Class 6, Week 1 - AM Portfolio

This isn't anything new, pretty much just a rehashing of my AM demo reel, but the assignment for this first week was to upload all of our previous work so our mentor could help us decide which shots could be used on a professional demo reel (and what shots should just be dismissed).  As I've already received my critique (Sean is a bit of an unorthodox mentor), I can tell you the list of shots that will be making the cut:

End Of The Trail, Stewie Takes A Test, All three baseball shots, and Ballie's double bounce walk.  As it turns out, Sean is a huge Defending Your Life fan, so he was really thrilled that I had chosen a audio clip from that film, he just wasn't as thrilled with the animtion (and I tend to agree with him).  There's still a chance that that shot will make the cut, but it will need a lot of work, so I'll be inclined to leave it until the other shots have been solidified.  I might also put together an entirely new shot durning this class as well, but we'll see how everything else goes first.

Next week: picking my first shot to polish and getting to work on it


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Welcome to Class 6

...or as I like to think of it, OH MY GOD I'M IN MY FINAL TERM AT ANIMATION MENTOR.

My new (AND FINAL) mentor at AM is Sean Sexton.  He works at DreamWorks and speaks very highly of the work they did on How To Train Your Dragon - so go see it!  You can read more about Sean in this interview he did for the AM newsletter.

In our first Q&A he was talking about how he came to be an animator and about his first gigs in the animation industry.  One of which was working on the film Thumbtanic, which is actually pretty hilarious.  You can check out part one here:

If you find it agreeable, parts two and three are also available.  Sean joked that the writer, Steve Odenkirk, had thought Kate Winslet was a bit heavy set in the film, so wanted to cast a fat thumb for her role in the film - which he did.  This is the kind of great stuff you expect to find in a deluxe, 2-disc DVD set!

Next week: GRADUATION AHHHHHHHHHHHH!  Just kidding.


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Class 5 Progress Reel


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Week 11 - End Of The Trail ("Final")

And so, another class at Animation Mentor draws to a close.  While I'm pleased with my overall progress, I still felt the overall syllabus for this class could have used an overhaul.  It's probably a good thing that when a new animator(s) comes on board at a studio they usually stick them with action (not actING) shots, as well as background work.  I certainly will look forward to using the polish class to really continue to improve my acting chops, especially in the realm of facial animation and lip sync.  As for this final shot, I think I managed to bring it a bit further than I had originally anticpated.  Sure, there's some stuff that definitely needs work, but for the most part I feel pretty good with where it is given the time frame I had to work on it.  As is tradition, I have rendered the scene (aka made it look pretty), but eventually I'd like to get some more details added in to the background (trees, bushes, etc).

I hope you will also have a look at Gene's fantastic animation (the "square needle" line gets me every time):

See you in Class 6!


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Week 10 - End Of The Trail (Refining)

This week I really tried to lock down all the body animation so I can focus all my attentions this last week on the facial animation.  I can still see a few minor things that will need to be tweaked, and I'm sure Drew will have a few things to add, but overall I think this is looking pretty good.  I certainly wish I had more than a week to work in the lip sync (grading wise), but better to lock things down one at a time rather than just rush to get it done.

Next week: Final (sort of)


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Week 9 - End Of The Trail (Polishing)

After a mini-meltdown last week I was able to get things back on track this week and get this shot headed more firmly in the right direction.  Although several factors contributed to last week's disaster of a shot, one of the biggest problems was with not being able to count on my workflow to keep the shot moving forward.  This is really the most important part of AM: finding your workflow.  Without it, you can pretty much be sure to have a hard time keeping a job with a studio, where you have a much stricter timeline to get your work done.  At any rate, last week made me realize that I've still got some tweaking to do with my workflow, and much better to find that out now than later.  We're far from out of the woods, however, as there are only two weeks left to finish this shot and there is still a ton to be done.  I'd like to say that two weeks will be enough, but to be honest, I'll probably still be working on this as I head into the sixth and final class at AM (which is "Polish and Portfolio," so all is not lost).

Next week: dialogue and refining


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Another cool demo reel from an AM student

A sweet bowling animation?  That is definitely a must-have for Dabrosis.

Animation reel by Paul Yan.


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Week 8 - End Of The Trail (Spline)

Unfortunately, this was possibly the first week where I handed something in that I really didn't want to hand in.  For one reason or another, this shot just kind of derailed this week - despite a hefty amount of hours put into it, the outcome was not favorable.  I will be looking to back track a bit to start this next week, trying to find a good place to re-establish what was working from the previous week.

Next week: more polishing


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Week 7 - End Of The Trail (Blocking Plus)

I have to admit, doing a full blocking plus pass for a two character shot is no walk in the park - I can only imagine what's it like when you have a shot with lots of characters in it!  None the less, I think everything is coming along nicely with (what I hope is) a minimum of hitches.  I'm still in talks with Drew over the opening of the shot, whether to have the guy already looking around the corner of the cabin when the shot starts or have him pop out and then pop back in like he's doing now.  I'd rather have him already looking out, but it was Drew's idea to go with the quick in and out, so we'll see how things pan out.  Other than that, my main concern is making sure that the hug reads before I cut to the third and final shot, but I'll continue to iron that out as the shot progresses - four weeks to go!

Facial pose of the week:

Next week: polishing


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Week 6 - End Of The Trail (Blocking)

It was fun to see this shot start to take form this week - it had been so long since I had put together a new shot that I had forgot how awesome it is!  The camera angles now echo the feeling of the shot: as we go from wide angle to medium to close-up, our two cowboys go from across the screen from one another to next to each other to embracing (well, one is embracing, the other is being embraced).  There's still a long way to go, but I think is shot has the potential to be really sweet.

Facial pose (just one this week):

Next week: Blocking plus


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