With the rise of companies like Disney, Blue Sky, Sony or Illumination Mac Guff relying entirely on the “off-the-shelf” Autodesk Maya which most animation students are familiar with, Dreamworks and Pixar had to revamp their ageing proprietary softwares to attract and retain talents. Presto for Pixar and Premo for Dreamworks seem to have now totally leapfrogged the commercial Autodesk offering by making the most of the numerous cores that current CPUs have made available for years, to the addition of on board GPUs.
Dreamworks used to be really secretive about EMO, their home made animation software, but things are changing.
With the release of Dean DeBlois’ “How to train your dragon 2″, several videos and articles have emerged showcasing Dreamwork’s new Premo animation software running on the latest Apollo technology. The technology looks so ground breaking that the ASIFA offered Dreamworks an Ub Iwerks award at this years Annie awards.
Premo looks very fast and intuitive. Instead of having to keep a separate sizable GUI on the screen, the controls are right where you expect them to be and they magically appear when the cursor hovers over the actionable areas, signifying to the animator that the highlighted area can be animated, liberating a huge screen real estate compared to GUIs.
Additional controls like IK/FK switches I am guessing can still be accessed through the related spreadsheets when needed obviously.
This is very refreshing as the idea has been suggested for years by Keith Lango and I also relayed the information on this blog in 2010. (read the article here: You want to be a rigger huh!)
Premo also offers a dramatic speed improvement compared to Emo as animators don’t need to recalculate after each action and rig can also be played real time in the viewport without needing to use proxy models.
Don’t believe me? Watch the following videos!
How DreamWorks reinvented animation software to make HTTYD2
Dear blog, it has been a while since we last spoke. I was intending to finish and upload the shots I did while attending AnimSquad but things went a bit crazy since last December ;-)
The last few month have been really busy with a secret project I can finally talk about.
I have been privileged to get involved with “Tofu Fury”, a launch game for Amazon’s Fire phone, a pretty cool mobile device that among many other features, can track the head of the user thanks to four additional cameras and simulate 3d in a manner that hasn’t been seen to that level of depth on a mobile device yet.
If you want to know more about the phone, The Verge got it all covered with several articles. The Mayday feature will be of a great help to my mom and dad who just don’t understand how to operate a smartphone.
I still can’t divulge too much about our game but it is coming very soon and it was awesome to have it demoed on stage by Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos himself when the device finally got announced two weeks ago. Funny enough, he called the game “Angry Tofu” because the idea delighted him and the title caught up with the press to the dismay of our producer and our studio owner.
Working on the game was a great challenge as on top of being the animator, I was also the Character TD and it was the first time I relied so much on Morph targets (blend shapes) in Unity (the game engine we used).
Since blend shapes are really new to the version of Unity we used and there were so many horror stories on the Unity forum, I tried everything I could to stay away from them and use bones and joints deformation instead but blend shapes were ultimately the best way to create the stylized deformations we were after.
As the main character is 100% animated with blend shapes, “Tofu Fury” is a testimony that blend shapes are perfectly reliable in Unity. I even went to the extent of using blend shapes for some of the bad guys and “non-playable-character’s” (NPC) skin deformation that are traditionally handled through joints and the result was visually more pleasing and less resource intensive, at least for the test we did we Martin, our programmer mostly involved with character animations.
Ok, I think that is all I can say for now so here is a video of Jeff Bezos demoing our game.
Ah, one more thing. Like most cool kids I just created an Instagram page for my Life drawings and sketches. If you are also an Instagram user, feel free to follow me at
There has been some development in the secrecy surrounding Pixar’s animation software in the past few weeks but before we get started, you might want to refresh yourself with the previous article I wrote about Menv and Presto.
Pixar officially revealed their software Presto (aka Menv 13) to the world, in a jaw-dropping tech demo illustrating the benefit of relying on GPU and Nvidia latest tech for that matter.
Maya and other 3d animation softwares look so antiquated compared to Presto. Unlike Autodesk and their mono-threaded CPU viewport, it is quite obvious that Pixar engineers are listening to the users.
In the following video you will get to see some features animators have been screaming for and no-one seems to be listening to it.
Forget about having to constantly disconnect your sight from your model and having to keep half of your screen free for a silly GUI:
- Invisible on-viewport local trigger controls!
