One of the hardest areas in CG in my opinion is the finished part of a shot. You can present your ideas clearly, but you also do have to be efficient as to how these ideas are properly displayed. It goes in many ways. In some ways I refer to it in the cleaning portion of things, but in other ways I’m also thinking as to where/how are we spending time in finishing our shots.

Attention to Detail is on those things that really takes time but that should be taken into account in every single shot we animate.

I found this shot from “The Third Man” (1949), a Carol Reed/Graham Green film that was notoriously famous by its cinematography…but that also for me had a lot of other useful learning material. This particular shot I wanted to point out about attention to detail. Pay close attention to the hands:

The amount of detail that goes into the way the hands are moving, is something that you don’t get to see in CG as often. Especially on body parts like hands where so many controls are at and you have to be a lot more organized. In this case, noticed how the shot is so much more alive by the details of the hands interacting. However, when I look at this shot, these details don’t take away from the acting. Instead, the details add to it:

  • they add texture.
  • they keep things alive.
  • they add character (combined in this clip with strong posing/timing).
  • they play well in the context of the character/dialogue.
  • they let other areas breath (such as the part “do keep out of touble”).
  • they are not overdone.

When putting details and polishing shots, a few things I’ve noticed throughout the years:

  • Detail should be placed economically. Makes no sense to put a ton of detail/polish on something like foot work, when the focus of the acting is in the acting/upper part of the body and compositionally, you barely get to look elsewhere. So be economical as to where to put detail, especially if you are under deadlines.
  • Be clean about it (curves). This always starts on the driving forces of whichever part of the body you are animating. The moment you start putting detail to an area that to begin with is not as clean, the result may end up being all over the place.
  • Details/polish should never take attention away from the action/acting itself. This is a fine line I’ve had to learn overtime…and something you see often in CG.
  • Be careful how much is too much. Sometimes we can get carried away when adding details on a drag, an overlap, facial work, weight, etc…so be careful about putting too much detail when it may not be as necessary.

I hope this helps.

Carlos.