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  • Writer's pictureMauricio Botero

iAnimate FW4: Dialogue 01

Updated: Apr 28, 2019

This is an old shot but I wanted to simplify my posts. The goal of this assignment was to explore facial and close up acting working within a pose in a more naturalistic style, but stylizing some poses.

Planning: 10h and 04min

Final Blocking: 21h and 21min

Final Polish: 34h and 15min


Total Time: 65h and 40min







Today begins the Fall quarter at iAnimate. The last time I was enrolled in the school I was on the Feature Workshop 3.5 (Pantomime Acting) with Mike Walling as the instructor and since then my animation workflow started to improve. He opened my mind into different ways to animate more efficiently and how to focus on the animation principles and avoid thinking on the technical aspect of Maya.

Now, this year I learned a lot of body mechanics and the animation principles. I have read books and practice walks, runs and physical actions (including pantomime). However, my skills in acting are not the best ones right now (specially acting with dialogue) and because of that I decided to enroll again in iAnimate for the Facial Acting workshop to improve my dialogue acting skills and include the outcomes on my demo reel. My instructor will be Alexis Wanneroy, Supervising Animator in Dreamworks Animation, who teach me how to approach complex body mechanics animations. In this post I will set my goals for the workshop and what I'm looking for the end of the quarter.

1. Learn how to animate within a pose to practice the concepts of solid posing and silhouette in dialogue acting.

2. Learn how to use body language to communicate the subtext of the dialogue to create empathy between the character and the audience.

3. Learn how to animate believable lip-sync, which is one of my weaknesses in animation.

4. Understand how the face is connected through muscles and how to stylize the facial performance by using the animation principles.

5. Understand better the principles of acting and performance in animation.

6. Spend at least 3 hours per day animating the assignments (for a minimum of 21 hours per week). I will track the time that I spend animating each assignment.

7. Animate one or two pieces of animation to include in my demo reel.

8. As inspiration, the quality which I'm gonna aim are is the following videos. I like these ones because they're pretty strong on posing, sincere performance and clear facial acting.

Girl's performance:

Animation by: Kichsopon Utarachon

All shots, but mainly the first and the last one:

Animation by: Viola Baier (first shot), Humberto Rosa (second shot) and Aaron McGriff (last shot)


Day 01, October 5:

Today was the first class of the Workshop 4 in iAnimate. We first were asked to find an audio no more than 10 seconds and do the live action reference for next class review.

I started to look for audios on the 11 Second Club website and audio clips from movies in TV shows on dedicated websites which collects audio clips in mp3 and wav formats. I make a selection for the ones who convey better subtext with the entonation of the voice and the following days I will start to choose the better 3 for the first assignment. Then, I will begin rehearsing to prepare to film the live action reference.

Planning: 2h and 5min

Total Time: 2h and 5min


Day 02, October 6:

Today I begin by choosing two audios and write down the subtext and the context of both options. Then, I started to practice the acting and shoot reference, however it will not be the final. I will re watch the videos tomorrow and come up with a better performance (hopefully) after seeing them with a critic eye.

"Good": Subtext

Voice 1: God is good is he not?

Sometimes I get surprised by God's mercy

Voice 2: All the time

He never abandons you

Voice 1: Not all the time

So were was he when I get depressed and I needed him most


A character (male, 35) is drinking on a bar and he's talking to his bartender. The bartender lends him a helping hand and offers him advice. The character mentions God as a metaphor that a miracle could be happening, but after the bartender's dialogue, he remember that miracles doesn't exists.

"We'got": Context

I'm not sure what we got here Johnny

This is really happening?

But if we got what I think we got we got something

This must be what we are looking for!

There's only way to find out

Let's find the truth


A character (male, 35) is looking for a serial killer. His partner points out a clue in the ground: is a paper bill. The character suspects that with the information on the paper, they can solve the mystery, however they need to do something dangerous. They will need to pay a visit to a dangerous gang to ask questions.

Planning: 4h and 6min

Total Time: 4h and 6min


Day 3, October 9:

Today I shoot more reference videos and edit the takes that I felt were the best ones in one single video. Also, I looked for more audio options taking in consideration the pitch of the voice of the characters and be sure there is a change of emotion in the dialogue. I haven't chosen one or write a subtext and context though.

Planning: 5h and 38min

Total Time: 5h and 38min


Day 4, October 10:

Today I choose a second option for an audio, write the subtext and the context and finally shoot reference of it and edit the best options.

"Kill Him": Subtext

Voice 1: How did your husband died mam' o you know?

