Sunday, December 25, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Baby" - Work In Progress

I initially started this a couple of months ago and intended it for the October 11 Second Club contest, but realized pretty soon - that's not gonna happen :) - so I've just worked on it now and then when I had some spare time.

I thought it would be fun to try to do some acting stuff with a lying character and also play around with the Morpheus rig, which I have done before, but never actually animated a test with him.

Blocking WIP:

Sunday, November 20, 2011


What a great idea!

I signed up and got a good review of my reel. Not too detailed, but good enough to get an idea of what I should focus on and what to change to make my reel better. It was totally worth the 40 bucks they charge for it.

If this site grows into what they intend it to be, which I do hope, it's gonna be an awesome job hunting tool for animators.

Here's my YouAnimator Businesscard and check out the rest of the site at

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

AM Animals & Creatures - Some aftertoughts

It's been truly amazing to be back at AM for the 6 month Animals & Creature course, but as I've mentioned in previous posts, it's been exhausting because I've worked full time on "The Penguins of Madagascar" at the same time. I would actually not recommend doing this course while working - the course is fantastic, but it's just too intense and time consuming when having a full time job. That's just my experience and opinion though :)

I was very fortunate to get two awesome mentors. Keith Sintay and Kevin Koch are both really really good teachers (and super duper nice guys) and I learned tons from them. I guess all the mentors at AM are great, so it really doesn't matter who you get, but I feel very lucky to have had them as my mentors for this course.

The course is built in the same way as the core animation program, where each concept/lecture build on top of each other. They had some super cool lectures that really goes in depth into animal behavior and locomotion. I would say though, that this course isn't that much about animation (at least not from a technical point of view) as it is about intent, thought process, how and why animals move the way the do etc.

The rigs are really good as well and they kept updating and improving them as we went through the course.

My conclusion is that this course is worth every cent and more - it is truly amazing - but it's very intense and time consuming.

To keep practicing, I've started to do some quick cycles with the AM A&C rigs.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 212

So this is it! I've completed the very first official Animation Mentor Animals & Creatures class.

Right now I got a bunch of mixed feelings about it. It's been awesome, but I'm exhausted. Working full time and doing this course has been quite intense and sometimes I've felt like it's been too hard. I've learned tons though and I'm confident it has been totally worth it and that it will pay off.

Here's my final of the Dragon Attack shot:

Here's a progression reel from layout to final of the Dragon Attack shot:

Watch higher resolution here

And here's a compilation of the assignments I've done during the course:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 211

I continued to polish and went over a bunch of smaller stuff that most likely nobody will ever notice, but hopefully the sum of it will give the shot a more polished feel.

It's kinda sad, but this is the last week we actually have to turn something in. We do get a critique this week, which I'm gonna spend next week to address for sure, but there's no grade or assignment due for week 12.

I also put some lights in and rendered the shot just for the heck of it. It integrates the characters into the shot a little bit more than just a playblast, which I think is kinda cool.

Here's this weeks pass on the Dragon Attack shot:

Monday, September 05, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 210

Got to do a toe/leg-pass, a wing cleanup pass, tracked arcs on both characters and kept tweaking and adjusting the shot through the week.

Here's this weeks pass on my assignment:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 209

Kept refining and cleaning stuff up this week, especially under the hood, and in general just proceeded refining the shot.

The exhaustion is starting to set in, but almost there :)

Here's the second refining pass:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 208

I spent most of the weeks cleaning things up - cleaning up the curves and the poses from the blocking pass.

I also worked a little bit on the dragon flying in and landing, as well as the pulling of the dragon. 3 weeks to go and a looooot of work left. :)

Here's my first clean-up/refining pass:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 207

It's been quite a stressful week trying to flesh out my shot and add more breakdowns to both characters. I think I got the main stuff in there now to show the idea and the intent, but it still has to be pushed and exaggerated - lets see if I can get to that next week.

This second class is a bit more demanding than the first class and a lot more hours are required - still fun though and I'm learning tons. 5 weeks to go!

