Friday, December 15, 2006

Session 412 we are again, at the end of a semester. It is, for the forth time, kinda sad to say goodbye to everybody in the class and to the mentor. We had a great final q&a on Wednesday, where everybody was up and got our final notes from Sean.

It's been an awesome year, beyond anything I could ever imagine when I signed up at Animation Mentor. It's been tough, no doubt about that. Lots of stuff to learn, but above all super duper fun and exciting! This term has been the most exciting for me so far. Less trial and error and less frustration. It's been a lot harder in terms of workload than previous terms, but I feel a lot more comfortable with my workflow now.

My mentor this term, Sean Sexton from Dreamworks Animation, is a supernice guy :) The q&a's every week was stuffed with awesome information and he went through shots he has done, talked about problems that came up and how he solved them. Awesome! He's a fantastic motivator and every e-critique was a huge encouragement, yet he pointed out all the stuff that needed to be addressed and fixed. If you ever get him as a mentor, you're in VERY good hands!

2/3 of AM done and six months left! Class 5 is all about pre-production and planning for our short film. It's going to be a blast! But first, three weeks off! Well deserved! Pat on back :)

Thanks to everybody that takes the time to read my blog.

Here's my Class 4 assignments:

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Session 411

It's been a loooong week doing all the final touches on this piece. There's still some polishing stuff that need to be addressed, but overall I'm somewhat satisfied with how this assignment turned out. 3-4 weeks ago I was really afraid that I'd taken on too much, and I probably did, but at least I was able to finish it.

450 frames, 2 characters, acting and physical stuff - in only 7 weeks, thats not too bad I guess :). Lesson hopefully learned, the hard way, prior to the short film classes - Keep It Simple!

Here's my final submission of It's Over:

And the last couple of facial poses:

Monday, December 04, 2006

Session 410

Almost there :) I was able to go over all the shots and get thru a first pass of polishing this week. Still lots of tweaking left to do the final week of class 4, but slowly getting closer.

Here's my 1st polishing pass:

Here's the facial poses this week:

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Session 409

It's been a pretty good week. I managed to get thru a 2nd pass of refining on the bodymech and a 1st pass on the facial animation on all the shots. The lipsync and the facial is kinda rough at the moment, but I got two weeks left for polishing :)

I've mentiond the Glen Keane lectures at YouTube before and now all of them are up, 18 in total. It's a huge inspiration to hear how he approach a shot and how he works thru it. Awesome!

Here's my 2nd refiningpass:

And here's this weeks facial poses:

Monday, November 20, 2006

Session 408

Alright, I'm back on track. I was able to get thru all my shots and get them into a 1st pass of refinement. The worst part is over :) Even tho the 2nd refinement pass, the polishing and the facial stuff probably is more time consuming, it's at least less frustrating. I'm actually beginning to think that I'll be able to finish this piece on time, some way or another.

There's no doubt that I've taken on a bit too much on this assignment, but to look at it in a positive way, it will give me an indication about how much I can handle for my short film the next two terms.

Great lecture this week about Entertainment, hosted by Pixar-star Doug Sweetland. How to explore different ways of approaching and thinking about a scene/shot to get it unique, sincere and as entertaining as possible.

Here's my 1st pass of refining for "It's Over":

Here's my facial poses this week:

Monday, November 13, 2006

Session 407

Oooohh. Bad week! It's been a while, so that's okay :) The pros says that the part after stepped blocking is where everything feels hopeless and the shot is at it's crappiest ever. That's sooo true, but even if it's normal, it still sucks.

Anyway, I blocked in a new version of the last shot and converted shot 1, 2 and 3 to splines. Went over all the curves, cleaned them up and started to work on Shot 1. Kept working on shot one....still working on shot 1. Wow, this takes time. We're on a tight schedule so I have to get thru refining all the shots next week, at least a decent first-pass of the overall bodymotion.

I came across a great link to a video of a Pixar tour. Check it out. There's also interviews with John Lassetter and Dan Scanlon. Really nice stuff.

Here's my semi-refining pass:

And here's the facial poses this week:

Monday, November 06, 2006

Session 406

Time for breakdowns this week. Lots of lots of work, but defining arcs and getting in the overall motion is maybe the most fun part.

