Saturday, February 27, 2010

David Corral - Joint Based facial rig

So a while ago I ran across this spanish commercial by 23 lunes.

NEOsitrin 20" from 23lunes on Vimeo.

and I was following the rabbit trail and on their vimeo site saw this TD rig by David Corral

23lunes - Technical Reel 2007 from 23lunes on Vimeo.

which was really interesting to me because after he does the regular blend shape based facial rig, he throws up a joint based one. I assume the skin is weighted to joints, and the joints pivot point is placed in a space where when rotating the joints maintain the volume of the head (like you would with a joint for the eyeball.) What I thought was extra clever was the set driven key on the blenshape to kick up the wrinkle once the joint has moved a certain amount. Seems like this style might give you a lot of crazy potential.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Support the Funny

Speaking Animation blog just put up their 2nd podcast, a roundtable with Ken Fountain, Ben Rush, David Weatherly, and Steven P. Gordon about animating funny scenes. Good stuff.

my notes:
funny = spontaneous, real, unexpected, character is being in their moment

silly= when someone's trying to be funny (like a kid) can be funny when it's quirky and doesn't really make sense
Monty python they believe the role even when they're being silly

have to believe in it, prat falls/physical comedy, you can't be faking it, the character has to be not expecting it, sucks the comedy out if the character is winking at the audience

character 100% believing in what they're doing/what they're trying like acting, not believable unless it's 100%

that's why director's often ask for you to "play it straight" because if your character is serious and believing in it then it'll get the laugh

How do you maintain and plus a laugh that's in the boards and voice already?

It's always in the timing. The boards timing is already good if it's getting a laugh, so mark the timing when the change happens to get the laugh (the pose might change but the timing is where it's at.)
Look for what the meat of the joke is. A lot of the time it's in the contrast, two odd ideas meeting and when your brain is trying to make sense of it is when the laugh comes. Keep in mind how the characters would interpret how things are going on in their environment. Figure out the meat of the joke (what's funny about it) and embellish it.
Find out what's funny in the boards, often it's the contrast idea pose/expression, don't need to move it, just pull that idea out as long as possible, dangle the audience.
Sometimes it's easier to milk comedy if you're just holding the pose. Comedians often do that, hold still while the audience absorbs and enjoys the joke (often they take a drink of water at this point). So don't move around and distract the audience, hold still and let the them revel. The pause also makes it feel like the character is thinking, trying to figure out what happened (makes it easy to sympathize with them)
Sometimes coming in quicker then it would be expected makes things funnier.

Callback's= returning to a funny thing that happened before, revisiting the joke. Like a funny button that you made earlier, you tag it later to buzz the audience again.

How do you know if you're animating funny?
Like sitcoms, you don't actually laugh, but you recognize that it's funny.
Then it's confirmed in dailies.

How do you hold onto the funny you had in blocking once you push it all the way to polish?
It's hard because the funny wears off the more you see it. It's hard to hang onto. If you got the funny in blocking hold onto that timing, because the timing worked to the frame. Sometimes I sacrifice beautiful movement for a pose.
Everything around should support that one gag. Support the funny with the animation, don't distract from it.
If it's about the joke, it's about the joke, not about the 5 frames of perfect antic or whatever. (sometimes in Dailies you have to defend the funny, because everyone stops being able to see the funny after repeated viewings)

Do you worry about cliche when doing gags?

If you do cliche it has to be a new angle on it for it to work. An original version of that cliche.
Spit takes and prat fall and farts get jokes. But it's always funnier to do something unexpected, that's the essence of comedy. If you do something that even the director doesn't expect sometimes that totally works and saves the shot. It's always worth not doing the cliche, even if it's asked for (if you have a better idea.)
In comedy you get the laugh by appealing to the broadest possible audience, if it's an esoteric only funny to you laugh, then it's not going to be funny. So you have to do something that's on the line of cliche but is still original, it's a balancing act.

Inspiration from life to put into your work?
Any embarrasing moment from any point in my life.
Sympathetic stuff, if you can relate to the hardship, the fall, the embarassment that you just saw, put that into your shot.

How do you prepare for a funny shot?
I don't always go to the acting room, but for those kinds of shots I do.

Stepped blocking?
Yes as few poses as possible, I've shown 3 or 5 poses only in blocking at dailies. Similar to the boards. Those essential poses and all about the timing.

I start with those 3 essential poses and then fill it in more, because it's a little dangerous to not show enough in dailies because they may send you down a different path then you plan to.

When I get a shot I try and come up with a descriptive word for it. Like in that shot "glass"; he was so fragile, not a lot of give, has to be very careful.

Getting the most out of a line read?
Standing up and doing it for me.
The tone of the voice directs it a lot.

Anything guaranteed funny?
Sometimes to do the exact opposite, if a character is very frenetic, to all of a sudden go very still. Usually your job is to channel the funny the actor's brought.

