Monday, November 30, 2009

Catching up on anim news

I'm sure it's old news for most people, but here a few things that I thought were cool!

- Lego Matrix Stop-Motion (thanks Omer!)



- Pixar Short: George and AJ (thanks again Omer!)



- first look at Shrek Forever After, which is the final Shrek movie?


found via Dark Horizons

- Drawing Hands is a very cool post @ tomrichmond.com and it's, as the title says, about drawing hands and the structure of hands


- the list of the ten animated shorts competing for an Oscar are out @ Animated-Views

- Avatar making-ofs and James Cameron interviews, plus a sneak peak at James Horner's score for the movie and a closer look at Colonel Quaritch (spoilers beware for all of those)

Back from vacation!


Sorry for the lack of posts. I've enjoyed two weeks off with my family and friends in Switzerland. Now back to business!!

And Bernie! Stop posting fake anim rip-off clips!! (even though that one was awesome!).

- pic source

Sunday, November 22, 2009

UPDATE! Don't copy other people's work.

(UPDATE!) Looks like we have another winner (or loser, depending on your point of view)!



Here you can watch my original: Battery Bunny

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Someone (thanks you-know-who-you-are) sent me a tip that another animator decided to copy one of my animation clips.

I guess I should be flattered, but it should be pretty clear to anyone to NOT copy other people's work. My clip is from 2005 (the copy is from 2008) and I won't use it on a reel anymore, so the impact of the person stealing my clip is very minimal.

But still. It's pretty much a 1-to-1 copy. The funny thing is, the animator even used my sound clip. I took a longer section and re-edited to make it shorter and that's what the animator used as well.

Please make an effort to be original Aysha Khan.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nerd Alert: Pixar's "Up" Soundtrack and Sound Design


I got the fantastic score by Michael Giacchino for Up and the last three tracks feature the sound design by Skywalker Sound: Carl's Maiden Voyage, Muntz's Dark Reverie and Meet Kevin In The Jungle. Here an article about the sound work @ designingsound.com

"UP" Sound for Film Profile from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.



(Was that clip on the Up Blu-ray/DVD? - Great to hear the sound of Kevin only. At 2:41, when Kevin hits Carl, his voice is heard and distorted through the beak of the bird, awesome!)

To have those three tracks is very nerdy and a welcome surprise. I know, most people won't care, but if I had to choose something else than animation, then it would be sound design. Remember back in the day when you could listen to the sound design track on Pixar movies? I think A Bug's Life was the last DVD that had this feature. Anyone know? I remember missing it on Finding Nemo for sure. Aahhh... the good old days. :)

J.J.'s Star Trek out on Blu-ray and DVD!

Continuing with more product news, J. J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot is out on Bluray: Star Trek (Three-Disc +Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]
and DVD: Star Trek (Two-Disc Digital Copy Edition).

Being a big Star Trek nerd I wasn't too sure what to expect given the casting, but once I saw the first footage of Kirk at work I was sold. It was already funny back then and the finished film definitely won me over. For once a movie I'm really proud of (not just FX wise but as a whole) and I highly recommend it, even to non-Trekkies/Trekkers, it's just a lot of fun. Oh, and guess what? $20 for three disc, a digital copy and TONS of bonus material. I wonder how much the movie-only version will cost on iTunes.... probably... $20!!!!!!!!! :)


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pixar's "Up" out on Blu-ray and DVD

Amazon has a great deal for the newest Pixar movie: $19.99 for Up (4 Disc Combo Pack with Digital Copy and DVD),



What's still really confusing to me is the price structure of digital downloads. If you look at the Amazon deal: for $20 you get all of this (according to highdefdigest.com):

Technical Specs

* 4-Disc Set
* BD/DVD Combo
* Digital Copy

Video Resolution/Codec

* 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

* 1.78:1

Audio Formats

* English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound
* French Dolby Digital 5.1
* Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
* English DTS-HD 2.0
* English Descriptive Video Service 2.0

Subtitles/Captions

* English for the hearing impaired
* French
* Spanish

Supplements

* Cinexplore with Pete Docter and Bob Peterson
* Adventure is Out There!
* Dug's Special Mission
* Documentaries
* The Many Endings of Muntz
* DVD of film
* Digital Copy
* The Egg
* Russell: Wilderness Explorer
* Geriatric Hero
* Canine Companions
* Alternate Scene: Married Life
* Homemakers of Pixar
* Our Giant, Flightless Friend Kevin
* Balloons and Flight
* Composing for Characters
* Worldwide Trailers
* Up Promo Montage
* Global Guardian Board Game
* Partly Cloudy animated short
* Theatrical trailer #2
* Theatrical trailer #3

That's A LOT of good stuff for a really good price.