I have a lot of keys on this one. I guess we should decide if we put our keys on the bodymechanics or on the acting, but I kinda did both, because it's a lot of physical stuff going on at the same time as there's acting, and it looked weird if I skipped either. The result was a lot of keys and therefore a lot of breakdowns :) I threw in one breakdown between each key and then an anticipation inbetween and an overshoot/settle/easing inbetween and ended up mostly on 3s and 4s. Even 2s some places.

Sean wanted me to come up with a new gesture for the guy in the last shot, so I left that untouched this week, but I was able to go thru the first 5 shots and break them down as much as I felt was needed before going to splines.

Most of you are probably aware of this already, but if not, check out Keith Lango's blog. His series of posts about manufactured images in CG productions, is awesome (the link is to the first post, there's a lot more on this topic at Keith's site). Not only does he point out what might be wrong, but there's also a lot of gold in there to learn from.

Here's my 2nd pass of blocking on "It's Over":

And the facial poses of the week:

Monday, October 30, 2006

Session 405

First week of blocking on the multi-character shot. This is fun!! I went thru the videoreference and analyzed the heck out of it and then blocked out all the main actions and the key poses on both characters.

Ever since late in class 1, almost a year ago, I've heard about this fantastic Victor Navone-lecture, a complete walkthru of a shot from start to finish. This week we got to see the first part of it :) as our lecture. And it IS awesome!!

This week we also had a live Cars-Q&A with Victor Navone, Anthony Wong, Carlos Baena and a couple of other Pixar-guys. They answered all the questions we had about the making of Cars and went thru a lot of the stuff that they had to deal with during the production. Seans Q&A's is also awesome! He worked on Over the Hedge and for the last couple of Q&A's he has gone thru several shots he did and talked about how he approached the shots. Great great stuff and super inspirational!

Here's my 1st blocking-pass of "It's over":

And here's this weeks facial poses:

Monday, October 23, 2006

Session 404

It's been a busy week. Luckily my last shot was approved by Sean with only tiny adjustments, but for our next assignment we had to find an audioclip with two characters, plan it, shoot videoreference, thumbnail and do the basic layout and editing.

The previous shot (Zeus) was picked mainly because of the physical action, so this time I'm going to try something more subtle and emotional. I still feel that I need practice on body mechanics, so I think this audioclip is a good clip for both physical animation and emotional acting. The scene is about 400+ frames, 6 shots with two characters and we got 7 weeks left to do it! It's gonna be tough, but a fun challenge :)

Keith Lango has a great new tutorial up at his site about eases and favoring. Also, check out his breakdown-tutorial. Great stuff!

Here's my layout for "It's Over!":

And here's my planning:

Monday, October 16, 2006

Session 403

It's always very exciting when a new package arrive in my mailbox. This time it was Justin Barrett's "Animate a Face" and Cristin McKee's "Animate!". Great great stuff. It's totally worth checking out!

The lectures keeps getting better and better. Mark Oftedal hosted the lecture this week about how design applies to animation. Not character design, but how to use design elements to lead the eye and stage the shot. The Q&A's with Sean is also fantastic. There's sooo much golden info in them. Seans mentor at Dreamworks/PDI was the one and only James Baxter so we're learning from one of the very best sources on the planet :)

This is the final week with the Zeus-shot. I've been working on it since Session 305 or 306. That's almost 2 1/2 months! I'm sooo tired of the shot and it looks really bad to me right now. Hopefully it will look better when I get some distance in a couple of weeks :). Next week we're starting our 2-character shot. That's gonna be fun!

Also, somebody at school put up an awesome link about storytelling. It takes about an hour to watch, but its worth it. :)

Here's the final of the Zeus-shot:

Here's my facial poses this week:

Monday, October 09, 2006

Session 402

It's been an interesting week. The lecture was really cool. It was about editing and as a former editor I found it particular interesting to learn the Hollywood-structured way of thinking about storytelling thru editing. Very cool stuff. It was hosted by Patrick Kriwanek from Berkeley Digital Film Institute. Awesome!

When it comes to my assignment, its been ups and downs. Going from blocking to refining on the facial animation has been tough. With a gazillion controls that has to work together to make it believable, its easy to get a bit lost. Since this is the first time I ever touched a facial rig, I felt that I didn't had a clue of what I was doing at times. But towards the end of the week, it came together in an okay way I guess. Still one week left to polish it. Practice makes perfect. :)

We also had to make a couple of facial poses this week. It was pretty fun trying to find a cool expression and then exaggerate/simplify it on the Bishop rig.

