Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Big Hero 6 Character Study

I am addicted to watching this at the moment. I love these little character study.
If you have a second go and have a look at this loveliness. The excitable girl that totters in on heels is by far my favourite. I can't wait to see this movie. (also if you have any free time you should be living on this blog...Spungella always has so much animation greatness to share)
Spungella: Big Hero 6 Character Study:

Monday, 29 September 2014

Ten of my Favourite Books

I don't get to post on here much since I am stupidly busy and use every spare second to animate BUT I am on a rare two min break in the park before heading into work so I thought I'd do a task a friend set me and put it on here (considering a lot are animation related it seemed relevant)
Write a list of the 10 most influential books you've ever read. 

. The illusion of Life - Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson.
I got this book for my 16th birthday. I devoured every page and hoped they would reveal their secrets to me. It's a shame it's so huge since I would have loved to have brought it to Korea with me but I photocopied my favourite parts and brought that instead :) I'm a geek.

. Matilda by Roald Dahl
My original copy is worn out and dog eared from excessive use. As a kid I was obsessed I'd move things with my mind if I practiced enough (it also explains my love of 'the force' ) I suppose animation is the next best thing .

. Bill Bryson  - A Walk in the Woods
The author has to go first on this one because I'll read anything Mr Bryson writes. He makes me want to see everything while at the same time never leave the house. It's a special skill. This story in particular is fantastic. You'll never look at a Snickers bar the same way again.

. Eat pray love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
 As much as I love animation , my other passion is travel. After reading this book a few years ago I made it my mission to get out of my rut and find a way to animate abroad.

. Harry potter- J.k.Rowling
Hmmm there is a definite theme of wanting to move stuff with my mind as a kid. I was addicted to these books and read book 5 in one sitting...EXPELIAMOUS

. Acting for Animators by Ed Hooks
This book was introduced to me by Ed Hooks in his lectures and it had a huge effect on me. All animators should read it! 

. The Pixar Touch - David C.Price
I've read a lot of books on Pixar. So many that it could probably be my mastermind specialist subject so I was really happy to find this book since it had a new approach. It's more of an in depth look at their beginnings and great truthful stories.

. It's not easy being Green - Quotes by Jim Henson
I read this book for the entire four hour train journey to my first ever animation job interview. Jim Henson is my hero and this book cannot fail to inspire me. 

. Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro
This book is all about a girl who wishes to be more elegant and less 'face covered in wotsits -asleep on the keyboard' so I could relate.

.Charlottes web by E.B White
When I realised years later that spiders eat their mums when their born this book took a whole new sinister turn in my mind.

Well that's my little list. A mix of animation, travel and kiddie imagination, which just about sums me up.

What books do you love? Are there any that you would recommend.do you disagree with any of mind? Let me know. 
Happy reading/animating x

Monday, 1 September 2014

Quick daily sketch

A quick self portrait of how all of my friends and family see me. I'd say my time is 50% photos 30% drawing 15% eating and 5% netflixs 

Monday, 26 May 2014

How to understand your CG animator - Tips and Tricks

A while ago I wrote a post about '20 reasons it's hard to live with an animator' .
So for those people that ignored the last list an are now living with an animator  or who have an animator friend/family member here is your crash course in 'How to understand a CG animator' :

. Keys - You are checking if your animator has locked up your house to safe guard the valuable items inside (mainly the most expensive stack of books you have ever seen)
They are thinking of the important poses their latest work will be using.

Tip: always lock up yourself

. Crunch - You are asking them to pick up your favourite cereal or chocolate bar from the shop.
They have gone into a mini coma thinking about the last deadline month they faced in work. Crunch time!

Tip: if your animator suffers from PTC disorder (post traumatic crunch disorder) be understanding. During an attack cover them with a blanket to keep them warm and feed them biscuits until the memories fade

Anticipation: You are talking about the excitement of an up coming event.
They are working out the intricate moments before you throw a ball.

Tip: never say you are anticipating a baseball match . They will make you watch goofy throw a baseball frame by frame. Ahh that baseball throw!

You hear 'Saturday, Sunday'
They may not be familiar with the term.

