Monday, June 27, 2011

Class 6 begins!

Oh wow... been a little while eh? Sorry y'all! Class 4 got super hectic with work and combined with the curriculum (as my wife can surely attest) i had very little free time.

Class 4 i had the pleasure of Mr Steve Cunningham of Dreamworks as my mentor and i learned a great deal from him. He had a magnificent way of pushing you as far as you could go and helping you come to your own creative solutions. I still check in with steve from time to time to make sure i'm not slipping! Class 4 is an introduction to acting class. The first half of the class is spent on a pantomime shot (no dialogue) and the second half you begin your one person dialogue shot (which you continue in class 5.) Steve really pushed me to choose a dialogue piece that was dynamic enough to develop a character and pushed me to be active in the scene (as opposed to just having a half body character sitting down and talking type shot.)

Class 5 is advanced acting and in it you spend a few weeks doing the facial animation on your one person dialogue and spend the bulk of the class working on your 2 person dialogue shot. I had the pleasure of Mr. Brett Coderre for this class and once again really learned a ton from him. He really drove home how to work with in a pose and keep things simple. I'm still getting a handle on it, but i can at least say i'm conscious of trying it. haha.

So here i am entering class 6. Polishing and Portfolio. The last step before graduating from the Advanced Character Animation program. Crazy. I can't believe how fast it's blown by and how much i still have to learn. That's the beauty of Animation. Every door you open just opens on to a whole other set of doors you didn't know existed. For this class i have Mark Oftedal whose famous for some pretty amazing shots in the Toy Story movies. My last mentor Brett spoke very highly of him and said he's the man for class 6 so i'm pretty stoked.

Here's my progress reel to date. Really excited to see how much further i can push these shots! in addition to all these shots i have 2-3 more 1 and 2 person dialogue shots i did in my off time at AM that i might include to try and clean up.



Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy new Year!

Hope everyone is having an awesome New Years Eve.

Pretty excited to be starting Class 4 at Animation Mentor next week! I've been working on a couple short shots in the off weeks. My goal was to get a short shot per week in pretty good shape (first polishing pass.)

Here's the shot i did last week. I haven't done anything on the face yet, but the Sergio rig has a full facial setup so i plan on going back and doing some more on the head/face. I wanna get some nice overlap in the hat and get some nice expressions in there.

Sergio is a weird rig, but i wanted to get some experience using non-AM rigs to prepare myself for the real world. The most notable thing on him is it's all IK. Never used an IK spine before, and not altogether sure what i think yet. It gives some nice freedom with the Squash and Stretch which i like, but FK is so intuitive so the verdict is still out. Also, the IK hands still move when you move the spine.. that seemed pretty weird to me as i always think of the benefit of IK was things stay where you stick them. maybe it's a bug? Who knows. Fun rig to play with nonetheless.

This week I'm working on a quadruped test. I found a tiger rig and I'm doing a run-walk-lie down test. Pretty fun trying something with more than two legs! I'll post that next week!

Happy New Years Everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Animation Class 3 RECAP

Oh boy oh boy oh boy! So here we are into are winter break and FINALLY i'm playing catch up with this here blog. Let this be a lesson. This crazy ol' animation thing takes ALOT of time. So much so, i couldn't even find the time to update this thing. But here i am, halfway through Animation Mentor! I can't believe how fast this has gone by already! I can say however, that i can most certainly see a marked improvement in my work. I haven't hit any major roadblocks yet (thank goodness) and my work continues to get better and better. But enough about all that! Let's recap Class 3 since i was so poor at keeping this thing up to date this term.

Class 3 at Animation Mentor is Advanced Body Mechanics. That's right. Another term of studying body mechanics, which, from what i can tell is a VERY good thing indeed. The old curriculum only had one term of body mechanics and clearly people didn't feel that was enough as not only did the curriculum change to what it is currently, but there were also a couple returning alumni in my class getting some extra practice in.

My mentor was Hyrum Osmond (who is yes, of THOSE Osmonds) from Disney. In this particular class there isn't set assignments or pick lists to choose from as with earlier classes. Basically you get free reign to do whatever you want as long as it's physical in nature and advancing your study of body mechanics. They give you a couple suggestions mostly around picking a 'theme' to influence your work. Themes like, gymnast or janitor or ninja etc. Basically, chose a theme and think about how THAT character would do things. Another thing you could do was what they call an AnimJam which is basically designing your shots in such a way that they all link together. I chose to go with the AnimJam cuz i thought i could almost make a short going that route.

The first week as always was getting to know your mentor and classmates as well as planning for your first shot. Since i was doing an animjam this term, rather than just planning for my first shot, i planned all three (i highly encourage you to do this if you're planning to try an animjam) thus insuring that all three shots worked well together. I've seen lots of animjams that don't quite work when synced up and i bet it's cuz they were planned individually. You have to think about the big picture, and as an added bonus this is something you should be learning to do anyway as on a production, your shot needs to not just work on it's own, but work in context.

