[update. Just so I don’t mislead animation students, I don’t use Jason Ryan’s “2d to 3d workflow” anymore. Instead I do my posing straight into Maya, with preparatory sketches once in a while. The main reason being my inability to draw subtle acting shots]
Yesterday I was talking to an animator friend that had recently converted from 2d animation to 3d. For few minutes, I had been explaining to him why I was making a 2d animation of my pantomime shot before shooting it in 3d but he couldn’t understand why or where I got this idea from. “This workflow is inspired by Jason Ryan” I told him, to which he replied: “but who the * is Jason Ryan?”
Jason Ryan grew up in Ireland, worked for disney for the past 12 years, where he was supervising animator on Chicken Little (Eamonn Butler was the animation supervisor). His last film at Disney was Meet the Robinsons and probably “Enchanted” before accepting a position at Dreamworks.
Before AM I didn’t know who he was either but once in….. Jason Ryan became a regular topic amongst students, especially around class 2 and 3, when we were trying to figure out how to animate a shot. He was only a mentor for 3 classes I think but he was a great source of inspiration to his students and the followings.
There used to be a section on the Animation Mentor forum where students would discuss topics raised during the week lecture or assignment on the “My Mentor” section dedicated to their class.
This section has diseapeared now but at the time Jason Ryan was a mentor, his section grew up to 40 pages!!! 40 pages!! That should tell you how infectious his passion for animation is.
His workflow is strongly influenced by his traditional 2d animation background and I would highly suggest you to check a video he recorded for Digicel
basically what he does is to first rought out his animation on a Cintiq equipped computer or a Tablet PC, using a digital 2d software like PAP, Digicel or TV Paint (my favourite). The final animation is then exported as an image sequence in Maya and will be the base for the posing of the character.
This workflow is very good especially when working in production as it only takes few hours to communicate with your supervisor what you are going for. It would take much more time if you were to reach a similar level of definition in Maya.
Being quicker at this allows for more changes and experimentation.
I also like that very much to fine tune my timing. Playblasting takes few minutes, 2d animating takes much less.
Few more links:
An interview on radiofree.com
Two videos of him at work on Chicken Little (check around 2:07):
Ahhh this makes me want to watch Chicken Little again!