Sunday, June 29, 2008

Critique - Ork Attack

Ok, thoughts about the clip.

Overall it's really cool! Good to see some creature action for a change. Animation wise it feels a bit too pose to pose. I think you could make it more fluid.

Let's start with the Ork.

There is nice weight in the swing, but the body feels like it's moving in three separate timing blocks. First stop is around x19, second one stops around x26 (upper chest rotation in Y just stops), then the third block starts at around x30 with the upper swing. You can sense three stops during all this part. You can see it with the timing of the upper body, the arms, the weapon, etc.
I like the double bounce, nice little touch, but I would rotate the body back as he is doing that, throughout the whole swing down anticipation. So on x45, looking at that pose, you could push it and really arc his body back in a C curve, instead of having him straight up, from the leg up to the upper body.
The weapon has a weird bounce. On x60 it hits the ground, the goes up on x61 which is fine, but then goes down again for 3 frames. That gives it a soft finish, I think you could make that impact harder.
From the moment the Ork gets stabbed in the leg, you get that fragmented animation feel again. First his body rotates with a big movement in his arm, then his body and head go up, then the leg moves out, then he falls down, and stops suddenly at x96 (need more follow through with the head).
Once he looks up, the head stays locked again. It should follow the action of the human a bit more.
After he gets stabbed I would have him roar a bit sooner, pretty much after the impact. Here too it feels too separated. First the stab, then the scream.
But otherwise there is a lot of nice finger and toe detail.


Overall there are nice poses, but he feels even more segmented like the Ork, too pose to pose. In detail:
Body wise, there's a very fast move at around x12 till x16, where it doesn't look like a body moving on its own, but more like it's being pulled/pushed.
During the Ork's swing around x31, I would have the human lower his arm or put it closer to his body, just safer that what it is now, plus it makes him less passive.
The human's turn around is too fast. You go from the pose on x57, to 58, with no leading nor dragging, to x59, and then there's a sudden turn around. The arc of the body needs to be smooth out. The body also has a weird move/pop from x63, to 64, to 65. Big movement to 65, then no body movement from 66 to 69. That pause gives it the pose to pose feel. That feel continues once he takes the dagger out, throws it up, reaches for it, turns around a bit, then goes for the jump with very long hang time.

So check the body movements throughout the whole thing, smooth the pops out, make the motions more fluid as they go from pose to pose.

But again, it's a cool clip, but there is always room for improvement. :)


Critique - Sit Down

looking good, I like the changes you made to it.

The things I would add are:

- body wise, there's a weird move from x2 to x8, where the whole upper body goes forward, the head as well, and then the screen left leg goes back, so it's a weird move where everything happens at the same time and seems to move the same way, almost locked. It also feels like "Aaaand action!" and then he sits down. You could tweak his first pose a bit, for instance one of the arms, so it's not so defaulty and twinned. It would be better to on action a little bit. I would also offset the hand-pull-pants moment, so that one side starts earlier/later (just a tiny bit).

The timing of how the hands pull up the pants is good, but after that the hand look like they are sliding around until he lifts them.

His hand movement around x90 still feels a bit too linear and simple. You can give that wave much more character (nice finger pose though).

When he puts his leg over the other one, don't have it go through each other, and when the weight of one leg is on the other, around x60, have the other leg react to it, we need to feel the weight change.

Even though there is no sound, you could still animate his face a bit more, especially the mouth. Little changes as he sits down, when he waves, a bit more pantomime to show more of his character.

Hope that helps!

Critique - Fish Balls

- little guy first. It's pretty good until around x117 (again, I need a frame counter). At that point it just stops cold and goes up and down in a very robotic way. You need to keep it smooth since it's underwater. The snap back needs a little anticipation. The turn around is also linear, you need to smooth out that curve.

Before all that there is something weird about that moment. The ball swims to the position at around x117. Then what is it doing there? It just stays there until the big fish enters frame. But the thing is, the little ball would see the big one a mile away. So it's weird that it just stays there, waits until the big ball is close and then gets scared. So the little ball would have to move around still and turn around to see the big ball which is right behind it. That way it would make sense that it gets scared.

I don't think the fish needs to crawl through the tube until the very end. It takes too long and you will lose the audience. You can have it go until the first 3rd and then squeeze out of a little hole. And instead of exiting screen right in that little corner, have it swim screen left since there is so much room. You could make it a bigger moment by having the little ball swim behind the big one, hit the big ones butt maybe, then swim away with pride since it outwitted the big guy.

Big Fish:

The squash you have around x223 is a bit weird. Is it maybe stretching to try to catch the little ball? Right now it's not clear what's going on.
You need to put the big fish more inside the tube. Find a way to wrap the tube around half the big ball.

Overall be careful in which axis you move the tail. Make it clear silhouette wise that the tail is wiggling. If you move it towards camera and away, it won't be as clear as up and down.

