Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Day!

Today has been very interesting....

Spent my morning off campus sketching people(I needed a break from animating and I've been craving some caricature drawing---not model life drawing). After about 4 pages, I went to the grocery store, came back to campus, chilled and had lunch---it's now around 2 before I set foot in my cube. Working on a close-up shot of Pilot(the cat), lots of in-betweens, slow actions, and subtle eye stuff. Head over to the pencil test machine to test the stack---shoot it, about to hit play---POWER OUTAGE! Somehow the city's power is out or something, at least the entire campus has been hit(according to some students the nearby Starbucks is alright though, so at least that's functional-haha). I pity everybody that came out of the computer labs---lots of painful cries and stories of the casualties involving promising 3D animation or Photoshop artwork. Anyways, it's been different, some people grabbed their discs and headed outside to go animate(or not), I still have some decent light so I can now proudly state that indeed the statement: traditional animation has at least one advantage over 3D----you can animate even when the power is out! What a weird Friday----until my life is a little more illuminated--over and out!

Edit: At 10:18pm. The power is back! After roughly 6 hours of down time. I'll do a post later that'll chronicle the adventure involving badmitton, exploring haunted areas, and Risk. With pictures....

Stop! The Devil....from doing bad things?

Traditional class was pretty sweet...Mike went into excruciating detail about Pose-to-Pose animation vs. his breakdown earlier of straight ahead. He shared a clip similar to this one I found on YouTube(Mike's was entirely rough though, no cleanup) and thought I'd pass it on. I'm at a stage right now where I need some inspiration--this helped along with a dose of Les Triplettes de Belleville. Here's something I found awhile ago for Triplettes, love that dog--he's so brilliant!

Iron Giant Scene


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Almost March

March is right around the corner....7 scenes to go...53 days until films are due. Going pretty well, encountering a couple more troublesome scenes, but otherwise I should have all of my animation done by spring break---then onto compositing, alpha channeling each drawing, and music. It's also a whopping 80 degrees outside...crazy! Not a cloud in the sky too...

One of the directors of Mulan, Tony Bancroft, came on Tuesday and the 3D teacher let us go to the lecture. It was a pretty cool lecture, he shared several never-before seen roughs from the film which was inspiring to see. Material included several version of the opening sequence and then how to introduce the unique personality of Mulan. One sequence was rough animation(the scene where Mulan changes into her Father's uniform, cuts her hair, and runs off) but the rest were animatic storyboards(Chris Sanders really helped develop how Mulan was introduced and developed her character a lot). He talked briefly about what it's like to be a supervising animator and then also an animation director.

Last night we(the students--not just freshmen either) had a going-away party for our Story teacher, Kindregan. He's off to Canada to work in the game industry for a bit. We attacked him with silly string, feathered hats, pink balloons/streamers, followed by champagne, pizza, and cake. He was pretty shocked and once he "recovered"(aka. freed himself from the inches of neon silly string) he told us entertaining stories which he made up off the top of his head while people shouted ideas to him. It was bittersweet, he's one of my favorite teachers here and has had a huge impact on how my film is going(along with a handful of other people). He insists everyone keeps in contact with him and he's still grading us, but he's going to be missed by the department.

Alright well, I have class in 10 minutes, probably should head on over. Well another weekend ahead of me and time to confront this stubborn scene head on and conquer the the mean time here's Pinocchio because I love watching that movie as a source of inspiration(my trad. anim. teacher shows clips from this movie all the time):

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Walk the Walk

And Maya only crashed twice! I love you Maya....I stopped working on this after the second crash.

Quick walk cycle as I get back in the groove with animating Lt. Dan. He walks very nicely to the song, "All things just keep getting better" by Widelife. haha. I plan on doing more so stay tuned...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

There's no business like show business...

