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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 
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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 
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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” / 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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Rotations order at Dreamworks

Posted on November 24, 2020 
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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?

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Lighting in animation

Posted on November 19, 2020 
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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.

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Blue Sky wireframes and topology

Posted on November 2, 2020 
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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”.

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