Saturday, December 22, 2007

All good things has to come to an end!

Today was my last day at Ambient Entertainment! I've been working as an animator here in Germany for the past 4 1/2 months and it's been some very good months! Ambient is an awesome place to work!

Even though I've been there for a very short time, I feel that I've learned a lot and grown as an animator. I've picked up some really good tips and tricks from both my co-workers and from my supervisors, who are the nicest guys ever. I feel very very lucky to have gotten a job at Ambient as my first step into the real animation world.

The worst thing about leaving, is the parting from all the great new friends I've made during these 4 1/2 months. Every day when I went home from work, my cheeks were hurt from laughing all day. It's been fantastic! I'm gonna miss those guys and I hope that sometime in the future, we will be working together again.

Bye bye Germany. It's been a true pleasure!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Hobbit

Peter Jackson will after all be involved in the making of The Hobbit. This is awesome news for a true LOTR fan :)

More about the great news at the official The Hobbit Movie blog.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Over the past month there's been posted some goodies from the animation world on the internet.

A few weeks ago, Victor Navone posted the one shot he did from Ratatouille, followed by some really cool thumbnails he has done at Pixar. It's nice to get a peak into how he's planning and thinking about his shots. Navone also did the first e-critique at the 11 Second Club. It's a great learning resource, especially how he talks about the importance of showing the characters thought process.

Another animator that has been sharing his process is Justin Barrett. On his website he's posted the progress of a 25 second long shot with Puss in Boots from a marketing campaign for Shrek the Third.

The second part of the interview with Dale Baer is out at The Animation PodCast. Great to learn more about his generation's experience at Disney, kind of overlapping the Nine Old Men and todays young animators, and how they see the transition from 2d to 3d.

It was really cool to see the 2d work that James Baxter did on Enchanted. Beautiful animation. Can't wait to see it on the big screen. I'm really happy about Disney getting back to 2d, with the Goofy short and the Princess and the Frog with Ron and John back behind the wheel.

I'm also superexcited about the upcoming video tutorials from Jason Ryan. He's started to post some Ramp Up tutorials already. Sign up to his newsletter and get the goodies :) It's gonna be great stuff!

Exciting times ahead :)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Featured in the Animation Mentor Newsletter

This month, two of my awesome classmates (and co-workers), Michael, Carmelo and me, are featured in a full article in the Animation Mentor Newsletter.

Click here to see the article: "3 Students - 3 Countries - 1 Feature"

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


I'm sharing a room at Ambient with 4 great guys. One of them is an Italian jukebox that have decided to make caricatures of us. I'm not sure about the theme here, but he obviously thinks that the Christmas needs to be saved somehow. Anyway, fun stuff :)

Here's Mitja's interpretation of Micha, Carmelo, Patrick and me:

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Here's a couple of quadruped cycle-tests I've done with the Animation Mentor dog rig.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


Just read on CGTalk that Jeff Lew is close to releasing his feature film - Killer Bean Forever. He spent 4 years doing a 85 min animated feature - alone! I totally admire people that does these kinds of things. They have a dream and they do it - however crazy it might sound. I'm sure the process of making this movie is worth it alone for Mr. Lew, but I do hope that it will pay off financially as well. The trailer looks really cool!

Another guy who's website I came across several years ago, that did the same thing is Sam Chen. He spent 3 years and a lot of savings making his short film "Eternal Gaze". Reading his diary about the making of it is impressive and a huge inspiration. I bought the DVD a few years back and its a wonderful piece!

Kudos to those who dare following their dreams all the way!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pluggin' away

Not too much going on lately. I've been busy practicing lipsync (which is darn hard) in my sparetime and at work things goes very well. Been working at Ambient Entertainment for 2 1/2 month now and still lovin' it.

Just downloaded the latest podcast (Dale Baer) from The Animation Podcast and I was happy to hear that Animation Mentor now is sponsoring the site, which means that they're gonna put out a new podcast every month. This is awesome news! Those podcasts are a huuuuge inspiration and worth listing to more than once.

Enjoy :)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Save the Cheerleader

Yes, I'm a "Heroes"-fan :) Here's a quick facial test I've been working on lately.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Student Showcase Fall 2007

The AM Student Showcase from Fall 2007 is out. It's amazing to see all the cool work that comes out of the school. And it makes me extra proud that they have included a shot from my short film in the short film highlight section :)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Congratulation Kent & Celin!

My little brother just got married, while on holiday in NY, at the Norwegian Church in New York City. Nobody knew anything about it in advance. Freakin' awesome! Huge congrats to you both :)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A small animation test

I've been working on a little animation test lately. It's for nothing else than just practicing and for fun. Hope you like it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Quadrupeds and life drawing - a good week :)

The past week has been pretty good. I finished a quadruped-shot at work (my first quadruped-shot ever) and started a new acting/dialogue shot. I really enjoy the planning/blocking phase. Its so much fun exploring different choices, shooting reference (which is a lot more fun when you're two), trying it all out with thumbnails and then start blocking it in. Lovin' it :)

We attended a life drawing class last week. It was pretty cool, except that it showed me, big time, that I totally suck at drawing :) But gotta keep doing it. 5000 drawings before a good one comes along, right? (and at least 1000 before I'm posting anything here).