So the Oscars are tonight and so a few caricatures are at hand:

Best Actor category was the one I went for. I didn't go for the actual actor, more for the character they played, so the guys include: George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy-Lee Jones, Viggo Mortensen, and Johnny Depp. Just done for sheer fun and practice(that background was thrown in there in 2 seconds flat just because I didn't want white). I've only seen one of these movies that's nominated(bet you can guess or else I'll give ya a shave!), but a lot of people around here are voting for "There Will be Blood." Anyhow, time to go make some dinner and work on critical studies homework.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dreamworks Guest Lecture

Dreamworks came tonight and gave a lecture on Story and also discussed their story trainee program(only offered to graduating students). So to start things off Dave Pimentel was at CalArts in the early nineties, went onto Disney as an animator(up until Home on the Range), and is now at Dreamworks where he's worked on several of their features, but switched to story instead of animation. He's now the Head of Story on an upcoming project called "How to Train your Dragon" and he's very excited about how it's coming. He structured the lecture around what he called, "The 5 Points of Great Storytelling":

1) Great Character: Every great character has flaws and is very relateable. The audience wants to like them and watch their story. And on a side note, not always under serious circumstances. You need to draw your audience in.
In order to achieve a great character you need to ask yourself the following questions constantly:
-What is the character doing?
-Who is around them? Secondary characters always have some kind of impact on the main character.
-What kind of attitude does the main character have?
-Why are they in their situation?
-How do they feel about it?
-Is there a twist as to who's who or what your character is?
-How do you lead the audience into your story?
He then showed us several examples from various films that showed how they answered all of these questions. Films included-Full Metal Jacket, Some like it Hot, Cast Away, and Happy Gilmore.

2) Great Setups: What's going to happen to the character. Don't just give your story away, allow your audience to guess and put the facts togethers. Every story has a great setup and these bits of information lead the audience down the path of the character's life. They're like sign posts telling the character and audience to watch out or to get ready. Character arcs can be introduced through these setups. The film clip he showed was from Iron Giant when Hogarth is sharing various comic books with the Giant while they're both inside the barn. The setup here is the "Superman" identity and the phrase, "You are who you chose to be."

Next up,
These were together because they go hand in hand. Both drive the story. One cannot exist without the other. Conflict is opposing forces against a character. Tension is the strain or result of the conflict. Story moves through conflict. Thrusts the story forward-a quick example he describe was from Star Wars how Vader kidnaps the princess--if these events hadn't taken place than Luke and co. would have never gone anywhere, everything would have come to a standstill-certainly no conflict or tension. Tension keeps the story interesting and keeps the audience guessing "What's next?" Often times this brings up the scenario where the character might be ahead of the audience(Momento for example) or where the audience is ahead of the main character. Dave Pimentel then shared the clip from The Incredibles when Helen is approaching the island in her jet. That entire sequence is a great example of this. The sequence is chalk full of conflict and tension--even tiny moments, like when Helen is debating about changing into her super-suit holds some kind of conflict. Overall, this sequence was setup by everyone involved to not be easy. Helen just doesn't arrive peacefully onto the island, instead she discovers her kids snuck aboard and later, missals attack the plane while Mr. Incredible helplessly listens to the radio in Syndrome's 'prison'! Basically bringing up the concept that an action, etc. that's too easy=boring to viewers. The other film clip he showed was from The Apartment where the main character is heading up to the boss thinking he's getting a promotion, after facing the boss he realizes that he's in trouble, but in the end there's a twist when the boss offers the trade---Theater tickets for the main character's apartment keys.

And, finally:
5) Payoffs: Every story has them. They can come in positive and negative forms and within the story as well as in the ending. The audience is always expecting a payoff during the movie. They want justice! If you don't, the movie will fizzle and your audience will burn you alive! The film example he shared was again from the Iron Giant, at the end when the army is basically attacking the Giant and then the Giant sacrificing himself for the town..."Superman" choice over "Atomo." The other example he showed was the ending tension in Se7en between the two detectives and the criminal after Morgan Freeman opens the package.

