Wednesday, July 30, 2008

FlipBook for iPhone and iPod Touch

Oh yeah! Head over to to learn more about it or watch the video below. The app is actually updated if you download it now. Little finessing of the menus, no landscape mode though, just portrait for now.

FlipBook for iPhone and iPod Touch from Josh Anon on Vimeo.

Motion Capture Is Your Friend - by Shawn Kelly

There's an elitist vein of snobbery running through our industry right now, where some "keyframe" artists like to stand up on their pedestal and look down their noses at animators working with mocap. Some of these animation purists even have the unbelievable audacity to proclaim themselves the only "true" animators, and that animators working on photorealistic films such as Lord of the Rings or performance captured films such as Beowulf are not "animators" at all, but rather some tech-heads doing grunt work or something.

How quickly they've forgotten that not so long ago, the 2D animation industry was saying the exact same thing about them!

Read the whole article @ CG Tantra

Disney's The Princess and the Frog - Teaser Trailer

Head over to to watch the teaser.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Head Squash & Stretch

I remember when "Over the Hedge" came out how people complained about the squishiness factor of their heads (I admit, I was one of them..). Need real life proof? Watch this:

Ok, still, head scaling should be very subtle during pose transitions, but isn't this clip FANTASTIC?

Chris William's "Glago's Guest" - Short Clip

- found @ cooked art

Victor Navone's "Posing" post

Head over to Victor Navone's blog and check out his post on Posing.


Just like the Facial Animation & Lipsync post, this one will be a list of fellow animators' use of Reference, how they go about it.

Jeff Cooperman posted a great overview on how he uses reference.

A new post that popped up is Michal's over @ splinedoctors, which you should definitely check out.

Another recent one is Shawn Kelly's webinar, in which he explains his use of reference, step by step.

These posts are about what tools you can use to find reference, what you should look for in your reference. and my use of reference.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Teaser for Pixar's "Up"

found @ Gizmodo

Critique: Gear Change

I have a few question as follows:
1. is it too long? (17sec)
2. is the final pose ok? change too fast?
3. the monkey hand is gone?


1. It is very long, yes. But for this clip I think it's okay because you don't want to rush things.
3. The monkey hand is almost gone. :) But it still looks like a grab. You need to have a pose like x155 on his hand and then move the hand as if the object was really hot. He's hesitating, not grabbing.

When he grabs the object, you need a facial reaction before he moves back and lets go. I would squint his eyes at the end as he tries to look into the thing, then he sees what's inside, opens his eyes real wide and then goes into what you have at x204.

You can also get to the reaction at x260 sooner. I would have it around x236. Just cut that pause and move your animation so that 260 happens at 236.

When he's in his pose at x294, add little eye darts, like he is processing what he has done, instead of just being still like that. Don't extend the shot, just add more thinking.

2. Final pose is good. The change is good too, he wants to pretend that everything is okay, so he needs to get into that pose quickly so people don't realize what he did. But you could speed up how he looks up during 310 to 322.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Clean Up Day

Today a cleaning crew comes by and transforms our work area into a fresh new habitat. Given how many times I ate at my desk (especially now during overtime), I'm glad Mr. Vacuum is coming by. But it also forced me to take everything off my desk and my cubicle walls because of the dusting, which means that all my nerdy little things found a new (temporary) home on cozy bookshelves and similar constructions. So what you get is this:

And this:

As well as this:

Which for the most part is the same as before, just way more crammed. It is a scary reminder of how much stuff (and crap) I have. I'm seriously thinking about selling most of this, keeping only the sweetest of the sweetest, like the Rancor. But then I think of those awesome Batman figures...

