Saturday, October 31, 2009

Critique - Date


that's looks really good!

The girl especially, nice job!! I love how she puts the menu down, how the hand touches the table then how she slides out her fingers under it and how the menu drops. VERY COOL!
My suggestion would be to work a tiny bit more on how she picks up the glass. The lift is a bit too slow at the beginning, and I'm talking the first 7 frames or so, and if you look closely the fingers slide up the glass during that section. The combination of that makes the grab a bit off.
Love how she swings the glass around, that little twirle, good stuff!
I think she goes into her "OO" shape a bit quickly, the one around x350, you could soften that a tiny bit and have it happen later, right before she gets the glass on her lips. Then the lip contact with the glass needs be stronger, right now it feels a bit swimmy. You don't buy it that the glass is resting on her lips.
Is her hair going up because she puffs air out of her mouth? I'd also color the hair brown. It's the only piece that moves and since it's a separate color, it's as if you want to say "Look! That one is going to move!".

The guy needs also a bit of work when he picks up the glass.
Add more time when he drinks, right now he barely touches the glass and he puts it down again. Just a few more frames of contact.
I like how the glass is not flat as he puts it down, it's slightly rotated, good!
I would drop the ring at a much lower height, just above the glass. Right now it's really drawing attention to it. But I like the wine drop. :)
The hand he's holding up feels a bit swimmy and IK-ish from x304 to 322, especially towards the end of that range, where the hand goes up but the wrist rotates down.
Keep his right hand a bit longer towards him on x401, so that the arm is not just going up and then out, give it a little pause.

Sweet, keep going!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

I'm rarely using the graph editor.

Crazy, right?

I used to love to go in there and tweak the curves until it was beautiful spaghetti heaven. But now, I almost forget about it. As I'm working on my own clips (I'll post some more this week-end and next week) I've been paying attention to what I'm doing, especially ever since I get asked by students and workshop attendees what my workflow is. And I realized that I don't use it as much anymore. In fact, for the current clip I'm working on I check my curves for moving holds and in case there are some hiccups that just won't go away due to some funky spline curve bumps, but that's it.

I love to work through the viewport with hotkeys for making my character CONs visible, I go frame by frame, draw and plot arcs using my dry erase pen or intense staring :), and check every now and then in my perspective view that my character works in 3D space. When I need to copy/paste keys, insert breakdowns, space out keys, convert from linear to spline (I block everything out using linear curves), etc. I use the Maya timeline for it.

The only time I go back and tweak my curves is when my character rig is light, so I can play the animation in real-time and adjust the curves as I'm watching it in order to get the right feel and timing that I want. But since I can't really remember the last time I used a light rig, it's an exception. Although Norman is very light and it would work with that rig.
Although yesterday I had to tweak a foot roll so that my leg would not over-extend during a hold and that required super small value changes, which I only got through the graph editor. So I guess for detail work like that I go back to it.

But by now I'm just so used to working by setting additional keys instead of tweaking curves, that I don't miss the graph editor. I don't have thousands of keys though, I'm still pretty organized and clean most of the time. I can't say that I'm a slow animator either (I think), so I don't think there would be a workflow speed improvement. It's still shocking though to me. Managing curves and splines or whatever you want to call it is always regarded as a holy grail, some people even have barely any keys and do everything through curves. I guess everybody has their own way.

What do you guys use? What's your method? Anybody else out there who almost abandoned the graph editor?

New SOS Workshop Signup Procedure - First Come First Served at all times

... and you can attend multiple workshops in a row. No sign-up date anymore. If you're interested in attending, please use signup@spungella(dot) at any time. For more information, go to spungellaonsite. Thanks!


Monday, October 26, 2009

C BLOCK film

Love it! (thanks Bernie for the Tip!)

From the youtube info:

C Block is a short animated student film directed by Vladimir Kooperman at Sheridan College. Blog: Enjoy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Skhizein - Genius short

All I can is AWESOME! Love the idea, love the look, love the music, love the voices, love it, love it, love it! This would make for a fantastic feature. (thanks Eric for the tip!!)