Now compare this to iTunes' content if you buy it there:

Dolby Digital 5.1 in English

That's it? And you should pay $15 for that?? It's not even HD. If you want HD you have to pay $20. The same price as the Blu-ray deal? Really???

If you get the iTunes Extra version (according iTunes and Upcomingpixar.com) you have:

- the movie
- two shorts, one of them not found on the Blu-ray nor DVD called George & A.J.
- alternate scenes
- 6 Disney Printables + Much More!

So in order to be able to watch all the possible special features and shorts you have to buy the movie TWICE?? And what is "Much More!"? iTunes Extra stuff is only viewable using iTunes or an Apple TV. So unless I own an Apple TV or have a PC/Mac hooked up to my TV or Projector, I can't watch it on a big screen. So all in all the iTunes deal is horrible. Especially compared to Blu-ray or DVD offer which gives you much more AND the digital copy. They should offer special features as a separate deal, charge $99 or more for it, depending on what it is.

Of course I'd be the first one saying "No one FORCES you to buy ANYTHING! Take it or leave it." Sure. But come on.

Aaaaanway, had to get that off my chest.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Critique - That's so cool!

video

First thing that I haven't and should have mentioned (unless it's new). The screen right arm holding the joypad swinging down on x172 to 176 is super fast. Add at least two frames to it (he's more letting it drop as opposed to this fast push/move down), don't have it stop so sharply (it's resting on a comfy couch, so it's going to be soft), and add more of an arc to it, it's fairly straight in it's arc right now.

The chop movement should still be faster, don't be affraid to push it!

The end head move is better ("That is so cool!"), but I would push it more as well. What could help is this: on x171 he's about to rest the back and the head on the couch. In order to get rid of that stiff feeling, just rotate the lower neck back clockwise and the head counterclockwise forward, so it feels like the head is pushing against the couch and bending because of it. Right now he falls back and feels rigid throughout. By doing that head change you would push the overall C curve of the body.
That's just a suggestion. You can also move the head more screen right so it falls back more. It would just love to see something more complex movement wise as he falls back.

Hope that helps!

Cheers
JD

- to see more of Louaye's work, go to http://www.Louaye.com

Animation Mentor Newsletter - November 2009


New Newsletter is out! Featured this month:

- Flying High at Pixar
- Geek Out with Eric Goldberg
- Roundtable: An Animation Career Snapshot
- Shortfilm by Ryan Glovka "Jewel of Denial"
- Mentor: Elliott Roberts
- Alumni: Remi Tjon Ajong
- The Gift of Mentorship

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cannery Rodent

One of my childhood favorites, LOVE the music every time the shark shows up and the awesome snap at 4:44 (and you can see how that stayed with me when you watch the "fisher" clip :) ).

Gene Deitch: Quo Vadis Animation?

Here's a GREAT view on the current state of animation by Gene Deitch. Go to Cartoon Brew for the whole context and story as well as a clip of Gene Deitch himself, but I'm going to shamelessly copy/paste the transcript here as well, because it's so good:

Animation has come a long way since I was a boy. I was raised in Hollywood and fell in love with movie cartoons at a very early age. In those days - the early 1930s - going to the movies was a giant experience. For one admission ticket -25 to 35 cents for an adult - just ten cents for me - we could see two complete feature films, which in those days were not more than an hour-and-a-half long, a newsreel, a travelogue, an adventure serial, perhaps a comedy “Short Subject,” and a cartoon - sometimes two cartoons.