And then the cartoony Star Wars maquettes... Samurai Jack... more Star Wars figures... and all the little cool gizmos which are hidden behind the maquettes on the shelves right now. But would I REALLY miss them? Lately I've been going back and forth. Keeping... Selling... I know, these are life changing decisions, I know... But before I sell anything, I need to get that kneeling Darth Vader, I really like that one. Later this year I should be getting this crazy Indiana Jones statue. Ahh... it will never end... Until then here some more pics:

For a while I took a lot of fancy, posed pictures of the Batman and Animated SW Maquettes ones, I should post those one of these days.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Iron Giant Model Sheets

Carlos Baena points to a buttload of sweet Iron Giant model sheets.

Facial Animation & Lipsync

Besides the tips that I gave you in class...

(in short: keep it simple, no need to animate every letter and sound - test out the audio while talking with your hand under your chin to see where the extremes are, avoid the skeleton jaw claciticlac look- don't forget arcs in the corner of the mouth - don't pop your lips within one frame (for example on a "B" sound), make it read, don't make it real - play around with lip squishiness, so when you open your jaw, the clips stay closed for a few frames and then open, same thing when closing the mouth - add asymmetrical shapes, a smile doesn't have to look the same on both sides of your face - don't be afraid to animate the mouth and face outside of the dialogue, a pause in the audio doesn't mean that the face goes dead - when you're done, slip the dialogue 1 frame early as a test, it's sometimes a lot better - etc.)

... I started to look for tutorials and tips online and as always, there's a lot of good stuff out there.

First, Keith Lango's "Principles for Lipsync Animation".

Then there's a post on Spline Doctors - "Subtlety in the Face"

You also have Shawn Kelly's "21 Principles of Lipsync Animation".

From Shawn as well you get the post: Animation Mentor Tips & Tricks: The Face

Continuing with the face you got tips about eyebrows in Carlos Baena's resource section.

Another Spline Doctor post about "Eyes in Animation"

Leif's deconstruction of a blink.

If you know of other tips and tutorials, add them in the comments section.

The Dawn of the Tera Era


- found @ Geekologie

How to become an Animator - with Bobby Beck

Make sure to watch the Animation Mentor webinar with Bobby Beck. Great advice and tips in this one.

Monster vs. Alien Character Images

Those guys on the right look awesome!

Bigger versions here

also has a link to the first image of an actual shot.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Audio Drama Podcast

"you have to literally listen to the shows and pick up a line from it. So it's not tons of one-liners..." (thanks Aziz)

But still worth a listen for those in search of audio clips.

Simon's Cat

These are awesome!

Thanks Bernie & Lisa!

Ringling Shorts

Head over to to watch all the shorts. - found @ Kevan Shorey's blog

"Emily in the Clouds", "Gotch Ya'" are cool. Remember my hatred for the lower eye lid twitch? It's in "Snack Attack"... But there is some awesome timing stuff in that one too. Love it how he wants to grab the steak but then hits glass wall. "Fame and Fortune" is by Nick Pitera, which has crazy singing skills.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Critique - Walk cycle


the ball holding hand:

I don't know if it's the pop in the quicktime loop or not. But it feels like that almost towards the end of the swing, the arm accelerates a bit and then there's a pop. But again, that could be the loop.

ball holding raquet:

frontview: I should have mentioned that before, sorry, but can you lower the tip of the raquet after x1 into x10? If you look at the arm and arm movement it looks like it swings forward into that position, then swings back the same way. You want to keep the arc going and one way would be to lower the tennis raquet after the forward swing.

Something about the feet:
There is still some funkiness: Look at frame 0, then 1. The back foot is barely moving backwards (it should be even spacing as it goes back). Same thing from x3 to 4. Then x4 to 5 the foot just lifts up but the rotation (with the tip of the foot going down) is not happening. You have it at x7, but it should be a smooth transition into that. I can show you in class, remind me to act it out.
Same with the other one at x16 to 17 with barely any movement back, then a lift up with no rotation and then rotation sets in. You can also delay the rotation (moving the foot tip up) at x22, rotate the foot down a bit (same with the other one at x10).

Almost there!!


