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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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Bouncing balls

Posted on July 17, 2017 
Filed Under Animation, Education, Reference | Leave a Comment

If your animation training didn’t start with bouncing balls, there is no point starting acting.

Professionally I have had numerous shots where I had to animate “simple” bouncing objects: from planks of woods detaching from a ceiling in “Inferno”, to metallic cans and lids bouncing off the floor on “Grizzy” or even “Grizzy” himself bouncing off a van and the pinnacle of my career: animating “Wonder Woman”‘s God-Killer sword being knocked off her hands.

Those shots might lack the appeal of talking characters but they will almost certainly expose animator’s weaknesses. No wonder Pixar interns start their internship animating bouncing “lifesavers” before graduating to Pixar production characters.

Except maybe the water filled ballon that seems to be sliding on the floor,  here are some excellent and fun bouncing ball examples by Tomáš Jech who I think I have already featured here for a great TED talk.

Bouncing.balls.01 Bouncing.balls.02 Bouncing.balls.03

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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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Blocking and realist acting

Posted on May 13, 2017 
Filed Under Acting, Animation, Education | Leave a Comment

A friend who is a professional TV series animator was telling me yesterday that he wants to attend a body mechanics workshop rather than an acting one. My answer was unequivocally to do an acting one instead.

Acting is the most difficult skill in animation and being a professional animator, one already have a grasp in body mechanics, substantial enough to support any performance.

If what you want to end up doing is acted performances and you are already a professional animator, don’t waste time and focus right now on producing shots that will show the recruiter you can do the job you want to do. With all the feature animation gigs going on right now, there is an urge to jump on those opportunities. In one year time, those productions will be finished and it is very likely that you will be facing the competition of hundreds of seasoned feature animators who took those opportunities when you didn’t.

I just came across that video by pure luck some time ago and it showed me how little I knew about acting. Too be fair we don’t all want to create that kind of performances in animation but it is a good wake up call. I am adding the Captain Underpants theme song as ….. we don’t all want to end up doing serious animation after all!!! ;-)

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Overwatch – Animated Shorts Explained

Posted on December 14, 2016 
Filed Under Animation, Character design, Education, Modeling, Painting, Rigging | Leave a Comment

I don’t play games much those days but it is the second time I am posting about Overwatch as they are doing all the right things to me at the moment!

Great animation, great behind the scenes, sharing knowledge and upping the game! Thanks Blizzard!

Today is an exceptional free 1 hour behind the scenes about Overwatch’s animated shorts. Look at those rigs, definitely on par with the ones from animated features or even the Kayla rig since I am studying that one at the moment.

And few stills from the talk followed by one of the animated shorts “the Last Bastion” (gorgeous):

overwatch_facial_rig

Concepts

overwatch_storyboard

overwatch_video_reference

overwatch_animation_pose_library

Related posts
So you want to be a rigger huh v02
Make it organic
Impressive fan made Elsa rig

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The Dreamworks Feature Animation Pipeline

Posted on November 6, 2016 
Filed Under Education | Leave a Comment

CG Meetup posted a great video showing the different departments involved in the making of animated features at Dreamworks.

Script-to-Screen-The-DreamWorks-Animation-Pipeline-2

Script-to-Screen-The-DreamWorks-Animation-Pipeline-10

Script-to-Screen-The-DreamWorks-Animation-Pipeline-12

Related posts:
Premo, the Dreamworks animation software
You want to be a rigger huh v.02
Academy Creative Spark: Simon Otto

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Scared as hell references

Posted on October 21, 2016 
Filed Under Acting, Animation, Education, Reference | Leave a Comment

Using yourself as a reference when animating is great but can be very limiting as we can only refer to ourselves and our experiences. Also, people react very differently when in a crowd like in the following examples so there is nothing better than going online to look for ideas.

A while back, Buzzfeed posted some amazing references of people being scared at when visiting “scariest world famous haunted house attraction in Niagara falls”.