Here's my blocking pass of the Lion vs Dragon shot:

Monday, August 08, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 206

Rough blocking of our 2 character interaction shot this week.

My layout from last week wasn't quite working staging and composition wise. So I found another plate of the same setting where I could get the characters to fill the frame a little bit more.

The problem with the new plate was that it was panning slowly across and didn't fit the action I had planned out very well - the camera was leading the action instead of the action leading the camera. When somebody in our Q&A pointed out that it looked like a security camera in middle of the forest, I figured I gotta do something about that haha - thanks by the way to whoever pointed that out :)

Then I remembered something that Glen Macintosh had mentioned in one of the previous lectures - in one of the Jurassic Park movies, he had deleted frames from the plate in order to get more intensity into an action that felt too slow.

The original plate I used was about 30 sec long and the camera eventually came to a stop. I went ahead and started to delete keys from the matchmove camera in Maya to speed up the pan to make it fit the action I had planned out.

Once that was working, I went back and deleted the exact same images from the plate and renumbered all of them to match the new keys on the matchmove camera. It took foooooorever. Ah well...pain is temporary - film is forever. And I think it works better now, so I guess it was worth it.

In a production I would probably not be able to do that, but I'm pretty sure the plate would have been shot to fit the action better in the first place - at least it's my way of justifying it :)

Here's my "old" new layout:

Here's the new layout after the camera change:

Here's the first rough blocking pass of my assignment:

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 205

Countless hours has gone by this week searching for reference for the next assignment. I had a few ideas that I explored. I went ahead and researched and edited reference for three different ideas, but eventually I decided on an idea that I think is doable within the time we have.

The next assignment has to have character interaction, so my shot is going to have a lion type-ish cat attacking a dragon that lands to search for food at some kind of picnic forest clearing.

My goal for this one is to be able to get to the polish stage and really dive into the details that hopefully can make it a nice reel-piece. Let's see how it goes :)

Here's my planning for the assignment:

And here's a super rough layout pass:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 204

One month already into the second class of Animals & Creatures. Class two so far feels harder in terms of concepts to learn, but at the same AM has changed a few things since last term, such as avoiding planning and polishing in the same week, which makes it better in terms of time management.

The lectures are really really good, packed with tons of information and/or walk-thrus by VFX industry veterans. We also have weekly Over the Shoulder Q&A's with Nicole Herr where she goes through hard concepts or grabs one of our assignments and talk us through what she would have done to improve it. Pretty amazing!

Next week we're starting our last assignment, which is a 7-week character interaction/fight assignment. That's gonna be cool!

Here's this weeks pass of the Church Landing Dragon assignment:

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 203

Flying creatures are hard :)

It's been a bit of a tough week with lots of frustration and the feeling of that I have no idea what so ever of what I'm doing. Getting the dragon to feel right in flight with a gazillion controls to potentially touch and with very little experience animating flying creatures or bag of tricks to fall back on (regarding flights) - has been a real struggle.

Taking a step back and looking at this rationally - this is actually really really cool. Being this far out of my comfort zone is something I know is super necessary in order to learn and grow as an animator, but I find it very hard to force myself this far out of it if I don't have to.

A sentence by Glen Keane (from Clay Kaytis Animation Podcast) has been a helpful reminder through the week: "When you run up against a problem - you always think it's because you're not good enough - but it's not that, it's just that you've hit the limit of your knowledge and you gotta go out and observe and find and discover something more - those are the best times when you feel like you stink and you can't get it any better and you're stuck - now the world is open and you're ready to learn something new. You gotta take advantage of that!"

One week left on this sucker - not sure how far I'm gonna get on this one, but I'm gonna do my best - and if nothing else, I'm confident that I'm learning a lot and getting a lot of mistakes out of the way.

Here's my blocking pass of the Church Landing Dragon:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 202

This week we're starting working with live action background plates. For our next assignment we have a bunch of different plates to choose from, already matchmoved by Animation Mentor - which is supercool!

I was considering going back to the cat rig for the next assignment, which is a 3 week assignment - basically designed to get us introduced to working with background plates and matchmoves - but decided to stick to the dragon rig to learn as much as possible about flying creatures while I have access to an experienced mentor :) - I can always go back and do another cat test later.