I've been a subscriber to Keith Lango's VTS's since the beginning and last week I started to watch them all over again from the beginning. It's pretty cool to watch them from my current point of view, now that I have some experience and can relate to what he's talking about in a new and different way. VTS 12 and 13 in particular is awesome, where he talks about acting and how to get uniqueness into the poses. Check it out! The subscription is cheap and the information in there is pure gold.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Exaggeration and Variation in Timing

Found a couple of great animation tips on Victor Navone's blog.
The first one is about that exaggeration not necessarily only means faster, snappier and bigger, but also slower, smaller and subtler. The other one is about trying to get at least 3 speeds into the shot to get texture and variation into the timing.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Trying to get faster - backfired!

As stated in earlier posts, I feel slow. We were warned about this at school. It's normal and it's expected cause we're new, right? However, it's still bothering me. During AM I found a workflow that I was really comfortable with and I used it on every shot when I was making my shortfilm. Now, when I'm in a production environment, where deadlines are more important (or at least the consequences bigger), I find myself skipping steps in my workflow in order to find ways to get faster. But the thing is, skipping important steps in fact takes a lot longer, because I don't feel in total control anymore.

My AM workflow included thorough analysis of the videoreferences (Not to copy it, but to get a feel for whats happening in the acting and what the body does). I still shoot reference and thumbnail the main poses from it, but I've not analysed it the same way as I did in school. Some shots has turned out ok without doing this, but on other shots I find myself confused and scratching my head wondering what went wrong. Then I spend tons of time trying to fix whats not working.
Shawn Kelly (AM Co-founder) has said several times "The shots that I'm most happy with and animated the quickest, is the ones where I spent most time planning in advance". There's probably something in that :)

It's probably an experience thing and I guess I'll get better at a deciding which shots needs that kind of thorough analysis and which ones don't. However, the old Disney-guys filmed reference of everything and analysed the heck out of it before animating :), so skipping that step is probably not a good solution to animating faster - at least not for me.

So for now, back to my good old checklist and still looking for other ways to speed up my workflow :)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Bobby Beck and Carlos Baena interview!

I came across an interview with two of the co-founders of Animation Mentor, Bobby Beck and Carlos Baena, done by Anand Baid, a classmate of mine from Animation Mentor.

Bobby Beck/Carlos Baena Interview Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

Also, check out the latest Animation Podcast with Ray Harryhausen. Its so cool to hear one of the animationpioneers sharing his toughts. Awesome!

And finally, an interview with Pete Docter done by the Spline Doctors!


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The real world

I've only been working as an animator on-site for about three weeks now and I'm not sure if I'm fit to describe the life as a professional animator yet, but here's some quick thoughts about what I've noticed so far.

First of all - I love it. There's no doubt whatsoever that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. There's no big surprises so far. I wanted to get into animation because as an animator I can direct my of own shots to a certain degree and at the same time being directed by the supervisor/director - I can perform without being on stage, well hidden behind the computer screen and finally and most important, I'm never done learning. There's always tons of space for growing and there will always be something new to learn about the craft, independent of where I am or what I'm working on.

As a newbie, I feel really slow, which can be frustrating (it's normal I guess), but it forces me to always try to search for ways to do stuff faster
(preferably without sacrificing quality), which is cool! At the studio I'm sharing a room with five awesome people and their feedback is really helpful, but I wish I had more time to ask them for feedback and to make corrections based on it. The supervisor's feedback is really great though and I feel that I learn something new every single day!

On the private side, I just moved into a really nice apartment here in Hannover. Soon my wife will join me, which I'm really looking forward to. It's kinda lonely here without her :)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

First week at Ambient :)

I just finished my first week at Ambient Entertainment in Hannover, Germany. It's still hard to believe that I'm actually working on a feature film - it's so freakin' awesome! I played around with some rigs the first day, got an introduction by the supervisor and met the people (most of them) that are working at the company. Everybody is super nice and I already know I'm gonna love it here. My first shot was approved by the supervisor today and that was a really really good feeling :). I'm really looking forward to spend the next 4 months here. I feel sooo lucky going straight from school and into being a character animator at Ambient.

Hannover is really nice. It's tons of people everywhere, but
it's still kinda quiet and relaxed here. A real contrast to LA which was really busy and actually also a big contrast to Norway. Wherever I go, people are very very nice and if they don't speak English (most do though), pointing and gesturing works totally fine.

Being away from my wife is a lot harder than I thought it would be, but she's probably gonna come pretty soon to check out appartments (wonder why she don't trust me about that). Hopefully within a couple of weeks we have found something and she's gonna move down here as well. Looking forward to that :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Back in Norway

Monday evening, we got back to Norway after 24 hours of traveling. Everything went fine though, no delays or anything, but still, traveling that far and across a bunch om timezones are exhausting.

The past three weeks has been amazing. I've met soooo many awesome people and experienced so many great things. The highlights (animation-wise) has been meeting Sean Sexton and Morgan Kelly at Dreamworks, the AM Graduation ceremony/reception and meeting Dean Wellins and Glen Keane at Disney.
Non-animation-wise, the dinner with Kari and concert at Hollywood Bowl (wedding-present from Elaine) was totally awesome! Every day during our trip has been fantastic, though. So many great memories that we can surf on and bring back on days that suck, for years to come :)

Things are going really fast. On sunday I'm flying down to Hannover, Germany to start my new job as an animator at Ambient Entertainment. Yooohooooo! I'm going to work on a feature film!!! It's soo amazing. I told Bobby Beck about this at a reception in San Diego last week and he jumped up and gave me a huge long hug. What an awesome guy! Also got tons of congrats from Shawn and Carlos! It feels so good that 18 long months (amazing months tho) of hard struggle pays off and I guess Bobby, Shawn and Carlos feels that too, that all the work that they has put into the school actually gets us students jobs in the industry. There were lots of people I met during Siggraph that has gotten jobs as professional animators lately and it's freakin' awesome! Animation Mentor rocks big time!!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

In fact - An AWESOME week!

