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.