Dodge This, Knight Spider!
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Dodge This, Knight Spider!

My entry for the Knight Spider Animation Challenge. The Knight Spider may be tough, but how good is his reaction time?

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Update - 11 Jan 2022

This third and final update will be the one to showcase the final animation. Apologies for the delay between this update and the last, but current world events meant that I was unable to work for a while. Nonetheless, I'm back to finish this animation of the Knight Spider's embarrassing defeat!

Below is the complete blocking stage. I now had the key poses looking very dynamic, which I had been striving for since planning. I also had a clear idea of how to move the character between these poses. 

Once I had completed the groundwork, It was time to change the tangents from stepped to splined, allowing Maya to fill in the previously static frames with animation. The result, as you can see below, was not immediately suitable.    

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Update - 2 Dec 2021

After completing pre-production tasks such as planning, storyboarding, and filming video reference, my next task was blocking out the animation. The first stage of blocking that I carried out was to translate the key poses from my storyboard to the rig, timing them in accordance with my video reference. The result of this is below.

At the end of last week I carried out a test render.  I was interested in seeing how a rendered version of the base rig would look. The answer? Quite nice even without the Groom.

An ongoing task is to add more poses to move the character between the ones made before. I have carried this out to some extent but still have a lot to do before moving to Spline curves. With each playblast, the motion becomes clearer as more poses are added.

Update - 22 Nov 2021

This post will outline the concept and pre-production processes that went into creating my entry for this competition. From the initial planning stage, I tended towards the idea that the Knight Spider was quite a smug and arrogant character. Like a "Heel" in the WWE, he should be someone that the audience would love to hate! The entertainment value of this shot would come from the Spider getting his comeuppance.  The idea that I initially settled on is shown in the thumbnail sketches below. I sought to answer two main questions - to establish two things visually. 

1) How do I make him seem cocky and unlikable?

2) What happens to knock him off his high horse?

In the end, the answer was quite literally to knock him out.  

The Knight Spider is training, and in his endless smarminess, taunts his opponents in a game that is very similar to what humans would call "Dodgeball".  His opponents are no pushovers though, and they all target him and pelt him with balls as he cowers. That is, until a particularly precise and deadly throw leaves him out cold...    

Inspired by the exaggerated posturing of the aforementioned WWE Superstars, and real-life examples of ...dead bugs... I created the rough sketches above to brainstorm some poses that the Spider could carry out during the scene. The key focus at this point was ensuring that the silhouette was readable - even with all those arms, and that his emotions came across in his body language. This was then shortened to a storyboard consisting of 6 key beats: