Saturday, 19 February 2011

Acting Lesson from Molier

Here's a great video that I've just come across thanks to Jacob Gardner. It's a clip from a French film called Moliere. The arty character is telling the older man to act like a horse, he goes straight into doing something pretty generic and thoughtless. The arty guy stops him and shows him the importance of knowing your character so that you can give the correct performance. Check it out, it's a great reminder of what we should and shouldn't be doing as animators.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Speaking of mature animation...

As you might have been able to tell from a post I made the other week ( ) I don't think animation should end at family films. I believe that it can be so so soooooo effective for more mature content. The other day I came across two animations that are perfect examples of this. The first is a beautifully stylized piece with a dark religious type story and the second is an all out mind-explosion fest...but it's quite funny and entertaining. Try them on for size:

Guillermo del Toro developing stop-motion Pinocchio

The concept art looks awesome, right up my ally. Go Mr. Toro, make it happen! Read more about the project here:

Guillermo del Toro developing stop-motion Pinocchio

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Overlap notes

Here's a list I made messily and quickly recently about overlap. They could come in useful to some people since there's some great info in there that I took from things I've read and watched.
  • Overlap is basically overlapping action
  • Hips, chest and head have overlap
  • Drag and followthrough are sub-categories of overlap
  • Whatever is overlapping changes direction when object slows in and out
  • Followthrough happens when an object changes direction
  • Inanimate objects are normally affected by overlap e.g - earrings, tail, hair, clothes
  • Everything can drag but because we're an animate object with muscles and bones we have control over ourselves and that affects the natural overlap of the human body
  • Overlaps are best added towards the end when you have your main objects animated and tied down. Your primary action must be approved/completed! You should only do it once your timing and spacing is complete and finalized.
  • Overlap can be described as secondary animation.
  • S curves normally occur in hair/rope/chain and similar moving objects when it changes direction
  • The most extreme frames of overlap will be a drag
  • The end of the tail should create an arc throughout the animation
  • Point the tip back to where it came from on the previous pose
  • When applying overlap to a tail, hair or spine keep in mind that the base of the tail/hair/spine will move the least and the end will move the most. Kind of like a whip.

And here's a bit of a conversation I had with a fellow iAnimate student (Martyn Smith) who came out with this piece of gold:

I remember asking Stephen (Melagrano):
"What's more important, realism or strong graphic poses?"
he said,
"Strong graphic poses, definitely. Something that reads instantly and clearly."
But then Mike said they'd often throw away graphic poses because it just didn't fit into the flow of things so I guess there's a balance.

Which goes to show that the "guidelines" can be broken. I had followed the "tip should point where it last came from" advice in a recent animation but it just didn't look as good as it could have. I ended up pushing the poses so that the hair and body made stronger S shapes and it worked so much better but the rest of my work on the overlap did follow that piece of original advice. 

Sunday, 13 February 2011


My girlfriend and I went to see Tangled in 3D the other day and it was BRILLIANT! A complete Disney classic. I was expecting it to be good but wasn't prepared for what it delivered. The story was strong, the characters were strong and likeable, the character designs were beautiful! At no point did I see a character and think "3D model syndrome" as I have done in a lot of animated films. They're all in the proper Disney style and it worked so well. The colours were fantastic too and the use of 3D was perfect. No "RANDOM OBJECT COMING AT YOU THROUGH THE SCREEN!" stuff. It was used to boost the composition and to add excitement in certain scenes. Also don't forget about the music, a lot of times when films break into song or dance these days I cringe and think scream "WHY??????" but it all worked so well with this one. Probably because it could be classed as an animated musical and that there isn't just a random one off song that breaks the film up.

But anyway, enough nice words and free marketing. Go see it and make your mind up. I think if Disney keep making them like this then they're definitely back on track.

Wow, I didn't even mention to animation in my first paragraph. It's astounding! So inspiring and a great mix between realistic movements and exaggeration. Congratulations to Disney for creating this. I hope it's the first of more to come.

Friday, 11 February 2011

I drew a picture!

That's right! The last time I drew anything was in September last year. I'm not sure why it takes me so long to start another picture after I've finished one. Anyway, I doodled this in Microsoft OneNote:

Which after some time in Photoshop turned into this:

I think it's a definite improvement compared to my other work. It was partially inspired by the original District 9 alien concept when they had tentacles on their faces and the rest was all random doodles. I think I came up with some silly back story to the canisters in the head being devices that ease the creatures brain pressure. They need this because they developed so quickly that the rest of their body hasn't had a chance to catch up with the size of their brain. But that's just an excuse to draw things sticking out of an aliens head.

