Showcase, tips and thoughts on animation

Archive for November, 2011

Master Class: Making Faces – Chris Landreth – Part 2

Well, the first day on the Master Class, talking about Monday, was about getting to know the human head, the structure, the proportions, the bones that give that particular shape.

The first thing Chris said about facial animation was that it has to do with anatomy, mood and psychology. So it could be very complex, but fortunately everyone of us have developed a way to recognize facial difference, and it’s so important in our lives that the part of our brain that recognize faces is almost as big as the part that recognize everything else.

The focal point in this first lesson was that Chris give us a quick drawing assignment between 5 and 20 minutes with a reference that he took with his camera from one of the attendants and after we make our best effort, he corrected us based on what we had drawn. This method was better in comparison to when they first teach you how and then you try to imitate it, because this let you really put down your inner conceptions about things and then he corrects over what you’ve got. I don’t know if it would apply to other subjects, but particularly on this one was great.

So, for the first drawing, he asked for someone to be our model, and took a picture of him which later displayed on a projector, so everybody could see it. We have like 20 minutes, Chris drew as well. I felt really rusty on life drawing, so the warm up was really slow. This is my first drawing:

From this first approach to human head anatomy we learned that the eye line is set on the middle of the head from the hair line to the chin on most of us. Also the face can be divided in three parts, the first one ends almost on the eyebrows and the second on the base of the nose. And the eye width can be fitted 5 times on the human head. Fortunately, I wasn’t that bad after this first try, but something that Chris pointed out was that most of our drawings were outlines of the face features, and that we need to start seeing things as 3d shapes, that has volume and that interconnects one to each other.

Then we move up to the next assignment.




Upcoming Great Animation Movies

There are many animated movies that look great and looks like they will be amazing coming up in the next months and most of all in the next year. Here are a compilation of those trailers, maybe you have already see them but if not…..


Master Class: Making Faces – Chris Landreth – Part 1

Last week I had the chance to attend a Chris Landreth’s master class: Making Faces. It was about the whole process of getting the face animated: from knowing the basic structure of the head, the muscles that allow us to make expressions and shape phonemes which let us speak, a basic rigging session and some quick animations on expressions and lipsinc. It was a bunch of knowledge that he spread to all the attendants, which were about 50 give or take. It took place on: “Centro de Software” in Guadalajara, Jalisco and was promoted between CANIETI and Ars Animation.

I’m going to post some interesting notes about the main subjects that where explained through those 5 days in different posts, I still don’t know how many they will be, but they will be as many as necessary.

First of all, just to get to know about Chris Landreth, he have made a lot of interesting animated short films, one of them won an Oscar award in 2004, with a short film called “Rayan”. There’s no need to try to explain his style or why I think he won that award, because I can leave you here the short itself. Please, enjoy it:

Without hesitation, it deserved an Oscar just because of his story telling, his visual concept and the great way of bringing to life those characters. There are many other shorts that are worth watching but I leave you those to your own search.

Unfortunately, today I have to keep working on some projects that need my imminent attention, but stay tuned for the next part of this brief on Chris Landreth Master Class, which began with drawing a human head…

See you soon!


11May Animation Process

It’s been a while since I last posted, mostly because I’ve had a lot of work and been doing different personal projects at night, but since the very first moment I finished my last animation I was thinking about posting a breakdown of the process that’s taken to animate it from planning to the final render.

In the first place, I compiled my animation demo reel for this year about a month and a half ago, and after showing it to different animators, I was told by a fellow, Alex Kong, that my demo reel was short in motion mechanics and a cartoonish style. So he suggested me the audio from May on 11second club to get that covered and also put me as an example the very first place of that month.

  • 1. Becoming one with the audio

So I get started by hearing the audio many many times, until I get used to the general timing, accents and rhythm, then start writing down ideas of what it could be, what can I done with that audio. Many ideas popped out (I can’t recall many right now :P) and in the end I thought that the approach of an elevator gag would fit great.

In this point, even though it is not related to animation at all,once I decided what would my characters be doing, in parallel I start making the scene, picking one of the many free rigs that are all over the internet (this is very important to me, because I get to know the rig, its benefits and limitations) , customizing them, modeling the background environment, adding materials and a few textures, getting the scene lighted and the first teaser of the render. I love doing that process, it gets me to imagine what it would be looking like when it’s done.

This is what I’ve got

  • 2. Video Reference

I started making video references, the first couple ones just trying to follow the audio but not thinking too much about it, just letting it flow naturally, then I watched what I  had and start gathering some movements that fit well together, and when I have a couple of structured ideas, I recorded new ones, trying to see if they could really fit the audio and keep the performance believable.

  • 3. Thumbnails

Next step was putting those ideas down on paper (in this case… digital paper), so I begin to draw the key poses on a free version of Digicel FlipBook and make them hit the accents on the audio. This was a pretty straight forward process, because I already have the main idea on my head. And I like to make it on that software because it has many advantages: you can see and hear the audio along the way and you have a digital light table as a 2d traditional animator artist. It’s not necessary say that I’m not the best 2d animator in the world, and the idea is not to have a perfect and constant proportion of the characters, but for me, just have the main idea of what will be going on.

This is what it looked like at this point.

  • 4.Feedback

It was very important along all the process to ask for feedback to as many  fellow animators as I could. So every time I’ve got a new step done, I sending the video everywhere. It’s a key thing on doing animation, because some times you get used to your own ideas and maybe there are things that could be improved.

  • 5.Blocking

Once I have the general idea through thumbnails, I proceed to transfer it form thumbnails to keyposes on Maya, this is not a copy  paste of what I have already done, instead I just use it as a guide and as I go forward taking some changes from the previous feedback or what I think could feet better with what I’ve got on stage. Here take place many big changes, first of all, I removed the other guys that climbed up to the elevator, in behalf of focusing myself on only one character as Alex Kong’s feedback suggested. Also I found that some thins looked good on 2d, but will look unrealistic when putting them on 3d, they simply don’t fit any more, those include some little steps, goings and comings of the character.

I have to say that I really like the animation on stepped mode, it’s way too snappy and it let you hit the audio accents very precisely.

Here it is what it look like at this moment.

  • 5.Splines

(Asked More Feedback) Getting from stepped to splines could be a difficult task to tackle, because just when you change from one to another  your holds get lost, the accents are blurred and all the timing is messed up. I have found a way to lower the impact of the initial transfer from one to another, but that will be covered in a next post.

What I’ve focused here is to preserve the best that I can the timing and that the accents are done in the right moment. And of course making sure that the arcs well done, fixing some weight and balance issues.

At this moment.

  • 6. Polish

(Even more feedback) At this point it is almost done, and what I’ve focused to do on this last part, is to start making some subtle changes and adjustments, like the position of the fingers, checking that they slide and touch properly, refine the follow through and overlapping action, making the knees and arms bending in arcs.

And at last, batching the render…