I chose a burglar as my theme, with the twist being that nothing goes right for this burglar. I wanted it to be very pantomime ala Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. Since the stewie rig has no mouth, emotions and actions have to read in the poses so a 'silent film' style seemed appropriate. I scoured the internet for clips and shot a bunch of my own reference to fill in the gaps. This is what i came up with for my 3 shot sequence:

My first shot would be the burglar coming in and losing the gun and running for the door. My second shot would be the guy struggling to get out the door, and my third shot would be the burglar running away and meeting the cop.

My mentor thought it was a pretty funny idea and approved it. His only concern was that all 3 shots had 2 characters, which essentially doubled the work load for each shot. I assured him i thought i could do it, as the second characters were only secondary characters and the animation would be limited (also secondary characters was something i wanted to practice. keeping a backround character alive without distracting from the main action is one tough cookie!)

So i set to work on my first shot. This term i decided to try NOT doing pencil tests for timing (a tactic i later came back to for my third shot.) I still started with thumbnails though. For this ReCap, i'm just gonna put my thumbnails followed by my stages of animation.

Blocking Pass 1:

Blocking Plus Pass:

Polishing Pass:

This is what i turned in as final for this shot, but i hated it. The beginning and the end were working ok, but the whole gun pull and fumbling for it in the air, etc were just NOT working for me. I spent a good chunk of the rest of the term coming back and trying new things for this shot. Ultimately, i settled on something i like but it took a good chunk of time. I should have spent more time planning and trying different ideas out to see what played better. It took me a long time to realize the shot (from youtube) itself was not funny. The SITUATION was funny. In other words the whole crook losing the gun and the clerk getting it was funny, but HOW it plays out in the video was not necessarily the funniest way to do it. I got so caught up in thinking the situation was already funny that i didn't bother considering other ways to build more entertainment value. It took me all term to find something good, after re-blocking and polishing maybe 3-4 different ideas! I coulda just spent more time in the beginning and avoided all that. Lesson Learned!

Here's something a little closer to what i finally settled on (but still not my final idea)
Reblock/polish on Shot 1:

On to shot 2! This one came together a lot better and with less problems than my first shot. The first one was the one that plagued me this term! Here it is in order from thumbnails to final pass.

Blocking Pass 1:

Blocking Plus:

Polishing Pass:

And then it was on to shot 3. This shot was the inspiration for my whole animJam. I'd been wanting to animate this clip from Buster Keaton for a long time, so i was stoked to dive into it!
Here it is from thumbnails to final:

Dances are pretty tough, so as you can see i spent alot of time thumbnailing on this one. I also chose to go back to doing a flipbook test as well. I neglected doing so on the first two assignments with my thinking being that my thumbnails being so detailed, that drawing them again and making a test was essentially doubling my workload with no net benefit to my CG test. I think i was wrong there. Timing these out and experimenting with pencil tests ultimately led to better CG work (IMO.) Also, i tried something different, i just scanned in these images (rather than redrawing them) and adjusted them in flipbook to make my test. It worked out pretty good!

Flipbook & Blocking Pass:

Blocking Plus:

Polishing Pass:

I really have to thank some people in putting this final sequence all together. My mentor and peers were paramount to helping me get here. The feedback was amazing and pushed me further. Having friends like Jais Bredstead and Tu Nyugen in my class was really inspiring and pushed me to bust ass even harder to get a good final product. My former Mentor Drew Adams was a big help early in the term with my first shot, going above and beyond the responsibilities of his own work at Dreamworks, and his OWN class, to take the time and do a proper eCrit for me as well. Also, Travis Tohill over at ILM was a great help in feedback and sparking ideas throughout the whole term. Anders Ancker took the time to design the Burglar costume for me, as did my buddy Marcel (whose last name is way too long) who designed the Cop Costume for me. Also, Faisal Asghar who dressed the sets for me and turned me on (no pun intended) to a great lighting tutorial. That's the great thing about the AM community. There's always someone out there willing to help you out in one way or another and i couldn't have done it without this wonderful community.

Anyhoo, back to showing stuff. Here is the final test in sequence:

And then all polished up and rendered with music for my Progress Reel:

If you made it through this whole crazy post, you're more patient than I. Looking through it i think it's a pretty good representation of how much work goes into these crazy little cartoons. I'm pretty happy with my final work, but stoked to move on to acting and taking my skills up another couple notches. It's been a crazy adventure so far, but i've still got a looooooooong way to go and i'm excited to keep riding the train.

Two weeks until term 4, and in my off time i'm enjoying catching up on being social, watching movies, playing video games and enjoying my family. Of course, i can't still long, so i've got a couple short 100frame tests i'm working on for practice as well.

Happy Holidays! I'm outta here!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Animation Mentor class 3

Man have i been lazy with the blog lately. Let me tell ya... class 3 started getting pretty time consuming. As did my work and personal life all at the same time. I'll do a proper re-cap shortly but for now, here's the end result of My Class 3 Advanced Body Mechanics efforts. In this class you pretty much get to do whatever you want as long as it's physical, so i chose to link my 3 shots together and make an *almost* short.

