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Pick my brain…with a moustache

Posted on September 8, 2017 
Filed Under Animation, Animation Mentor, Education | Leave a Comment

Despite all the great  online animation trainings available those days, I feel there is still space for a more individual approach to the animation education in order to answer the specific needs of students or junior animators so I decided to resurrect the “Pick My Brain” mentoring program with the help of several “new brains”.

Go check out the newly redesigned website, it is shaping up nicely.

Pick-My-Brain-with-a-Moustache-logo

Pick my brain with a moustache

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Local Eyes vs World Eyes

Posted on June 12, 2017 
Filed Under Acting, Animation, Animation Mentor, Education | Leave a Comment

world_local_eyes

Animation rigs normally offer two options when animating eyes: “world space” or “local space”.

“World space” allows you to lock the eyes in a specific world location, and pose your character without having to worry about the correct eyes direction. That kind of space sounds ideal when animating a two character shot as the aim of the eyes will not move.

Instead, “Local eyes” allows you to lock the eyes in relation to the head so when rotating the head, the eyes will automatically follow the head movement which sounds … pretty useless and unrealistic doesn’t it?

Throughout Animation Mentor, I was a “world space eyes” animator. I didn’t understand why anyone would use Local Space but during a Q&A, AM superstar graduate Mike Stern who had already landed a job at Dreamworks, planted a seed in my brain when he mentioned he was using Local Eyes rather than World and from that day on, I knew I would need to get more experience with Local Eyes and see what advantage this method would bring.

Having worked in games mostly in my early career, I never really got a chance to do much acting, let alone testing eyes parent spacing. Going into TV series and taking part in AnimSquad finally allowed me the opportunity to get more familiar with the two methods and I would now mostly animate eyes in Local Space.

“World Space” allows you to accurately lock the eyes in a specific direction which seems great at first but the eyes often end up looking totally disconnected from the head and requiring just as much finessing than Local Eyes.

People might get angry at me as this is not what is normally done in education but sometime ago I had found a great example of unsuccessful eyes animation that clearly showed the use of World Space Eyes instead of Local Eyes and it is time to bring the example back!

Don’t worry I have already told the animator about it and hopefully he will take my comments in consideration in his next pass.

The shot I am referring to is the first one and specifically what is being done on Bishop.

Bishop

Using this method, the eyes are perfectly locked in space but since they are not reacting to the motion of the head, they seem to be floating around the orbital cavity and totally disconnected from the head which looks very odd and inorganic.

Now that I have more experience with acting and having had Malcon Pierce insisting on eyes focus for literally HOURS during an Animsquad expert workshop, I have fully grasped the necessity to lock the eyes firmly on the head rather than on the environment.

Eyes direction in relation to the head and eyelids is the ultimate component of acting after all. Aside from the exception of blinks, even though I will talk about this an other time, a slight variation in the position of the eyes will convey a totally different emotion so you want to keep a tight grip over the positioning of the pupil and iris.

I hope this article was useful to you and I will leave you with a little something to test your … eyes ;-)

This is a shot I animated some time ago. Do you think I animated Bishop’s eyes in Local space or World space? People with experience will have no trouble spotting the space used but see for yourself!

Related posts:
Cartoony eyes, how to
So you want to be a rigger huh! version 02

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“Skating away” short film

Posted on August 22, 2011 
Filed Under Animation, Animation Mentor | Leave a Comment

Few years ago, finishing Animation Mentor meant making short films! What better way to show your individuality than making your own shortfilm. To me, an animator’s goal should be to make short films rather than just making shots. Andrew Gordon expressed a similar feeling in a 2008 Splinedoctors’ blog post.

Here is a great shorfilm by abAutorig maker and animator, Brendan Ross, aka “Supercrumbly”.

Related posts:
abAutorig, Pyro tutorial Part 1
abAutorig, 5 minutes overview

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“The Gruffalo” making of

Posted on January 15, 2011 
Filed Under Animation, Animation Mentor, Friends | Leave a Comment

I meant to write a very long post on that brilliant shortfilm by Studio Soi but never found the time to start working on it. The release of a making of for “the Gruffalo” will be a new opportunity to feature Soi, one of my favourite animation studio since I discovered “Ernst Im Herbst”, a CG shortfilm using watercolour looking background, “Strasse Der Spezialisten”, “Olis chance” and “Tom and Lily”. I hope one day Soi will make a compilation of all their work.

