Future animation leader asking for help

Alright, 2046 has finished a somewhat decent animation (hehe, a third of it is just a bunch of pictures!) I’ve got the most know-how of the three members of the animation team, and I really want to expand animation to be a greater part of 2046’s lineup.

I’d appreciate some off season recruiting and training tips to help get things started. I’m not the best teacher, and I really am not exactly sure where to start when I’ve got a few rookies in the room. This years three members will likely be returning, so I can at least have three different terminals to train on. Can some fellow animation veterans give this semi-rookie leader some help?

Hahah I was just asking most of these questions. Is this going to be your second animation, or have you guys been doing this a few years? This was my team’s first shot and it’s really hard to recruit when they don’t understand what you’re explaining. Show them the program, show them some finished pieces, and explain the basics of how it’s made–modeling, texturing, lighting, animation, rendering… that way they have the gist of what they’re going to be doing. When I was a student, and I learned that I would be doing what the animators over at Pixar are doing, I was hooked instantly.

Whether or not you can get started early is up to the teachers if you’re using their computers, but the earlier the better. Keep your returning students in practice over the summer if possible. I plan on having them do the safety animation this coming year–even if they don’t have a stunning submission, it will give them practice with every step of completing an animation with a deadline, not just doing tutorials (which are great, don’t get me wrong! But knowing how to put everything together is important, too).

I’m in the same situation as you, this being the end of my first year as an adult mentor. So I’m not exactly a veteran, but I can at least lend some educated guesswork =D I’ve found that saying, “do the tutorials in your spare time,” is not always wise. Some tutorials are very specific to certain techniques that you won’t be using very often. Look through them, go online, and pick out the ones that are the most explanatory and the most useful to the team. I wish I had done that this year xD I had to teach them everything while we were trying to do our animation.

Good luck! Let us know what works best for your team, because some of us are stuck in the same boat ;D

Its your job as a mentor to become very knowegable in the subject that you teaching. If you think about it, the most respected professors or teachers you incounter are the ones that know alot about what they are teaching. Once your students see that in you, they tend to work harder.

As I said before in another thread, don’t wait for the safety animation and AVA award to be the student’s first project. Because, quite frankly, they are very very boring projects. Do something over the summer thats wacky and crazy like This animationI did. This style is very very fast to create. It only took me two weeks.

You have to make the students see the joy of having a very well done piece when they are finished. I think that is the biggest hook. Because otherwise it will seem like work to them. I also encounter this, If I’m working on my own project I will work night and day until it is finished, clocking in over 3,000 hours on it. But as soon as a client or professor says, “We need 15 models done in a week, that are fully textured, and the polycount needs to be under 75,000” The fun is instantly taken away. Make it fun, Tutorials, tend to not make it fun, unless you’ve run into an obstacle and you cant figure it out on your project. Thats when I dish out tutorials.

Also, you don’t have to make a 3D animation, if you think about it. A 3D animation is a very complex operation. There are so many things involved, modeling, modeling for rigging, rigging, textures, morph targets, skin modifier, etc…etc… You can use 3ds max like a 2D animation program by moving basic shapes around like This animation I did. Ok so its not really finished, I was just fooling around in the car as I headed down to IRI one year. but it only took me the car ride to produce 14 seconds. Thats half an animation entry.

I really don’t know where I’m going with this post. I have a tendency to not know how to get my information out to other people. I guess I’ll end it here.

This is year was our second animation, and 2046 has seen three seasons counting this one. I only joined animation this year and quickly became the most knowledgable person on 3DS Max. However, this was not very hard and I’d still consider myself a rookie. After March is done and I’m in my between-quarter break (I’m taking classes through the local community college), I’ll be able to focus more on learning the software. I failed to point out that I’m still in high school, so I apologize for any confusion. :o

We’ve got a bit of a project going with a new animated character that we can pull out for an animations requiring a humanoid figure, like the safety animation. I’ll come up with some interesting ideas for the current animators to do to keep their game up. As far as new kids go, I don’t really know how to make something like learning the interface anymore fun than it really is. :rolleyes:

I like the idea of the 2D shapes animating. Was that just a couple splines with modifiers and such?

Sorry, but I don’t have a magic bullet.

  • Go through the very basic training videos that pop up when you first install Max.
  • Try giving them some tasks to do that have requirements, but allow them some creativity (e.g. model a bike, create and light a room, animate a teapot). They will learn the program as the work through the tasks.
  • Watch some videos or movies to learn what makes an animation “good.” Do pros use one big camera movement or camera cuts? Lighting? Animation? Timings? Telling a story?

And then when it comes time to actually do the animation:

  • Have a clear plan with one direction.
  • Set deadlines and assign tasks.
  • Planning, planning, planning. If you work with other people, you absolutely MUST communicate your idea or vision. Storyboards need to be the done FIRST, not after the animation is done.
  • Realize what is in your capability. Don’t take on more than you can do.
  • The 5% Rule: Get EVERYTHING done with at least 5% of your allotted time remaining.

