Friday, December 16, 2011

Animation Mentor Class 4! Part 2

For our second assignment of Class 4 we got to do a single person lip dialogue shot!  We had to find a clip between 5 and 10 seconds long to work with for the next 6 weeks of the class.  We were only allowed to work on the physical movement of the body this term as the actual lip sync and facial animation is something that we get to tackle at the beginning of next term.  

I had to find 3 different audio clips to choose from, film video reference of myself acting them out and do some thumbnail drawings for each of them.  I had a hard time narrowing the clips down to 3, I started off with about 12 of them...

So I picked my 3 lines.

Did my video reference.

 And my thumbnail drawings for each clip.

Dimos helped me settle on clip 2, and we decided to cut off the end where he says "I don't want to go back to London."  Dimos also gave me the awesome idea to make the character homeless and standing in front of a cardboard box which would be his new home.  The shot would start out closer in and then move back to reveal the box house while he's saying "Residency Issue"

So I shot some new video reference with that idea in mind

And then I did my first blocking pass.

Getting the camera move to not look like garbage was a little difficult.

Then I did my blocking plus pass and added in some breakdowns.  I also moved the camera in tighter in the beginning and gave him some suitcases and a bucket to go with his box house.

We also had to do a hand pose that week portraying anger.

I kept getting weird bends in the fingers and had a little trouble with it.

Then I started refining and added in yet more breakdowns.  I also started adding in some up and down in the jaw movement.  Dimos got me to break up the arms a bit when he gestures to the box at the end so that they weren't quite so similar.

We also had to do a 'relaxed' hand pose.

The next week I did some more refining and took this baby to spline town!

And the hand pose of the week was 'surprised'.  It didn't turn out as well as I would have liked.

The final week we had to work on this shot (for this class) I did a bunch of polishing on the hands and tried to add a bit more movement into the upper body to make it less stiff.  I also tried to smooth out my arcs a bit.

Overall I'm pretty happy with how it's working so far.  I'm pretty excited to get into the facial animation next term and finish it off!  I'm even more excited that we get a 2 week break over Christmas though... I love my school and animating but it can get exhausting!  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Animation Mentor Class 4! Part 1

So I've been pretty bad about keeping up with posting and such lately, but I'm going to try and get a bunch of stuff up here over the next couple of weeks!  First of all I started Class 4 (Intro to Acting) at AM!  The acting side of animation is a pretty big part of why I wanted to get into it in the first place so I was pretty excited to start this class!

My mentor this term is Dimos Vrysellas, which is pretty exciting for me because he started out as a 2D animator!  He worked at Dreamworks back when they were still doing traditionally animated films and got to work on Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado, Spirit and Sinbad!  He worked on some 3d stuff there as well!  On a couple of the 2D features he got to work under James Baxter, so it's pretty cool to hear stories about that!  Dimos is not only a great animator, but a pretty cool guy as well!

For the first assignment of the term we got to do a short pantomime shot that showed 2 distinct and contrasting beats.  We were supposed to choose a scenario that fit our personality and spoke to us, so I decided to set mine in a fast food restaurant.  I wanted my character to go from confident and relaxed/lazy to Insecure/nervous/alert. I decided that in my scenario I would have my character leaning against the counter, start flirting with a customer and then panic when he notices that his boss is watching him.  I filmed some video reference and really got in touch with my cheesy side.  Although that never really seems to be a problem for me... :)

Apparently I'm a method actor and needed to put on an apron?  I decided against the 'Awooooga bagel eyes' (as I like to call them) and went with the cheesy finger gun off of the tip of the hat instead.  Dimos also suggested that I cut out the saunter up to the counter and just start it with the character leaning against it.  I was really glad that I took his advice, because it cut out a lot of work for me, and it wouldn't have added all that much extra to the shot anyways.

And now for some planning sketches!

I was also originally going to have a camera move to reveal the boss standing behind him, but Dimos told me that I could make it work without it.

Then I did my first blocking pass

I got some really good feedback on the first pass and for what seemed like the first time ever I didn't have to go back and completely re-block everything.  

And then there was the blocking plus pass.  I framed the camera in tighter and added a bunch of breakdowns.

The next week I started refining the animation and took it to spline town.

The last week that we had to work on this shot I did some polishing, but didn't get as much time as I would have liked to track all of my arcs and lovely things like that.  I still think that it turned out half decently though, and Dimos seemed to like it so that was pretty cool.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Monster Squad

Hello again!  I know that it's been a while since I last posted anything....but I've got something really exciting to post about now!  I decided last month that I would enter the Duck Brand duct tape 'Stick or Treat Jack-o-lantern contest'.  The basic premise of the contest was that you had to decorate a pumpkin (either real or fake) with duck tape.  You could use other materials as well, and the submissions would be judged based on Originality, Workmanship, Use of Color and Use of Duct Tape.  I couldn't decide on any one thing for my submission, so I decided to instead make a diorama and put a bunch of different monster pumpkins in it.  I was originally going to make zombie pumpkins, but I thought that the different monsters would be more colorful and fun to make.  I started off by making the actual diorama out of a cardboard box that I brought home from work.  I wanted to make it pumpkin shaped too, to keep with the jack-o-lantern theme.  I then cut out a tree shape and some tombstones.

I cut out a hill and haunted house with a creepy looking tree and started to cover them with duct tape.

Once I had the entire background of the diorama covered I moved on to the pumpkins.

I had bought a couple of little bags of foam craft pumpkins and I picked out a few that would fit the monster shapes that I was going for.  I stuck wires into the pumpkins for arms and legs and then covered them with duct tape as well.

Here's Franky

Wolfy (the plaid on his shirt was a pain...)


And Zombie-y.

I then had to make an unlucky pumpkin running away from this motley crew of monsters.

Poor guy.

I also made an owl to hang out up in the creepy tree.

And here are some pictures of it all put together!  I added some clouds to help break up the sky and some 'highlights' on the hills.

I discovered that if I lit it from underneath it gave it some pretty awesome shadows!

It took me a long time to get it all finished, but it was pretty fun making it!  I did a lot of it while watching Murder She Wrote which makes pretty much everything more fun anyways, hahaha.  Even better than having fun while making it though, was having it WIN 1ST PLACE IN THE COMPETITION!  That's right!  The judges picked my submission as the winning jack-o-lantern!  They publicly announced the winner on their website today!

It was super cool to see my submission on their main contest page, and even cooler to win $1,000!  That should help pay off some of my tuition! Hurray!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


These are some old drawings that I found that I haven't thrown up here yet.  The first one is a drawing that I made out of a scribble.  It's a hippo who REALLY loves groceries.  Like, a lot. 

The second is more recent and is a dragon eating some toast with marmalade.  My friend Anna told me to draw a dragon with some marmalade and this is what I came up with.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Class 3 Progress Reel

So I've been really bad about keeping up to date with my posts....But I'm going to try and make up for it by throwing a bunch of stuff up here over the next while!  First of all I have my progress reel from Class 3 at AM!  I learned soooooooooooooooo much from my mentor Rich and from my classmates as well!  I'm starting to get the hang of this whole animating on the computer thing.  Sort of, hahaha.  Anyways, Rich was an awesome mentor and always pushed me to do better.  He taught me a lot about having a flow to your shot and about shot staging.  I feel like my posing improved a lot and my timing improved slightly, but still needs a lot of work.  Overall I had a lot of fun in this class, and I'm pretty happy with how my shots turned out.  I still need to go back and fix them up a bit.  I was going to do it over my break week but I got distracted with Xena warrior princess and season 1 of Murder She Wrote...Here is the progress reel in it's current state!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pixar Master Class

I was lucky enough to get to go to a Pixar Master Class last weekend at the University of Saskatchewan.  Pixar animator Andrew Gordon and story artist Mathew Luhn came all the way from California to do a 2 day intensive animation class.  It was super crazy awesome!

The first day we had Andrew who gave a lecture about animation starting from the basics to some more advanced topics like acting in animation, gestures, what to put on your demo reel and other awesome things.  He used a lot of examples from his own work at Pixar as well as some student work.  He also showed some video reference examples featuring Bobby Beck and Carlos Baena, two of the co-founders of Animation Mentor!  The video reference of Carlos was especially great because it was the reference that he had shot for Spanish Buzz from Toy Story 3 and was pretty hilarious.