For me, the cartoon was the best part, but for the movie theater owners it was just another time filler that limited the number of shows he could schedule per day. To earn their place on the program the cartoons had to be wildly funny, and they quickly became formula productions. In Europe they were called “grotesques,” and there was no attempt to imitate reality.

The arrival of television changed all that. With nightly news for the growing mass TV audience, there was no further need for newsreels. Then came all sorts of soap operas, dramas, documentaries, comedy shows, travel features, sports, and of course cartoons galore. Why go to the movies when you had all that at home?

And why should theater owners pay for short subjects when all the people wanted to see was the feature? So soon enough, all we got for the higher price we paid for a movie ticket was one feature film, some advertising and lots of previews of more movies.

It was the visionary Walt Disney, who all the way back to the 1930s saw that cartoon shorts were doomed. He had the impossible dream of making the cartoon become the main feature attraction. To do that he believed that he had to somehow make drawn animation look more realistic. As a 13-year-old kid, I attended the premiere run of Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs at the Hollywood Pantages Theater, I witnessed the first example of a historic change-of-course for film animation. Disney felt that cartoon simplicity could not sustain a feature-length movie. So Snow White contained the dramatic lighting effects, the shadowing, the rounded shading of characters, and the amazing MultiPlane camera depth effects - the first steps toward making animated movies become more and more realistic.

Once began, this became the dominating goal of animation: to become as close to a live action movie as possible. By today, with the development of computers and amazing digital procedures, computer generated animation, motion capture, and stereoscopic 3D. We’re almost there; the perfect imitation of reality with animation. Is this a success? Or is it the end of a blind alley? What next?

As it happened, I began my career in animation at a studio that pioneered the opposite course. “Why should animation, potentially the greatest of all existing art forms, incorporating and blending all of them, limit itself by trying to imitate what a camera does? It was UPA, United Productions of America.

A glorious name for a tiny studio founded on a simple but revolutionary idea: that the whole world of graphic art was open to animation - animation bringing magic and storytelling in every visual style, with no attempt to imitate what the camera will always do better.

I am here to raise a cheer for what I prefer to call Drawn Animation. We who have been raised on the tradition of animated drawings, attempting create what Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston called, “The Illusion of Life,” have been more and more pushed aside and given the demeaning title of “2D” animators. I am quick to remind you that anything projected onto a flat movie screen is essentially 2D. It’s a meaningless term. I repeat that the entire world of graphic art, every drawn or painted style can be animated in any fanciful way, which in turn would lead to the widest range of storytelling and endless visual variety.

Whereas so-called 3D animation, with its amazing refinement, technical dazzle, and natural-looking realism, is becoming more and more alike. Drawing and painting goes back to the beginnings of humanity, and is still a limitless means of expression. It certainly should not be pushed aside in the world of cinema animation!

Of course, I know that there is another branch of animation; Special Effects for essentially live-action movies. That kind of animation - recreation of dinosaurs or entire cities being blown up, and stunt performers saved from injury with the substitution of animated dummies….is hyper reality that I greatly admire and respect. It MUST be extremely realistic and visually convincing! Amazing special effects animation is now so seamlessly blended into live action movies, that we accept it as real. Such movies do not claim or pretend to be animation features.

As a 48 year member of the Hollywood Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, I am one of the people who vote each year for the awards known as Oscars. In my own category of Animation, it becomes harder and harder to distinguish whether a film is in fact basically an animation or live-action movie. Today, every film contains at least some elements of both. Historically and technically, cinema animation involves the creating and manipulating still images that when projected onto the screen in very rapid sequence - faster than the human retention of vision - gives the illusion of motion. So human acting in front of a camera is by that definition not animation. Yet the technology of digital motion capture can be used to convert human acting - pantomime - into designed creatures, which does look very much like animation. So to many people - most people in a cinema audience, if it looks like animation it must be animation!

I’ve given up trying to argue the point, but still have difficulty in voting for a movie in the Animation category which I know to be actually a digitalized manipulation of human acting. and not the illusion of motion created in series of still images. So what? It must soon come down to eliminating a separate Animation category, and allow us to vote for any movie on the basis of the story it tells and how skillfully and artfully it tells it, regardless of the mix of technologies used in its production.

