Thursday, May 27, 2010

Interview tips

Post over at Shawn Kelly's tips and tricks about Travis Tohill's interview for ILM. (I was blown away by his mime animation back when I saw it on the AM showcase.)

interesting points:
they started by asking about my workflow and how I approach shots. They were especially interested in whether I used video reference and how I plan my animation. Letting them know that I use video reference when starting nearly every shot I do definitely put me on their good side... just a little tip.

The next batch of questions focused on what types of animation I was comfortable with, where I felt I could use improvement, and what types of animation I hoped to do in my career.

They asked me if I was interested in "hard surface" animation (things like cars, planes, boats, etc) I assume this the grunt work that junior animator's get instead of juicy acting stuff

Next, they asked if I was excited about Transformers 2. This is really interesting, are they trying to weed out uber fan boys, or hire them? And if it were a small boutique shop would they be looking for some ego stroking?

Anyway, definitely thoughts to keep in mind for when the time comes. I can only add don't wear a tie. I'm still getting teased about looking like a kindergarden teacher since I wore one to the interview for my current gig (c'mon it was my first interview in the biz)

Goutte D'Or

Nother cool looking stop mo short. Christophe Peladan the director. Check the site.

Goutte d'Or - trailer from Happy Flyfish on Vimeo.

I'm noticing how much thinking and emotion stop mo animators get out of eye darts and eye lids

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Neck Tie

The Neck Tie
sweet little National Film Board of Canada (Canada is epic cool for having the NFB) stopmotion film by Jean-Francois Levesque


Film (12 min)


2 years to make. Water is hot glue. Plastic Eye with silicone pupils sliding across.

Dude was born same year as me, gotta suck it up and start making stuff. (course he doesn't have a 2 1/2 year old.) Still, time's passing, ain't gonna get much easier.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

VFX unite

Was reading a post over at the Tag blog about another artist getting the boot because they were too good and so worth too much money. There was a link to LA3D that lets people anonymously review their companies. Given the amount of poor working conditions in the industry this seemed like a good idea to me.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Art Gems from Gurneys blog

James Gurney has a lot of great technical info on painting on his blog!

A post of his with Notes from Sargent  (also another good place for Sargent notes are the ones that Craig Mullins collected)

1. Painting is an interpretation of tone. Colour drawn with a brush.
2. Keep the planes free and simple, drawing a full brush down the whole contour of a cheek.
3. Always paint one thing into another and not side by side until they touch.
4. The thicker your paint—the more your color flows.
5. Simplify, omit all but the most essential elements—values, especially the values. You must clarify the values.
6. The secret of painting is in the half tone of each plane, in economizing the accents and in the handling of the lights.
7. You begin with the middle tones and work up from it . . . so that you deal last with your lightest lights and darkest darks, you avoid false accents.
8. Paint in all the half tones and the generalized passages quite thick.
9. It is impossible for a painter to try to repaint a head where the understructure was wrong.

PALETTE: Silver White, Naples Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Ochre dew (English Red), Red Ochre, Vermillion, Ivory or Coal Black, and Prussian Blue. 

One of the keys of understanding Sargent is looking at the painting methods of his teacher Carolus Duran, who had a somewhat unusual method compared to other academic teachers. In a nutshell he tended to block in the tones in discreet mosaic-like patches at first (like a plane head, if you're familiar with those things) and then later in the game you blend the patches into each other. I believe this method gives the best tonal accuracy, which is what he's singing about in #5.

Regarding #7 about starting with the middle tones, I believe he means that right away you want to make your big value statement (or the 'effet' as they called it), but you should reserve your very darkest accents and lightest highlights for final, carefully considered touches.

and these interesting ones about horizon line /eye level showing where your camera is positioned (which is helpful for storyboarding as well) part 1 part 2 part 3 in practice

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cultural Smiles

Was mining James "Dinotopia" Gurney's blog (he has a lot of great technical art posts in there) and came across this interesting post about the difference between Amercan & British smiles. That linked over to an article in the NY times about professor Dacher Keltner who was doing research on it. There wasn't proof but the idea being tested is that American's smile like Tom Cruise, upper teeth only, and British smile like Prince Charles, pulling back the lower lips to show bottom teeth also.  This stuff is so interesting to me, and seems very applicable to animators, but unfortunately not easy to dabble in. (I do recommend Paul Ekman's books, personally I wasn't too into Desmond Morris')

Anyone else want to chime in with cultural differences in non verbal communication? This blog gets visitors from Iceland, Brazil, Canadian's, all over Europe, India,Iran, Thailand, Japan, and Australia. What have you guys noticed watching Hollywood movies that seems slightly odd from your cultural perspective?