There's so much going over here that it's hard to consume it all. It's kinda overwhelming. Early Wednesday morning we took a cab out to Sea World and watched an awesome show with the killer whale Shamu. Then we spent the day walking around the park looking at all the animals. It was pretty cool. In the afternoon there was a ReelFX/Animation Mentor Reception where a bunch of AM students and industry professional got together to chat and have fun. I got the chance to thank Bobby, Shawn and Carlos personally for starting the school and totally changing sooo many peoples life, including mine. I also met my Class 2 mentor Robert Russ and had a really nice chat with him. The rest of the evening we hung out with some awesome AM'ers and had a really great time.

Thursday we went to the convention center to catch a talk by my class 3 mentor, Michelle Meeker and she recognized me right away, which was really cool. She was really busy and everybody wanted to talk to her but I was able to have a small chat with her before she started her talk. She talked about the making of her short "When I grow up" and it was really inspiring to see how she'd done it. It made me wanna make another short :) After the talk we left San Diego, had a nice stop at La Jolla, and went back to LA and relaxed at our hotel for the rest of the evening.

On Friday we had an appointment with Elaine's Class 5 mentor, Dean Wellins at Disney Feature Animation. Kari, Elaine, another of Deans students, Ryan and me headed out to Burbank, superexcited to get a tour at the historic ground where it all started more than 80 years ago (not exactly the same building tho, but still). Dean is co-directing Rapunzel with Glen Keane and guess what, we met him too. Yep! Shaking hand with one of the greatest animators on the planet was totally awesome! After lunch, Dean showed us around the studio and walking around there, watching all the amazing concept art from upcoming Disney movies, was totally mindblowing and super inspiring. It was really amazing of Dean to take the time off to spend time with us. What a fantastic guy!

We spent the rest of the day at Disneyland. It was okay, but way too many people and too long waiting times to get a superfun experience out of it. But it was a nice ending to a fantastic going-to-remember-for-the-rest-of-my-life-day :)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Totally Crazy Week

Holy Molly! This week has been totally crazy so far. The AM Graduation Ceremony on Monday was beyond fantastic. Very emotional and a perfect ending (kinda) to 18 amazing months at Animation Mentor. It was followed by a graduation reception which was awesome too. To meet all the people I've been sharing the AM experience with was sooo great!

I also got a 4 1/2 month job-deal yesterday. All the details ain't sorted out yet, so more about that later, but its sooo amazing and surreal. 2 years ago I had no idea what animation really was (i thought moving stuff around was animating), and now I'm gonna work as a professional on a feature film. Wow! It's almost too good to be true!

Siggraph is also so overwhelmingly huge. Spent a lot of time at the exhibition yesterday, but no way we could get thru it all. Animation Mentor also have a bunch of stuff going on. Gatherings, presentations, talks,'s so much going on in such a short time. Love it :)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Graduation Day

We had a quick flight from SF to LA on Saturday, met with Elaine in LA and drove down to San Diego, way too early Sunday morning to catch a Siggraph course about how they dealt with the food in Ratatouille. It's amazing how much detail they've put into that movie.

Sunday night, we met with a bunch of awesome AM'ers and had a very nice dinner with drinks after. It's amazing how fast you get along with fellow animators without even knowing them in advance. All we share is the passion for animation and the AM experience, but thats totally enough to get the connection immediately. Fantastic! Everything is set for an awesome week in San Diego.

Today, Monday, is the big day: Animation Mentor Graduation Day! A little bit nervous, but mostly excited. There's gonna be a big ceremony at the Convention Center followed by a party with all the graduates and their guests. They've also invited recruiters and industry professionals. It's going to be great!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Just being tourists

Our stay in San Francisco has been really great. Usually I tend to be very uncomfortable with doing just nothing and I was kinda worried that I wasn't going to be able to relax, but I really have and it's truly awesome.

We've been 100% tourists and been doing all the regular tourist stuff like going to the Golden Gate Park, hung around Pier 39 and Fishermans Wharf, taking a boat trip under the bridge and around Alcatraz etc.
It's been great!

We also met with Haokun Liang, a classmate from a couple of classes at AM. We had a very nice evening with dinner. Tomorrow we're leaving SF and head back to LA where we're teaming up with Elaine to carpool with her down to San Diego, AM Graduation and Siggraph. Yay!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Heading up north!

We left LA for San Francisco on Sunday. The weather is a bit colder here. It's also more windy, kinda like back in Norway which is okay after a week with very hot weather in LA.

We spent the first day walking around downtown San Francisco. The life up here seems a bit calmer and more relaxed than in LA. We also went to see Harry Potter at the IMAX theater, which was kinda cool. The last 30 min of the film was in 3D. Nice!