The second day of the workshop was all about story.  Matt Luhn had started at Pixar as an animator on the first Toy Story and then decided that he really wanted to be in the story department instead.  He left for a couple of years and worked on other projects then came back to work in story on Toy Story 2.Matt told us some great stories about working on projects at Pixar and about growing up in San Francisco where his family owns a bunch of toy stores.  He also taught us a lot about story structure and ways to tell stories and to brainstorm ideas for stories.  I even got called up as a volunteer to help him tell part by part a story about a puppy named George who ran away.  Having to try and tell a story on the spot in front of a room full of about 80 or so people was definitely not an easy task for me and my 'deer in headlights' syndrome nearly took over.  It all turned out ok though, and it was actually pretty fun.  The story probably could have been a little better though, hahaha.

For lunch on the second day we got to eat in the Faculty Club at the University.  There was a buffet type thing and then for desert they had ordered a cake with Mike from Monsters Inc on it.  Andrew was cutting pieces of it for people and I ended up getting a piece with Mike's hip/mouth on it.  It was extra awesome because Andrew had been the lead animator on Mike for Monsters inc.

There was also a free public lecture that night at the Broadway theater where they talked about the process of making a short film.  This audience for this lecture was a bit more broad so it wasn't super technical but it was still fun!  Afterwards I brought up my Story of Pixar Animation book and they were both kind enough to sign it for me.  Matt even remembered my name from earlier in the day when he had called me up for the story exercise!

Andrew signed my book on the page that featured his famous Pixar Love Lounge which was a secret room that was connected to his office.  He's wearing the black robe in the picture and standing next to Pete Docter.

Matt drew me a picture of Woody! 

The weekend was pretty wonderful.  I learned so much from both Andrew and Matt and they were both great speakers as well as artists.  If they ever come back to Saskatoon with another Master Class I would definitely go again!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Animation Mentor Class 3 Weeks 8-11

So for my final shot in my Animjam I decided to have adventurer Stewie find the idol that he had been searching for.  It was still a body mechanics shot though so I had to find a way to get him over some obstacles as well.  This was probably the shot that I had the most trouble with and spent the most time on re-working things this term.  The first idea that I had was to have him panting and exhausted after running from the boulder in the previous shot, have him look up and see the idol and then get over/around some obstacles to get to it.  I was also going to have him grab the idol, look at it and then have a swinging beam smash him in the face.  Here's my video reference for my first pass.

And my thumbnail sketches

I wanted to have him try and push an object out of the way, then lift one and then jump over another object.  The end of the shot turned out to be a little over-ambitious and more pantomime than body mechanics, so I decided to just go with the first half where he's trying to get to the idol.

And then I did the first blocking pass of this idea...

The staging was pretty terrible....There really wasn't a reason why he would push/lift these objects when he could clearly walk right past them... It also didn't have a very good feeling of weight when he was lifting the wedge shaped object, and the walk from there to the pillar was just kind of weird.  Overall it was lacking a feeling of effort.  I emailed my mentor Rich and asked him for help with the staging because I was having a lot of trouble with it and my lack of maya knowledge was definitely not helping.  He was super nice and actually opened my file during the Q&A and gave me some great advice!  He even sent me a picture of the staging that we had talked about so that I had something to work from.

With my new staging figured out I went out and shot some new video reference.  I was going to have him climb up on the first block, slide down the second and then do more of a jump/slide over the pillar.  I had also shot some new reference the week before of different ways to get over the pillar.  I had rented some sumo suits for my birthday so I stacked them on top of a table and filmed myself trying to get over them...

But I've decided that no one really needs to see those videos...hahaha.

None of the sumo videos really worked with the jumping over the pillar so I found some really good videos with car hood slides because they had more of the feeling that I wanted.

I also went to the park and got some reference of me climbing up on things and sliding down things.  I got a lot of interesting looks...  

Armed with my new video reference I set about re-blocking almost my entire shot in a week...

