Friday, November 26, 2010

Addicted - The Old Man and the Sea - Bliss N Eso - Aleksandr Petrov

Painting over artwork. It intrigues me. Crumpling up a ruff pencil scribble used to coax a pose from a piece paper I can reconcile and understand the power in it for an animator. But for a painter working in oils or spray to obliterate their work in pursuit of an animated moment is mind boggling.

I have been over at Elle's blog. She has been researching and sharing her discoveries in true tertiary education style. We had a debate in class about how AfterEffects can be used to create many animated effects such as progressive graffiti style animation. As animators we should seek to understand and deconstruct the 'magic' that appears on screen to inform our own animation.

Elle posted this 'making of' clip:

Elle's research and Zade's debating fired up my curiosity. I hope you all got to see Aleksandr Petrov's Oscar winning film "The Old Man and the Sea" in you animation research classes?

The idea of painting over 'finished' work has a parallel between Bliss N Eso, Blu and Petrov's work. So taking some research energy from Elle's work I was able to find this clip to post of Petrov talking about his animation process (and hopefully proving to Zade the film was not made in AfterEffects ;) ).

All animation consists of creation and destruction of the same picture. A bit more information from Petrov (in Russian with English subtitles) about the process he uses, starting with storyboarding, with which animators will start their 2nd year of study in the course for 2011 (so it's worth watching).

Muto by Blu

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Illusionist - Sylvain Chomet

In November Brisbane animators were lucky enough to have Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist screen at the Brisbane International Film Festival. "A small, hand-crafted masterpiece." (Xan Brooks, The Guardian UK - click the link - Is 2D hand-drawn animation a dying art?)

A number of animators had been posting about the film with associated video clips (Michelle, Will). Cassie organised a sketchcrawl to the screening where Zade, Jack, Rachel, Cassie and I settled in to a wonderful animation film experience.

It was great to see animators, who I have met and by whom I had been tutored, named in the film credits.

Gobelins Summer School 2009

(Gobelins Summer School 2009: Dripha, Liane-Cho and some big scary guy)

After the film, Rachel pointed me to Lian-Cho's blog where he posted some of his pencil tests (below). Thanks Rachel.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mary & Max - parts animated by Jason Lynch

Jason was brilliant and shared some technical information support to the first year animators about compositing their films.

This is some of his work featured on Mary & Max. Don't forget to read Jason's comments under the film clip.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Running Out of Time? Animate the Eyes

Pete Emslie The second years are in the final weeks of animation production. Actually they should be in animation post production now. But there is always time for a bit more polish and then a re-render.

At the start of semester the class spent some time looking at eye animation as part of facial animation. We studied blinks and eye darts in relation to a character appearing alive and thinking. We discussed the importance of eye shapes and eye brow shapes as recognisable forms of expression.

Importantly we discussed that audiences look at the eyes of our characters. They look for subtext in the eye animation, emotional triggers in the eye and eyebrow shapes. Audiences look to where characters look, which is important for the animation principle of staging (yes, I had to sneak an animation principle in there).

There is a post over on Pete Emslie's The Cartoon Cave blog that talks about eye direction. It also links to John K's blog post about character design, if anyone is into exploring. I found it via Alonso's Monotreme Dreams blog.

Pete writes, As it happens, I've just lectured about the design and function in drawing eyes as part of my Character Design class at Sheridan this past week, so I'd like to offer my thoughts on that subject in regard to this particular still from the Disney film...

Pete Emslie

But all that is just 'lkhqgfwqrfgygyiggcgfgkvsd' during the CRUNCH!

Hopefully there is a little voice in the animator's zombified brains tweeting, "Running out of time? Animate the eyes!"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Animating Flight

Owls and Dragons are animators' friends I was over on my animation teacher's blog, Speaking of Animation and saw that he had made a post about animating flight. Being a DreamWorks animator, Jacob relates his post to animators working on How to Train Your Dragon, but he links to a tutorial by Brendan Body a UK trained animator who worked on Legend of the Guardians. The tutorial by Brendan is an excellent resource for animation study.

Brendan, "I created many of the hero characters' flight cycles which were then used by the rest of the animation team."

Earlier this year I posted a short animating exercise that animators could attempt to see if they could fly. It would probably be worth comparing what you learned there to this latest information.

Brendan's blog
Enjoy flying with a feature film animator. How to make birds fly good (I love the title).

More Brendan Body tutorials (Cassie will see some clips she referred to in her research about the bouncing ball)

More Jacob Gardner tutorials including animating a dancing character and understanding body language to improve animation.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cinematic Tension - Alfred Hitchcock

I wonder if this may be applicable somehow to a 200 frame animation sequence?