In Monster's Inc. when Randall is threatening Mike Wazowski, Mike's misleads are super funny, because they are such unexpected misleads. "Do you know what happens when it's 12:00?" "...lunch?" "the scareflow will be..." "...painted?"

yeah crappy quality but you never know what you'll get off youtube

Monday, February 22, 2010

Art Center - free tutorial site

The art center

So I've been reading dreamworks story artist Rad Sechrist' blog for a little while, and learning a lot. He just posted that he's joined with other artists and they put together a blog where they'll all be dropping tutorial posts. Internet community for the win! :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Stephen King - On Writing

Recently read Steven King's On Writing, that everyone raves about. It was a good read, nice and smooth and easy to get through, chatty, makes you feel like you could sit down and bang out a novel, I'd recommend it if you are interested in writing stories. Here's notes I took from the writing part of it:

You have to read a lot and write a lot.

Don't worry about your vocabulary, you don't have to have big flowery language to get the story out: "He came to the river. The river was there." -Ernest Hemingway

Use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful. If you hesitate you will of course come up with other words, but the first one was most directly what you meant.

Know grammar, the usual have to know the rules in order to know when to break them.

Any noun paired with any verb = a sentence. Rocks explode. Jane transmits. Plums deify. Grab onto simple sentences when you start feeling overwhelmed by complex grammar rules.

Avoid the passive tense. The subject of the sentence should be doing stuff, not have stuff done to it.

Adverbs are very bad. They are words that end with -ly. You should be able to describe with context how things happened. "He closed the door firmly." vs "He was angry. He shut the door." {I don't understand the big deal, but other writers suggest this too}

And similar {and similarly repeated by others} don't use dialogue attributions. 'Said' works great, anything else is over the top and stupid.

Lots of short paragraphs make the reading easier. Topic sentence with support and description means the writer has organized their thoughts and isn't wandering.

In fiction the paragraph is the beat instead of the melody. (the more you read and write the more you'll find you're own rhythm)

King writes 2000 words a day, so in  3 months that's 180,000 words; a goodish length book. He suggests starting easier at 1000 a day (and 1 day off a week). His main point though is that you're doing it because you want to, not because you feel like you should. You do it because it's your passion.

He likens writing to creative sleep, you're dreaming while your body is conscious enough to type the words out. So he suggests having a space where you can be free from distraction, and try and be consistent day to day so that your brain learns at what time it's supposed to fall into creative sleep. You should go into your room, shut the door, shut out all distractions, and not emerge until you've hit your goal (1000 words).

People want a good story they can get involved in. So write what you're interested in, infuse it with what you know of life and love. And put in what you know about because that feeling of expertise makes things more believable. (Grisham wrote about lawyers because he was one.)

{somewhere I read that how to write books can be divided into those who like to plot everything out (with notecards for example) and those who fly by the seat of their pants. King is a "pantser"}

King starts with a situation. Then the characters come (usually 2 dimensional) then he just rides along to see where the characters go. He says this way he gets surprised, which is great if even he doesn't know where his story is going to go. He talks about writing like unearthing a fossil {which Andrew Stanton talked about too, but I can't find my blog post on that} you don't know what you're going to pull up until you're done. With Misery he started with a captured writer and a crazy nurse, but when he started he thought it would end with the writer's skin binding his last single edition book. Misery is "two characters in a house". Bag of Bones is "widowed writer in a haunted house". Easiest way to start is with "what if".

Description is what makes the readers a sensory participant in the story. Read and write a lot to learn how. Thin description leaves the reader feeling bewildered and nearsighted. Overdescription buries them in mundane details. See (and smell and feel) the scene in your mind, then put down what you experienced, then edit it. A few well chosen details that stand for everything else. Simile and metaphor (when used right) are one of the delights of fiction, we are able to see an old thing a new way.

Dialogue is a strong way of showing (instead of telling) the reader what kind of person the characters are.

Pay attention to the real people around you, then put what you see into your characters.

I think the best stories always end up being about the people rather then the event, which is to say character-riven. But once you get beyond the short story (2000-4000 words) the story should be the boss, otherwise it's a biography.

2nd draft is 1st draft minus 10%. 2nd draft is also where you polish the theme and symbolism you see when you read your first draft. Symbolism is another tool you can use to help focus the story. Symbolism exists to adorn and enrich, not to create a sense of artificial profundity.

Every book is about something after the 1st draft your job is to read it and in the 2nd draft make it more clear, which may take major changes and revisions, but will give you a clearer and more unified story. But starting with the theme is a recipe for preachy bad fiction. Write what's interesting to you, then go back and see what the overall message was that snuck out.

Steven has to write the first draft as fast as possible to keep up the enthusiasm and outrun self doubt. Write the first draft with the door shut, just you and the story, no outside comments or input, resist the temptation to share it. Then when you're done let it sit for at least 6 weeks (this is when he writes his shorter novella's, between drafts of the bigger novels) leave it long enough so that it's a little foreign to you so it's easier to kill your darlings.

