Introduction to Character Animation

Taught by

Course Number:
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Original Run Date:
October 2011 
8 hours 36 minutes 
This course is aimed at the intermediate 3D software user, and is intended to introduce 3D artists to character animation workflow in a 3D application. Taught by Kai Pedersen primarily in Cinema 4D, the program is intended to be platform agnostic, utilizing on common tools and workflows found in most 3D applications while focusing on theory and workflow.

There are no small exercises to cover the basic principles of animation here; this course will cover a complete shot from start to finish. Users will learn to think about their shot, plan ahead, act out and study reference before diving in and working through each stage of animation from blocking through to a completed shot.

Pedersen has been a Technical Director at his own Vancouver-based boutique, LucentDreams Animation, for several years, working on commercials, films, and even Broadway productions. He has also worked with MAXON Computer as the Technical Support Manager to aid in high-end, studio-level technical support and training for Cinema 4D as well as a MAXON beta tester and demonstration artist for nine years and is considered an expert on Cinema 4D. Currently Pedersen also teaches Cinema 4D and After effects for the Digital Design program at Vancouver Film School.
Introduction to Character Animation
Watch our overview of the course

Class Listing

Class 1: What Makes a Good Rig

What Makes a Good Rig - As the course is designed to be platform agnostic, one may have to find a rig for their specific application. This first lesson will take a look at what to look for in a good rig, common control designs, and how to work with a rig in regards to selections, manipulation, and keyframing.

Class 2: Getting familiar with Posing

Getting familiar with Posing: Just because one knows how to keyframe, doesn't mean that they can make a nice character animation. Besides the 12 basic animation principles, an animator needs strong posing skills. Before we run into animating we'll take some smaller steps into silhouette and posing.

Class 3: Planning

Planning - Planning is more than simply an idea. You have to think about your character, know how they would act and why. Sketches, Acting, and Video recording simplify the rest of the workflow by serving as a solid foundation for your animation.

Class 4: Blocking

Blocking - We'll finally begin to animate our scene. The first lesson will be to block out the most vital Key Poses. While only a few poses, these are the ones where silhouette and clarity are most essential.

Class 5: Principles

Principles - Now that we have some key poses it is a good time to take into consideration principles of animation and plan out how we are going to get from one keyframe to another using these principles.

Class 6: Blocking Plus

Blocking Plus - Blocking alone may not convey enough detail on how the character gets from one moment to another. Utilizing the planning form last lesson we’ll add some additional breakdown poses to help express each motion.

Class 7: Splining

Splining - At some point the animation needs to move from its traditional drawings style roots to a lively smooth cg animation. Converting all the animation to splines may smooth the animation but it can also lose some of the liveliness or abruptness. Smoothing the animation, while maintaining the personality, can be a challenge.

Class 8: Refining

Refining - With splines comes the odd behaviors, motions that don’t work quite as intended, twisting or flipping and other issues that may need to be changed. Some poses might need to be pushed further to read better so a pass to go back and refine everything is always needed.

Class 9: Polish

Polish - In a perfect world your animation might be near completion, but this is where you must get critiques and be honest with yourself and really push for that final 10%. Small secondary actions, gestures, and the likes that make a character feel alive, thinking and feeling.

Class 10: Lipsync and Breakdowns

A Brief look into Lipsync and Breakdowns - With our animation complete we’ll take a look at a few actual animations to review our workflow and how these shots might have been accomplished. We’ll also take a moment to look at how this same workflow could be applied to lipsyncing and other areas of animation.