Critique - Weight and polish

Here's another clip and the person was asking why the animation looks so spliney.
> so is it like a matter of timing?
Absolutely. The reason why it feels so spliney is because everything is always moving, there are no holds, no pauses. The section that works the best is from x162 to x218 (roughly), because he lifts the suitcase and rests for a movement, which makes sense in that situation. But before and after you never feel like any body part gets a break, everything is always moving somehow, but not in a keep alive way, it's just too busy. By having everything move you don't create enough contrast, it makes the audience restless and then bored because there is nothing to focus on and it makes your character look like he's just a puppet and not a living, thinking being.

> So what should I be looking to do, technically... just move keys around to tight things up? Make the tangents flatter for holds? Is this like a small thing to fix or a major thing...?
Almost yes, kinda yes, and depends. :)

Almost yes, because you do need to move the keys around to tighten things up, but you still have to think about where and why. The movements need rhythm, it needs to have a sense of flow. So when he gets hit by the shoe at the end, have him take the hit, the when he's done with the movement screen left, hold that moment, because he's trying to make sense of that situation "Wait, what just happened? Did I get hit?", then have him turn around and look at the door because he realized what happened "SHE hit me!".
Kinda yes, because you do need to have holds and flattening the tangents will help, but you don't want to start flattening tangents left and right. You need to be very selective about the moments where nothing moves and even then, the body needs to have little drifts so that it doesn't look dead. Look at the previous critique on the class site for a good example of holds and keep alive.
Depends, because it all depends on your sense of timing and rhythm. So if you have a good understanding of that, it's just a technical fix, so it's small, but if you struggle with the concept and adjusting the timing, then it can be a major fix.

The funny thing is, the animation can reflect someones personality at times. If someone is very bouncy and animated in person, with big facial expression changes and stuff like that, it can show up in the animation. But of course not always and some people who are very slow, just down in terms of feeling and attitude, can create really alive and animated performances.

> I feel like I'm missing the last step of polishing.. like I don't know how to take it further. So... I start out with all the blocking steps you went over... reference, block a pose every 5 frames or so, tangents on linear... then move keys around so I like the timing. Then blocking plus, add more keys for in betweens, if needed. Then for polishing.. the tools I use are... the graph editor and "perfect arc." Ok I know what your going to say... dry erase marker. Is that all I'm missing? maybe.... ok im going to go out and buy one right now.

Hahaha, you don't HAVE to use the dry erase, "perfect arc" works as well. Whatever you prefer to use to track down your curves and arcs. I just like the dry erase because it's fast and simple.
Your workflow sounds good, there is nothing wrong there, but don't get too worked up over the technical side.
Act out your shot, get a feel for the timing. If you would act out your clip exactly the way you animated it, you would be able to tell what's wrong. So act it out, over and over again, film yourself and study the footage, but first just in terms of timing. Don't start picking it apart for animation details or stuff like that, just observe where you move and where you don't move. But really be in the moment and act it out. Don't pretend and shortcut moments, don't act it out in front of someone because people tend to talk and explain what they're doing instead of actually doing it.

> Oh I know a lecture topic I'd like to hear about... maybe you could elaborate on the "polishing" step of your workflow? I think that's where I get messed up. I think my timing is better in my blocking phase and then things get a little messy when I try to polish.

That's a very good point. I've seen many examples where the blocking has great timing, but then the polished version lost its appeal. A lot of times it's because the holds you had, the pauses you get from animating linear or stepped, are gone due to all the spliney stuff (leaving you with the guy caressing his leg, from x262 to x280 - there's no need to have that hand move around like that, just put in on his leg, add some adjustment on his fingers, add some leg movement since there is added weight and pressure on it from this hand/arm, that's it). If the blocking is correct and your breakdowns are in place, the polish phase should only enhance the animation, get rid of sudden stops, add detail to facial expressions, fingers, contact points, give the overall moments the last little touch of rhythm and life. It's not there to change the timing. It reminds me of lunch, the days when I get the salad to go from the buffet. I put everything in a box. I know this is going to sound really weird... All the different things are in my box and that represents your blocking. All that is needed is the dressing. So I put that on top of the spots that need dressing. That's your polish. But what happens to many people is this: they close the box and start shaking it. Hey, the dressing/polish is everywhere, right? Makes it yummy. That's what you do, no? Put dressing over everything? Now it's all polished. Nope, you just made everything messy and lost the initial appeal of your work/salad. Only add dressing/polish where it is needed.


