Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"My Paper Mind" by Javan Ivey

I saw this video a while back and it just floored me. It is an experimental animated short in a technique being called "stratastencil" devised by Javan Ivey. Each frame is one piece of 4x6 card stock. To view how it was done, you can visit his website here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Final Touches

So I got another awesome E-Critique this week!!! It really got me pumped! So I spent all evening Monday night in the studio. This is what I have been working all year for, this scene in particular. At the beginning of the year, I had no idea what this scene was going to be, but I knew I had to make it great. It's almost there:

These last few weeks I have logged so many hours in the studio. This is all I have been doing and it shows.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Week 10 - DONE!

I was finally able to get the GUI picker working on Bishop so I could do the lip sync. Without it it would have taken a lot longer. The lip sync is now done for both guys. Take a look:

If you notice in the beginning, Brussels is "breathing." I think it looks cool. I also noticed that around f119, Bishop's mug intersects the bar. I WILL fix it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Talk about getting that surge of animation motivation and just running with it. I have been here in the studio ALL NIGHT!! In the word of Rhino the hamster from Bolt, "I FEEL ALIVE!!!"

I got a great e-Critique from my mentor, Dana, and it really boosted my confidence with this scene. She liked the changes I made and everything was looking really good so far. She gave me a great idea for Bishop's reaction after being shrugged off. She was afraid I would not get what she was trying to say, but I understood perfectly. I just hope I nailed it in the scene.

Well, take a look:

When Bishop gets pushed back, I also added a little bit of a stumble. I had a heck of a time getting his left hand to do exactly what I wanted it to do. I also made Brussels turn away a bit after he says, "SHUT UP!" I tried to make it seem like he really did not want to hear anything Bishop had to say about the subject. I think I will move his line of sight a little more screen right. It will seem like he is almost pouting.

I am really jazzed about this scene right now. There's nothing like great words of encouragement to light a fire under your butt.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Week 9 Splining

Tis the end of week 9 here at Animation Mentor. I took care of the camera angles and pans and hopefully that is done. I focused mainly on the body mechanics this time around. I smoothed out the arcs with the hand motions and added a bit more of a stumble for Bishop at the end. I also added a cheesey "eye-roll-then-look-at-camera" move. I know it's cheesey, but my mentor suggested something like that in my last e-critique. SO I did it. We'll see what she has to say come Monday.

In week 10, I will focus now on the lip sync, facial expressions, and hand/finger controls. I blocked out a bit of the lip sync in the beginning ("They were brave men, Voltan.""SHUT UP!"). Now it is time for the rest of the scene. I will go through blocking first. Or should I go straight to spline? Ok, I'll block it out first then later this week spline everything out. I also need to work on the hands and add some movement to the fingers. In some spots they need to be closer together. In other, they need to be spread apart. In Bishop's case (guy on the left), his left hand needs to grip the mug as he is stumbling back. I also need to add in more brow and eye expressions. I feel I need to change up Bishop's expression during the line "With respect...not be forgotten." I also need to tweak his hand gestures in that spot as well. Someting about it just does not feel right.

But for now, I rest.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

All Smoothed Out...well, mostly

Week 8 and it's time to spline!!

Here's what I got so far. I am out of the blocking stage and flattened out all the curves. Meaning the body mechanics now flow fluidly. I still have a bit of work to do, especially with Bishop's last pose. I'm still trying to find the right expression to express the emotion for what I'm trying to say. Per my mentor's suggestion, Bishop (the guy on the left) should go for a look of "yeah, I KNOW he's dead" as if he was trying to hide him (the dead guy) from Brussells (the guy on the right, a.k.a. Voltan). I sketched out some ideas this week and submitted them with my assignment. I'll see what Dana has to say. I need to go back over my e-critique and see if I can pull anything else out of it.

I like how this is coming about. So for this week:
  • I will be tweaking the body mechanics.
  • I will be working on the lipsync. It will be easy for Voltan and not so much for Bishop. The GUI (graphic user interface) picker that has all the mouth and brow shapes all ready at the push of a button is not responding with Bishop. Voltan is working fine so he will be a snap.
  • I will be making sure the hands and beer mugs do not go through the bar or anybody's head.
  • I need to work on the brow expressions and eye blinks. The expressions need to be pushed here and there. I also think I need to add a few more eye blinks.
  • I am still not comfortable with the camera angle on the seconds shot starting at f200.
  • I also need to work on the timing and spacing of some of the gestures. Some poses need to be held for an extra beat or two before moving on to the next one. For instance, when Bishop is getting ready to say, "With respect" his left hand needs to stay down for a bit before it comes up. It needs to come up quicker and hold before it swings over to the bar. I also wanted Voltan to hold the pose a bit longer when he slams his hands down after saying "Will you shut up!"
So that's about it. I just hope I have the time this week to really concentrate on the scene. I really want this to work.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Week 7 Blocking

Still working on the scene. With a full schedule this past weekend, I did not get the time I desired to really work on the scene. Still, it came out ok for now and I got a lot of great feedback from my mentor. Things are coming along nicely. She's pleased with the staging and camera angles. I do need to tighten up the close-up on the second shot. Other than that, it is on to more tweaking this week. I will probably keep it in stepped mode for this week and start splining next week. I also need to tweak the expressions and start adding the lip sync.

I'm pleased with it for now. I still have a lot of work ahead of me but I am ready!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mickey!

We must never forget it all started with a mouse.


November 18, 1928 - Mickey Mouse starred in "Steamboat Willie," the first commercially successful animated cartoon to use synchronized sound.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Go See This Film!!

