Tuesday, August 26, 2008

11 sec club crit July 08

Latest 11sec club critique with Nick Bruno

One of Nick's big suggestions concerned staging and shot flow (similar to how Kevin Koch's discussions on it)

Basically he was emphasizing that you want to grab the eye's attention (through the usual means, contrast and movement) before you do something, and you want to think about where the eye is and where it's going to go. Leow Chan Ghee had chosen large gestures describing the emotions, which worked fine as acting choices, but Nick says that they are all at 100%. Nick recommends Leow keep the big tip forwards as the 2nd golden pose and then work within that, and that allows the eye to be focused in one spot easier so it won't miss anything, and it allows time to soak up the subtle clues that indicate the unique shadings of this moment in this characteres life. In other words it's smaller so you can focus and see more. So little movements within the leaning forwards, so the gestures are at 40% but the intention is just as clear, with maybe one 80% hand exclamation point gesture within it. You wouldn't have a paragraph with an ! after every sentence, you'd pepper those in rarely.

leading gestures. he's standing and not doing much really. If you bring the hand up before the lean in, while he's still standing then the movement will pull the eye, and then we'd know where what we'd be following. Just a couple frames before. So eye is following the hand because it started with that leading gesture, the hand is moving and the eye follows and feels the body moving along too but the attention is on the hand, the body stops, the hand hits and recoils, the recoil comes back towards the head which is anticing up. So the hand bouncing back is passing the baton back the head, for the audiences attention.

That was an interesting point, that a small area of the screen is carrying the baton of the viewer's eye and attention, and you should consider how you're carrying it and moving it around.

eyes change expression, then the body changes shape, suggesting that there was a thought and then the body reacted to the thought

pivotal change in his life at the end of the scene. That's how Nick talked about the scene, as if it were pivotal to the character. Another good lesson, if you get a scene, figure out (or make up) why this is a moment in the character's life that they will remember when they are 85.

Often on a reaction shot you might think "man I just have to get this guy, put him in a pose, and make him blink, the director must not have liked my earlier scenes". But this kind of shot gives context to the whole scene, if he just straight blinks it's like "are you done? get out of my office." if blinks and looks to the side it's like he's considering what was said. So even though the character's not moving a lot, it's a scene where the gears in their minds are moving a lot, so a little trickier to pull off but good potential.

little kids and animation

Listening to Toon In's podcast with Jim Capobianco

He talked about animation for little children, not Carebear or My Little Pony, but instead really good quality for little kids, like Mary Poppins, Totorro, Winnie the Pooh. When you look at those 3 movies, non of them have people shooting or violence, not even in a comical way, everything is played for entertainment and there's a lightness to them and humor, there might even be gravity like Totorro with the mother being in the hospital, but there's a sense of wonder and magic and gentleness that appeals to a little child.

reminds me of a quote from Miyazaki (about 3 minutes into the 2nd video)
I have many friends who are creators of anime, I don't like it. Because it flaunts despair. They're shallow and display no compassion to fellow humans. And they take an extremely mechanical view of life. You follow?
They're made cheap. They're ugly. Not just in animation but also in computer games, children are sacrificed to the interests of business. I believe that animation robs children of real experience.
The worlds of TV and computer games are limited, to the senses of sight and sound. But when children encounter reality, they use all five senses, of sound, sight, smell, touch and taste. That's how they learn about their world. A 3 year old child simply can't distinguish the difference between images from reality and images on the television set. When children become absorbed in manufactured images instead of reality, they confuse the world on TV with the real world.

Miyazaki's latest (Ponyo by the Sea I thin) I've heard is aimed at the little set as well. He also talks of wonder and magic and the joy of the world when animating for children.

Amusingly, I love Totorro and I think Mary Poppins is pretty fun (c'mon Dick Van Dyke, classic) I think there should be more movies like this, they're engrossing, they keep your attention and keep you entertained, and there's no intentional ugliness in them. Also funny, I don't think little kids should be watching TV at all, like Miyazaki said they can't distinguish from reality and screen fiction, so they shouldn't be polluted with the screen fiction until they are mature enough to not be influenced by it. (trust me, my psychology studies we talked about how adults are influenced by the screen fiction, so children are definetly not immune)

Monday, August 25, 2008

sad reference

Carlos Baena in July had a post that was analyzing a guys emotions as he relived his war memories, which was great for emotion analysis, but a little heavy to watch. A similar site for emotion analysis is this one that's about drunk drivers, a little easier to watch because they're actors.

Story and Character advice

Great post over atTemple of the Seven Golden Camels about story and character

Saturday, August 23, 2008

indie films

This Q&A with Ralph Bakshi spawned this CGtalk thread and this one.