Our hotel is at Union Square and on Monday we took a long walk all the way down to Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf and hung out there throughout the day. Just relaxed and enjoyed our honeymoon :)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Professional Bus Passengers

For our last day in LA, we decided to go to Century City. Earlier we've taken a cab everywhere we went, but this time, we wanted to try out the LA public transportation. We was going to take a bus! I gotta admit, I never take a bus, not in Norway and certainly not in LA. But as I remember it as a kid, it worked like this: enter the bus, tell the driver where you are going, pay what he ask for and sit down til the destination is reached. Right? Nhahaa. Not quite how it works.

The bus arrived, we went on. At first the driver didn't even looked at us, so I said "Century City..?". He said "yeah?", still not looking. After a very awkward pause, he added "1.50". I held the money up. Then the guy looked at me with a very strange, but kinda cool facial expression: "dude, what are you trying to do??" and I was like "well...I'm trying to pay you..." Suddenly I guess the driver realized that he had to deal with stupid foreigners on a LA bus for the first time in their life's, so he showed us that we had to put the money into a money automate thingy (which of course spitted out the paper money three times, just to make the situation even more painful than it already was). We finally sat down and believe me, payed very very close attention to how the people that got on the bus did it.

We had a great time in Century City and when we were going back home, we went onto the bus, put the money (which this time were coins) onto the automate, nodded kindly to the driver, he nodded back and we sat down. We knew how to do this by now - we're professional LA bus passengers :)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sony Pictures and Universal Studios

On Thursday we went on the public studio tour at Sony Pictures, which is just a block away from our hotel in Culver City. It was kinda cool to check out the sound stage where one of my favorite movies, the Wizard of Oz, was shot. We also went to see Ratatouille. It was outstanding! Beautiful animation!

On Friday, we went out to Universal Studios and spent the whole day having fun in the theme park. We also took the public Universal Studio Tour which was okay.

We paid a bunch of extra money for a "First in Line"-pass and it was totally worth it. We never had to wait any longer than max 5 min for any ride :) and we also got reserved seats at all the shows. "First in Line" rocks!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Santa Monica, Beverly Hills & Hollywood Bowl

After a pretty intensive first day, we were going to take it bit easier the second day. Elaine picked us up around lunch time and we drove out to Santa Monica and had lunch at a very nice restaurant.

After lunch we walked along the beach and out to Santa Monica Pier. We hung out there for a while and just relaxed. Next we headed for Beverly Hills and a nice walk on Rodeo Drive.

Elaine had arranged a wedding present for Kari and me this evening: Concert at Hollywood Bowl! We picked up a picnic-basket at a restaurant, all pre-ordered and set, took a shuttle up to the bowl where the concert was - "Jazz at the Movies"! It was a fantastic experience!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A great first day in LA

After almost 24 hours of traveling (lots of waiting for transferring flights in Amsterdam and Minneapolis), we got a short, but well needed, night sleep at our hotel in Culver City. A very nice hotel, haunted, but cool :)

After a quick breakfast and a couple of coffees, Elaine (a very good friend since AM class 1) picket us up and we headed out to Glendale and Dreamworks Feature Animation! We had an appointment with my class 4 mentor, Sean Sexton and he offered to give us a tour at the studio. Elaine's mentor, Morgan Kelly, was also joining us.

First we had a super Dreamworks-lunch (means there was A LOT of food) with Sean and Morgan. After lunch they showed us around the studio. It was really cool to see all they stuff they are working on. Super-inspiring!! Seems like an awesome place to work. They even have their own game room. Fantastic!

Next we went up to Griffith Park where we got a great view over LA. We had to walk up though. We were told it was suppose to be a 20 min. walk. I think we spent an hour walking least it felt like that :)

After spending some time at the observatory at the top, we headed down to Hollywood Blvd and Walk of Fame.

We ended the evening with a very nice dinner at Palm Thai restaurant in Hollywood with a group of other students from Animation Mentor.

Elaine, which is totally awesome, spending all the day with us and showing us around, dropped us off at our hotel at around 11. We were exhausted after a really long, but supercool and exciting first day in LA :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Coming to America!

Sooo...tomorrow night we're leaving for our honeymoon, the Animation Mentor Graduation Ceremony and Siggraph! We're going to America for three weeks. It's gonna be crazy awesome and I'm superexcited! It will be my first time in the US ever and through 18 months at Animation Mentor I've met some really fantastic people that I'm looking forward to meet in person.

We're flying out from Torp (Sandefjord Airport, Norway) to Amsterdam and from there to Minneapolis and then straight to LA. Gonna stay in LA for about a week, then head up north to San Francisco and after a week in the bay area, down south again for San Diego, Siggraph and Animation Mentor Graduation.

This is going to be so coooool!!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Getting the short done in time

Just read a post over at Keith Lango's blog about what to spend time on when making a short. With my short just finished, I have to say, I totally agree!

I did Animation Mentor full time (mostly) and spent about 12-15 hours a day for the last 6 months at AM. I thought class 5 where we "only" were developing the story, was going to be an easy term. No animation, just come up with a story and develop it. Simple eh? Man was I wrong. It was a hell of a term and maybe the hardest of them all. Creating a story that I (and my mentor) was happy with was so hard. Cause I got really blind very fast and with contradictory feedback it got even harder as the story was developing. Still the feedback is totally necessary, cause you want everybody to get the story. It's always clear to the storyteller, but not necessarily to the audience.