I just saw Madagascar 2 tonight and I was pleasantly surprised. To be honest, I was not a huge fan of the first one. So I was not really looking forward to the sequel. However, when a friend at work told me it was "hilarious the whole way through", I thought I would give it a shot. Granted, I was going to see it anyways, but that recommendation gave me hope. I was not disappointed. It had heart, it had action, and it had laughs. Three great ingredients needed for a great film.

My final rating for this film: ***** (5 out of 5)

My favorite pose out of the whole film has to be the penguin on the left. That just cracks me up.

Now speaking as an animator, the film was just beautiful. The acting was amazing. I especially thought the character of Makunga (voiced by Alec Baldwin) was outstanding. Alec did such an amazing read that he really brought the character to life with just his voice. The character animation on top of that just pushed it over the top. There were so many subtle nuances that really made that character leap off the screen. There were moments when I caught myself trying to study the acting going on in hopes of bringing it into my own animation. This is what I have to strive for. This is my goal I have to reach. I will do my best these next few weeks to try and measure up to what I just saw.


A little too much pressure there? Let's bring it down a notch and just try and do the best job we can. Okay?


Thursday, November 6, 2008

New NEW Layout!

So tonight my best friend Roland came over and I showed him my last scene. He started thinking and came up with a few new ideas. We started brainstorming and working things out and came up with a new layout for the scene.

The shot is a lot more tighter with the characters closer together. With the camera in front of both of them, it is a lot easier to see both their facial expressions. Plus this way I can give more character to the Vultan character (the green guy). I planning on give both characters a lot of secondary action while the other one is talking. If it works out right, it should not distract from the main action. While Bishop (NOT the green guy) is saying the line "With respect...", Vultan will probably be swishing his drink around and looking inside the mug. Then when Vultan is saying the line "There's no way...", Bishop will slowly be taking a few steps back. It will look like Vultan is getting all wound up to explode and Bishop does not want to get in the way. All the time he will be protecting his beer.

Just a few new ideas. Now I wait to see what my mentor Dana has to say.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

OFFICIAL 1st Layout Pass

This is my official first pass at layout. I posed the characters as I want them posed in the shot. I added another camera angle at the end. I think it really hits the punchline at the end.

My only problem is that I cannot seem to get my video reference uploaded properly to the school websight. They have been having technical problems all week. It's a little frustrating on my part, but I imagine it must be ten fold for them.

I still need to do the storyboards for this scene so I heading back to the drawing board. I may be doing it backwards, doing the scene THEN doing the storyboards, but I probably would not have thought of the new camera angle if I did the boards first. That is what I really like about animating in Maya. If I come up with a new camera angle idea, *BOOM!*, it's done.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Acting With Myself

I can sort of understand the difficulty actors have when acting in front of a bluescreen. There is nothing to react with. This scene is a multi-character shot. I have two guys talking in a bar. I shot this footage late at night so I was not able to bring anyone in on this one. I DID find a way in Premiere Elements how to move and split the screen. THAT was fun!! So what you see is me acting with myself.

After the video reference is my first pass at the layout of the scene. This is the general camera angle I am going for. They said we could have two to three camera cuts, but I opted for a simple camera pan to the right revealing the punchline.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

This is a FIRST!

I saw an animation book at work and I DID NOT want to buy it.

I saw this book Animation Unleashed by Ellen Besen sitting on the shelf. Being an animator, I exclaimed "Ooooh!" with joy and took it to the breakroom to look at on my break. I flipped through it and nothing really grabbed me. I looked at the table of contents and again, nothing really grabbed me. I looked a bit longer but there wasn't anything there that I did not already learn, or could learn, from one of the many books I already own. And believe me, I DO NOT need any more books on animation. (But I will have more!)

There was a book that I DID pick up a few days ago.

This book, The Alchemy of Animation: Making an Animated Film in the Modern Age by Don Hahn, I DID buy. I saw it on-line one night and ordered it the very next day at work. I have flipped through this one and it is just amazing. I have not had a chance yet to sit down and start reading it, but I will.

So that's one more animation book added to my collection. I know of at least one more coming soon, and that's The Art of Bolt by Mark Cotta Vaz.

I am really looking forward to this one because I want to see Chris Sanders' early conceptual art. Chris is the creator and co-director of Lilo & Stitch. He left Disney in the middle of production of Bolt. I need to do some research to find out why. I think I remember reading that there may have been some disagreements between him and John Lasseter over the story direction. I could be wrong but I will find out. I hear he is now directing a new film at Dreamworks called Crood Awakening.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Audio Clips For The New Scene

The assignment for Week 4 is to find three lines of dialogue with multiple characters. After looking a while, I decided on these three clips.

AUDIO CLIP #1 from Flash Gordon

"I swear Munson I'll shoot!"

"Get shot or go up in that thing? What's the difference?!"

"This way you'll be giving your life to save the Earth. Haven't you any spirit at all?"


AUDIO CLIP #2 from Flash Gordon

"They were brave creatures, Vultan."

"Shut up!"

"With respect, the man who rid us of Klytus should not be deserted."

"Will you shut up?! There's no way I can help a man who's dead!"

AUDIO CLIP #3 from O Brother, Where Art Thou?

"You stole from my kin!"

"Who was fixin' to betray us."

"You didn't know that at the time."

"So I borrowed it 'til I did know."

"That don't make no sense!"

"Pete, it's a fool who looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart."

These are from a couple of my favorite movies. Flash Gordon is sort of a guilty pleasure but I just love it! It's corny, and cheesey, and the costumes are so over the top. It also has an awesome soundtrack by Queen, so I think that helps a bit.

