Saturday, October 9, 2010

11 Second Club Sept Results

Hey all, so as previously stated, I crunched through the Sept 11 second club competition. Each time I run through, I learn a little more, get a little faster, and hopefully a little better. This month was a fun clip from Angel Heart that allowed for some fun facial acting and interesting arm and hand gestures to work through in the breakdowns. As before, I wish I had another day or two to really work out the polish, would have liked to do a better facial pass on both, as well as fix some of the linear motion in there. But nonetheless, I came in 14th place out of 209 entries! My best submission yet.

I've been getting great feedback from the extraordinarily talented animators at DreamWorks. I'm hugely grateful for their input, it's like getting a masters class while at work! Hopefully I can digest their notes and put them to good use in the November competition. Now I'm in my "month off" as I attend to life related matters again, prepare for several weddings I'll be in, run errands and get ready for the upcoming holidays!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

11 Second Club July 2010 Results!

Hey y'all! So much to my surprise, I ultimately was able to finish my 11 Second Club submission for July. It definitely needed a lot more work on the lip-sync, and on working on the spacing especially in the second half. I also had a list of CBB's that would have been nice to get to, but I appreciate everyone's input that I received.

Voting has ended and I came in 45th place out of 233 entries. Not too bad, but I would like to move up the ladder to someday reach that top 10. My work remains cut out for me. This month I shall focus on all the other things I missed out on last month, work-wise and life-wise, and jump back into it again in September. Below is a link to the finished version. Thanks for watching!

Friday, July 23, 2010

11 Second Club progress for July 2010

Hey all, I'm in full swing on the July 2010 11 Second Club challenge, with about 8 days left I'm hoping I can finish this beast and have my first ever submission to the newly renovated 11 second club. Last months entry I decided to hold off since the spline and polish was a bit overwhelming for only 4 days left. I'm currently about halfway through my splining process before I begin fine tuning and polish. The video here is my breakdowns and lip sync tweens. Hopefully will have updated post First of August with final result!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

11 Second Club Blocking

So after a long hiatus, I've decided to get back to working on the craft that I love best, character animation. I'm trying to really push this time to work and improve my skills significantly and learn all that I can. As part of this endeavor, I've gone back to doing the 10 second club challenges, now called the 11 second club. The new incarnation of the site has drawn a far more robust community of animators, which raises the bar in terms of challenge but also allows for more feedback and input from fellow artists. Here is my blocking with some breakdowns for this months clip.

There is still more acting at the end to block out after the witch leaves, but it's nearly all there. It had better be, cause I've only 8 more days to finish this sucker. Once it is complete I'll be sure to post the final version here. Hopefully more character animation posts to come in the near future!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Summer doodle

Here is another illustration that started as a sketch at work, which I then took home and got carried away and inked and colored. A tanktop vixen to kick off the summer, my apologies for the furryness. I tried to work on my inking a bit more in this one, using different simulated pens for varied thickness, executed on my tablet PC. Enjoy! Or, vomit! Whichever feels more appropriate.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

LOST: DIY Titles

Namaste, LOST watchers. The final episode airs this Sunday, and soon we will have to bid Aloha to our favorite headache-inducing show of questions and no answers. Before this whole thing comes to The End, however, there is one mysterious visual element worth discussing that I find more confusing than the island itself. This:

The LOST opening titles, and their simplicity. Now, there is certainly something to be said about the minimalist quality of the titles being a fitting intro to a show whose hook is all about mystery, and often completely devoid of answers. It provides little visual information, giving us nothing to read into, and further just lets the viewer fill in the many blanks that the show has created over time. The rudimentary nature of the titles I don't have a problem with, but the rudimentary execution is what is boggling. The titles are just the word "LOST" rendered dimensionally, tumbling towards us in space through a very tight focal plane, meaning it appears out of focus as it approaches, and for a brief second comes into view before going soft again. Yet in this moment, we catch a glimpse of a horribly aliased, confusingly shaded amateur-grade graphic complete with artifacted edges. Most viewers probably don't even notice, but there is no doubt a large enough population of baffled fans, enough to prompt internet commentary such as this:

Honestly, how does a show that has become the most popular serial series on television have a title that looks like it was the result of some student graphics class tutorial. A few ideas come to mind, but my primary theory is the fact that J.J Abrams has a history of giving a personal DIY touch to the titles of his shows. Before LOST, Abrams had created two other series, Felicity and Alias, both of which he decided to compose the title theme music himself, and in both cases it stuck straight through until the series completion. LOST is no exception, Abrams having composed the title theme again which remains the same today. It's possible that he thought it might be fun to go one step farther in this case and actually design and animate the opening graphics to accompany his music.

