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Note: Users of A:M 2006 (Yeti CD) please read information at this link for more on troubleshooting a problem with the Knight's knees. Read about it ]HERE.

The Art of Animation Master Part I: Animation

1 - You're the Director
2 - A Chorus Line
3 - Move It
4 - It's a Pitch
5 - Take a Walk
6 - The Door's Stuck
7 - Can You Say That?

The Art of Animation:Master
Exercise 4: It's a Pitch
Approx. time to complete: 1 Hour

Exercise 4 is the first really in depth look into animation. Exercise 2: Chorus Line certainly had animation in it... but now it's your turn to take charge.

One of the best examples of basic character animation fundamentals is of throwing a ball. Sounds simple right?

NOTE: While the manual seems to imply that you animate/render from a front view rendering from the side or at an angle (Bird's eye view) is recommended. Using the concept of Silhouetting is important to reading the action of your character. If you can see the shapes... you can sell the action.

Let's see how well you fare.


Part 1 Web/Online ( 18.1MB )
Part 2 Web/Online ( 26.2MB )
Download Zip ( 43.7MB )

Rig Tip for Knight in "It's a Pitch"

Knight uses a rig called AM2001. By default that has something termed "autobalance" ON. In actual practice this is not a helpful feature and you will find it much easier to pose Knight (and any other AM2001 rigged character like Rabbit or Shaggy) by turning it OFF.

After you have the character in a Choreography, select the character and press ALT-3 to open the Properties window if it is not open already>

Scroll down to UserProperties>Rig and set "Balance" and "Balance Rigid" to 0%.

Remember to do this for any AM2001 rigged character.

See a screen capture of the settings in post #409

------------------------ ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ------------------------------

Did you know, the foundation of Animation:Master is 'reusability'?
Understanding and exploiting that knowledge will be a great time saver.

As you go through the exercises note places where this principle can be used to best advantage; in actions that cycle, multiple models with similar actions, multiple scenes using similar actions.

Technicalities of reusable actions and things to consider to minimize effort and maximize results include:

Understand the Action Window. This is almost always the best place to create cyclic actions. Use an Action window to create reuseable actions and consider the Choreography window to create actions that are heavily modified.

Understand Frame Rate. Know that there are important reasons why frame rate may need to be adjusted due to the medium the final animation will be displayed in (Film, TV, etc) and even different parts of the world. Unlike humans, computers start counting with the number 0. That difference may have to be factored in to your project to ensure results meet your expectations.

Understand SMPTE (Time code). Generally, video uses frame reference in the form of minutes, seconds, and frames. Animation:Master is built around the use of SMPTE time code. Knowing how to use, communicate, and reference SMPTE in your project will really pay off. In TAOA:M, 00:03:15 is shown to represent 3 seconds, frame 15. Using SMPTE can help understand the difference between frame time and viewing time.

Understand and use Skeletons. Knowing the suggested hierarchical layout and bone naming convention is vital to the concept of reusability. Animation:Master currently uses the "2001 skeleton/rig" as it's standard. This is important to know as there are many other skeletons created for characters in A:M and actions created for one skeleton will rarely work with other skeletons. It's certainly possible to create your own skeleton or use commercial or tailor made skeletons but weigh the effects on reusability when you make the decision on what to use as the skeleton in your model.

Understand the basics of constraints. There is a lot to know about constraints. For now, understand that they are highly useful to defining the relationship of one object to another. Examples include: Constraining feet to a floor, Camera to a character, Eyes to a moving object. Invisible objects, called "Nulls", are often useful and should be considered where appropriate.

Other information and resources:

The Reusable Motion Forum area

Note to Users of Animation:Master 2006 (Yeti CD)
A problem with the Knight's knees has been reported.
It appears the Knight on the Yeti CD has a flaw in constraints.

For more on the problem and a copy of a Knight that does not have the problem see the following link:

Knight's knees constraint problem on the 2006 (Yeti) CD.

Thanks to RingerT, David and Mark for troubleshooting.
Hey said you wanted some comments about TAOAM exercises, and I have one that seems significant to me.

I was just about to get started on Ex 4, having kinda fumbled my way through the other ones wink.gif

What I realized is: I don't have a clue what the balance and balance rigid pose sliders do, beyond the comment in the pitch video and the manual that you should turn them off if the feet go above the head.

Additionally, I also realized that while I understand the turning on and off of the IK/FK for feet and hands, I have little idea which is better for which circumstances.

