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Maya free tricks!

Posted on December 4, 2022 
Filed Under Animation, Education | Leave a Comment

I am about to launch a series of tips and tricks for Autodesk’s Maya animators covering things that are probably not known by new or non-technical users.

With close to 15 years of experience in Maya as animator, modeler, character TD and possibly TD, I have acquired a vast amount of knowledge that could help non-technical animators to optimise their animation work and better understand the intricacies of CG animation.

God-like superpowers

Posted on November 12, 2022 
Filed Under Animation, Character design, Drawings, Education | Leave a Comment

I am one of those art snobs whose goal is nothing less than to be able to draw like the late Kim Jung Gi and only rely on my imagination to create work.

It doesn’t have to be that way!

If like me, you are only at the start of your artistic journey, this mindset can hinder your efforts and be detrimental to your progress.

We take for granted that all the best work is created from imagination and undermine how much research and references can participate to the creation of the most exciting artwork.

Kim Jung Gi himself was not creating art out a vacuum, instead he was digging into a mental library he crafted over years of studies. Years of looking at and analyzing references.

Few weeks ago, my fellow Basque Vis Dev artist extraordinaire Sylvain Marc, unveiled his new Schoolism class and looking at the trailer, I was once again in awe at his very distinctive work characterized by simple bold shapes as statements and intricate details … as whispers. I am feeling poetic this morning. As you can see on the trailer, Sylvain gathered a very large collection of buildings and clocks references before opening Photoshop and this is certainly what makes his work stand out compared to artists using formulaic and generic assumptions.

An other example I would like to mention for the use of references to give more umpf to your work is the character design of 10 years best selling manga: Once Piece.

I am not an avid One Piece reader but I can’t help going back to Eiichiro Oda’s best seller and marvel at his striking character designs.

For a very long time I simply admired the bold designs and once again assumed they were created out of thin air when in reality, real characters and caricatures of those real characters are what the world of One Piece is populated with.

Had I not came across this fantastic post on Quora, I would have never thought about it and just assumed Oda was just gifted by god-like abilities.

There are a ton of examples on the thread so make sure you check out the article :

That’s it for today, I hope this article will incite you to look at references for inspiration and stop behaving like an artist snob!

Top 10 documentaries on animation

Posted on September 1, 2022 
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I came across Electric dragon505 AKA AniMat’s Youtube channel a while back while looking for Disney documentaries and immediately subscribed after watching his monumental 11h31 Disney History masterpiece video essay!

AniMat is very knowledgeable and also a great watch for his regular no-hold barred Animated Features reviews with which I tend to agree.

Today I just wanted to single out his 5 years old Top 10 Animation documentaries. There is a possibility it would be a bit too Disney centric but at least he is mentionning some documentaries that are a must see for Feature Animation lovers.

People in the know might be surprised “The sweatbox” wasn’t mentionned but we know Disney tried to veto it many times.

Related posts:

“Arcane” (Fortiche/Riot games)

Posted on August 5, 2022 
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[Just to organise things a bit, instead of having separate posts for the same movie, TV show, I will keep updating the original post so you should consider those blog entries as work in progress and would invite you to revisit them once in a while.]

I am surprised I never posted about it… ah actually I did on Facebook but the way things are going, it is time to get back to blogs.

So like an UFO, Arcane crashed in our tidy little animation garden and blew everyone away.

The cel-shaded look wasn’t revolutionnary for anyone who has been in the industry for a while. It immediately reminded me of Aardman’s Pierce Sisters and even more “Meet buck” and “Salesman Pete” by Supinfocom dropouts Marc and Denis Bouyer .

Personally what blew me away was the story and the acting. Jinx acting is just unbelieavable and is a masterclass in secondary action. I will have to write a blog post just on that topic! The acting and the story wouldn’t work as well if they weren’t also served by some incredible storyboards/layouts and camera work obviously.

So here is a collection of behind the scenes, interviews, related articles and interesting videos I found on the net starting with the first of a 5 parts making-of series that just got released:

The following Making-of video is an older one:

Interview with Arcane’s anim sup Barth Maunoury”Our goal was to find a good balance between realism and ‘cartoon’ style. Since our characters have semi-realistic proportions, they have to move and behave in a realistic way with weight and solid body-mechanics. But to keep the appeal and avoid any uncanny valley effect, we also had to bring traditional animation techniques. That’s why we didn’t do mocap [motion capture] but only keyframe animation that allows us to control our acting performance and aesthetic.”

Alexis Wanneroy shares how the most successful Netflix show of all time came to fruition

“The bad guys”

Posted on April 28, 2022 
Filed Under Animation, Education | Leave a Comment

Let’s celebrate Dreamworks’ latest feature: “The bad guys”. A movie that brings a breath of fresh air in an industry where things tend to look a little bit too similar as explained by director Pierre Perifel in the Inbtwn interview.

Here is the trailer followed by an in progress list of trailers, interviews and behind the scenes material.

Huge spoilers with this 6 minutes opening scene.

Siggraph presentation:
Graphic 2D-Inspired Characters in The Bad Guys

Agora has several great interviews with Dreamworks artists :


Posted on June 23, 2021 
Filed Under Animation, Education | Leave a Comment

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.

Secondary action (A.M. article)

Posted on June 2, 2021 
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My former mentor Kevin Koch posted a great article that is an excellent addition to the article I wrote few weeks.

Check it out!

Related posts:

“Souvenir souvenir” Annie award win!

Posted on April 19, 2021 
Filed Under Animation | Leave a Comment

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!

Related posts:

“Souvenir souvenir” / Intro sequence

Posted on April 19, 2021 
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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.

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Secondary action

Posted on April 10, 2021 
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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!

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