When my story was locked (mid-term class 5), I was warned by many and rightfully so, cause my story involved some visual effects like the transformation from the old guy to the young man. I told myself at that point that Class 6 was going to be animation only. I wouldn't spend any time what so ever on anything else but animation in class 6. I knew there was going to be a wedding right after Class 6 was finished and that it was only 1 month before we was leaving for Siggraph - hopefully bringing my short with me. That meant I had to figure out all the effect-stuff, the modeling, the backgrounds etc before I started animation. It wouldn't be time for it after. If I wasn't able to finish all the non-animation stuff before I started the blocking, I had to go for plan B (which I had) that was a cut-down version of the story with no effects. I did figure it out and when I was done with class 5, I had an animatic with all the effects, all the temp-sound, the backgrounds etc. There's nothing great about those effects, but it gets the story point across :)

Class 6 was animation only for me and I was lucky to have a mentor that was focusing on animation only. After class 6, I spent only three weeks putting on procedural textures and render it using a very simple fake GI light-rig.

At AM we're under a very strict deadline, which is really good. We simply have no choice but to make all the non-anim stuff simple. If I was going to attempt anything like the Ratatouille-sets (ref Lango's post) for my whole short (1 min 10 sec actually screen time), it would have taken me decades to finish and the motivation would have been
gone long before that and the film would probably never been finished.

The purpose of my short is to get a job as an animator. And because of that, focusing on animation was really important to me. My short has about 1 min of actually animation and doing that in one 3 month term was really hard (AM recommend 30 sec max for a 3 month pace). It took 12+ hours a day, every day. It is possible for a while, cause it's sooo much fun doing it, but there's only a certain amount of time you can keep up with that before you crack.

Of course we're all different and some people have crazy talents, but to me, Lango's post is spot on and something to keep in mind when doing my next short. :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Forever Young" is getting out there

I posted my short film on CG Talk a couple a days ago and the response is awesome. Almost 1500 views (and counting) so far and a bunch of really nice comments. I've also noticed that it's been posted on several other forums which is really flattering.

I posted a copy on YouTube as well and it's actually getting a lot of hits there too. I have no idea how people find it among all the stuff thats posted there, but they do :) Pretty cool!

I've also updated my showreel. Taken out a few shots and added my short. Awaiting the AM critique on it, but I'm not sure if I'm gonna get the crit before we leave for the US on Monday, so this is how the reel will look for a little while.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Forever Young - The Gate of Youth

It's been said that a film is never finished - it's just taken away from you, and I truly feel this about "Forever Young". Obviously I can keep polishing it forever, but I have to let go at some point. So here it is, my Animation Mentor graduation short film: "Forever Young - The Gate of Youth".

This version is a low-res render. I didn't had time for a hi-res render before we leave for the US. On the AM alumni site, we'll get another final Animation Mentor critique from a mentor on our short. When that critique is dealt with, the plan is to render it out as HD.

It's been a lot of work, long hours and frustrating days during the making of this film, but I've learned so much about all aspects of movie-making and animation, that it's all been totally worth it.

Hope you like it :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Audience Involvement

At our wedding last Saturday, there were speeches after the dinner and when it was my wife's bridesmaids turn (which was her sister) she were standing up, ready to deliver her speech. Everybody watched her with excitement, wondering what she was about to say.

She started "Dear Kari and Martin....." then suddenly she bursted into tears. She tried to continue, but was unable to get any word out that made any sense. But she kept standing. I looked around and noticed 60 people, fighting their tears with her, including myself, as we all were totally sucked into her emotions and feelings. It was complete silence in the room when suddenly her 2-year old daughter said "You don't have to cry, mommy!". People started to laugh in a kind of mix between laughter and crying. It was so perfectly beautiful. Then she responded to her daughter and in an awesome way used that to get her self back together and continued with her speech.

It was a wonderful moment and definitely one of the highlights of the wedding for me. There are of course lots of moments like that in life, but this one was a pretty strong one and it involved every single person in the room. To me, it was a great first hand experience of what Frank and Ollie calls Audience Involvement in the first chapter of "The Illusion of Life". They say "In our own lives, we find that as we get to know people, we share their experiences - we sympathize, we empathize, we enjoy." Then they talk about radio shows in the early days and how the voices and sounds made you believe and feel: " was not the actor's emotions you were sensing anymore. They were your emotions".

Then they continue: "Fortunately, animation works in the same way. It is capable of getting inside the heads of it's audiences, into their imaginations. The audience will make our little cartoon character sad - actually far sadder than we could ever draw him - because in their minds that character is real. He lives in their imagination. Once the audience had become involved with your character and your story, almost anything is possible." They also talk about what they did to create audience involvement (pg. 18-22 - "The Illusion of Life").

One of my goals, and I know I'm very very far from it, is to be able to create such strong emotions in the audience. My wife's bridesmaid did it very simple - totally unintentionally though, but still - all she did was standing up and kept standing. Hopefully in time, probably years from now, I will be able to generate that kind of emotions with my animation :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Happily ever after :)

Saturday I got married to my girlfriend for 7 years, Kari . Lots of guests were coming in from all over, from both sides of our families and to get them to know each other better, we had an outside (due to rain, it turned into an inside) party the evening before with grilling, drinks and games.

On Saturday we had the wedding ceremony at the church and a very very nice dinner afterwards. A great sunny (mostly) day with good food and drinks, tasty cakes and a bunch of totally awesome people :).

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Alumni! YAY!

We got access to the Animation Mentor Alumni Site today. And it's so cool! Lots of great info about jobhunting and how to deal with the "real world" etc. It's really awesome, cause it feels like we will never leave the great community we were a part of for 18 months!