- Realtime animation WITH hair!
- Realtime shadows
The pose library is not that different from other software but some people might be interested to see it :
Here is the extract from the demo followed by the full presentation showing the realtime lighting engine for which ….. I am very partial:
Over the years I have come across many great TV series and short films produced in the former Eastern bloc, “Pat a Mat” being one of them, but I can’t believe it took me so long to come across 1969 “Cheburashka”.
Cheburashka, is a series of four Russian stop motion shortfilms made in the early 70s, featuring Gena, a Crocodile in suit officiating at the local Zoo, and Cheburashka (“tumble” in Russian), the baby bear/monkey looking character that fell into an orange crate to wake up in a Russia town.
The short films are a pure joy to watch. The characters and accompanying music are so sweet and the stories so funny and sad at the same time that you can only empathize with the characters. As a side note, Shapoklyak, the third short film of the series is definitely the one with the darkest moments. That sequence when Cheburashka, seeing how Gena is tired from their long walk back home on the train tracks after they had their train tickets stolen and suggests Gena that instead he could carry the heavy luggages while being carried by Gena is both hilarious and heart-wrenching.
I really love that series at it reminds me of the quirkiness and tenderness of Studio AKA’s short film “Lost and Found”, the sadness of René Clements, 1952 “Forbidden games” and the great physical acting from Jacques Tati’s “Mr Hulot”. There is also some “Sitting Ducks” (the first TV show animated in 3dsmax) in it but that is probably just because we see a civilized Crocodile ;-)
Unsurprisingly the series was immensely popular in the Eastern Bloc and Cheburashka was the mascot of the Russian Olympic team several times.
What could be surprising is the fact that the series was brought to Japan by non other than legendary Japanese film director Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. The first episode, or second one appearing in the entire compilation below, was animated by Miyasaki’s friend and inspirational director, Yuriy Norshteyn. The series gained a lot of popularity in Japan and a feature produced by both Ffango Entertoyment of South Korea and Frontier Works of Japan, supposedly came out in 2010 but I wasn’t able to find any footage of it, just the movie poster and some wonderful screenshots.
If you don’t have time to watch the four shorts, I would at least recommend watching the great pantomime animation in the following sequence.
The script probably said something like “Gena signs form and postal worker returns to his van”. What the animators added to it is just wonderful. Keep an eye on that hat, a lot of nice little touches made the characters so alive. There is definitely some Mr Hulot in there.
Here is the link to the exact sequence => postal worker deliver birthday package
And here is the the entire series with English subtitles. You definitely want to hear the original Russian song and sweet voice over work.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOZpUDMj9t8&t=0m00s
Having moved back to London to work on a really cool cartoony game I can’t talk much of for now, I am currently focusing on life drawing and painting most of my evenings. London is probably the only place in the world where Life drawing classes happen pretty much every day.
For that reason, I decided to start a new blog and I will be posting all sort of useful information I come across on it and I might even post some of my drawings. Hopefully you might find some information helpful .
I have a bit of experience with Life drawing, painting is something very new to me so if you are interested in the same topic, point your RSS reader to the following link, I will be posting all the great material I find useful in my learning.
The blog look a bit rough around the edges but the content should easily compensate for the look in my opinion. On a side note, I am not going with WordPress this time as I am a bit tired of having to constantly update it and always fear that something will be broken. Also, I have started suggesting to my friends who need a Content Management System to also use Blogger so this might prove useful to test the levels of customisation it supports.
Surprisingly Animation with a Moustache hasn’t been hacked for quite a while ….. or so I hope ;-)
As an effort to better market myself and increase my chances of getting new jobs after my current contract, I have also just made a new temp title card featuring my best work. An updated one will appear in few month.
Keep pushing yourself!
someone just pointed at a great series of videos posted by online school CGTarian. The videos feature a bunch of top Dreamworks animators (is Joe Bower at Disney or Dreamworks now?) discussing animation.
It has been a long time since I last heard a group of animators talk shop and it is really refreshing. Too bad they are not invited to comment on DVDs and Blurays anymore.
The series starts with the crucial “thumbs or no thumbs” and having Ted Ty comment makes it even more interesting.