Doug Sweetland Spline Cast - Part 1

Head over to Spline Doctors for it.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Thanks Lisa! :)

The importance of watching a lot of movies

Little follow up from yesterday's rant. :)

One of the best classes in terms of film making I took at the AAU was Pixar 3 with Jimmy Hayward and Alex Orelle. I would have pages of notes due to Jimmy's ongoing rants, verbal abuses and movie recommendations (sounds familiar, doesn't it?). It was awesome. His movie recommendations were great and forced me to open myself up to all kinds of movies, good and bad, old and new, all serving the greater purpose of learning visual storytelling.

After graduating in Spring I took one more class in Fall with Scott Clark and Angus McLane. I was again told to watch at least one movie a week (I believe Angus said that) and I've tried to do that ever since. Animation is not just about moving things around in a pretty and entertaining way. You need to be a filmmaker as well. You need to think about storytelling, which tools you can use to do so, like the use of camera, staging, composition, color, movement, sound, etc.

One of the best ways of learning something new is by immersing yourself in it. Want to learn French? Go to a French speaking country and live there. Obviously it's not always easy to do just that. Same with film making. Not everybody has time and money to take classes and whatnot. But one easy and entertaining way is to watch a lot of movies. So pick up basic film making books (here and a lot more here), learn the basics so you know what to look for, but most importantly, start watching movies.

Lots of movies.

It will help you with building a visual library of acting moments, camera set-ups, composition, editing, how to lead the audience's eye, etc. You will also quickly compile a huge list of audio clips that you can animate to. All that serves as inspiration, guidance, or at least a starting point for your shot so that you can embellish on that and make it your own.

But where do I start? What movies should I watch?

There has to be a class you can take at the AAU about film making and that will give you a quick overview of classic movies. Look into it, take advantage of the classes that are being offered. Apart from that, why not just go through the typical list of AFI's Best Movies of All Time. Or you can go through here, here and here. Or here. It's very easy to google for a best-of list. Agree with the list or not, at least pick and choose some of them and start going through the list. Comparing the list you will find so many movies that show up on all of them, and there is probably a good reason why that is. But don't just go with classics like Citizen Kane, The Day the Earth stood still, North by Northwest, 2001, French Connection, The Thing, Godfather, etc. make sure you check out classics like Goonies, Big Trouble in Little China, Ghostbusters, Stripes, Haunted Honeymoon, Up the Creek, Porky's, etc. etc. ... etc.

And of course Ice Pirates. Gotham Knight was meh. Just watch Batman Begins. And The Prestige. And... you get my point.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Why no email critique? I'm super busy...


sorry for the slow posting and lack of online critiques. We are really really busy at work and it takes up most of my time during the week, so whatever time is left is spent with my family.

I will critique the shots I'm getting as soon as time permits, so if you've sent me something, you will get feedback.

If you're a current student of mine:

- I can look at the shots and give very broad comments (unfortunately there is no time for frame-by-frame critique). While you're waiting, start working on your next shot (planning, blocking, audio research, reference, etc.).
Ex-students and web-acquaintances:

- I hope you understand that my current students have priority, but I will get to your clips eventually. If you kept working on it, keep sending me update so I don't critique an outdated clip.

Thanks for your patience guys!


- pic source

2008 Emmy nominees

Found @ Animated-News

2008 Emmy nominees announced

Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour)
• Creature Comforts America
• King Of The Hill
• Robot Chicken
• SpongeBob SquarePants
• The Simpsons

Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming One Hour Or More)
• Blue Harvest (Family Guy)
• Imaginationland (South Park)
• Justice League: The New Frontier

Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music
• Phineas And Ferb

Outstanding Original Music And Lyrics
• Phineas And Ferb, for I Ain’t Got No Rhythm

Outstanding Music Composition For A Series (original Dramatic Score)
• Family Guy, for Lois Kills Stewie
• The Simpsons, for Treehouse of Horror XVIII

Outstanding Nonfiction Special
• The Pixar Story

Outstanding Special Class - Short-format Animated Programs
• Camp Lazlo, for Lazlo’s First Crush
• Chowder, for Burple Nurples

Monday, July 14, 2008

Jacob Gardner's Animation Workflow

Here's a very cool and detailed workflow from Jacob Gardner (thanks Regis!), covering planning, pre-production, animation, etc.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Animation Mentor Tips & Tricks Blog - Webinars

Just a friendly reminder to always check online for animation info. So if you haven't already, go through Shawn Kelly's "Animation Tips & Tricks" posts. Latest one being: "What is a Key Pose?".