Overlap: you are talking about your own busy schedule and the overlapping events you have coming up.
They will just be moving they're arms and staring at their sleeves.

Tip: hide all Newtons cradles and tie long hair up before you plan your week with them.

Blocking: you might be talking about the idiot who blocked in your car in the car park.
They will just be doing the robot in the corner.
Tip: to break the spell shout 'spline'

Maya/ Max:
You mention a friend with these names in passing. To which your animator flips over the table in front of you, screams expletives and sits mumbling and shaking in the corner.
They hear the computer program that has a personal vendetta against them.
Tip: If you happen to have a friend with either of these names
a. Give them a nickname
B. Never leave them alone together as your animator will punch/cry/glare at them until you return.

You may like disney films
They Love them with their very being.
Tip: unless you are prepared to know what the '9 old men' means, who they are , what their hobbies were and their shoe sizes it's best to just keep quiet.

You hear a delightful beverage
They here 'lifeblood'
Tip: have a supply in the vicinity at all times

You are talking about your hand and your general nail area.
They are instantly drawing on any object at hand. Be warned they may use your arms if a piece of scrap paper/wall/ envelope isn't at hand

Tip: carry a sketch book to occupy them . Hide all sharpies.

You may be talking about the strength of the sun today.
They will be looking at the seams on all of your clothes and disassembling all boxes within their reach to study the construction.
Tip: just buy the strongest uv protection and put it on them. They probably don't get out much.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Animating Larry David

Here in Korea it is exam season which means one thing for me…..ANIMATING TIME. I try to squeeze some animation in every week but the exams mean I have endless days to sit and animate.
This week I am returning to the first voice clip I ever animated. It is from the genius that is Larry David and it’s a great clip.
I have mentioned before about my love of animating dialog , especially clips that push emotions. This clip is a really dark comedic clip where Larry finds our his mother has died and no one told him.
The first time I animated it I didn’t know anything so I wanted to return to it, try and do a better job and see what I’ve learnt along the way.

We always get told that the first step when animating a clip is to get a firm idea of what is going on.
So I always start with a questionnaire.
There are lots of these online that other animators use so I try to mix it up so that I am always answering new questions about scenes. The one I used for this was from some of the animators that worked on Tangled:

Name: Larry (I don’t normally use the characters name from the live footage but I've grown attached to the idea of animating Larry for so many years that I've stuck it in here)
Age: 58
Occupation: Banker on Wall street
Personality Traits: Lives in his own mind.
Trait we want to be but forward: Confusion
What character discovers: He finds out that his mum has unexpectedly died.
Genre of the scene: Dark Comedy
What is driving character in the scene: Larry needs to understand what’s happened.
How the audience see’s his character: Larry is in the dark
Who is creating problems in the scene: Larry’s father.
What do you want the audience to do while watching this scene: Laugh

I also create a script and a thought script. This is literally what the character is thinking.
Before the scene thought process:

She is dead? No it can’t be….I talked to her just last week…

Larry: When…when did she die?
She can’t be dead.

Father: Let’s see the funeral was on Monday…
Maybe he’s wrong about this…..what did he say?

Larry: The What?...funeral? …Why wasn’t I……I’m not at the funeral , what do you mean Monday was the funeral?
She can’t have had her funeral… I have been gone a week….what is he on about?

Father: Monday was the funeral…..
What is he saying!!

Larry: Well why wasn't I at the funeral , why didn't you call me?
Why the hell didn't he call me!

Father: She told me not to bother you…
There is no reason he can possibly give me..

Larry: She told me not to bother me…what , what is that suppose to mean?
He’s a fricking idiot…this is insane…I will kill him!

Father: You were in New York, you were busy?
I can’t believe this is happening.

Larry: So what …. So what do you mean I was busy? You give me a call , you….you didn’t call me? You didn’t call me to tell me my mother died???
NO one is too busy for a funeral. NO ONE. I can’t believe….call me you idiot. She’s dead.

