Clean Blocking

I am always impressed with certain animator’s clean blocking. Sometimes, I end up putting in to many controls or in general too much before I show for a review. I can’t stress the importance of clean, clear blocking. In this day and age of computer animation, the best thing you can do is to simplify. Many times when I look at a past scene I did, I always like the ones that are simple in their idea and approach. I am from the old school of blocking on every 4th frame. I like to see the detail and even include my breakdowns in that first showing. I’ll also even flesh out things such as a head shake in the spline editor. The tough part is that if I get a bunch of direction, I have to tear down the wall and rebuild. Some of the things that save my butt are trying to keep as many of my controls on the same frame and not offsetting things until I have that clear path. I also believe in showing early, rather than later. The more information I have, the better. I don’t need to hide away until I feel everything is perfect. It’s good to take a swing at things. I also think that if you are in a place where you can show your work in some sort of dailies, the first blocking pass should be seen in that forum. If you are going for a laugh, or trying to get a response, that first showing is your change to sell your idea. As I work on this next production, I really do want to try new methods of blocking a shot. I have never really worked with the exposure sheet method, ie. step key blocking, but I think its time to learn. Essentially, if I want my poses to be stronger, I need to start with strong ones to begin with. With the old school method, your poses evolve and get better. The flip side is that they feel more organic. What ever your method, its always important to keep the perspective that no one way is right or wrong. Heck, I used to know a guy who blocked all his arms with IK no matter what. It looked OK to me. Another guy used only linear knots… That might be a little crazy… The spline is your friend.

-Andrew