The point is, even if you know what a key pose is, don't just skip that post, I encourage you to go through it, because to me it's always interesting and helpful to hear and read other opinions and other approaches.

So once you're done with that one, check out the free AM webinars and Carlos Baena's site of course. Yes, I'm repeating myself but again, just a friendly reminder.
The webinars are long (which is good), so get a drink ready, make yourself comfortable and go through them. For instance, one of the topics in Shawn's videos is how to use video reference, and he will show you step by step what his process is.

So go check it out!


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I am cursed.

I feel like Sam Neill from Jurassic Park...

So I got my new computer (little guy next to the old big tower), started to play around with it yesterday night and suddenly, this morning, the monitor goes black and into stand-by. The same problem I had with the old PC!! It would just randomly go into stand-by. Ugh... Like I said. I am cursed. I will never be able to animate at home...

But, I installed my Wacom driver yesterday and registered my quicktime copy today. So, I will get rid of the Wacom driver and use a normal mouse and get Carpal Tunnel syndrome until I get my marble mouse. Let's hope the tablet driver was the culprit. I just can't believe it would be Quicktime.

Needless to say, those things I mentioned in the "upcoming posts" ... post... that I wanted to do are on a back burner. "DAMN IT!" as Jack Bauer would say.

Anybody else have this problem? Help me internets, you are my only hope...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Midterm - Reminder

Don't forget to bring your latest and greatest to class today. The latest version of all your clips. I'll set up a separate folder and you can dump it in there.

- pic source

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Critique - Walk

(quick critique - I'm on the road)

I can't use Maya on my laptop here (I'm not at home), so I can't check your file. But judging by the clip it looks like there is a looping problem. Usually in a cycle your first and last frame are the same, so when you playblast the movie, you need to cut off the last frame. For example, your cycle goes from 1 to 45, then playblast 1 to 44.

Sideview first:

Make sure that your extreme poses are correct, so with a walk it's the extended leg pose and your passing pose.
So frame 0 looks correct as the extended leg pose, but your passing pose is off, that's where the trouble begins. Even when checking over multiple poses, the passing one is off. x6 should have his left leg extended (so the body should be higher). Timewise it should be around x8 or 9.
Also, the walk has to be always moving. The feet have to take a step, so the move forward, once they hit the ground, they have to move backwards. But you have x0, where the front foot seems to touch the ground. But until x4 your front foot (and back one to an extend) is not moving.

Look at your feet rotation as it lifts. From x13 to around x19 the orientation stays pretty much the same. Make sure that you make it look like the foot pushes off the ground and then rotates back up.


Now, after having fixed what I mentioned above, it will all change, but what stands out right now is that your hip weight shift is not there. So look at x8, where the weight is on the screen right leg, so your hip on the right side should be up and down on the left. And don't forget to add little left and right overall body movement as the body shifts the weight over each leg.

Critique - Ollie

(quick critique - I'm on the road)

The beginning looks good, but right when it hits the ground (where's the frame counter?) it slows down very quickly, but speeds up after that. Check that your translation curve doesn't have crazy hiccups.
What looks weird is the jump. First, it's too fast. The up is working the best, the hangtime needs to be longer and the drop needs to be longer. The front foot also needs to be more in the middle of the board before the ollie (he needs to adjust the foot before the ollie) and end it where you have it now.

Critique - Walk

(quick critique - I'm on the road)

Ok, two things stand out, the head has no overlap, it's moving/rotating down as the body moves down. When the body goes down, the head needs to come down a few frames later.

