Sunday, December 13, 2009

Animation Mentor: Week 511

Week 511

Last graded week of Animation Mentor Class 5!! Here's the "final" layout/"roughest rough" blocking of my short film "Snowfight of Fancy". Man, have I bit off a ton. I've still kept it basically at around 30-40 seconds. Some of that "over 30 secs." is because of my end credits. All the main animation ends around 30 secs. But I've packed in a TON to this little ol' short. I really REALLY can't wait till I get in the "real" blocking into these shots, but for the most part this is more then what was basically required for this class. But from what I've been told by many people who have been through the course already, I should be doing as much as I can over the next three weeks before my Class 6 starts. I guess it flies by fast!

without more ta's my film in it's latest state:

Until laterz!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Animation Mentor: Week 508-510

Week 508-510

Hey loyal followers! My lack of posts the last few weeks is because I've been working on the layout phase of my short film. Back in Week 508, our assignment was to create the layout for the first third of our film. For me, that meant creating the set and building a snowman (along with some other props that have been deleted now from the final version) and figuring out how to create "kids" outta the Bishop rig I was going to use. After all that, I then had to figure out my cameras in 3D space and then begin to block out some really rough poses. On top of that, my mentor pushed us to really start to think of our performances and basically begin to block out our shots.

In week 509, we had to create the second third of our film. We weren't suppose to go back and do any corrections on the first third, unless it effected something in later shots or was a massive correction effecting our film. I also started working on the scarf aspect of my film. An AM friend volunteered to have a go at rigging a scarf up for me. I'm still working out the kinks with it but hope to figure something out with it soon. It's really only a big deal in one scene. But I still need to figure out all the technical aspects at some point. This week, I also was able to add a scratch track of audio. I have a buddy that is a music producer who is helping me out with this area of my film.

Then in week 510, I finally got to clothing my two characters and then getting the last third of my film (which actually is just one extra long shot) laid out and started blocking. Once again, we weren't to really get to fixing the first two thirds of our film till week 511.

So here's the film I handed in for week 511. Most of the first parts are terrible poses and even worse blocking, but hopefully in the final week of the term, I'll make all the fixes from my mentor and even push it a tad further.

but until then, here's the film:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Animation Mentor: Week 507 — Final Animatic

Week 507

Hey loyal viewers! I'm trying hard to keep you all current with where I'm at on my short film. This week our assignment was to take all our mentor notes and finalize our animatic and storyboards. I was really struggling with my boards. That being said..I really have done WAY more then would be required to do for my animatic. Many other people are doing fast thumbnails and they are really clear. I put in the time on my boards for two reasons:

ONE, to get a chance to just draw. It's been so long..and yeah..I'm extremely rusty, but it was still great to grow stronger in my digital drawing skillz!

and TWO, I was trying to work out my performance ideas now, so I had a head start on what was working and and what I might need to adjust. For me, that meant putting in some extra time to make everything read.

Then I also just really like having nicer boards. I wanted the viewer to really get the feel of the film. At least for where it is at the moment.

All that being said..I am feeling way better about my film and animatic then I did this same time last week. I had some amazing (although tough love) help from a couple close AM buddies. And in the eleventh hour, I had some awesome help from my director/film maker roommate with figuring out some better ways to work the last couple shots together. As of this post, I haven't gotten any crit from my mentor, so all this great feeling could be premature, but whatever. I feel good about it.

Next step is starting our 3D layout of our short film. Next week will be the first third of our film. Should be fun...whoot!

For now, here's the final animatic for my short film "Snowfight of Fancy":

until next time, loyal readers!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Animation Mentor: Week 506

Week 506

Last week's e-crit was a little tough to take. Mark, my mentor, really ripped my animatic apart. It was all for the best, but I'd be lying (and those that were around me this week know the truth) if I said I wasn't a tad frustrated. But it's part of the industry. So, picking myself up, I made the adjustments to the first half of my storyboards and then started in on the second half. The second half was actually a little firmed up in my brain, but I had to take into consideration some of Mark's comments from the first half. But in the end, I got it all done and handed in.

Here's the full second pass of my short film animatic:

Next week, finalizing the storyboards and animatic!

until laterz!

Animation Mentor: Week 505

Week 505

Having taken the feedback from my last e-crit from my mentor about my video pitch, I started in on my storyboarding. Our assignment this week is to create an animatic of the first half of our short film. The animatic is suppose to help figure out the timing and pacing of our shots and to help us plan out everything we'll do with our short film. I've been looking forward to this part of the process for a long time. I decided to use Toon Boom Storyboard to help me produce these boards. Then I use After Effects to create some motion and any needed effects. I'm still working on music to go along with it, but hopefully my composer will be able to get something together soon!