It's been pretty busy since school finished with texturing, lighting and rendering my short film. To be honest, I don't enjoy this process that much and I kinda regret that I didn't just payed someone to do it. It's truly an artform in it's own and I feel that I don't master it that well. And besides, there's too much waiting :).
Anyway, I've tried to keep it as simple as possible by using as much procedural textures as possible and a simple light-rig with fake GI. In addition to that I've rendered an occlusion pass in an attempt to get it look at little bit better.

Here's a couple of images from the current state.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Disney Family Albums

I love watching documentaries about the old masters and today I came across some really cool links at YouTube. It might be old stuff to some, but I've never seen it before :)

Ward Kimball Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3
Milt Kahl - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3
Frank Thomas - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3
Ollie Johnston - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3
Wollie Reitherman - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3
Eric Larson - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3
Marc Davis - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3


Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ratatouille opens today!

Ratatouille opens the US. We europeans have to wait a little bit longer (which really sucks, so please Disney, make your premieres World-Wide). I'm going to the US pretty soon though, so I get to see it sooner anyway. Lucky me :).

I've read through some of the reviews and most critiques are totally blown away by this movie (Variety, Ain't It Cool, Movies Online, Rolling Stone etc). Is it possible to top The Incredibles? It created some expectations to Brad Bird, thats for sure :) We'll see!

For those of us that has to wait, here's some more released Ratatouille podcasts. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A post-AM self-evaluation

In the final week of Animation Mentor I got a very nice review from Bret on all my work during the 18 months. All my mentors, as well as Bret, has told me that my understanding of weight and physics are pretty good, which is really nice to hear :) Most of them has also told me that the gestures could be stronger, like more specific and clearer....more personality. This is invaluable info, cause then I know what to focus on.

Thinking about that I had no real character animation experience before AM, I should probably feel pretty good about how far I've come, and I do, but there's tons of things that I need to work on. I think thats a good place to be though - I'm kinda happy, but I wanna get better!

Of course animation is a lifetime learning experience and there's so many areas that I want to dive into, improve and learn more about. But for now, I've defined two main areas that I'm gonna focus on improving in the near future. Entertainment-value (stronger poses, snappier timing, more personality in the poses etc) and timing/spacing (beating swimmy motion, even spacing etc). It's obvious that it's better to push too far and then take it a little bit back, instead of going little by little. But I'm afraid to push it too far, so thats something to focus on as well. As Greg Kyle told me, already in Class 1 - "looking ok...just go a little bit more crazy". I'm gonna try!

Thoughts into action - off to study some Chuck Jones stuff :)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Session 612

This is sad...really sad! The final Animation Mentor session. Even though, it's gonna be soooo good to not have the pressure of turning in an assignment each Sunday.

It's been an amazing final term. My classmates has been great, very supportive and encouraging and the q&a's has been a weekly highlight, even tho it's been 4am in the morning :)

My mentor this term, Bret Parker from Pixar Animation Studios is truly awesome! She's superkind and always manage to keep the motivation up, which has been
really invaluable this term, cause it has been exhausting. She has a great way of talking about specific stuff in a general way, so all my classmate's crits has been as useful to me as my own. She's been focusing on giving us critiques based on the stage we're at and that has been very very successful. The amount of stuff to fix never felt too overwhelming, but still quite enough to keep me busy for a week. She rocks big time! A great ending to eighteen awesomofantastic months!

So, this is it for Animation Mentor. Thanks a lot to everybody that has given me comments thru this blog. I really appreciate it! I'm gonna keep blogging tho, putting up the progress of my short as it goes into the final stage of lighting, texturing and rendering. There's also tons of super exciting stuff ahead. Getting married,
going to America, job hunting and more. Lots of stuff to blog about for those who cares to read :)

Until then, here's my final animation of "Forever Young"

and here's everything I've done at Animation Mentor.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Session 611

Ah well, final AM assignment ever, turned in. There's probably tons of stuff to fix in this still, but gotta let go at some point. I am going to do another revision-pass after Brets crit next week though :)

Bret is currently working on the next Pixar feature, Wall-E, and this week they released the first teaser trailer. Looks pretty cool! There's a new clip from Ratatouille up too, showing the progress from storyboards to final film.

More great news, Aja and Mark Bogdanoff has put up the new "10 second Club" and they're calling it The 11 second club. Fantastic! 10 second Club were deeply missed, and now it's back, kinda :)

Here's the final polishing pass of "Forever Young"

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Session 610

Alright, so this week has been even crazier than last week. And it's so awesome! :) First of all, we had a q&a with Lori at AM Career Service. They actually have a career service which basically means they will keep supporting us for the the rest of our careers. How awesome is that!?! Next we had a q&a, in the same night, with Jason Schleifer, Cassidy Curtis and Kevan Shorey from PDI/Dreamworks, about Shrek the Third. Even though I haven't seen the movie yet, it was a huuuuge inspiration and lots of useful info about how they work, what they think about when starting a shot etc. Carlos Baena showed up too.

And finally our weekly q&a with Bret that always are really good. So two great q&a's on Monday at 3am and 6am and the weekly class q&a at 4am on tuesday. My days has been turned upside down, but it has been totally worth it.