The other thing is your body in the front view, there is still no left to right movement. So when the screen right leg is off the ground, move the body screen left so that the weight is over the screen left leg. Then when the screen left leg is off the ground, you move the body over screen right.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Inside Wall-E

From the San Francisco Chronicle about tomorrow's event:

Pixar Animator Michal Makarewicz will answer audience questions during a Saturday appearance at the Balboa Theater, which is screening Disney-Pixar's "Wall-E".
Makarewicz will speak after the film's 7 p.m. showing and before the 9:15 p.m. screening.
The animator also worked on such features as "Ratatouille", "Cars" and "The Incredibles.". He won an award from ASIFA, the animated film society, for his work on "Ratatouille".
The theater is at 3630 Balboa St., San Francisco. For more information, call (415) 221-8184, or go to www.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Critique - Walk

Looks good! I really like how (in the side view) the upper body/neck/head movement works.
What I'm missing in the front view is more hip action, showing the weight distribution from leg to leg.
I would also relax the index and middle finger more, give the hand/fingers a more relaxed posed, right now all the fingers are cupped the same way.
What sticks out the most to me in the front view are his arms, they don't feel like they are finishing the arcs on the forward swing.
Careful with overextending the legs. Check his right leg on x17, then x18. It goes from bent to super straight. You can see the pop in the front view. Same with the other leg. Also, don't slow down the translation of the feet as they go back. You slow down towards x11 with little spacing between each frame and then suddenly a bigger difference from x12 to x13. It's even more apparent looking at the other foot from x23 to 0.
But again, really nice feel in the upper body.

Polish - more notes

Here's a follow up that started with this post about polish (scroll all the way down) and ended with yesterday's talk in class about what polish is exactly.

To recap: "If the blocking is correct and your breakdowns are in place, the polish phase should only enhance the animation, .... It's not there to change the [overall] timing."

Polishing your shot should not change the overall timing and idea of your acting choice, body movement, etc. But instead of writing down what I said yesterday, I will point you to a post about polish that I just read, found @ Synchrolux via Cooked Art's "Other News from the Grapevine...".

Just like a certain someone in our class who prefers to listen to his friends' advice as opposed to what is said in class, even though the advice is the same (I couldn't resist, I had to mention it! Your email still cracks me up! ;) ), you might understand or prefer to read about the aspect of polishing better when explained by someone else. And no, I'm not having a pity party or anything like that, it makes total sense. How many times did my parents tell me what to do and I never did, but when my friends said the same thing, I somehow got it. Wait, did I just compare myself to being a parent and you guys are my children? Hmm.... Anyway.

Even though no one had questions yesterday after that polish lecture, I'm just going to assume that you want to know more about it and hear/read an explanation presented in a more professional way, without me going off on a tangent talking about Bernie's ding dong. Wait, what?

So here a few highlights from Kevin Koch's post:

  • One of the things I spoke about then was the need to treat the body as a connected whole — when the head moves, for example, the chest and shoulders are going to move, too. Without this nuanced connectedness, almost any movement looks unnatural.
  • polish rule number one: Polish simply takes time.
  • Rule number two: polish is subtle. If it made a huge difference, then it wouldn’t be polish, it would be animation.
  • The key to efficient polish comes BEFORE the polish phase. So first, do good animation.
  • Polishing takes forever when you’ve animated without really making a commitment to what you’re animating. It takes forever when you’re not completely clear in your mind what you want for that scene. You need to start with good, clear ideas.

There's a lot more to read and I can't just copy/paste the whole thing, so please head over to Kevin Koch's SynchroLux and read the post "How much polish is too much?"

You can also listen to John Kahrs' podcast about Polish. There are some great comments about time management and what is the most important part to fix and polish.

- pic source

Disney/Pixar's "Presto" on iTunes

Upcoming Pixar tells us that Disney/Pixar's "Presto", the short in front of "Wall-E" is available on iTunes for $1.99. So head over there, get it and frame through it! :)