Here's my planning for the next assignment:

Here's a rough layout pass with the selected background plate. Based on feedback, I already know I'm gonna have to change this a little bit, but this is the essential idea:

And here's the revision of the flight cycle from last week:

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 201

After a VERY good and much needed break :), I'm ready and superexcited about diving into the second term of the Animals & Creatures Masterclass.

Again I've gotten a fantastic mentor, Keith Sintay, with over 17 years of experience, in both traditional and CG animation - and some really cool classmates that I already know I'm gonna learn tons from. This is gonna be pure awesomeness!

No relaxed first week this term. They're throwing us straight into a vanilla flight cycle with the new dragon rig. Even though it's a crazy cool rig - opening it for the first time with tons of controls and hardly ever animated anything flying at all - it's kind of scary.

I spent most of the week trying to wrap my head around the rig and figure out what controls that I'm most comfortable using etc. Also started to study tons of birds to get an idea of how this works.

Again, I have this really exciting/scary feeling of moving into a territory that's somewhat familiar in terms of animation, but totally new in terms of flying creatures and animal/bird behavior. It's a really really cool "I'm gonna learn a lot here"-feeling!

Here's the planning I did for this weeks assignment:

And here is the blocking pass of the vanilla flight cycle:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 112

All good things has to come to an end and coming to the end of Animals & Creatures Class 1 is sad. Being a part of the first official term of the Animals & Creature Masterclass feels truly special.

I don't think I could have gotten off to a better start with amazing classmates that have seriously inspired me through their work and a really awesome mentor, Kevin Koch, that went totally into the material and really explained in-depth in weekly e-critiques that often lasted 20-30 minutes.

I've learned so much this term, but what I think I've learned the most is the importance of reference - when to use it, what to use from it and what not to use. This not only applies to VFX and creature animation, but I hope I will have huge benefits from what I've learned in all the animation I will do from now on.

This week, I've gone back and addressed Kevins final notes on my assignments. In the Ogre shot I know I should have pushed it a lot more, but the way I've set up the shot, caused the rig to distort too much. It would be cool to start it over knowing what I know now about the rig - and maybe I will one day, but for now I'm just gonna take what I've learned with me into future shots and hopefully manage to get something cool out of it.

There's a week break before Class 2 starts and maaaaaaan do I look forward to that! It's fun, its awesome and it's supercool, but crazy exhausting :). After a week of recharging, I'm really looking forward to get into flights, working with live action background plates and fights/interaction between two characters. It's gonna be amazing.

Here's all my assignments from Animals & Creatures Class 1:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 111

We had a really cool lecture with Tippet animator Will Groebe this week where he went through a shot all the way from planning to final. I always find it interesting to watch how others approach a shot and see other peoples workflow - super-inspiring.

I just kept pounding away on my shot this week and tried to get it to a more polished level. Kevins notes are as always really great and I'm learning a lot from his e-crits.

Next week is the last one for this term and this suppose to be the last assignment. I'm still gonna keep working on this shot next week though :)

Here's the second polish pass on my Ogre shot:

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 110

Week 10 already - getting close to the end of class 1.

This week I tried to get some energy into the shot, as well as work some more on details such as the toes and fingers etc.

I also did some re-timing here and there and tried to push the spacing a little bit further in an attempt to get a little bit more texture and variation into it.

Still quite a bit work left to do and one more week to go.

Here's the first polishing pass:

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 109

I've decided to move forward and do the second term of the Animal and Creature Class as well. Even though it is exhausting doing AM while working full time, it's so much fun and so much new supercool stuff to learn, that it's more rewarding than it costs (in terms of energy). Besides, it's only 3 more months -  It's doable.

I did a refining/blocking + pass on my Ogre test this week. I changed the beginning a little bit based on Kevins feedback and a couple of other things. I also did a clean up pass. It still lacks "omph", but hopefully I'll get some more energy into it next week.