Here's the first pass of my animatic:

Next week is onto the second half.

Until laterz!

Animation Mentor: Week 501-504

Week 501-504

Class 5 of Animation Mentor is fully dedicated to the pre-production of our short film. This is the part of AM I've been waiting for. I had a few ideas even before school started, but still was trying to come up with more. Some of the ideas were a little too long to get completed in the six months given to doing the film. The first four weeks are all meant to narrow down our ideas to one. We then take a few weeks to create our storyboards and animatics. Then we spend the last few weeks working on our layout of our short film.

We had to write out three short ideas for our films. The school pushes for our shorts to be just that, short. A 30 second max time limit is pushed, but by the end of school, many people's short films have gone much longer. The whole goal was to get my shorts to fit into this limit. I worked my ideas down to as far as I could and submitted what I thought were the best three. From my mentor's notes, I decided which two ideas to do video pitches. And then after taking my mentor's notes based on those two video pitches, I picked the short I thought would be the best choice to both be great on my demo reel, as well as keep me engaged for the next six months.

Here's the pitch for the short film pitch I'm going with:

With the story idea figured out it's on to the storyboards...

until laterz!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fall 2009 Demo Reel

Here's my latest demo reel for Fall 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Animation Mentor: Class 411

Week 411

Two months ago, I began my most complex animated shot I've ever done. At that time, I didn't know how complicated it seemed rather simple. Oh, the things I've learned in the last two months...and the loss of sleep! 8 weeks ago, I started work on my 2 character dialogue animated shot. The goal was to have a complete, mostly polished shot within those 8 weeks, with lipsync, facial animation and smooth body mechanics. A few things made that goal a little tougher then it should have been. But all in all, I'm really excited for where I got this shot. I will continue to work on this shot to get it demo reel ready, but for now...I need a break. For those of you that either are animators or have an eye for picking out problems, you will see where I'm still needing polish and smoothing (especially in the second shot). But...over all, I think I done well, but why don't you decide for yourself.

Here's my "final" shot for "Twice in every song":

well..there you have it in all it's slightly polished glory! thanks for all the support these last few weeks!

next stop...SHORT FILM!!!

until laterz!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Animation Mentor: Class 404-410

Week 404

This week our assignment was to find three audio clips that contained a two person dialogue, which was between 11-14 seconds long. I found more then three choices, but decided to submit more to give possible options that I might not have seen. I had my favs..but I wanted to hear what my mentor would say. After this assignment, I am thinking about maybe doing one of the clips that didn't make the final cut. But for now, here are the clips I submitted:

Week 405

This week we took the notes Jon gave us and chose the clip we were gonna spend the next 7 weeks with. I was really stoked about one audio clip. It is from the Broadway Musical "Spam-a-lot". I had noticed that I'd NEVER seen an acting shot from Animation Mentor that was a musical. It was a long shot, but Jon liked the idea of the clip. He said it was gonna be a challenge...but I was willing and wanting to tackle it.

We now took our clip and the character rigs "Bishop"/"Brussels" (a green version of Bishop) and created a layout of our shot. Basically, we just place our character in rough poses to get the basic idea of position in the shot. Our requirement for this animation was to have 2-3 shots to help tell a story. So, we also used this pass to figure out the best camera angles. I had messed around with some different angles, but decided on two angles. Here's the layout pass:

Week 406

Now we move onto actual blocking of our shots. This is where we start to flush out the ideas and move into animation. This is the first time we've had a full rig of Bishop to block in both body AND facial expression.

Halfway through this week, I went back home to South Dakota for my family reunion to celebrate my parent's 50th Anniversary. This meant I was gonna have to balance family time and school. It won't be easy. Here's my first blocking pass:

Week 407

For this week, we continue to push forward on our shots. I tried to take the notes from my mentor and push further. I'll be honest, this week was the toughest of my whole AM career. I was on vacation with my family and having to find time to really get my ideas solid for this shot. I did my best, but I was most certainly behind from last week...and most likly for the whole time. With my last blocking pass, I had not really made it clear what I was going to do for the final shot. I had to make sure that idea was clear. A tough week, but here's what I submitted:

Week 408

I'm back from my vacation and ready to rock this. My mentor made a major suggestion with the last part. He suggested I do a dance move to move the female character over compositionally to the other side of the screen. He said it'd be massivly hard, but he said it would REALLY be a cool shot if I did it. Sooo..of course, I decided i had to do it. This put me back even more in my progress. But all I can do is just push through. Here is this weeks pass:

Week 409

This week, we are suppose to be getting into polish....HA! yeah...for me it was just pushing on and getting whatever I got done! I tackled a MASSIVELY hard shot and I'm bound to finish it...just not sure it'll happen before the end of Class 4. But as long as I get a finished shot..I'm happy. Frustrated...but happy. Here's my progress from this week:

Week 410

I actually trashed last Saturday's work and went back to the blocking stage and tried to really get more key frames and breakdowns to define more of the animation. I spent over 50 hours between Wednesday evening and Sunday morning trying to get this shot even remotely close to be ready for polish. I want to get the most out of having my mentor's help, and with only one more week/critique left..I have major work to do. Here's what having no life and a ton of caffeine (and lack of quality sleep) helped produce:

With two more weeks of class (one assignment week), I have a ton of work to get done, but I'm super excited for Class 5! SHORT FILM!!! WHOOT! but that's for a future post. Check back soon to see just how far I actually get this shot....

until laterz!

Animation Mentor: Facial Expressions

Besides the animation assignments, some weeks we also had to recreate facial expressions with the Bishop model. We had to find photos from magazines or the internet that portrayed clear expressions and then pose Bishop in those expressions. This was suppose to help us learn how to exaggerate poses and to learn how to work with the character rig to produce the desired result.

Week 402

Week 403

Week 404

Week 406

Week 407

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Animation Mentor: Class 401-403

For those of you that have been following my blogs, might be able to put together that it's been about three months since I posted last. The funny thing is that before starting at Animation Mentor, I would search of blogs of current AM students. Funny enough, most of the blogs I found would start off with posts every week or multiple posts in a week. Telling of all the amazing stuff the school has shown them. But as the weeks and terms went on....fewer and fewer posts. I said that if I did a blog, I would keep it updated. I personally hate when you follow someones blog and they go MIA. Makes it hard to keep followers thirsty for whatever your "selling".

Well..I now realize WHY the posts of those blogs were so sparse. One reason is that within the current Class 4 curriculum, we only work on two shots. We finish up the one person dialogue piece and then complete a 2 person assignment. So there isn't as much to report on progress. Most non-animation people aren't going to always be able to tell what has changed from week to week. Heck..sometimes I don't even know.

The other reason posts are so few is because the Advanced Acting class at AM is TOUGH. It is really hard to finish one character, let alone a 2 character acting shot. SO, I have fallen into the same trap as many previous Animation Mentor bloggers and missed a TON of blogging. Instead of doing my usual week by week update from this last term (because honestly it is a huge blur), I'm simply gonna do some highlights. so here goes..

Week 401

This first week of Advanced Acting we really jumped right back into our shots. Besides getting to know my new mentor and classmates, we had to start planning out more in depth facial and lipsync animation. The one thing I have discovered about dialogue animation is how LITTLE importance the lipsync is actually given. Now, it IS important, but whether or not the body performance and facial expressions read are more important.

Here's some planning sketches:

We also began breaking down the actual dialogue of our shot. Figuring out what sounds were the most visible and NEEDED to be seen in our characters. I've done lipsync before, but to be honest, this was a brand new way of approaching it. Animating lipsync is not as scary as it once was. It's still scary..but not as much! here's some of my working out the dialogue:

We then took our sketches and started implementing them into animation. Here's this weeks facial/lipsync blocking pass:

Week 402

The second week of the term was just moving further with our animation. The final polished shot was due in Week 3, so we needed to take the notes from last weeks e-Critique and push further. Here's this weeks progress:

Week 403

This week we needed to push our shots as far as week could. One tough thing about this shot was trying to get the body performance to connect with the expression performance. Overall, I think I have been able to pull out a pretty good polished shot. I know that as animators we never stop finding things we could polish on our shots. But our goal is to get the animation as far as we can by the deadline. And then move on. Here's my final polish pass on this shot (for now...).

So there's the progress on my first three weeks of Class 4: Advanced Acting here at Animation Mentor. As for my mentor and our live Q&A's, they have been great. Jon is a relatively young animator, with I think about 5 years within the studio system. He's been an awesome mentor so far and really pushed us hard, but will encourage us when we need it. Now onto the big shot..the two character dialogue shot!!

until laterz!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Animation Mentor — The Fourth Class!

Halfway through my amazing Animation Mentor journey, I'm just started Class 4. This class is Advanced Acting. We are gonna finish up the lip sync on our last shot, then also complete a two person dialogue. This is the last "class" I will have until I start on my short film. Classes 5 & 6 are all about producing our short.