Or, as Corey might advise us, "Show them the banana peel!"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Jacaranda sky paint and thunder storms

Down by the Brisbane River
Jacaranda bloom and thunder storms herald the "crunch". The time of year leading up to handing in the final, major project.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Movie Trailer - A Major Project Option

This just in from Alice in 2nd year:

The second year animators have been planning and animating their major projects for at least 10 weeks. The learning curve is as steep as the Y spline in a ball bounce. Some ideas for grand narratives are trimming down in the quest for good quality animation.

Today the animators researched some of the productions from other animation students (the northern hemisphere students present their work mid year). The results were eye popping and have to be shared. It was an excellent research session.

The clips below come from research done by Al.

When a narrative project is trimmed to the bare essentials it can still make a very satisfying "movie trailer". A movie trailer has the same amount of animation as a standard animation demo reel but carries the extra zing of context. In a movie trailer a character has a reason to run, jump, yawn, laugh, push, kick.

Here are some clips from some French animators. They were students but left school to pusue their project their own way. At school they would have worked in teams to produce the clips that run for under a minute. Check out the links from the clips on Vimeo to the planning blogs and check out the artwork and planning done by each animator.

I wonder, if in 2011, we might make the major projects in teams? See this post on Cartoon Brew.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Music Video by Maik Hempel

Australian Animation Director and Brisbanite Maik Hempel.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Usher - Ryan Spargo & International Animation Day 2010

2009 Southbank Animation course graduate Ryan Spargo will have his student film featured on a DVD of international students' work. The DVD's are being shared across the planet and will be screened internationally to celebrate International Animation Day on October 30th.

Well done Ryan! And well done Stuart McNair, the sound designer who collaborated with Ryan on the film.

More 2009 graduate success stories: Jess and Dana

Monday, September 20, 2010

Feed the Kitty (1951)

One of my all time favourites. Directed by Chuck Jones. Check out how they handled the smear frames. Look at the amazing character animation and interactions. This short film was referenced in a scene in Monster's Inc.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What happens next year? Paris or pizza?

No matter where you plan to go or what you plan to do, keep animating, improving your skills, sketching your ideas and updating your reel.

Today in class some second years were outlining their plans for after they graduate.

The conversation took us down the path of further study. As compared to employment, work experience, or freeing your lance and chasing the festival circuit to build a reputation.

Be creative. Sometimes it takes some thinking. Consider getting a job as a pizza delivery person, as long as you are delivering pizza to the animators at the studio at which you wish to work. There is an animator, in our very building at SBIT, who tells the tale of applying for a parking attendant job at a studio and eventually animating on a feature film.

Two animators are currently in the articulation process to the Griffith University animation course. Four others are looking at a further year of study. One animator has done an interstate research trip and met some people. One student expressed a wish to study at Ringling College in the USA.

Last week a first year animator was mapping out their student path and we gathered some information about links to the Queensland University of Technology animation course. In that discussion animators were encouraged to research a 'summer school' somewhere, with my preference being, arguably the best animation school in the world, besides the Southbank Institute of Technology, Gobelins in Paris (from personal experience).

One of the second year animators expressed an interest at studying at Gobelins. My first bit of advice is to start learning French. If an animator can produce a good reel of student work, they may get accepted to attend the Gobelins summer school, which happens in our long mid-year break. Summer in Paris. It needs some planning and saving. The summer school may lead further to an invitation to apply for the Gobelins animation course.

Here is Eric Riewer, head of international relations at Gobelins, talking about what makes a good student film (and the Gobelins school demonstrate annually that they know about that) and how animators are selected for the school.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


The illustrations above are by Bryan Ballinger. Bryan has a university degree in illustration. He is also a professor of Digital Media Arts at Huntington University in Indiana USA. So the intro should actually read as Prof. Bryan Ballinger. Why is he drawing like that and what has it got to do with animation?

The more we study animation the more we understand that it takes a lot of work to make simplicity look good. Or does it?

It might just be a matter of practice. Well, yes, it is a matter of practice. A simple practise based in fun and free sketching. Simplicity, like animation, is learnt in the doing. Sometimes burdening a course of study with the term "hard work" too much, too often, sucks the fun out of things.

By setting our ruff feet firmly on a foundation of the 13 principles of animation, an animation student gets the secrets to making a simple character animate with Appeal (well, c'mon, if I'm going to be constantly juggling 13 Animation Principles, eventually I have to drop one... into a blog post).

The first years just handed in a 2D character animation. A few of them discovered the power of simplicity as an animation tool. The second years are wrestling with their major projects and some are learning that planning for simplicity in design may have allowed a bigger sleep budget in the production schedule.

The end result is that as animators we should get out our simplicity and exercise it.

Here is a blog post entitled "Exercising my Simplicity" on Breadwig that some of the drawing, sketching, illustrating animators may enjoy? (and the self assigned* non-drawers may find a spark of inspiration). Also check out .

