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: http://www.youtube.com/user/pocoyotv

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.