Friday, 16 March 2012

Shuttlecock drop test V1

Poking around on myUCA, I found the reference videos that were very kindly posted up. My own set of shuttlecocks have actually arrived now, so I'll be able to shoot my own footage to use, but I thought it might be helpful to practice animating a basic drop of a shuttlecock before I get into throwing them around.

Analysing the video, I was able to break it down somewhat and figure out the main timings:

It's actually quite a tricky one to plot in thumbnails. I got a bit confused somewhere along the way - started out alright with the first graph by just showing a few of the poses and a few scribbled notes, but the second graph started to get a bit confusing where I started trying to get in more of the exact motion. I started by sketching it all in one place then halfway through started spacing it out (mostly cause I didn't have enough room on the left. Didn't occur to just sketch it going in the opposite direction) - it's fine for purposes of checking the poses but it doesn't make much sense in terms of what the shuttlecock is supposed to be doing. I should have refined it further and made a clearer, more final chart that makes sense to look at before trying to animate. Perhaps that's where I went wrong.

But anyway, looking at the video reference, the shuttlecock drops very quickly to start (weighed down by the tip), taking about 9 - 10 frames to fall. It hits the ground, tip-first and bounces back up again, slowly sagging to the side as it does. It doesn't bounce very high, and it pauses for a couple of frames but continues rotating slightly before it starts to fall. It lands on its side and the tip strikes the table/ground which causes it to bounce back up. The feathers of the shuttlecock hit the table as well which knocks the tip back forward - so you get a sort of wave effect as it rises and falls.

Bearing all this in mind, here's a first attempt:

This is mostly just a first draft, nowhere near complete yet - as always, little more than keyframes with no fcurve or timing alteration. That will all come once I've got the basis of the motion sorted out.

Just to review what I've got so far, the drop itself as the shuttlecock enters the screen is far too slow. It's only 10 frames, as per the diagram, but I don't think I really dropped it from high enough. If I increase its starting height then it should speed it up quite nicely.

It doesn't really bounce high enough after striking the ground, making it seem quite heavy. All I'll need to do is just increase the height of its peak and it should be a bit better.

The last problem is the bounce at the very end as it comes to a stop. I don't know if it's the timing, or some mistake in the keyframes, or even if it just looks weird because it's bouncing on the spot - but it seems to be a bit of a kink as it bounces off the table. I really can't put my finger on it - it's weird, when I step through it frame by frame, it actually looks fine, so I wonder if it's just in the spacing or timing?

After tweaking that, I plan to spread things out so that the shuttlecock bounces across the floor rather than up and down in a straight line - see if that helps things any - and then start looking at altering the curves and timing to give the shuttlecock a sense of weight. In accordance with the video I'd like to delay the shuttlecock at the peaks of each bounce for just a couple of frames and keep it rotating as it hangs in the air.

The process of animating the shuttlecock so far was pretty simple. Using the reference video posted on myUCA, I simply went through frame-by-frame, identifying key poses for the shuttlecock and simply replicating them within Softimage using the rig controls.

The shuttlecock rig is quite nice because it only has two controls - rotation and position - but I do find it very difficult only being able to view keyframes for one set of parameters at a time. This makes offsetting and re-timing things quite tricky as I need to keep flipping back and forth between each rig control to check the location of other keyframes.

I think the biggest mistakes I made in terms of workflow were not planning properly and also animating the shuttlecock bouncing in place rather than mimicking the motion in the video and having it go across the table. You'd think I'd have learned from the bouncing ball exercise that that's a bad idea!...

Nonetheless, I'll give it another shot!

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