My new reference was super helpful and I think that my new shot was waaaaaaaaaay better than the old one. Rich agreed and gave me props for getting all of that done in a week!  He suggested that for the next week I have Stewie pop up behind the idol at the end of the shot to give it more of a payoff.  He gave me permission to go over the 200 frame limit.  I also got to start taking my shot to spline town and this is my first pass at splinernating it.

Rich wasn't a huge fan of the ending of the shot and didn't like the 'surprise' like pose.  He suggested that I have him come up more behind the idol and have his hand appear first, then the rest of him.  He also wanted me to tweak the timing slightly and fix the breathing part and when he first goes over to the box.  I tried to address all of his notes in my final pass.

Rich still wasn't totally happy with the ending of the shot and didn't like the majorly stretched out arms.  There were also some minor spacing/arc tweaks that he wanted me to make.  This was definitely my most difficult shot of the term but I learned a LOT from it!  I feel like I'm finally starting to get more of the hang of polishing and am starting to understand the graph editor a bit more.  Overall I like how this shot turned out!

I'm planning to go back and fix up my shots a bit before I finish my progress reel of the term.  And I should have that posted here before the next term starts on Monday!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Animation Mentor Class 3 Weeks 5-7

Well really it's weeks 4-7 because we submitted our video reference and planning sketches in week 4, but anyways...  Shot 2 of 3!  Continuing on with my Anim jam I wanted my adventurer Stewie to get over some sort of obstacle and then have a lovely surprise waiting for him in the form of a freaking huge boulder.  I found/shot some video reference of a guy doing an awesome leap/dive and roll and then of me jumping down and booking it down a sloped surface.  Through shooting/viewing this reference I learned a lot about body mechanics and also that I am really out of shape... And here it is!

While searching for video reference I found some awesome videos of people participating in the Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling Festival.  Those people are crazy.  Crazy awesome.

And then I did some planning sketches.

My boulder ended up looking more like a comet or an asteroid in the planning sketches...

For the next weeks assignment we had to do our first blocking pass of our shot.

I didn't get a change to put the boulder in this pass, but that is what he's supposed to be running away from at the end of the shot.

In my critique for my first blocking pass my mentor Rich gave me some awesome advice about having flow in your shot and contrasting quick moments with slow moments.  He also suggested that I add a stagger to help keep him moving with the build up of momentum instead of stopping him after he gets up from the roll.  He also thought that it would look better if Stewie just ran into the jump down the ledge instead of stopping and jumping down because it wasn't really all that far up.  It was also kind of hard to see what was going on because Stewie's fabulous leather pants kept blending in with the background so I changed the color.  It now looks like he's in some sort of awesome ice cave!  Also, there's a boulder!

And so my second blocking pass!

For our final week working on this shot I got to take it to Spline Town!  My favorite place!  On opposite day...  I fixed up a few things and tried to get it flowing a bit better then changed my stepped keys into splined ones.  It was a bit of a mess.  Especially in the roll after the dive and the getting up from the roll while turning.  I hadn't paid enough attention while blocking to which way I was rotating my character and so his body kept getting crazily distorted.  It took a while, but I managed to fix up the majority of the rotation problems and got it to look a lot less crappy.

My timing turned out to be a lot slower than I thought it was going to be and there are still a few things that need some fixing.  Overall though I was pretty happy with how it turned out especially because I had tried to pack so much into it.  I'm not so great with the whole 'keep it simple rule'.  :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hazard Wolf and Terror Tiger

So a couple of my friends from work were moving to Edmonton for schooling and I decided to make them a going away present.  One of those friends (the lovely Shannon) kept asking me to do an original sketch for her, so I granted her wish!  I can't really remember how it started, but all of the supervisors at the Dairy Queen that I work at got crazy awesome nicknames.  Nicknames that sound like something out of an 80's/90's Saturday morning cartoon.  They all consist of an animal and a 'dangerous sounding word'.  Shannon got the awesome nickname HAZARD WOLF, and Paige got to be TERROR TIGER.   I thought that it would be fun to try and illustrate those awesome nicknames and this is how they turned out.

I also added in some of the incredibly annoying children who come and cause destruction and chaos during the school year.  We love them so.