Let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Assignment Upload

My computer really sucks ass this week. Here is my assignment for week 8 class 3.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Animation Mentor - Class 2, Week 12

Well i suppose i must apologize. It's been well over a month since my last post but with good reason! I swear! haha. There's been a couple things conspiring against me this term. The first is the amount of work required to complete the assignments. With the introduction of spines and heads and arms and hands, (as well as more difficult assignments,) the level of complexity and thus the amount of time necessary to complete the assignments has risen dramatically this term.

On top of all that, i spent most of the term away on business, at Siggraph, and my favorite, moving to a new apartment. As if all that wasn't enough, i was swamped at work and didn't have internet access at my new joint for a good couple weeks. So i apologize for no uploads, but i had to spend all of the little time i did have kicking butt on my assignments.

I think i did pretty good this semester. My mentor Drew Adams was just plain amazing. He gave me tons of great ideas, and was super critical of my assignments, which for anyway is exactly what i needed. I learned a ton from Drew, and he was truly an inspiration. If you go to AM, try to get him as a mentor! You'll thank me!

So.. rather than recap every week, we're at that point in the term where we upload our Progress Reels, so I'll just go ahead and let you take a look at that!

Our last assignment was another pick list. I chose to go with a dance, but i wanted to do a dance that was truly horrible that the character *thinks* is awesome. I used Elaine's notorious Thumb Dance from Seinfeld as my main point of reference, and spent a lot of time on the front half trying to build up that 'I'm awesome, this dance is gonna be the best' attitude. I particularly like those first 100 or so frames, as i didn't rely on the Elaine reference and really spent a lot of time with my mentor hashing out my ideas. The music is obviously not the original music.. just something i slugged in. If this were to go on my real demo reel, I'd find a good track and re-animate a bit to hit the beats properly.

I'm also quite fond of my first shot this term where Ballie is jumping the Gap. I just feel like i did a really good job getting as much out of that limited rig as i could. The sticky gum assignment came out decent i guess, but i'm least happy with it. That assignment fell in during my Siggraph/Moving/etc phase so i just didn't feel like i got the amount of time into it that i would have liked to spend.

Anyhoo. Without further ado... here it is! My Class 2 Progress Reel. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

SIGGRAPH & Animation Mentor - Class 2, Week 5

Oh buddy! What a week! This week was a true test of work/life/school balance. I'm in the middle of relocating back to San Francisco, fairly busy at work, and have to get my first blocking pass together for this weeks new assignment. As if that weren't enough, I also attended my first SIGGRAPH.

Let's start with that shall we? I wasn't planning to go this year as I'm only in Class 2, and hence have nothing to show recruiters but some super sweet bouncing ball reels, but my good buddy Jason convinced me that it was A: Awesome, and B: worth my time. Plus he hooked me up with discount tix and free hotel.. so really I'd be just stupid not to go. For those of you who don't know SIGGRAPH is a huge computer animation conference. This includes VFX and all that too, but the point is every major studio is there with recruiters and once i graduate AM it's gonna be a mandatory first stop in my career hunting.

I was lucky enough to be tagging along with an accomplished Pixar dude, and that most certainly got me into some pretty sweet parties including the ILM Lighter/Darker party and the infamous Blur Party (both were fricking awesome!) AM also had a host of rad events to check out. I started with the coffee talk on tuesday. After that i scooted over to the Iron Man 2 panel and got to check out some unreleased footage from the film. Also checked out the AM animation blockbuster breakdown panel, which was really a treat. What else... hmm. Saw a How To Train Your Dragon panel which super cool, and my buddy Jason was part of SIGGRAPH Dalies where he explained how he rocked the Fire at the end of TS3. The AM Happy Hour was also pretty boss. Got to meet a lot of people in person for the first time, and some new people as well.

SIGGRAPH was pretty awesome. I met a lot of really great people, and saw lots of really cool stuff. I look forward to next year in Vancouver when I'll have a more complete reel at hand!

So anyhoo, that took a good chunk of my week.Monday-Thursday. I brought my laptop along thinking i'd be able to squeak in some animation time, but all i really brought along was a heavy paper weight. I got absolutely no animation done during SIGGRAPH. I flew back Thursday morning, and with no work thought I'd have a good shot at making a dent in my homework, but with very little sleep over the SIGGRAPH days i pretty much coma'd out Thrusday once i landed. That left Friday. I took Friday off work and busted serious ass to pound out my pencil test for timing and basic blocking. Here's what i finished up Friday:

I did a lot of experimenting on this one and ended up taking a bit longer than normal for a pencil test. I tried a lot of different ways of getting into poses and tried to stay a little more on model (rather than using straight up stick figures) in the hopes that would speed up blocking in maya. In the end i think it did. Even little things like paying attention to the shoulders (which i wouldn't have done as in depth had i used stick figures) really helped speed the Maya Blocking phase.

Saturday, as if my week hadn't busy enough, was spent apartment hunting followed by a late afternoon lunch at the in-laws for my sister in laws Birthday. Got home in the evening and jumped into Maya. Pulled a late night and managed to squeak this out:

And now it's time to sleep! Catch you next week y'all!