As a reader what's about to happen is more interesting then what happened already. 

Pacing:cut out the boring stuff. But if you go to fast you'll leave the reader behind. Everyone has personal taste for what the right pace is. (and it doesn't have to be fast paced to be a good book)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rad Sechrist - Storyboard/animatic

Rad threw up a demo of a storyboard, fun and good to see an example.

Dan Dos Santos

Dan Dos Santos is pretty impressive. Tor had him do the cover of an ebook of one of the Wheel of Time series. On their blog there is the steps on the way (initial sketch, 2ndary sketch, reference, and final image with tweaks) worth a quick look.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Norman modding tuts

Was poking at Norman recently, really is a nice rig.

Nair Archawattana has this write up on the Animation Buffet

Joshua Slice apparently did a live tut how to that was inscribed by Vaughan Weigert
on the animation club forum here and here

and Doe Hyoung Kim has a mel for quick skin wrapping

The spline doctors complain about SOOO many demo's looking the same but with these resources it seems foolish not to make the effort to try and give them something fresh to look at.

pic by Shiva Kumar Adloori   (thanks anonymous poster ;)

 *update 2/26 Shiva also has an alternate version you can download that has a more muscled base mesh. Oh, and I just learned a neat trick in Maya 2009, hitting b turns on soft select, holding b and dragging scales it.

*update 9/21 Romain Digonnet's started a library of mod'ed Normans

Steve Argyle Painting Tut

Was listening to the Ninja Podcast and they had Steve Argyle on. Flipped over to his site and watched this tutorial of his. He has a lot of good technical information about light and color. And I appreciate how he just bombs it and doesn't worry about doing it perfect. (his joking presentation style was not appreciated by some of my coworkers.)


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Egypt/Lebanon by Khalid Mohtaseb

by Khalid Mohtaseb and friends beautiful film
(done on consumer grade stuff I think)

Egypt / Lebanon Montage from Khalid Mohtaseb on Vimeo.

* found by JHD (isn't that a mixed up order of his initials?)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Improv Everywhere

Got this link off SplineDr.s interesting live improv group doing random things in random places. Great for natural reactions of people.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Short film I talked about back in Dec 08 finally out, was hoping for a little more to the story.

by Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec

ESCALE court-métrage d'animation réalisé par Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec from nostromo production on Vimeo.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Squishy handdrawn flow in CG

Daniel Martinez Lara has been on the scene for a long time. Just ran across this vid of his where he pulls an animation out of Maya into Blender,(since Maya can export vertex animation now) vertex deforms it all up, then brings it back into Maya. Skim through this vid and marvel

AniSculpt -- Maya Connection Script from pepeland on Vimeo.

Here's where to download the script he wrote to get it out and into Maya. And a step by step walkthru. Apparently Blender's sculpting tools are very nice and easy to use, with a smart application of a grease pencil too it makes his Anisculpt technique (watch his demo of it.)

my coworkers think this might be possible all in Maya using a soft mod tool, but not as clean and easy.

what got me looking at this stuff was a vid he posted with super easy changing of the geometry, something I've wanted to make but haven't had the td skills, a CG everyman that's easy to quickly change into a new character.  He's rolling with some of the ideas Lango explored.

 * as a side note, it's interesting to watch the assymetry in Lara's face as he speaks 

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Watch over Adam Phillips' (Brackenwood) shoulder

Adam Phillips who has done the handdrawn Brackenwood shorts captured 3 hours of himself making his last one (I think particularly it's his flying camera stuff), and he's put it up on youtube.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Comparative vs Sight Size

Science demands that phenomena be observed with the unemotional accuracy of a weighing machine, while artistic accuracy demands that things be observed by a sentient individual recording the sensations produced in him by the phenomena of life.

Ran across this interesting article, basically saying sight size is easy to teach, and easy to get a good looking result, but the slavish gridding and plotting in the end limit the artist and when the artist is ready to move on beyond student excercises they are at a lack for creating things that aren't in front of them with perfect lighting. Also argues that sight stize was invented in the 20th century, and that Bargue himself didn't use it, even though his litho's are widely used to teach it now.

In teaching, we neglect to
sponsor passion as a discipline.
The only discipline we teach is
that of the deadly diagram
supposedly to be fertilized later
by personal experience.

Later is to late."

_Rico Lebrun

(Comparative, by the way, I think is judging distances and proportions by eye (as opposed to sight size having canvas and subject exactly equal, measuring a distance on the subject then shifting over and marking it on the canvas.))

Monday, February 1, 2010

Grandfather Miyazaki

The Babysitter (Pixar) mesmerizes children. Grandfather (Miyazaki) changes their lives.

Short article about Miyazaki's story telling vs Pixar's. Basically Pixar character's you can tell if they're good or bad by how they look and they basically stay that way. Miyazaki you can't classify characters as good or evil, and they change throughout.