I hope the session ends soon, I'm bored

Voice 2: Oh yeah, I kill him

Voice 1: You killed him?

Wait, what did she said? She an murderer!?

Voice 2: Oh yeah


A psychologist is on a session with a patient: one widow. The psychologist is bored and wants the day to end soon, however he get surprised when she realize that his patient is a murderer.

Planning: 7h and 44min

Total Time: 7h and 44min


Day 5, October 11:

Today I re-shoot the live action reference for the first assignment (2 audio options). Also I do a simple layout to show the instructor my idea for the staging and composition of the shot.

Planning: 10h and 04min

Total Time: 10h and 04min

PD: My goal in the beginning of the course was to work weekly between 14 and 21 hours. I didn't reach my goal because I needed to work more on my college assignments and my thesis but I will try to reach the goal for the following weeks.


Day 6, October 12:

Today we have the review with the professor and he choose the second option for dialogue, saying that the first one takes years of practice to master in animation (and in acting). So, I stick with the second one and start doing the storytelling poses.

Final Blocking: 2h and 13min

Total Time: 12h and 17min


Day 7-8, October 14:

In these two days there has been a lot of changes. I started by adding the lip-sync but was after seeing the recording of the lecture that the instructor gave us that I realized that I need to focus entirely on the key poses and gave all my available time to them. So I make a checklist to follow to hit solid storytelling poses. I made the list according to what I learned on AnimDojo and the guidelines of the instructor at the course.

In addition, I added some props and I make two options for this shot. Either he could be a detective or he could be a psychologist. I like more the idea of the psychologist because the character design fits better and I would need more props to make the character look like a detective. In the meantime, I just changed the chair.

Final Blocking: 5h and 14min

Total Time: 15h and 18min


Day 9, October 15:

Today I continue to work on the key/moment poses. Also, I added a hat to the character to make it look more like a detective to explore that option.

Final Blocking: 7h and 29min

Total Time: 17h and 33min


Day 10, October 16:

Today I finished the last pose of the key/moment poses. Also, I re-pose the hands because the shapes were not very appealing, however I deviated a little bit from my live action reference and I though about it from a graphic perspective.

The assignment for this week ideally was only these poses but I will start by making some breakdowns. But only a few for the week submission.

Final Blocking: 9h and 14min

Total Time: 19h and 18min


Day 11, October 17:

Today I do a second pass on the eye direction. I think the key/moment poses are locked down by now but tomorrow I will try to push them a little bit more and experiment. Then I will submit to for the review.

Final Blocking: 9h and 46min

Total Time: 19h and 50min


Day 12, October 18:

After talking with a professor here in my college I realized that the pose that I have working on may not work within the animation. However, I tested it out and I kind of feel that both works, so I will ask my instructor tomorrow.

I pose the character in the new pose but I don't see necessary to spend much time changing every pose of the animation so I will just show it to the instructor tomorrow and see what he thinks. In the mean time, here is the screenshot of the new pose.

Final Blocking: 10h and 19min

Total Time: 20h and 23min


Day 13, October 20:

Today I start addressing the notes of my instructor in order to simplify the animation. Right now I'm struggling to hit the right facial expression, maybe because that's new ground to me, but I was able to simplify the overall movement in the first part of the animation.

Final Blocking: 11h and 27min

Total Time: 21h and 31min


Day 14, October 22:

I forgot to post the progress of this day but generally I started to fix some of the poses by remembering the notes given by the instructor. However, I need to re-watch the recording because I don't remember all the little details.

Final Blocking: 12h and 54min

Total Time: 22h and 58min


Day 15-16, October 23:

The last two days I didn't get the opportunity to post the progress. This last days I have been working on addressing the notes by the professor. I think is looking better and more appealing now after reducing the overall motion of the body and focusing on the expression changes. I will keep working on those poses and the last day before the review I will add some breakdowns and inbetweens.

Final Blocking: 13h and 54min

Total Time: 23h and 58min


Day 17, October 24:

Today I refine a little bit the key poses and started to key out some breakdowns (the basic ones). I add the breakdowns for the moving holds and tomorrow I will double check the key poses to see if they can be improved someway but I want to spend most of my time refining the face and adding breakdowns.

Final Blocking: 14h and 38min

Total Time: 24h and 42min


Day 18, October 25:

Today I triple check the key poses and I do a facial pass on the eye mask. I add some inbetweens and moving holds to the animation and prepare the files for the review session.

