Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Walk cycle ref

This is a video of a group of animators having fun but also, perhaps unintentionally, providing us with some great walk cycle reference!

AS_motionTrail script

I thought I'd share a great script that a fellow iAnimator created. It's like the motion trail script in Maya...but so much better! Since download it I've been using it almost every day to track my arcs and to visualise my spacing.

Here it is straight from Angelo's blog:

This script uses the standard maya motionTrail but is linked to an expression that updates what frames are shown based on your current frame.

for example: trail 3 frames before and 3 frames after;
If you are on frame 13, the motionTrail will show you frames 10, 11, 12,13, 14, 15,  and 16.

It also shows the frames and colors of the motion trail can be changed as well. when you are done, just delete the motionTrail node and all of its connections and expressions will be deleted as well. This script is very useful for timing and spacing and especially tracking arcs

Here's the download link:

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Tips and Tricks from an Art Slave

I found this over on Jonathan Hearns blog who found it on the Muddy Colors blog - great tips and advice here. They can apply to anyone who works in a creative field.

1. Get up happy. Say some affirmations. Get rid of the negative chatter in your head-that voice that says things like, “I’m not coming up with any good ideas. I’ll never make this deadline. I’ll never be good enough to do this job.” Instead, train that voice to say something positive. Reprogram yourself. “I am illustrating books that people love. I am happy with my art. My career is going great. I am a successful artist…” This might sound too simple, and you’ve probably heard it before from the self –help gurus. Have you ever actually tried it….consistently over a few months?

2. Exercise and stay healthy. This is not an option. When you feel healthy, you are more open and ideas come more quickly.

3. Sit quietly each day, do yoga, or meditate. Get calm and peaceful so that when the ideas come, you actually realize they are there. Worry, anger, fear, and other emotions actually block the ability to grasp those sparks of imagination. [Spend time off of your iPhone, Twitter, Facebook - a whole day if that's possible!]

4. Create a place and time to be at work. This is important if you are working at home. Your mind needs to understand, “I am now at work. I will now be creative.” So sharpen your pencils, put on music, sit before your drawing table and begin.

5. Don’t talk too much about your ideas; this depletes some of the magic. On a subconscious level, your wonderful idea has become a real thing in the world. It’s not real, and it won’t be, until you do it. So, instead of sharing your magnificent thoughts, go make the work happen.

6. Take time outs doing something you love. Go to a museum. Sit by a lake. Walk though the woods. You must replenish yourself. Fill the well. Don’t view this as goofing off…this time is very important.

7. Don’t be a workaholic. This is difficult, because you won’t know it, until it’s too late. Your friends and family will know it before you will. ONLY YOU CAN CONTROL THIS. Be the work police and set your own boundaries. Make a contract with yourself. “I do not wok on Tuesday and Sunday. I go on vacation without my work. I have lunch with a friend on Friday every week. I only work from 9am to 2pm. “Put up a sign. Remind yourself that you are free to set your own schedule. Work as late or as little or as early as you want, but make sure you’re enjoying the pace.
Remember, somebody you know will be published before you or more often than you. They will be more successful. They will sell more books. They will get more speaking engagements. You think you will never make it. You won’t…unless you stop working so hard to catch up. Find your own pace. Find your own style. Do what works for you. Be patient. Change happens in incremental ways. When you consciously make these daily choices, you will see a big difference in your life over time…and you will be balanced enough to notice!

Here's the source

KMPlayer is...AWESOME

That's heard it here first, but probably not. I've been pointed in the direction of KMPlayer a couple of times before but from the screen shots it looked a bit scary. I was pointed in the direction of this blog post about it:

KMPlayer best video player ever

The author of said blog has even created and included an in depth PDF walk through that outlines all of the key features for us animators.

Click here for the magical PDF

Here's a direct quote from that blog that outlines the better features of the player:

- Opens and play XVID/Divx footage frame by frame, forward and backward …. with sound feedback. Except Premiere, do you know any player that does that? This function alone makes it the best video plaher ever. It is great for troubleshooting lipsync.
Plays H264 quicktimes
Setup In and out points and loop between the two (A-B function)
Takes automatic screenshots (great for generating colorscripts)
Hotkeys that make sense! Space bar to toggle the playback, 1 to play in half size, 2 original and 3 double size.
You can autohide the interface so only the video is visible
You can loads as many videos as you want and have them all playing. Great to pretend you are the master of the universe.

Monday, 24 January 2011

The Gruffalo

This is a short animation that was aired over Christmas on BBC1 based on the classical Gruffalo book. I missed it when it was on and only got around to watching yesterday. It's a lovely animation, great story telling and especially good to see something aimed at kids that's a classic and not all these weirdly shaped freaky looking things that they have these days. Kids need monsters and animals!

It was rendered sooo nicely. It looked like it was based on stop motion puppets in places from the textures on the characters. There was a lot of great use of depth of field and some of the shots were magical. Studio Soi did a great job on this one.

You can watch it in two parts on youtube, where you can also find "the making of the gruffalo".

Monday, 10 January 2011

iAnimate so far

It's been a week since I've started iAnimate and I'm LOVING it! We were allowed into the website the weekend before last week started so that we could have a look around, get used to everything and grab all our resources.

At first everything was really overwhelming, it felt like there were a million and one things that I wanted to do and I couldn't do them fast enough. After I'd set up my profile I had a look around and made sure I watched all the introduction videos from Jason and tutorials on how to use the different aspects of the site. There are some really great features to the site and it's pretty much made so that everyone, no matter which part of the course they're on can see what everyone else is doing which means lots of helpful crits from the guys in higher workshops.

Everyone in Workshop 1 had their assignment for the first two weeks unlocked before the Monday. I'm assuming this was so that anyone who's really starting from the start have more time to grasp what they have to do and get a head start. Either way it was great for me, I go stuck in straight away and by the end of the week had made about five different animations (including flipbook planning and excluding revised shots). I have learnt so much in this last week it's incredible. I may only be animating quite "simple" shots at the moment but I'm learning more about the fundamentals of animation which will only strengthen anything else I do.

Everyone I've met so far have been great and incredibly helpful. Some have even gone out of their way to get in touch with me on skype after seeing my videos on iA and have given me a live crit and draw overs. That's CRAZY! I've never had this much help and advice ever and it's amazing. There's so much encouragement too and as always, I'm sure there's healthy competition.

Some of the higher workshops work is mind blowing! Looks like being instructed by professional animators and having their advice recycled through their students really works. I hope my shots will be as juicy as everything I've seen so far.

The rigs are beautiful too. There weren't that many available when we were let in but over the last week there's been an additional five or so new rigs added and there are even more on the way! I haven't played around with the rigs much apart from opening them quickly to see what they look like. They're beautifully made, run smoothly and are really appealing. I've ignored them so that I can focus on my current assignments and so that when it comes to an assignment where I have to use one of the full character rigs it feels like I've earned it.

My tutor is Jim Van Der Keyl, a Dreamworks animator who has a great body of work. He's working on The Little Mermaid, Iron Giant, Kung Fu Panda, Monsters Vs Aliens, Kung Fu Panda 2 and much more. It's a great pleasure to be guided by somebody as accomplished as Jim.

But yeah...that's all I can think of saying about ianimate at the moment. I could go on for much longer but I'd never stop!