I recently turned in these scenes for this week. I have already received some feedback and the majority of my peers like Clip #3. They said there is great character and tempo changes. I, personally, was hoping to go with Clip #2. I can see great possiblilities with both but I may end up going with Clip #3. Either way, it is going to be both very challenging and a lot of fun.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WATCHMEN - The Pumpkin

Every once in a while, they let us do something creative at work. I remember a couple of times they let me and a few friends hang artwork and photographs around the Cafe. Well, this time they let us decorate pumpkins for Halloween. We had to choose a literary theme. A coupleof the ladies chose kids books and made their pumpkin look like the main character. I decided to go with WATCHMEN. Not only because the book is getting a lot of press, but also because of the movie coming soon.

So here's what I got:

Here are the book covers I used as reference:

You know, I still have not read the book. I have a loose idea what it's about but that's only from what I've heard others tell me. I guess I should read it, but I don't want it to spoil the movie. I love movies. However, I heard that from the trailer, the film seems to be shot-for-shot from the graphic novel. So I should be ok.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

** FINAL **


This is it! This is my FINAL take for this scene. It's been a long road getting here, but also a huge learning experience. I feel I have learned a lot with this scene that will carry on to the rest of my work.

And with NEW Joker make-up

I'm not saying it's complete because I will never see it as complete. I will always be able to find something that STILL needs to be tweaked here and there. But, it will do for now.

We also had some sketchbook assignments for this week as well. Here's what I got:

Now we get to move on to a NEW SCENE!!! WOOHOO!!! For the rest of this term we will be working on a multiple character scene. I need to find three scenes of dialogue and do the usual video reference and sketches for them all. This one will be a bit longer at 12 - 15 seconds. I have a few ideas but I'm still looking for more. I'll be posting them up next week.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Jeff Dunham in CC

Comedian Jeff Dunham was in town tonight at the American Bank Center. I wanted to go but wasn't able to get any tickets. I've seen his DVD many times and laugh harder and harder each time. I found these bloopers on YouTube and was just cracking up. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Polishing Week 2

This is my submission for this week. There were a lot of subtle changes from the previous week. Most of it was in the mouth shapes and the hands pressing on the table at the end. All in all I feel pretty good about it.

One more week and I'll be done with this shot. I need to get his wardrobe ready. I once tried using the same one as the earlier versions but for some reason it just did not fit right.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Week 2 Sketchbooks

This week we had a sketchbook assignment. We had to find two pictures in a magazine and recreate the facial expression with Bishop. Here is what I submitted for this week.

Sketchbook 1

Sketchbook 2

We have more sketchbooks assignments throughout the semester.
There are more to come.

This just in....

The following article is from

Glen Keane Leaving Rapunzel?

October 10, 2008

CARTOON BREW and AINT IT COOL NEWS are both reporting that Glen Keane is stepping down from directing Disney's upcoming animated feature RAPUNZEL.

AINT IT COOL posted this memo from Ed Catmull, president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios:

For nearly two years, Glen Keane and Dean Wellins have been directing partners on Rapunzel. As Glen lessens his directorial responsibilities to attend to some non-life threatening health issues, their involvement on the project will shift. Glen will step back as a Director but stay attached to Rapunzel as an Executive Producer and Directing Animator. At the same time, Dean will move into development to pitch three new ideas for one of our future feature projects and focus on directing one of his CG shorts. We are happy to announce that Nathan Greno and Byron Howard have accepted to partner as directors on Rapunzel as we continue to hone the story in anticipation of our Holiday 2010 release. We want to welcome Nathan and Byron to the project and thank Glen and Dean for their great contributions to date on Rapunzel.


Keane has been involved in Disney productions like PETE'S DRAGON, THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE, THE LITTLE MERMAID, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and ALADDIN. He helped write POCAHONTAS and TARZAN.

According to the memo, Keane's latest health problems are moving him off the director's chair, but a source told AINT IT COOL that Keane and Wellins' version of RAPUNZEL wasn't working. Bryan Howard stepped in on BOLT when Chris Sanders' early work led execs to believe that film was not working.

Calls made by AWN to a Disney spokesperson were not returned as of Friday morning.

The following article is from

Rumor Central: Lasseter Knocks Keane Off Rapunzel?

October 9, 2008 1:40 pm

A local LA animation student who asks not to be named sends in this rumor that’s too juicy not to share:

Just a bit of info from one of our teachers here. Apparently Glen Keane was kicked off Rapunzel yesterday by Lasseter. Word around the campfire is that Lasseter didn’t like the latest reel.

7 years, man. 7 years Glen’s been working on this. The skinny is that the directors of Bolt will be taking over. No word about if Glen is still involved in any way.

Truth or fiction?

UPDATE: Floyd Norman confirms in the comments that this rumor is indeed true.

UPDATE #2: Ain’t It Cool News has published a follow-up story to our initial report. They reprint a letter from Ed Catmull that says that Glen has lessened his directing responsibilities to “attend to some non-life threatening health issues.” Co-director Dean Wellins has also removed himself from the project for unspecified reasons. They are being replaced by directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard. Keane will stay aboard Rapunzel as a directing animator and exec producer.

-End of Line-

All I have to say is....WHAT THE FRICK?!?!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Class 4 has begun!

I am back at Animation Mentor and couldn't be happier! Class started last week and it is back to work. As luck would have it, I have the same mentor and Q&A time. So once again my mentor is Dana Boadway. She is a freelance animator that has worked with several diffrent studios. She is currently working on cinematics for one studio and her own short film. It would have been nice to have some fresh eyes on my scene, but this works out well, too. I know what she is looking for and know what I need to work on.

So here is my scene from last semester. For the first few weeks we are now focusing on animating the mouth with the dialogue and the eyebrows for more facial expressions. Before the last semester was over, I tweeked the scene a bit more and Dana noticed. "Everything with the body is looking much better. You've done a lot of good work on it." THANK YOU! There are still a few things that need to be ironed out but it's getting there. The lip sync is coming along nicely as well. The difficult part for me was in the middle when the dialogue is going so fast. Also, the generic mouth shapes the school has provided for us are a bit too "happy." They are always smiling. Well, my guy is not smiling so I need to bring them down a bit.

