Advice to Graduates

April 26, 2010

From Mark Mayerson’s blog

If you’re not working, keep producing new art. That way, you can revisit studios once a month and have new things to show. That will convince the studio of your commitment. There’s no reason for a studio to see you more than once if your portfolio/reel are exactly the same as last time.

Stay upbeat when talking to people, no matter how discouraged you are. No studio wants to listen to an applicant complain, especially if the studio is struggling to stay in business. Stay enthusiastic and be willing to do whatever they ask, even if it’s not what you really want. There will be lots of time to reposition yourself in the future.

The state of the local industry isn’t too hot at the moment, but from my experience, studios are always on the look out for talents. They’ll grant interviews even if they’re not hiring, just to keep your work and contact on file. That said, timing is equally important. When a studio is hiring, they probably need you _now_, and thus won’t be as picky. The opposite is true if you apply during the “low” part of the production cycle, or when they’re just looking for the last couple of guys to round out their team.

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I have a Master Chief figure lying around, so yesterday I grabbed my iPhone and shot some short sequences of him moving about –


Haahah this is so cool, I’ve never done stop motion with toys before, and I love the results! Maybe I should consider getting one of those spiffy Iron Man figures from Hot Toys..hm

For my next workflow post I’ve decided to do a dance, Napolean Dynamite’s dance to be exact. I’ll be posting my progress in the coming weeks.First off, my video reference, followed by the planning thumbnails.

The original video grabbed off youtube is here.

Followed by my edited clip to fill in the blanks where the camera cuts to the audience. Final length – 34 Seconds

Next are the thumbnails I’ve done as planning for this clip.

Before I started, I never knew how much planning I needed to do! 15 pages later, I’m finally ready to start blocking. Updates to come.

Animation Progression Reels updates every week with a new clip showing the progression of animation from Storyboard to final animation, awesome stuff!

Cloudy is a really great film, underrated in my opinion.

Earlier this week Pajiba reported a rumor that Sony was readying a sequel to the acclaimed Cloudy, based on the second children’s book, Pickles to Pittsburgh. We really hoped this was happening, as we believe Cloudy was one of the most underrated films last year, and easily one of the best animated films even though it was snubbed at the Oscars.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller won’t be directing the second movie, instead they’ll take the role of creative consultants. I don’t know. I really liked the first one and have watched it a couple of times , but the food falling from sky thing has run it’s course. What’s next?

Source: io9

creativeLIVE hosts a bunch of completely free online lessons for artists and programmers, they range from Photography courses to Watercolour courses.

From their Faq:

Q: Are these classes really FREE?

A: Yes, the live presentations are FREE. We support the broadcast of the live classes by recording them and making the recordings available for purchase and download.

Q: How do I watch the live classes?

A: You can watch either via our LIVE feed at http://creativelive.com/live/ or via a GoToWebinar broadcast.
The creativeLIVE link will work for any currently broadcasting class. For GoToWebinar you must enroll using the links on the individual class pages in order to get the GoToWebinar link.

Q: Why can’t I watch for free if I have to missed a class?

A: We love bringing you the live experience for free. We love to learn and share what we’ve learned with others. We’d prefer not to think about money but it does take a lot of time and resources to present these courses each week. It’s the sales of our class recordings that allows us to pay for it all.

Found at Cgtalk

Interview with Kristof Serrand, Supervising Animator
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SVLcCqSoeY

Interview with Gabe Hordos, Supervising Animator
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S52Weimu8Y4

Many more available here!

From the monthly Animation Mentor newsletter:

On April 29, 2010 from 7-8 p.m. PDT, Animation Mentor will be hosting a webinar featuring none other than Pixar animators Victor Navone and Aaron Hartline! The webinar will cover Timing and Spacing, with plenty of insider tips from these two talented animators.

Victor Navone, an animator at Pixar and mentor at Animation Mentor, began his career in the gaming industry as a conception designer and 3D artist and began animating feature films after joining Pixar in 2000. Victor’s memorable feature film credits include Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, WALL-E, Ratatouille, and Toy Story 3. In his spare time, Navone co-directed a series of Cars Toons shorts for the Disney Channel in 2008. He’s also currently working on Cars 2.

