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Local Eyes vs World Eyes

Posted on June 12, 2017  | 1 Comment
Filed under Acting, Animation, Animation Mentor, Education


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.


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!

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

Blocking and realist acting

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

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!!! ;-)

Angry Birds the movie

Posted on December 18, 2016  | 1 Comment
Filed under Animation, Character design, Education

A movie based on a game, yeah I know. Has anyone seen Sony’s “Angry birds” movie though? I eventually did!

I wasn’t too excited about it originally but being directed by Clay Kaytis I knew I HAD to see it even with a 46% at the Tomatometer. I was sure the animation would be top notch, served by great visuals (I love the character designs) and a story that would still have some fun gags and it did.

The movie has become a great inspiration for me lately I have to say, it is a lot of fun and unlike most CG movies those days, they didn’t try to cater for a maximum audience and specifically parents of young children.

Great job guys!






Overwatch – Animated Shorts Explained

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

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):






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

The Dreamworks Feature Animation Pipeline

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

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




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You want to be a rigger huh v.02
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Scared as hell references

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

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.






Milt Kahl animation

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

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:

Cartoony eyes – How to

Posted on October 19, 2016  | 3 Comments
Filed under Animation, Education, Reference


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.

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

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)


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


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

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






maxresdefault (1)



























Toy Story_01

Toy Story_02

Toy Story_03

Toy Story_04


Motion capture worthy eyes


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Messy goes to Okido animation reel

Make it organic_Overwatch D.VA “Game On” emote

Posted on August 18, 2016  | 1 Comment
Filed under Animation, Education, Video Games


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


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!

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Impressive fan made Elsa rig

Posted on July 14, 2016  | 1 Comment
Filed under Animation, Education, Modeling, Rigging

Youtube user Spiel Kind is sharing a walkthrough of his impressive fan made Frozen’s Elsa rig.

It is so impressive that even Disney temp worker Josh Sobel thought it could have been “borrowed” from Disney animation but luckily Spiel Kind documented the entire process from modeling to rigging on a CG talk thread .

He breaks down the rig by explaining how many blend shapes went into the making of that rig:

“27 blendshapes, which I divided up and/or mirrored into 90 total shapes. On top of that I also have a joint-rig though, which is responsible for the jaw/lips- and eyelid-setup.”

The explanation on CGTalk is a bit more detailed:

“It’s made up of four rigs in total. The first is a joint-rig, which drives the eyelids, eyelashes and the jaw/lip setup. Marco Giordano’s eyelid setup has been a big help for this one. The zipper setup is built after Stefan Ehrenhaus’ instructions a few pages earlier in this thread.
The second one is a blendshape setup, which drives pretty much all expressive shapes. Been using some techniques from Jason Osipa’s book Stop Staring for this one.
Both of these feed into the third setup, which is another joint-rig with just a few joints with very broad weighting … basically a poor man’s lattice.
The fourth is the eyeball setup, which works independently from the rest and only drives two joints to which the eyeballs are skinned.”

and page 5 of the CGTalk’ thread he explains what his original idea was:

“The mouth is going to be driven by a joint-rig and a blendshape-rig. The joint-rig will open the jaw and provide freeform controls for lips, nose and cheeks. The blendshape-rig will contain wide, narrow, smile, frown, lip-roll out/in/tighten, mouth up/down/left/right, upper/lower lip-puff, cheek-puff and whatever cheek-puff’s opposite is called. Each shape will be broken down into at least lefts and rights. The lip-shapes will be broken down even more and divided among the joint-rig controls with some global ones above.”

Well I guess this will tie nicely with my previous article about mouth shapes!

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Elsa rig

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