All in all, so far so good. I'll be working on dressing Bishop this week. Just a few clicks here and there and he should be back in his wardrobe.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Class 3 - DONE!!

Another semester at Animation Mentor has come and gone. It has been a quick and interesting summer term. I feel this is the class where I realized I want to be an animator. I put so much work into this semester, more than the previous ones. I must have logged about 20 hours a week for the last 3 to 4 weeks of this final scene. I was determined to get it just right. It's still not there, but I'm working on it.

This scene will not be COMPLETE complete until week 3 of Class 4. I still have a few weeks of E-crits to get it right. One thing my mentor Dana said to work on was the subtleties. In her final E-crit, she said I sort of went for some difficult choices because the character interacts with the table so much. I need to show weight when he leans on the table or makes a gesture on it with his finger. I did the best I could with the time I had before having to upload it to the final progress reel. I see what she was talking about and I got a few of them taken care of.

So on to Class 4: Advanced Acting. In Week 4, we do another dialogue scene but this time with TWO characters. This is going to get interesting.

But for now, I get a week long break from school.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

2nd Assignment - *FINAL*

I am done with my scene...for now. Class 3 is coming to a close. It has been a HUGE learning experience. These past three months I have learned so much, not just in animation but with the Maya program. So here is my final scene for Class 3:

In Class 4 we will start to polish this even more and add in facial controls to give it more experssive...uh...expressions.

After next week, we get a week long break. I am not sure what to do during that week. Should I avoid animation all together so I can recharge my batteries? Or should I keep chugging along and working on other things like modeling, rigging, and lighting? I really want to give this scene some real ominous lighting. I have the books. We will see what happens.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Bit of F-U-N!!

So I've been experimenting and trying to learn new things in Maya. I have been sculpting and modeling figures and stuff. I tried rigging a rough model of Leonard but it was getting too complicated. It didn't help that it was the middle of the night and I was really tired. So that didn't go so well. I am still working on "The Hindenburger" episode here and there. It's always lurking there on the back burners. Leonard and Merlin will be needing a plane of somesorts for this episode so I tried to make one. It's a bit much for what I had envisioned, but it may just work out. Here is a model rotation of what I did in a few hours.

So once I finished that up, I had another idea. I sort of got the idea from what I remember seeing in "Kung Fu Panda." When I first saw the trailer, one of the scenes that cracked me up was when Po landed on Tai Lung's head and they showed it in slow motion. In traditional 2D, that would have been very difficult because you have to draw all those extra frames moving the character at a fraction of an inch. I realized in computer animation, all you have to do is add more frames between the keys and you get the same effect.

So here's what I came up with...

Poor Bishop.

"Crazy" Week 10

The semester is almost up. I just finished week 10 and starting week 11. The bad news: I didn't put that much time into my scene this week. It's just been a weird week. The good news: I'm on vacation and now have plenty of time for my scene. I decided to take my last week of vacation for the year during the last week of this assignment. I really want to get this right so I need to focus. So it looks like long days and nights here in the studio.

So here's my shot for this week. I used my mentor's notes as best I could. I added more overlap in the body and really tried to lead with the hips. I still need to work on the hands at the end. But all in all, it is coming together.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Week 3 - First Spline

Here's my first pass at splining. I was working on this for quite some time when I realized it didn't have to be perfect. So I did my best. I still have two more weeks to get it just right.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Week 2 - 2nd Blocking

In week 2, we are to do a bit more blocking. I did not add too much because I want to keep some of the "moving holds." I do not want this to be like my first scene of the semester. Stewie was moving all over the place. It was too busy. Here I am trying for a more subtle approach.

This semester we do not have too much control over Bishop's facial expressions. We can only control his eyes, eyelids, and jaw up & down movement. Next week I start splining the scene. That is when it gets interesting.

I have also been reading and learning new things available in Maya. I started getting into modelling and set building. Just yesterday (actually about 2:00 this morning) I learned how to texture and paint on Bishop. So to go with my "crazy" scene I gave Bishop a Joker look. To add to his craziness, I gave him an eye twitch now and then along with a head twitch to match. It has been so much fun learning new things. My creativity is now able to come to bloom!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Week 7 - First Blocking Pass

Here's what I have been doing all day long. This is my first pass at blocking for my dialogue scene. I still have the last few seconds left but I will work on those later tonight.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Moving On To Leonard

Now I have moved on to Leonard. I have a book, surprised, on modeling and animation in Maya. It shows you how to model two characters using two different techniques. There is a boy character and I followed those instructions to work on Leonard. I did not want to get too exact. I just wanted to see what I could make. I noticed that his left hand is a bit larger than his right hand. So he might have a Hellboy thing going on there. It will probably only be noticeable when he brings his hands together. His body is a bit "square". For instance, his legs have corners. Again, I was not too concerned with details.

Next time I have some free time, I will try working on modeling his head. That is when the real fun comes in. I will have to do some sketching and really get his head looking the way I want it to.

No Lightning Yet

Ok, so it's late at night and I've still been messing around with the Hindenburger. I found out a couple of new things. I was able to make better looking horns. I was able to smooth everything out. But the major thing I figured out was how to make the propeller work on its own. I can't tell you what I did, mainly because I forgot, but I was able to join the props together and make it its own unit. I added in a temporary background and some motion blur.

I do see that I do have to make the props spin a bit faster. That way the motion blur will really be visible...and cool!


Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Hindenburger Test

I decided to give it a shot and so I did. Here is my first test at creating The Hindenburger from my Leonard & Merlin short of the same name. I constructed it in Maya and recently found out how to create lightning among other visual effects.

Thumbnails for Dialogue

Here are the thumbnails I did for the dialogue scenes.


"Crazy - Take 1"

"Crazy - Take 2"


I'd like to get some good acting in these, but I don't want to make the scene too busy like the last one. I had too much going on that it seemed cluttered. One of the things people kept commenting on were that there were not enought "moving holds" poses. There were not enough pauses between the actions for them to register that the character was thinking.

I'm still undecided as to which take to use. "Castings" seems simple enough. I think I can have a lot of fun with either take of "Crazy" and "Something". The only thing with those three is that there will need to be a set or some type of visual gag.

In "Crazy - Take 1", the character is in a room sitting at a table. I can make a room and a table. What I would like behind him is a door with a frosted window. On the window would be the words "MENTAL WARD", but on the outside.

For the first take of "Crazy - Take 2", I see the character in a padded cell or jail cell. The camera is outside looking in through the bars. As he walks to camera, the grabs the bars and shakes a bit. I was originally thinking of having the camera looking through a door with a small window and bars. I did one take where I had my arms wrapped around me like I was in a straight-jacket. I thought that would be pretty cool, but all the acting would have to have been with the eyes and body gestures. It left out the arms entirely.

There has to be a visual sight gag with "Something." He is standing out in the woods with tall trees behind him. He could either be standing or pacing inside of a giant footrpint. Or he could be in a medium shot with a huge Bigfoot standing right behind him. That one would be great but I don't know if I can create a Bigfoot character. I will also have to look into how to make an indention on a surface plane if I want to make a footprint.

I'll draw up some sketches and see what I can come up with.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Week 6 - Dialogue

Week 6 of Class 3 is our first attempt at dialogue. For this assignment, which will last us through the end of the semester, we have to find three lines of dialogue from movies or TV. These scenes should show range and different levels of emotion. I was having a tough time trying to find three lines to animate. I was watching movie after movie after movie. You would think it would not have been that difficult for a movie guy like me, but it was. I had found one line from "The Odd Couple" and was planning on animating that one. Then the other day at work it came to me. "Oh Saaaarrraaaaahh." It was the voice of Ernie from "Harry and the Hendersons" calling his big sister. That was it! Not Ernie, but "Harry and the Henderson"! That was the movie. There had to be plenty of good lines in there. And there were. I ended up with 22 different lines to chose from. Some of them I had to trim down to the 10 second time limit. After deliberating for a while, I finally decided upon my three lines"

Sound Clip #1

"Ok, Jock-O. If you've got castings, I'll buy them. But let's keep the price on the ground."

Sound Clip #2

"Crazy? You let me stay here for one more hour and I'll show you me crazy! You make something"

Sound Clip #3

"There are no Sasquatches. There are no Bigfeet." (offscreen giggling) "Am I missing something?"

I have to pick one but I feel I can have a lot of fun with any one of these. For the first one, the scene is going to be about the emotions in the face and eyes, suave and cool. The second one is going to be about the crazy eyes. He starts off fine, then goes a little nuts, and finally calms down. The third one is not only about the emotion in the voice but the possiblility of a sight-gag. I can see the character standing in the middle of a huge footprint. We see it but he does not. He may have to be looking up at the camera or it may have to pull back to reveal the footprint. The one constant is all three is the acting, which I have never done. That is where the video reference comes in. (yeah, my favorite part.) I need to get that going along with the thumbnails for each scene.

The Final Rendering

Here is my final rendering of my first assignment from Class 3 at Animation Mentor. I made the set and did all the lighting. It is my first attempt at all that and it was a lot of fun. I am still learning what I can do and create with the Maya program. I am really enjoying it.

On a side note of my final animation, I was getting a lot of helpful and useful critiques from my mentor and fellow students. One thing that kept popping up was that the arms were "twinning" as they released the ball. This means the arms were doing the exact same thing and were looking very symmetrical. A few people were saying to have one hand come up faster than the other. Yes, that may look better from an animation standpoint. BUT NOT WHEN YOU ARE BOWLING!! If you were to release the ball with one hand going faster than the other, the ball would go straight into the gutter. You would be giving it a severe angle and it would not even hit the pins. It would not even make it half way. You HAVE to keep the arms together so the ball WILL go straight down the lane. Go try it and let me know how it goes.

*WHEW!* I finally got that off my chest. =)


I got the e-mail this morning that my order has arrived. WOOHOO!!

"Character Animation Crash Course" by Eric Goldberg. I have been waiting for this book ever since I first heard about it on The Animation Podcast. Luckily, it wasn't that long of a wait. Eric Goldberg is one of the modern greats in character animation. Some of his most notable characters are the Genie from Disney's "Aladdin" and Phil from "Hercules". He is also a very talented director. He was the director of "Pocahontal" and two sequences in "Fantasia 2000", "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Carnival of the Animals" (the flamingo with the yo-yo).
I was fortunate enough to meet Eric Goldberg in 2000. He was a guest speaker at the Disney Institute 3rd Annual Animation Event. It was such a treat to hear him and his wife talk about directing "Carnival of the Animals." He also talked about his career in animation and what it was like animating the Genie. When I heard he was going to be there, I packed up as many of my animation books I could into my little suitcase. I think I needed one suitcase for clothes and another just for all my books.

