Behind the scenes are very rare those days compared to 10 years ago where you could get 10 hours of extra features on the additional DVDs so let’s celebrate the ones available.
As an animator and hopeful storyboard artist, I am mostly interested in the nitty gritty of animation related stuff and storyboarding and this video happens to have a bit of both.
I find it interesting to see storyboard artist (mostly female yay) working together in a room, with Sharpies on paper, but this makes sense as it probably is a brainstorming session to work on a specific scene. I wonder if they will scan the drawings next or just redraw them on the computer, probably the latter.
Animation wise, except few seconds with fellow Animation Mentor graduate Kira Lehtomaki, there isn’t much to see however, I am still finding some material worth a look. In feature animation it is not rare for animators to use footage from actors reading their dialogue for their acting so I can’t wait to see how much the animators derived from it as the hand gestures here in the video are mostly contrived, symmetrical and unappealing due to the fact the actor are just focusing on their lines.
Despite all the great online animation trainings available those days, I feel there is still space for a more individual approach to the animation education in order to answer the specific needs of students or junior animators so I decided to resurrect the “Pick My Brain” mentoring program with the help of several “new brains”.
Go check out the newly redesigned website, it is shaping up nicely.
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!
Few years ago, finishing Animation Mentor meant making short films! What better way to show your individuality than making your own shortfilm. To me, an animator’s goal should be to make short films rather than just making shots. Andrew Gordon expressed a similar feeling in a 2008 Splinedoctors’ blog post.
Here is a great shorfilm by abAutorig maker and animator, Brendan Ross, aka “Supercrumbly”.
I meant to write a very long post on that brilliant shortfilm by Studio Soi but never found the time to start working on it. The release of a making of for “the Gruffalo” will be a new opportunity to feature Soi, one of my favourite animation studio since I discovered “Ernst Im Herbst”, a CG shortfilm using watercolour looking background, “Strasse Der Spezialisten”, “Olis chance” and “Tom and Lily”. I hope one day Soi will make a compilation of all their work.
The Gruffalo is a great shortfilm with a very fresh look and purely british quirkiness and I am even more proud to share with you the making of as several of my Animation Mentor classmates and fellow graduates worked on it.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uFld7yatGo
and don’t forget to check Studio Soi’s new blog!
Here we go, I am pretty much done with that shot. It is still in French but I added some subtitles for those who want to understand what this is about.
The audio clip came from a funny french candid camera show my friend animator extraordinaire and BYOA organiser Samy shared on Facebook.
In that clip the host was pretending to be a tattoo artist until, looking at the work he had started on their body, people realised with horror he didn’t know how to draw. Fortunately the needle was in fact a felt pen.
I really liked the audio as it couldn’t get more genuine, presented with an opportunity for a “take/gear change” and allowed for something broad without looking overanimated.
The original character was standing fairly still but I believe entertainment doesn’t come from under-animation or over-animation but instead in stylised choices situated at the edge of both. A good showreel should demonstrate understanding in broad and subtle acting. This will be my broad piece.
I will leave it in playblast for now and do a full render if I do an other pass. My goal wasn’t to have the best shot ever but just to get more experience with some of the concepts I rediscovered studying “the work of the masters” few weeks ago and hopefully get a junior or even a regular animation job in a french feature animation studio.
For the technical nitty gritty, I used my world orient FK spine again, world orient head and arms. I really like that workflow as it allows me to work in a layered method and keep adding levels of detail even when in polish. For my next close up shots I will be using an IK spine instead but I am still unsure how Bishop handles that.
For the nose I did something a bit fancy that I think is participating to make the face look more organic. In real life, if you observe people talking you will notice that the tip of their nose, nostrils and cheeks keep moving up and down following the opening and closing of the mouth.
Bishop has cheeks controls but with my custom nose, moving the nose control up and down wouldn’t have looked realistic. The skin of the face doesn’t just move up and down shifting the nose, it actually slides over its cartilage and the skull, causing a stretch of the soft parts of the head. (the ears also move actually)
Instead, I created a custom blend shape where the side and lower part of the nose came down simulating the pull of the skin according to the opening of the mouth. The effect is very subtle right now and I would have liked to push it further but after breaking the rig several time and using up few evenings with technical things I think this will do for that shot, time to move on, I think it is a nice close up shot with very stylised facial animation.
While polishing the spine of Bishop in that shot I realised that I had completely lost the original acting idea and I would probably be better off restarting from scratch but I still think it is still worth posting it.
Yes the right forearm intersects with the body and the left hand is still really rough, I have never said it was finished! ;-)
Well it’s out! Some really really nice work from my fellow graduates and ex coworkers.
Some of them have already landed top animation jobs and others will very soon.
And while we are at it, let me introduce you Bishop 2.0, the latest version of my favourite Animation Mentor rig. I haven’t had a chance to test it yet but this looks very promising and I have to mention that my friend the awesome Keith Ribbons helped out with the facial rigging.
Dan Carey “Shower Power” short film
My ex-classmate Pako Bagur just uploaded his work from “Planet 51”.
Eduardo Martin Julve showreel
I just realized that I never featured my friend and (ex)coworker Dan Carrey!!!
Here is his short film. “Shower Power”
You will also find Dan’s showreel on his website
We definitely had a bunch of top animators at Rare. Here is also Peer Lemmers showreel if you didn’t know his work:
My current animation lead, Neil Parkinson, is also a very inspiring animator/modeler/rigger/concept artist. Don’t be surprised about the crazy amount of skills, all my coworkers are Jacks of all trades at EA which can be a bit overwhelming sometimes.
Neil is currently finishing rendering his short film so in the meantime check out his reel:
Well while I am at it. I think I should also feature our local concept artist Burt Ross. Ross is a crazy Scottish guy who can be pretty loud when he plays Fifa at lunch. He also happens to be really talented at what he does, namely Concept art and Storyboards.
Ross is also the creator of the Astrofunk comics. Number 2 just came out by the way!
Check out his blog:
Ok, that’s it for today but I will soon create a new post feature the other crazy artists surrounding me.