For Class 4, I was given Jon Collins for a mentor. He is currently at Pixar, working on Toy Story 3. I hadn't known Jon before this class, but have had several AM friends who have had him in previous classes. This is his first time teaching Adv. Acting, but I think he's gonna be great! We had our first Live Q&A last night and it was the most active class I've been in since Class 1! There are a couple people who are repeating the class and a few fellow LA-ers! All in all, I'm stoked to get going in this term. I have most of this week off from coaching (for the Independence Day holiday), so hopefully I can get my work done earlier this week and enjoy the weekend!

Check back to see how the week finishes up and to see my animation jump to the next stage. And thanks for continuing to join me on this quest toward my dream and passion of being an animator!!

Until laterz!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Animation Mentor: Class 312—Progress Reel

At the end of every term, we are required to piece together our assignments from each term and create a Progress Reel. It's not a really indepth thing and many people just slap together the shots they have done and add a title card with the term name and the mentor they had, along with their name. Those of you that know me better know how that just isn't me. The last two terms, I've created a "logo" for each term based on the films my mentor has worked on recently (or is known for). Then I created a title card, drawing upon my graphic design training. Well, that wasn't enough for me this time around. I really wanted my title card to be more "animated" this time around. I had wanted to go this far in previous terms, but just didn't have the time. Well, I did this term and actually feel really good about the end result. Plus, I'm really excited about how far I've come in my work, and proud to show everyone! So without further Animation Mentor Progress Reel:

Thanks to EVERYONE that has helped and supported my time so far at AM! I can feel your prayers and thoughts and keep 'em coming as I move on in this animation journey of mine!

until laterz!

Animation Mentor: Class 312

Week 312

Well..the last week of the term at Animation Mentor is usually the easiest. There are no grades given out and really all we have to do is attend our final Q&A and post our progress reel of our time at AM. So, really, this week was gonna be the start of a much needed break for me and my classmates. We didn't get one between the last term and this kinda excited just to not HAVE to do anything.

When I got my e-crit from Marek, I was happy to hear that he felt it had come a long way and was looking really good. He had two main points, one being the hand tap on the banister and the other having to do with how it still doesn't feel like the voice is coming FROM the head. The hand tap I fixed up and left the head till I put in the mouth animation (even though, I guess I should have addressed this earlier in the process. Guess that's something I gotta learn from for my next shot!).

Here's the "FINAL" version for Class 3: (just to remind mouth animation yet!)

This weeks final Live Q&A was a great one. It was great to talk about peoples shots and even talk about how some people were going to repeat the class to get more prepared or they were taking off a term to do the same thing. At the start of this term, Marek told us this class was gonna be tough, and he was right! I have really enjoyed having Marek as a mentor. I even got to speak my opinion about my feelings on the Shrek franchise (which Marek is currently working on the 4th installment. The comment was based on how I felt Shrek 3 was better then 2. This is not a belief held by many, I guess!!). It lead to an on going joke about how Marek is gonna blackball me from Dreamworks...but it's all in fun. I'm pretty sure...LOL All in all, I am continuing to make some great friends in this industry and hopefully those friends will turn to co-workers on some future features!!

Until laterz!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Animation Mentor: Class 309-311

First off..I know I've missed a few weeks. It's be hectic and that's why I'm JUST now getting to posting the last few weeks. My apologies to those still loyal followers. I will try to keep you more up to date. I didn't realize I'd been SOO lacking in feeding you some animation! well..feast away!!

Week 309

This was Memorial Day week..and after a great rested "holiday", I got to work on my shot. This week, like most, was just pushing further into my shot. I really just took the notes from Marek and tried to incorporate them. You'll notice I'm still in blocking mode. I really tried to make my key drawings (poses) to be as strong as I could. I was really trying to get this as far as I could so when I got into spline mode (where it gets smoother and the inbetween frames are created) I was ahead of the game.

But for now, here's the blocking plus stage of my shot:

This week we also had to pose our characters hand in a RELAXED pose. I tried to find a new pose that really worked well, but ended up finding the best one being one that was actually similar to one in my shot. Take a look:

Week 310

This week was the biggie. I took my notes from Marek and reworked some poses and that took most of the week. But I really REALLY needed to get into splines this week, so I really pushed to get that done on Saturday night and the wee hours of Sunday morning. It's rough, but it's coming along. Because of all the work on the poses and my breakdowns, it made sliding into splines a whole lot easier. I also really try to jump back and forth from stepped mode (what I do my blocking in) to splined mode throughout my animating process. This way I can see if arms are going to go wonky or something is really off. It also helps me with keeping my timing tighter when I make the transition.