Find the students that had severe blunt trauma to the head. They never fully recover and always have the best ideas.

…like me…(latter, then tree branch, knocked me clean out for three hours)

xD I got a concussion in gym once but it wasn’t really severe. I just wandered around in a happy daze all day. Actually, it was probably one of the most enjoyable days of my high school experience! And if it explains my obsessive love for animation, even better.

As for making human characters, I agree with BuddyB that DON’T is usually a good idea. HOWEVER, if you’re very comfortable with the program, you should give it a shot. As members of FIRST, we know never to assume we can’t do something if we have to will to. To state the obvious, don’t go for realism and definitely keep it simple. When I say make sure you’re comfortable with the program, this includes rigging. I don’t know how much you know about 3dsmax, but if you’ve never rigged a character before, start with something animalistic. If you get a human wrong, it’s in our nature to notice, but a cartoony one-legged monster-thing can’t look “wrong” because it’s not real. I’ve found that it’s easy to assume that after you’ve made a character, all the real work is done and it’s as simple as making it move. It’s not that simple. Especially if you made the character without the animation step in mind. Then you get that, “I’ve been working for six hours and I just realized that his elbow can’t bend right!” moment and you want to smack someone with a fish.

Most of that is pretty obvious, especially if you have experience with 3d, so feel free to ignore me if I’m just babbling ;D

Yay! someone else who obsesses over animation like I do! :smiley:

tip for church, If you really want to get serious, start beefing up your drawing skills. No excuses like “Oh, I can’t draw” Neither could I when I started a year ago, now, I can draw a few things. But not well, getting there though.

Ok back to this thread.

While I do agree with Mazin with learning the program, doing tutorials, yadda yadda… your eventually going to bore your students. Your just having them model all the them and do exercises. Sure, they will know the program, but you could still produce a crappy animation. Except now you have a really cool car model and scenery in it instead of a crappy car model and scenery.

What your students need to learn is Animation not 3ds max. Learning animation will take your further than just learning 3ds max because then you don’t even need to know a program to make animation.

It there is one way to learn animation and motion, that is through a book. This book I hold dearly and so do all other animators in the industry.

The Animator’s Survival Kit By Richard Williams.

If you want to take your team to the next level then.

BUY THIS BOOK!!

IT IS THE HOLY GRAIL OF KNOWLEDGE!!

Now most of the techniques are for traditional hand drawn animation. But that is easily translatable to 3D animation. What this book does is puts you in the animation thinking mode. With this knowledge, you don’t even need complex characters to win an AVA award. Heck, you can do it with a series of characters that are dots. Like the Mr. Men show on cartoon network.

Now that you get a basic knowledge of animation next thing you need to pick up is Cinema Photography Techniques. Learn composition, timing, and Narrative story telling. Then you will see why excessive camera movement is BAD!!!

Learn these two things, and you’ll be cranking out animations faster then you can say “caca-poopoo-peepee-bottom.”

I’m amazingly lucky in that drawing was my passion up until the moment I learned about 3d animation. It’s a great piece of advice for anyone though; I’ve found myself trying to model objects without a reference and getting to places where I realize I have no idea how it should look. It turns out horrible. Drawing first or finding an photograph is one of the best things you can do for a model more complicated than a Lego brick.

Yes, for the love of unicorns! Goodness gracious me! Even if your scene is gorgeous, not knowing how to frame a shot will ruin it. The opposite is true. Do a little research about videography. Play around with a video camera (even if it’s just the one on your phone or still camera) and do some editing. It’s good practice and you’ll see first hand what you like and what looks bad.

Ugh!!! curses! I’m currently trying to get my drawing skills up to par. Its really hard.

Drawing first or finding an photograph is one of the best things you can do for a model more complicated than a Lego brick.

yes, always always have a reference of what your modeling. I will have a minimum of three, each with different views. I always do a story board and an animation for even the simplest of my projects. The words, “Oh I have it in my head.” doesn’t fly, because what is in your head is your first idea. Your first idea is always the worst and most cliche` ideas. You have to dig down to your good ideas.

Animation is not dancing flowers and pink unicorns. Its a serious competition.

But fun, right? Draw whatever you enjoy. I learned to draw from copying pictures out of comic books as I was a kid, and although it’s not exactly a classical study of the human figure, it’s still helpful. The style may be goofy but the concepts are the same. Drawings fun! I promise!

Not… unicorns…? But, but, but… I like unicorns… :frowning:

ok, you can have dancing flowers and pink unicorns in your animation as long as they are done well.

an animation with dancing flowers

Now don’t you think more FRC teams would do animations if they got to make fluffy bunnies dancing with smiling flowers? It would be a great way to interest girls and future students at the same time. Your Chairman’s award presentation would be like, “Hi, we spread FIRST and have bunches o’ diversity of age and of gender, trophy now plz, kthx, see you at nationals.”