A funny story about this autograph session. Theye both signed my Fantasia 2000 book along with a lithograph (pictured above) from the movie. Their daughters, Jenny and Rachel, were also there signing autographs. Eric said that when they started production on "Rhapsody in Blue", their youngest daughter Rachel looked just like the little girl from the film. So they named the character Rachel. Her older sister Jenny was also included in the film. If you watch "Rhapsody in Blue" when they do the montage of the little girl doing everything wrong, there's always a blue haired girl doing everything right. They named that character Jenny Blue. When the girls were signing autographs, Jenny had blue streaks in her hair. When it came time for them to sign my book, Jenny could not find a picture of her character. But I did. I pointed it out to her that her character was in the same shot as Rachel. She was so excited to find out she was in the book.

One of these days I'll have to upload all the pictures and autograph of all the animation celebrities I got to meet at those events. They were so much fun and inspiring.
Also, go to The Animation Podcast and download the latest podcast. It is an interview with none other that Eric Goldberg. This is part one of his interview and it chronicles his early days working with Richard Williams and Pizzaz Studios in London. He also tells the story of when he was a young boy and on the game show "To Tell the Truth". This guy is a joy to listen to. He has one of the greatest laughs I have ever heard. A close second to Burny Mattinson.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Polishing - Take 1

I've taken plenty of the ideas from fellow students and my mentor, and put most of them into this take.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Time to Spline

Here's my first pass at splining. It went a lot easier that before. The thing that really helped, I think, was that I animated on two's and one's. I did the animating and did not let the computer do too much. When I did my walk cycle in the first semester, when I splined I had the right foot drop way below the floor plane. It took me forever to fix the problem. This time, not so much.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Minor changes

I received a pretty thorough e-critique from my mentor this week. She liked the look of the scene, but I just needed to touch it up here and there. The one thing that kept coming up was overlapping in the arms and torso. I think I fixed it up a bit but we'll see when I spline it later this week.

The whole scene is blocked out on two's, one "drawing" for every two frames. I found this the easiest way for me to have the most control over what the character is doing. This way I control the animation, not the computer. It also reminds me of when I used to do traditional 2D animation.

I also have been experimenting with lighting and fully rendering the scene. I also found a way to create a Quicktime video using After Effects. This is a LOT easier than the way I was doing it before.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Blocking Plus

Here is my pass for this week. This week was "blocking plus." That is where we take last week's scene and fill it out a bit more.

Lately, I have been listening to The Animation Podcast a lot. I have been hearing from James Baxter and Ken Duncan over and over again. Every time I hear something new and try to use it to inspire my work.

This week I focused on overlapping action and timing. There are a few kinks I still need to iron out but it's coming about.

I also built a little set for my scene. I sculpted a ball return machine, a keyboard, the alley and gutters, and used a chair from the Animation Mentor Library. I LIKE IT!!

Next week: We SPLINE!!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Coming Soon... (part II)


Working at a bookstore certainly has its advantages at time. Especially when awesome movie books are published. I recently picked up "The Art of Wall•E". This is the art book with all the conceptual drawings and illustrations that inspired the movie Wall•E.

I also recently picked up "Tales of Colosus" by PIXAR artist Mark Andrews. It's his graphic novel and is a re-do of his earlier work "Colosus". It has a forward by Brad Bird himself! I'm in the middle of it and so far so good.

The book I am waiting for is the one from Eric Goldberg. It's called "Character Animation Crash Course" Apparently this book is filled with his notes from lectures he has given. It also includes and CD or DVD with examples that go with the text. He was signing copies at SIGGRAPH but it won't be available to the public, well...ME, until early August. Grrrrr!!!!

More books and reviews to follow soon.

Coming Soon...


I've been to the movies a lot lately and I'll talk about them soon. Here is what I've seen so far:

• Horton Hears A Who!
• Iron Man
• Kung-Fu Panda
• Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls
• The Incredible Hulk
• Get Smart

I've also seen a few on DVD:

• No Country for Old Men
• Enchanted
• Tekkonkinkreet
• I Am Legend
• The Golden Compass
• Cloverfield
• Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
• Dan in Real Life
• The Brave One
• Beowulf
• Death at a Funeral
• Driving Lessons

I've been meaning to post my reviews of many of these films.

It's been a while...

OK, it's been a while since I have posted anything. There's so much that has been going on. I made it to class 3. It is week three already and it is going pretty good.

My scene is a bowling theme. It is a change between two different emotions. I'm going for timid/nervous to confident/cocky. I also constructed a little set for background ambiance. I'll be showing that later. I'm also thinking of adding a few more Stewies in the background to fill in the crowd. Let me get the main one down first, THEN I'll work on the background characters.

So here's what I got so far. This is BLOCKING PLUS:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Class 2 Is DONE!!!

Class 2 of Animation Mentor is finally done!! This has been a long 12 weeks and I feel I have learned a few more things about animation and about myself. I got involved with other hobbies and plans which took time away from my studies. The scenes suffered because of that. However, I polished them up as best as I could and that is what I have submitted here.

The next term begins on June 30th and I am not sure if I will be moving on to Class 3 or not. I had a passing grade for the term but my mentor feels I would benefit from taking Class 2 again. He says I need to really nail down body mechanics before I can move on since it will only get more difficult from here on out. I can see where he is coming from, but it was still painful to hear. I don't really mind taking the class over again since Inow know what I need to work on. My main concern is that my student loan will not cover me to get into Class 6 to finish the program. I don't know what is going to happen but I will figure it out when I get there.

But for now, my Class 2 - Body Mechanics Reel:

Friday, May 16, 2008

Week 7!!!

So here is my first pass at splining this week's assignment. It's coming about!