Aaron Hartline, also an animator at Pixar and mentor at Animation Mentor, began his career animating monsters and destroying buildings in the gaming industry. He later worked at Big Idea on Veggie Tales while secretly making his own film, Half Pint Heroes. The film grabbed the attention of Blue Sky Studios where Aaron worked as a supervising animator on Ice Age, Robots, and Horton Hears a Who! He now works full-time at Pixar, where his credits include Up and Toy Story 3.

Also imcluded in the newsletter are some tips on Keeping Your Character Alive:

Generally when we animate, we try to keep the animation within two to three MAJOR poses and act within those poses (unless it is an action scene). You find those poses and come up with your other MINOR poses and business that will happen within your MAJOR poses. For example, if a character is seated, and is feeling stressed, he might start to “play with” or absent-mindedly move objects on the table, or rub his hands together. Staying seated, he could look around, and then realize he is too jumpy to just “sit there,” so he stands (major pose number two). He crosses and uncrosses his arms, shifts his weight, lights a cigarette, drops the match, can’t get another one lit, tosses the cigarette, etc…Finally, the character hears the phone ring and leans over to answer it, and hastily hangs it up and leaves (pose number three). Or he sits back down and begins to cry. But during all of this, you are creating interesting, real moments of business, acting within two to three poses.

If you haven’t sign up for the monthly (free) newsletter, sign up now!

This is not a painting.

April 5, 2010

It’s an actual person. Check out the flickr series, Acrylic on Flesh

From the blog of Juan Pablo Bravo. The Hundred Characters Lineup!

Check out his blog, he has other stuff like 50 movie cars

I had to read this twice to make sure I read it right,

The “Coraline” director, who began his animation career at Disney in the late ’70s, has struck an exclusive long-term deal to make stop-motion features for Disney/Pixar.

Disney Animation topper John Lasseter’s decision to bring Selick into the Disney/Pixar fold is another boost for the painstaking hand-crafted technique, while representing expansion beyond strictly computer-animated fare for the company.

I love Coraline, and stop motion has always been something special to me, I’ll totally animate in Stop-motion instead 3D if I could. Which kid didn’t play with their toyswishing they could all come to life?

But I digress, having Selick join Disney/Pixar to make stop-motion films is mind-blowing awesome!

I’ve animated a simple backflip to better illustrate my current (and ever changing) workflow, to put it simply, I got hold of a video reference, did some thumbnails to figure out the key poses, then threw it into Maya for blocking, splining and polishing. (Note: youtube is cutting off the last second of my animation for some strange reason. I’ll have to re-upload them later, or switch to Vimeo)

Video Reference


I downloaded this clip and covert it to .mov format so I can frame through it. Then I watch the clip over and over again taking note of the weight shifts, overall timing and whatever nuances it has.

Planning

I thumbnailed the key poses to get a better sense of the overall action. This step is really important, thumbnailing lets you sift out the “noise” present in all video reference, condensing it down to simple shapes, and in doing it you get a better sense of the poses and body mechanics involved. Don’t get over eager and skip this stage, I cannot emphasize enough how useful this is.

Blocking

I usually work in stepped mode, that is, with stepped default tangents. This allows me to quickly make any changes I need and allows me to keep my focus on the poses. Depending on the animation, sometimes I go down to keying on twos to get the animation to read. I used to rush through this stage, getting into splining as fast as I can, that’s where all the animation takes place right? No. Blocking is animation, and it’s the foundation you build your shot on. Don’t fall into the trap of going “I’ll fix this in splining/polish”

Splining

I hate moving from blocking into splining from blocking. It makes my carefully crafted poses go nuts.

Holy crap. What. Happened.

Thing is, it’s normal for the animation to look a little crap when it goes into splining. Especially in Maya, the default tangents don’t work too good. Now we just need to go into the graph editor and start cleaning up the tangents, all the time keeping a close eye on the resulting animation.  But first, lets work on the hips and the legs. I’ve kept it fairly simple, it’s not final but we’re on the right track, moving along..

Now that that’s done, lets move on to the arms. Again, it’s not final, there’s some weird gimbal or strobbing at certain places but we can fix that later.

Then the head, and we’re done. I didn’t really do a polish pass this time round. Only fixed up some pops and weird gimbals, other then that I’ve left it as it is. It looks ok-ish to me now, so I’m just gonna stop here and move on to another clip 😀 In all it took me about 7 hours(including planning) to get to this stage. I’ll definitely want to do it faster the next time round, hopefully I won’t get too many gimbal issues tripping me up.

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