The next step is filming reference. I am not very good at this. I act too female but luckily this character is very Woody Allen-ish and has his power center in his head so my many hand actions apply here.
I filmed it about 4 times and then cut together two scenes that I liked.
From this I then make very rough thumbs. I’m not a 2d artist but this helps me just to help me with lines of action and the shoulder and hips. They aren’t pretty but I have always been adviced to do it.
Once I have all of these stages finished, I start animating.
I love blocking. I love it!
Blocking is the stage I adore.
So I set up cameras and then I do a very basic key pose block. Just the most important poses so that I know these are the poses to hit.
I am currently on my 3rd pass of blocking which is when I block every 3rd frame of the important movements.
I am going to do two more blocking passes so that the whole animation is on 3’s before I go to polish stage.
Wish me luck…
Animated hugs x

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Fan Art Disney Style

Disney fan art isn't something I find time to do normally but I have a few students who wanted drawings as prizes so here is some art I've been using to practice. I am just copying the original beautiful art though obviously ! 

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Judge a book by its cover

Never under estimate the power of a good sketch book. 
The time was upon me when I needed to buy my new sketch book and since I was in Korea, the land of cuteness and invocation I thought I would have no problem. When it comes to seats in a restaurant, I'll sit anywhere, put it in front of me and I'll eat it but unfortunately when It comes to choosing a sketch book I am fussier than a Persian cat on a 5 star cruise.
It needs to be exactly right which means a lot of searching but in the end ultimate satisfaction. Before I rant about why these tiny needs are important let me explain what they are:
. Size: a5 perfect size to fit in any bag I may carry and the right size for coffee tables/airplane seats/laps
. Not hard back but not soft back. It needs to feel slightly weighted so I have a hard surface to lean on but it still needs to be able to bend as I get into weird positions when I draw.
. Thickish slick paper, not recycled paper that feels like leaves (sorry world) and not bumpy like water colour paper.
. Quite chunky - I like the book to be just under an inch in thickness if possible as I don't want to go through it in a week.
. Quirky if possible. Obviously it's what's inside that counts , don't judge a book.... And all those life lessons but I am an artist and I do like an element of my personality on the cover if possible. I could add it myself but then we have the pressure put in a design. I realise that the fact I have tattoos but can't commit to drawing on a sketch cover is a psychologist dream but I'm just odd like that.

So anyway those are my factors so you can imagine I search for quite a while before the perfect book is found. This time it was about  two months.
'Thats crazy' you might say and I'd be inclined to agree with you except that when the perfect book is put in front of me, when I've written my name on the inside cover like a geeky school girl and I've got pages upon pages of what could be beautiful art, it's all worth it.
I'm not a 2D-ear by nature . I love drawing but I'm a cg animator so finding a sketch book that inspires me to think I can achieve something instead of excepting defeat, it makes these pre- carpal tunnel wrists very happy.

So far the new sketch book is turning out better than expected. I got over the first page fear and have drawn more than a few times every day. It's nothing special but it was enough to inspire.

Now let's get drawing!

What inspires you to be creative. Any mind games you play on yourself that you'd like to share?  Good luck and happy sketching  x

Monday, 3 March 2014

Learning to model (attempt 2)

Well last attempt was more than a learning curve and more of a steep fall but it is done and dusted. I definitley won't be using it to animate but its sparked the creative fire in me and i'm still gonna keep on trying.
So the next part of the project will be Doodlezilla before returning to King Konglish once again. Fingers crossed i've learnt enough to make an animatable model this time :)

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Learning to Model: Day 9 FINISHED

Day 9
I created my blend shapes but then hit a brick wall. 2011 Maya has a bug that doesn’t allow you to go into the input > input all settings. On the mesh so I haven’t been able to change the topology. When you make blends they need to be below the skin cluster otherwise you will have your model jumping back to the bind pose every time you push a slider.
I found a way around this by deleting all of my layers, resaving my file and opening it. It worked a charm. I also entered the blend shapes by choosing the advanced settings when setting up the blends and changed the option to ‘front of chain’ which should set it under the skin cluster. This all sounds very complicated and should be very simple but the bug in 2011 made it awkward. The answer is probably getting a newer Maya (Santa?)
So now his is rigged, skinned, textured and have expressions.
Basically he is finished. How has the end result ended up? Well as you can see it’s not perfect but it’s functional.I won't be using this as anything else but a learning tool as there is no way this guy will be in my short (sorry fella) but he was a good start.
I have learnt so much over the last 9 days and I am really happy to have gotten back into this. I’m going to build the next character in my short and then probably revisit King Konglish and do it again.
I realise my babblings probably not very insightful for anyone building a rig but I have written it to keep my sanity and to remember the little problems I ran into for when I try again.
King Konglish v.1

