Saturday, December 22, 2007

happy holidays

have a great break was a great class and I really enjoyed watching you all improve this term. for those that are graduating, best of luck and keep me updated! There are few things more discouraging than working on a demo reel, but hey, that's what you signed up for, so embrace the pain and kick some ass!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

demo reel, getting a job, the realities of a career in animatoin

When I started this class, I didn't realize how many of you would be graduating this term.

I just wanted to offer up a bit of advice for job hunting, demo reel work and all that.

As an animator, the competition is tough. Look at the short films from Ringling, the work coming out of Animation Mentor, the student work from Cal Arts - much of it is pretty astounding. It's highly polished and much of it at a professional level.

If you are lucky enough to get an interview, research the company in advance. If it's a game company, rent some of their games and be aware of what's in the market now. If it's an effects house, find out what shots they did on various films. And tailor your reel to the places you're applying. If you're applying to a game company that does realistic animation and minimal cutscenes, don't show 90% acting pieces. Most places need to see work on your reel in the vein of what they do, so create something in their style. That way they don't have to feel like they're taking a risk by hiring you, and you've shown a sense of professionalism by taking the company seriously. (check out will elder-groebe's site - good progression of game to film work)

I also wanted to mention the whole film vs games thing...don't be an animation snob! I'm not going to make value judgements about games vs film and neither should aware that there are more jobs in games and that's how many great animators working in film have started out. It's also where many end up as the work can be more consistent
I'm currently working at Sega - here's a couple of links to people I work with.

jan vanbuyten - some amazing creature work
michael parks - broad range of work
ron pucharelli - animator I work with who is also doing animation mentor and treats his personal work as a second full time job

There's a range here, from standard animator to senior level, but these are the people that are applying for some of the same jobs you are. So be humble! It's a very competitive field, so go into any interview you get with a positive attitude, and really look into the kind of a work that's done at a company before you go in.

You don't have to actually say this to convey this idea. One's attitude goes a long way. We just hired an animator who didn't have the best reel out there, but beat out some more senior candidates because of his manic enthusaism. (The more you work as an animator, the more grumpy and jaded you can become, so it's great having junior candidates with tons of passion and energy). Your first employer will be most likely be doing you a favor by hiring you, as your first year out will require a lot of managing and and direction, basically a continuation of your education.

Which leads me to my next point...if you want to work as an animator, your education can never stop. The bar gets higher every year and you need to keep pushing yourself to improve and get the high level of polish you need.

As far as reels go, stay in contact with other and be as helpful as you can to each other. Be open to feedback and's the only way to get out of your head and look at your work more objectively.

all for now...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

crits to the last...

some quick posing notes for wes

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

the last week

Instead of my usual rant about strong posing and solid breakdowns (that's all I ever say, isn't it), take a step back from your shots this week and really look at what's good about them. It's easy to lose heart and mess up your shot in the later stages by not really thinking about it and just adding in more detail and motion.

Antar raised a good point last week when he mentioned his shot didn't seem to change all that much after a certain point. This is a pretty common occurence in animation, but mostly it happens for all of us because we're afraid of messing up what's working and replacing it with worse animation.

Here's a couple of things to think about at this polish stage.
1. save a new version. This way you're covered if you hose your file
2. play to your strengths. look at what's working, and push it further. if the character turns and makes an arm gesture to make his point, explore the timing on it...does the moving hold need to be pushed? Does the gesture need to be snappier? Does the gesture that follows it need to be minimized to make it read in a stronger way?
3. There Are No Laters. That hitch that's been there for the last two weeks. Get it out! It's just confusing your ability to see your scene clearly. If there's a wobbly weight shift, err on the side of smoothness and fluidity even if it's a little drifty. If you see something that's clearly a mistake, attend to it. if there's interpenetration, fix it!
4. the 'right' kind of detail. Look at the arcs on the hands. the head. adjust the arms and spine to make them sing. look at your hand poses. if your hand is that same mittenlike claw the whole way through, break it up with some better posing. do the fingers need to bend on a passing pose?

these are a few points, but take what's working and improve upon it. take those important moments in your shot and make them even better.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


I just grabbed a file I was working on to mention the importance of eyeline and the Norman rig. For shots where eye contact is essential (meaning the character needs to really gaze into the other's eyes), grab the main eye control and turn the attribute individual control on and move the individual controllers (at least one) over a bit. You want to avoid a character looking either crosseyed or walleyed. Even though it seems putting the main eye control in front of another character's face is the scientifically accurate way of doing things, it rarely works out how you'd expect. Really look at the gaze and make sure it feels like it's working with your camera.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

retain that blocking

sometimes your blocking pass works better than your first pass. Sometimes the timing is better with your first instincts.

One way I sometimes work in multicharacter scenes is to save out an alternate version of your scene (your stepped version) delete everything but one character. Put it on a layer and set that layer to reference. delete the textures from the scene for faster playback and to avoid confusion, select all geometry and color it with a solid lambert (red or blue or something easy to identify)

Go back to your main scene and reference in the scene you just created. And there you have it..timing reference you can turn on and off (in the reference window, uncheck the box and it will vanish)

Monday, December 3, 2007

olesegun, week 13

ok...time is short, so i'll get right to what I see as the big moments to fix..

i'm not crazy about the first second - i get the idea but i think the reaching pose is a little cliched right now...i would shave 15 frames off and revise it so it looks a little more natural (maybe reach with one hand) show some more face and make it about a sense of excitement at having a turn.

i like the pushing him away, but it feels like that section comes in a little early. I think you need to push your blocking a little more so you get some clarification in your breakdowns. You do it well from 142-160...i would try to maintain that clarity in blocking through the rest of your piece.

also, with the non-wheel holding guy, from around 195 onwards, you have him start to sulk, changing his body language a bit which will provide a nice contrast to driver.

In general, get those breakdown frames in! A lot of this action works well as far as posing goes, but there is a lot of fast action that will have to be retimed to match the pace of the piece.

109-125 has a lot of good timing and posing, even though it's more subtle. just keep exploring your breakdowns and you'll get into this faster.