Tangled Joe Bowers thought process
I love the design of Krampus. Check out the following links to see some behind the scenes and their blog to see past work
Well…. I have to post that video about their past Spongebob special in case you missed the link. That would be sad. I also love 2d but there is something about seeing those characters in volume….
via: Cartoon Brew
Since Facebook has decided to widen the use of their awful Ranking system to Newsfeed, I have decided to refocus my efforts on updating this blog more often than I have done in the past few month.
I would also encourage other “content makers” to do the same as you don’t want a third party to interfere in your communication with your audience and in a way, “censor” your posts by applying a silly celebrity ranking system. Getting statistics of your website’s usage is also much easier with a blog than on Facebook and I am not even talking about the immense improvement on searching your blog.
I would also suggest smart readers to use a RSS reader like Feedly and its mobile equivalent (Phonly for Windows Mobile users) just so they can get all their favorite content from an organised central location (GTD) on their phone/tablet or desktop.
And to start those new year’s resolutions, here is a rare interview with one of the top Matte Painters and Vis dev guy in the industry, Paul Lasaine. Thanks Schoolism and Bobby Chiu for a great interview again.
By the way, I just logged onto the Schoolism website and realised I still have access to all the courses with Video Feedback I took.. Really cool!!! I look forward to watching Nathan Fowkes lectures again next year.
If like me you couldn’t make it to CTNX this year, don’t despair. Tina Price and her crew are offering a free broadcast with demos and live interviews of several participants. Click on the following picture to access it. I think you can also ask questions in realtime….. too bad I only realized that late yesterday.
There is also a paying option to access some of the conferences Live and On Demand for $55 but I can’t find much informations about it. I think it is only the main conferences held in the Marriott’s ballroom. It is a pretty cool option as it is like being at CTN and avoiding the schedules reshuffles, long queues and accompanying queue jumpers without paying for the unattainable VIP pass ;-)
It would be awesome if the conferences held in the tents and secondary venues were also broadcast as those were just as much interesting and sometimes even better last year.
Here is where you would order the paying option and I have been told the content will still be available 15 days after the show ends.
Thanks Tina, your crew and all the volunteers. With the addition of the live broadcast and recording, CTN is definitely a one of a kind event.
Back from CTN 2012
They were so nice they even shared some behind the scenes videos showing their process, the rendering (using Arnold) and a rig demo.
[Update after 3 years] Like I mentioned in my original review, the Monoprice is far better for clean drawing than the Wacom offering so I still use the Monoprice but only on my laptop. Having upgraded my desktop to Windows 10, I didn’t manage to test or make the Monoprice work on it so currently using a Wacom Intuos 5 pro on the desktop and the Monoprice on my Windows 7 laptop. The following pictures were drawn or sculpted on the Monoprice. Ah and the battery is a non issue as I haven’t changed it in…… 3 freaking years!!!!
[Update after 6 month of use and upgrading to Windows 8] I gave up on Monoprice. There is absolutely no support whatsoever from Monoprice and the current drivers are way to flacky for me to recommend the tablet to anyone. I loved the light weight, small size and larger usable surface than similar Wacom but the drivers are unusable and like I said, Monoprice doesn’t care about customer support. Good bye Monoprice and cheap tablets, I am back to the Wacom monopoly and just bought an Intuos (5) Pro medium. (can’t stand the touch thing and disabled it but at least the drivers are stable). [/update]
[update after three month of use] The issues I was having in Photoshop CS6 and CC were caused by old buggy ATI/AMD graphic card driver which hasn’t been updated for 2 years…. Battery is a non issue as I haven’t changed it in 3 month. Pressure sensitivity is definitely better than the Intuos 3 but there is a bit of jitter if you don’t draw fast. Do I still recommend it? well…. it is only $50 right. Digitizer is larger than the Medium Wacom, tablet is lighter and smaller than Wacom so it fits nicely in my backpack even in the Medium version. I would really like the line to have no jitter but for the ease of use, that’s a keeper. Oh! I was about to forget. It appears that the Middle Mouse button doesn’t work on Macs which really suck for OSX fans. [/update]
After reading a very positive review by an artist called Frenden, I wanted to see if that $50 tablet was really so much better than the much beloved Wacom branded tablets that cost three to four times more.
