Animation Year-Round?

For a lot of you, competition season hasn’t even started, but for us it’s already over. I was wondering what kind of 3d practice your team does off-season? When I was on 11, during MORT-U we had eight weeks of practice in our respective areas of interest, and that included the 3d team. The team I mentor is new to 3d and this year we had zero preparation time. To be honest, I’m ready and excited to get started with them right now, even just to practice once every month or so.

How does your team do it? They’re still rather new, so they tend to like my suggestions more when I swear other teams do it too xD I think I’ve probably explained every nuance of MORT’s animation and chairman’s teams to them three times. xD

…and yes, Buddy B, we know exactly how much you practice 3d, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t interested in animating all the time. They’re not freaks like us. <3

They are not freaks like us yet they are just getting started.:smiley:

Our team normally takes a break for the of the “school year” where we relax get caught up in school if need be. As we all know animation season can be extremely stressful. In this time though a lot of our students still work with animation at home with the free trial that firstbasefrc.autodesk.com offers to teams.

Things pick up again for our entire team when the new school year starts. Training on with the program giving them a list of tutorials to work on. then about the time the safety animation topic is released we all collaborate on that and get to work. after safety animation our team rest again untill build season starts.

I do believe that if you truly do want to work with animation practice is the best way and really when every you can I would suggest working with 3Ds Max.

What I’ve come to find its very hard to find the person that will step up and take the role. They have to fall in love with animation, your best bet is to get art students to join the robotics team and animation.

What I plan on doing is animation boot camp over the summer. An intense four week class that basically it will consists me throwing all the animators into a fire and having them fight their way out. They should walk away with an animation before its done. But this is still an idea, I would have to find time to do this.

When does the safety animation usually get announced? I think the mentors will want me to jump at the opportunity, but I need to recruit new students before then (my old animation team is graduating, boo).

BuddyB, I like your boot camp idea a lot. I’m sure that students who are really in love with what they do will be willing, but for others it may take some convincing. Do you think you’ll have to twist arms to get them going?

We don’t do any because mostly I get new kids for animation and we don’t start recruiting til September.

Its very hard to say. If I start twisting arms and forcing kids to do it then they will never enjoy it. The minute I turn my back they will stop animateting. They wont go home to animate. I’m really looking for that one student who just takes off and becomes obsessed with it. Because with an animation team for FIRST you really only need one person who is fully into it to make a good submission. Sure its good to have multiple people on the team, but then you deal with organization issues. A person that is new to 3D doesn’t know how to organize the data on their computer (or network) correctly unless they have done a couple of projects before. Unless they have a mentor (like me!) to show them how to organize. But I can’t really be their all the time because I’m going to school right now.

I have essentially the same problem. I need to find the right medium between teaching them everything I possibly can, and trying not to suck the fun out of it. I’m a student, I work, and I live an hour and a half away, so you can imagine how important it is for them to want to do the work on their own time. My biggest fear is that I’m not going to find that one student who really takes off with it. Unfortunately, that’s the one aspect of this situation that I can’t control, so worrying will do me no good, but alas. I do it anyway.

Aside from lots of practice, any good strategies for keeping the team interested and organized? I

Yes, you need to find a fun project that everyone likes. The safety animation and AVA award aren’t the projects. Because, lets face it, the safety animation and the AVA entry are really boring projects.

If you make something wacky and crazy like this animation I’m pretty sure a lot more students will get involved and see the fun in it. And this style of animation can easily be done in 3ds max. It would require a lot of Photoshop, But when It comes time to animate. Your only moving planes around.

Also, even though its a Robotics program. You need artists, especially in the animation team. Students who love to draw and come up with characters can put every member of the team on the same page. They can paint out scenes and then everyone will know what they have to do. I always find that an animation made by artist is normally far better then one made by students that are technical minded. The tech guys tend to remain in the box and normally end up with an animation that is a advanced form of a picture slide show.