Ok, that comparison was really weird. But the moment of shaking my salad box just reminded me of how animation can get all messed up once you tweak your blocking too much. :)


Critique - Dialogue

It looks already very good, here my 2 cents:

Screen right woman:

let's start with the root/body. When she lifts her arms from the beginning until around x12, you could straight/rotate back her upper body a bit. Not a lot though, just a little more back so she gets a straighter torso, instead of only having the screen left rotation you got now. That way you can compress the body again when she lowers her arms to x21.
The body seems to stop too much at around x67 when she looks back to the cop. Ease more into that stop, so it's not that abrupt.

The hips seem a bit locked, it would be neat to adjust them during her little weight shifts. For instance, when she goes down at around x45, she could lean on her left leg, which would have that side of the hip go up a bit. There are other little moments where you could do that. Another bigger moment would be around x205 when she comes back after leaning on the cop. First around x199 the screen lift hip could be a bit higher since she's going down and the weight is on that leg and when the other leg touches the ground around x205, the hips could adjust to that side and back. Nothing huge, just acknowledge the weight shifts.

The main thing that stuck out to me with the head was the movement at around x58 when she looks to the cop. The body and the head move at the same time, I would lead it with the head. Then same problem occurs with the head just like the body, it stops very quickly. I would overshoot the head a bit.
When the cop moves after x71, it's a big mass moving screen left, so I would acknowledge that with having her head follow that movement. Nothing big, but right now it's a bit locked during that section, so just add a little head movement, as if she was tracking the cop.
After x165 the head is locked again until around x196. When she's trying to read the pad, definitely adjust her eyes so she actually looks at the pad(more on that later), but involve the head as well. She can rotate her head back on the move up and once she sees the pad you can move her head down and move it like she's scanning the pad. Once again, keep it subtle.
Lastly, I really like how she puts her hand on her face at the end. Since she's really pushing her face down, you could rotate the head counter clockwise from x292 to around x297, showing how the hand is pushing the head a bit.

Her arms: tiny thing, might not be a huge difference, but try it. :) Around x149, when her left arm swings screen right, before she leans over to the cop, feels a bit slow, I would accent that movement a bit more, make it a tiny bit faster, so it doesn't feel like something dead following the body for pure overlap intentions. That arm also gets a tiny bit floaty around x184.
Both arms and hand: when she moves her elbows in and arms down after x95 to x98, I would adjust her hands as well, rotate them more with the arms. They feel too separate during that movement. It's very visible looking at the screen left hand/arm.
I would also lessen the rotation on the screen left hand from x1 to x3. It's too much of a broken wrist and when the arm goes up and the wrist goes down, it looks like it's pivoting from the fingers.
Speaking of fingers, I wouldn't rotate them side to side as much, especially the pinky on x7. Both of them look like they're broken. Keep the shape simple and tuck in that pinky.
The screen left hand rotation from x19 to x20 is huge. The write is open and fingers are out, next frame the wrist is holding the other one and the fingers are cupped around it. Give that movement at least one more frame.

Back to the eyes. When she is reading the pad around x178, make sure she is actually looking at it.

I think "" could get bigger emphasis lipsync and jaw wise. There's a jaw pop around x65. During "I dont' have...", around x110 to x112 the lips get pinched, it's a weird shape it transitions into. On x261, the upper lip feels pinched in, it's an odd shape. After she leans back to around x218, you have do all those body movements while she hears how much she owes (in body, hands, eyebrows, etc.), but not in the mouth. I would have her mouth a little bit open, as this moment progresses, every time she cringes, close her mouth more to a point where she's really closing it with her lips as well.

Now the cop lady:

you mentioned last time that you haven't worked on her as much, so I don't know if this clip you sent me still reflects that. Overall I would say she feels less polished than the other woman. The movements are more linear and poppy.
For instance her head turn ending around x12 feels very liner, both in terms of arc and timing. Same goes for the head turn back. You don't need crazy movement, but just have more keep alive and ease more in and out of your movements. Although her bigger movement starting at x60 to x109 is nice (I would rotate her read clockwise during the move around x72, so that she drags her head a bit more, right now the body and head move too much in sync). But then the movement from around x110 to x119 feels very linear again. She's a bigger person, so there's more mass, which means it will take more effort on her part to move those masses. I'm not saying that you have her movements be really slow like a giant walking around, but if the movements are too fast and poppy (like during the x186 part), you take away from her weight. Even adding two frame cushions can help, it will still be cartoony enough. And by having her movements be more fluid you will add more contrast to her poppy moves when she tells her the amount of money. That part works for me because of her attitude and it makes that moment stand out more (better contrast).

When she moves her right arm at x39, I would ease out more by adding finger and wrist movement before the whole arm moves (you can also add tiny fingers moves during the head turn at the very beginning, so they are not so dead). Once she moves that arm, I would add more body rotation. Right now just her arm moves, which feels too separate to me, especially with her mass. The linear movement is also visible when she lowers her pad around x198. Soften those moments across the whole body, everything stops very quickly. Same with the move up on x276. Both are very linear again in terms of arcs and timing.