I found Breadwig via Keith Lango's blog. The simplicity theme is inspired by Simon's Cat, Alexeev's Forest Trio, and Cameron Miyazaki's balls. *I believe everyone can draw.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Le Royaume - Gobelins

The Gobelins Animation School in Paris has a new crop of student films to watch. Let's start with this one.

Simon's Cat - "The Box"

I love these short films. He understands cats and that cat owners are fascinated by their cats.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Despicable Me - It's so Fluffy!

Minions, after waiting for over a year, I loved Despicable Me.

(A link to this blog's February post about Despicable Me).

All the better in seeing the film with a sketchcrawl of animation students on a field trip. I have mentioned before, on a comment on Luke's blog, that the appreciation of a film experience is a lot to do with whom you enjoyed a film, the comfort of the cinema in which it was shown, the quality of the coffee being sipped in the previews and the buzz of the chatter in the denouement.

Well that fieldtrip was 'once through for entertainment'. Now we'll have to watch it for animation study (I love being an animation student).

Keith Lango posted a review in July but I had to wait to read it until after we saw the film on its release in September.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Today I am an Animation Student

Today is my first day at school. I am an animation student (again). I love being an animation student. So now, by day I am an animation teacher. By night I fight crime ... er um ... I am an animation student.

My teacher for first semester is Jacob Gardner. He is a Dreamworks animator... Monsters Vs Aliens, Shrek Forever After, and Megamind. He is also co-founder of the animation website

Here is a film I find appealing that Jacob collaborated on before he became an employed animator (below). This is Jacob's film. I am just basking in his animation goodness.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Brothers McLeod

Ideas for stop mo' animation styles.

Stream-of-consciousness sketch by Greg McLeod

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Balance and Yellow

Balance in a key pose is important. It is important for the visual communication of believability between the animator and the viewer through the character. Otherwise the viewer will sense that something aint quite right and not find appeal in the animation. Yep, the animation principle of Appeal.

Balance, Line of Action, Psychological Gestures, Meaningful Symbolism all form a part of posing. Posing can be thought of within the animation principle of Solid Drawing. But it also features, by name, in the principle of Animation Type, when talking about Pose-to-Pose animation.

Balance is influenced by gravity. Gravity does not automatically exist on a piece of paper or in animation software. So an animator has to practice with gravity some other way to work out how to show it in animation. One way is to "Act It Out".

The other way is to pose a character who is influenced by gravity. Introducing "Yellow". (I think the pose below is the pose Jess - 2nd Yr - created).

Hello Yellow

If the computer screen has fraznicked your thinking, spend some refresh time posing "Yellow". He resides inside the digital camera box.

Yellow appears on some second year blogs already: Sarah P (the first one to achieve balance on one leg) and Cassie V.

Workplace health and safety warning notice: 1 leg poses should only be attempted by 2nd years. Do not attempt to act out poses found on these blogs at home without clearance from your physiotherapist.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Don't Ask Me Why - Just Vote

Note that Mr.Pipik is green but not necessarily Green.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Act It Out - Animation Preproduction Planning

In 2009 I made a post about "Acting It Out"! That post features a video clip of the great Ian Lacey passionately delivering a message to animation students. The message is still relevant (even though we have phones these days that drive your car and make morning coffee).

Actually I have a blog post label over on the side there called "planning". There is also one screaming "Act it Out". There is some interesting information under those links. Just for the 'hey' of it I'll say it again, planning. Hey!

Animators are a good looking bunch of bananas.

Animators act out an animation sequence to get ideas on timing (an animation principle), posing and a variety of acting choices.

But there is another reason why animation students should act it out. Have you ever seen an animator's brain explode? Sometimes it can be messy. Really messy. All that pressure builds up and BOUMPLATHFF! Hopefully just a little puff of steam comes out of the ears and the head bumps noisily on the desk. Sometimes it's a volcanic Vesuvius of ideas vomit. Not pretty. It happens to animators who think that animation is created at a computer.

Acting it out gets the animation out of the brain and into the body. Acting it out gets it out of the migraine and onto video reference tape. It gets it out of the brain where it is a swirling fog and into ruff marks on paper.

Stay pretty. Act it out.

This post is brought to you by the animation student who... 3 weeks into semester, 3 weeks into a new animation project, where we are: working through brainstorming; thumbnailing ideas; storyboarding; acting it out and collecting video reference; ruffing out sketches; recreating, critiquing and improving key, story telling, golden poses... after one of my lectures about animation being created in the planning, while looking longingly at a computer, asked, "Are we going to do some animation today?"

People, we are animating every day. I guess the beauty is that some of us don't realise it.

The clip below is an exercise in finding key poses from Acting It Out and taking video reference. The first years are animating some dialogue of Jack Black from the film "School of Rock". There are some ripper poses in this example. The animators have been AfterEffected to protect their identities from the paparazzi. With a bit of exaggeration (an animation principle), there is potential for some rockin' animation!