Here's some very interesting links I came across. The first one is a shot breakdown from Everyone's Hero by from Justin Barrett and the other one is a new tutorial that's up at Victor Navone's blog about facial takes. Awesome stuff!

Here's my facial refinement-pass of the Zeus-shot:

Here's my facial poses:

Monday, October 02, 2006

Session 401

Class 4! Wow! Now we got a full character rig, complete with facial controls. Thats a lot of controls :)

My new class is pretty much my old one. I know most of them from previous classes and the new guys seems really cool. Its going to be another super quarter. We had a great q&a this week where everybody where introduced and we met our new mentor.

My mentor is Sean Sexton from Dreamworks Feature Animation. Supernice guy! Here's his bio:

Sean Sexton is currently an animator at Dreamworks Feature Animation. Sean graduated from the traditional animation program at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, N.J. then started his career as a Character Layout Artist/Animator on Matt Groening's Futurama. After four years on Futurama he left to work on Dreamworks' "Sinbad Legend of the Seven Seas". He then made the switch to computer animation for "Sharktale", Aardman's "Flushed Away", "Over the Hedge", and is now currently working on Jerry Seinfeld's "Bee Movie". Sean's favorite movie is "Jaws" and feels that it is still not safe to go back in the water.

This quarter is going to be awesome. For our assignment, we had to thumbnail and block in the facial animation on the shot we did last term.

Here's my assignment:

And here's the thumbnails:

Monday, September 25, 2006

Session 312

Sooo, this is it for Class 3. It's been a fantastic quarter. Great class and a great mentor. I've never done any acting before AM, and making a complete fool of myself thru video reference was a bit scary, but I did it and I'm proud of it :)

My respect for actors has grown enormously during this quarter. The amount of work that goes into an acting part is a lot more than what we eventually see on the screen. I feel that I've scratched the surface of what acting is, but it will probably take a lifetime to master it, which is cool - always something new to learn :)

The first assignment this quarter, the letter-shot, was a tough experience. It was a 4-week struggle from start to end. A lot of frustration, trial and errors (mostly errors) and I was on the edge of giving up a few times. But, ironically, when looking back, it was probably during that time I learned the most and even if that shot still doesn't work as well as I wish, it made the next assignment a lot easier to do. I was able to avoid all the pitfalls from the previous assignment when I started the Zues-shot. I went back to my old workflow and was able to refine it further. I felt that I had much more control over the shot. It was still frustrating at times and a bit of a struggle, but much much more fun! So all in all, this has been the toughest quarter so far, but then again, equally rewarding in the end :)

Michelle was a perfect mentor for this term. She's tough (in a good way), honest and went straight to the point, always respectful, kind and supercool. The q&a's was well prepared with tons of awesome tips and tricks related to the specific lecture and lots of cool stories about her experience in the industry that ranges from high-footage environments like The Sims to high-quality work like Gollum and Princess Fiona.

Next term is Advanced Acting. Class 4 is the last quarter before we begin our short film in Class 5 and then finish it in Class 6. It's scary to think about that it's only three months away, but at the same time I feel a lot more "ready" now, than I did three months ago.

A huge thanks to Michelle and to all my fellow classmates! It's been awesome!!

Here's my rendered assignments from Class 3:

And the revision of the Zues-Shot:

Monday, September 18, 2006

Session 311

Phew!! The final assignment in class 3 is turned in. It's been superduper hard, many many long hours, but most of all FUN!! We're about to finish up the 9th month at Animation Mentor. It's really unbelivable, 9 months ago we struggeled for a week with a bouncing ball and now we're animating a fully rigged character to dialogue. This school rocks big time!!

Disney-animator Mark Henn (supervising animator: Jasmine, Mulan, Belle, Pocahontas, Young Simba and more) hosted this weeks lecture about sincerity. How to get the audience to believe in the character. It's soooo cool to get his thoughts about this concept, that I believe is the core of what creates the magic of Disney, from one the most experienced animators in the industry.

Here's the final of my "Zeus"-shot:

Monday, September 11, 2006

Session 310

I've continued to refine my "Zeus"-shot. I re-did the hands after watching the awesome lecture about hands this week. I also tried to umph it up a little bit more by tweaking the timing/spacing here and there.

Here's the 2nd refining-pass:

Monday, September 04, 2006

Session 309

I went from blocking to refining this week. Except from some workflow problems in the beginning of the week, its been a pretty good week. Again I have to make a reference to Mentor Schleifers blog :). He has a very very good post about going past blocking, The fear of moving past blocking.