Welcome King Konglish…even if you are just the practice model                    

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Learning to Model: Day 8

Obviously this is in the middle of skinning..look at those horrible arms

Day 8
I have finished my skinning, hazzah! Once again I can see all of the mistakes I made with the rigging more clearly but surprisingly there aren’t as many as I expected. Its just great to see him move. Only one more stage and I can get him animated.
The blend shapes is the next thing to conquer but I’m at a loss at how to separate the mesh from the bones to make them. I fear I forgot to separate them at an earlier stage but I need to do a little more research. Its frustrating as I just want to get to it but since he will be a character in a short that teaches kids English I fear blend shapes will be very important.

Time to research!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Learning to Model: Day 6/7

Day 6/7
These two days have blurred into each other. I realised as soon as I started skinning that I’ve made a mistake and put the arm bones the wrong way up so I needed to go back and re-rig but it was very satisfying to have learnt enough over the last few days that I could just fix it myself.
The skinning process is normally something I do in the paint tool but I’ve really started to enjoy skinning purely in the component editor. I think it’s the way forward for me as I understand where I’m headed with it. I can clearly grab a very that’s bugging me and read what’s influencing it. It’s a little bit of trial and error but it makes more sense to me the more I am doing.
I have almost finished skinning now. I just have arms and feet to go (which is still a lot in hindsight)                     
I have unfortunately had a bout of food poisoning from some live squids I was forced to eat at a work function (yuck!) but I have dragged myself onto the computer to get as much done as I possibly can but its been a slow two days.
Let’s hope the rest of the week is more productive and I can start animating soon.
I think I’ll do a quick walk or run test with him to see how everything is working and then start building my next character.
It is so satisfying to be this far into the process. I think its very easy to have big ideas but never do anything about them. Now that I’ve forced myself to do this I think it will be a lot easier in the future to keep pushing forward. Well that’s the general idea anyway.                  

Learning to Model: Day 5 - Skinning

Day 5
Today I finished off the rig. I followed a fantastic tutorial here** and at the end felt confident enough to even go a little further and add my own additions to the rig (such as eyebrow bones and ear bones.) This is something I just wouldn’t have done at uni so I already feel more confident in the process. Obviously a project like this is a kind of ‘time will tell’ situation as its only once you start animating and skinning that you see all those faults come to life.
This of course leads us to skinning. Skinning goes hand in hand with rigging for me so when I let out a groan at the idea of rigging I am in fact imagining all of those tiny verts just waiting to be weighted. I also have to apologise as I am writing this as if the people reading this will know what these processes are. In case you aren’t familiar, skinning is the process of adding the model to the bones. This is the process that tells the computer how it is meant to move. In theory it sounds fun, you get a paint brush and you paint on the weights you want using a nice colour graded system but realistically there are thousands of verts all reacting off every bone and it’s a fiddly pain. The advantage of this type of work (in my opinion anyway) is that its one of the rare jobs in Maya that you can bung on a podcast or some music and just listen away while you work.
This is normally the part of the process where all the little mistakes you’ve made along the way start to show. I am prepared for a long graft but I am already excited to see how he’s moving. He is currently block weighted which means I grab each section and give all the verts a value of 1 for the main bone that controls them in the component editor. Now that’s finished I’ll be able to go into the intricate process of painting a middle ground onto other verts. The tricky part of skinning, like animation is that no one notices when its right but every person sees when its wrong. If you were to move your wrist up and down its amazing how much skin moves, it’s this tricky balancing act that makes skinning so hard but ultimately so satisfying. Unfortunately I will have to leave it at the block stage today as my travel blog (so that I don’t bug you lovely people with my Korean and Asian travels at www.doodlezilla.blogspot.com) has a header that I am not happy with and its in need of changing. Did I mention how much I love desk warming?