I would add more business to the fingers that hold the pad. For instance when she starts writing on it, because of the pressure she puts on, the fingers could tighten. Same when the other woman puts her hand on her arm.

All in all, coming along very nicely!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Class Update - Homework: have questions ready

Hey boys and girls,

first off, I forgot to mention something in class. For those who sent me work to look at on Wednesday, sorry for not writing back. Wednesday evening I have a meeting for the short film we're working on and it ran very late, so I couldn't get to it. We're also really busy at work, so looking at clips during the day can be difficult. But keep sending work! When I have time I'll reply of course. :)

I hope the critiques weren't too short last Thursday, but it was a lot of fun to just focus on a lecture for once.

About the homework, just a quick recap. Please head over to the "best-of" section. Take some time to read through all the posts that are listed. Yes, all of them. Hopefully you'll get inspired to do more research, read other posts, or ask questions about things that were unclear or that were not mentioned, etc. Feel free to send me emails with questions or tell me on Monday. Once the questions are trickling in I will make sure to address them in class or as a post on the site.

Nice collection of work btw., you guys are doing good! Keep going!

See you soon!

- pic source

The Tale of Despereaux - Trailer

Animated News points to The Tale of Despereaux Trailer. Nice look!

"Bolt" Trailer

You know what, looks better than I thought! Could be a lot of fun! Watch the trailer @ Empireonline

- pic source

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Animation News

Here a few interesting posts and articles:

- Written Interview with Andrew Stanton about Pixar's "Wall-E"

- Official Trailer for Futurama's "The Beast with a Billion Backs"

- Kung Fu Panda sequel coming as well as new 2D material

- This post @ Animated News got tons of "Wall-E" related news (from review to interviews, etc.)

- Cooked Art points to the "2008 Annecy Gobelins Shorts", which are always worth a look.

New Animation Book/DVDs by Goldberg and Williams

Cartoon Brew points to Eric Goldberg's new Character Animation Crash Course! and Richard Williams is releasing a DVD version of his The Animator's Survival Kit (which I hear is close to $1k, which is not exactly student friendly, but hey, 16 DVDs!!). But head over to the official site for a glimpse of it via a 10min clip, and/or click on the "Disks 1-16" tab and watch more clips.

The list of the clips:
  • Starting Right
  • Timing and Spacing
  • Working Methods
  • More Timing
  • More Spacing
  • Building Walks
  • Flexibility in a Walk
  • Sneaks, Runs and Animal Action
  • Flexibility
  • Overlapping Action and Weight (cracked me up!)
  • Takes
  • Vibrates
  • Accents
  • Dialogue 1
  • Dialogue 2
  • Giving the performance
  • Putting it all together

And btw. if you don't own the book, you should get it. :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Call of Duty 5 - Trailer

Warning, footage is graphic!

Apart from that, there is some really nice animation in there.

Goofy’s "How To Hook Up Your Home Theater" on iTunes

Animated-News points out that you can get Disney's "How to hook up your home theater" on iTunes for $1.99. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't seen it yet, so I will definitely get it. Does anybody know if you can get it on DVD/Blu-ray?

Animation Mentor Newsletter - June 2008

It's that time of the month! And as always I encourage you to sign up for the free newsletter!

This time you get the following:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pixar's "Wall-E" Screening

So I did get to see it and it was really good. Definitely different than your usual talking animal movie. There are a few parts that didn't work for me (possible SPOILERS - highlight to read: no need to have live-action actors in there, the progression from real to CG makes no sense, real actors are absolutely not warranted and the CG humans stick out as plastic-y amidst all the super real robot renders; music didn't work for me, especially the songs; beginning third features too many joke scenes one after the other, we get the point that Wall-E is cute and in love, lets move on), so I wouldn't call it a masterpiece and Pixar's best (like the reviews so far have been doing). There's just something about "The Incredibles", "Monsters Inc." and "Toy Story 1 & 2" that's hard to beat, but it's definitely very well done, a wake up call (hopefully to other companies) that you can do so much through pantomime alone and not relying on super blockbuster actor voices. What they got out of Wall-E and Eve in terms of acting was awesome. The story is really cute, has a great not-so-subtle message (bravo to that), no poop or fart jokes (we really don't need to see another creature involved with poop). It's reminding me a bit of Monster's Inc. to an extend (foreign object messing up an established environment), which can only be good since I love that movie, but leans more towards Finding Nemo in terms of emotional value and even the music (same director & composer). The music did not work for me unfortunately, I was hoping for something more original (less Nemo-ish). Plus I'm just not a big fan of known songs in a movie, but I'm picky about that. There are two cues which are awesome though, leaning more towards "Alien" in style and mood, yet keeping a quirky cartoony style. Those sections were genius, but unfortunately it's not like that throughout the whole movie. The renders are insane, with many really cool shots compositionally where you wish you had a poster of that frame. All the robots are really well designed in terms of appeal and coolness factor, the merchandise department will have a field trip. I wish Gentle Giant or Sideshow would select a few robots and do super detailed statues of them. There's more to point out that was awesome, but you just have to go see it for yourself.