Maybe the constraints for the rigid stuff is a bit complicated, but a simple comment would be better than nothing smile.gif



p.s. I went back and watched both the videos and perused the book, but I couldn't find anything on these subjects...
Hmmm.... balance and balance rigid pose sliders...
We'll have to see what we can dig up.

no match... translate japanese...
Search so far...

negative... if X then goto loop1...A MOTION CONTROL SCHEME FOR ANIMATING by Diane M. Chi

Good stuff I should link in The 'annotated' Art of Animation:Master:

.... continue search...

facinating... bookmark and press on...

More crazycool stuff from those same Japanese guys

... initiate advanced search...


.... love maths....

...refine search...
Toward Virtual Actors

reject. reexamine question parameters/query...

Maybe the constraints for the rigid stuff is a bit complicated, but a simple comment would be better than nothing

search inconclusive... enter sleep mode for 30 cycles...
yeah, I did a little search too and re-checked the video and book to make sure I didn't miss it.

I'm guessing a good place for the IK/FK thing would be in the video for the door stuck tutorial which doesn't seem to exist yet. Another bummer about IK/FK is that the board search here requires minimum of three letter keywords.

I imagine in a month or two when I dig into constraints, I might be able to answer the balance/balance rigid question myself.

Oh! Hey! I am remembering a tutorial about the 2001 skeletion, I bet that would answer the question! I'll have to look for it later, though.

Thanks Rodney!

Balance and Rigid: Turn them both off.

They're intended to help you make automatically centered, balanced poses with your character. Centered and balanced poses usually end up being very stiff looking. Turn them off.

I found them maddening to work around. The fact that they make the body move if you adjust a foot is a big hassle. Turn them off.

Someone here called them a "make animation button". And then said "turn them off."

Balance and Rigid: Clever... but turn them off.

My .01

Name:  Den Dotson

Exercises Completed:  Four

Date Completed:  Sunday March 13, 2005

Instructor:  Rodney ( the Medieval Umpire ) and that guy on the web tutorials

Remarks/Suggestions for Improvement: Hmmmm...Armor for Baseball?

Here is a link to the fourth completed exercise:

Thanks Rodney,
Hmmmm...Armor for Baseball?

They plan to play this game for real!

Looks like you haven't hit any foul balls yet. Go Den! smile.gif
Name: Chris Thom

Exercises Completed: 4 of 19

Date Completed: April 10, 2005 (early morning)

Instructor: The AoA:M book & Roger Clemmons

Remarks/Suggestions for Improvement: This one was hard for me. Getting all the poses to work together and getting the timing to look natural. His left foot bothers me a little as far as the way it lands but it's not a bad first attempt I think.
Exercise 4 is one that people often have a hard time with... not from a sheer animating perspective... but from the RIGHT perspective.

You've managed to show a pretty good camera angle that silhouettes the action pretty good. Good job!

Looks pretty neat played backward too... almost like he's catching the ball. wink.gif

Edit: I've also added a discussion from last November into this area concerning IK/FK constraints. Turn 'em off seems to be the consensus where they aren't needed. See above for more detail.
Name: Tom Jansen
Exercise: #4 It's a Pitch
Date Completed: April 16, 2005
Comments: Just doing some experimenting with the camera and filling out the scene a little.

Here's a link to my animation:
Tom: Nice work there. Why is the camera so tight at the start though? Can't see what his feet are doing.

Rodney: Thanks for the info on IK/FK constraints & balance and rigid. I noticed these issues while animating the Stuck Door exercise. I'll try turning them off next time.
so how does one go about turning these constraints off.
Look under 'User Properties...
See attached image for a PWS screenshot.

(Sorry... I grabbed Shaggy because he was the closest to me)
I can tell you were having fun experimenting.

Your animation definitely conveys the story of the character and the aftermath of the action.

I'm with Stopmo in wishing the closeup was just a bit wider to capture the action.
Not to worry though...

I can easily see your animation as part of a larger story... which in that case the shot might not be close enough... Perhaps a second or two tight in on his face... zooming out... and all this after he's already thrown at least two other pitches that silhouette the actor's movement in a pitch.

Just rambling but am actually enjoying your process of experimentation.

I know it's just an exercise but there are ways to reduce and even eliminate that nasty shimmering on the grass too. wink.gif

Congrats on making your pitch!
Thanks Rodney biggrin.gif
Thanks for the encouragement guys!

I see what you mean about the camera being so close all the time. I may try switching cameras a bit so I can cut between close-ups and a medium shot so we can see more of the action.

So Rodney, how can I fix up the look of that grass? I'm still trying to figure out what each of those Surface properties do, and how they relate to each other.