Buzzfeed link

Here are just three examples. See how some people use their friends to shield themselves by grabbing them, have a gander, it is pretty hilarious.

Buzzfeed_scary_reference_01

Buzzfeed_scary_reference_02
Buzzfeed_scary_reference_03

 

 

 

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Milt Kahl animation

Posted on October 20, 2016 
Filed Under Animation, Education | Leave a Comment

I just found this link, posting this here to watch it later. Hopefully it is a good collection of animations by my favourite Disney animator Milt Kahl:

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Cartoony eyes – How to

Posted on October 19, 2016 
Filed Under Animation, Education, Reference | 2 Comments

zootopia_anatomy

Eyes vocabulary

After few month working on Okido, I felt there was a lack of consistency between all the animators and decided to make a compilation of examples from my favourite animated movies.

Cartoony eyes are usually so massive that unlike realistic eyes, the appeal is very quickly lost if you don’t know how to handle them. Clarity and appeal are the keywords when working on eyes so the first rule of cartoony eyes posing is :

1. Centering:
Never, ever, have both eyes (pupils) centered on their respective orbital cavity. Instead and to avoid the zombie look, get the pupils closer to each others and have more space/white (sclera) on the outside of the eyes. This will create a more appealing pose.
f046b660-a9ff-4cdd-bd99-b5a83fdad984

2. Favouring:
When a character is looking sideway, one eyes should be centered and the other one much closer to the bridge of nose or even intersect with the orbital cavity:
Flash Zootopia
maxresdefault

3. Focus:
As the character focuses on an object really close, you might want to increase the space on the outside of the eyes but when the character is looking far away, again, do not center the eyes! (see rule 1)
Presto_03

Presto_02

4. Surprise
Even when trying to communicate surprise, we still revert to rule #1 and have more space on the outside of the eyes.
Ratatouille_16

Ratatouille_21

5. Sideway
If your character is totally sideway, cheat as much as you can just so we can still see a sliver of the Iris
ZOOTOPIA

Bonus tip:
Pay attention to the way the top lid is shaped on half lidded character in Zootopia, especially Nick. This will be included in a forthcoming article about stylised animation.

I hope this will help some of you, the following images are for education purpose only and copyrighted to their respective owners Disney and Pixar:

Toy Story_05

ZootopiaIN

zootopia-review

Inside-Out_01

Inside-Out_02

Inside-Out_003

maxresdefault (1)

Presto_01

Presto_02

Presto_03

Presto_04

Ratatouille_01

Ratatouille_02

Ratatouille_03

Ratatouille_04

Ratatouille_05

Ratatouille_06

Ratatouille_07

Ratatouille_08

Ratatouille_09

Ratatouille_10

Ratatouille_11

Ratatouille_12

Ratatouille_13

Ratatouille_14

Ratatouille_15

Ratatouille_16

Ratatouille_17

Ratatouille_18

Ratatouille_19

Ratatouille_20

Ratatouille_22

Ratatouille_23

Toy Story_01

Toy Story_02

Toy Story_03

Toy Story_04

Serkis

Motion capture worthy eyes

 

Related posts:
Messy goes to Okido animation reel

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Make it organic_Overwatch D.VA “Game On” emote

Posted on August 18, 2016 
Filed Under Animation, Education, Video Games | Leave a Comment

D.Va-Game-On

To make a character or an animation more appealing you need to look for ways to make it more alive, more “organic” by adding more details, very often a simple reaction to a main action would be sufficient

D.Va-Game-On-Gremlin_small

When robots and mechs are usually characterized by their stiffness, the animator here added a nice little touch by making Overwatch D.Va’s mech react to her fun idle (emote) and moving as Hana goes side to side stuffing her face with crips and fizzy drink alternatively while focused playing a holographic shmup.

The animation and Mech are definitely more alive and we still buy it is a mechanical object that could spring up to action anytime.

Great work Blizzard!


Related posts:

So you want to be a rigger huh (v02)
Ears motion

gremlin-dva

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