The teacher character's dialogue in this clip is anathema to the actual teaching of animation going on in class. It's text! We see through the skin of text to the core of subtext. It's an animator's superpower - animator's eyes! Narrative x-ray vision!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Create Every Day - Pascal Campion

Sarah M in 2nd year is attempting to post on her student blog as much as possible. Sketches, observations, comments, ruff animation tests. I'd like to think her blog posts, and any other animator attempting to improve by getting their work up, would be peppered with comments and constructive critiques from our animation course community.

I was watching this clip (below) and thought, "Gee, it would be great if all my students watched and listened to this inspirational artist."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Eyes ~ Derriman - "Pop!" ~ Annecy

Look at the eyes. Look at the eye-eees! Up there by Bernard Derriman^ , down there by spaghetti mixed with western*. "It's all in the eyes" (a link to an educational animation lecture... no, it is not one of mine... so go there and check it out!)

If eye darts could kill, that clip would be regarded as one of the biggest on-screen massacres in film making history!

Oh, and an animated music clip that brings together some themes bubbling through the animation studios recently.

Field trip to Annecy 2011 anyone?

*If the First Year Stop Mo' Crew are feeling left out, here is a special Spaghetti Western for you.

^(Thanks Michelle for your email trail to this clip)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Blake Rig - How to drive the hands

Animator's Question:

I am unable to animate Blake's hands intuitively using the mouse and instead am forced to use the attribute editor to get his fingers to move. It won't let me select his digits with the mouse.

Is it something to do with a mode he is put it? I think the modes are called "FK - IK" however I can't find a way to switch them or any reference to them in "How to Cheat in Maya".

Do you know how to change these modes and if it will achieve the desired effect?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Artur De Pins - Cinema patrons

The first year animators have been set the task of designing a 2D character for animation. The client brief asks for a "cinema patron". The animators are not limited to designing a human character.

Below is an image by Artur De Pins (One of Terry's favourite artists), which, in one image, shows quite a few different interactions between characters in a cinema.

A further challenge for the first years will be to animate their character. Interaction with surrounding characters will be strongly encouraged as it will require team work and communication between animators. As we always remind students, "Animation is a collaborative process."

Have you been to the cinema lately? Were there particular people/ characters in the cinema that caught your attention?

Artur De Pins

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dragonboy The Movie

This 2010 masters thesis project/ short film is produced in association with the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. The film web site:

Of particular interest to second years would be to research the individual animators' web sites and how they present themselves to the industry. You can easily tell, as can potential employers, that these animators are strongly presenting themselves. Two of them use professional looking blogs (as we discussed in class this week).

Film found over on Avner Engel's online workbook. He is an Australian animator currently studying at AnimationMentor.

It is our first week back at animation school and the second years have been looking more closely at some eye animation. Check out the blinks and eye darts in this film. Note how they enhance the character interaction and the energy and emotion in the film.

Remember when watching any animation: "Once for entertainment, once for thinking, once for critiquing*, then start studying the detail." (*transfer thoughts to written words)

Animating to Music

Appealing character design. Appealing movement in cycles (because music is cyclic). Then hit those beats with some groovy poses. That is animating to music.

Undisputed best animation ever

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

22 minutes worth watching

I found this clip (and Vimeo channel) via an animation forum post at the 11 Second Club. It has information about getting into the animation industry.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Small Bird Flying Cycle - Don Bluth

I like this clip because Don talks about the animation principle of "Slow-In and Slow-Out", or as we may say in the studio, "Ease-In and Ease Out". He is talking about the spacing of the animation of the wings.

How about trying this 4 drawing cycle (on twos) and test it out with a line test or three?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Xray Vision - Annika Bergström

This is an interview with Annika Bergström, the Swedish animator who also wrote and performed the song*. Annika animated in Flash but had a mixed media approach that blended quite nicely (I thought) to create this narrative/music video.

Second years are working on their major project narratives and will have a music video assignment to work on in Jane's classes as well. I hope this clip may provide some inspiration.

Check out all the quiet moments that rely on 'camera movement' and 'idle' animation or FX cycles.

"It's just a little story describing one of life's lonely moments. There's a girl walking through an empty town, I think she's sort of isolated in her world. To her the real world just shines through in fast glimpses sometimes. There's not really a correct interpretation of it, it's a simple story."

* The second years are lucky they have music and audio students to work with.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Stop mOtion/ Time LApse Music Video

One of the first things students animate is 'the flight of a bumble bee'. The flight of the bumble bee is also a piece of orchestral music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1899).

I have noted with curiosity some 2nd years attempting musical composition on the eukalali. Music is a close relative to animation, with beats, timing, spacing, narrative and arcs.

It might be blurring the borders a bit here but I found this time lapse / stop mo' music clip quite interesting to watch as it also gives an insight into the film/music maker's process.

