are made and how structuring and planning the scenes ultimately makes it clearer to the audience on both a conscious and subconscious level. Clarity, can't work without it!

Hope to get back to this more regularly, with actual progress and tips to share :) Till then, have a good one!