Here's a little progress on my third attempt at the slide task. It's not yet complete but I figured I'd take a breather and just talk a bit about what I've come up with so far and how the approach I've taken has been working out. These sort of half-finished progression posts are quite helpful I find!
So, this time I sat down and thought about it much more carefully, spending some time plotting out the path and action that my ball would take. I ran through the sequence at different speeds in my head and on paper, timing myself using a stopwatch and taking a very loose average of the timing that worked best. I plotted the rough keyframes on this sophisticated and totally accurate diagram:
Using the chart as reference I was able to copy the keyframes over to the 3D counterpart, which really helped me to get to grips with the timing. I also took a brave stab at timing/spacing charts which you can see dotted all over the page - though certainly far from an industry standard I feel that taking the time to have a go at them myself really improved my understanding of how they worked. I've read lots about thinking in rhythms and spacing and beats but I just didn't really understand how to apply any of it. I think it's one of those things that, no matter how many books you read on the subject, you actually have to give it a go before the penny finally drops.
I hope that made sense.
Anyway, though the resulting animation probably doesn't look too much different, the process and workflow of actually creating it was more logical and far more straightforward. A little forward planning really does make such a monumental difference - and a far less stressful experience.
Aside from that, I had a crack at giving the balls a little more weight and personality by squashing the red one as it pulls back and stretching it as it lunges forward, to give it a bit of strength. I think the impact of the peg with the blue ball has a little more kick as a result! I'm relatively satisfied with the path of the ball down the slide itself, aside from the aforementioned speed issue.
The next major thing is to get the ball to roll off the table and look at giving it a bit of bounce as it rolls away. Then I can go back and start manually tweaking the inbetweens to create breakdowns and ensure that the path of the ball is as natural as possible.