In the last couple of weeks, some awesome videos/documentarys about Richard Williams has popped up at YouTube. This is simply awesome inspirational stuff. Check out 'I drew Roger Rabbit' (4 parts) and 'The thief who never gave up' (6 parts). There's also lots of pencil test uploaded. Take a look at this Beaty and the Beast test. More pencil tests from this user. Great stuff.

Here's my refining pass of the "Zeus's"-shot:

Monday, August 28, 2006

Session 308

It's been a really good week. I'm back working with my old workflow on this assignment (blocking in linear - playblast in stepped) and I feel a lot more comfortable and in more control by doing that instead of the copied pairs method. I get a sense of the timing right away and I can keep the shot fairly open to changes pretty far along. I'm sure the Copied Pairs method have its pros, but I tried it on my previous assignment and it didn't quite worked out that well for me.

What else....the lecture this week was about eyes/lids and blinks and it was hosted by Disney's Jason Ryan. Eyes truly are the window to the soul :) Great lecture. I also read a post over at Jason Schleifers blog about receiving critique. Check it out. Very interesting thoughts and I totally agree.

Here's my 2nd pass of blocking of "Zeus":

And another revision-pass on the Letter-shot:

Monday, August 21, 2006

Session 307

First week of blocking with Bishop, our new character. I got a go from Michelle on the "Zeus's" clip, so everything is set for this one to be a really fun shot to do.

During the past months, Animation Mentor has collected students work and put together a showcase that first was presented at Comi-Con and later at Siggraph. That showcase is awesome! Take a look!

Here's my first pass of blocking of "Zeus's":

Monday, August 14, 2006

Session 306

Busy week. I did another revision-pass on the Letter-shot and for our next assignment we had to find three lines of dialogue, which basically means watching tons of movies and television shows in order to find interesting audio-clips. In addition to that, we had to shoot videoreference and thumbnail all three of them. Phew!

For this assignment we have a new skinned character, Bishop. We will work on this assignment for the rest of this quarter and for the first weeks of Class 4, by then, with a full facial rig. Things are getting tougher, thats for sure :)

I read a very interesting post over at Keith Lango's blog - his thoughts about why some movies succeed and others don't. Very interesting, worth a checkout!

Here's my audio-clips for this assignment:

And here's the thumbnails:

And here is my revision pass of the Letter-shot:

Monday, August 07, 2006

Session 305

It's been the final week with the Letter-shot and it's been tough and exhausting, but totally fun and I've learned a lot about acting (which I knew almost nothing about beforehand) doing this shot. Hopefully I will be able to take that further on the next assignment when we're animating with a completely new character to a dialogue piece. That's gonna be tons of fun :)

I bought an awesome book last week, "A Practical Handbook for the Actor", that teaches a great acting technique. Check it out! While you're at it, check out Ed Hooks' books too. Awesome stuff.

Another very cool thing I came over was a thread at CG Talk called "The Unoffical Truth about the Industry". It's a great post about everything from wages and how to best put together a demoreel.

Here's my final of the Letter-shot:

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Session 304

Yooohoooo! Things has been a lot better this week. Michelle liked my blocking and i've taken it into refining/blocking plus. It's awesome how great the good days feels after a couple of really bad weeks. In fact, I think that having a bad day or two actually is very useful and maybe also necessary to be able to appreciate when the real fun kicks in :)

Fantastic lecture this week about Secondary Action by Jason Schleifer. Stuff that helps enhancing who the character is and what emotional state he is in. Great stuff. Jason also has a great blog. Check it out!

Here's my assignment this week, the blocking plus of the letter-shot:

Monday, July 24, 2006

Session 303

Week of despair. Nothing has worked out for me this week. Three re-blocks and none of them is as solid as I would like it to be. Feels like I hit a brick wall or something...ahhh well, that happens once in a while. Just has to get over it and move on :)

Anyway, the assignment has to be turned in, no excuses, so I kept going and tried to find some inspiration. It's been a while since I read the transcript of the Stanford 2005 Commencment Speech by Steve Jobs, but this week, while I was searching for something to keep me going, I stumbled over the video of the speech at YouTube. I also went back to the Animation Podcast, awesome stuff. Especially the Glen Keane casts.