Listen carefully for the performer's motivation in the final part of the clip.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

11 Second Club meets Gobelins Graduate - Liane-Cho Han

The featured clip (above) won the 11 Second Club competition in September 2009. The animator's name caught my eye and I realised that it was Liane-Cho, one of the animators who was a tutor in the workshop time I had at the Gobelins summer school in 2009. He had just finished working on the 2D feature film The Illusionist. Will posted about that film on his student blog.

It was great to read a bit more about Liane-Cho in the interview by Eric Scheur.

His work is critiqued by Animation Mentor Dana Broadway.

The work below is from his blog. Warning: Strong language use.

After Michelle's comment (Thanks Michelle!), I have also embedded Liane-Cho's student showreel from Gobelins - pretty much all pencil tests (some 3D).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Toy Story 3 - Mid-year Animation Field Trip

To whet the taste buds for our animation field trip planned for Thursday...

I like the way Pixar include an animated short film with the feature film.

A comment about the feature film in the comments. Check it out after you see the film.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Michel Gagne

I've been practicing animating in Flash with abstract shapes. Some research on silhouette style animation helped me discover the clip above.

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is an independent game being produced by Fuelcell Games and artist Michel Gagné.

Michel Gagne talks about how fluid his hand drawn animation looks when he works at 30fps (games animation frame rate). I thought that may interest games animator's and traditional animators alike.

If you dig a little bit more you can also find the work Gagne did for Brad Bird and Pixar's Ratatouille.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lino - Stop Mo' Surfari

Two of my favourite things: surfing and animation.

Sometimes I listen to Jack Johnson and look for animation inspiration in 1970's surf movies.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Inspire - How does your showreel compare?

I was at 2nd year Cassie's blog watching Joker and Batman dolls in some awesome stop mo' breakdance battles. Then I saw Bruce Lee fighting Ironman. So I researched the director/animator Patrick Boivin and found his Vimeo channel and 2009 showreel.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Getting a Flash AVI

When animating in Flash it can be sometimes frustrating, sometimes challenging, always interesting to try and export a good quality AVI (video clip).

Exporting an image sequence and then recombining the frames in post production software (VirtualDub, to build the AVI; Premiere or AfterEffects, to add the audio and editing) will produce the best result.

This animation tip may be handy for the second years animating in Flash.

Sometimes AVIs exported from Flash have unwanted junk pixels appear in the render. Exporting an image sequence is a way to beat this problem.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dragon Lessons are Animation Lessons

Many a time student animators set their aim on the stars to discover the weight of the sky crushes dreams.

In other words, when an animation teacher suggests planning a short animation as a step toward greatness, it is done with concern for the student's well being. That is why in-class exercises are short 60, 120 to 200 frame animation sequences (usually of the bouncing ball variation).

Then when an animator is set loose on their major project in second year, they can have a full appreciation of why the teacher keeps suggesting to keep the story to 1 minute, or less. This hurts, especially for animators who dream of animating a 4 minute music clip*.

"But what kind of story can you animate in less than a minute!?", is the outcry.

DreamWorks made an excellent film this year that we explored on an animation field trip. Here are some animation lessons, disguised as dragon training lessons. They're all less than a minute long. Actually they are only about 30 seconds long including titles and fades.

*The trick for animating a 4 minute music clip is study the song and animate for the verses (same beats) and chorus (repeated over and over). Then loop and edit the 30 seconds of animation together in interesting ways.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Student work from Hollywood USA

Click to go to a page full of show reels Recently I posted some work from students in the United Kingdom, a film by a CalArts 3rd year animator, and a film by 4th year graduates from a French animation school. This post is linked to Californian student work in visual design, which includes animation.

The research stemmed from listening to a radio program about design where it struck me that starting in an animation course opened up so many potential pathways for an animator who considers themselves a "visual designer". (If you are impatient, want to "cherry pick", scrub to 20m:43s, or 25m:28s (about the importance of drawing in design) using the time slider on the audio player that pops up in the link)

The length of course time varies between courses as do the costs.

A key motivator is to ask: How does your work compare, if you were applying for the same jobs?

Below is a reel by one of the students above. I thought it would be interesting for students to see what Max for Maya gets up to in the USA.

Demo reel as a "3d generalist".

Monday, May 3, 2010

What could you do with a 3rd Year?

3rd year Calarts film.

Currently Southbank animators have to create their own 3rd year. A tiny number conquer the requirements of the bridging course and articulate into third year at Griffith University, Bachelor of Animation.

Animation schools in France, like Supinfocom, in a society where animation has cultural significance over and above entertainment business beancounting, have extended their animation courses. There seems to be the thinking that like fine wine, an animator needs time to mature.

Should the Southbank Institute of Technology animation course be 3 years?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sixty40 Proto Ninja Award 2010

Animation teams and individual animators, There is no rest for the AWESOME! (and there is no penalty for crazyness). Animate!

