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Premo, the Dreamworks animation software

Posted on July 19, 2014  | 4 Comments
Filed under Animation, Education

Premo splahs screen

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_apollo_02
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!

Dreamworks_apollo.

Related articles:
Pixar animation software part 1
Pixar animation software part 2
You want to be a rigger huh?

External articles:
How DreamWorks reinvented animation software to make HTTYD2

Tofu Fury

Posted on July 11, 2014  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Animation, Drawings, Portfolio, Video Games

amazon_02

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.

Tofu Fury screenshot

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.

Tofu Fury on stage

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
#oliveuktoon

#oliveuktoon

Pixar animation software part II

Posted on April 28, 2014  | 6 Comments
Filed under Animation

lighting-demo

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 animation software part 1

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!

invisible-local-trigger-controls

– Realtime animation WITH hair!

realtime-animation

– Realtime shadows

realtime-shadows

The pose library is not that different from other software but some people might be interested to see it :

pose-librairy

Here is the extract from the demo followed by the full presentation showing the realtime lighting engine for which ….. I am very partial:

http://www.ustream.tv/embed/recorded/45386636

Related posts:
Pixar animation software part 1
So you want to be a rigger (TD) huh?
Pixar Brave wireframes

Gena the Crocodile and Cheburashka

Posted on April 27, 2014  | 7 Comments
Filed under Animation, Education

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

Related post:
Amandine Pecharman “Lost and Found”
“Kuky se vraci”, Kuky is coming back

Painting with a Moustache

Posted on March 17, 2014  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Animation

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.

http://moustachepaint.blogspot.co.uk/

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!

CGTarian Animation Half circle

Posted on February 26, 2014  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Animation, Education

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.

CGTarian online school Youtube channel.

Related posts:
Tangled Joe Bowers thought process

“Krampus” by Screen Novelties

Posted on January 12, 2014  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Animation

Fun stop motion animated greeting card by L.A. based Studio Novelties, the people behind the Stop motion Sponge Bob Xmas special.

I love the design of Krampus. Check out the following links to see some behind the scenes and their blog to see past work

“Krampus” behind the scenes

Screen Novelties blog

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

Paul Lasaine Schoolism interview

Posted on December 31, 2013  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Education, Painting

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.

I might post a screenshot of my reader one day. Actually here are the different categories. John Nevarez’s blog should probably be a category by himself ;-)

My RSS Feed

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.

CTNX 2013 Live

Posted on November 17, 2013  | Leave a Comment
Filed under Animation, Business of animation, Education

CTN on demand

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.

CTNX 2013 Live

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.

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/ctnx-2013-attendees-tickets-4867768627

Here are some of my favourite artists being interviewed: Bobby Chiu and Jesse Aclin. There was a quick demo with the awesomely nice John Nevarez which I will post when I find it.

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.

Related posts:
Back from CTN 2012

“Rob ‘n’ Ron” by Tumblehead

Posted on September 20, 2013  | 1 Comment
Filed under Animation, Education

Very fun short by Tumblehead, a bunch of graduates from Viborg’s finest “Animation Workshop“. You might remember those chaps from “Elk Hair Caddis“.

They were so nice they even shared some behind the scenes videos showing their process, the rendering (using Arnold) and a rig demo.

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