The new assignment (and the last one for Class 2) is to pick one of the following:
• Balancing on a beam *
• Dive off a diving board ***
• Throw a ball (baseball pitch) ***
• Pull or push a heavy object ****
• Open a sticky door ****

I chose the sticky door option and shot video reference yesterday. My best friend helped me with some of the moves. I tried to do the first take but fell flat on my face. Luckily there was no video camera and we were practicing in the backyard. I've had some of those ideas for quite some time. It's going to be fun to finally get these down on paper and animate them.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Week 6 - Blocking Plus

Here is my submission for Week 6. This week was blocking plus. That's where we take the comments from last week's e-critique and add in a few more keyframes and breakdowns. Mike suggested I take out the fourth jump and just concentrate on the first three. Also to push the poses here and there. I also added in a few little subtle cues here and there.

Next week, we SPLINE!!!

Friday, May 2, 2008

First blocking

Here's my first blocking pass at this week's assignment of having Stewie jump from post to post. It's been a fun and interesting character to work with. No more Ballie! Yeah!! Don't get me wrong, he was a good character, but now I working with a character that has somewhat of a face. All I need are the arms next.

I still have some tweaking to do here and there but I like it so far. :D

Saturday, April 26, 2008

One scene ends and a new one begins...

Here's my final submission for the first assignment of Class 2 - 180 degree turn.

We have a choice of four different scenes for this week's new assignment:

1. Animate a run

2. Have a character leap over a gap.

3. Jump onto a box and off the other side.

4. Jump from one post to land and balance on another post.

I have decided to go with option #4. It's one of those scenes I have been wanting to work on ever since I heard of Animation Mentor. It should be fun. For week 1 we have to shoot video reference. joy. (sigh) So here's video reference of my fat butt jumping around in my backyard.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


My latest pass

This is my work so far. I received a bunch of great comments and suggestions from fellow classmates. This is what I will be working with in week 4 for splining.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ollie Johnston 1912 - 2008

Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men"
(L-R: Milt Kahl, Wolfgang "Wollie" Reitherman, Marc Davis, Les Clark, Frank Thomas, Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, John Lounsbery, Ollie Johnston)

Ollie Johnston, the last of Disney's Nine Old Men passed away yesterday. He was 95. The following is an article from Animation World Network.

Ollie Johnston, the last surviving animator of Disney's famed Nine Old Men, passed away today April 14, 2008. Johnston worked for the Mouse House from 1935 to 1978, working as an animator on such classics as SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, FANTASIA, BAMBI and PINOCCHIO. He last worked on THE RESCUERS, a film for which he was caricatured as the cat Rufus.

Along with longtime friend and collaborator Frank Thomas, Johnston co-authored the seminal animation reference book THE ILLUSION OF LIFE, which is used as an animation textbook in schools around the globe. Johnston's friendship and partnership with Thomas was warmly chronicled in the 1995's documentary FRANK AND OLLIE, directed by Frank's son Theodore.

Oliver Martin Johnston Jr. was born in Palo Alto, California, and attended Stanford University, where he met Thomas on the staff of the STANFORD CHAPARRAL humor magazine. Later he would attend the University of California, Berkeley, and Chouinard Art Institute.

He first joined Disney, working on shorts such as MICKEY'S GARDEN and THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE. In 1943, he married Disney ink & paint artist Marie Worthey, who passed away on May 20, 2005.

His lifelong love of trains inspired him to build a scaled railroad and locomotives in his backyard, which inspired the train at Disneyland.

He was named a Disney Legend in 1989, and in 2005, Johnston was one of the recipients of the National Medal of Arts.

Here is another great article from
Ollie Johnston 1912 - 2008

And a few others from Cartoon Brew:
Ollie Johnston
Brad Bird on Ollie Johnston
The Disney Company on Ollie Johnston
John Canemaker on Ollie Johnston

Thursday, April 10, 2008

First Playblast for Class 2

Here my first blocking pass at the first assignment for Class 2. The one I chose is to do a 180 degree turn.

I showed him from multiple angles to make sure I am getting the weight transfer and that he is balanced from all angles. I submitted it to my Public Review for the class to comment on. I see areas of improvement but they may see more.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I'm featured on MyToons!

I received an e-mail recently that my progress reel for Class 1 is a featured toon on!! It is featured on the home page under the tab "Featured." This will give it some major exposure. It has already had over 30+ viewings so far, four thumbs ups, and four comments.

Here we go again!

Class 2: Body Mechanics has begun and the fun just keep fun keeps on coming!

My new mentor is Mike Walling from Blue Sky Studios. The thing I learned about this guy from our first Q&A is that he's a kidder. One girl asked him a question about work and he quickly responded, "I can't answer that question. Well, it was great meeting you." and looked like he was about to sign her off. He then busted out "I'm just kidding!" Whew! It was a little awkward. She had that shocked look on her face. So did I. He seems like he's going to be fun. He encourages us to get involved with the Q&A. He sounds like he really wants to be involved with our learning process, as much as work will allow that is.

So I'm off to start work on my first assignment of Class 2. I have to choose from one of the following:

-Kick a ball
-Take a big step to the side
-Turn around 180 degrees

I'm still trying to figure out which one I want to do. There is no animating this first week, only prep work. All I have to do this week is shoot video reference and sketch thumbnails of the scene I want to do. This assignment will be due at the end of week 4.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

That's a wrap on Class One!!

This was the last week for Class One of Animation Mentor. It sounds cliche but it has gone by so fast. I remember how excited I was the first day of class. I couldn't wait to start animating. I was so nervous on our first live Q&A. I introduced myself to the class and I still have no idea what I said.

It was a great three months. I feel I learned so much. As I told the class on our last Q&A, up until now I had been self-taught in animation. Everything I knew I learned from books, movies, and articles. I had hit a plateau. My knowledge was limited to 2D, traditional, hand drawn animation. I felt I would never be able to compete in today's field of CG animation. Then, late last year, I decided to go for it and see if I could get in to Animation Mentor. Those were some happy days, followed by nerve racking will-I-get-the-loan frustration. Then, would the school get the money in time?!