Bakshi's main point is that he started because he felt like no one had the guts to do something new and different. He knew he didn't have the money or even the talent to compete on the same level as Disney. But he also had no interest in playing the Disney game, he wanted to do his own story his own way. I recall hearing that Bakshi didn't let people do tests, they just went and that's what they got(maybe that was Bluth). And he has all those crazy live action backgrounds. He mentions that Plympton's the only one doing his own films, but in today's world with today's technology all you need is a computer instead of a studio to make movies. Granted he's talking about 2D movies, but this is similar to some ideas Keith Lango was throwing around, about not trying to compete with the big boys in the same arena, do something they can't do so you can do it in a reasonable amount of time, on your own. (an example of that series of posts)

anyway, food for thought

Friday, August 22, 2008

films with heart

for external readers of this blog (people other then me) please forgive the lack of macho-ness in this post ;)

a movie with heart makes you care, makes you feel. It brings out and celebrates the positive aspects of humans, and being human. A movie with heart helps shine the world a little brighter, because it reminds us to live with heart.

Jim Henson said: I want to leave a theater happy, I want a film to leave you up. And it has to be about something that matters, actual things in our lives, about our lives

Examples are Millions, My Neighbor Totorro, Monsters Inc.

I had puzzled over it for a long time, what's the formula, why's it so hard. Finally figured it out years later thanks to Oktapodi.

Simple answer, deceptively simple: love.

Just like in Conan, the riddle of flesh is stronger then the riddle of steel. Having been a teenage boy I understand the power of the angsty angry nine inch nails side. But now being older, and especially being a parent, I see how feeble that is, anger is strong, but love will go all the way to the bone.

Not hallmark hearts love. But actual love, the characters are believable as unique living entities away from the screen, and they care about each other. A sincere, character if they lost a loved one would be devastated, the opposite is Seinfeld who would say "yep that's too bad" It takes guts to put your story out there with heart, it's a lot easier to have a cynical sarcastic annoying character and everyone's hip, but for me it contributes to the world more to say something about what makes us human. Audience's will forgive a failed attempt at hip easier then a failed attempt at heart, but if you succeed, gold.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


RRRRRRR how the heck am I ever supposed to catch up to those damn Gobelins kids? ;) Always always lovely stuff!!!!

making of here

eagerly awaiting the rest of the new ones

Copernicus Studios

I love the videos that Copernicus Studios does (though I don't like their site). Always makes me want to try my hand at 2D. I'm tired of looking them up so I'll just put them here so I can find them easier.

Bradley Cayford is one of the top guys there I think.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Animation Podcasts again

Was re-listening to Animation Podcasts, Clay Kaytis has done a tremendous service to our community with it. Anyway, new thoughts:

They're all saying the same thing. Andreas especially I think. You have to be your character. You have to think and feel and know what it's like to walk in their skin, how they individually would react and move to situations. Not just a cool action, but how specifically would this body and this mind do that action.

James Baxter:
*Talking of getting in skin, he talks about the Odd Couple with Jack Lemon, that they are both the same "rig" (male young caucasion) but they have such different ways of moving and reacting. Reminds me of that idea: level 1 can move without looking funny, level 2 character feels alive, level 3 a brain swap and you would be able to tell the minds are in the wrong body by the actions and movements and reactions to things. He also talked about their power centers (like Keith Lango does) that Jack's character is all in his head and twitchy while Walter's is in his pelvis and slouchy.
*early blocking, when you start timing it out, the pose you drew will be the last frame of the pose, so think of it that way, because you're gonna need the time to ease into that Extreme.
*There are no inbetweens, every drawing has equal time on the screen, but in 2D you have a natural advantage because every drawing must be hand made, so every single drawing can be drawn with appeal, which makes me want to pay more attention to what the computer is doing to the shapes of the figure on the frames I haven't directly intervened. Which he talked about a little, one of his frustrations in CG is that you have to fight the rig, and there are times when you just can't get an appealing 2D image from it, as rigs get better we can fight that, and we must remember to fight that and make sure the everything is nice.
*They were talking about Milt always has at most 2 charts on his Key drawings, which is just like Eric Goldberg talks about in his book. So it's simple and clear and your poses are complete and well thought out and appealing on their own. And then you use partial drawings (just the hand, or just the eyes and chin) as breakdown keys to describe how to flow from one pose to the next so it doesn't all happen at once and be stiff and boring but it becomes fluid instead. Basically it's pose to pose with layering afterwards. So you get a unified pose (which is hard to get if your running each limb straight ahead individually) but you also get fluidity and varied movement timing(which can be tricky if your doing pose to pose) Which translates straight to CG, block your key poses as full body poses so you can consider the whole and figure out your timing, and then after your major full body poses go ahead and straight ahead the individual limbs to break up the evenness

Nik Ranieri:
*make it alive. Think about how the world really works, don't just reach for the window blind and pull it, reach and miss and reach again, Glen Keane's Calarts video animating the woman with the shopping cart she reaches and misses once before actually catching it, same with Spirited Away the infamous tapping the shoe on as she runs out the door, it doesn't just slide on quick and easy.