Hope you like it!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Nosey Bear

I just had to share this animation and making of video. The whole thing was drawn in the guys sketchbook and composited using After Effects. All because he didn't want to spend the summer in front of a computer, great thinking!

And here's the making of which features some great advice for anyone wanting to create their own sketchbook animation:

Animation Food

Here's another great script for animators. It's not a script that'll do something for you, at least not technically or directly to your animation. Even better, it's a script that inspires you.

If you're bored, feeling like you've been staring at the same thing for too long or want to have a bit of a read all you have to do is fire up animFood and it'll throw random tips/tricks/information at you about animation. How wonderful is that? There are over 300 quotes in there from some of these guys, to name a few:

  • Frank & Ollie
  • Brad Bird
  • Ed Hooks
  • Carlos Baena
  • Bobby Beck
  • Glen Keane
  • Walt Stanchfield
  • John Lasseter
  • Jason Ryan

Here's a link to the blog where you can download the script:


And here's a link to an icon I made for it:

Coming soon...(I'm not at home for the next few days so the little burger icon will have to wait for now)

Friday, 4 February 2011

Three Lessons

There's a saying that goes something like this:

"You can't polish a turd."

And do you know what? It's completely spot on! I spent absolutely ages trying to polish a movement yesterday morning. I spent much longer trying to get it working than I normally would have on a movement. I suppose it's quite difficult because my brain naturally wants to find solutions and work things out.

But no. Instead, after I noticed how long I had spent sitting there, getting absolutely nowhere...I...I deleted the whole movement! Which brings me to lesson number two:

"Don't fall in love with your work."

In my case it was specifically a bunch of poses. Literally within a minute after deleting what I'd been rattling my brain over for what could have been 15 minutes I nailed the movement within 60 seconds.

Later that day I reached a part during splining the scene where things got particularly messy and couldn't really be saved without looking rubbish. My solution? DELETE IT! And it worked. I deleted the whole movement and quickly reworked it. Because I'd spent so long trying to shape my bad blocking I knew exactly what I wanted.

I've always been very fond of my poses and decisions. Today I've realised just how damaging that can be and love the new method I've adopted. It's pretty reckless but it's worked two times out of two today. Maybe even more times than that in the short space of time I've spent splining this one little 145 frame shot.

It was kind of an "AHA!" moment where those two quotes made perfect sense...and held hands...and ran off into the sunset...they had quote babies.


I have just realised that there is a third lesson to add to all this. Here it is:

"Learn from your mistakes."

Very important! Don't be afraid to make mistakes and if you do, take the opportunity to learn from them.

Happy Animating folks!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Funny Demo Reel

This is the funniest demo reel you'll ever see. It's a bit of fun but made really well, check it out:

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2 new footage

Here's some new footage from Kung Fu Panda 2. Sexy animation, can't wait!

Mature animation...anyone?

As much as I love all types of animation, sometimes I wish there were more dark material out there. Animation isn't just for children and family films. Maybe one day the medium will break through to adults in the form of films that sport 15 and 18 ratings. Imagine that! I know you can find anime films with those ratings but I'm talking more western 2d and CG. It doesn't even have to be dark, just more mature. And please don't misunderstand me, I do love fun and everything that comes with it (one of my favourite 3D films is Cloudy). I just feel that a little variation would feel like fresh air just punched me in the lungs.

Here are two great examples of animation being used to approach more mature concepts. I love this guys work, he's called Grzegorz Jonkajtys and is a professional animator and director. I've also included the trailer for his newest film at the bottom for anyone interested.

Animation Insiders FREE ebook

That's right, the Animation Insiders book is now completely free to download in its digital format. Here's a little about it:
Animation Insiders is a book dedicated to animation. AI book #1 is a compilation of know-how, experience and anecdotes from 13 talented animators. Animation Insiders is aimed at people who are passionate about animation, those who are looking to surpass their limits and acquire new techniques. Every book of this amazing series will explores a new theme.
It features such legendary animators as Jason Ryan, Victor Navone, Jason Schleifer and more!

You can download it here -