The Gruffalo is a great shortfilm with a very fresh look and purely british quirkiness and I am even more proud to share with you the making of as several of my Animation Mentor classmates and fellow graduates worked on it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uFld7yatGo

and don’t forget to check Studio Soi’s new blog!
http://www.studiosoi.de/blog/

Related posts:
There is no such a thing as a Gruffalo
Studio Soi computer love
Harald Siepermann
Maciek’s planning

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La fete. Done

Posted on December 29, 2010 
Filed Under Animation, Animation Mentor, Portfolio | 2 Comments

Here we go, I am pretty much done with that shot. It is still in French but I added some subtitles for those who want to understand what this is about.

The audio clip came from a funny french candid camera show my friend animator extraordinaire and BYOA organiser Samy shared on Facebook.

In that clip the host was pretending to be a tattoo artist until, looking at the work he had started on their body, people realised with horror he didn’t know how to draw. Fortunately the needle was in fact a felt pen.

I really liked the audio as it couldn’t get more genuine, presented with an opportunity for a “take/gear change” and allowed for something broad without looking overanimated.

The original character was standing fairly still but I believe entertainment doesn’t come from under-animation or over-animation but instead in stylised choices situated at the edge of both. A good showreel should demonstrate understanding in broad and subtle acting. This will be my broad piece.

Link to the original video

I will leave it in playblast for now and do a full render if I do an other pass. My goal wasn’t to have the best shot ever but just to get more experience with some of the concepts I rediscovered studying “the work of the masters” few weeks ago and hopefully get a junior or even a regular animation job in a french feature animation studio.

For the technical nitty gritty, I used my world orient FK spine again, world orient head and arms. I really like that workflow as it allows me to work in a layered method and keep adding levels of detail even when in polish. For my next close up shots I will be using an IK spine instead but I am still unsure how Bishop handles that.

For the nose I did something a bit fancy that I think is participating to make the face look more organic. In real life, if you observe people talking you will notice that the tip of their nose, nostrils and cheeks keep moving up and down following the opening and closing of the mouth.

Bishop has cheeks controls but with my custom nose, moving the nose control up and down wouldn’t have looked realistic. The skin of the face doesn’t just move up and down shifting the nose, it actually slides over its cartilage and the skull, causing a stretch of the soft parts of the head. (the ears also move actually)

Instead, I created a custom blend shape where the side and lower part of the nose came down simulating the pull of the skin according to the opening of the mouth. The effect is very subtle right now and I would have liked to push it further but after breaking the rig several time and using up few evenings with technical things I think this will do for that shot, time to move on, I think it is a nice close up shot with very stylised facial animation.

Related posts:
Lip sync observations
La fête – polish pass
Norman FK world aligned spine
World orient head and shoulders

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“Listen Philbin”

Posted on September 18, 2010 
Filed Under Animation, Animation Mentor, Portfolio | Leave a Comment

While polishing the spine of Bishop in that shot I realised that I had completely lost the original acting idea and I would probably be better off restarting from scratch but I still think it is still worth posting it.

Yes the right forearm intersects with the body and the left hand is still really rough, I have never said it was finished! ;-)

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Animation Mentor 2010 showcase

Posted on September 1, 2010 
Filed Under Animation, Animation Mentor, Friends | Leave a Comment

Well it’s out! Some really really nice work from my fellow graduates and ex coworkers.

http://www.animationmentor.com/showcase2010/

Some of them have already landed top animation jobs and others will very soon.

And while we are at it, let me introduce you Bishop 2.0, the latest version of my favourite Animation Mentor rig. I haven’t had a chance to test it yet but this looks very promising and I have to mention that my friend the awesome Keith Ribbons helped out with the facial rigging.