*this book I read said that the smile only has 1 muscle involved that pulls the lips up and back, exposing only the upper teeth, the author said that if you see lower teeth it's because the person is trying to smile bigger so involving mouth widening muscles that don't actually come into use in the natural smile. 11/14/2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

King Kong - Animal or Human in a suit

Watched The Nostalgia Critic's comparison of the old King Kong vs the new King Kong.

Something interesting was at 11:20 he compared the 2 Kongs. Weta's Kong had a lot of emotion and thought readable in his face, the animator's based on Serkis' perfomance really made you feel like their Kong was a thinking feeling creature. The critic actually considered this as a point against it. The original Kong had a very blank expression, you couldn't read what he was thinking or feeling, just like an animal in the real world. All of the animals in the original had that natural feeling, as if they were predators hunting prey, not humans in suits, which makes them unpredictable and more interesting.

It had me thinking of Miyazaki. He said he told his staff to make it hard to tell where Totorro was looking, so that he might be thinking very deep thoughts, or nothing at all. And he gave the Ohmu many eyes so you wouldn't be able to see where they were looking. Or when he talks about a natural disaster like a flood, it can be bad for humans, but it's not inherently a bad thing, afterwords the forest feels rejuvinated.

So much that comes out of Hollywood is so human centric (which of course makes sense, since we are humans.) If you see an animal in a film out of Disney it's probably going to come perch on your finger and sing with you. But if you see an animal in a Ghibli film you must respect it, it may run away, it may ignore you, it may attack you.

Personally I find the unknown more interesting then the same ol same ol. Many Hollywood films I skip in and watch the last 1/2 hour only because the stories are so formulaic that it's easy enough to get all the backstory just from what stock roles the characters are obviously filling. So it's interesting to me to think about ways to take out the human centric aspects of story so that if I tell a story I can make it more unpredictable, and therefore actually alive.

Monday, May 17, 2010

September Issue Documentary

Watched The September Issue (with my wife ;) (documentary about the making of the September issue of Vogue fashion magazine) What was interesting to me was the way the film makers crafted the story. The head of the magazine Anna has such a poker face that she is not very interesting to watch. Instead the film makers make her interesting by showing us how the people around her perceive her as very powerful and intimidating. (She's the most influential person in fashion, it makes sense that she would have a good poker face) The center of the documentary wound up being Grace, the creative director. Watching the film you get the impression that Grace is on the verge of quitting because she feels edged out and that Anna disagrees with everything she does. But at the end of the film Grace makes the comment that almost the entire magazine issue is her work, and Anna talks admiringly about Grace being a genius.

Made me think of Brian McDonald again. The film makers focused on probably a minor event during the making of the magazine issue, but because it had the strongest emotions (Grace being frustrated about her work being misunderstood and not liked.) and they made this outburst the spine of the emotional story. Like Mcdonald was saying, the audience feels the strongest pull to the strongest emotions.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

11 Sec Crit - February

Nedy Acet won Feb's 11 second Club Kevin Koch did a vid review

This has been executed so well that it looks like it could be rotoscoped or motion captured. The solution is to push the exaggeration more. Push the poses to be more extreme after a quick move. Not mess with the timing so much, but more of an exaggerated and caricatured version of what a skilled dancer can do. The problem with CG is that if you show what a really talented dancer(for example) can do it doesn't have the same thrill, it feels like motion capture. In CG the onus is on us to exaggerate a little more. (Hand Drawn has a little scruffiness that lets it get away with it.) Take it to the point where it's clearly being exaggerated, you can always dial it back. You have to break the illusion of realism a little bit to make it work as animation. Just push the poses maybe 20% more. Can keep the timing, and you don't want to push every single pose, just pick places to push the extremes a little more.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Danny Elfman - body/lip sync ref

Man the 80's where great for wierdness. Was watching these and just loving the mouth shapes he's making, not what I would expect often, same with the body, not what I would have come up with.