Animation

I have been re-visiting and working on several new animated shots.  I think previously I always had this idea that you should always just work on a single piece of animation at a time, but more recently I've discovered it's better (for me, anyway) to have a couple of different pieces to play with.  This way if one shot starts to feel stale I can jump over to another one and keep working.  Here's a few of the shots I've been working on:

I wasn't sure if I'd ever come back to this shot and complete the runaway ending, but I'm really glad I finally did.  I think the contrast between the zombie walk and the cartoony run make for a far more interesting shot.

Here's another blast from the bast!  I original uploaded my video reference and first pass of this animation over two years ago:

I was trying a new way of blocking at the time and the results when I brought it over into spline weren't quite what I was hoping for.  I dug it back out recently because I still really liked the premise of the shot (her job as pirate piercer) and it was a chance to "fix" some animation that wasn't in great shape.


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Frankenweenie!

If it's Tim Burton and stop motion animation you can count me in!


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New dialogue shot - Scene One, Blocking

I've started working on a new dialogue shot and I can already tell you it's going to be a bit of a long one (over 500 frames.....or about 20 seconds in non-animator speak).  This first shot sets the stage before the actual dialogue starts up, with copious amounts of cake being eaten.  Getting this shot ready meant the laborious task of setting up individual constraints for all of the pieces of cake.  What does that mean, Jay?  Essentially, to help make things easier down the road you can set up helpers (constraints) that you can turn on and off - specifically, when the guy grabs a piece of a cake from the table the cake then moves along with his hand (and then disappears when it goes in his mouth).  This is the stuff you never think about when you watch an animated video, but it always has to be done - a hand doesn't actually interact with anything, you must fake the interaction (just like CG food does not get chewed and swallowed).

The dialogue itself is great and I know it will be a lot of fun - a lot of work, but a lot of fun!  The scene gives me a chance to really work in some cool subtle acting along with over the top stuff (like shoving cake into one's face).  At this point I'm not sure when I'll reveal the entire shot, as it will be easier to work at it in pieces.  None the less, this one has the potential to be an interview maker, so stay tuned!


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Updated Demo Reel


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Zombie Scene (Refining) - Part Three

This will probably be the last upload of the zombie scene, although I will continue polishing the shot some more before adding it to my demo reel.  In the end I decided to cut the final run out of the shot, mostly to save time but also for a couple of other reasons.  Some people were confused why he hobbled in and then ran out, blurring the line between whether he was a real zombie or just someone pretending to be one.  As that isn't really the point of the shot, I felt cutting the extra bit out and ending with Mr. Zombie stuck in a tight spot was more interesting (and hopefully less confusing). I still achieve my goal of showing two distinct personalities within the same character (ravenous/scary into confused/concerned), which is what I set out to do.  I've also rendered the shot, along with animating the gun and tweaking a few other areas.  It's been fun, but I'm ready to move onto something new - I'll keep you posted!


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Zombie Scene (Refining) - Part Two

As you'll notice, I haven't quite made it to the final run out of scene yet.  There has been some changes to the walk and I did a pretty big re-block when the zombie sees the shotgun.  This part of the scene - the sudden stop - was particularly difficult, but definitely a good exercise.  There's a point between a cartoony sudden stop (think Looney Tunes and the roadrunner) and a cartoony sudden stop that is still believable, the second of which I wanted to capture for this shot.  You need some continued motion, just enough to keep the character alive, and then continue into, as it's called in the animation world,  a moving hold.  Like the sudden stop, the moving hold is quite difficult.  You need to walk the line between completely killing the character and just having them randomly float around.  Trust me, it was one of the most often asked questions at AM: What is a moving Hold?  How do I do it?  Anyway, I think this part of the shot is coming along nicely and look forward to getting to the run away, which is really on a few short frames compared to the rest of the shot.  Hoping to have this into full polish mode by the weekend.


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Pixar's Brave - Full Trailer

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Pixar's work, but this film feels different.  Not in a bad way, mind you, but in a direction than past Pixar films have never traveled.  It feels like they're stepping outside of their comfort zone, daring to try something less Pixar-y.

I don't catch a lot of films when they're still in the theater, but this one will be a definite must next summer.


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Zombie Scene (Refining) - Part One

Decided to break the refining into two parts - easier to tackle that way.  Also, the shot is essentially two beats: pure zombie and un-zombie.  Un-zombie?  I might coin that.

Anyway, there was some interesting aspects to the animation when I took it into spline, especially when it came to the head.  That thing was flopping around like a sack of potatoes, so I really had to go back and bring things back under control.  One thing I'm still working on his avoidng problem areas where I over animate one body part which then leads to over animating several other body parts.  Think about the shoulders; you over rotate them without realizing it, then you compensate by bending the arm too far, which affects the bend in the elbow, which affects the bend in the wrist...the fingers...  Thankfully it doesn't take too much to spot a problem like this in the graph editor.  You've got nice  curves going on and suddenly one key is pulled way out of whack.  You adjust that and the arm is broken...you adjust that and the elbow...yeah, I'll stop there.  It's late and I'm ready to go to bed, but things are coming along.  I'll talk more about the scene and the animation when I get around to refining part two.


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Zombie Scene (Blocking)

Fresh animation, yes!  I've wanted to do some new bi-pedal animation for an age now, but with dragon work I just hadn't found the time.  I especially want to get a new dialogue shot underway, but as lip sync is probably my weakest skill right now it made more sense to focus on something I'm good at.  So, that's where this new zombie pantomime shot comes from.  I came up with the idea over the weekend and shot some video reference.  After some quick thumbnails (and constructing the 3D set) I begin blocking out that shot.  I really wanted to push the feel of the zombie, especially his arms, as he walks towards the house, and I think it's coming along nicely.  It needs some more breakdowns in a few spots, but it's not to far from being pushed out of stepped mode - in case you're missing the point, there's a shotgun that comes through the door (eventually through an actual opening in the door and not just through the door itself) giving the zombie second thoughts.

As for the dragon, the animation part of the film is getting close to being finished, believe it or not.  I've seen some of the fully rendered shots and they're gorgeous, plus I've been informed the releases is set for the middle of 2012.  Still a ways to go for your eyes, but it will be here in no time.  Looking to spruce up my demo reel with some dragon and zombie in time for next month's CTN Animation Expo (http://www.ctnanimationexpo.com/) in Burbank.


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Something new on the horizon

...and just in time for Halloween!


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