I also managed to get through the second polish pass of the first half of "Forever Young". Bret's critiques on the last polishing pass has been amazing. Lots of small details that her eagle-eye spots, which is great! I've also started to plan the post-production stage and I've done some low-res render-tests of each shot with shadows and motion blur, cause I tend to see more errors when it's rendered out with motionblur

Here's my second polishing pass of the first half:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Session 609

It's been a totally crazy week. I've gotten a project based character animation freelance job and it's sooo much fun, but it takes time and I haven't been able to do as much as I would have liked on my assignment this week. I've also caught a cold that kinda slows thing down a bit too. The cold is about to pass though, so from here it can only get better :)

Here's my 1st polishing pass of the last third:

And here's the 1st polishing pass of the whole film:

Monday, May 28, 2007

Session 608

Every week in our q&a's, Bret run dailies (showing your work to the director/supervisor as well as everybody working on the film, for feedback and comments) as they do at Pixar and this week it was my turn. I got some really great notes from her on my refinement pass of the 3rd third of my film. In addition to address those notes on my 3rd third, I've mainly worked on my 2nd third this week, which is the hardest part I think. It's getting tougher and tougher to stay objective, but the finish line is in sight. 3 weeks to go!

Added a new blog to my list of daily readings. Check out Mark Mayerson. He's posting his Master Thesis - "Six authors in search for a Character". Very interesting reading!

Surf's Up are premiering in June and it's looking pretty cool. My previous mentor, Pepe Valencia has worked on it too :). Came across some clips and featurettes. Here's also an article from AWN.

Here's my 1st pass of polish on the 2nd third:

Monday, May 21, 2007

Session 607

It's been a hard week. Really start to feel the exhaustion from dealing with this short for about 5 months now. Don't get me wrong, it's still fun, but I'm really looking forward to get this piece done, fully lit, rendered and ready for my showreel and Siggraph :)

Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are creating three TinTin films back-to-back...together! Pretty awesome, except that they will use performance capture technology, but still kinda coool. Check out this article at AWN.

Another of Clay Kaytis Animation Podcasts is up...finally :) The third part of his awesome interview with Disney veteran Burny Mattinson. Enjoy! Also came across a cool video from ReelzChannel about Animation Mentor. It's a bit old now, but still worth a look.

I realized that I've been a bit sloppy on uploading my progress this term, so I went thru and added all the assignment-videos for each session. It's nice to have them up there and look back at it later :)

1st pass of polish on the 1st third:

Monday, May 14, 2007

Session 606

More Ratatouille-stuff. They do a great job of keeping the expectations up, thats for sure :)

It was a huge loss when the "10-second club"-site went down last year, but now the AnimWatch are starting up a similar competition, which is really awesome!

I was able to get through a refinement-pass of the whole film this week, as well as starting to polishing the first third that's due next week.

The refining pass of the 3rd third:

And here's the refinement-pass of the whole short "Forever Young". Any comments are totally welcome :)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Session 605

Not too much news on my short really. Kept working away on refining it. Cleaning up splines and trying to get some snappiness from the stepped blocking back into it. Got a great crit from Bret on the first refining pass last week, which was really encouraging, because at this point, tunnel vision is really getting in the way and everything feels kinda blurry.

Great news! Seems like Lasseter really are going to make some big changes at Disney. It was awesome when they announced the comeback of hand drawn features, but Goofy shorts (among others) too. How about that! Check out this interview with Andreas Deja and Mark Henn at Animated Views.

A great way to improve animation-skills is to study clips from other animators frame-by-frame. I came across a really nice post over at Justin Barretts blog about a way to approach this kind of study. "Thoughts on studying animation" by Justin Barrett. Really interesting reading.

It's been out for a week now, but still, this is ....simply awesomes. Ratatouille 9 min clip. Sit back and enjoy! Here's a French site with some alternate resolutions.

The refining pass of the 2nd third:

Monday, April 30, 2007

Session 604

Week four already. Wow, time flies when having a good time. So, my short film is progressing along. The time is catching up to me, but I'm still on schedule, barely :) Brets feedback in the weekly e-critique are awesome and I'm now working on refining the 2nd and 3rd thirds of the film.

Animation Mentor co-founder Carlos Baena is interviewed this week by CG Node. This guy is an huge inspiration and an awesome animation ninja, so go on and check it out.

Found a link to some real gold. Walt Stanchfield taught the animators at Disney and some of his notes can be found at Animation Meat, but here they are in a single PDF file. Walt Stanchfield - Gesture Drawing for Animation.

The Ratatouille release date is approaching and more behind the scene stuff is showing up. Here's a short quick-time Ratatouille Behind-the-scenes - Technical Incrediences. Also, check out iTunes Podcasts for more behind the scenes.

AM graduation invitation are received and our airplane tickets are ordered! Kari and me are going to spend almost a month in the U.S. from mid-July until after the Animation Mentor Graduation ceremony and Siggraph 2007 in August. We're gonna visit San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. It's gonna be soooo cool!!

The refining pass of the 1st third:

Monday, April 23, 2007

Session 603

It's been a slooow week. Got some changes to do from Bret on the blocking of the second third of my film, so that kept me quite busy. Wasn't able to refine as much as I was hoping for, but still barely ahead of schedule :)

There's some really great shorts coming from the students of Animation Mentor and each month some of them are featured in the monthly newsletter. If you haven't already, sign up (put your email in the bottom left corner) :) The newsletter contains lots of cool stuff.