We also had to do a page of drawings this week as part of the assignment. Even though it's takes some time from the animation assignment, I kind of wish we had to do it every week. It's so much fun to draw and I'm not doing it enough  - obviously :)

Here's my assignment this week (refining/blocking +):

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 108

New rig this week - yay!

This guy is a really cool creature that can be animated both as a quad and a biped.

We have to animate him as a quadruped though and I picked an aggressive behavior as my final assignment for this term (we get a pick list  to choose from).

The final assignment is a 5-week assignment (including last weeks planning) and this week we had to turn in the rough blocking pass.

Here's my rough blocking pass:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 107

It's been a really hard week, especially timewise, getting all the transitional footwork and the locomotion to a decent level. I've learned tons on this assignment and in particular from Kevins e-critique, but now I'm looking forward to move on to the next assignment. I've chosen to do a shot with the Ogre doing an aggressive behavior. We'll see how that goes :) It's gonna be fun!

Here's the refining pass of the lioness gallop to a stop-assignment:

And here's the planning for the next assignment:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 106

Half way through the first term - yay!

Initially I signed up for only the first Animals & Creature class, because I wanted to see if I was able to do the course and working full time at the same time. Time is definitively becoming an issue as the assignments gets more complex and I'm actually at this point, considering not doing the second class right away. We'll see...knowing myself, I'm probably gonna jump into it :) I still have a few more weeks to decided.

As the assignments overlaps with finalizing the previous assignment and planning the next one in one week, I felt that I did not spend enough time planning and studying reference for this weeks assignment and the blocking turned out kinda...not quite there yet. I knew something wasn't quite right, but couldn't figure out what before I had to turn it in.

Ironically, that turned out kind of cool, because Kevin gave me a beyond awesome e-crit with super detailed feedback and I learned tons. Hopefully I'll manage to implement it all and get the shot to a decent level by the end of the week - as well as do the planning for the next assignment.

Here's my blocking of the lioness gallop:

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 105

It's been a pretty intense week at work wrapping up another Penguin show, but I managed to squeeze in some time to tweak the assignment and plan the next one.

I knew in advance it was going to be hard doing AM and work full time, but it's actually not as bad as I expected - time wise it's a little bit tricky, but energy wise it's still cool. The style of animation is so different from what I'm doing at work, so it's a nice balance that makes me look forward to do both :)

Here's my assignment this week:

And here's the planning for next weeks assignment - I'm gonna try tackle a gallop with a lioness that comes to a complete stop:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 104

Wow - one month into the course already!

We have the option to do pretty complicated stuff in the assignments if we want to, but I wanna try to grasp the main concepts before I take on too much. Plenty of opportunity for complexity later.

Awesome lecture this week by Tippet-animator Brian Mendenhall walking us through how he tackle a shot from start to finish and a great Q&A by Kevin, mostly about the importance of a good working environment (unplug!) and taking care of your health.

The learning curve is super steep and I find it crazy hard, but it's sooo cool to be a part of this. After all it is the very first official Animals & Creature class :)

Here's my blocking pass of the housecat assignment this week:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 103

Before I started this AM masterclass, I felt like I had an idea of what animation was and that from now on it's just the matter of building on that and keep learning and improve as much as possible within all the aspects (and there's a lot of them - I know) of the art-form.

But now that I'm learning about realistic animals and creatures VFX animation, it's like a whole new branch of the art-form that I know absolutely nothing about - which is so supercool. It's kinda the same feeling I had back in 2006 when I did the main AM course - all this brand new awesome stuff to learn. It' still scary, but not as scary as back then though :)

My mentor, Kevin Koch, is fantastic. Every single e-crit for each of the students in the class is like a lecture in it self. He really takes the time to analyze our references and point out what it is important to focus on for each of us. Pure gold!

One thing I really feel sad about is the lack of time to interact more with my classmates. It was such a huge part of the AM experience for me last time and I made some fantastic friends. This time I'm working full time as I'm doing Animation Mentor and getting all the info in the lectures, doing the assignments, watching e-crits etc etc takes a lot of time, but I sincerely hope that there will be time to get to know some of my classmates as we go through the course.