That was the lecture pretty much. It was a good reminder of the lecture Mark Andrews gave at the beginning of the school year and it was cool fitting my film into these questions and points. Anyways, the second talk afterwards was really applied towards the students that were graduating this year and honestly I am impressed. At least for the story trainee program(they didn't talk about the animation department) it sounded like a lot of fun. You get to work on projects they give you from a "vault" that holds the companies rejected ideas. You get this script, re-work a couple sequences, and then pitch your sequences to all of the Directors, Producers, Heads of Story, etc. of Dreamworks at the end of your 24-week job-among other duties like helping on an actual production. Dreamworks also hosts lots of workshops for the artists and everyone who came sounded very enthusiastic about the future projects at Dreamworks(they're really aiming to re-focus the company and work on stronger films that are not that 'Shrek-like' formula-even though they are doing more Shrek sequels.) Well, I'm off to go thumbnail out a scene or two for my film since I get to start animating the second half of my film tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The BIG 100!

This post marks the point where I've made 100 posts--so to celebrate hitting the triple digits here's a quick memory sketch of an event that took place while I was standing in line at the local Vons on Monday. There was a mom and two kids(two brothers no older than 8) standing in front of me buying things for a last minute birthday party(a small balloon on a stick, a card, and then a magazine*for the mom I presume*) and then this scene took place where the kids started mimicking Davy Jones and repeating "Do you fear death?" to a very worn-out audience(the mom) before one of the boys proceeded to try and climb the counter. Had to sketch it once I got back to the dorm.

On a side note: Dave Pimentel from Dreamworks is coming on Friday to give a guest lecture. Should be interesting--he has a blog too so until then time to get back to working on the film!

Keeping the dust at bay

Quick updates for the blog:

We had a guest lecture this past Friday: Jim Capobianco came and gave a talk on his short "Your Friend the Rat". He showed the various stages that were involved and the combination of pencil/paper animation, stop motion, 3D animation, and then After Effects work. It was really interesting. He would continually say how cool it was to actually have traditional animation at Pixar and how baffled some employees were by the sound of flipping paper! He showed some fantastic rough animation done by the animators on the short and shared some entertaining stories about his time at CalArts, Disney(for instance, he storyboarded/developed the sequence in The Lion King where Mufasa tells Simba about the great kings of the past being the stars, and how they will always guide/watch him), and Pixar(he's been at Pixar since A Bug's Life and has worked on every film except The Incredibles and Cars).

The rest of the weekend was spent on my film. Part of it was spent animating my last scene before being halfway done---I'm thrilled with how it's coming together and am eager to dive into the next half! The rest of my time was spent in the new found world of After Effects. It's been a fun learning experience and I'm warming up to the program. It's been really interesting finding a balance between animating and everything else that goes into making a film. I personally find it very easy to dedicate every hour of the day animating and not face the aspects of scanning, editing, compositing. So far it's working out--still a few quirks to work out, but at this rate the bulk of my animation will be done by Spring Break! The rest of the student body is also diving into animating, it's great hearing the flipping of animation paper all hours of the day as students roll sheets of animation paper between their fingers.

And here's a random doodle of something that's not a cat or an old man in a pilot uniform!

Well, off to bed---lots of work to do tomorrow!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Here's something super cute to celebrate the infamous V-day!

Monday, February 11, 2008

One very Animated Post

For me personally, I love seeing the work behind any animation(always an inspiration to me) from thumbnails, storyboards, animatic, rough animation, to the finished product so I thought it'd be fun to share how I'm animating my film, and animate in general(traditional paper and pencil, 3D is a bit different, but a lot the basics remain). Today I animated a very short 2 second scene of my character Ollie digging in a corner, not too technical compared to previous scenes involving Ollie, but it's a good glimpse into how I approach a scene--I know other people work in completely different ways and really everybody develops their own approach to animating, I know I invent new ways to approach it but usually come back to this way of working, just depends on what a scene calls for.

