I’m a little late in posting this –

In line with the exhibition, the following talks have been organized:

Animating at Pixar by Warren Trezevant

Discover what it is like to animate at Pixar Animation Studios. Learn how the role of an animator fits into the process of making a full-length feature film. Warren will share his journey from eager student to character animator working at Pixar.

2 April 2010

11am

Maxwell Auditorium

Fee: $10

Warren Trezevant joined Pixar Animation Studios in 1995 and has animated on seven of Pixar’s feature films, including Finding Nemo, Incredibles and Ratatouille. Taking advantage of his strong technical background, Warren has been exploring ways to take characters off the screen and bring them to life in our world with the Toy Story Zoetrope and the animatronic WALL*E. Warren is currently working with Pixar’s software team to improve their animation production software.

The Art of Pixar by DeAnn Cobb

More than just a showcase of high-end technology, each and every Pixar film is considered an art. Did you know these computer-animated films are essentially born as traditional art? Why does Pixar rely on traditional art forms? How is it used in production? Dive deeper into the films you love through this talk about the art of Pixar.

2 & 3 April 2010

2pm

Maxwell Auditorium

Fee: $10

DeAnn is an instructor at Pixar University and a Designer for the Exhibitions program within Pixar and abroad. She specializes in color theory and painting and technical art classes such as Photoshop and Illustrator. DeAnn grew up in Marlow Oklahoma and went to Baylor University in Texas where she received her BFA in graphic design. She then went to San Francisco Art Institute for her Masters in painting.

She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.

The Culture of Pixar by Kim Donovan

The culture of Pixar is founded on trust, collaboration, innovation and the intersection of art and technology. The beautiful artwork that forms the exhibition Pixar: 20 Years of Animation is a product of that collaborative culture. Kim Donovan, Manager of Exhibitions at Pixar, will discuss art, technology, culture and the development of this exhibition.

2 & 3 April 2010

4pm

Maxwell Auditorium

Fee: $10

Kim came to Pixar in 2007 from The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Her role as a project manager at MoMA spanned six years where she worked on projects ranging from art installations to the building of the new Education Center. In the winter of 2005 Kim was involved in the installation of “Pixar: 20 Years of Animation.” She eventually stepped into the role of project manager of the traveling exhibition and has been amazed by not only the film making process at Pixar but at the support and fans of Pixar she’s met around the world. While in New York, Kim also worked extensively as an actor and is a member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre. She grew up in Sarasota, Florida on Siesta Key and received her degree from Rollins College in Winter Park, FL.

Seats are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. You may do your bookings through Aishah at specialevents@science.edu.sg. Inquiries can be made through 6425-2547. Payments to be made on site. Cash and cheque will be accepted.

I -cannot- wait for Friday!

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Bone film

March 26, 2010

Jeff Smith talks about the possibility of his comic book Bone, being made into a feature film at Printmag.com

This is excellent news! The movie possibility has occurred to me ever since I first read Bone a year ago , it’s a comic book that really felt like an animated film! And little wonder, that Jeff Smith himself is an animator.

He explained the different ways he manipulates the reader. “I don’t have motion at my control like I would in film. I have to slow you down, so if someone talks, you will read that, which takes time.” He can speed the reader up, too. “If I want a character to run, jump and land in as few panels as possible, I spend a short amount of time—one panel—on him in the air. And I would not put a lot of detail in it. Wouldn’t want a lot of things to dry your eye out! That’s an animation technique.”

The book is a really great read, coming in at 1332 pages its also a story of epic proportions. Check out the book Here.

Flickering myth posted a four part feature on the work of Tim Burton, from his days as an animator at Disney, to his recent Alice in Wonderland,

Looking back on his time at Disney, Tim Burton declared, “They were trying to train new animators. All the old guys had retired, so what was left in charge were these second-stringers. They were older; they were bitter that they weren’t the ones in the limelight. So a lot of things besides creativity leaked in. What drove me nuts is, here you are Disney – ‘Best animation in the world,’ they say.’ A dream come true.’ And on the other hand, they say, ‘Remove part of your brain and become a zombie factory worker.’ The split that it created drove people nuts. So you either succumb to it or you leave.”

enjoy!

About a year ago, I stumble on to a post at conceptart.org, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, just another guy starting a “learning” thread on the forum. I scrolled down a little and I saw this –

Hm. It’s a rookie alright. But what’s this? 40 pages in this thread?!

