Well since some of my work has gone public with the release of the Spare Parts trailer, why not create a new temporary game showreel!? ;-)
You will find it in the Showreel section of my blog
No motion capture data was harmed in the making of that video.
This game and the team I am working with are awesome. I have only been in the game industry for few years but making a downloadable XBLA/PSN game is probably the closest thing to what it was back in the mid 80s/90s. Unlike the 70 and upward teams most games require nowadays, in a project of that size, every team member can truly participate to the direction of the game.
All the character animation has been done by Neil, my lead animator, and myself.
E3 2010 just finished. Microsoft stole the show with the announcement of Kinect, the newly renamed Natal system, and a slim version of the Xbox but for the time being, my 2010 favourite games are pretty much all for the WII. Could companies bring more cartoony games to next gen consoles?!
Here are this year’s announcement.
Donkey Kong Country returns. Donkey Kong country is the reason I decided to work in games and join Rare. I fulfilled part of my dream and managed to work on Banjo Kazooie but I still have to work on Donkey Kong country. Well looks like it could happen!
Rayman origins. 2d!!!!! Love it!!!!
Raving Rabbids. No game play visible here but it still sounds very promising
Update May 08 2013/ I just installed version 18.104.22.168 and I am delighted to say that H264 files now loop but there is a big issue for us animators….. The audio feedback doesn’t work anymore when step framing!
Right let’s see if I have an older version on my hard drive.
If you don’t know about KMPlayer, you probably think that VLC IS the best player ever. Very wrong! VLC is alright, but KMPlayer is much better, especially if you happen to be an animator.
KMP is a Korean Windows Media player on Steroids. It has thousands of features but for animators, the ones that makes it standout are the following:
– Opens and play XVID/Divx footage frame by frame, forward and backward …. with sound feedback. Except Premiere, do you know any player that does that? This function alone makes it perfectly suited for troubleshooting lipsync.
– Plays H264 quicktimes
– Setup In and out points and loop between the two (A-B function)
– Takes automatic screenshots (great for generating colorscripts)
– Hotkeys that make sense! Space bar to toggle the playback, 1 to play in half size, 2 original and 3 double size.
– You can autohide the interface so only the video is visible
– You can loads as many videos as you want and have them all playing. Great to pretend you are the master of the univers.
I made a walkthrough as a PDF file. Check it out:
Direct download link
Some time ago, my friend Annes sent me a link to a different Life Drawing class that I would possibly enjoy more than the one I am currently attending and everything finally made sense.
In life drawing, there seem to be a predominant “school of thought” that believes in learning by pure academic observation. That “London Atelier of Representational Art” (LARA) in Clapham Junction, even goes to the extreme of forcing you to draw using a “Sight-size method”. As they describe it, here is how it works:
“the artist first sets a vantage point where the subject and the drawing surface appear to be the same size. Then, using a variety of measuring tools – which can include strings, sticks, mirrors, levels, and plumb-bobs – the artist draws the subject so that, when viewed from the set vantage point, the drawing and the subject have exactly the same dimensions.”
I think “academic observation” is very valuable when drawing from the model but as Glenn Villpu implies it in his theory and instructional material. This is just, one tool!
How long is it going to take you to finally be able to work as an animator, illustrator, storyboard artist and draw from imagination then? Years and years and years and years!
Why not instead, add more tools to your toolset. Why no try to understand the underlying structure of the figure? What about learning proportions and the different parts of the skeleton but also the few muscles that shape the surface of the skin? How to represent the figure in simple geometric shapes?
What about learning … the Structure!
The big problem with the “Academic observation” approach is that you only discover the elements of the structure through experiencing them, this can take a very long time. It is what I would call “brute force life drawing” teaching. But there is a smarter way!
K. Anders Ericsson, Ralf Th. Krampe, and Clemens Tesch-Romer published a great paper a while ago, about “the Role of deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance”. The paper is a bit dry so you would be forgiven to skip to something a bit more approachable and that great article from CNN called “The secret of greatness”.
What those articles try to demonstrate is the importance of having a plan when learning and focus your practice on specific areas. This is what they call “Deliberate practice“. “Brute force” learning is great but it is definitely not the deliberate practice sort of approach.
Where can we learn about structure? well Glenn Villpu is the obvious start, then all the AWESOME blogs, Dreamworks storyboard artist and life drawing teacher, Rad Sechrist, is part of!
Reading those blogs and learning what is on display should help you improve tenfolds!
I would also recommend Andrew Loomis pdfs as a start actually and this great 1890 book by french Dr Paul Richer
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k205846w.planchecontact.r=richer.f145.langEN where he shows the relationship of the head height to the rest of the body.
To finish this post, here are my two last drawings from my thursday class:
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EA just announced what appears to be a very fun XBLA, PSN game!
“Electronic Arts has announced a new tiny action-adventure game called Spare Parts, to be released during Winter 2010 on Xbox Live and PSN. Your goal is to repair your spaceship to escape from an unfriendly planet. Therefore you can upgrade your robot with collected items and a friend of yours can join the game to help you in co-op mode.”
Would a video be following very soon?
Alright, here is a quick but long-winded post ;-)
The animation business is full of experts. Film critics, animators and buddying film makers, everybody seems to know the secret to success and still they can’t explain the failure of Sony to break the $300 million mark or the poor box office performance of Hayao Miyazaki’s features and other 2d movies.
For a start, here is the box office international gross of few movies according to Boxofficemojo.com
Cloudy with a chance of Meatball $235,356,527
Surfs up $149,044,513
Open season $197,309,027
Planet 51 $105,194,415
The Princess and the frog $267,007,809
Spirited Away $274,925,095
The Triplette of Belleville $14,776,760
Isn’t this shocking? “Triplets of Belleville” was nominated for 2 oscars and didn’t even recover its costs! “Spirited away” was an Academy award winner and hardly broke even.