Related post:
Dan Carey “Shower Power” short film

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Pako Bagur showreel

Posted on April 14, 2010 
Filed Under Animation, Animation Mentor, Friends | Leave a Comment

My ex-classmate Pako Bagur just uploaded his work from “Planet 51″.

He also redesigned his website which looks really cool! Check it out!

Related post:
Eduardo Martin Julve showreel

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“Shower power” short film

Posted on March 30, 2010 
Filed Under Animation, Animation Mentor, EA, Friends, Video Games | 4 Comments

I just realized that I never featured my friend and (ex)coworker Dan Carrey!!!

Here is his short film. “Shower Power”

You will also find Dan’s showreel on his website
http://www.bluepencil.org.uk/DanCareyShowreel09.mov

We definitely had a bunch of top animators at Rare. Here is also Peer Lemmers showreel if you didn’t know his work:
http://www.chicop-animation.com/demoreel.htm

My current animation lead, Neil Parkinson, is also a very inspiring animator/modeler/rigger/concept artist. Don’t be surprised about the crazy amount of skills, all my coworkers are Jacks of all trades at EA which can be a bit overwhelming sometimes.

Neil is currently finishing rendering his short film so in the meantime check out his reel:
http://www.neilparkinson.com/

Well while I am at it. I think I should also feature our local concept artist Burt Ross. Ross is a crazy Scottish guy who can be pretty loud when he plays Fifa at lunch. He also happens to be really talented at what he does, namely Concept art and Storyboards.

Ross is also the creator of the Astrofunk comics. Number 2 just came out by the way!

Check out his blog:
http://rossburt.blogspot.com/

Ok, that’s it for today but I will soon create a new post feature the other crazy artists surrounding me.

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Weight shift

Posted on December 15, 2009 
Filed Under Animation, Animation Mentor, Education | 2 Comments

The principles of animation have been laid down by Disney Animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston in the “Illusion of life ” in 1981.

Some more concepts have been added over the years and one of the most important addition, or clarification, is the concept of “weight shift”.

When standing straight, our weight is equally distributed over both legs, so to be able to lift up one leg, we need to transfer that weight in the opposite direction of the leg being lifted up.

If a character were to lift up his left leg and did so without shifting his weight from the centre to the right, he would immediately fall to the left as 50% of his weight wouldn’t be supported by his left leg anymore.

Animation is about stylised motion but no matter what style of animation you are going for,
weight shift is a concept you should always keep in mind when animating a character lifting up one of his legs. Successful weight shift is what separate the boys from the men!

Here are several examples for you, a good one I just made in Maya using the great Animation Mentor rig Ballie and a very average one that is still on my showreel :-) {examples coming soon}

{my reel, bottles lifting up his leg}

Ballie Step to side

Kyle Balda has a great weight shift demonstration on the trailer for his Masterclass .

kyle

http://www.kylebalda.com/

Related post:
28 principles of animation

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“Rhapsody with James” short film

Posted on December 8, 2009 
Filed Under Animation, Animation Mentor, Friends | Leave a Comment

My ex-classmate Rok Andic posted his great shortfilm online. It is quite refreshing to see an AM shortfilm done with a custom rig and a customized soundtrack. The idea is very original which makes it delightful to watch.

Check it out!

http://rhapsody.rokandic.com/

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Chinese Animation Mentor

Posted on November 17, 2009 
Filed Under Animation, Animation Mentor, Education | 4 Comments

Chineese AM

Chineese AM

AM expensive? Try the Chinese branch!

http://edu.hxsd.com/videos-10-220.html

The 8 minutes Chinese flavoured AM showreel should convince you how good the teaching is!

More seriously, except the serious copyright infringements, having worked with several Chinese outsourcing companies, I have come to realize that when it comes to learning animation, copying the masters can pay off. Cutural differences aside, some chineese animators are actually really good.

Marsera.com

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“She has the voice of an angel”

Posted on October 10, 2009 
Filed Under Animation, Animation Mentor | Leave a Comment

Disney behind the scenes

Disney behind the scenes

If you missed that exclusive “Disney’s behind the scene” Animation Mentor podcast, plug your headphones and head toward the AM website for a great interview between Animation Podcast Clay Kaytis and 5 artist who joined Disney after going through Disney’s internship, the “Talent development program”.