The blocking of the 3rd third:

And here's the blocking-pass of the whole film:

Monday, April 16, 2007

Session 602

The week has been pretty good. I got a go from Bret on the first pass of blocking of the first third of the short, with some timing adjustments. I was then able to go straight into refining of that first part :)

Keith Lango has some really interesting views on inefficiency in his blog. First part here and second part here. Really interesting thoughts. Check it out.

10 weeks to go. The pressure is on :)

The blocking of the 2nd third:

Monday, April 09, 2007

Session 601

Yay!! Made it to class 6 :) Wow!
New class and new mentor. Lots of new people in this class too, but also some familiar faces. We had our first q&a on Thursday and everybody was introduced. The class is really great and I'm super excited about this final term.

I'm sooo happy with my mentor this term. Pixar's Bret Parker. She seems really really nice and has worked on, among others, Monster Inc, Bugs Life, Toy Story 2, The Incredibles, Jack Jack Attack, Mike's New Car and Finding Nemo. She's probably best known as the voice of Kari, the babysitter in The Incredibles, which she animated as well. Awesome!

Came across some behind-the-scene stuff from Ratatouille (which Bret also has worked on, I guess). Check it out. Brad Bird talks about the film.

Here's the blocking of the 1st third of "Forever Young":

Friday, March 30, 2007

Session 512

Once again at the end of a term. Kinda sad, but really exciting too to get into the final chapter of Animation Mentor.

This term has been a lot harder than I expected. There's so much stuff to learn about storytelling and, you know, in class 1 we started with a bouncing ball and kept learning more and more up till class 4. But this term, it feels like a load of new stuff has been released on us - all at once. It's been very hard and really frustrating at times, but I've enjoyed it equally much, so that's cool :)

My mentor, Pepe Valencia, is the the nicest guy ever. He's picky, which is really great, and still very good at keeping the motivation up. Always kept pushing and suggesting more and better stuff. Great guy! I'm gonna miss him a lot.

We're moving straight over to class 6 next week, no break this time. I'm gonna keep blocking out my film, trying to get as much ahead as possible :)

To all my fellow classmates, thanks for an awesome term and good luck next term!

Here's the layout and my animatic from class 5:

Monday, March 26, 2007

Session 511

New Ratatouille trailer is out! June 29th - mark the day :) It looks so awesome!

It's been a pretty good week. Pepe is happy with my layout so far and I've managed to get thru a 1/3 of the first pass of blocking. Nice to be ahead for a change. I'm sure it won't last, though :)

Here's what I got so far. Blocking is still rough:

Monday, March 19, 2007

Session 510

This week I've worked a lot on refining the layout and polishing the camera work and the editing, after an awesome critique by Pepe. It's beginning to take shape :) I've thumbnailed different ideas, shot some reference and started blocking the first couple of shots.

If you want to become an animator and are currently not an AM student. THIS is a very good reason why you should apply right now! Animation Mentor Winter 2007 Showcase is released. It is fantastic! Take a look :) A great link I came across this week is an interview with Disney's Andreas Deja done by Frames per Second Magazine. Very inspiring.

I'm currently reading 'Thinking Animation' by Angie Jones and Jamie Oliff. That book rocks big time. It's a must for animators! Don't hesitate, go get it! It's gold.

And here's the current pass of the layout. Still open for refinement, but this is pretty much the starting point for the film.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Session 509

I got thru a first pass of the whole layout this week, which brings me a week ahead of schedule....currently. I'm at 48 seconds of actual animation in my short, and that's gonna be tough to do in 11 weeks the next term, so I need to get into thumbnailing, gather and shoot references and start blocking as soon as possible, hopefully already next week :)

I've researched all the VFX I need and most of the modeling are done (still backgrounds and sky/clouds left to do), so I feel I'm as ready as I can get at this stage :)

Here's some stills from the layout-pass.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Session 508

Been workin' away into the first 3rd of layout this week. Pepe liked the new version and now I can begin to refine and polish stuff within the story.

I've been using the Main Theme from East of Eden (1981 Mini Tv Series) as temp music when developing the short and initially the plan was to replace it with something royalty free music or an original score, but I like the music a lot, so I wrote the composer, Mr. Lee Holdridge, an email and he gave me permission to use the East of Eden music for educational and film festival purpose. That was soooo kind of him. Lee Holdridge has quite an impressive record list, so I'm really trilled about being able to use his music in the final film.

It's been up for some time now, but here's a cool link to Victor Navones Splines tutorial. Neat stuff!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Session 507

My story took quite a turn this week due to a suggestion by my mentor. I then had two versions. It's been really hard deciding between them and sometimes very frustrating, because working with the story over 7 weeks has made me super subjective, so it's hard to tell whether it's good or not or clear enough for people to get what I'm after. When working on something over a longer period, it's expected to think that it totally sucks after a while, but then you gotta trust the feeling you had when you first got the idea, right, but when elements changes dramatically and the core stays intact, then it's getting tough.

I'm about to run out of fresh people to play it to, but playing the animatic for people the last week, has at least told me that it's somewhat clear. Good or not...well, thats personal preference :)

Anyway, Oscar to Happy Feet for best animated feature...well okay, haven't seen it yet so can't really tell, but Cars was at least animated. CARS deserved to win - but thats me :) Congratulations to Torill Kove for winning the best animated short award with The Danish Poet!
That was pretty cool!!

Here's my animatic for "Forever Young". Any thoughts or comments about it are very welcome: