Zbrush 4.4 and dynamesh are awesome. Mudbox’s interface makes way more sense but for some reason I prefer sculpting in Zbrush.
Here is a quick straight-ahead sketch I did yesterday as a way of procrastinating using mainly the clay tube brush.
If I was always that productive when procrastinating…..
Sorry for not posting much those days. I have just started working on a feature here in Angouleme and I am also using the opportunity of finally having a stable job, or at least to live in a town with plenty of animation work to finally test for my Black Belt in Taekwondo after 15 years doing other forms of martial arts. Ah, the feature is called Minuscule, Valley of the Lost Ants by the way, it is a fun movie which was started on the back of a very successful TV Series of the same name and several TV specials. You can find some episodes on Youtube and a pretty nice teaser on the blog.
Enough rantings, let’s start this new year with some education material.
Bend Bows are the controls you can normally find in a rig between the shoulders, elbow and wrist for the arms, or hips, knee and ankle for the legs. Here you can see how the artist made the most of those to soften Mike’s otherwise stiff looking arms by creating a nice rounded curvature of the arms that nicely echoes his head’s rounded features and also creates a very pleasing line of action.
Here is a draw over so you can clearly see those.
When animating, I wouldn’t recommend you to block those before the final pass of polish. These are just the icing on the cake or the extra paper cuts as Mike Makarewicz would say. You don’t want to exaggerate the bend bows too much either or you might end up going off model.
Monsters Inc is one of my favourite Pixar movies, I can’t wait to see the prequel and finally be able to buy the “Art of Book”. The original is now a collector you know !
By the way! I never got around to posting that Bobby Chiu’s interview of Mike. Clearly Bobby didn’t really know what animation specific question he could ask Mike but I am sure you will still get something out of it.
We hardly ever hear how stand up comedians and comedy writers work out their jokes so this is a short but pretty interesting video I think where Jerry Seinfield explains his thought process.
The video is pretty short but offers a starck contrast with an other New York Times interview where Seinfield’s co-creator Larry David explains his work practices. Skip to 7mins20 to hear his explanation ;-)
The ASIFA just released the list of nominations for the 2012 Annie Awards.
I will only mention the categories I am interested in, you can find the full list on Cartoon Brew
It is really bizarre Pixar’s Brave didn’t get a nomination for Character Design. To me it was the movie that, by far, featured the strongest Character Designs in 2012. I would really like to be enlightened about that decision.
Honoring excellence in the field of animation, Annie Awards will be presented in 30 categories including best animated feature, television production(s), television commercial, short subject, video game and student film, as well as the achievement and honorary awards. The 40th Annual Annie Awards will take place on February 2, 2013 at UCLA’s Royce Hall, in Los Angeles, California.
Entries submitted for consideration must be from productions that were released in the United States between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012. An exception will be made for animated short subjects, student films and television commercials that were not released in the United States. These may be considered for an Annie Award providing they were originally released during the award eligibility period.
Best Animated Feature
Brave — Disney
Frankenweenie – Disney
Hotel Transylvania — Sony Animation
ParaNorman — Laika
The Pirates: Band of Misfits — Aardman Animation/Sony Animation
The Rabbi’s Cat — Autochenille Production/GKids
Rise of The Guardians — DreamWorks Animation
Wreck-It Ralph — Disney
Best Animated Short Subject
Brad and Gary (Illumination/Universal)
Eyes On The Stars (StoryCorps)
Goodnight Mr Foot (Sony Animation)
Kali The Little Vampire (NFB)
Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare (20th Century-Fox)
The Simpsons – Bill Plympton Couch Gag (20th Century-Fox)
Best Animated Television Production For Children
Adventure Time ‘Princess Cookie’ – Cartoon Network Studios
Dragons: Riders of Berk ‘How to Pick Your Dragon’ – DreamWorks Animation
LEGO Star Wars ‘The Empire Strikes Out’ – Threshold Animation Studios
Penguins of Madagascar ‘Action Reaction’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios
SpongeBob SquarePants ‘It’s a SpongeBob Christmas!’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios
The Amazing World of Gumball ‘The Job’ – Turner Broadcasting System Europe, Ltd.