Oh... and is there a way to insert frames into the timeline? For example, maybe to slow down a particular movement, I might want to insert a few frames between each keyframe. Or like with this pitching exercise, I would like to add some time to the beginning of this scene (perhaps to have the pitcher look down a runner on first or something similar). What's the best way to go about that?

Thanks for all of your help guys! Your experience and insights are greatly appriciated!
The only way I can think of inserting frames into the timeline would be to locate the point you want to modify in the timeline, highlight and grab all the frames to the right of that point and slide them over.
Oh... and is there a way to insert frames into the timeline? For example, maybe to slow down a particular movement, I might want to insert a few frames between each keyframe. Or like with this pitching exercise, I would like to add some time to the beginning of this scene (perhaps to have the pitcher look down a runner on first or something similar). What's the best way to go about that?

For straight cut away scenes I recommend just adding them into the series of sequentially numbered Targa files. One way to do this (in A:M) would be to drop a frame by renaming an image at the end of the first desired segment to halt the sequence and then import the all three sequences and place them in the right order inside A:M.

Did that make sense? unsure.gif

You could also add frames as Stopmo suggests (you really don't care what gets rendered here because you'll replace the targa images with the new image sequence you want there.
There's a tool:

Edit -> Move Frames.

Anyone use this? Or am I off the mark? It's a very powerful tool.

I also like extending and shrinking sections in the timeline when I need a moment compressed or expanded. Whatever works for you.
OK, cool. I've never noticed that. I'll have to take a look at that!
So Rodney, how can I fix up the look of that grass? I'm still trying to figure out what each of those Surface properties do, and how they relate to each other.

There are several approaches.
The one I will suggest would be to render out the grass in a separate rendering as a flat rendered image and then apply that to your ground as either a decal or (if made into a tileable image) patch images.

There are several benefits to this approach.
This will prevent the shimmer that occurs when the grass is rendered from slightly different perspectives throughout the animation.

You can also add a post effect (Blur) and set that to what ever leve works best for you. That way you gain more control over the resultiing grass image.

#4 completed. smile.gif

It seems to go pretty fast. I tried to select and move some of the keyframes to lengthen the poses a bit. but could only move them up and down, not side to side on the timeline. blink.gif

Well, here's the pitch anyways..

I tried to select and move some of the keyframes to lengthen the poses a bit. but could only move them up and down, not side to side on the timeline.

Good job!

Sometimes the only way you can move the keyframes in the timeline is to use the arrow keys on your keyboard. For those times when the mouse won't move anything it's definitely worth a try.

Name: Tenez Waggoner
Exercise: #4 It's a Pitch
Date Completed: May 15, 2005
Comments: Ah, compression. Where would I be without you? Before I learned about compressing files, this was over 2 megs. I've managed to get it down to 52 kb. I forgot to move the camera before I rendered it, i just rendered from a side view. So there's not background.
Side view works fine for me.
I like to see the action silhouetted anyway. smile.gif
What about compression files? It sounds like something I don't know either. Could you pass on some information?

Good job you have done with the knight!

Well Ullis, I'm no expert on compression. But basically it's to keep the file size down on your project. Otherwise it will be huge. I basically just messed around with the settings. When rendering there's a little button that says compression. It'll bring up a bunch of formats and codecs. Some people will tell you that Quicktime, Sorenson 3 is the best. That's what I used and it worked pretty well. There really is no best setting for compression you really have experiment cause it depends on the project. It took me forever to get the "can you say that" tut down, and I still didn't get it down enough to upload. I had to zip it. One thing though is you have to be careful not to compress it down so much that the quality looks bad. So just experiment with the different formats and codecs and resolution till you get what you want. I don't know if that's much help. I'm sure someone else could help you alot better than I can.
Name: Leo Mitchell

Exercise # 4

Completed: 25 May 2005

Instructor: Manual

Here's a head on shot
And here's a side shot
Finally getting around to seeing your MOV files.
I definitely prefer the side view. Much easier to see the action. smile.gif
Name: Paula Waslen

Exercise: It's a Pitch

Completed: May 29, 2005

This one seemed to take a little longer than the suggested 1 hour, but I enjoyed doing it. The only thing I had trouble with was placing the arms. They seemed to flip and jump here and there when positioning them.
That looks good from here.
You may have struggled a bit but I could never tell that you did by looking at the results.