I still plan on doing the rest of the supervisor squad (for lack of a better name) when I actually have some spare time.  I would also like to do a big group shot and color it.  

I also did a quick one of my awesome nickname....DANGER HAWK.

Danger Hawk out.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Landscape in Soft Pastel

I took a USCAD pastel class about a month ago where we went into the great outdoors and 'painted' landscapes.  It was pretty much the fist time that I had ever used pastels or done landscapes not from a photograph.  Pastels are a lot more difficult to work with than I originally thought that they would be.  I had a little more success when I tried using them on a piece of sandpaper (the first picture) rather than on colored paper (the rest of the pictures).

There was apparently a dragon in my landscape...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Animation Mentor Class 3! Weeks 1-4

So it is now week 6 of class 3 and I'm a little behind in posting about it...But I'm going to try and make up for that by dumping all of my stuff from the first 4 weeks on here!

So first of all I have a new mentor!  His name is Rich Fournier, and he also works at Bluesky!  He knows both of my past two mentors which I find pretty amusing.  Rich is also an Animation Mentor Alumni which is pretty cool!  He has been an awesome mentor so far and I've already learned a ton from him.  I do kind of miss Pete's excessive swearing though. :)

For this class we had the option of doing an 'Anim Jam' where the 3 shots that we work on over the course of the class have a running story or common theme, or the 'Anim Exercise' option where we could just do different unrelated things for each shot.  I chose to do the 'Anim Jam' option and was originally going to do a Xena warrior princess theme, but I didn't really want to animate more than one character and it would have been pretty necessary for the ridiculous fight scenes that I had planned...  I decided to go with an Adventurer/Indiana Jones type theme instead.  I came up with basic ideas for my three shots and 'dressed' my character.

Week 1

For my first shot I was going to have the character incing along a wall, and accidentally step on a booby trapped tile on the floor.  Then spears would begin flying at him and he would dodge them.  I was going to have him trip on a spear, fall back and then quickly crabwalk back and have a spear land inches from his face.

I shot some video reference in my backyard.  I did a lot of falling down.

Then I did some quick thumbnails from my video reference.

Week 2
In my critique from week 1, Rich suggested that I go with more of the generic adventurer type character because Indiana Jones was really overdone.  I re-dressed the character, found him a new hat and gave him some leather pants.  I then did my 1st blocking pass.  I decided to get rid the the fall and crabwalk because there was enough going on in the shot.

Week 3
There was a little too much going on in my first blocking pass so Rich suggested that I get rid of some of the spears and focus on the 3 main storytelling poses.  I think that this helped a lot!

I got a lot of work done in the beginning of the week so I was able to get a bit more feedback from Rich at the end of our tuesday night Q&A.

My first 'blocking plus' pass.

And then the 2nd pass that I handed in for week 3 after getting more notes from Rich.  I also started taking it into spline mode.

Week 4

Week 4 was a lot of polishing up the shot.  I played with the timing a bit, added some eye blinks and other stuff that I can't remember because it was 2 week ago... This is the final version of the shot that I handed in.

There's still a lot of room for improvement, and I'll still probably work on polishing it up a bit more for the end of the class.  It was my very first time working with IK hands which proved to be fairly tricky.  I like how it turned out overall though!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I forgot some!

So I forgot a couple of cake pictures in my last post and here they are!  I made this cake for my sister earlier this year because she LOVES True Blood.  It's probably the most detailed cake that I've done so far (except for maybe the Taylor Lautner one).

There was a lot of gel on this cake...

I also made her birthday cookies!

And because my sister enjoys watching Jersey Shore (I have no idea why...) I decided to make her Snooki cookies, or 'Snookies'.

Look at that healthy orange glow!

 I found a picture of a Japanese felt dog kit so I decided to try making one for my sister because she loves the doggies.  This was the beginning of my felt addiction.

This was a birthday cake that I made for myself a couple of years ago featuring a character from my very long in progress student film.  Maybe someday I'll finish it... The cake got two thumbs up and a tongue....

This was a cake that my friends wanted me to do for another friend of theirs.  Their friend was terrified of E.T. so they thought that they should put it on her birthday cake.  They're such nice people.