It's going to be very interesting to see how the audience reacts to Kung Fu Panda and Wall-E, or how the Oscars will turn out. Two totally different movies, Panda having fantastic set pieces, beautiful art direction, lighting, music and characters, but overall a more straight forward movie delivering on the entertainment factor - and Wall-E, more simplistic in its delivery and presentation at first (only three characters and no (conventional) dialogue for at least the first third, MUCH slower pace than Panda), but emotionally so much stronger and daring exactly because of that, strong message and going beyond the pure entertainment factor. It's almost Spielberg vs. Ridley Scott. Both are here to entertain and they do it well, but yet they are different. :)

I hope Dreamworks is listening and learning from Panda's success and why it works and I hope Pixar keeps pushing the envelope as well as they do. Quality wise they are both at the same level so we are in for a treat. Make sure you catch both movies in theaters and study them on Blu-ray, mandatory homework!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Awesome Commercial

So I was sent this clip (thanks Shawn!) and it cracked me up. It's not animation related in terms of beautiful animation or other technical stuff. But I loved the build up and timing of the actors (like the kid). Maybe I'm just trying to find an excuse to post this... Just check it out. :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Team Fortress 2 "Meet the Sniper"

These movies are so good (make sure to check out all the other character clips!). Head over to Kotaku for the clip.

Preview of Pixar's "Presto" got more info about Pixar's new short called "Presto", as well as more images. Pixarplanet mentions that you will be able to download the short via iTunes in the first week of July. And Cartoon Brew points to a youtube clip which gives a glimpse at some footage:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Opening dream sequence of Kung Fu Panda online

Head over to Animated-News and watch the awesome opening sequence of "Kung Fu Panda".

First clips of Disney's "Bolt"

got a little behind-the-scenes clip of Disney's "Bolt" which gives you a little peek at some animated scenes.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Acting Reference: Lost - Season 1, Ep. 1 & 4

I know, I'm kinda late with the whole "Lost" thing, but time is precious, unfortunately I can't watch all the shows that interest me. Since I hate working out (it's just really boring to me), I put a TV in front of the elliptical machine, but even that didn't motivate me enough (I know, I suck), until I started watching "Lost", now I can't wait to go work out and watch another episode. Please don't spoil anything, I'm almost done with Season 1 so I have a lot to catch up. :)

Anyway, I thought the first pilot episode had a lot of good examples of more complex physical acting choices, both broad and subtle, compositional choices, animation ideas, etc. just lots of good detail stuff which you might find useful. Here we go:

(clip) => nice composition with the plane and background. You can treat the look of your set like a "golden pose", that one pose which tells the story in broad strokes. It would also be neat to use it as an establishing shot (similar to what I mentioned about the "Sleeping Beauty" shot). Everything is moving except Jack, making him stick out, which is an effective use of contrast both in terms of movement and color (his dark suit in front of the lighter plane shell).

(clip) => "... On account of three!" Because it's so loud it's okay to act out the line (showing the "three" count with his fingers), otherwise no (you might get busted for using an audio clip with hard to hear voices though).

(clip) => Jack hears the girl screaming, looks around and sees her screen right, she is positioned looking screen left. So in context, they are looking at each other (for a broader explanation, see the "Acting Reference: Die Hard" post).

(clip) => the way he runs is cool and interesting because of the set. It adds variety,complexity and a purpose, which is better than just a generic run cycle.

(clip) => I would avoid the "jump-fall-with-big-explosion-in-the-background-thing" with your characters. Might just be me, but I think it's overused (just like the lower eyelid twitch), unless you are going for a very intentional cheese factor.

(clip) => Charlie doesn't react the way the audience would expect - toying with people's expectations keeps it interesting - within this episode it also acts as a contrast to all the serious moments, giving the audience a moment of relief through unexpected comedy (sheesh, sounds so important...)

(clip) => Hurley falls and sand is sticking to his face - nice detail incorporating the environment. Definitely something to be done AFTER your animation is polished ad nauseam, but I'd love to see detail work like that.

=> Locke staring at the ocean. I know, simple, but I like the composition because it is so simple and clear. Sometimes less is more.