Theme: "Underdog"

Entries close August 6th 2010. Australian animation competition associated with the Sydney International Animation Festival. Use the music provided by the competition.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

2009 Graduate Wins @ local Film Festival

An email just in. Jess, who graduated from the SBIT Animation course in 2009, is an animator who has taken a different path from many of her classmates.

Initially in preparation for graduating and seeking employment, Jess sought funds for art projects relating to an associated interest in CosPlay and photography. She was successful, culminating with an exhibition of the work.

Further to that Jess has also taken the opportunity for paid animation teaching work at the 'Out of the Box' children's cultural festival hosted by the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.

The latest news is that Jess has not let her 2009 student film gather dust and has just won a prize (cash?) at a local Brisbane Film Festival: "Mash It Up 2010". Congratulations Jess!

From each of these experiences Jess is gaining motivation, reward, contacts and skills required in pursuing a career as an artist. It takes some determination and persistence to travel the path Jess is on but I hope she is a glowing inspiration for the animators who follow.

2009 Graduate is "Artist of the Month"

"An innovative display of Disney style cartoons and 2D animation on both the wall space and the television at Strathpine Library"
Dana is an SBIT Aimation course 2009 graduate who is also exploring a career as a creative artist. Since graduating Dana successfully applied to participate in a regional art awards, has had her student film featured on the ARC blog, is a featured artist with an exhibition of art work, and has been producing character designs and a narrative for an ebroidery company project that show off animation influenced character posing skills. Dana has also gathered work on personal commissions by exhibiting her work.

Well done Banana!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Posing, Sketching, Planning

by Rad Sechrist
I came by Rad Sechrist's "How to" blog via 2nd year Michelle's blog as she posted about working on the storyboarding assignment. I'd recommend students have a look through Rad's (and Michelle's) blogs for some excellent animation cogitation and tips. Thanks Michelle.

Rad on sketching for storyboard artists

Friday, April 9, 2010

There is no penalty for nerdiness

by Jennifer Hager
Nerdiness, when examined closely, is akin to crazyness (yes, spelt with a 'y').

Crazyness is a form of curiosity that manifests when an animator experiments with ideas*.

You may have heard me mutter in class, usually in regards to assessment, "There is no penalty for crazyness." It would seem that the same could apply to nerdiness, if either word actually existed in the English language.

Memories of the section in Jennifer Hager's showreel from 2007 ( from about 1:44 to 2:33) were re-kindled while I watched "How to Train Your Dragon". The character interaction and timing in particular were strongly reminiscent. You will note that Jennifer's hero is a girl.

With a bit more research I find she is animating at Disney. Again, great timing; to pursue traditional 2D animation skills as a student and then land a job when Disney needed 2D animators.

Animation is in the timing, Chuck Jones was correct.

It may be pleasing to note, by looking at Jennifer's blog, that she is a self-professed animation nerd (check out her cats' names).

The full "Sky Bound" student film can be seen here (as well as many other CalArts student work).

*That does not mean misunderstanding animation principles. Students have to demonstrate they understand and can apply the animation principles. In saying that, pursuing proper animation delivery should not be a constraint to an animator's imagination. And, hopefully, somewhere in the animation testing things were taken too far before returning to required perfection.

English Animation Students' Work - Bristol UK

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Passenger - Chris Jones

An animation student from QCA directed me to this Australian animation.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


An OK Go music video viewable on YouTube
Ok Go use a technique in the linked music video (embedding is disabled) that captures frames to a green screen behind the characters. I found the original discussion on how it relates to animation in the 11 Second Club forum in a thread by Eric Scheur.

Eric writes, "This one, for the song "WTF?" was done in front of a green screen, so that each successive frame could be applied to the background as the new one was captured. It has a cool look, of course (and I love those striped sticks wiping the screen!), but it also made me think "Wow! This is like an animation tutorial about arcs!" If you've ever taken your arcs for granted, figuring that they don't need polishing "because things are kind of hurky jerky in real life, after all," this video makes a compelling case for even the hurky-jerky movements happening in pretty sweet arcs."

Arcs are an animation principle that should be applied to your animation.


What I hope my animators will discover, is that great animation works because of careful planning.

Eager new animators are so keen to jump into a software package because that is where they think animation happens.

Eventually, I hope, the realisation will come that the important animation principles are solved in the planning.

[Take deep mental breath...]

Planning is those steps that may seem unrelated to working in Flash and Maya, or a stop motion program. Planning includes important steps such as a building a production schedule, producing multiple sketchy character designs, thumbnail sketches of poses worked up into ruff key drawings where the poses are pushed for clearer communication on every draft, storyboards, line testing, giving and receiving critiques, line testing, more line testing to get the timing and spacing perfect.

To illustrate the importance of planning we can look outside of animation. How much planning do you think went into this one take music video by 'OK Go' to make it work?:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Despicable Me

In 2009 I studied animation for a few weeks in Paris at Gobelins.
I was reminded about that after seeing a post on Sean's blog.

