Monday, July 28, 2008

Secondary Action

Another great week with fantastic lectures and more time to work on our pantomime pieces. This week started out with a great lecture from Jason Schleifer, who currently works at Dreamworks and has work on some amazing movies.. He jumped around the screen and got dirty in the grass to show great examples of secondary action and where to use it.
What is secondary action you ask..Secondary action is any action that supports the main action of the shot but doesnt take away from the main action.A nice example of secondary action is scratching your arm while your talking.

The next day, after I watched the lecture I got my week 4 E critique. Some of the notes that I got from the critique was to add a bit more overlap in the head area and to play around with the timing of the hand hitting the bucket.. After I watched the critique I tackled those areas and turned the second half of my animation into linear mode from splined mode. And then concentrated on workig on that section. I received awesome feedback on my piece and at the end of the week this is what the piece looks like...

I have one more week to go, to polish it up and really make it look nice.. Have a great week!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Gestures and Body Language

Hello Everyone and welcome to week 3 ..This week was all about the gesture and with the new week comes a new guest speaker.. This time it was Andrew Gordon from Pixar Animation. And from watching the lecture you can see that Andrew was definitely a gesture kind of a guy, always using his hands while he talks. These are important things to look for when coming up with a personality for your character. He explains in the lecture, what a gesture is and how to look for them, which can be key for making a great animation rather than an ok one. And of course to stay away from cliche.

After watching this awesome lecture I got some feedback from my mentor about my shot.He gave me awesome pointers that would help sell my subtle animation a little better. So I took the critique from him and fellow AMers and put them into a second round of blocking. Then I took all my time for the week to concentrate on the first 125 frames of the animation rather than the whole thing. I wanted to polish the first part before moving onto the second half because I'll be easier for me to fix little things in sections rather than in a huge piece. This way works great for me, but there are so many ways to approach blocking, it all depends on the animator. I know several people who go through the whole thing and spline it rather than doing what I do and break it down into sections. And some people actually do a creative mix between the two where they have most of it in a blocking look and then do the transitions from one pose into the next in a spline form. Its very interesting and worth trying to see if it fits your personal style.

Here is the progress from the end of the week.. The first half is splined while the back half is still in blocking..

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A few little tips that I learned about animation is to go out there,, Have fun and observe. Do research. The more time you spend figuring out your shot in the beginning the better your shot will come out and you'll probably be spending a lot less time re-working everything out. Shoot lots of reference butdont be a slave to it. Reference is there to help and inspire you. And look for unique ways to do things. Have fun and happy animating!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Week 2 at AM is all about the pantomime. What is pantomime? Basically, its expressing emotions without dialog. Like a mime. The assignment was to create an animation with one character, that did a personality change. This assignment was all about picking great poses and gestures in order to create a good story without any dialog to help push the performance. and of course try to not do anything cliche, which is one of the hardest things in animation to avoid. Naturally, your going to want to chose a pose that is familiar, making it cliche.
The week started with watching the lecture and then receiving my first e critique for the term. The idea was a go ahead with cation about the sand. Now, comes the fun stuff, blocking! At the end of the week, after many awesome suggestions and public reviews, I was finally able to turn in my assignment for the week. Here is the first blocking pass at Sand Castle.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

AM Class 3 Begins

Week one began and is now over of class 3, intro to acting. Last term was all about the body mechanics and now we take all that we learned from that and apply to acting. Each step that we have taken has built us up slowly to this part of our education. and for me this is the most exciting part. I love trying to bring characters to life and through planning, research and reference I hope to do so.

Another term, another mentor. This term my mentor is Ryan Donoghue. He is an animator from Rhythm and Hues and also worked on futurama for 4 years. Our first lecture class with him was very laid back and fun. A part of the class was dedicated to showing clips from some of the movies that Ryan worked on. We even got to see some deleted scenes!!

For our first assignment we can do what ever we want!! With limitations of course. It has to show two beats of emotions. After hours of planning and throwing around ideas, i finally came up with an idea. A little kid at the beach. He is planning on building the best sand castle ever but things dont go according to plan and when his castle crumbles he changes from extremely happy to a childish temper, where he pouts and hits the bucket. There are so many challenges to address in this little 250 frame piece. Sand is possible the biggest challenge. I have to do research on how to make sand crumble. Another thing to look at is the age of the character. He is only around four and I am nowhere near that number. This is the great part of acting. I got to take a bucket and some friends and go play in the sand, with many people staring at me. It was very embarressing but so much fun to get into a character and play the part. Here is some of the reference footage that I shot.

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After I shot the reference, I then began to do my thumbnails. The first page was the concept page where I wrote out all of the main details of the piece. Like the setting, the age of the boy, what he was feeling, where he was before the main action took place, etc. Then after I established all of the background info I went through all of my reference for inspiration and took some of the best clips and translated it into thumbnail drawings. Here is the concept page and thumbnail page.

The animation for my first acting piece is going to be subtle but still challenging. This is going to be an exciting term with a lot of creative though. I cant thank everyone enough for how awesome they have been and all of the great help. Week 2 is all about the blocking and I'm looking forward to the first e critique and getting right into it. Have a fantastic week everyone.

Also, some exciting news, according to there is some talk that Wall-e may be nominated for best picture at the Oscars! The only animation ever to have been nominated was "Beauty and the Beast" in 1991. It's not offical, and more than unlikely because they have a category that is dedicated to animated films, but it is being talked about as a possibility, which I felt was very awesome. Here is the link to the article. Enjoy!,8599,1820824,00.html?imw=Y