Kicking off into the second component of Digital Skills, we're beginning to look at walk cycles. Starting very simply with a plain vanilla walk, we began to "block" the animation of the lower half using an extended version of Richard Williams' tried-n-tested walk cycle formula:
Similar to the superhero posing, we set the diagram as a rotoscopy image within Softimage. We set keyframes and posed the character according to the diagram.
It all sounds deceptively simple on paper, but it's not quite as straightforward as you'd originally think. Though the principles remain the same, lots of things that work in 2D animation don't translate well into 3D - exaggerated or stretched limbs, for example. Depending on your rig, pushing a pose too far can cause the character's limbs to 'pop.'
The process of actually posing your character is a challenge as well. Especially in the case of something like a walk cycle where you need to keep the position of limbs relatively consistent. Even after rounding them up or down, I got very confused trying to remember the numeric parameters for each rig control and kept losing track of which leg needed to move and by how much. The lack of a real onion skin is also problematic; it's a bit tricky trying to keep track of your arcs and make sure Mr Moom isn't going up or down too far. I think a lot of it will come with time and practice, though!
My own first attempt; he's walking, at least, and it sort of works, but immediately it's apparent that there are some slight posing issues to be ironed out. There's a slight 'popping' of my character's leg between the up and contact poses - I think I need to slacken the up pose slightly as his leg is pushed quite far. There's also a noticeable 'stamp' as he brings his foot down, and I think that's caused by the crossover of the legs at the passing position. They don't move forward quite enough, so it doesn't really allow enough frames/time for the leg to come down smoothly, so it sort of snaps straight down to the floor. If that makes sense.
There are some issues with the foot roll as well. It's not quite as flexible as I'd like and it sort of floats off the floor whilst it's rolling, which looks a bit peculiar. I need to keep it stuck to the ground as it rolls and only lift it when he starts to move his leg. I think I'd like to tilt the foot backwards on the passing position, to give it a bit of a drag.
I'm not too sure on the hip movement. I didn't want to exaggerate it so much that he was mincing, but looking at it now I think it might be just a little too subtle, so I might look at increasing it slightly.