Skhizein from Josef K. on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Brendan's Bouncing Ball Lecture

Brendan Body put up an AWESOME tutorial and deconstruction of a bouncing ball. Don't be fooled by the "basic" animation idea, because he nicely demonstrates how a bouncing ball principle can be applied to a walk (human, squirrel or dinosaur). Go check it out! (thanks Brecht for the tip!!)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

SOS Workshop #2 Details

The 2nd workshop is starting October 29th, 2009 on a weekly basis for a total of 16 sessions. It's every Thursday, 7pm to 10pm, same location as the first workshop.

There will be a two week break at the end of November and another break during Christmas for the holidays of course.

As always, if you have questions, consult the F.A.Q. and if you still have questions, just email me.

Joshua Slice Demo Reel 2009

Great work!

Joshua Slice Demo Reel 2009 from joshua slice on Vimeo.

Variations on a theme

valleydweller linked to a great clip for #animtip Tuesday. Imagine that was an assignment. To come up with multiple ways of entering a room while opening a door. :)
I like how halfway through the clip he starts to find a specific way.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Le phare

Awesome short (Gobelins rules!). I love the atmosphere of it, the score is great! (thanks Saul for the tip!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Elemental Magic: The Art of Special Effects Animation

I haven't seen it yet, but from the looks of it so far Elemental Magic: The Art of Special Effects Animation sounds like a very cool book. Check out the blog for it which has a lot of cool animation clips. You can get the book at Amazon.

Maybe one day we will have easy cloth and hair control on rigs.

Now, I can't comment on what other companies are using and I'm not talking about our rigs at work. I'm just dreaming of a super simple setup for cloth and hair, so you can "easily" do something like this:

Wouldn't that be a nightmare right now? You might tell the sim what to do on a broad scale, but you can't really animate, shape and tweak their clothes, hair, the napkin, the pillow and the blanket as easily as posing out your rig. Or can you?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - Reel by David Gibson

David Gibson does it again! Check out his reel and his explanations to how he approached his shots. Thanks for sharing!

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - Awesome movie

Just like with Panda I wasn't too intrigued once I saw the first promotional image, but just like with Panda I was proven very wrong. I try to be all mature and judge a movie AFTER I've seen it but sometimes it's difficult not to be judgmental early on. But anyway, I really really liked the movie. Funny story, awesome animation, great designs, great look, great voices (the dad was awesome), not heavy on pop-culture references or contemporary comparisons, etc. etc.

All in all, awesome.

The 3D not so much. Must be my eyes, plus glasses on top of glasses is not ideal for me either. At the beginning it's stroby and eye-straining, and the colors are so muted. Still cool effect, but not essential to the movie (at least for me). Once you can enjoy it without glasses, I'm all for it.

Congratulations Sony, very well done! Can't wait to see more!

- pic source

District 9 behind-the-scenes article

fxguide has cool side-by-side comparison pics and more general info about the making of District 9.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


The Animation Resource blog has good notes and links about posing.

Anim Clip - "Looks clear"

After a long break I have finally animated a clip during my spare time again and it was quite a change from what I normally do at work, especially rig and tool wise. Conclusion: I'm spoiled at work.

But first off, here's the clip, I hope you like it:

also available on Youtube, Vimeo and as Hires Quicktime

For some of the shots I shot reference in order to expand the layout pass and to start playing around with acting ideas. Once I settled on a certain take I replaced the layout with the reference. The shots were edited together in After Effects where I would always replace the animation with the most current takes. So from layout to reference to anim to final it would like this:

My basic workflow is still kinda the same, in terms of blocking everything out using linear curves, with keys on all the major controllers for every major pose, but the amount breakdowns and how I prioritize certain moments and characters changes depending on what type of shot it is, the length, the style, etc.

