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Breaking the fourth wall

Posted on July 3, 2020  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Animation, Education

While watching that fun video, I thought about the “Breaking the fourth wall” concept.

As noted on the AnimC Pro Tips few month ago, you always want to avoid the character looking straight at the camera.

To me the most believable characters in that video are the ones that just, “live their life”.

The “hot grip” was okay as it was just the introduction to the skit but as soon as the “Crafty” looked at the camera, this took me away from my “voyeuristic” experience and I immediately became aware I was watching an actor performing for the camera rather than actual characters evolving in their natural habitat.

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Technically inclined animators

Posted on June 13, 2020  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Animation

Yes animators can switch 3d software after a bit of training but there is no way an animator can be proficient in Maya, 3dsmax, AND Blender, when I would highly recommend to gain software specific knowledge, especially if you work in a small production or at a studio with no animation production experience.

Back in 2014, I joined Doodle Productions for the production of “Messy the Monster” season 01.

The company came from Architecture 3d visualisation so we had to use 3dsmax when most animators were Maya users. It didn’t take too long for the animators to get acquainted with 3dsmax as we used regular Euler based rigs and not 3dsmax’s proprietary “Character studio” (“biped”).

One issue we faced though, was the fact that we only had one rigger so it was close to impossible to get additional features and after all, there is no way a character TD can anticipate all the needs of the animators. Most of the time, I wouldn’t even bother and added the missing features myself.

In the following shot, the prop had absolutely no rig. I went ahead and added a bend deformer to make the motion of the trumpet look a bit more smooth, and a “lattice” deformer to visually convey the sound of the trumpet.

On that show, “Messy”, the main character, had two fluffy ears and a massive tail with no dynamics. At a quota of 6 to 8 seconds a day in 3dsmax, most animators gave up on animating those appendages which looked very jarring. Instead, the most technically inclined animators started using a script to simulate dynamics as we felt it was a good compromise to soften the stiff pose to pose look.

The script helped massively but like most simulations, the result needed some additional work to art direct the result and get the tail to resolve in Messy’s question mark trademark posing.

6 years later, I am still mesmerized by the tail animation and if you are curious enough and browse other animators showreels, you will quickly see the difference with shots where no simulation was used.

Don’t forget to read this article about David Gibson’s fantastic use of deformers on the first opus of Sony’s “Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs”.

Thanks for reading.

Ton Roosendaal, Blender philosophy

Posted on June 7, 2020  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Animation, Education

Being my professional workhose since 2007, I have been naturally promoting Autodesk Maya on this blog, with some occasional foreays into Blender when enraged at the price of Maya’s license/subscriptions, then back to Maya when Autodesk introduced the free “Maya and Autodesk softwares for Displaced professionals” back in 2012. to support professionals during challenging times.

That scheme gradually disappeared without much noise and recently Autodesk introduced various options on top of the classic educational subscriptions.

Currently, you can get Maya LT, a 300 dollars a year cut down version of Maya that unfortunately doesn’t allow you to run most of the free animation rigs available on the market so for animators who want to focus on character performance this is a no-go. Python is not available either when everybody in the industry uses Python and scripts like AnimBot or any Phython scripts won’t run on it. Rendering is not possible, dynamics are not available, referencing is missing….

Then in some selected countries, you might have access to Maya Indy which is the full feature Maya, for “artists earning under $100,000/year in revenue.” This would perfectly cover hobbyist living in those 5 countries if only there wasn’t a catch! So what is the catch? The catch is, that this scheme is only valid for … one year .. then your subscriptions automatically gets renewed at 250 a month ;-)

With my inclination for education and support for struggling populations in the light of the murder of George Floyd, I just can’t continue predominantly posting articles related to Maya.

“Learning 3d at home is a way for modest populations and kids, to potentially gain access to employment and revenue streams”

Learning 3d at home is a way for modest populations and kids, to potentially gain access to employment and revenue streams, outside of expensive institutions and without incurring lifetime debts or adopting piracy habits.

Sorry, that’s a long winded introduction to finally explain that I will start covering Blender more and more on this blog ;-)

This first Blender post is a two years old video but a major one as Blender founder Ton Roosendaal, will cover the history of Blender, its philosophy, and its challenges with some interesting comparison with Autodesk and Zbrush.

I never dug too deep into Blender in the past as the interface and the Right Mouse Button (RMB) slection really annoyed me. Unlike some other software creators (TV Paint, Zbrush…), they realised that they shouldn’t force users to their philosophy and accept that some user interaction have now become standard, the left mouse click (LMB) for selection for example.

There are plenty of interesting bits in that video and 1 hour into it, Ton reckons there are just below 20/35k paying Maya customers and less that 20 developers working on it. This could explain why we get so many half baked features every releases and makes me wonder how many companies might be using pirate copies.

If you are in a hurry, Andrew Price was nice enough to include timecodes in the video description.