Sooooo...bottom line, my week of despair is over!! Lots of stuff out there to pull me back up and continue towards becoming a character animator. Still happy, still looove animation :)

Here's my new blocking of the Letter-shot. Back to my old workflow this time, copied pairs didn't seem to work that well. At least not for now:

Monday, July 17, 2006

Session 302 to a tough start this term. The thief-idea I submitted last week went out the window in exchange for another idea with better potential for showing emotional change. So I came up with an idea of a guy opening a letter, read it and then reacts to it. Basically I started over with new videoreference and new thumbnails.

I'm testing out a new workflow this time - blocking in copied pairs. I was pretty happy with my current workflow, but it's a good habit to stay open to new and better ways of working...and no regrets so far. In an acting shot with few key poses, I think copied pairs is a great way to block out the shot, 'cause you can get a better sense of the timing a lot sooner and it's easier for the director/mentor to get a feeling of the shot at an earlier stage. So that's cool :)

Here's my new idea thumbnailed and the first pass of blocking in copied pairs with only the key poses and one breakdown inbetween each pose.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Session 301

Whhoooohooo!! This term is going to rock big time! My new class is awesome. I know most of them from previous classes and the new guys are great people. The whole class is foreigners which means q&a at 8pm instead of 6am, which is kind of nice :)

My new mentor, Michelle Meeker is supercool and she has done a lot of great stuff. Here's Michelles official AM bio: After graduating from CalArts in 1993 and 1996, Michelle has worked on both U.S. coasts and abroad in New Zealand and China. Her animation credits include "Shrek", "Antz", "Lord of the Rings" and "Geri's Game." She started off working for Sesame Street Interactive amd then moved into studios such as Pixar, PDI, and Weta Digital. Mixed in with the bigger projects have been stints with E-greetings, Maxis (Sims), Stormfront, Vidlit, and Little Airplane. For the past 4 years, she has also enjoyed teaching animation at the Art Institute of California, San Francisco.

Did you read that? She animated Shrek....that's beyond cool! Shrek rocks!!

Anyway, no fooling around the first week this time. Straight to business. Acting! Oh man that's hard. We had to come up with an idea, shoot videoreference and thumbnail, preferable several versions. Here's my planning and a quick animatic of the story that I submitted. (The videoref is for AM eyes only hehe):

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Between terms

During the week off we've been moving to a new house in a new town. Now everything is in place, the internet connection is finally up and I'm ready for Class 3 - Introduction to acting!

More info on my new class and mentor next week :)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Session 212

Alright...this is it! Class 2 is over. I can't believe we've been doing this for six months already. It's been an awesome joyride so far and i'm now, more than ever, sure of that this is what I wanna do for the rest of my life! I can't imagine a more rewarding task than creating life to dead pixels and evoke feelings in an audience by doing it. Hopefully soon I will be able to do that.

A summary of my thoughts of this term:
The term was about learning body mechanics and developing a workflow that we're comfortable with. I feel that I'm almost on track regarding the bodymech part. My mentor said that I have pretty good weight in my animations and that the body mechanics feels ok. I think that the first two assignments, the 180 turn and the boxjump went ok, but the last assigment turned out a little bit...i dunno....blahh i guess. I'm not satisfied with it at all and it's bugging me like crazy. My mentor thought it had good weight and okay body mech, but now when we're on our way to acting, he thought it lacked some entertainment-value and crispness. I totally agree. I'm kinda angry with my self that I didn't pulled it off in the very end (Don't worry - i'll be happy again soon)

I'm still experimenting with my workflow. The Jason Ryan approach (block in linear - playblast in stepped) worked pretty well on the two first assignments, but on the last one it kinda fell apart. Too many bodyparts and IK/FK switching, made my graph editor a mess and several times I felt that i had no control over it at all. But thats ok :), now I'm trying a slightly different approach and we'll see how it works out.

My mentor, Pixar animator Robert Russ, is awesome. The e-crits each week was stuffed with great suggestions and thoughts. The Q&A's every Wednesday night (PST) was several times a lecture on it's own. He took whatever questions we had and elaborated and explained in detail what he thought based on his experience (which spans from Toy Story 2 to the upcoming Ratatoullie-movie). And what a nice guy!! Fantastic mentor!

Overall I've learned sooooo much during this term, about animation and how the human body behave in different situations. And this is only the beginning. Next up is Class 3 - Introduction to Acting. Thats gonna be tough, but also tons of fun! But first.....a week off from school! YOOOHOO!!

