Category Archives: Uncategorized

Making of DUEL

DUEL was the first project to be completed using Artella, as such we were invited to do a 1 hour Q&A about the process and making of. Some topics we covered
– Coming up with ideas
– Hair without simulation
– Problems encountered
– Keeping a team engaged on a distributed project

Watch below:

DUEL

Proud to finally share our short film DUEL. It marked my first time directing, an amazing experience working with 46 artists around the world. The short premiered at the CTN Animation Expo as its opening animation, followed up by a fun panel talk and a Cartoon Brew exclusive online release.

The level of support and enthusiasm my the short was inspiring, thank you to all those involved. We’ll be doing an online Q&A on Wednesday December 14th, 9pm Pacific Time. Come and say hello!

06_still01 07_still02 08_still03

DUEL and CTN


It was announced this week that the short film I’m directing will be the show opener for CTN, followed by a panel discussion about the making of. We’re currently pushing hard to get things done, but will post more about my thoughts on film making, directing and online collaboration once it’s done. Looking forward to posting more frequently again on this blog.

Announcement on Artella.
Article on AWN.

Animation School vs Industry

AMandIndustry

The above 2 pictures popped up on my Facebook feed today, and thought they were a good example of something I’ve noticed having made the transition from Animation Mentor to the industry.

Animation Mentor and other character animation specific schools have set up a great system that reflects the day to day role of an animator in a medium to large studio. The idea of choosing an audio clip, using a prebuilt rig and showing just playblasts allows the student to focus the vast majority of their time purely on the animation.

But even within the assignments you’re still getting a taste of the different departments in the pipeline. You will create your own story for the shot, probably draw up an animatic, mod the rigs to create more unique characters, build a set, establish staging, etc. While the mentor will act as a director, there’s still quite a lot of creative room given to the animator.

If you have a look at the above images though you can see that so much had already been established by the story artist. This to me is a good example of where school and industry differ.

The room given to the animator is going to vary widely. The director’s/supervisor’s directing style, detail in storyboards, the deadline, the type of production, the studio culture, etc is all going to influence how much room an animator will have to move in bringing ideas into the shot. But for any students reading, I think it would be worth finding some storyboards (or progression reels) from films you like and compare it to the final production. While it may not be the most eye opening exercise ever, it will give you a greater insight into the actual role of an animator and what to expect when you do make the leap into the industry.


Animated by Carlos Baena


Animated by Jason Martinesen

Animation Master Studies

I’ve always been interested in methods of learning, whether it be animation, language or any other topic. In the creative fields a musician will start by playing popular music, a writer will read profusely and a painter will spend some time copying masters. With modern CG animation schools and their relatively short course lengths it seems that idea of really analysing and copying masters as a way to learn the craft is often sacrificed.

Long before going through Animation Mentor I stumbled across John Kricfaluci’s blog and his thoughts on learning animation through his self made curriculum. For about a year I followed his process of copying from Preston Blair’s book as a way to study appeal, poses and construction of characters. It was essentially the way I learned to draw.
Preston Blair study

Fast forward to 2014, where I attended a talk by Mark Oftedal on cartoony animation. He outlined ways of studying and copying the masters of animation then applying those observations into your own shots. It reminded me a lot of John Kricfaluci’s methods and was also a bit of a kick in the butt to get back in the habit.

Below are some examples of the studies I’ve done recently.

Pose studies
Animation Master Study : posingAnimation Master Study : posingAnimation Master Study : posing

Figure studies
Life Drawing Study
Life Drawing Study

Animation studies
Life Drawing Study : animationLife Drawing Study : animationLife Drawing Study : animation
Life Drawing Study : animation

Some thoughts on using this method of studying animation:
– As a CG animator I find drawing quite a refreshing way of skill building and observation, especially after a day of sitting in front of Maya.

– Mark recommends doing quick gestural type sketches, John recommends taking time and aiming for accuracy. I tried both and felt I was getting more out John’s method of paying attention to details, I thought more experienced illustrators may prefer Mark’s method.

– In both the poses and animation studies, it’s often quite clear where your understanding or analysis falls short. John recommends overlaying your sketch on top of the original and noting the differences. I found when doing the animations, I’d often miss getting the feel of the original. Going through and finding the points where the 2 differ were often eye opening.

– I also found this method a great way to ramp up for a project. My current project at work is quite cute, so I spent some time going back to Preston Blair’s book and also copying Mickey Mouse poses as a way of getting used to the style.

Jules Test

I was recently invited by Animation Mentor to do a shot with their new Jules rig as a way of both testing and showcasing it. It was a tight schedule of 3 weeks in just my spare time, but am happy with how it turned out.

Thanks to Albert Morrissey for his rendering, lighting and modelling skills. Always a pleasure to work with.

Figure drawing

I’ve heard so many differing opinions on the importance of drawing by great CG animators, writing my own opinion seems almost pointless. It is however the number 1 skill I’m working to improve on for this year. I have a few books on drawing (mentioned below) but I find there’s enough online to work with, it’s more a matter of sitting down and doing it regularly.

New Masters Academy has some great over the shoulder videos of Glen Vilppu and Steve Huston drawing poses (both artists have taught at Disney and Dreamworks). Even if you have no intention of picking up a pencil they’re great to watch as they both talk about the essence and movement within a pose, a great way of thinking when analysing your video reference.

New Masters Academy offers 26 youtube videos of models posing, but On Air Video also offers a great library. Currently they have 150 model sessions of about 25 minutes each all for free on youtube.

Pixelovely offer a free tool for drawing reference. I like that it has expanded to include hand, animal and expression libraries.
figureDrawing02

Drawing Force (4 parts) by Mike Mattesi

For those who are complete beginners, this thread might be worth a look. It documents the progress of Jonathan Hardesty who put himself through a fairly regimented program of teaching himself to draw over a few years. As his site shows he became quite successful, but I was interested to see how far he got in just one year:
figureDrawing01

Some other links:
Why Disney sends its animators to life drawing classes 
Tuesday tips by Griz and Norm
John Kricfalusi, Can Life Drawing Help Your Animation
Jason Ryan, Stick Figure Tutorial
Rad how To
Aaron’s Art Tips

Books!
Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth Free Online | Printed
Simplified Drawing for Planning Animation
Drawn to Life
Dynamic Anatomy
Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
How to Draw Animals

Drawing cartoon figures
Tom Bancroft’s books
Christopher Hart’s books
Instruction: Preston Blair’s Advanced Animation

Working Smarter & 99U

For those who don’t know of the site 99U, it’s similar to Ted Talks but with a focus on “Making Ideas Happen”. I went through most of the talks a couple months ago and while none deal directly with the topic of animation I think a lot of the information and theories can be applied to animators. I’ve picked out the four that have stuck in my mind since watching them:

Tony Schwartz: The Myths of the Overworked Creative

Heidi Grant Halvorson: The Incredible Benefits of a “Get Better” Mindset

Gretchen Rubin: The 4 Ways to Successfully Adopt New Habits

Cal Newport: “Follow Your Passion” Is Bad Advice