A couple pages later I see this-

Definitely a an improvement, but still, a long way to go. I decided to skip to the later pages and now he’s doing this-

Holy shit! I went back and read through all 40+ pages of the thread, then I realized, this guy has been drawing every single day in his quest to be an artist. Every single day without fail for two years before he got halfway decent. And now he’s running his own atelier for artists. That’s amazing! and inspiring! I can’t draw, and I know how it is to spend hours on a drawing and still have it look like crap. I’m posting this up to inspire myself and others, because dammit, if he can do it, anyone can.

Eyes eyes baby

March 22, 2010

I just read this really really nice entry on eyes at mothermushroom.com

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Elsa is watching Indy discover his way through the sewers under Venice. She just manages to say a lot in this shot with nothing but eye shifts and a little tilt of the head.

I should totally do a similar study one of these days, I’ll definitely learn a lot!

Cut mp3 files online

March 22, 2010

http://cutmp3.net/ allows you to cut mp3 flies right in your browser. It’s a pity it doesn’t support .wav format which is what we use most often in animation. Combine it with my previous post on converting files online and you’ve got a winner.

The following is from Ed Hook’s monthly newsletter, you can subscribe to it Here.

David Brooks, a prominent New York Times political columnist, headlined his March 16th column “The Spirit of Sympathy”. What drew my attention was not his political views, but the way he misused that word “sympathy”. Take a look at the second paragraph from the article.

“To help us in this social world, God, nature and culture have equipped us with a spirit of sympathy. We instinctively feel a tinge of pain when we observe another in pain (at least most of us do). We instinctively mimic, even to a small extent, the mood, manners, yawns and actions of the people around us.”

The innate attribute Mr. Brooks is describing is empathy, not sympathy. Sympathy is when you feel sorry for somebody, and it may or may not be accompanied by empathy. Empathy is when you identify with another person’s feeling, recognizing that same feeling in yourself. The word “empathy”, which was coined in the 1920’s, literally means “feeling into”; “sympathy”, which has been in use much longer, literally means “feeling for”. Confusing the two is not a benign mistake for someone as influential as David Brooks.

An understanding of the distinction between empathy and sympathy is intrinsic and essential to my personal approach to acting and acting training. An actor’s job is to create in the audience a sense of empathy with the character she is portraying. Yes, of course there are times when an audience will feel sympathy, but if sympathy is what they feel at the final curtain, they’re not going to be satisfied. Theatre, at its root, is a shamanistic activity, similar in purpose to organized religions. Both theatre and religion aim to help the tribe stay together through hard times and good, so that its members will survive into the next generation. We humans are bound together by our effort to survive, and it has been that way throughout history.

Empathy is an essential attribute for human survival, and terrible things happen in its absence. Serial killers – sociopaths – for example, do not empathize with their victims. Studies have shown that the part of a sociopath’s brain associated with empathy is literally broken. That is why he can murder a person and then stop off for a burger and beer on the way home. And then there is Hitler. There are smart and responsible leaders in the Jewish community who become outraged at any attempt a performer makes to create empathy for Hitler. Yes, the man was evil and did horrible things but, if we do not try to understand where he was erronerously coming from emotionally, then we open ourselves to the unwitting acceptance of another just like him.

Not long ago, I asked a beginning actor in my workshop how he felt about the character he was rehearsing. “I don’t like him. He does stupid things,” he replied. A judgment like that is fair enough, and the actor is entitled to it. However, as I quickly advised him, he would have to find a way to love and empathize with that character if he wanted a successful portrayal. Every person on earth and in literature is a hero in his or her own life, even the stupid ones. Humans are fallible. We can make bad choices, and that is the reason we have theatre in the first place. If humans were instinctual like lions and tigers, there would not be an option for acting against our own survival and best interest. When an actor plays a character, she is saying to the audience, in effect, “This is how I personally think this character is surviving in the world.” When the audience laughs, cries and applauds, it is saying, in effect, “I see what you mean. I never looked at it that way before.”

We all have different strategies, but we are all trying to survive. Each of us is part of a tribe that is, in turn, part of a larger global tribe. We universally empathize only with emotion, never with thinking, and we empathize with all seven of them – happy, fear, anger, comtempt, disgust, surprise and, yes, sad. I visited China for the first time last year and saw immediately that the Chinese culture encourages radically different survival strategies than the ones I personally pursue. It doesn’t matter because we are all humans, and we are all marching in the same direction.

We humans now possess the power to destroy one another along with the planet we live on. If our many tribes manage to survive, it will be because the members of each tribe have learned to empathize with the members of other tribes, not sympathize. With all due respect, I will now send this column to David Brooks.

Until next month …

Be safe!

I found this online tool that allows you to convert most file formats (up to 100mb) and then have it mailed to you.

Supports most image(jpg, png) , sound(mp3, wav), video(mov, flv), documents(doc, xls) and compression(7z, rar) formats.

