Early Polish

Polish is often defined as smoothing out rough motion. Removing hitches and pops is always important, but my primary goal during polish is to increase the clarity and specificity of my blocking choices. Those choices are already approved at this stage (by a director, lead, or myself) and trusting my blocking is crucial. Pretty splines are just a by-product of communicating my ideas as clearly as possible.

For my first polish pass, the first half of the shot was splined but missing subtle detail. The screen-right foot lifted (George wasn’t cemented to the ground) and his arms swung gently. Tossing the gun worked much better with his new pose, giving me an open silhouette and more natural arm motion, and I overlapped his wrist & fingers to emphasize the casual aspect of the throw. His torso and head even moved slightly to show residual energy.

George’s air punches were given more breakdowns and a greater range of motion, including a micro-anticipation where the fist hung way back for one frame before accelerating forward (felt, not seen). And despite my doubts, I finally started addressing the tricky ending.

Self-critique

The trip, bounce, slide-twist and flop was way more complicated than it should have been. I struggled with technical solutions and ultimately brute-forced the motion by keying every frame.

George didn’t have a control on top of his head and I needed a way to slowly rotate him from a pivot point that didn’t exist. Switching the spine from FK to IK helped but didn’t get me all the way. In hindsight, I should have parented him to a locator where his helmet hits the ground and used that as the new pivot.

Maybe this shot was a testament to stubbornness in the face of rig limitations... or more likely, my experience was a good reminder that there's no substitute for good rigging TDs and technical artists. Another valuable lesson: exploring alternative routes before proceeding with the obvious (yet time-consuming) solution.