Saturday, May 30, 2009

Moving - back ... this week?


Well, not quite back yet.
Since Comcast effen sucks big time, things won't be normal for a few days. I'll try to post things whenever I can. Once everything is up and running the way it should be, I'll let everybody know. Sorry about that.

For those who check the site, sorry for the lack of posting this week, we are moving to a new place. Web will be up and running on Tuesday. Unless Comcast screws things up even more than they already have - once the service is running, I have no problems with them, but the customer service is so unbelievably bad, it's almost fascinating to see how these morons can't get anything right.

On a brighter note, Delancey Street Movers were FANTASTIC! They showed up exactly when they were supposed to and they were super friendly, really motivated with an unstoppable can-do attitude, fast, careful, quick thinking problem solvers and finished up everything way below the original estimate. Unbelievable. Now THAT'S customer service. Highly highly recommended. In fact, these are the guys who helped out:

James Powell (coordinated everything)
Andrew Browal
Erik Aquclar
Jesse Wilson
Mike Covello
Gary Pederson

(I hope I spelled this all correctly...)

So if anybody out there is working with them, tell them I said hi. :)

Alright, see you back on Tuesday!


Friday, May 15, 2009

Factor 5 closes down

I was saddened to read about the closure of game studio Factor 5 yesterday. Kotaku mentioned rumors before, but I was hoping that it wasn't true. Unfortunately they were...

After graduating from the AAU in May 2003, I sent out my first wave of demo reel submissions and got barely any responses (because it sucked). After some at home practicing during the summer I took another class in Fall and thanks to Scott Clark and Angus McLane my new clips had improved enough to grab recruiters' attention and interviews started to happen. One of the companies which showed interest was Factor 5.

That interview is to this day the best and most fun interview I ever had. I expected it to last maybe 30mins tops, so my then-girlfriend (now awesome wife) drove me to Lucas Valley Road in San Rafael and waited in the parking lot until I came back. Neither of us anticipated a 3 hour interview (might have been longer even). But she patiently waited and didn't complain once when I came back. I love my wife.

Why did it take so long? Well, first I got a very warm welcome and then they gave me a tour of the studio. I was told that they just finished and celebrated a milestone the day before, which explained all the bottles of alcohol. :) I was desperately trying to hide how much I was geeking out, because I grew up with Turrican and the Stars Rogue Squadron games. As a kid I was reading tons of gamer magazines and I was very familiar with Julian Eggebrecht and the company. And now I was actually there. It was so awesome. And everybody that I met during the tour was so friendly, really welcoming, it was a really cool group of people. After the tour they all went to lunch and grabbed me with them to an Italian restaurant with lots of wine and great stories. It was all so relaxed and you could tell that the people there were more than just work colleagues, they were like a family. I was just amazed. This is how it's going to be as a professional animator? How cool is that?! After a good lunch we all went back and then the actual interview started, which was a bit more formal, in a separate room, etc. I met Julian and some of the lunch guys (and girls) sitting next to me were there as well. They asked me about games, the type of animation I liked, how I would approach specific game animation problems, etc. It was very interesting (especially since it was one of my first interviews) and still very relaxed. Julian was very upfront and really professional. I remember that he was looking for someone with a dedication to games, and not someone who would see this job as a temporary opportunity. I was very honest in my answers, that feature animation was my goal but that I needed to learn and gain experience and that I would love to work at Factor 5, but that it wouldn't be a 10 year commitment. After such a warm welcome, the last thing I wanted to do is bullshit him, so despite the chance of ruining my chances, I felt the least I could do is be honest and not waste his time. But they all understood my reasoning and again were really cool about it. Since my reel was mostly acting shots, I offered to do a test for them with more game specific content and they gave me a shot. A week into the test though more interviews came up and I eventually ended up at ILM, which was my ultimate dream. I felt really bad telling them that I accepted another job, but the email response was once again very professional, yet really understanding and cool, wishing me good luck and all the best.

What a class A group of people.

And now the company has to close... I hope the employees are finding other job opportunities very soon and I wish all of them only the best. Take care and thank you for everything.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What would JD do? - End of Semester Spring '09

[updated] Thanks Fu-Ling and Erik for the pictures!!


Here we are. Another semester just flew by.

And another group of fantastic students is moving on. Yesterday evening they surprised me with a goodbye present which blew my mind. It was so unexpected, so funny, so well done, you guys just rule! The way it was presented was absolutely priceless. Thanks to everybody involved!

It's always sad to end a semester and yesterday sure wasn't easy. At least I'll see some of you in class again. For those who graduate, good luck and all the best!!

So what would JD do? The pictures will tell you. :)

Au revoir!

click on this pic for more

- pic source

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ward Kimball Letter

Michael DeBrosse (thanks!) points to, which has a cool post about Ward Kimball's letter. Go check it out!

Squirrely Rig by Josh Burton

Matt Ornstein sent a nice tip regarding a new rig by Josh Burton. Head over to AnimationBuffet for more info on this fun looking rig! Here a rig test video and more by Josh:

Squirrely Obstacle Course Part 1 from Josh Burton on Vimeo.

030_030_060 First Pass from Josh Burton on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Princess and the Frog footage

Cartoon Brew points to a new (crappy) youtube vid of Disney's The Princess and the Frog and holy moly is it being ripped apart in the comments section.

Looks like I'm in the minority then, because I like it. I miss 2D and it doesn't matter to me how over the top the frog acting is and whatever they tear apart. Plus I prefer to see the whole movie before judging it.

- pic source

Animation Mentor Newsletter and Workflow Webinar

Jeff points to the latest AM Webinar and it's all about workflow, which is always interesting. Make sure to check it out.

And we got the May AM Newsletter as well, featuring:

What Ever Happened to Saturday Morning Cartoons?
Sony Pictures Digital Productions, Animation Mentor Put New Twist on Old Tradition
"Super Market Fever" short by Hichem Arfaoui
Mentor: Shaun Freeman
Alumni: Opinder Chaggar

Make sure to read this one:
What Kind of Politics Do You Encounter in the Industry and How Do You Deal with Them?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Critique - Scared of failing

Looking better and better! Definitely start to offset keys, add smoother transitions between poses, more mouth shapes, all that jazz. Here a few areas I'd look out for:

Guy on the left:
- change the timing a bit of how the ring box is closing, it's a bit linear. Those type of boxes have a very strong spring in it, so it's going to take some force to make it close, but it's going, it will snap shut
- slow down the hand that puts the box on the table around x79, right now it's too fast, I would ease out of that holding pose more. I would also work on the timing of how he pulls his hand back to his other hand, the arc is very flat, the hand locks once it's back on x98
- the fingers moves at the need the same sort of attention, make them less pose to pose, vary the timing, etc.

Guy on the right:
- watch out for fast movements or sudden stops that kill the weight and believability of the character, for instance the sudden upper body stop around x23 as he leans forward, same deal around x98 and especially the sudden hand stop on x130
- I would subtle head accents during "... as an excuse..", little ones though
- the transitions between eyebrow pose changes feel a bit soft in places, a bit slow, for instance during the x35ish area
- like you said, do another pass on the lipsync and mouth shapes; generally it's there, just focus on certain snappier parts and accents, but it's working well already

Hope that helps!

"Wild Dogs" - A Short Film by Cat Hicks

Thanks Ting for the tip!