As we can now see, everything worked out in the end. I recently contacted the loan lady at AM and she assured me that I am good-to-go for the next session. Class 2 involves Body Mechanics. I glanced at some of the work from a few Class 2 students. Unlike Class 1, there is not a new assignment every week. Just like the last month of Class 1, we will be working on one project for several weeks. We will really be focusing on getting each project to look the best it can be.

And now, it is with great pleasure that I may present to you....

my Animation Mentor Class 1 Progress Reel!!!

I would like to thank my mentor Chris Chua. If you are ever to start out at Animation Mentor, he is the mentor to have. He was very involved in the critiques. He always kept the commentary rolling. There was never a lull in the conversation. I saw a few other e-critiques and the one thing that bothered me was that the mentor would be thinking things over internally! He would analyze the scene and then say, "Yeah, that looks nice." He never explained why it was nice or what made it work. Not Chris. He was always commenting on how to push a pose even further or adjusting a single frame to make the whole piece that much better. That was always so helpful. Thank you, Chris! It has been a pleasure. I can't wait to see your work in Wall-E. I'll be cheering as I see your name come up on the screen.

I would also like to thank all my classmates for their tremendous amounts of encouragement and feedback throughout the whole experience. It was great "meeting" people from all over the world. From Bjarki in Iceland with his amazing and always entertaining work to Bruno with his amazing stop-motion test shots. It has been a pleasure working with you and I hope to see everyone at graduation next year!

Monday, March 24, 2008

1st Quarter - DONE!

We are now into Week 12! This is the final week of the quarter. This week we are to put all our work together in one big movie file and upload it to our Public Review. This will be a nice way to show our progression throughout this quarter.
But for now, here's what I did for Week 11's assignments:

We had to take our character walk and add a 3/4 perspective view to it.

And here are the final poses I turned in for Stu.

As you seen from my sketches, I had a lot to choose from. I couldn't just do one pose. I only had time for two. I wanted to do a whole bunch more. Maybe later.

I do have one more page of sketches. The bottom render was taken from this page.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I got carried away

So last night before going to bed, I started doing some sketching for week 11's sketchbook assignment. This week the topic is "in balance." We have to show Stu "in balance." Well, I started off that way then went off on a movie tangent.

You'll see what I mean...

I was just bummed I couldn't think of anymore at the time.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Week 10 In The Can!

This week we had to do a walk with character, a personality walk. I had first decided to go with a traditional "sneak" but it did not come out the way I thought. Then, after seeing the teaser trailer for "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" I got an idea. In the trailer, you see Scratch walking against the blasting wind trying, as usual, to get to his nut. That got me thinking about my walk. So when I got home I started sketching out ideas. I was able to hammer out the whole thing in a few hours. I posted it in my Public Review on Animation Mentor and got some great feedback. I used their comments and think it turned out a whole lot better.

This week's sketchbook assignment was to show Stu "exhausted." I previously posted some early ideas, but here's my final choice:

I think he looks pretty tired. I was seriously thinking of using the one of him stretched out on the couch but opted for this one. Who knows, I may change it in the final hour.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sketches from work

Here are a few quick characatures I did at work.

I always keeps post-its in my pocket because you never know when you'll need one. As I go thru the day, I see hundreds of people. Some stick out more than others. That's when I grab the post-its and my pen and start sketching. These were done in a few seconds and if you asked me to do them again, I probably couldn't do it.

The NEW Wall-E Trailer!!!

The NEW Wall-E trailer is out!! It gives more of the story and shows Wall-E's love interest Eve. You can go to to view it or click here.

Week 10 Stu Poses

Our sketchbook assignment this week is "Exhausted." We need to show Stu as really exhausted. I got an early start on this and here is what I have so far:

I still have a few more ideas to work on so I am not done yet.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Week 9

Week 9 is in the can! Here's my polished up "vanilla" walk:

We also had a sketchbook assignment. This week we had to pose Stu to show "concern". How do you show concern?! Well, I tried.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I added a bit more camera work and some basic movement to Stu. It's not polished at all but I just wanted to see what was possible.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Here's something I just figured out. I was just messing around and was able to do this....

It's basically Stu posed in front of a plane that has the cloud picture projected on it. There's also a light source in front of Stu to his top left. I was also able to create a camera that panned from left to right.

It's a start!!!

Week 8 - Intro to Walks

This past week our assignment was an intro to a basic walk. Here we just blocked it out so it's going to look a little choppy. This week (Week 9) we finish it up and make it nice and pretty.

Here my piece:

We also had a sketchbook assignment as well. This week we had to pose Stu to convey "strength." We had to show that he was strong. I experimented with a few ideas. I had help from fellow AM student Justin Segal. He sent me the barbell file. I'm still trying to figure it out but I was able to make it work to my advantage. I also learned how to assign color to an object. It's amazing what I can find out in one of those many Maya books I keep buying. (I just never opened it until now.)

Here are my Stu "strength" poses:
(click on it to view larger image)

So this week was actually fun. I didn't think the assignment was THAT difficult for me. I've done a basic walk cycle before with pencil and paper. Here I was just able to tweak it without having to draw every single frame again and again. I can DEFINITELY see the advantage of 3D animation.

(I just saw my e-critique and it went well. I got an A- for the assignment. A few suggestions on the walk. Tilt the heel more on f3. Watch the spacing of the body between f15 and f18. Not bad. I'll take it! A few suggestions on the poses. Third pose, make the ball bigger and spread the legs for stability. Tilt the head back a bit more. Same with 1 and 2. Also try to show the back arm on first pose.)

I'm looking forward to the week after next. I'll be on vacation from work and I plan to delve more into these Maya books and learn more. It's such a great feeling when you learn something new!!