Now we're starting our first multi-week assignment. I wanna try to do a house cat starting from a still position, accelerate and then come to a stop. I think it's gonna be challenging to get the right weight into a fairly light animal like a house cat and make it feel real. We'll see how it goes :)

Here's my planning for my house cat walk:

And here's the revision of last weeks assignment:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 102

Second week of the Animal & Creature Masterclass and we're starting to animate quadruped walks - which is crazy hard :)

Most of the week went by studying reference and trying to figure out an effective workflow. To find an efficient way to animate a quad cycle, I animated 4 or 5 cycles (rough blocking passes) with different approaches and eventually found a way to do it that I felt comfortable with. Still hard to get a decent result though :)

Here's my assignment this week:

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Animals & Creatures - Session 101

Finally, after a couple of months of waiting, the Animation Mentor Animals & Creatures Masterclass has started. I'm superexcited about this and I'm really looking forward to dive into the world of VFX animation.

I couldn't be more happy with my mentor. Kevin Koch is an animation veteran with more than 14 years in the industry and with extensive experience in both traditional and CG animation (Spirit, Shrek 2, Madagascar among others)

For the first week, we had to draw animals, which freaks me out a little bit. I feel that I totally suck at drawing and other than simple stickmen for my thumbnails, I can't seem to get any kind of decent stuff out of a pencil. But an assignment is an assignment, so here it is.

Kevin gave some really nice tips on drawing animals though, so hopefully this will improve as I move on with the class.

We also had to upload a couple of poses with the cat rig they have given us. Here's my poses.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Apologies, Penguins and Animation Mentor

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. It's been a few busy months, both work-wise and personally - all good stuff though, just super busy.

First I wanna point to a few really good blogs, On Animation, Spungella and Animators Resource are all super great sites that keeps a sharp eye on whats going on in the animation world. Stop by any of these sites and you won't miss a thing.

The first episode of The Penguins of Madagascar that I worked on, Love Hurts, has already aired on Nick in the US - I just stepped in the last week of production and did some quick fixes on a few shots, but the next one that I have my own shots in, Operation Break-Speare, gonna air Saturday March 19 (On Nick in the US). Make sure to check it out - It's funny stuff :)

I'm still having a blast working on the show and I think you'll have to search long and hard to find such a playful, crazy awesome environment and great collection of people that we have at Oktobor Animation Studio. The place rocks big time! one week it's back to school for me - The Animation Mentor Masterclass: Animals & Creatures is starting on March 28.

I'm super excited to get back to what started this animation craziness for me. It's been a joyride ever since I started AM back in January 2006 and I can't wait to get going again!

I'll keep my blog updated throughout the masterclass.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

First 2 Minutes of Rio

<br/><a href="" target="_new"title="'Rio' Exclusive: Film's First Two Minutes">Video: 'Rio' Exclusive: Film's First Two Minutes</a>

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Back to Animation Mentor!

I'm superduper excited!! It didn't take much considering to decide to sign up when AM announced the new Masterclass: Animals & Creatures earlier this week.

I've mostly been doing non-vfx type of animation so far, and even though I have explored some quadrupeds, I haven't really spent much time on animation that is meant to co-exist with live action.

It's gonna be superawesome to get back to where it all started for me about 5 years ago, at the school bench at Animation Mentor. Can't wait to get started in March.


Sunday, January 09, 2011

Animation Insiders - Free eBook

Animation Insiders is an ebook with professional animators going through their work flow. It is now available for download for free from Les Shamans!

From Les Shamans site:
Animation Insiders is a book dedicated to animation. AI book #1 is a compilation of know-how, experience and anecdotes from 13 talented animators. Animation Insiders is aimed at people who are passionate about animation, those who are looking to surpass their limits and acquire new techniques.


Thursday, January 06, 2011

Interview Mark Kirkland

From the TAG Blog:
It's doubtful that Mr. Mark Kirkland envsioned himself directing episodes of the television show entitled "The Simpsons" two decades after starting, but that turns out to be what he has done.