One of the lecturers and tutors (yes, he sat next to me at my student work station and we talked aboout the walk cycle I was animating) in Paris was Kyle Balda who is an animator who worked on Pixar's Monsters Inc and most recently Universal Pictures' Despicable Me as Layout Supervisor.

Currently second year animators are thinking about ideas for making a short narrative film or movie trailer.

First year animators who are in the process of conquering Mt. Flash, are putting together a short animation with the class exercises they have completed with some titles and credits.

Second years will remember, and first years will soon experience, the joy of modelling a character in Maya based on a bean shape. So we'll throw a handful of beans in the mix.

Now, if we put all that together in a milkshake cup and add the blending stick and turn it on, the resulting frothy creamy goodness is for us to take a look at the 3rd Despicable Me movie trailer to spice up some animation ideas in current class projects.

(Second years will note that this film trailer is just over a minute long. It is two characters on a white background. How many Essential Animation Principles can you count in it? If you post an answer* in the comments that is the same as I get, you win a treat! (No, it is not a ping pong ball))

*for example a list style answer: "EAP 1 = character reaction to "moo" sound; EAP 2..."

Sunday, February 21, 2010


A quick revision about the animation principle of Appeal:

Appeal in animation can be looked at in 2 basic parts:

1. Design Appeal = the character designs look nice, or 'cool'. The layouts or 3D environment look great. That is one form of visual appeal.

I think of it as looking at an animation movie poster and responding with "Wow, that looks good, I'd like to see that."

2. Motion Appeal = The more important form of appeal in animation (for me) is related to how things move.

For instance, a character design is not appealing (e.g. a character representing a piece of snot). But the way an animator animates that character, can make it move in an appealing, interesting way. I imagine a snot character would be great to animate with lots of stretch and squash, for example.

I really find the animation of Pocoyo appealing, in terms of motion. Some may say the design is simple (I find it appealing), but it is the appeal in the animation that captures my interest:

So if we add Design Appeal + Motion Appeal = VISUAL Appeal; the animation principle of Appeal.

Have you found any other descriptions in your research? Let me know what you find.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Acting Exercise - Zombie do-si-do

Act It Out!
A movement in square dancing in which two dancers approach each other and circle back to back, then return to their original positions. Unless it is zombies then they just meet up and try to eat each others brains. (my eyes are still laughing)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Animato - 3D Environment Modelling

Animato: adj & adv(Music / Classical Music) Music (to be performed) in a lively manner

2nd year animators modelling environment assets for 3D character animation. Combined, the modelling work by the "Animato" studios, will form the word...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Flash Spaceship Exercise

Your mission is to go boldly where you haven't gone before. Animators can export the Flash animation as a MOV file. Upload it to an online video sharing account (Vimeo or YouTube). Then embed it in your animation student blog.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Simon's Cat (in the snow)

Well our melding of animators session went quite well this week as we welcomed the new animators into the studio with a screening of short films. Simon's Cat was a crowd favourite.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Our favourite rascal Sunny Kharbanda ~ Show Reel

Here's a selection of my recent character animation work. copyright 2009 Hardeep Kharbanda.

I've just been past Sunny Kharbanda's new blog and thought I'd post his show reel for the second years to see. Look! it's only just over a minute long. Note that down. His blog is full of sketches, so that should keep the constant scribblers happy.

I was thinking of how I am currently in animation student mode studying some Jason Ryan webinars where we are animating broad cartoony actions. I wonder if they will influence what I teach?

What I like about Sunny's reel is the cartoony style of animation being explored with a free 3D rig (Moom). There is also some 2D work in there showing off an understanding of animation principles.

According to Sunny's 'About Me' page he is now teaching animation at The Art Institute of Washington.

Have a read of his critique of "Up". And just for Will, here is how he made those old Warner Brothers style backgrounds. Oh, yes, there is a post on how to get that toon render on a 3D model, but you will have to facilitate your own learning for that one and look through the blog.

Animation Awards - Recognition for hard work

20 animated feature films were submitted for the Oscars
Part of the animation course at Southbank Institute of Technology involves animation field trips.

Despite Miyazaki advising animation students not to watch animation but to experience real life to inform their animation creativity, or words to that effect, the allure and appeal of animated feature films remains strong.

This post is spurred by the nominations for this year's Oscars. But before we skim across the surface of who has been nominated, I would like to point out that my deepest interest is in animated short films, where we get to see the interesting, wobbly cutting edge of the animation illness that infects our imaginations.

The Oscar list, they can only have 5, always appears a bit different when I compare it to the animated features I enjoyed: Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and Frog, The Secret of Kells (recommended by Terry and Cassie (if only the DVD had the correct zone, but thanks for lending it to me)), Up. Slap my wrist but I only got to see Coraline and Up, from that list to date and enjoyed both. Based on that, the Oscar should go to the first 15 minutes of Up, in my opinion. More research, more research... I love being an animator!