=> the girl is in a horrible, desolate situation, yet she paints her nails, making her look superficial since the most important thing to her is her appearance instead of gathering food or helping wounded people; or it's her only way at the moment to cope with the situation, maybe a way to distract herself, or it's a relaxing thing to do (again as a distraction or coping mechanism), or she is so sure that help will come that she isn't worried and passes time (still revealing that she cares more about herself than others) - there are many interpretations possible, but my point is that this moment reveals part of her character (whatever it may be). Touches like that can make your shot much more interesting and stand out. So let's say you have a dialogue clip (a monologue or dialogue) and it's fitting to have your character(s) stranded on an island, I think most beginning animators would have the character(s) act out the scene standing up, probably with broad gestures (which I think is a natural thing to do as you start out, since you want to "show" that you understand the animation principles). A shot with one or two guys sitting around, doing nothing, just talking, might not exactly scream "demoreel material", but to me would be much more challenging (and rewarding), more interesting to see and it's less of a cliché. Now imagine that the (or one of the) character(s) is painting her (or his?) nails while delivering the lines, that would add even more character and also contrast with the setting (doing something mundane in a scary situation).

Long story short, present the character with a conflict and show the audience the choices he/she/it makes in order to deal with that situation. Those choices will reveal their true character (and make your shot much more interesting).

(clip) => an unexpected punch line - just as the audience thinks the shot is done you give them one more thing (can easily drift into cliché territory though (someone gets eaten by a creature and just as you think the shot is done the creature spits out a single bone), so use with care).

(clip) => foreshadowing - I only recently started with "Lost", nearing towards the end of season one. As I was watching the pilot again (because I wanted to write about the sand-sticking-on-Hurleys-face part which now grew into a bigger post), I noticed this shot and Kates reaction to Jacks plane model. (no worries, I won't spoil anything in case you haven't seen the show and plan to). Her distressed face makes sense within this sequence, but it is also foreshadowing an event that happens toward the end of this season. Foreshadowing something in a single shot can be very difficult, but it reminds me of something else (in a roundabout way) that you can use in your shot which I don't see too often, the fact that the audience knows more than the character in your shot. Chaplin was a master of that. It's a great way to create tension and comedic situations.

(clip) => break up the timing - watch how she shakes her head, how it is not an evenly timed left right left right, how the rhythm keeps changing (even though I doubt that you would see a character do so many head shakes in an animated feature, but let's just talk in terms of principles).

(clip) => the ice cubes! Observe real world situations and incorporate interesting details into your shot - yes, yes, animation comes first, make sure your story is clear and that your animation is readable, BUT... Once you're in polish land it's time to add the fun details. So free yourself from the computer and observe the real world. Try to find moments which let the audience connect with your character. This can be character traits or set interactions which give the audience a "Hey, I know that feeling!", or "That happens to me too!" moment. So in this case, as Jack downs his drink, at a certain tipping point the ice cubes roll over (giving you those cold and wet lips, which just happened to me with my glass of orange juice, in a plane as well (yes, I wrote this on the flight back to SF)). Might just be me but I enjoy those moments in movies ("The Incredibles" had many moments like that with Dash reminding me of my son).

(clip) => guide your audience - you are in control and you can manipulate the audience's focus in many ways using light, colors, composition, sound, movement (or lack thereof) and in this case through depth of field. I see this technique used on the AM showcase reels every now and then and I always like it because of it's "professional" look. Again, detail stuff, worry about the animation first, but it's easy to do in post using After Effects and gives your shot a more interesting look.

=> interesting reveal - not that you want to have just fingers in a shot for your reel (although if it is a short shot within a sequence it could work). Let's say you have multiple characters in your shot, it could be neat to reveal one of them in an interesting way (or if it isn't a character it could be an important object)

=> it's all about timing! Locke mentions something and smiles, and as the audience realizes the importance of it, so does the woman, but she doesn't want to spoil the moment by laughing or commenting on it, yet she wants to know how the other guy reacts to Locke's comment. So that eye dart is more of a sneaky type, a bit more tense than a usual look around, hence no eye blink. The timing is also great, with her eye dart happening after her smile, so that the audience can linger on her face and register her smile, which tells us that she understood what Locke meant, but it's all very subtle. (this part is from episode 4, season 1)

Video clips are for educational purposes only

Copyright © MMIV Touchstone Television

All Rights Reserved.

May 11second club winner

Head over to the 11secondclub and watch Ivan Oviedo's winning "May Competition" clip. Love the little head shake on "What you spelling man?". 2D animation, especially in this form, is so appealing. While you're at it, click "next" and check out all the other entries.


This is not the first post about the importance of a clean and engaging silhouette, nor will it be the last one. It's more of a quick reminder.

I was reading through the new BD live features that Disney is introducing with its new Blu-ray movies and their demo disc was "Sleeping Beauty". Now look at this awesome shot. Don't you want to just grab those characters and animate them?

Even if you do a short shot, you could start it with this type of framing, then punch in on a close up for some sweet acting. Ahh, my animation fingers are tingling. :)

- read about Disney BD Live features @ movieweb

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I love pencil tests

Head over to Cooked Art for lots of awesome pencil tests. Most of them are unavailable as direct viewing, so just go to youtube and do a search using the title.