I start with looking at my animatic/storyboards to see how a scene will play out(length, any acting opportunities, need to consider music emphasis*like falling or a specific reaction that is helped with my music choice*). In this example, it was one board and minimal action(this is a slightly older board, he's been moved over more and that table leg isn't there):

I then open my sketchbook and begin to play around with the scene, how a character might act, move, etc. All very brief almost stick-man-esque thumbnails---I spend roughly 5 seconds on each little drawing(more often less than that). I'm only focused on the movement, I've had plenty of opportunities to work-out Ollie's design etc. No pretty drawings during this process. On this particular bit, I played around with how Ollie might dig around, how his arms might throw stuff, etc. At one point I "YouTubed" Frisbees and dogs digging in holes for brief reference along with "acting" out how my arm moves when I throw something behind me(when I thumbnailed I drew him facing the opposite way*thought it might work better*, when I then looked at my layout I realized it still worked a lot better having him facing the original way):

From there I start animating. The video below shows my entire process(looped a few times) so I'll just describe it now. I start with my key poses, in this case my primary action is all in the arms so I focus on nailing the timing down on this particular pass, I don't worry about keeping Ollie consistent and in place for the entire sequence, I draw him once to know where he is and then proceeded to focus on his arms. After I rough in my first pass(this particular version has an ending part where he pushes a stack of books away, but I had to cut it due to time constraints), I look at it and make notes of how long I'm holding each drawing, realize what's working and what's not(Like I mentioned earlier--cutting that ending push scene, so he's just digging around) and then head back to the cube and start smoothing the arm action out, test this pass, again watching it carefully and adjusting my timing as needed before diving into my third pass. This is where I worry about the rest of Ollie(planned straight-ahead animation), I work on all of his secondary actions(hips, head, collar fluff, feet, etc.) and also do any necessary cleanup work(like adding his goggles, line on his pants, etc.) before pencil testing it again and at least for just Ollie, calling it good. For this scene I only had 3 passes, however I have other scenes that required more passes or even re-doing sections of animation, so how quickly I finish a scene depends on how demanding the acting/movement, etc. is. While I finished this section today, I recently had another scene with Ollie that took me a good week to complete. I will be adding effects animation and of course there's a background, but you'll get to see all of that extra fluff in April when I finish my entire film.

Anyways, hope you enjoyed this little film preview. :) Not the most flattering scene for Ollie, but there's plenty of other shots that make up for this one. haha. Well time to go plan out my next 3D project....

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Slicin' good birthday card

Happy Birthday Mom! =)

To everyone else: I have a very "animated" post coming up next, just have to remember to bring my camera to the ol' cube.;) Also, as a film update: I'm roughly 30 seconds into my animation now... 8 scenes under my belt and by the end of the month I'm aiming to have the first half of my film done. The weeks are speeding by, it only felt like yesterday was Monday(Feb. 4th) days are literally either spent in a classroom or in my cube animating---pretty awesome, but it's scary how fast time flies.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

3D animation

For my 3D animation class. Had to make a lamp jump and try to give it story. The cave and ending "surprise" were modeled by me. The lamp was made by our teacher for us to use. And on an end note: Speakers are a must. :)

So yeah, onto the next can't be Wednesday already!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Class Assignment

Before Photoshop:

After Photoshop:

The ol' Re-BUG-lican debate where antennas will fly. It's actually for my perspective class and if you look closely enough you'll notice the lovely mold growing on the "curtain" cheese.

Been busy with my film, 3D animation project(a certain theme song is perpetually stuck in my head and it'll be in yours in a few days. ;)), and preparing for the Freshmen portfolio reviews(for scholarship money and to track our progress. Info is a little vague right now, but I'll write something up about this in about a week). Otherwise, not much else....days are flying by and everyone is scrambling to start animating on their films. I can already tell that April/March are going to be NUTS!