So as the title mentioned, The Animation Primer is just one day away from launch. There’s so much content in here and as I’ve been working freelance and studio jobs in between work on it, it has cemented the techniques and methods I’ve shared as I’ve been using them every work day to my benefit for quality and time taken for animations.
I thought I’d share a small little article for a bit of fun on some ways to prepare for an animation course sprint. I usually set myself up with these before working on any big project or learning session (which for me recently was an Unreal Engine 4 research sprint). So in a larger sense I hope this might act as a bit of a general ‘how to prep for a big work/study session’ 🙂
LET’S GET TO IT: Here are some things I’ve found help me get into ‘the zone’, and find that place where I feel all my brain power latched onto all the elements of a project, and I start to feel that magic…
– I got a super minimal white desk, lots of leg room (though the polished white surface required I put a bit of wood down for my mouse to register properly), and luckily with thin monitors these days there’s more room to rest arms a bit more near keyboard. I also have a silicone wrist pad i bring everywhere with me, just put it in front of the keyboard.
– Nothing crazy here. I have a main LED (not small, not huge), and then a 4:3 I got cheap to the side. This is especially helpful for graph editor/dope sheet while animating.
– To avoid eye strain, I like to have a little light behind the monitors. So I bought some strip led lights from IKEA that I stuck onto the back of my main monitor. It looks cool and it actually really helps the light balance around monitor.
– I got an affordable projector (Epson EB-S18) for some school workshops a while ago. But wow does it work great for reviewing an animation, image, or reviewing a chapter for a course. Just find a bit of clear wall space and point. Having anything you’ve worked on away from the monitor takes away that safety zone of being able to update it, and helps to objectively review your work better.
Notepad with Pencil/Pen in reach
Stock standard, but why not mention it! While animating its especially helpful for small quick stick poses (I don’t go crazy on quality for these since its just for my own reference). Main use for animation sketches: Check the order of weight shift from leg to leg, which way will the arms go logically between two frames, etc. I’ll line a few up next to each other, gives a quick (everything in one) view of your blocking idea.
I also really love writing down notes for ideas, in my case for a CG Masters tutorial, some addition to narration while I’m in the middle of working. Actual note on paper is always a nice thing. But to be honest apart from pose sketches most of my ideas I now just ‘scribble’ as notes on my current personal note taking site of choice, Trello.
Cool pair of headphones/speakers (featuring ambiance options)
I’m packing a “we’re about to sell the new model, you can have these at a discount” pair of Turtle Beach X12s. Really cool! The quality is more than enough for me for under $100AUD ($70USD). The headset mic, mixed with some subtle noise cancellation has been great for easy tutorial narrating too.
Whether I’m at home working on my own project or a freelance job, or I’m in a studio with an open plan and 50 people in the same converted warehouse, I *love* using my headphones to ‘teleport’ to avoid distractions. To do this I try to get music that works well at being in the background, but keeping me moving. Liquid Drum N Bass ~2 hour podcasts have been my personal go-to for that. Also Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify, anything that avoids you needing to distract to load up more music. Don’t feel weird if you get right in the zone and just end up having one song on repeat for a few hours (can be great to keep in-zone!). Ambiance sound sets have been a savior for me. I sometimes combine with music, or just let the sounds add to tricking my mind into thinking it’s in isolation.
– I use this one the most, you only need to sign up (free) to control volume, and make presets. I love the ‘train cafe’ or ‘calm plateau campfire’ combinations I made by playing with each sound effect.
– Sometimes I bring up that nice lake/mountain combo, with the default ambient effects when I don’t need my spare monitor for anything. They even have a meditation program ready to go
(Optional) Gunnar glasses
I got these recently, just due to some bright lights in my peripheral at some studios, and the amount of time looking at these bright rectangles. I am really happy with them for all the reasons they mentioned they can help, but the *most* helpful was the clamping of the superbright light that would cause daylight to really hurt the eyes after a big overnight work session. I was amazed how much of that ‘squinting at the sun in the morning’ was just to do with the certain light that these glasses are great at cutting off from reaching your eyes, with no less of quality visually. I have the ‘Siege’ model
Go get inspired!
If I’m still yet to find an idea for a personal project, or I’m about to begin learning a new game engine or area of 3d I’ve not worked on much before. There’s no better boost than watching or playing something that has some cool examples of that area. If I will be learning a game engine like Unreal Engine 4, even if I’m learning it for a job, I’ll play a game made with it (or just any cool game) to remember why these skills can not only be interesting in themselves, but have a fantastic creative output.
One more day until launch!
It is only a day until the Animation Primer is all ready to dive into. I’ll have a complete outline article and info trailer with the release package so you can check out all the contents and see what might be of interest to you. It’ll be using the character that I built up in this tutorial set!
Feel free to post below if you have anything that has helped you personally get into the Blending zone!
Catch you tomorrow for the release!