Ken Duncan:
*talking about Meg from Hercules, how in the start of the film she's very standoffish, so she is usually facing away from people when she talks to them, but after she and Hercules start developing a relationship she turns and looks at him in the eye more often, stops jutting out her hip so much. So her personal changes are actually visually apparent in the evolution of her shape because how she's feeling affects the poses she strikes.
*He talks of the scene of Tarsan tickling Jane's feet, at first he was animating it technically: head down shoulders up etc, but the scene felt lifeless. Then he remembered tickling his wife's feet and how he and his wife interacted and put that into the piece, and he pulled it up so much that he felt ticklish
*he also talks of the odd couple with Jack Lemon, about how the character who isn't speaking often is just standing there as if he was not acting, but really he is being a good actor because they're allowing their characters to hear everything that's being said and processing it and then reacting to it. Which is what we should be doing also, letting the characters think and hear and react. It only takes 8 frames of an expression change to show the character has a new thought/reaction to what they've heard.
*The Fugitive has a lot of scenes where Tommy Lee Jones is just staring into space barely moving, but because of the context of where the scene is the audience is thinking "what's he gonna do, what's he thinking" and they're totally into it. It's hard to do that in animation, the temptation is to throw in a shoulder shrug or a sigh or something, but you don't hold the audience as much. Those still parts give texture to the whole piece, contrasted against more busily animated scenes. When very little is going on but there's context then the audience fills it in. There's a scene in Witness that the main character just finds out his friends been murdered, it's a back shot and we just see his shoulders drop, simple and plain. Or Toy Story when Buzz finds out he's just another toy, it's very still no extra dialogue, but it sinks in what he's feeling.

Glen Keane:
*Talked about how Ollie would milk a Golden Pose for like 3 pages of an xsheet (which I think is around 900 frames so I must be thinking wrong) basically a long time, because the audience "thinks in pictures" so you need to let them see the pictures to think them. Milk it as long as possible
*When a character is still, they are thinking

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Eric Goldberg's Video Recomendations

Finished reading Eric Goldberg's Book, he mentions a lot of classic animations and I thought I'd collect the ones on youtube in one place to relook at with book in hand. (hopefully I'm not posting to much info from the book along with the clips, don't want to step on Mr. Goldberg's toes)

p3 Little Rural Riding Hood the wolves entering the nightclub are perfect examples of strongly communicated attitude

p5 The Dover Boys example of good Golden's
p194 smears

p13 The Chump Champ attitude poses during baseball scene

p13 Often an Orphan attitude poses during Charlie Dog's "Da City" speech

p14 The Three Caballeros major pose per musical phrase
p178 wild scrambling contrasted with contained measures

p14 On The Town same as three caballeros

p15 Rooty Toot Toot example of strong poses in limited animation

p15 Gerald McBoing Boing example of strong poses in limited animation

p26 Rhapsody in Blue knowing your characters and letting that describe how they move

a bunch recommended at the end of the chapter on Actin in Animation:

p27 The Little Whirlwind

p27 The Bird Came C.O.D.

p27. Bear Feat

p27 Mr Mouse Takes a Trip

p27 Out-Foxed

p27 The Bodyguard

p27 Jerry's Cousin

p27 The Tender Game

p27 Dumbo (Bill Tytla (Bill Peet?) (so sad :(


p36 Genie talking about how he pulled inspiration from Robin Williams for the genie character

p37 One Last Hope -Phil how he incorporated ideas from the lipstick cam
p 166 overlap follow thru on beard and hair
p178 brushing stone with tail complimenting music

p37 Rover Dangerfield sticking Too close to the original

recommended at the end of Acting in Animation Part 2: Dialogue

p41 Mickey's Rival

p41 Falling Hare

p41 Sound of the South

p41 Mad Tea Party (Ward Kimball)

p41 Shere Kahn and Kaa (Milt Kahl)
p156 dialogue


p101 A Corny Concerto looking at quick timing
p194 Blue Danube section for Smears

p127 Rabbit of Seville Bugs' whiskbrooming crumbs demonstrating a "mini-smear"
p178 bugs animated to thump thump, and contrapuntally hands to little sounds
p199 snap into a hold and freeze

p142 Family Dog around 4:45 talking about the dog food splutting out

recomendations at the end of Lip-Sync

p164 Boop-oop-a-doop

p164 Ain't that Ducky

p164 Hare Way to the Stars


p178 Back Alley Oproar telegraph your poses and work within them, transition quick

p179 Carnival Of Animals know your musical structure

p194 Wackiki Wabbit smears

p194 Case of the Missing Hare smears

p194 Long-Haired Hare smears

p196 Zipping Along multiples
p184 speed twirls

p197 101 Dalmations extreme impact frame

p199 A Pest in the House punch contact coming out of the phone

p202 Saturday Evening Puss showing impact using staging/camera work