Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cameron Fielding on ILM and VFX animation

Great post by Cameron about his experience at ILM. I need to be careful about writing about my employer (hence the lack of those posts), so it's great to hear a fresh perspective and his impressions. So head over to Cameron Fielding's FLIP.

Keith Lango's Otto - Rigging

Sweet post @ Keith Lango, showing an in-depth breakdown of his rig.

It's all about Anticipation

Like many others I was quite shocked when I heard about MJ's death. A childhood idol is gone... Of course I'm all caught up in the MJ fever and I'm listening to his albums, watching concerts, etc.

One concert, the beginning to be precise, is a fantastic example of anticipation. But it's a non-moving anticipation, relying more on emotional anticipation maybe. But to me it's awesome to see how Jackson is nowhere to be seen and people are freaking out. Then he jumps out and people go nuts. Then for the longest time he doesn't move at all. Still, people are freaking out, because they know the show is about to start. Then he moves his head only. Again, people freak out. So awesome.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sarah & Vinnie: Secret Show with Shawn Kelly

Today's Secret Show has the very first Secret Guest! ILM Animator Shawn Kelly joins us to talk about Transformers: Rise of the Fallen!

Great interview with Shawn Kelly. They talk about his beginnings, Star Wars, Transformers, his future plans, our nerd corner, dailies, job advice etc. Really funny, Shawn did an awesome job!!

I can animate, now what? - pt. 2

So after I can animate, now what? pt.1 I had an idea for pt. 2, but there were some great questions posted in the comments section, so I thought I'd answer those (as best as I can) as an additional part.

"It's really exciting to reach that level where you really have to think about performance only" - Can you give a rough estimate of how many hours sat behind a computer animating it would take to get to this stage?

Unfortunately no. It is so subjective, there is no time line or time estimation that you can use. If I say "a lot of hours", what does that mean? For some people "a lot" is 9 hours a day, for others it's 15 hours a day. And for some 3 hours are a lot, because what if you have a day job plus a family? Within that world 3 hours spent on animation alone is a lot.

Then you have to consider the individual animators. Some are really talented and it's just in their blood. Others are not that gifted and need to make up for it with a lot of work. So again, "a lot" is very subjective.

But I am going to make an assumption that if you've never done any type of animation and you're just starting out, regardless of how talented you are, it will still take "a lot" of hours. It won't happen overnight.

What's important I think is to get a lot of feedback from people regarding your work. You need to be able to accept critique, regardless of how harsh it might be. Find out what works and what doesn't by asking people for feedback. Don't think that you're the greatest animator and that you don't need help, because as you're thinking this someone is graduating from school at the same time who is already better than you are. Accept it and don't be above feedback. You will always learn something new.

I would suggest you try out different ways of planning and blocking out your animation. Find a workflow that won't hold you back.

And finally: practice, practice, practice.

Also, if you can give a basic structure of how you would effectively go about attaining this level of skill (i.e a list of exercises to master in a hierarchical order of difficulty) that would be really great.

Start small. Start with the basics. I always recommend the bouncing ball. I would read the post "What should I animate? pt. 2" for a good list and order of exercises.

Basically practice until you have a very good grasp of the technical aspect of animation, so that you can concentrate on the performance instead of having to concentrate on the technique. It's about the why, not the how. The motivation of a character is more important than how he is moving. You can have beautiful animation from a technical point of view, but if the audience can't connect with character, can't identify, if your character has no personality, then what's the point?

Do you simply recommend more practice,practice,practice and study?

Yes, yes, yes and yes.

But again, some people don't have to study as much as other people. Some just dive right into it and are able to do it. Others need more studying.
I love reading and studying about human behaviour, movement, acting, etc. A lot of stuff is not applicable to animators, but it's still really interesting to me to do research. But the best study is the observation of every day life. I would put that on my #1 thing to do.

Would you say some people may just not reach a point where their animation is that good?

I wouldn't say never and it also depends on how you define "good". "Good" on a feature movie is different than "good" for a TV show or video game or whatever. It depends on the deadlines, the budget, the target audience, etc.
I think with a lot of practice anybody can reach a technical level that is good. But what sets people apart is what comes after that. It's the acting ideas, the creativity. Some people are just mindblowingly good at coming up with interesting choices.
But I can imagine that there might be a few animators out there who will struggle for a while. It's not for everybody. But I wouldn't give up.

I realized after posting that feedback is also probably very important to your development as an animator. Otherwise, I sense that you can keep making the same mistakes over and over and not really figure out what your doing wrong without A LOT of observation.

That is absolutely true. I mentioned it before but it's worth repeating it again. Get feedback!! Ask friends for feedback. Go to forums online for feedback, use the 11secondclub, etc.

Once you work in a professional environment it's as if you're getting a second education. At least that's how it was for me. When you sit in dailies and you see those amazing shots and you hear how veterans take the shots apart and how the team comes up with ideas to make them better, it's a revelation. You learn so much at work, it's fantastic. Definitely bring your notebook to dailies, even if you are not presenting a shot.

Your probably going to tell me 'Hey, Animation Mentor offers just that kind of critique!' but I've already been through their entire program once and certainly can't afford to do it again! I thought it was a great school but being a complete novice when I started it wasn't until I was someway through the course that I started to 'get-it' in regards to the principles, workflow and even a firm handle on the software, etc. that my animation started to improve.

I would say that this will happen no matter where you go. If you're a novice then the first lessons or courses or books you're reading won't make as much sense as they will a few months into it. That's unfortunately the price that you have to pay.