Here's the "refining" stage of my shot:

This week, the other part of our assignment was to pose our characters hand in a SURPRISE position. This was a tad hard, because I didn't want to do the generic, cliche poses, but to be was hard when my character IS cliche! lol! But here's what I came up with:

Week 311

This week was the biggie! My final week of work on the shot before the end of the term. I needed/wanted to get the shot as far polished as I could. I know it might be hard to notice what has been done in some areas, others might be more obvious. Unfortunatly, I still had to make some corrections with the last part because my mentor just didn't think it was working quite yet. Luckily, this week I got my e-crit from Marek on Sunday (a rare thing for me!!) and I started on making the corrections on Monday. I was really wanting to get a public review up before our Q&A on Weds. I had a great work day on Tues and was REALLY feeling good about the week. I also did NOT want to have another all nighter on Saturday night, so I really worked the rest of the week to tweak the heck out of this shot. By Friday I felt I had addressed all the notes from my mentor (he'd given me some more thoughts based on my PR on Tuesday), as well as the comments from other "fresh eyes" around campus. I had wanted to really be able to just really do some fine tuning of the shot on Saturday and then submit it still Saturday night. I was able to do that..and even had time to hang out with a good AM buddy for a while on Saturday night.

Here's this weeks assignment, check it out! *NOTICE* The mouth is NOT animated because I didn't need to animate it this term and I didn't want to just start throwing a puppet mouth on my animation in the 11th hour and have it screw the whole thing up! term, my little animated socialite WILL SPEAK!!

It's been a LONG fix/six weeks on this shot. I honestly didn't know if I'd be at this place on it at the start. I've still got a ways to go to add the facial and lipsync next term, but I'm ready for it! But I'm also ready for the week and a half break we have. All I have to do is hopefully fix any things Marek sees in this weeks assignment and then put together my AM Progress reel..but that's another post!

Thanks again for checking in with me...and feel free to let me know ur out there! But most of all..keep checking in as the weeks go!

until laterz!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Animation Mentor: Class 308

Week 308

This week, I reworked my blocking pass of "Merry Christmas, anyway". I started putting in more breakdown poses and tried hard to start showing the personality of the character more. Based on Marek's comments, I tried to push the wrists to lay down the ground work for some smaller movements later on in the process. I also really went in and tried to get the body mechanics better. I realized from my first pass, I had some poses that didn't feel right. Hopefully now, they are feeling better.

I also tried to get the eyes going in a better direction. I have to admit, the eyes (and what to do with them) has been a battle for me. I still need to work on them this week. I'm not sure if I have mentioned it or not, but the basic BISHOP rig we are given doesn't allow for facial controls. I will worry about facial animation in the start of Class 4, along with indepth lip sync.

But for now, here's the re-blocking of my shot:

We also had a second part of this week's assignment. We had to pose Bishop's hand in an "ANGRY" pose. We were told it should be a pose the character in our shot would have if they were angry. We only needed one position, but I just couldn't decide which best portrayed my character being angry.

Here are the poses:

Check back later to see more of my adventure into acting and character animation at ANIMATION MENTOR!!!

until laterz!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Animation Mentor: Class 307

Week 307

This week is the week many of us here at AM have been waiting for. Well...actually LAST week was the start, but this is the first COOL shot we've been waiting for. The one character dialogue shot. We had to choose some pieces of dialogue between 5 and 10 secs long. We are going to be working on these pieces for the rest of this class (total of 6 weeks) and then we actually will be focusing on the facial animation and lipsyncing the first four weeks of Class 4. Last week I did my planning for three possible audio clip choices. After hearing my mentors comments and suggestions, I chose one of them. I had been going back and forth between my ideas, but finally went with my gut feeling of the clip with the most potential (and hopefully hasn't been over done by other animators!). here are the choices I had submitted (I put up six, but only planned out three of them):

I sketched out my ideas along with shot some reference footage.