Some people would argue that those two movies didn’t have any marketing. I might agree for “Spirited away” but that still doesn’t explain the poor performance of Sony’s animated feature. Don’t you think that the studio who made the Spiderman movies knows a thing or two about marketing?
Alright, I am an animator and buddying film maker so like everyone else I also have an expert opinion you can trust ! ;-)
Story is very important but many more factors come into effect to explain how well a movie will do.
1 – Production value
2 – Originality
3 – Mass appeal
4 – Legacy and credibility
5 – Release date
6 – Forget about the story!
7 – Sequels
1 – Production value
Personally when a Pixar movie comes out, I don’t even need to watch the trailer or hear what the critics will say, I immediately book my ticket and buy the Bluray movie as soon as it is available. Why? Because of the production values. I can trust Pixar to deliver everything I enjoy when watching an animated feature.
(Shrek vs Hoodwincked, Madagascar vs The Wild ….)
2 – Originality
Imagine a movie about Surfing Penguins (Surfs Up) coming out 6 month after some Dancing Penguins (Happy feet)? What about a story about Rats and Mice (Tale of Despereaux), one year after Ratatouille? This is a recipe for failure.
3 – Mass appeal
No matter how much money you are going to poor into the marketing of that subtitled black and white franco/iranian arty animated feature, Persepolis is a “niche” movie that will never attract the masses.
4 – Legacy and credibility
Why do you think studio feel the need to tell you that this new movie is from the creators of “Finding Nemo”, “Shrek”, “Ice Age”?
Ask your uncle, niece, someone around you not related to the animation industry, they will immediately recognize those names and be more inclined to see that newly advertised movie than the one from that unknown spanish studio, well, provided that unknown animation studio is actually named. I still haven’t seen a mention of Mac Guff or Illion studio on the trailers of “Despicable Me” or “Planet 51”.
5 – Release date
How well do you think a movie from an unknown foreign studio will do if it comes out at the same time as a production from Dreamworks or Pixar? Planet 51 and Astroboy came out at the same time as Dreamworks “How to train your dragon” and both studios went bust or are about to. Family have a limited budget for entertainment and with Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks aiming at 2 releases per year, this doesn’t leave much room for challengers.
6 – Forget about the story
I won’t dwell onto that one, I am still angry to have paid close to £20 to see this at the Imax. “Avatar” had the thinnest story plot ever, the most blandest characters and still fared way better at the box office than any more intricate stories.
7 – Sequels
And here is what I was getting at. Strong intellectual properties (IP).
You thought people were fed up with Shrek? Well I have some news for you, with the release of Shrek 4 this month, Dreamworks has once again scored a home run.
Shrek 4 just came out 3 weeks ago and already scored $254,055,338 worldwide….. $254,055,338 is pretty much what “Princess and the frog” did in its entire release and if I remember correctly, this is exactly what “Avatar” did in the same amount of time before climbing above $2 billions! Don’t you think Dreamworks should start working on Shrek 5 now? So far, Shrek has generated close to $3 billions, isn’t that a strong IP? No wonder, Dreamworks treats its employees so well.
What about Ice Age 3, any idea how much money Universal/Blue Sky made? $884,784,626.
This is more than any Pixar movie. “Finding Nemo” is bit behind at $867,893,978
Well now that Pixar is not bound to a similar Co-Production agreement they signed with Disney in 1997 what would stop them and why do you think they are now in a hurry to release Toy Story 3, Cars 2, Monsters Inc2? This has nothing to do with the fact that Disney bought them but more to do with my secret of animation success, the magic of IP.
Until a european studio can find the money to fund not only a first movie but also its sequel, they will be bound to failure.
Despicable me 4th trailer
I don’t think I ever posted about this.
I am not a fan of mocap at all and never watched “Happy feet” but Animal Logic is doing an amazing work on that new feature “Legends of the Guardians”.
Just for the cinematography and because owls are the coolest birds ever I am definitely going to see that movie and even buy the Bluray disc!
Some time ago, I found a Czech teaser for a gorgeous and whimsical movie mixing live action and puppetry, and was blown away by the visual experience. Unfortunately everything was in Czech so I couldn’t understand what this was about until they finally added some english subtitles and created a website.
When asthmatic, six-year-old ONDRA is forced to throw away his scruffy, sawdust-stuffed old teddy bear, KOOKY, he prays for the safe return of his furry friend. Soon afterwards, across town, Kooky is about to be crushed in a rubbish dump when he suddenly comes to life, making his escape into a mysterious forest. The naïve, cuddly Kooky needs help to survive amongst the rough-and-ready creatures of the forest and he finds it when he meets the crotchety forest guardian HERGOT. Hergot is in charge of watching over the forest, but he has his enemies too – the malevolent NIGHTSHADE plans to take over the forest, by proving that the short-sighted but good-hearted Hergot is not up to the job of guardian.
There is a new trailer but I prefer the previous one. It is just a bit more mysterious and quirky and the editing is also a bit funnier without revealing too much.
If you love Tim Burton and Jim Henson, this movie is for you!
“These flambéed rabbit droppings are delicious”
They have a Youtube channel where you will find 3 “Behind the scenes” videos showing how they made the movie. All the videos are in HD but in Czech unfortunately.
ahhhhhh and maybe it is time to also post that also great Czech stop motion TV series “Pat a Mat”.
Great funny animation, I should post about them very soon.
Here is what some of my coworkers are busy making. Looking pretty sweet to me!