Enjoy

Related posts:

Patrick Osborn FX Guide interview

Posted on May 10, 2020  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Animation, Education

Being mostly interested in Animated Features and Animated TV series, I don’t visit FX Guide much but I just found a series of interesting interview I will be posting in the next few days.

Here is a very interesting one with Disney “Feast” director Patrick Osborne where he goes into a bit more details about the unique visuals of his short film.

Via : FX Guide

The humbling encounters

Posted on May 4, 2020  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Animation, Education

Nik Ranieri

Once in a while in your career or just even at the start of your studies you will meet some unique individuals that will feed your self-doubts.

Whilst studying at Animation Mentor back in 2006, I was marveling at the work of several students that eventually became CG animation superstars, then later during my animation career, I came across few profiles that could animate three times better and three times faster than I could, so I just kept at it, with the belief that it might take me longer, before eventually succeeding.

If it is not just procrastination stirring us away from our goals, some of us just need to work harder to succeed.

Do you think Nik Ranieri gave up animation when he first came across 21 years old James Baxter while working on Roger Rabbit?

Pretty close but Nik Ranieri kept pushing and like Baxter, he ended up also, writing his name on Disney’s history books!

James Baxter line tests

Listen to this fun Nik Ranieri’s recollection of that encounter in the third part of an other memorable Animation Podcast interview.

I am posting a direct link to the interview as the libsyn link in the interview page is now broken, the main page works though or click below.

Direct link to the podcast:
http://animationpodcast.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/AP_2005_09_05.mp3

Related posts:

Character turns made easy

Posted on April 27, 2020  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Character design, Education, Portfolio

As I was doing it for myself, I thought I could share how I go about turning my designs.

If you are having trouble making your designs “turn”, here is a simple trick that might help you. Click on the pictures to zoom in.

Step 01
Step 01
Step 02
Step 02
Step 03
Step 03
Step 4a
Step 4a
 Step 4b
Step 4b
Step 5a
Step 5a
Step 5b
Step 5b

And here is a more advanced character turnaround demo by the great guys at Bam Animation

Disney CG “Robin Hood”

Posted on April 12, 2020  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Animation

Disney just announced a Disney+ exclusive feature and I know exactly what I would like it to look like! ;-)

Wouldn’t you want to see Zootopia’s Nick Wilde taking on the lead of the 1973’s “Robin Hood” remake? I do!

‘He died in the war to save people like you’

Posted on March 25, 2020  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Acting

I was watching this great documentary about British comedian Marty Feldman this afternoon. Too bad he died so early. A great talkative Buster Keaton.

Make your career bulletproof

Posted on March 11, 2020  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Animation

If you want to know more about Nathan Fowkes eyepatch, here is the story.

Are you really sure you want to go freelancing now? I like my paychecks personally.

Fostering intellectual openness

Posted on March 10, 2020  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Animation, Education

Ed Catmull 2008 Siggraph Keynote

Back in 2008, I was privileged to attend Ed Catmull’s keynote at Siggraph as a Microsoft/Rare representative.

During his talk, Ed Catmull looked back at the mistakes Pixar did in its early years and the secrecy surrounding their technologies was one of them.

Instead he explained, everyone would benefit if studios became more open about their projects and technologies.

Fast forward to 2020, Ed Catmull stayed true to his words and everyone is now fully acquainted with Disney’s Ptex and other Pixar’s USD but did you know that Blue Sky and Dreamworks have also embraced the idea of sharing their ideas?

Few days ago, I shared an old article from the Blue Sky’s tech blog on Linkedin and I was astonished by the success it received. In the space of few days, my post, received a little bit less than 3.5k views on a blog post I had assumed everyone had already read and no, the article became viral.

ChopRig system

Most animation related websites are too mainstream those days and not technology focused enough so it is easy to fall out of the loop. When using a 3d software, yes you can pretend you are working like a 2d animator but realistically, you are more like the pilot of a fighter plane and need to keep an eye on your memory use, processes and autosaves.

For anyone wanting to stay up to date for at least what the main Feature animation studios are doing, I would highly recommend to bookmark the following links and keep an eye on what is being discussed.

Blue Sky tech blog

The Blue Sky tech blog is a fairly new one and I read some really interesting articles there, one of them regarding the gamification of Quality Checks (Introducing achievements into QC).

Blue Sky technology

Disney papers and talks

This is the historical animated feature tech website that goes all the way back to 2009.

Last year’s “Optimizing rig manipulation with GPU and parallel evaluation” Siggraph paper doesn’t appear though. It will eventually I am sure so use the link just above to read an abstract and watch the accompanying video.

Dreamworks research and development:

This is the Dreamworks treasure cove. Loads of information about their proprietary software and other tech.

Pixar research

Where it all started!

I hope this is useful to you. Don’t hesitate to share.

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