Audio Clip #4

Audio Clip #5

Audio Clip #2

Then after my e-Crit from Marek, I decided to scrap my idea for Clip 5, and go with what my gut had told me the shot should be. I had to do some preparing of my "character", but after taking the basic "Bishop" character, I turned him into a 1920's socialite. This took a TON of time and effort to get it to look the way I was looking for. Unfortunatly, that took away time for my blocking. I had to put in a huge push for my blocking pass Friday and Saturday. After a LATE, LATE night/morning of work on my shot, I got it finished and handed in my assignment. Here's my blocking for "Merry Christmas, anyway!":

Just so you understand, the second part of the clip is simply to see how the silhouette of the character reads. And I just think it looks kinda cool! lol

It was a long week, but now it's time for some good R&R and some movie viewing of the new Star Trek feature!! Thanks for checking in on my animation journey and be sure to keep checking in to see if I can actually pull off this dream of mine!

until laterz!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Animation Mentor: Class 306

Week 306

This past week of Animation Mentor was the final week on our pantomime shot. I had slightly gotten into polishing the week before, but this was the week I'd really wanted to make sure I had time for.

POLISHING in animation is the final stage..that extra 10% that really makes a shot move from good to GREAT! I worked on things like hand and "mitten" positions..trying to add life to the small details. Among other things, polishing is also making sure the life never stops flowing from the shot. Even though I feel I really pushed the polishing, I know there is probably more I could tweak. There's ALWAYS stuff I can tweak! But just gotta say "I'm done" and move on. Hopefully I've done enough for my mentor to feel I pushed this into "professional" range!

Here's the polished version I submitted this week:

Now I start working on my first dialogue shot. I'm gather audio clips to then pick three to plan out for this next weeks assignment. This is an assignment I've been looking forward too for a while. Finally a "real" character rig with eyes and a nose and mouth! this is gonna be a long shot, but I'll try and update you as it goes along.

Thanks again for joining me on this animation journey of mine!

Until laterz!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Animation Mentor — Class 301-304

Class 301

So this is the first class of Intro to Acting. We didn't have a week break between Class 2 and 3, so I didn't really get a break from school. But that was okay, cause I was/am SOO stoked to get into acting, especially since acting (built upon solid body mechanics) is what the feature film studios look for in reels. The point of all this is to be able to show a performance, or bring life to the character. To really show the character is actually THINKING and not just moving across the screen.

This first week of class is a planning week. Our assignment is to have a shot that has two distinct beats or attitude changes. So, happy/sad or calm/scared. Honestly, coming up with an idea was tougher then I thought it'd be. I had some ideas, but finally decided on a character with a jack in the box. Like always, the first step was planning and shooting/finding reference footage. Here's what I shot for my footage. Enjoy!

After shooting the footage, I worked out some sketches for poses and story ideas based on my reference footage. Here's some of that stuff:

I wanted to be totally certain my mentor knew what my plans were for the shot (and I wanted to be sure myself), so I decided to do a rough 2D pass of the shot. This really helped me sort out some of the timing and ideas of the shot. It also helped make figure out the acting and beats of my shot. Here's that shot:

Class 302

This week's assignment was to take our planning and reference footage, along with our mentor's notes, and put our shot into blocking stage. I have a guy cranking a jack in the box, simple right? Wrong. I have a really good buddy of mine here at Animation Mentor. Jeffrey has been along for this ride since the beginning of AM. He really came through for me with this shot. I modeled the "Jack" box, but he rigged it for me and made it so I could make the hand holding the crank LOOK like it was actually the thing moving the crank, instead of the other way around! This shot wouldn't have happened without his skills! Thanks man!

On a side note, this shot doesn't have the actual "JACK" of the Jack-in-the-Box yet. I was having issues figuring out how to actually create the spring and animate it. You have to imagine what it'll look like! Take a look at this pass:

Class 303

This week we continued pushing our shot further and further to be final. This week, we were suppose to take out shot outta the blocking stage and into spline, creating a smoother shot. We also were suppose to take the mentor's comments and make any adjustments to our shots. I had some blocking changes and really had to work on nailing some poses and timing. But after another LONG weekend of work, I got my shot at least into spline before the deadline.

I also got the JACK head modeled, but still not sure how the spring is gonna work, so I just animated the head where I THOUGHT the final might be. Here's that pass:

Class 304

We have a total of 5 weeks for this first acting shot, so this week was all about getting it as far as I could so I would be able to spend a week on polishing. Polishing is something I've never really gotten done in all my shots. I want this to be different. I can make it to 90%, but polishing is that last part that will sometimes push your shot from good to great! I had an off week and really didn't get into my shot until Thursday. And it REALLY didn't start flowing until Friday. So I had a lot to get done. But I think it's coming along really well.

Finally, I figured out a way to do the spring and JACK head (thanks in huge part to Jeffrey and Neil). It's not the BEST way to animate a working Jack-in the-Box, but for this animation test it works fine! Take a gander:

Well...there's the first four weeks in a fast overview. My Q&A's have been great and continue to be a great place to gain knowledge about my craft, as well as getting to know my mentor as a person AND a fellow animator. My crit's have been good (even if a couple weeks I didn't get them until late on Tues. night). Marek is up there with the toughest graders...but I'm holding my own and learning from it. And I think my work is showing that. One more week on this shot and then it's time for some fun...the first dialogue shot! WHOOT!!

Thanks for checking in with me..and hopefully it was worth your time! Check back soon to see some more work...and check out my other blog DakotaKid's World to see what non-Animation Mentor stuff is going on in my life.

Until laterz!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Animation Mentor — Class "San-ga"! (also known as Class 3)

With one-third of my Animation Mentor schooling finished, I have begun Intro to Acting. Now starts the fun stuff. Last class was the taking the basic animation building blocks (the Principles) and using those in creating animations with body mechanics. Now we are taking those blocks and foundations and adding onto it a performance, or acting. Cuase remember, animators are simply actors who are camera shy!

For Class 3, I've been given Marek Kochout as a mentor. Marek is an Aussie who has been animating since 1990. He started out doing traditional animation for Disney and then came to the states to work for Don Bluth. For the last 10 years, he's been working at Dreamworks Animation. He's currently animating on Shrek 4. I'm really looking forward to learning a ton from this guy, and from what I can tell, he's gonna be just as tough on us students as my last two classes. I've also got a couple returning fellow classmates this term. One friend, Dustin, and I have had the same mentor EVERY class so far. We're gonna aim for a complete 6 for 6 by the time we graduate!

I'm already behind on posts, so I'll try to get caught up soon! I hope you keep check in and just maybe you'll learn a little something about one of my favorite artforms Character Animation!!!

Until laterz!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Animation Mentor: Class 212: Progress Reel

Class 212

In every Class at Animation Mentor, Week 12 is the week AFTER the final shot is due. There is no grade for anything, simply a final lecture reviewing the class and our final Q&A with our mentor. The other final thing we have to do before the Friday noon deadline is to piece together a progress reel of all our AM work. Many people just piece the shots together, put a name plate on the front and call it good. I started last term with creating a name plate with some "character". I continued that character into this term's name plate. AM has a mascot named "Spike" and one of the AM logos has a Mary Blair (an amazing Disney designer...wikipedia her!) or 50's style inspired Spike in it. I took this logo, recreated it and have added references to the mentor from each Class. Class 1 was Victor Navone. The animated short, "Alien's Song", got him a job at Pixar. I used that as the reference to his logo. Class 2 mentor, Rebecca Perez, has worked at a few studios in her short feature film career, but I chose the most recently RELEASED film to use for her logo, Bolt.

Besides the name plate, the main reason for this assignment is to have a record of our AM progress. It's always so much fun for me to see this put together. And now you can see it too!

Here's my Class 2 Progress Reel:

*music credits for "DakotaKid Theme" (the music in my Reel) go to my amazing buddy, Caleb Dirnberger!!

Thanks again to Rebecca and all my buddies at AM for helping getting me to this point!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Animation Mentor: Class 207-211

Class 207: part 2

This week is the crossover week. Meaning I have to finish my second shot and start my third shot of the class. I chose the "baseball throw" pick for my third shot, but I wanted to do more of a story and something I hadn't seen really at AM for this assignment. Also, I was REALLY missing my snow, so I chose to do a snowball throw/fight. I went to my place of work and set up a mock snow fort and grabbed some foam pit to be my snowballs. You can see my first attempt at reference footage and sketches at the end of my Class 204-107

Class 208

Week 8 started with reworking my reference footage based on Rebecca's e-crit comments. Here's that reworked video footage:

I also really didn't feel my sketches were anywhere NEAR what I needed to block in this shot well. I also was inspired by a buddy of mine from AM, Jeffrey. He sent me a video of his favorite Donald Duck cartoon, "Donald's Snowfight". I realized I had this short on DVD, so I used this for some reference. It was a HUGE help to flesh out some of my poses. In the end, it was worth taking the extra planning time for this shot. Here are the new sketches:

Once I got the planning part done, I started blocking in my shot. This part took a LONG time..and in the end, I actually spent an extra week or so in the blocking stage. But it all helped make the end shot better!

Here's my week 5 blocking assignment:

Class 209

This week, I really took the notes from Rebecca's critique and continued to work on the overall timing and pushing the key poses to really read well.