It’s hereeeeeeeee!

Pixar: 20 Years of Animation takes you behind the scenes of the cutting-edge studio that created UP, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., Toy Story, Cars, The Incredibles and Ratatouille. All of these Pixar movies have enchanted and delighted both children and adults for over two decades.

The exhibition features over 300 sketches, paintings, sculptures and storyboards, going behind the scenes to reveal how Pixar’s much-loved characters and worlds are brought to life. In addition to these one-of-a-kind works by artists and sculptors, the exhibition includes spectacular immersive environments and interactive experiences developed by Pixar to extend the magic of their films.

Venue: The Annexe, Science Centre Singapore, 15 Science Centre Road
Date: 2 April – 27 June 2010
Time: 10am – 6pm (Closed on Mondays except school and public holidays)

Ticket Prices:
Early Bird Discount
Public – $16 adults, $11 children (3-16 years), includes admission to Science Centre
Members – Early bird discount – $12 adults, $8 children (3-16 years)

Normal Prices
Public – $20 adults, $15 child (3-16 years), exhibition only
Public – $21 adults, $16 child (3-16 years), includes admission to Science Centre
Public – Family Package – 2A and 2C (3 -16 years) – $60, exhibition only

Source

I just saw this website and it’s awesome.

On Editing – Part II

March 16, 2010

Continuing from where I left off the last time, I’ll continue with the the lower order principles, Eye-trace, Two-dimensional plane of screen, and Three-dimensional space of screen.

Eye-trace – This is the concern of the audience’s point of interest within a shot. Good eye-trace has each shot maintaining the point of interest close the shot preceding it. It helps the audience focus without having them scanning across the entire screen for the point of interest. Eg: If the focal point of the shot is the upper right corner of the screen, have the next shot’s starting focal point near the same area. It’s essential in chase sequences, to let the audience make sense of the sequence of actions in the midst of rapid cuts.

Two-dimensional plane of screen – Also known as planarity, a shot with good planarity utilizes good stage lines. It respects the esthetic of two dimensional lines. It’s a little more involved in composition then editing. The rule of thirds comes into play here.

Three-dimensional space of screen – Also known as spatial continuity, the concept is the same as planarity except in three dimensions instead of two. If the placement between various elements on screen can be viewed as a harmonious whole, it has good spatial continuity.

These three principles are lower order for a reason, if a shot has good eye-trace, planarity and spatial continuity, but is not true to the emotion to the shot, isn’t advancing the story and is occurring at the wrong time, it will feel false to the audience. That’s it for editing for now, if anyone missed the previous post, this is covered in greater detail from the book In the Blink of an Eye.

Waking Sleeping Beauty

March 16, 2010

Have you guys watched The Pixar Story? It’s a documentary film about Pixar from it’s inception to the animation juggernaut it is today. It’s a great documentary, full of insights about their working styles and how close they came to becoming completely dissolved. If you like that film, you will like this upcoming one – Waking Sleeping Beauty

It’s chronicles the turmoils of the Disney from the years 1984 to 1994,

Director Don Hahn (producer of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King) and producer Peter Schneider (former chairman of the studio), key players at Walt Disney Studios feature animation department during the mid1980s, offer a behind-the-magic glimpse of the turbulent times the animation studio was going through and the staggering output of hits that followed over the next 10 years. Artists polarized between the hungry young innovators and the old guard who refused to relinquish control, mounting tensions due to a string of box-office flops, and warring studio leadership create the backdrop for this fascinating story told with a unique and candid perspective from those that were there. Through interviews, internal memos, home movies and a cast of characters featuring Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Roy Disney, alongside an amazing array of talented artists that includes Steven Spielberg, Richard Williams, John Lasseter and Tim Burton, Waking Sleeping Beauty shines a light on Disney animation’s darkest hours, greatest joys and its improbable renaissance.

Waking Sleeping Beauty is a Stone Circle Pictures/Red Shoes Production.

I’m definitely booking my tickets for this this.

Richard sat down with us to discuss his role as the animation director on the film and to answer all of our questions about the animation process on Avatar.  He also gave us a brief back story on his amazing work on The Iron Giant.  You can check out the rest of Richards credits, which include animating Gollum on The Lord of the Rings, by clicking here.  Richard only had a short time to sit down with us and we’d really like to thank him again for being so generous with his time.  We would also like to thank our friend and incredible animator, Marek Kochout for talking Richie in to doing this!

http://www.speakingofanimation.com/2010/03/podcast-avatar-with-richard-baneham/

If you haven’t been to Speaking of Animation, here’s the link. It’s a totally awesome site with full of content like the above.