The Annie Awards are usually an interesting comparison, but this year have proved to disappoint in terms of providing some controversial difference: Coraline (again), Mr. Fox (again), Princess/Frog (again), Kells (again) and Up (again). But with the addition of Cloudy with the Chance of Meatballs.

So as an exercise, a few brain push ups, I tried to remember which animated feature films popped my imagination corn in 2009.

Here goes: 9 (disappointed after being excited about the short film), Cloudy with the Chance of Meatballs (twice; due to babysitting, not by choice), Coraline (I was suitably scared, needles and eyes = ERK!), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (in Paris - good fun! The test of animation communication is to watch a film in a different language), Mary and Max (brilliant + tears), Monsters versus Aliens (lively and laugh out loud), Up (brilliant), Igor* (trained by one of the animators at summer school), Ponyo* (currently more wonderful than Disney - until I get to see Princess and Frog), Idiots and Angels* (at an Australian premiere with about 15 other people), The Tale of Despareaux*, Persepolis*, A Christmas Carol (I was not in the target audience), Waltz with Bashir*, Sita Sings the Blues*, Peter and the Wolf* (2008 Oscar winner - stop mo')... Whew, I think I've got memory cramp. (*2008, or earlier, release date)

And the nominations for Best Animated Feature Film in this year's Frank awards are:

  • Mary and Max

  • Ponyo

  • Coraline

  • Monsters Vs Aliens

  • Up

Ahhh, now I feel better. Sssstrrrretch and reaceeeeeach for the coffee.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Drawing and Learning Animation

How well can an animation teacher draw? There is an animation principle called "Solid Drawing". It is an animation principle from the time of Disney's '9 Old Men'. An era before the evolution of 3D animation.

I distinctly remember an interview with one of those famous Disney animators, Milt Kahl, where he comments that animators should be able to draw well. Now, that can be a bit daunting for some animation students and these days may no longer always be the case.

But there is an important point to make here. Even if an animator says they can't draw. That doesn't mean that they are excused from drawing. A personal perception of being unable to draw doesn't mean ruffthat an animator is excused from trying to improve a skill that can be important in developing their overall animation skills. That would be folly.

The important thing to understand is that everyone can draw. We all draw our own way. An animation course is not a drawing competition. You will see some wonderful illustrators in an animation course. Sometimes being a good illustrator can be a handicap for developing animation skills. An attention to detail can be a tough habit to shake.

!Work Ruff

In the big picture, the majority of drawings an animator produces will never be seen by more than a few people. Those drawings have the primary goal to communicate ideas. The drawings are used as communication in a tribe of craftspeople who communicate visually.

As long as you can draw characters in an economical stick figure style, then you can communicate ideas and plan your animation.

Working rough, or "ruff", is the way most of the drawings are produced when planning an animation. This goes for doodling ideas for a character design, or for thumbnailing* early storyboarding, or for doing 1 minute sketches in life drawing classes. (*thumbnail size sketches)

Staying loose and sketchy captures more than ruff ruffthe image of what is being drawn. Within loose and sketchy "ruff" line works an animator captures motion. Loose, sketchy line work illustrates forces, movement and 'the illusion of life'.

Drawing for animation is more about communication of movement through abstraction or representation of motion rather than rendering beautifully detailed images.

For the animators who illustrate beautifully already, thankyou, it is awesome to see your work. A due reward for uncountable hours, pages of all types of paper, stacks of sketchbooks, of practice copying favourite characters and evolving an own style.

For skilled illustrators drawing ruff provides excitement in drawing in a way that frees an artist up from the dedication to detail. Working ruff and not becoming emotionally invested in each drawing will help enliven your style when you return to produce a finished artwork.

Even in areas of the craft where drawing skills can be brought out on display, such as storyboarding, the same basic idea of economical drawing as communication can be applied. As Karen J Lloyd describes on her storyboarding blog, "If you’re capable of writing your name, you can draw."

In a recent post on the Animation Mentor Tips and Tricks blog, Aaron Hartline discusses the question, "Do You Need to Have a Drawing Background to Be a 3D Animator?" for animators who seek refuge in software away from the drawing board.

Just as animation has evolved from the era of Disney's 9 Old Men, when the animation principles were hatched by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, so has the animation principle of "solid drawing" evolved. It has spread its intent into new animation forms, such as 3D animation, to embrace such things in as; Posing, Balance, Line of Action, Gestures, Silouhette, Meaningful Symbolism, Feeling of Weight, Implication of Mass and Volume. At the same time it is an animation principle that still retains important traditional, hand-drawn animation aspects such as Staying on Model.

Practicing the skill of drawing will make you a better animator as well as a better illustrator. Two prizes with one effort.