Saturday, January 21, 2006

Say NO to walk cycles

All the to reason to not exercise walk cycles:

  1. They're unnatural. People don’t walk in cycles, and the variations between steps add life to the walk.
  2. They don’t allow for gradual development in the walk (like in the silly sneak walk above).
  3. Which means that acting possibilities are very limited.
  4. They're too technical: you have to make sure that the second step connects seamlessly to the first one, that they’re the same length, that the legs slide backwards in constant speed, and so on.
  5. Which means that cycles are more difficult and take more time to make.
  6. So, if you’re not already quite experienced and confident with the mechanics of walking, these technical problems are likely to distract you from the animation itself and lousify your walk.
  7. Finally, it differentiates walking from all the rest. I constantly see animated characters who apparently can’t walk while doing something else, or do anything else while walking.

All the reasons to exercise walk cycles:

  1. They can be watched in a loop.


Fabio Lai said...

Ahahah! So sad but so true ^__^

Denis said...

Sounds pretty reasonable:)

Francis said...

Hey i just dound your blog, from your 11 second club post...

I agree with you for this one... At my work i did a lot of run amd walk cycle during litle 1 month for our game...

I really think that walk cycle are overlook as an exercise for animation, because they are very technical in their construction and in biomechanic term. You could know notting in animation but if i teach you the five basic poses for a walk (contact, down, pasing, up, contact) and a little bit of a 3d software, you could still do a good without knowing anything about all the principles and animation stuff out there.

Virgil said...

so... what's the solution to this walking problem? :D it's easy to say "don't do cycles", and I agree that in practice, cycles are most of the time useless, unless you're working on a game or some TV series... let's not forget about those. :) anyway, I still have quite a hard time integrating walks and runs in acting/complex shots. Basically because walking is very challenging and physical and if you don't nail it just right, it can look wrong and ridiculous. I find it difficult to even block out my shots when I have complex shots that involve walking and/or running. Probably because, as you say, I have a different technique for animating walks and a different technique for animating everything else... and I tried finding an easy solution for blocking acting shots that involves walks and runs, I could find it :( When you're just shifting weight from one feet to another, easy, but when getting into a walk and combining that with change of direction and doing other things meanwhile... goddamn hard to plan and block.

Samy "Mandrake" said...

Seriously, guys ... do you know what you talking about ?
I will try to be polite, but Francis, if you say so, if it's so easy to do a walk cycle, then why all the walk cycles I see around are rubish, I've seen on some high project so many aniamtors not capable to do a "good" walk cycle, where all the weight works the overlap, the whole body mechanics, walk cycles is one of the hardest exercice ever, and this is why it has to be done.
Everything you say guys are so far from reality, when you work on a production, where you have 7 shots with walking characters, you need to do walk cycle, I had 9 shots on a proejct with walk cycles, I worked 1 week on one strong good walk cycle, that all my colleagues used, and like this the character was walking the same way on all the shots, then people were taking the character and expanding the naimation to fit his actions like waving or turning back or whatever.
Where I work, they want to see walk cycle in demo reels, cause as a technical exercise, if you can't do it, then it means you are not good enough for many situation similar.

So my advice, is DO walk cycle, on the spot or developped, it doesn't matter, it's jsut a matter of tatste, realistic, cartoony, or whatever, but for a strong demo reel a good walk is always a huge plus.

The FIRST thing you do to test a rig on a project is a walk cycle, and also to start to develop the character.

Samy "Mandrake" said...

Virgil if I can give you an advice, as I did a looooot of walking shots, reference is the key, make loads of reference, study nicely your videos references and work from, and don't hesitate to stand up to act it out. Overall I've worked on 2 feature film and 8 visual effects movies, and on this 10 project, on 8 of them I had walking shots, and for the two ones where I didn't do any walk, it was one, because it was not the shots I had, and the second one, there were only facial animation on the movie.

Walk cycle are everywhere, every project, show me 1 feature film with no walks ! (and don't tell me Cars please)

And I would like to know also what does think now Doron, as he worked on a feature film since this article !