Obviously the best case scenario would be that you know the software by heart and that you already understand the principles of animation before you start a serious animation education. But how many people can afford that approach (not just financially but also time wise)?

But now that you "got it" you're free to think about the character. Why is he/she/it doing this? What did the character do before that shot? What will come after? In what state is the character? What is the character thinking while doing what he/she/it is doing? etc.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Last Semester at the AAU

Hey everybody,

sadly this will be my last semester teaching at the AAU, there won't be a Fall Semester. But maybe (hopefully!) I will be back next year, you never know.

I want to thank all the students that suffered through my classes. I had a really good time and you guys (and girls) have been super patient with me and were really inspirational.


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Ponyo - Gake no ue no Ponyo

Now with a star studded English voice over cast!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Gobelins shorts

Cooked Art has a youtube collection of the latest animated shorts. As always pretty cool! Here's one of them:

Head over there for more!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Keith Lango's Otto now animated

Two months ago Keith Lango showed us Otto, now he posted the anim test and I love it! Great timing, lot of fun! (thanks for the tip anonymous!)

The Secret of Monkey Island - Special Edition

I have to post this here! :)

Back before Jack Sparrow and before someone stole the idea of a Monkey Island movie and made Pirates of the Caribbean there was the PC game The Secret of Monkey Island.

Back in the day LucasArts made point & click adventure games and I grew up with classics like Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Fate of Atlantis, Full Throttle, The Dig, etc. etc.

I loved the music and I loved the pixel art animation. It was so gooood!

Well now, they are releasing Monkey Island as a Special Edition and the really cool part is that you can switch between the old and repainted version on the fly. YEAH!

Go the main site and check out the video section which has a good making-of clip of the whole re-making process.

Now, if the sales are good, LucasArts will continue to release those games. Imagine playing Fate of Atlantis on your iPhone. YEAH BABY! (I actually already did on a jailbroken iTouch and it was so awesome!!!)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

colin's giraffe, a tribute

I know this is totally random, but remember the best clip ever, Colin's Bear?

Well, right now, this clip is making the rounds and it's weirdly fascinating:

To that I responded with Colin's Bear and what came back after that is just too awesome: Colin's Giraffe.

Critique - Angry Walk

Alright, the walk:

It still looks great! I see you tweaked the hips and even though I was hoping to see more hip up/down, I know that it's difficult to see with those shapes. It still works though the way you have it.
Did you tweak the thumb on his left hand? Still feels a bit wimpy with the thumb on top, give it another shot to create a nice looking fist (bring the thumb down to the side).
I like how you tweaked the feet during the passing poses, nice!
There's something funky going on with his left foot. Was that already there when you showed it in class? Sorry if I missed that. Look at x1 to x4. The foot doesn't travel back at all, it just sticks there, which doesn't work for a cycle. The other foot is correct though, so make sure it works for both.
During the plants on x1 and x14 it would be nice to get a tiny little head wobble/rotate down movement, to feel the impact and weight. No huge overlap, just a sign that the steps impact the head.
Last thing, keep a subtle body/root Y up movement after x8 to x12, as well as from x20 to x24. Right now the body goes up and then stops the up movement a bit too quickly and then stays in that position during the above mentioned range. Make that transition a bit smoother, don't flatten your Y curve too quickly.

Nice job!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Color Keys for Pixar's "Up"

Cartoon Brew points to Lou Romano's blog, which has his color script for the movie "Up" on it. Very cool! Beware of Spoilers!

The Art & Feel of Making it Real

This book by Mark McDonnell looks really cool! I know what I'm getting next! - more info @ John Nevarez' blog

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

More game trailers

I know, I know, why not live-action at this point, but besides all that, check out the crazy sweet renders for the Assassin's Creed 2 trailer!

And Cartoon Brew points to The Last Guardian. Pretty cool too!

Aziz Kocanaogullari’s Masquerade

Masquerade from Aziz K. on Vimeo.

Academy of Art University School of Animation alumni, Aziz Kocanaogullari’s Masquerade animation video is featured on the Designspotter blog. Congratulations!!

[updated] Great positive comments, awesome! The short was even on Kanye West's blog!

You can check out his portfolio site here.

Interview with animator Guilherme Jacinto

Head over to sacurrent.com and check out the interview with Guilherme Jacinto! Here the intro:

As a young, aspiring animator, Guilherme Jacinto moved from his home country of Brazil to San Francisco to study at the Academy of Art University in 2003. With zero credits to his name, he hoped he could break into the very competitive animation industry on talent alone. You could say he started his career on the right foot when his very first professional job came to him by way of Pixar Animation Studios. His assignment: to work on a little film called WALL-E.

You can also visit his portfolio site here.

Hayao Miyazaki in Berkeley

Jeff Lee sends in this cool new info:

The Center for Japanese Studies at the University of California, Berkeley is proud to award internationally acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki with the 2009 Berkeley Japan Prize, which honors individuals from all disciplines and professions who have, over a lifetime influenced the world's understanding of Japan. In conjunction with his in-person acceptance of the award, Hayao Miyazaki will be honored with a series of events held on the UC Berkeley campus, celebrating his timeless body of film work.

For more info, go to ieas.berkeley.edu.

Toy Story 3 - Teaser

I'm sure you've seen it by now, but just in case you haven't, Apple has the new Toy Story 3 teaser. Thanks Michael Mahy for the tip!

Star Wars: The Old Republic - Trailer

Check out the trailer for the new Star Wars: The Old Republic game. That looks so cooool! Full movie like this please!!

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