I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do, plus the reference helped with blocking things out quickly. Some areas of the reference I threw out even though I liked them before. Most of the time because I wanted to simplify the actions and keep it clean. Other parts I liked timing wise and stuck to it pretty closely idea wise and sometimes even timing wise.

The biggest change was the bird. At first I wanted to have two of them in the scene, throwing the middle guy around like White Sharks throw seals around. But I quickly realized that there wasn't enough time to put all of that in there, so I simplified that idea as well. For those who are not bored by seeing a clip over and over in different stages, here a few animation passes of the first shot:

I didn't shoot reference for the very beginning where you just see their heads because I thought I can just whip that out but oh boy, did I tweak that stuff. I'm telling you: plan, plan, plan!!!! Don't just dive into it....

I'm a big fan of detail work (sometimes I just have too much fun with it and waste time... but hey, at least it was my time and not production time), so here's the "fx" pass of the environment (no water splash though, maybe later. :) ).

Here the shot details:

Audio clip: Pitch Black
Rigs: Blake, Olskool, Mr. Brightside, Stinson the Bird
Set from Digital Tutors

Completion time:
About 3 weeks with 1-2 hours of animation a day. So anim would be around 30 hours or so, add another 10 hours fixing technical problems (rigs exploding, render issues, etc.) and about 90 minutes of planning the shot out (car ride to work and back home, listening to the clip and figuring things out, love that part) and an hour of acting stuff out and transferring the material.

But again, man, am I spoiled at work. Good tools and rigs speed up your workflow by so much. I bow down in front of everybody that has to struggle with rigs while in school, I feel your pain. Sure you might run into some problems at work, but the fixes come fast and it's still no comparison. Back in the day at the then-AAC we had Milt, Flower Sack and Hogan and they were pretty simple yet very workable.
But still, a huge thank you to those who share their rigs online for free, it is much appreciated!

That's it! If you have any questions or feedback, leave a comment or email me. Thanks!

Monday, October 5, 2009

First 5 Minutes of Disney's The Princess and the Frog!

Cartoon Brew via SlashFilm points to the beginning footage of Disney's new 2D animated feature The Princess and the Frog. Or watch it here:

Here's another bit:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

SOS Animation Workshop #2 now open!

The current SOS Workshop is so much fun that I've decided to open up a second workshop now instead of next Spring! You can never have enough animation!!

If you're interested then email me using signup(at) Just like the first workshop, there is a maximum of 12 animators who can attend (due to room size and time constraints, there needs to be enough time to talk about your animation).

The second workshop is going to start in about a month, plus/minus a few days depending on how ready the animators are schedule wise (if it fills up quickly we could technically start next week). Same location, either Monday, Thursday or Friday evening, 7 to 10pm.

If you have questions about the SOS Workshop consult the F.A.Q. In case you still have questions, just email me and I'll help as best as I can.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Keith Lango's Youtube Channel with Tutorials

I was reading through Keith Lango's post What is content and what is its value? - Part 2 and sadly towards the end he mentions that his video tutorials are showing up on file sharing services and that his business has suffered because of that, to the point where he has to look at other means to support his family.

Come on guys. Pirating his animation tutorials? Really? It's not like it costs $6000. I understand that you can't afford much as a student, but stealing from a guy who wants to help? That's really low. I hope that whoever does that is going to produce a wonderfully animated movie and that people will pirate it as well. There. I said it. Stuff like that drives me nuts. That's like using a cracked copy of Quicktime Pro. Really? Can't afford $30? Really?

Grumpy day. I watched the 100 Greatest Youtube hits in 4 Minutes and sadly I knew a lot of them (but where's Chocolate Rain?). One I didn't know was the first clip with a girl called Boxxy. Going through comments about the clips I got to The Boxxy Story and it's just sad what people do to other people nowadays. Especially using the web's anonymity.

Anyway. Enough NAR stuff.

Keith has now opened up a Youtube channel (yay!) and on it you will find tutorial videos which I highly recommend. I learned a lot from his written tutorials while I was a student and he deserves support for his efforts.