Confusing principles

March 12, 2010

Alot of new animators often get confused between the meaning of Overlap, Follow-through and Secondary Action. They might sound similar, but they mean different things.
I’ll try to clear this up a bit.

Overlap – Usually used to describe movements motivated by a external source. Example: flag flapping in the wind, feather bobbing on a hat, wrists overlap as the character goes into a point, chest overlaps as a character stands up from a bended position.

The important thing to note here is that none of the above motions is the main movement, and they occur before the main motion finishes, hence – overlap.

Follow-through – This occurs when a motion reach it’s intended position, and then overshoots due to inertia or other forces. Example: A Boxer punching another, upon impact, follows-through the action and continues the swing.

If this sounds similar to ease in/ease out, it is. They’re connected and is often used together just as how Stretch and Squash are also used as a way of doing overlaps and follow-through.

Secondary Actions – When you scratch your nose while talking to someone, the nose scratching is a secondary action. Secondary because it’s not the main action you’re pursuing at the moment (talking is).

This is the crux of good acting, through secondary actions we can see the character’s thought process and personality. A girl nervously twirls her hair as she talks to her teacher, a boss talks to his subordinates while tapping impatiently on his feet.

Hopefully that isn’t too confusing, if I’m not feeling lazy I’ll probably post up some video examples in the coming days. (Edit: I’m feeling lazy)

On Editing – part I

March 10, 2010

Recently I’ve read the excellent book on editing – In The Blink Of An Eye, and came away much enlightened about the considerations and techniques of editing. I’ll share some of those knowledge here –

The Rule of Six

Emotion
Story Rhythm
Eye-Trace
Two-dimensional plane of screen
Three-dimensional space of action

These are to editing as the 12 principles are to animation. They serve the same purpose, a guide to better editing/animation, something to take into consideration while pursing the mastery of technique. The placement of the 6 items on this list is crucial, each of the principles are ranked on this list in order of importance. Story Rhythm is more important then Eye-Trace, just as Emotion is more important then Story Rhythm. The perfect cut would be one that satisfy all 6 principles, in lieu of that, a cut that is truer to the Emotion of the moment should be chosen over a cut that has better Story Rhythm. I’ll explore each of them in greater detail below

Emotion – This is the hardest principle to define and deal with. Yet it is the most important, its the one principle that must be preserved at all costs. It asks a simple question. “How do you want the audience to feel?” At the end of the film the audience will not remember the superb editing or creative cuts, they will remember how they felt. When choosing a cut, ask if it is true to the emotion of the moment. If it rings false, cut it.

Story – This refers to the advancement of the story. This rates second in importance only to Emotion. Cuts that satisfies this criteria advances the story, they move it forward in terms of plot or story. Sometimes a shot fulfills only one or the other of the principles. It might be true to the emotion of the moment, but it does not advance the story. In cases like this, the next principle comes into play.

Rhythm – If the shot occurs at the right “time”, providing proper pacing and is rhythmically interesting, that shot is crucial. These are the kind of shots that control the pacing of the film, it cannot stressed enough how important is pacing to a film. A brilliant story can be marred by poorly paced editing to the point of incoherency.

These three principles are the most important in editing, they also have the synergy to work together in tandem, to the point of exclusion to the rest of the principles. If a shot has the right emotion, advances the story and occurs at the right time, the audience will forgive a disconnect in eye-trace, two-dimensional plane or three-dimensional space. I’ll talk more about the other 3 principles in Part II.

Acting Reference

March 10, 2010

I chanced upon this fantastic site recently, it’s a blog belonging to animator Kyle Kenworthy and it’s chocked full of acting references!

Legend of the Guardians is the latest animated feature by Animal Logic, due out this September.Links to trailer Here.

The film, based on the first three books of Kathryn Lasky’s series, follows Soren (voiced by Jim Sturgess), a young barn owl who is kidnapped by the owls of the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls, or St. Aggie’s. The academy is supposed to be an orphanage, but instead it brainwashes its pupils into becoming soldiers who will ultimately clash with the wise, peaceful owls of Ga’Hoole.

Though the series was aimed at young adults, adult and historical themes run throughout the books. In one book, a speech is based on a World War II speech by Winston Churchill. In two others, battles are based on the Normandy Invasion and the ancient Battle of Thermopylae (which happens to be the subject of Snyder’s 2006 smash 300.)

There’s something about Animal Logic and their films about birds. Still, it looks beautiful, like a storybook in motion. Can’t wait for the release!

Action Sequences

March 3, 2010

Gizmodo recently had this fantastic shooting challenge that got it’s readers to submit pictures of action sequences. It’s an animator’s gold mine!

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