I have been using Wacom tablets since 1998, the Ultrapad A5 being my first model. I have also owned several Windows TabletPCs equipped with Wacom digitizers. To put it bluntly, I used to be a Wacom fanboy and would regularly make fun of people buying other brands.
One day, a post on the now defunct Drawn.ca attracted my attention. Frenden was claiming that he had switched from his $2.500 Cintiq to a mere $55 Monoprice tablet and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I witnessed how clean his lines are (see for yourself). The Monoprice tablet is not available in France so I made the most of my recent London Life Drawing boot camp to order the 10×6 model and give it a try.
I have only been using the tablet for a week so hopefully I will be able to iron out some little issues I am having in the following weeks. So far it works amazingly well in Manga Studio Pro, Paint Tool SAI and Zbrush. The quality of the line and the pressure sensitivity is way better than my Intuos 3.
I do have an issue with the line quality in Photoshop CS6 64bit on Windows 7 but I will be testing it on Windows 8 next week.
So far, I am really liking it and the Intuos 3 has been gathering dust for the past 7 days. It is very likely that I will sell the Intuos 3, UNLESS, I can’t fix the Photoshop issue.
Let’s see how it goes, more to follow.
Just as a reminder, the Monoprice is equipped with an UC Logic digitizer which is the digitizer used in the Yiynova MSP 19U, an impressive piece of hardware usually refered as the Cintiq killer
Run and walks are the bread and butter of video game animators and unfortunately I hadn’t found a good source of references on that topic in the past.
Until today, I wasn’t bothered and used treadmill references since that’s mainly what they have been doing at Pixar from Monsters Inc to Up so if it is good for them, it should be good for me, but it is said that treadmill runs are actually different from the real thing.
My understanding of physics is so basic that I can’t see why it would be any different (does anyone actually understands inertia or references frames?) so I decided to do some research and was lucky to find two great references of World record marathon runner Haile Gebrselassie. One of him on a treadmill and a second one shot during a marathon. I didn’t spend too much time on walks since everybody’s walk is unique and I am pretty sure the difference would be too subtle.
Before you watch the videos and make up your mind, one thing I should mentioned is that the treadmill run was only a 4 minutes run and he was wiping his face with the towel in front of him few frames before the beginning of the footage. You can find the link to the original footage below. The video on the right is a real marathon race.
Here is a Vimeo version if you prefer
What can we notice?
The upper body is possibly slightly bent forward on the road race but I don’t think there is a real difference for the back leg to be honest, at least not at 30fps.
For runs, I would suggest people to pay attention to the running style instead and get to learn about the Pose Method.
The Pose method is dramatically different than a regular run since you hit the road with the ball of your foot rather than the heel so your calf muscle plays the role of a shock absorber rather than the sole of your expensive trainers and your knee joint, leading to less joint stress/pain. Hum it looks like I should do an other video showing regular runs compared to Pose ones ;-)
As animators we are having a tough time to understand runs but don’t worry…. so do runners!
This guy found out that depending on the brand of shoes he is wearing, or not wearing, he would hit the ground in a different manner, check out those great references:
What, wait! Three Ringling students made this?!?!! How the hell is this possible !
I just love it, especially the character design. Really good work guys! I want to see a sequel to this!
and here is a link to the artist’s blogs where you will find a great making of video:
While I am posting, here are some news for you. I am currently attending Nate Wragg’s “character design for production” class and it is awesome. I always manage to screw up and not respect the deadlines but the character I am working on is developing really nicely. I will be posting all my work when the class finishes but here is a little work in progress for you. We are not supposed to do any rendering but I felt I needed to shade this guy for this week’s turnaround.
I will probably share my Photoshop brushes at the end of the class. Here is that work in progress, the mouth is completely out of whack but I think it is a fun painting.
Francesco Giroldini, lighting tutorials
Hurry up!!! Only few seats left for the best online Storyboarding and Character design classes. I attended both last year and will highly recommend them! Nate and Steve not only have packed some great informations in their lectures, they also do great weekly demos.
One thing I want to mention about Steve’s class. It is not only a class on Storyboarding but also a class in Story. If you ever wanted to make short films or just get involved in the story process, this is the class for you.