The Fairly OddParents ‘Farm Pit’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios
The Legend of Korra ‘Welcome to Republic City’/’A Leaf in the Wind’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios
Animated Video Game
Borderlands 2 – Gearbox Software
Family Guy – Back to the Mutiverse – Heavy Iron Studios
Journey – Sony Computer Entertainment America
Skullgirls – Lab Zero Games
Best Student Film
Can We Be Happy Now – Tahnee Gehm
Defective Detective – Avner Geller & Steve Lewis
Head Over Heels – Timothy Reckart
I Am Tom Moody – Ainslie Henderson
Ladies Knight – Joseph Rothenberg
Origin – Jessica Poon
The Ballad of Poisonberry Pete – Karen Sullivan
Tule Lake – Michelle Ikemoto
Character Animation in a Feature Production
Dan Nguyen ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios
David Pate ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation
Jaime Landes ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios Congrat Jaime and good luck!
Phillppe LeBrun ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation
Pierre Perifel ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation
Travis Hathaway ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios
Travis Knight “ParaNorman’ – Focus Features
Will Becher ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ – Aardman Animations
Character Design in an Animated Feature Production
Bill Schwab, Lorelay Bove, Cory Loftis, Minkyu Lee ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Carlos Grangel ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation
Carter Goodrich ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation
Craig Kellman ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ – DreamWorks Animation
Heidi Smith ‘ParaNorman’ – Focus Features
Yarrow Cheney, Eric Guillon, Colin Stimpson ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’ – Illumination Entertainment
Directing in an Animated Feature Production
Genndy Tartakovsky ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation
Joann Sfar, Antoine Delesvaux ‘The Rabbi’s Cat – GKIDS
Remi Bezancon, Jean-Christophe Lie ‘Zarafa’ – GKIDS
Rich Moore ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Sam Fell, Chris Butler ‘ParaNorman’ – Focus Features
Production Design in an Animated Feature Production
Kendal Cronkhite-Shaindlin, Shannon Jeffries, Lindsey Olivares, Kenard Pak ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ – DreamWorks Animation
Marcello Vignali ‘Hotel Transylvania’ – Sony Pictures Animation
Nash Dunnigan, Arden Chen, Jon Townley, Kyle McNaughton ‘Ice Age: Continental Drift’ – Blue Sky Studios
Nelson Lowry, Ross Stewart, Pete Oswald, Ean McNamara, Trevor Dalmer ‘ParaNorman’ – Focus Features
Norman Garwood, Matt Berry ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ – Aardman Animation
Patrick Hanenberger, Max Boas, Jayee Borcar, Woonyoung Jung, Perry Maple, Peter Maynez, Stan Seo, Felix Yoon ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation
Rick Heintzich ‘Frankenweenie’ – The Walt Disney Studios
Steve Pilcher ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios
Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production
Emmanuela Cozzi ‘ParaNorman’ – Focus Features
Johanne Matte ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation
Leo Matsuda ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Lissa Treiman ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Rob Koo ‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’ – DreamWorks Animation
“Save the cat” was on my to-read list for a while and I was finally able to go trough it during my recent trip to L.A. Man this book is awesome. It is so awesome that after reading a dodgy Pdf version on my Kindle, I had to run to the nearest Barnes&Nobles to buy the paper version as soon as I landed.
Agreed it seems very formulaic with the various page count, but make abstraction of this and you will definitely learn a lot. The book was an eye opener for me and thanks to Blake Snyder, I am now able to clearly understand the structure of movies and even understand some screenwriting insiders joke like the “Save the cat” sequence on Pixar’s “Incredible”. If you ever wanted to write a script and didn’t know how to start, “Save the cat” will certainly be of a great help.