To my fellow classmates/students that read my blog:

Here's a collection of all the assignments in class 2:

The revision of Session 211:

Monday, June 19, 2006

Session 211

Finally!! The last assignment for class 2 is turned in. I'm probably going to do a revision after Robs crit, but officially, the Sticky Door is done and it's a great feeling :)

Bobbys lecture on clearity this week was very helpful and pointed out, in essence, that the most important thing is that the audience understand the shot. It sounds obvious, but believe me, with all the stuff we've learned for the past six months, it's kinda easy to forget.

Here's my final of the sticky door shot:

Monday, June 12, 2006

Session 210

Tough week, but slowly getting there - step by step. This assignment is really really hard, but at the same time I feel that I'm learning tons of new stuff all the time, so its kinda rewarding too.

Carlos hosted a great lecture about advanced arcs and path of action - the importance of arcs and figure-8s to get fluidity and smooth motion. I also had a nice Q&A on saturday with Paul Allen, DNA animator.

Here's the refining pass of the Sticky Door assignment:

Monday, June 05, 2006

Session 209

It's been lots of "aaarrrrghhh!" and other bad language during this week. At times it felt like i didn't had a clue of what the heck i was doing. Arms everywhere, the spine rotating in its own directions, kneepops etc. But hey, thats why we're here, to learn how to deal with it. The good thing about it tho, is that it forced me to really wanted to get the concept of force - 'cause I really believe that's one of the secrets to get believable weight into the character and thereby get more control over what I want my character to do.

Wayne Gilberts book and my notes from Dave Mullins' Locomotion-lecture and the notes from Waynes Force-lecture was a big help in that matter. Im not at all saying that I understand it yet, but it feels like i'm starting to get it.....a little :)

Anyway, great stuff happend too. Kenny Roy (Weta, King Kong) hosted another q&a this week. There's always awesome stuff coming from him and it's such a huge inspiration just listening to what he has to say about animation. The lecture brought back Rick O'Connor (ILM) to talk about animating animals. After watching the lecture I tried some walkcycles and to sum up - animals is tough!

Here's my 2nd pass of blocking of the Sticky Door:

Monday, May 29, 2006

Session 208

First week of blocking with the whole package...well not really, by the end of class four we probably have at least twice as many controls to deal with. But, now we have a full body character - Stewie with arms. Dealing with FK/IK is a bit tricky, but thats tech stuff. Dealing with forces, motivations, thoughtprocess etc. in the character, is a lot harder. But learning all that stuff to be able to make the character feel alive is supercool!

Back to timing in another lecture with Carlos this week. This time - advanced timing. The idea that we probably never will learn all there is to learn about timing, is soooo great. There's always someting new to discover about the concept! It's like having a wallet that never gets empty. Cool!

It's an article on AWN this week about Animation Mentor. Nice stuff - check it out.
Also, check out this interview with Bobby Beck at Animation Lounge.

Lots of uploads this week. First the assignment - first pass of blocking of the third and last animation in class 2, the sticky door. Then the revision of my box jump from last week and final, Rob asked me if I wanted to simplify my thumbnails to make it easier for myself to use it in my blocking, so I did :-)

Revision Session 207:

New planning for Sticky Door Assignment:

Monday, May 22, 2006

Session 207

It's been another loooong, but superexciting week!
We had to finish the box jump assignment, as well as shoot videoreference and thumbnail our final assignment in Class 2. Refining, tweaking and polishing the box jump took forever - ahhhh, animation is tedious, but I love it! :)

Three q&a's this week - first an awesome special q&a with Matt Simmons, Jessica Sances and Melvin Tan from Bluesky about Ice Age 2. Then the weekly q&a with Rob - always good stuff and last a q&a on saturday with Kenny Roy (King Kong).

The lecture introduced us to one of the moviemaking aspects of animation - composition and staging. A great lecture by Carlos - lots of exciting stuff to learn about that concept. Btw, check out Carlos' website, tons of good animation tips.

Here's my final of the box jump and my planning for the next assignment:

Monday, May 15, 2006

Session 206

Half way thru class 2 - yay! Time flies when having a great time :)

The lecture this week was about animating the force behind the movement. A hard concept to grasp, but crucial to make the animation believable. The host, Wayne Gilbert, is also the author of the book "Simplified drawing for planning animation" - check it out.

