Animation is not just about making characters move in space senslessly. Animation is about taking conscious artistic decisions and communicating definite ideas in a clear manner.
My former mentor Kevin Koch posted a great article that is an excellent addition to the article I wrote few weeks.
Check it out!
This happened over the weekend. “Souvenir Souvenir” won “Best short subject” aka “Best short film” at the 48th Annie award ceremony, two month after also winning Sundance!
I can’t be any prouder of having been part of this short film!
A quick behind the scenes and demo of the 3d work I produced as underlay and volume for Bastien to be able to project his texture and add visual artefacts. This was the very first sequence in the shortfilm and one of the early sequences in production so I didn’t have eye rigs yet.
When working on the bar sequence aka “GG Bar ANIM 01” on Bastien Dubois’ “Souvenir souvenir” shortfilm, Bastien gave me a rough outline of what he wanted to see in the sequence and a great audio to interpret and cut.
Having two characters sat at a table and exchanging lines is the most boring kind of performance you can create so I always try to make the action more specific and find some additional business, some secondary action the characters can do, just so they belong to that situation and to that shot specifically, and not to any other part of that story, or to any other storyline.
I remember several great clips from Billy Wilder’s “The apartment” we were shown in the acting class at Animation Mentor and those are great examples I always keep in mind when thinking about “secondary action”.
This shot eventually got cut in the cutting room so I can only show you the 3d animation pass and few screenshots from the final treatment. I hope you won’t get distracted by the rig glitches.
For that sequence, Bastien only gave me an outline of what he wanted to see, an audio, a camera and 2 character rigs. With a careful editing, a touch of basic modeling and rigging, it was up to me to sell him the sequence and Bastien really like what I gave him until he had to make dramatic cuts few month later, to reduce the length of the short film.
As you might have guessed from my previous posts, a big chunk of the short film was actually animated in 3d and like a surgeon, Bastien carefully removed some frames, then added a magical compositing and 2d animation/texture pass to make the 3d animation look more 2d so there was no need for a high polish of the action in 3d. We were more interested in the pacing of the cuts, the composition, the energy of the shot, which a lot came from the secondary action, aka, the business the characters were doing.
I hope you will find this interesting and keep an eye on the Annie Awards next week as we are competing in the short film category!
Animation is a time intensive process and the production had a really tight deadline with a 3 month budget for the CG animation. The shortfilm plays on two timelines and Bastien wasn’t quite sure yet how much of the 18 minutes I would be animating so I had to use my time very wisely.
For most of the body mechanics shots I therefore adopted a TV series workflow to try to go as fast possible but for some complicated sequences where the acting could be interpreted in various ways, I settled for video references which gave us a solid foundation even if we tweaked it a bit once in the 3d software then the 2d software.
Here you can see one of my video references on the corner, a 3d version on the top right and Bastien’s final touch on the left where he would do his magic.
(sorry I didn’t sync the audio very well between the preview and the final output)
I had never seen that video before. Some interesting informations here that weren’t publicly available before.
I like how they split head rotations in orbit/side/nod and twist instead of xyz. This makes communication easier.
I was already using the bend/side/twist terminology myself as xyz might not always be relevant: in some rigs xyz might represent xzy on others, so discussing rotation order with junior staff usually comes as a challenge and the information doesn’t come across clearly if you don’t use a more abstract or vernacular terminology.
My guess would be that the order in Premo and Apollo, is the rotations order like in Maya, with twist as the main driver, and orbit as an additional global rotation to feather in some additional layered rotation maybe?
I will make the most of the fresh Movies Insider video article to finally plug Chris Brejon’s almost biblical lighting article which I started reading this summer while I was rendering some shots. The 10 chapter series is so in-depth that I never found the time to finish it. One day!
Now if you just want an introduction to lighting, here is good appetizer for lighting from Insider again, with some little behind the scenes from Netflix’s “Over the moon” and other studio’s movies. Like other commentators I will mention that Lighters do the lighting work, not the Animators though, it would takes decades for a movie to come out otherwise ;-)
Insider has some really talented journalists I must say. I should repost their cinematography documentaries one day.
Even if Epic came out in 2013 and most of those screenshots might be outdated, I still feel they would be of interest for people interested in facial topology and a good resource for a future overall facial topology article and facial rig calisthenics.
Blue Sky topologies are very rare online so I used ChopRig system lead developer Daniel Lima’s showreel for reference. You will see meshes and wireframes from 2019 “Spies in Disguise” and 2013 “Epic”.
Bastien Dubois‘ latest shortfilm finally aired on French/German TV channel “Arte”.
With its unique animated visuals inspired by Argentinian illustrator Jorge Gonzalez and uneasy theme, I feel really privileged to have been part of this outstanding short film beautifully mixing 2d and 3d techniques.
The short film successfully relates Bastien’s unsuccessful multiple attempts at tackling the atrocities committed by French army during Algerian War of Independence. Not an easy theme to be treated in animation that’s for sure!
French and German viewers can hit the following link to access the short film in full.
For other territories, the short film is currently running in animation festivals so here is a trailer below in the meantime. The trailer’s music is not reflective of the final soundtrack ;-)
Come back to this post in the next weeks as I will add some behind the scenes if I get the all clear from the production.