Pocahontas Rare Redfeather Pencil Test:

- found @ Cooked Art

New images of upcoming "Wallace & Gromit" film

More details and images @ Animated-News

2D animated closing credits of Kung Fu Panda online

Animated-News points to the official site of "Shine", which shares the 2D animated closing credits of Kung Fu Panda. More info there.

Upcoming posts

Guess what I did today? I ordered a new computer. No! YES! Finally I will be able to animate again at home! I'm really excited about this. Even though it's hard to come home after work, live life with your family and deal with non-work stuff and THEN animate again, I feel like it is a necessary thing for me to do in order to keep my animation muscles active (the ones I don't use as much at work).

What does this mean? Well, first of all I can catch up on my No Continues work, but I can also finally finish my workflow demo, which is really long overdue. It will be interesting to see how the final shot will differentiate from the original vision (I had plenty of time to think about the shot and I'm planning on changing a few little things). This post will still take some time (despite the new and faster pc), because I want to present it in a nice way, with lots of comparison and individual stage-of-completion movie clips.

Another post will be about polish and how I try to take assignments/shots to the next level. Basically it serves as a guide to my students in terms of how the progression from an F graded shot to an A graded shot looks like. Arrogantly assuming that my final product is an A of course...

The next one will require your help. I want to build up a post which lists common pitfalls (with example clips) animators face when they start their animation path. Basically dos and dont's for bouncing balls, cycles, etc. It's one thing when you hear me rant about it, it's another when you actually see it. Plus I can use it in class for demos since it's difficult time-wise to do full on demos from scratch plus critiques for 20 students.

Last but not least, demystifying the graph editor. I frequently see beginning students struggle with the graph editor and a lot of times it feels like they concentrate too much on fixing the curves in the graph as opposed to planning and thinking about their poses and timing of the characters in their shot in the first place. Yes, the graph editor is a great tool, but it's not the holy grail. Especially at the beginning when you are taking your first steps learning animation, you can do the assignments without touching the graph at all. So for this post I want to do different little clips, some without using the graph editor and others with graph work only. And this is where you come in. I will hold a contest where you will have to figure out which ones are using a with-graph and without-graph approach. The winner will receive the "Art-of Wall-E" or "Art-of Kung Fu Panda", their choice. :)

That's it for now!

Monday, June 9, 2008

More Kung Fu Panda

Character Design points to an interview with character designer Nicolas Marlet and a limited-edition Po Maquette, which looks very cool.

Again, Kung Fu Panda was great and I encourage you to go watch it!

Rex in Wall-E

I was very lucky to go to a Friends & Family screening of Pixar's "Wall-E", but unfortunately the sound failed after about 40mins, so the screening ended there. Obviously it's useless to judge the movie because of that, but I can tell you that I saw Rex in Wall-E's home (look for it when he gets home for the first time)! :)

A few inside jokes include an R2-D2 sound (obviously, given Ben Burtt's involvement) and a Mac computer start-up sound, the Luxo lamp (parent?) and an ipod! :)
But since the movie isn't officially out yet, I will not reveal anything in more detail.

Pixar got a company store now and it's awesome!! I love company gear (at least half of my clothes consists of ILM stuff...). :)

I'll post more if and when I get to see the rest of the movie.

- pic source

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Behind-the-scenes of Wall-E

Scotlandonsunday via Animated-News has a behind-the-scenes article of Wall-E, with great details by Ben Burtt. If I had to chose another profession, I'd be sound design and editing. I love it. So anything about Ben Burtt and all the other sound masters gets me very excited. This article has great little production details concerning sound. From Ben Burtt:

One of the noises of Wall.E's treads comes from a hand-cranked generator that Burtt saw in an old John Wayne movie and tracked down on eBay.

"I saw the film and thought, that sounds like Wall.E! Then, when he moves faster I used a more high-pitched sound from a machine called an inertia starter that was used to manually crank up 1930s airplanes."

For the more hi-tech Eve, Burtt created the sound of her laser blaster by hanging an enormous slinky from the ceiling and "twanging" it with scraps of metal.

There's a lot more, so check it out.


Kung Fu Panda #1 at the box office

Animated-News reports on the opening week-end $$ count and points to an interview with the directors of Kung Fu Panda.

Best-of Spungella

Someone suggested a best-of list for easier browsing, so here are posts which people seemed to like the most. If you feel that there is a post missing, please leave a comment or email me, and I'll add it, thanks!

Which posts are the most helpful to you?

Someone suggested that there should be some sort of "best-of" section with the most helpful and important posts. That's a great idea, unfortunately I don't know which ones I should list. For that I need your feedback. Through some research I found out that blogger will soon add a "post rating" system, which will be very helpful. There is a widget for that already, but the template I'm using is not happy with that right now (working on a fix).