It's also possible that Abrams has little experience with graphics software, or was struggling to achieve the appropriate look he wanted. If the 3D titles were done in a comp software with a non-native plug-in of some sort, Abrams probably was attempting to tweak the raw output of the extension, to get something closer to his vision. However, the wrong mix of sharpening, minimize/maximize operations, and ramping blur animation will result in edge-artifacting very similar to the moment we see in the titles. The aliasing of the words, the odd soft-edges of the letter shading, and of course the artifacts themselves, make me think this was likely the case. Of course it is also possible that they just hired a lowest-bidding title company to slam out a quick rendition of the titles for approval, and somehow those made it to air, but for a pilot that cost between 10 and 14 million to make, it seems likely they would spring the extra cash to get a quality title.

The frustrating LOST title is likely the consequence of a tradition that Abrams, and perhaps many series creators and show runners, has adhered to. I'm sure there is a bit of fun and excitement for any series creator or creative head to place their personal mark on their baby before sending it out into the world, even if it means the sacrifice of quality and polish. His tradition continues in Fringe, to which he once again composed the title theme. Yet maybe after his LOST title debacle, he's decided to get out of the pro-hobbyist graphic design business.

UPDATE: Art of the title sequence has an article about this subject, and confirms that it was indeed made by Abrams himself on a laptop and after effects:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thank you for everything, you useless reptile

After 9 months of very challenging and very rewarding work, my employment on "How To Train Your Dragon" has come to an end. I am officially off the show, and am now gearing up for my next DreamWorks endeavor. The experience has been indescribable, and as recently mentioned here, I'm sure I will attempt to pass along some of the artistic knowledge I have gained through this journey.

This was a privileged opportunity to work with some of the most talented feature animation artists working today in all departments. Personally in my department, I got to work with layout veterans James Ryan Peterson of Kung Fu Panda, JC Alvarez of Shark Tale and Bee Movie among others, and our head of layout, Gil Zimmerman. Learning from these three gents was always a simultaneously humbling and empowering experience, both making me realize my bad habits, and yet showing me how to utilize my strengths. You can find an interview here on the official How To Train Your Dragon blog with Gil, where he briefly answers some questions about himself and the movie. Also, a brief clip in which he discusses the challenges and process that went into Romantic Flight, the first sequence I worked on in this film.

Tomorrow, I get to meet with the director of the next project I am starting on, where we will discuss the set dressing for one of the large landscapes we'll be using. Always new and challenging work to be done at DreamWorks! More to come!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Welcome to Dragon Training

Hello readers! Much time has passed since the last post, for many things have been occupying my time. The purchase of a Condo being one of the biggest time consumers, but also because in the past year I've been enjoying a position as a Final Layout Artist at DreamWorks Animation working on the next upcoming film "How To Train Your Dragon".

The experience has been incredible to say the least. It has been a continuous challenge, both in artistry and stamina, but the rewards have been invaluable. The amount of things I am learning about stereo, cinemetography, camerawork, staging, and visual storytelling make the job well worth the efforts alone, besides of course all the fantastic benefits that the company itself provides us. It is awesome to get to work at a union shop and experience what The Animation Guild has to offer. I'm nearly finished with my dues, I'm sure I'll have a celebratory post when that day arrives!

There is simply too much to say about the amazing things I've been able to experience, accomplish, see and learn in the past year in just one post, and I'm sure I'll be posting more updates that are relevant to the adventures in layout, but in the meantime I shall say that this movie may be the most amazing things I ever get to work on in my entire professional career. Seeing final renders from this movie are astounding to absolutely everyone on the show across the board. I truly think people are in store for images they have never seen anything like before. Check it out everyone!! Just 2 months away!