Talking about “Save the cat” I have been told the book is actually being trashed on the following video! ;-)
Who are those guys anyway! Well it is non other than Brave’s, Paranorman’s, Guardians’s, Hotel T’s and my 2012 favorite Wreck it Ralph’s directors talking shop! Sounds like a great roundtable even if I already disagree with whatever they will say about “Save the cat” ;-)
via Cartoon Brew
I just found a video of a very cool rig demo featuring some new features I have never had the change to play with.
– No twist arms and hands
– Deform point system
The creator tells us he made the full rig with facial in a week with his own autorig.
I am using this opportunity to plug an old article about World orient head and shoulders. I am amazed how many professional rigs don’t have such a simple constraint switch that makes animators life much easier and allows us to reach higher quotas and quality.
[disclosure: This blog post might be biased as Mike Makarewicz gave me a free Tshirt to thank me for supporting Animation Collaborative ;-) ]
Some of the conferences were a bit too generic especially the ones hosted by people who didn’t know the guests very well but there were plenty of great ones that went into the nitty gritty part of the animation process.
Animation Collaborative had a one of a kind demo this year with their “4 different approaches to Acting : context and creativity with Michal Makarewicz, Victor Navone, Rob Thompson and Aaron Hartline“. For that presentation they used a pretty bland audio clip that sounded like a Brian Tracy unless it was a Napoleon Hill audio book, and they went on explaining their tought process for animating a character to that audio clip. Michal had to shorten his presentation unfortunately but the presentation was really interesting. Ah, Victor was the only representative of the Step Key workflow, all the others used the Spline method.
I also attended an other demo with Michal Makarewicz which was way more insightful than the title implied: “Animate a take like a pro”. I know Michal pretty well as I attended Animation Collaborative last year, had a pretty long chat with him at Siggraph few years ago and he was also featured on several Animation Mentor lectures. Mike is also known to be one of the fastest animators at Pixar so it is always very interesting to see him animating and this time, despite the issues he had with Maya and one TV dying on us (compatibility issue with the Cintiq we got told), his demo was great.
As the title implied, using a Norman mod that looked like Sulley from Monsters Inc, he showed us how he would animate a take, using as reference, the shot from the famous Chuck Jones tribute sequence were Sulley fears Boo is being crushed in the trash compactor.
I knew Mike was a “layer animator” but I didn’t know how much he relied on properly setup hotkeys and additional scripts. As he said, all the interactions with the keyboard should be very intuitive and rely on muscle memory instead of having to look down where you fingers are going everytime you want to do something.
As such and with great difficulties, he set up all his Maya hotkeys to be on the left side of the keyboard. “You don’t want to cross the keyboard” he commented. If you have been following this blog for a long time you know I share the same views and I posted several workflow tips on how to make Maya more animator friendly. [Having only recently used Maya 2011 and 2012 I have had to face some incredible issues with the new hotkeys interface and eventually found a fix which I will share it with you very soon, I hope this was fixed in Maya 2013]
His other tip and probably the core of his fast workflow is to work in spline and copy the graph editor curves from one channel to an other as often as possible and scale, mirror or offset the curve when needed.
In the demo for example, he took the Hips TY (translation of the hips in Y) and copied it to the shoulders after inverting and offsetting it. There was also some nifty graph editor value operation using the *=.25 expression which was an “ahah moment” for a big part of the crowd and a never seen, at least for me and a good chunk of the audience, lattice graph editor scaling script which he used to create some residual energy for the head Y rotation on the settle.
He also explained that we shouldn’t “mess with the math” in the graph editor and never create kinks or overshoots with the tangents (Mike uses weighted free tangents only) instead you want to flatten the tangents and play with their weight. Here is an example of what he would do for a bouncing ball.