I will wait to hear what the instructor is going to say (which I'm sure he will have a lot of notes and suggestions) and we will see if I will continue a little bit longer on the blocking or what other things I need to do before going to the polish stage.

Final Blocking: 16h and 39min

Total Time: 26h and 43min


Day 19, October 30:

Today I started to address the notes from the instructor by focusing first on the first 80 frames and work on the lipsync shape and the secondary motion of the head. Tomorrow I will double check those shapes to make sure they portray the subtext successfully and continue with the rest of the notes.

Final Blocking: 17h and 57min

Total Time: 28h and 01min


Day 20, November 1:

Today I finish the final blocking of the shot. I wish I could spend more time this week but I only work 2 days due to the college workload. I will wait until what my instructor say about it and hoping to go to the polish stage.

Final Blocking: 19h and 43min

Total Time: 29h and 47min


Day 21, November 7:

Today I finished the blocking of the shot after addressing the notes given by the instructor and adding more inbetweens. Now I will go to the polish stage by animating 30 frames at the time.

Final Blocking: 21h and 21min

Total Time: 31h and 25min


Day 22, November 9:

I started the first polish pass by cleaning up all the curves on the graph editor. I already have some notes given by the instructor and I will try to address them as soon as possible because I need to spend a lot of time on the acting choices to make more entertaining the shot.

Final Polish: 3h and 36min

Total Time: 35h and 01min


Day 23, November 21:

Today I resume to polish the first assignment. My goal is to work on this one a little faster now that we begin the second assignment. I work on the first 51 frames adding head movement to keep alive and more interesting the acting of the character.

Final Polish: 6h and 39min

Total Time: 38h and 04min


Day 24, November 22:

I continue polishing the shot. I focus first on the head of the first half of the animation and tomorrow I will continue with the second half. Then I will try to add an eyes and hand pass.

Final Polish: 8h and 22min

Total Time: 39h and 47min


Day 25, November 23:

I continue with the second half of the animation polishing the head movements and the pauses. I also touched some of the body curves to give more life to the character and give him some anticipation. I will wait until tomorrow's review to know what is not working in the body and then I will try to do the lipsync by next week.

Final Polish: 9h and 43min

Total Time: 41h and 08min


Day 26, November 24:

I started the first lipsync pass. It has been very hard but I think is starting to be in better shape, however there is a lot of work left until I can get the lipsync working right.

Final Polish: 10h and 49min

Total Time: 42h and 14min


Day 27, November 27:

I try to add more life to the character by animating subtle movements on the chest and the head (settles and moving holds).

Final Polish: 12h and 50min

Total Time: 44h and 15min


Day 28, November 28:

I work on the lipsync of the first 30 frames of the animation. I feel that something is not working in the right so I will ask for feedback and see if I'm right and I'm doing it wrong and how I will be able to fix it.

Final Polish: 13h and 45min

Total Time: 45h and 10min


Day 29, November 30:

I asked my instructor about what he thought about the lipsync and he suggested me to wait until the review session to check the Maya file and point out what I'm doing wrong and what I should do. Instead of keep working on the lipsync, I add more details in the body to give more life to the character.

Final Polish: 15h and 18min

Total Time: 46h and 43min


Day 30, December 4:

I continue working on the lipsync, however it's getting harder than I expected and I have to do some troubleshooting before animating. Also I have to redo some of the lipsync shapes in order to work. I hope to have something worth to post tomorrow.

Final Polish: 17h and 01min

Total Time: 48h and 26min


Day 31. December 6:

I finished the first complete lipsync pass (finally). I will wait until my notes of tomorrow and see what I can improve.

Final Polish: 18h and 35min

Total Time: 50h and 00min


Day 32-39, December 21:

I worked these days until finishing the shot, however I didn't get the chance to post it here. I re-worked parts of the body to minimize the motion, fix little details in the body and hand movement and worked on the lipsync.

Final Polish: 26h and 24min

Total Time: 57h and 49min


Day 40-44, March 5:

I didn't record this but this is a post regarding the previous updates made this year.

Final Polish: 31h and 40min

Total Time: 63h and 05min


Day 45, March 6:

I work on some notes given by my instructor via email a while ago.

Today: 1h and 00min

Final Polish: 32h and 40min

Total Time: 64h and 05h


Day 46, April 19:

I work on my previous assignment at iAnimate Feature Workshop 4. I modify some little things based on Jacob and Aaron's notes.

Today: 1h and 35min

Final Polish: 34h and 15min

Total Time: 65h and 40h


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