It's been long hours this week, tweaking and refining my box-jump assignment. The blocking was approved by Rob with some adjustments and here's the refined version.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Session 205

I've now started to animate on the 2nd assignment, the box jump. Our new character Stewie has no arms yet, but he has a spine. This means a lot of new stuff to think about. Reversals, counterbalancing, twisting etc. It's getting more complicated and tougher, yet tons of fun :).

Workflow-wise I'm getting more comfortable with blocking in linear mode. It gives me more control over the timing and spacing and fewer surprises when moving on into refining and polishing.

Robs q&a was very useful, this week too - he always come into the q&a's with some very cool tips. I also had a q&a on saturday with DNA-animator Paul Allen. He looked at my shot and gave me some very helpful comments.

Here's the first pass of blocking of my box jump assignment.

Revision of my 180 turn.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Session 204

Yeah!! The first assignment in class two is done - at least until tuesday when I receive my e-crit :). The 180 turn was hard, but superfun.

This week we had to finalize our 1st assignment and plan out our next one that we're gonna work on for the next four weeks. We have a new character now, Stewie. He's a more advanced version of our old friend Stu. We get a picklist with different assignments, graded by difficulty. I'm picking a jump on and off a box, which is something in the middle difficulty-wise.

Here's the final version of my 180 turn (expect a revision next week) and my planning for the next assignment:

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Session 203

With the walkcycle last term fresh in mind, I knew this session was going to be a tough one. Going from blocking to refining is tedious and tremendously timeconsuming.

Workflow-wise, I'm refining in linear mode and next week i'm gonna convert it over to splines, start to put keys on induvidual parts to get more overlap, trace the arcs, fix the pops etc. It's gonna be a tough week as well...but hey, i'm creating life into a ball with stilky legs - can you ask for more? :) It's hard and at times frustrating, but it's amazingly rewarding to watch my shot come to life, little by little.

I'm blessed with some awesome friends from the school that constantly gives me feedback and helps me improve my shot. Feedback is gold - from anyone - at any stage.

Here's the refined version of the 180 degree turn:

Monday, April 17, 2006

Session 202

In addition to body mechanics, this term is a lot about finding a comfortable workflow. Last week I tried a workflow that Rick O' Conner (Star Wars, Narnia, War of the Worlds ) showed us, he uses a pose-to-pose linear approach and this week I've tried a workflow taught to us by Jason Ryan (Chicken Little) which is a linear/stepped approach.

During the week, I got some great feedback on my work from my fellow classmates and some really helpful comments from my campus mentor Clay Kaytis (Pocahontas, Treasure Planet, Chicken Little). He also host, in my mind, one the most inspiring websites for animators -
The Animation Podcast - check it out - it's a great site!

My planning last week was approved by Rob with some minor adjustments, and here's the blocked out version in stepped keys (the main key drawings and breakdowns):

Friday, April 07, 2006

Session 201

Whooohoo!!! New term, new class and new mentor :)
Class 2 - Body Mechanics and my mentor is Robert Russ. He has animated one of my favorite shots from The Incredibles - the shot where Bob comes home after being fired and the little kid on the tricycle says "I don't know, something amazing I guess". The way that the kid looks slightly shy/embarrassed and at the same time hoping to see something really cool, is just awesome! But that's just one of a lot of cool shots Robert have animated. Here's his bio:

Robert Russ joined Pixar Animation Studios in 1996 and has had the opportunity to work on almost all of the Pixar films. He began his work at Pixar as a crowd animator on "A Bug's Life". From there, he moved on to work as an animator on "Toy Story 2," "Monsters, Inc." and "Finding Nemo." While working on "The Incredibles," he was able to expand his role as an animator by assisting the character articulation team to build the basic set of controls that animators use to animate all the characters. He then directed his attention to animating the characters Edna Mode ("E"), Mr. Incredible/Bob Parr and Elastigirl/Helen Parr.

How cool is this?!?! We also had a great first q&a where everybody was introduced and it seems like it's gonna be another awesome term. Great class!

The assignment this week is to shoot reference and plan out a shot that we're gonna work on the next four weeks.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Session 112

End of Class One.
It's kind of sad to split up with all my classmates, but I guess we're gonna see each other during the next five semesters :). I don't know if any of you read my blog, but anyway - thanks a lot all of you guys for an awesome quarter, it's been fantastic!