It is in fact getting harder and harder to find a clear definition of what is an animated film, and what is a live action. film! What was The Lord of The Rings, which so deftly combined animation into an essentially live action film? What are the Harry Potter films, including so many animation effects? And now we have the technology called “Motion Capture.” Which does claim to be form of animation. How do we classify Motion Capture -”Mo-Cap?” Many movies today combine all of these elements. How do we classify them? Today, nearly every film is a combination of live-action, special effects and some form of animation. When we see drawings, we’re pretty sure we are seeing animation!

There must be room for the art of drawing and painting to hold onto it’s role in storytelling and the stimulation of imagination. Graphic art and design has a great influence on all of our lives, and we really cannot live a full life without it!

In my on-line book, How To Succeed in Animation I make the claim that animation is potentially the greatest of all art forms, as it combines nearly all of the others. Drawing, painting, music, story telling, literature, acting, theater, singing, dancing.. you name it; all can be incorporated into this miraculous art form do cinema animation! The word animation itself means, “The breath of life.” Why should this potentially powerful medium be limited to literal realism, when the endless possibilities of magic realism are open to it?

I feel this is an important topic for discussion, and I would like to hear your thoughts about it. I welcome your questions and ideas.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Basic Staging Principles (part 1) by Mark Kennedy

Temple of the Seven Golden Camels is a great site and the current post is great as always. It talks about Staging Principles and how you should approach your shot using various compositional tricks.

In "Touch of Evil", the camera frequently shoots Orson Welles from below to make him look not only threatening and powerful (which he is) but also to emphasize his obesity which is a symbol of his inner corruption (in my interpretation, anyway).


Paperwalker




I was going through some emails at work and found an unread one with a link to Paperwalker by Florian Satzinger. I totally forgot about it, but I really like the drawings on that site, go check it out!

Planet 51 Extended Clip: Big Bad Monster

Yahoo Movies got about 2 minutes of Planet 51 footage. The astronaut's animation is really cool!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Anim Clip - Shark

also available on Youtube and as Hires Quicktime
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Latest of my spare time animation clips. I'm having progressively more fun doing that stuff, it's really freeing to do your own animation at home. It's really all about practice practice practice. Workflow wise still neglecting the GE, but after roughing out the layout and camera, there was a lot of straight ahead animation going on. I wasn't too married on length and re-edited as I went along, enjoying the freedom of animation without length-specific live-action plates. :)

Definitely got different versions per shot, but same as the Paintball one, I just wanted to plow ahead and finish it (as opposed to all my other stuff I never finish), so I'll post the progression playblasts later. It's time to catch up on sleep. It's tricky to balance family with work and spare time anim but you do get a lot done when you sleep a bit less. Just relax every now and then and eat healthy and exercise in order to keep some sort of balance. :)

Shot details:

Not too sure how long it took me animation wise specifically for this project since I did the paintball clips at the same time (I like going back and forth between shots, it helps keeping a fresh eye), but if I add up the hours throughout the week and week-ends, I would say the "Looks clear", Paintball and this project all together took about a full week (Mo-Su) at typical production length days (so 9-10 hours), which I'm pretty happy with. Add another day for rendering, compositing layers, building sets & rigs, etc.

- Rigs: Norman, Octomall, Shark, Fish is a combination of this fish with those eyes :)
- Set is all basis Maya stuff

Anim Clip - Paintball

also available on Youtube, Vimeo and as Hires Quicktime
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Here's another clip that I did, going for more physical action this time. No real workflow change for this one, just went right in there and moved forward with more breakdowns and polish wherever I needed it to get done, so I don't really have any clean comparison movies, but I can playblast whatever saved scenes I have if people are interested.

Here the shot details:

Rigs: Fuzzy, with the helmet of Travis
Set pieces are a combination of free assets on Turbosquid

Despicable Me - Trailer


Cartoon Brew points to the new trailer! The guy got a Wii!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Prep and Landing - Official Trailer - Walt Disney Animation Studios



That looks really cute, I totally want to see that! Thanks Omer for the tip!

UPDATE: Here some more hires stuff plus behind the scenes: