About me
Rss feed

Welcome to the Archive section of the blog!

“This is what you need”, gathering references

Posted on September 28, 2011 
Filed Under Animation, Education | 12 Comments

As I was saying yesterday, I have started working on a new shot based on Stars Wars Episode 03 – Revenge of the Sith but I am treating one of the major turning point of the series with a twist. Here is my version of the story, Star Wars fan boys don’t hate me ;-)

Anakin Skywalker left Tatooine years ago and is a college drop out who currently works part time as a Costco business delivery boy to fund a life which is not leading anywhere as he is very remotely interested in pursuing any professional career.

The Supreme Chancellor Palpatine is a very driven man who fuels his very busy schedule and around the clock meetings by drinking Diet Moutain Dew instead of coffee. Coffee upsets his stomach but the kick provided by Mountain Dew and its sweet taste without the sugar intake seem to work wonder for the health-conscious Chancellor and his office has become such a regular delivery address for the young Anakin Skywalker that Palpatine and him have become very good friends. The Emperor has become a bit of a confident and a father figure but Palpatine is getting increasingly tired of Anakin wasting his life and he has today decided to help him out to get a job and is trying to convince the young man to work for him….”

I need to clarify that I am not addicted to Diet Mountain Dew and I would probably recommend not to drink any Diet sodas or eat anything containing aspartame. Eat five fruits a day instead and drink a large glass of fresh water instead of coffee everytime you crave for caffeine, unless you live next to Philz ;-)

Right, back to the shot, make sure you check my previous post in the first place just to situate the sequence in the movie. Here are my references and customisations I applied to the Animation Mentor rig Bishop to sell the story better. I am still missing the Darth Vader outfit but this is not the priority for now. it will come at a later time.

Now what about the audio clip you may wonder, well, once again, I found a great clip in a very unlikely movie which I will not reveal for now. As soon as I heard the clip I immediately saw it as a worthy contender as it contains humour without being 11 seconds club funny and the sound and music in the background contribute to create an ambiance and make it very dramatic. A very cinematographic audio clip for which I could immediately picture the facial expressions of the character.

I then started thinking about a situation that could work with the context and make the clip even more funny and came up with the story above.

I will post my layout and acting ideas in few days once I have those worked out. Here is the audio clip with the facial expressions I came up with in the meantime. The audio is slightly offsync but the acting should be clear enough. Don’t make fun of me I know I am a cartoon ;-)

Related post:
Emotional beats, Star Wars Episode 03

Emotional beats – Star Wars Episode 03

Posted on September 27, 2011 
Filed Under Acting, Animation, Education | 4 Comments

When looking for great acting I usually refer to boring and austere black and white or pre-1970s movies but once in a while I am amazed to find great performances in contemporary blockbusters or mainstream shows. The “Lost” TV series being my first source of reference at the moment but more on this later.

I am currently working on a shot involving two characters and a story plot based on Star Wars Episode 03 and while looking at the original movie and a specific scene with the Senator Palpatine and Anakin Skywalker, I was amazed at the performance of Scottish actor/theatre director Ian Mc Diarmid. To be fair, a movie featuring a 60+ years old stage trained shakespearean actor is very likely to present some exceptional acting moments. Everything from his body posture to his face and voice are outstanding. Loot at that subtle hand shake on the wider dramatic shot. Hayden Christensen’s acting seems cartoony and, as my friend Richie would say, almost grotesque in comparison ;-)

Here is the full keyframable quicktime video sequence between the sly Palpatine and candide Anakin followed by a series of screenshots to highlight the key moments of that very impressive performance where he reaches his goal after a series of tactical advances in the manner of a chess player.

Even without the audio you would be able to witness his emotional beats and get a good feel for his manipulative strategies, shifting between parental, authoritarian, cynical and sheepish attitude. What a little snake! ;-)

Notice how much a head rotation, squeezing of the eye lids, contraction of the nasal muscles can affect the expression. It is amazing how much he is able to communicate within the same body posture.

You can also pay attention to the asymmetry of his mouth in 4b and 4c and finish with a good look at that priceless fake smile on 9c that can only be detected by the fact that the eyes muscles don’t get involved in the upward motion.

I would highly suggest you to check out the HD version at the following address:

I think this could be a nice add-on to the Jeff Gabor interview I featured few days ago. If you don’t have outstanding drawing abilities, there is no way you could work out and plan a similar animated scene in sketches and thumbnails. Using edited video references seems like the best option for subtle acting shots.


Posted on September 26, 2011 
Filed Under Drawings | 2 Comments

DreamWorks first personal art publication, Moonshine, was conceived as an opportunity to highlight the breath of artistic development talent at Dreamworks.

This short documentary gives you a sneak peek into the personal works from the artists.

via Paperwalker

While we are at it, here are some of my latest sketches and a picture of my AnimC classmates hard at work on the Berkeley campus.

Josh Carey, VES rigging submission

Posted on September 26, 2011 
Filed Under Animation, Education | 7 Comments

Check this out! ReelFX rigging supervisor Josh Carey (nothing to do with my buddy Dan Carey except that they probably share the same good look) just posted his VES submission showcasing his AWESOME work on the Looney Tunes shortfilms.

I haven’t worked with the rigs so I don’t know how slow they are but they sure give the animators a lot control to achieve that crazy Warner Brother look.

It is finally possible to emulate the 2d cartoony look in CG and this will certainly push the medium to a new level leaving motion capture way behind or at least separating the two in a very dramatic manner.

Josh Carey is also the co-founder of rigging educational forum Rigging Dojo and seeing the tools he provided the animators with I immediately subscribed to their newsletter.

Rigging Dojo

Related posts:
ReelFX Looney Tunes shorts online
Ray Chase showreel

Jeff Gabor webcast recording is online

Posted on September 24, 2011 
Filed Under Animation, Education | 6 Comments

Jeff Gabor’s AnimSchool webcast recording is finally online and it is great. It is nice to finally hear him talk about his workflow and explain why his video progression reels regularly get pulled down. Check it out it is really funny and sometimes a bit politically incorrect so that’s very refreshing.

I want to highlight some of the gems he shares with us but make sure you quickly watch the video before AnimSchool removes it from public’s viewing.

Jeff obviously discusses the shot he animated for AnimSchool and goes frame by frame through it explaining his workflow.

He talks about acting in modern feature animation compared to traditional 2d one, the use of video reference versus thumbnailing for subtle acting, overanimation…

Interestingly enough, Jeff is one of those guys who animates exclusively in IK, I wonder if he uses Body Spaces or just regular unparented world IK….

TweenMachine! Yay I agree with version 1 being the simplest and the best, just like Facebook :-)

Someone asked about Tradigitools… the answer is funny. Come on, Tween Machine, Michael Comet’s AutoTangent, that’s all you need in Maya really, and they are both free.

Here is the link to the AnimSchool blog post, you will need to register to get the link to the actual recording.

Jeff Gabor’s webcast

While you are on the the AnimSchool blog, make sure you also check Garrett Shikuma’s interview. It is pretty long and very interesting.

Garrett Shikuma’s interview

Related Posts:
Maya Mel scripts for animation
Jeff Gabor

Shopping for a new laptop?

Posted on September 20, 2011 
Filed Under Life hack | 2 Comments

My trusted HP Pavillion DV7 laptop is still doing fine but I am really tempted to buy one of those new kick ass i7 processors with HD screen and Bluray player since the price have come down a lot lately. It would be sweet to learn Vray on that.

I had a look around but I am very happy with the HP brand and the new DV7 is so sexy that it became obvious it would be mine.

Here is the configuration I selected

You might be able to review the full specs at the following link

A second generation i7 with HD screen, 8gb ram, Bluray player for few bucks over $1,300. Not bad hey!

Just for kicks, I checked the online Apple store to see how much such a configuration would cost me on the dark side and I am now understanding why Apple corp has so much cash flow. At nearly $2,780 with the first generation i7 and no bluray player, the guys in Cupertino must be enjoying themselves by the pool. At more than double what the HP DV7 is going for, they are charging a nice premium for OSX.

Here is a screenshot of the specs

AnimSchool, free Malcolm rig!

Posted on September 13, 2011 
Filed Under Animation, Education | 5 Comments

That’s it! Hurry up, Animschool’s Malcolm character is finally available freely for XSI. A Maya version will be following shortly. I can’t wait to test the speed and facial flexibility of that rig!

Now who is going to teach me how to use XSI? ;-)

AnimSchool free Malcolm rig

Related post:
AnimSchool updates

Animschool Jeff Gabor live webcast

Posted on September 11, 2011 
Filed Under Animation | Leave a Comment

Animschool just announced a live webcast next week with Blue Sky animation superstar and amazing actor: Jeff Gabor. The live webcast is already fully booked but Dave Gallagher announced that a replay will be available at a later date

Animschool Jeff Gabor live webcast

Related posts
Jeff Gabor Horton Hears a Who comparative reel
Jeff Gabor Ice Age 3 walkthrough videos

Over Eric Goldberg’s shoulder

Posted on September 10, 2011 
Filed Under Animation | Leave a Comment

Here is a series of really cool videos where Eric Goldberg during a talk at the Irish National Film school explains his work process through a series of a drawings.

Make sure you check the 10 videos

ReelFX Looney Tunes shorts online!

Posted on September 9, 2011 
Filed Under Animation | 9 Comments

“Coyote falls”, “Rabid rider”, “Fur of flying”, the three ReelFX Looney Tunes shorts are finally online. Awesome!!


via Focus on Animation

Related posts:
Ray Chase showreel
Josh Carey VFS rigging submission

Next Page →