I feel i've been given the best possible start to this animation journey by having Greg as my mentor. He made us feel welcome to the school and totally relaxed and comfortable. He sure knew what we as beginners was going thru and he has an unique ability to tell us the right things to help us improve our skills - always kind and always encouraging. Thanks a lot Greg - gonna miss have you as mentor!

The very last assignment in Class 1 is to gather all the assignments into one movie-file. So here it is. Any comments and critique on my work this first semester are very welcome.

Revision Session 111

Monday, March 27, 2006

Session 111

Physical movement mainly generates itself from the hips - that has been the focus this week - hip angel, hip movements and hip rotations. When switching from side view to a perspective camera, tons of new stuff suddenly pops up that you have to think about, especially in the hips...and the legs...and the knees - actually, especially in everything - nobody said it was going to be easy :)

Since it's only a 2d image once it's on the screen, even if it's created in 3d, it is more challenging to track the arcs and get a smooth motion when animating to a camera, but adding the third dimension also makes it feel like "more real" character animation - which is kind of cool.

This is the last assignment for Class 1, a personality walk in 3/4 perspective view and a Stu pose that communicates "Balance".

Revision for Session 110

Monday, March 20, 2006

Session 110

Less frustration, a lot more work and tons of fun - that sum up this week with walks with personality. Planning is really essential and shooting and studying videoreferences, sketching thumbnails, and block out the main key drawings took up almost the whole week, but that made it possible to get a clear vision and get the actual animation done a lot easier and faster.

The assignment this week was to make a characterwalk, a walk with personality and to pose the Stu-character in a pose that communicate "Exhausted":

Revision for Session 109:

Monday, March 13, 2006

Session 109

Week 9 and many many long hours with walks are over - for now. This have been the toughest week so far. My blocking was approved by Greg, but to go from blocking to refining was really really hard. There's so much going on in a walk and because we see it everywhere all the time, it's so easy to spot if it's wrong.

But, to get over the frustration of not understanding and to finally start grasping the concept is a huge feeling and totally makes all the effort worthwhile. Big applause to Bobby, Shawn and Carlos for putting this learning process together so well!

Session 109 assignment and pose communicating "Concerned":

Revision from Session 107 based on Gregs critique:

Monday, March 06, 2006

Session 108

Walks! An ordinary vanilla walk - that's what this week was all about. Lots of work and studying, but superfun as always!

The q&a with Greg this week was great. I had a really good time and picked up lots of nice tips about walks. On sunday we went to Oslo Central Train Station to study people walking up close - that was an amazing experience! There's tons of cool walks out there if you really start looking, everybody walks differently.

The assignment this week was to plan and block out an ordinary vanilla walk and submit it as stepped keys (just the main key drawings). We also was asked to draw and pose the Stu-character in a 'strong' pose:

My revision for Session 107:

Monday, February 27, 2006

Session 107

Another great week at Animation Mentor!
Arcs and Path of Action was the concept this week. It's cool because now I start to see all these things we're learning, in movies and cartoons - really noticing them. That makes almost everything a tremendous source of learning, reference and inspiration.

We had a q&a with Justin Barrett this week. He walked us thru a shot from videoreference to blocking to final. Awesome! He also was my campus mentor and gave me some really good help and nice tips on my assignment.

They introduced us to a new character this week, a little cutie named Tailor, and here's my Tailor-animation for this weeks assignment:

Revision for Session 106:

Monday, February 20, 2006

Session 106

Half way through class 1 already! These six weeks has simply been awesome! AM totally redeems the expectations and way beyond! It's soooo great to be a part of this amazing community. I love it!

It was about Overlapping Action this week. Much much harder than it seems. It was a real struggle! Bobbys class was great though and next week overlapping action continues along with arcs.

We had several q&a's this week. First a great Q&A with Greg. Got some very useful references for overlapping action. Then a Q&A with Weta Digital animator Kenny Roy (King Kong). A great guy with tons of useful tips! Last there was a two hour q&a with Bobby about the school and stuff thats coming etc. In other words, an amazing week.

The assignment this week was to animate a pendulum.

And here's my revision for the session 105 assignment:

Monday, February 13, 2006

Session 105

It's been an awesome week! Squash & Stretch and Anticipation really adds life to the bouncing ball. It's been hard, but totally fun and it's more and more obvious to me how important feedback from fellow classmates are. I've been lucky to have made some friends that I feel gives me totally honest critiqe and comments on my work. Coolio!

This week we was going to animate a ball bouncing through an obstacle course and also sketch and pose the Stu-character in a devastated pose: