Roundhouse kick - blocking feedback

avoiding the pops

Dec 4, 2022

The submission: what are we looking at?

This is a roundhouse kick walk cycle, which requires the starting pose and the final pose to be identical to one another so that you could essentially play this on a loop. It’s also the first time we’ve been allowed to choose something of our own to try and animate, which while a lot of fun, can get you in deep water pretty quickly as all of a sudden you’re not following a prescribed path.

My mentor did take the time to talk with each of us about our walks, both to make sure we were doing something appropriately challenging as well as to point out places where our character walk would differ from the standard vanilla walk.

This was the first assignment that I’ve turned in and felt really good about. It’s been a long road to get my confidence back with respect to animation, and honestly if I hadn’t had such a kind and supportive mentor this might have been the end of the road for me.

The feedback: arcs, cushions, and pops

I spend a lot of my animating time using Epic Pen to track the movements of all the major joints, but for whatever reason didn’t track anything this time around. Which, in retrospect, is probably why I got the assignment done so quickly. The long and short of it is that tracking helps you see movement paths (arcs, always aim for arcs!) and the spacing between each pose.

Left//Arcs — this is the return leg on the first kick, and you can see from the circles (marking the ankle) that the leg doesn’t follow a clear arc and instead moves wherever it was convenient for me to put it. The fix for this is to really take advantage of 3D space and move the ankle out towards the camera more to get a fluid arc.

Center//Cusions — foot roll is important in walk cycles, and in this case I played it a bit too conservative. This is near the shuffling portion of the walk, and it’s a succession of frames that have small adjustments in the foot roll. While this looks really nice in blocking, what I didn’t know was that once I move into spline it’s going to make a “squishy” movement, instead of more of a quick cushion into the pose and then a bounce out of it.

Right//Pops — this camera angle nearly killed me, and I’m honestly surprised that I don’t have more feedback on this walk when looking at this camera angle. The markings here follow the ankle, and you can see from the lines that the ankle isn’t traveling in a smooth path. Instead I’ve got that puppy bouncing all over the place, which is going to create a “nasty little wibble wobble” when put into spline.


I’m constantly surprised at just how much I learn in a 10-20 minute feedback video from my mentor. I learned so much just doing this assignment and getting feedback in dailies, and when I turned it in it was in a state where I didn’t know how else to improve it.

To get feedback that then opens up the way I view my work to show not only what can be improved in this piece, but also the patterns of things to look for in every walk cycle I do from now until the end of time is an incredible gift.

I’ll approach these edits by making all of the changes my mentor suggested while still in stepped mode because it will make splining a lot less painful. Even when I go in to spline I’ll still likely keep it to 12—20 frames at a time, rather than putting all the curves into spline at once, in an attempt to keep issues in earlier parts of the walk cycle from rippling out to later sections of the walk cycle.