I can’t believe there are still any seats left. Both Nate and Steve went to Calart, got jobs or Internships at Dreamworks and Pixar. You are basically paying for a proven CalArt class at a fraction of the cost….
Despite the whole industry having embraced the Bluray format for several years, they still don’t seem to be able to fit any “Behind the scene” videos or director’s comments on the enormous space that offer bluray discs. This is why we’d better celebrate the release of videos like that one, especially since it is a studio that is well known for being very secretive.
Steve Carell shows you how 3d is done at Mac Guff. It is great to see that Zébé is actually a real person. I thought he was just a myth, a machine that could crank up great drawings after great drawings ;-) Interesting he doesn’t work on a Cintiq. Make me feel better for not coughing up for one myself.
I would love to be paid to draw more and realized the best way to achieve that would be to put together a 2d portfolio and apply for 2d animation related jobs when they come up.
I am certainly not giving up on 3d animation don’t worry, I just live in a place where there are just as many 2d and 3d positions. Ultimately, 2d and 3d skills work hand in hand so cultivate one and you will get stronger in the other one.
I just discovered some really fun and catchy music videos based on News footage with very colorful characters and doing a bit more research on how those were done, I realized they were using a music software plug-in called Auto-Tune which allows to tweak the pitch of an audio clip.
So I am not going to talk about Auto-tune, instead, I want to share with you a nice video clip where X-factor’s Simon Cowell does a great “Take” following a contestant’s attack on one of the jury. This is almost a “double take” and it is so cool to be able to see his thought process so clearly and more than anything, the fact that it happens at the same time he was finishing his previous action (he was lowering his “cold pop”).
Obviously, I also have to share those other fun music videos I found. Those are real characters!
Having studied Psychology and Ergonomy at University, it always bothers me when I have to use tools that haven’t been carefully thought out with the final user in mind.
Let me share with you the Maya hotkeys’ layout I have been using for the past few years. Just by looking at it, you will quickly understand how much more practical those hotkeys are. By having all the hotkeys on the left side of the keyboard, you don’t need to look at your hands anymore and have immediate access to the most useful scripts and tools. I wish changing hotkeys was as simple as in 3dsmax where you can save and load layouts on the fly. Imagine having Parent constraing, open graph editor or Grease pencil built-in hotkeys.
Note the position of the next/previous keys and frames, this is the most important thing when like me you work in the manner of a traditional 2d animator and constantly “flip your drawings”. Bare in mind I am right handed. Left handed people, share your layout!
Click on the picture to zoom in.
My Maya settings and preferences
[update]Don’t forget to check Part 2 http://www.olivier-ladeuix.com/blog/2014/04/28/pixar-animation-software-part-ii/[/update]
Wondering what animation software Pixar uses to bring us magical movies like Monsters inc 2? Wonder no more!
In a latest Open Subdiv demo, Autodesk Meet the experts presentation, Pixar’s engineer lead Dirk Van Gelder lets us have a quick peek at his computer screen so we get to see what Pixar’s Marionette looks like.
If you didn’t know, the software’s 30th iteration of Marionette or Menv (the name comes from the original name, Modeling environment), is now called Presto, as a tribute to Doug Sweetland’s 2008 short film.
Around 18 minutes into the presentation, we can have a good look at the interface and see Monsters University’s character, Dean Hardscrabble, the dean of the School of Scaring faculty, in motion. Here is a screenshot.
Instead of being displayed in the viewport as we are accustomed to, the controls or Avars (this is how they are called at Pixar) are tucked to the bottom right of the screen and displayed as some sort of advanced channel box or spreadsheet since this is the term used in AL, the ancestor of Pixar’s Menv.
An other interesting thing we notice is that Presto runs on Linux and the Gnome environment. This could be surprising when we think that Pixar’s CEO was also Apple’s CEO.
If you want to see Presto in action a little bit more, check out that Guardian’s interview with Toy Story 3′s Animation Supervisor Bobby Podesta : (the video seems to have been pulled out, here is an other one instead)
or that one with Sanjay Patel:
Ah and to finish this post, what a better way than posting Monsters University’s third trailer!!! As a side note, Monsters Inc is still my favourite Pixar feature ;-)
Pixar Brave wireframes
testing some asymetry and a facial expression in Zbrush. Fun stuff.
[update] Found a better material or MatCap