Ratul Sarna wrote up a great post with a list of his favorite AAU/Spungella posts (thanks!). I will start with that and if you feel that there are other posts that should be on this list, please leave a comment or email me.

I will add a link to this said list to the left hand navigation menu, called "Best-of Spungella" for direct access.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Kung Fu Panda Screening

Congratulations to Dan Wagner and the whole animation team (and of course the rest of production)! Easily the best Dreamworks movie, very entertaining story, beautiful animation (the turtle character was awesome)!

The beginning is very frantic, so I was worried that this is setting the tone for the whole movie (maybe in order to keep the kids awake?), but it settled down into a great mix of quiet and busy scenes. No in-your-face pop-culture jokes, fart or poop jokes,beautiful look, good voice work, no songs, just sticking with the story. Well done Dreamworks, what a delivery!

Nitpicky (SPOILER ALERT - highlight to read): I wish the villain retained more of the initial fearful presence, his attitude was a bit too light and comedic as the movie progressed, taking away from the scary edge. And Shifu should have died in Po's arms, as you were initially led to believe, that would have made it very powerful and make the movie stand out from the goodie-goodie animation crowd. And one weird thing: I've never seen the underbelly of a rhino, but they have nipples? Those guards and their nipples, that was weird to me. :)

I hope this movie sets a tone for all the upcoming Dreamworks movies. It might just be me and maybe I'm too nitpicky, but animated features without songs, fart/poop jokes, pop-culture jokes and product placements are just so much more enjoyable. They don't take you out of the world the movie is trying to create. Kung Fu Panda was definitely a nice departure from that. Go see it!

- pic source

Friday, June 6, 2008

New Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Trailer

Animated-News points to /Film, which has the new Madagascar 2 trailer. Love those penguins!

Wall-E Shot Progression

Dark Horizons points to, which has a neat visual shot progression of a Wall-E shot.

Yahoo! Users' top rated animated movies

Animated-News points to Yahoo! and their "Users' top rated animated movies" list. Interesting list, although I would have put "The Jungle Book" much higher in the list due to lots of happy childhood memories. :)

1. Finding Nemo
2. The Lion King
3. The Incredibles
4. Shrek
5. Ratatouille
6. Toy Story
7. Beauty and the Beast
8. Aladdin
9. Spirited Away
10. Monsters, Inc.
11. Cars
12. Shrek 2
13. Enchanted
14. The Little Mermaid
15. Cinderella
16. Princess Mononoke
17. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
18. Lady and the Tramp
19. Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who
20. Peter Pan
21. Mulan
22. Howl’s Moving Castle
23. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
24. Ice Age
25: Ice Age: The Meltdown
26. The Simpsons Movie
27. Over the Hedge
28. Sleeping Beauty
29. The Jungle Book
30. Bambi

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Body Language

I was reading an interesting interview with Christian Bale and featured on the site was a video interview with the late Heath Ledger.

What stuck out was his inability to sit still. A colleague at work made a good observation:

Yeah, I have read in numerous publications that Heath was apparently uncomfortable with press and interviews and he preferred to concentrate on the craft of acting.

Interesting study though in someone whose body language conveys him not wanting to be sitting there but politely answering the questions anyway!

Something to think about for your next shot?

PoseMAN 1.2.4

I try to be as fast as I can in my workflow without compromising quality. There are many tools that can help you with that, one of them is having a library of poses you made for you character(s).

Hands or any body parts which have a lot of joints can be a huge time sucker when it comes to posing them out correctly. I recommend that you have a few basic poses for your characters, ranging from body poses, hand/finger poses to facial expressions. For hands you would have a basic relax, a fist, maybe a pointing pose, an angry tense pose, etc. basically covering the basic emotions and gestures. Same goes for the head, add happy, angry, sad, bored, etc. to your facial library. That way you can block out your shot in no time.

There are many pose library scripts out there, but Michal showed us PoseMAN and it looked really cool, very intuitive and with great features (for instance to be able to use only 10%, 20%, etc. of your pose). Head over to highend3d for the script and more details and images, as well as video demonstrations.

PoseMan v1.2.4
- GREAT FEATURE: Mix pose with slider!

Character Pose Manager. / Based on Character, Sections (body parts) and poses.

Some functions
- Unlimited characters, sections and poses
- Works with any character, object, node, etc..
- Works with referencing
- Capture thumbnails pose on the fly
- Rename Character, Sections and Poses
- Add / Remove controls poses
- Reorder Sections and Poses
- Mix pose slider!
- You can apply pose and MIX pose in 10%, 25%, 50%, 75%
- Easy to share, just copy and paste /poseman directory or Character directory

Fufure updates
- Save animation clips

Youtube videos Final Version (1.0.7)