Read more

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Shot 08 Work in progress

Posted on September 18, 2009 
Filed Under Animation Mentor, Portfolio, Short film | 5 Comments

Following Mike Stern’s tip on the latest Animation Mentor newsletter, I have decided to bring all my shots to the same level of progress, then focus on the polish. That one was one of the most advanced ones but I have tweaked the camera slightly and might end up cutting it in two for the last part.

Anyway, I am posting this as it is right now and will do the editing once I have all the other shots.

shot_08_opens_the_doorswip

shot_08_opens_the_doorswip

Link Name

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Shot 01 refining

Posted on September 17, 2009 
Filed Under Animation Mentor, Portfolio, Short film | Leave a Comment

shot01_01

shot01_01

here is the first shot from my shortfilm. The elbow is very jittery as I can’t remember where to find the IK elbow. Hope you like it though

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Shot 12 final

Posted on September 16, 2009 
Filed Under Animation Mentor, Portfolio, Short film | 3 Comments

shot12_v02

shot12_v02

Well that’s it for now. Here is the final pass for that shot. The long chair will still be tweaked later (the design is still WIP) but I am now moving to the next shot. Hope you like it. Shoot any comments

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Shot 12 work in progress

Posted on September 13, 2009 
Filed Under Animation Mentor, Portfolio, Short film | 3 Comments

shot12_003

shot12_003

This is one of the shots from my short film. Our little guy is a vampire who fell asleep and wakens up realising that he is burning. The shot is still in step (well most of it is blocked on ones anyway)

I have reframed the shot compared to the original version I did during Animation Mentor but something is bothering me. I am gonna keep it this way for the time being and we will see how it works in continuity with the previous and next shots.
I haven’t yet worked on the legs/steps once he lands as I am still unsure about how long he will stay in the air. Do you think this is too long or just enough?

Also the combination of legs/arms flalling makes it a really busy silhouette, should I just animate the legs and keep his arms frozen forward? I will check some old Warner Brother cartoons and try to find some answers tomorrow.

I will also do a proper rig for the long chair tomorrow just so I can give it a more organic feel to it (think Gobelins short films)

[update] looking at it with fresh eyes, I think I will start the shot a bit later and keep the take for the previous shot. The framing will look better.

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“The Contender” lip sync

Posted on September 12, 2009 
Filed Under Animation, Animation Mentor, Portfolio | 2 Comments

If you are wondering what was the idea behind my latest Bishop mod, here it is ;-)

It is a quick lip sync animation, just to try some lip sync, facial animation and rendering with Mental ray/SSS/displacement map.

Don’t worry I don’t have the pretension to compete with Marlon Brando. For some reason I just thought it was funny to have Shrek saying that line.

The contender

The contender

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Give this man a job!

Posted on September 3, 2009 
Filed Under Animation, Animation Mentor, Friends | Leave a Comment

Turf planet

Turf planet

This is just crazy, my friend Ales Mav still hasn’t found a job after nearly one year looking for work in London! I just don’t get this!

For a start Ales is one of those very nice and humble chaps you seldom meet. Ales and I were classmates at AM and he had been one of those rare A+ student from class1 to 6.  Several of his shots got featured on the animation mentor showreel, his short film “Daphne’s new broom” got selected and awarded at several festivals, he keeps adding great new shots to his showreel month after month, he won last month 11 seconds club competition and he even started a new shortfilm “Turf Planet” , quitely, by himself.

Please! Give this man a job!!!!!!

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“The increasing role of character animation in games”

Posted on September 2, 2009 
Filed Under Animation, Animation Mentor, Education, Video Games | Leave a Comment

The increasing role of character animation in games

The increasing role of character animation in games

Several month ago, with few other Animation Mentor graduates, I was asked to write some clever thoughts about the increasing role of character animation in games. My name got misspelt few times but the article is still a very good read.

You can find the article here on Animation Arena.
http://www.animationarena.com/character-animation.html

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