Alright that will be it for today, ah just to finish, I went to see Wreck-it Ralph at Disney’s El Capitan theatre on Hollywood boulevard and it was very good. I was expecting something a bit commercial with all the pop culture references and product placements but there was a great surprise with a specific scene I don’t want to spoil for you. Let’s just say, there was some of the magic from Tangled in the form of some very hearful moments were we couldn’t help feeling for the characters.
My post already brought some questions so here are the answers.
What is this *=.25 thing?
In the Graph editor, it is possible to adjust the value of a selection of keys by entering some expressions in the Key stats box. Here is how it works (click to enlarge the pictures):
And by checking the Maya online documentation, I realised the Lattice key deformation tool he used is not a script but actually part of Maya. Here is where you will find it and by double clicking on it you will access more options
I don’t like when people just post links to stuff without taking the time to write an introduction or some commentary but this is what I will do today ;-)
Hehe, actually I still have to write a little blurb as Google’s Doodler Creative Lead Ryan Germick is once again hosting a great interview with this time “Wreck it Ralph”‘s director Rich Moore.
I love Ryan’s interviews as he always does a lot of research before interviewing people and has a lot of great questions which he asks with a lot of humour.
“Wreck it Ralph” hasn’t opened yet in France but I will certainly see it next week after attending CTN. By the way, I am free if someone wants to invite me at Disney for a visit next week, even if it is just to lead me to the gift shop ;-)
Thanks Google, Ryan and obviously Rich Moore!
Mark Andrews and the Google Doodle Team
I just got told that the first two ReelFX’s “Looney tunes” shorts are now available online.
If you missed those look no further and watch them in their full 1080p glory on their own Youtube channel.
The TDs did an incredible job to allow the animator to push CG animation to an extent that was never permitted before. Crazy smear frames, multi limbs, out of the ordinary facial and body poses.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZhlXAYtaMw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cYMoxBWEZw
I am still waiting to see the entire Daffy’s Rhapsody but the wait shouldn’t take too long.
I also want to point out that ReelFX’s Supervising TD Josh Carey and the other guys from Rigging Dojo have an incredible source of information on their website so you must subscribe to both their newsletter, and blog’s RSS Feed, even if like me you are not a professional TD but only want to understand how things work and learn few things along the way.
Lately they have had some really good interviews with Sony’s Character and Animation TD Martin Orlowski for his work on “Pirates ! Band of Misfits” (I am wondering more and more how much was stop motion now….) and Sony’s TD Tim Coleman for his work on “Spiderman” and “Hotel Transylvania”. The latter was only available on the Newsletter so this is why you need to subscribe to both.
That’s it for today. I will write a longer article about the importance of communication between TDs and Animators an other day.
Thanks Amy for the heads up.
[update] Well the class sold out in probably less than two hours, this should give some ideas to other online schools like CGMA/CGMW (I can never remember the name, but I highly recommend the storyboard and character design class). CGMA has a 2 hours live class with the mentor every week, Schoolism doesn’t. Come on CGMA, there are plenty of great Feature Animation Vis Dev artist out there.
Check this out, Bobby Chiu’s Schoolism just announced a pretty awesome online class titled “Designing with Color and Light with Nathan Fowkes”.
I have been following Dreamworks visual dev artist Nathan Fowkes for a bit and I had to rush to book the course, granted I will have a slight issue compared to other students, I am slightly colour blind. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue, some people say Van Gogh was also colour blind and this is why the palette he used seems so vibrant to non-colour blind people.
Schoolism has also a bunch of other great classes from Zbrush to Storyboarding (with Kris Pearn) I would encourage you to check out
If you enroll to one of the courses and you want to support Animation with a Moustache, please give them the following promo code 75qs0
I should use this opportunity to thanks the two people who refereed me and I would like to hear which courses you took and how you found them.
I just found a 12 minutes introduction video to an other workshop he helds in L.A. that should give an idea to what to expect from his course.