I've added your images in line and animated for others to study. smile.gif
*Note: I cropped the images to reduce file size. Apologies for that.

user posted image
user posted image
Thanks Rodney. Your quick feedback and dedication to this forum is most appreciated!
...and seeing everyone increase their enjoyment and skill with A:M is the payoff for me. Be sure to look me up in about 20 years and show me all the fun things you've created with Animation:Master 2025! smile.gif
Hi, here comes my pitcher. I really enjoyed animating him.

Very Nice Ulrika!

You have some great anticipatory swaying and follow through there.
It gives the feeling of weight and mass and leads me to think there is actually someone inside that suit.

Great Job! smile.gif

Your image cropped and coverted to grayscale GIF for others to see is attached.
Note that the conversion altered your original timing just a little.
This exercise was fun...

Exercise 4

Completed: 01/06/2005

I've gotta get you guys to add a baseball into this exercise one of these days. wink.gif

I won't be able to view your animation until tomorrow.
Many apologies.

Glad to see you are having fun. smile.gif
Keep at it!

Edit: Got a chance to see it. You did it. It's a pitch!
Name: Doug Fall

Exercises Completed: #4

Date Completed: May 31, 2005

Instructor: Rodney

Remarks/Suggestions for Improvement: I've noticed I always have trouble with the arms of these characters - they seem to suddenly bend the exact opposite way you intended... But in the end, the knight does somewhat appear to throwing, though not in too manly of a way...

Hey Doug, the link is bad sad.gif
Links is working here...

Good job Doug.
Sometimes it may be worth your while to turn off any IK/FK constraints in your character while blocking out the animation. You can find the switches in the Users Properties area of your character file (in the Project Workspace). In particular look for the Balance and/or Balance Rigid poses and try turning them off.
QUOTE (Rodney @ Jun 1 2005, 08:45 PM)
Links is working here...

Hmmm... on my computer it says a codec needs to be installed! What's a codec?
Hmmm... on my computer it says a codec needs to be installed! What's a codec?

It's the code that translates the video/audio signal for a specific movie format so that a video player can play it. Various codecs have been created to compress images into optimum formats for use in various situations. Some codecs are specialize for quality while others are optimized for size (streaming over the internet). Others try to find a happy medium. The term 'codec' is short for 'compression/decompression'.

I had to relearn a little about codecs today when I moved over into another computer without all my previously installed codecs. I must have had a lot of them installed on the other computer as I've been installing a lot of codecs this evening.

This site has quite a few.
The ones you'll probably be most interested in are the AVI codecs.

Codec downloads

There are many other sites out there for downloading codecs but I didn't find the one that I was looking for.
Name: Jacob R.

Excersises Completed: #1,#2,#3,#4

Date: 6/08/05

Well, I must say..I'm not an animating type of guy..this didn't turn out as I wanted it to, but it's a start
I'm not much of a 'animation type guy' either.
But every day I think I'm beginning to get a better grip on the concepts.

Good job on Exercise#4!
If you ever revisit the exercise add in a ball and see how you do with him throwing it. smile.gif
If I may take the liberty of following your advice...

Name: Zev Eisenberg
Exercise Completed: Exercise 4 "It's a Pitch"
Date Competed: 21 June 2005
Remarks/Suggestions: Oh, now I read that I should have turned those poses off. From now on, I browse the forum before animating! The timing was tricky, and I had to mess with motion channels to get the movement right. It's a little too fast, you can see it better if you play it frame by frame. This would be a great exercise to introduce the "translate to" constraint. Maybe it could be incorporated into a new version which includes a ball!

Ouch Zev! Someone is going to have to pay for that!
Great implementation and execution.

I agree that it would be nice to modify the tutorial to include a ball.
Of course the primary focus of the exercise is to animate the character but adding the ball give the character 'motivation' for movement which is key to making the animation read well.

I have lofty plans to break down the exercises to detail important areas but as many things these days it's still movng up the priority list. Having people push the exercises as you have in this case makes the job of expanding the exercises easier for everyone. Thanks for that!

OK. here's mine.

It's a pitch.
Finished 7/8, but adjusted many times and posted 7/9.
Book and video

I'm not thrilled with the weight transfer towards the end. I like the rest. I just couldn't get that last little realistic "bounce" I was looking for. Figure that's just my lack of experience. I also need to play with the lighting. The one paragraph of info from "Chorus line" wasn't enough and I need to delve much deeper.

Chose a toon look this time.

Cheryl McKinney
EX: Completed: July 12, 2005
Ex 4: It's A Pitch
Instructor: Den Dotson
linda s hill exercise #4 it's a pitch date completed -july 12 instructor: den dotson
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