The problem now is that student that are really good at drawing and art tend to not want to learn a complex computer program and normally shy away from it. :mad: which causes a delemia

Another thing you need to do is introduce the students to the joy of completing an animation and having large audience view it. This I think can hook them but it has to be big, like screened in a film festival or played over the comps at the robotics events. This to me is a huge rush, and this is why I make animations. I don’t think I’ve accomplished showing a student the joy seeing audiences view your work. Its a very hard thing to do.

Also books, lots and lots of books at your disposal. Now while it is good to have “3ds max Bible” on hand, its a really technical and boring book. The F1 key in max normally can solve any problem that the book can. What your students need to learn is Animation. Not how to use max, because if they learn animation, Then they only need to know 3ds max basics to produce an very good animation.

One book I recommend is The Animator’s Survival Kit it explains the breakdown of motion.

Another rule I like to impose on is, No Human Characters. Period.

Especially for newbies, Human Characters are hard. Very hard to do. And if they are not done right, they end up looking very very bad. You have to get accross to your students that what they are making is Animation not, “hey lets copy something and try to make it look as real as possible in 3ds max!” You don’t even need characters to have faces. As long as they move well, your audience assumes thats the way you planed it. Like in this 10 second animation i did. and yes, that entire thing can easily be made in max.

This is what I’ve come to learn after 4 years of teaching 3ds max to students.

Although, it seems to me that I remember a few years ago, someone else relatively new to animation that did a human character singing and walking up stairs…and he turned out ok :smiley:

That? one… awe gee that turned out horrible! But I wasn’t shooting for realism on that one.

It normally comes out around Oct. I believe. I do agree with buddy that Safety animation and the AVA entry are not fun and exciting and I know I often zone off while working durning build season to work on things I think would look good. (This past year I zoned from nature to make the max building that is the new start of image of max 09, I think the image is some where on chief delphi)

Something I see is that not many kids want to get involved with animation this past season our team had 4 animators, one which kept getting pulled away to work on website, one which was our driver and toward the end was constantly pull away to practice, and one which was new this past year. Things get tough and next year we will only have 2-3 people if no one joins animation for next year.

I’ve always found that 2-3 is what works best. It’s hard to evenly parse out the work and then get it all put back together in the end. When I was a student, even when we started with 5-6 people, most of them only contributed one or two meshes to the entire thing. Sometimes it helps to have that little extra oomph for the team, but if you were expecting them to do as much work as the rest of you, it can make for a last minute scramble.

Our animation team consists of me and a friend. In the off season we basically work on random things separately and then collaborate once and while when something comes up. One of the main things we do is make videos for our English class using 3ds Max, Flash, and Combustion to blow the minds of the people in our class in hopes of receiving a good grade.

If you would like to see one of our off season English videos on Walden Pond here it is :slight_smile:

The visual effects part starts at 4:40 if you want to skip the other stuff. But if you don’t skip over that stuff… sorry for the squeaky tripod at 3:57, it makes me cringe every time.

Nice editing!!! your still in high school? @#@#@#@#, thats pretty good. I made St. Valentines Day Massacre for English class back in high school. Gwad its bad.

Thanks for the compliment. Yeah, we’re juniors in high school right now. We worked on it for a week straight for about 4-5 hours every day after school and spent probably about 10 hours filming everything at various locations around about a 6 mile radius (several of the scenes required a mile hike to get to the location we wanted, including one that was entirely uphill…). So I’m always glad when people like it.

Your video was great. Especially the St. Valentines Day Massacre slide at 1:23 (very well done). I’ve also watched a bunch of the animations and videos you have in your profile and they are all amazing. Especially Weiner Wars and Appliance Night Out. Weiner Wars was incredibly epic and appliance night out had like the most amazing 3ds Max usage ever. I can see why it took you 9 months.

Thanks, keep pushing with your video and animation skills, it gets super rewarding after a while.