Here's the blocking PLUS pass:

Class 210

I finally got my shot pushed into splines this week. For those of you that are already lost with my animation terms, that basically means the shot now starts to smooth out and feel like more fluid motion. I also tried to add in some touches like squash & stretch and drag.

Here's the Week 10 refining assignment:

Class 211

Week 11 brings us to the last push on this final shot. We are to polish our shots as far as we can. This is the most time consuming and draining part in my mind. I don't know that you can EVER stop polishing a shot, at least that's what Rebecca has told us many times. Every shot I've done, I go through this time of "I'll never get this shot done" and every time I end up with a finished shot. Rebecca had said earlier in this shot how this was going to be a really good shot. I tried really hard to get this to be as good as she had said it could be. I still feel like I've got some more work to do on it to add that final 10% that will separate my animation from the majority of other animation reels, but it's coming along.

Here's the final shot of Class 2:

Overall..I'm super excited about all the growing I've done over the last couple months. I have learned so much from my mentor and my fellow Animation Mentor students. After Week 12, we only get a weekend to rest and we start right in on Class 3. Honestly, I'm soo excited to get on into my next class, Intro to Acting! Check back to find out who my new mentor will be and to see my Class 3 work. Also, check out my other blog DakotaKid's World to see what non-Animation Mentor stuff is going on in my life.

Until laterz!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Animation Mentor: Assignment #2 Revision

Week 207 Revision

I got a great review of my final FLIPPIN' shot in my e-crit from Rebecca this week. I wasn't sure I'd get the revision finished, but I got it done in the wee hours of Sunday morning. I tweaked it even more and she really thought it had come soo far. Of course, she found a few more things to tweak, but in the end said to just set it on the shelf for a few weeks and then come back to it with really fresh eyes and look at a couple parts that still need some minor, nitpicking tweaks. But overall, she said it was really good. Always great to hear from your mentor!

Here's the revised version I am submitting this week:

One more shot in Body Mechanics..and I picked a doozie! The blocking pass went now we'll just see if I can push it even more in the quest for another killer shot!! Check back for more info and samples of that shot!

Until laterz!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Animation Mentor: Class 204-207

Class 204: part 2

This week was both finishing up my last shot AND planning out the next one. I chose to do a tough pick from the list and did the "jump on to a post and balance". Now those of you that know me..I couldn't just do a basic, I had to give myself a little more of a challenge. I thought it'd be cool and DIFFERENT if I had Stewie (who doesn't have arms, by the way) not just jump, but do a "NO HANDED CARTWHEEL" or aerial onto the post. But it doesn't stop there..I then also decide to have him then do a back tuck flip onto a second post. Most are thinking about's a ton. But wait..I ain't done! I then wanted him to do a bigger back layout flip onto yet a third post. After he did this, he was then gonna do a crazy flip. Easy, right?? WHAT AM I THINKING?????

Luckily, I coach gymnastics and also participated back in the day. I took my wonderful Christmas gift mini-dv camera and asked one of my level 7 gymnasts to do an aerial for me. I would have loved to have just filmed myself..but I didn't want to break my neck. I then asked a couple other gymnasts to do some back tucks and layouts on the trampoline. I had wished I coulda video taped my girls back in South Dakota. I know they would have loved it..but the girls here are great sports and good kids too!
So yeah..the reference footage. I also took some of myself doing the "acting" parts of the shot and maybe even a couple flips..dang..old, outta shape guys CAN flip!

Here's what I submitted for reference footage:

Along with the reference video we needed to have a few pages of our sketchbook for our mentor to see our planning process. This is really important for us to work through our poses to get the clearest ones, along with working out timing and some story. Here's what I came up with for that part of the assignment:

Class 205

Week 5 of this class was my birthday week! I turned a year older on Monday and spent the day at Disneyland...FREE! A good friend of mine with a season pass went with me and we had a blast! But after the fun and games of Disneyland..I had to come back to reality and get down to my blocking of my second shot. I got some good feedback in my Week 4 e-crit from my mentor, Rebecca, about my choice and she was supportive that I could meet the challenge. I just hate that she's trying to push to make me a better animator! LOL (in case your wondering..that was sarcasm..)

Here's my week 5 blocking assignment:

Class 206

Week 6 started with my e-crit from Rebecca. It wasn't as glowing as I'd wanted, but part of that was my own fault. As you saw in the previous week's assignment, I had created the shot in a perspective view to get the LONG shot into a closer view. I was trying to make the poses work towards that camera view. I thought it would be a good decision to add the profile view so Rebecca could really see the arcs of the action. I was really proud of my flips. This was not smart. When Rebecca was giving me her crit, she couldn't read the poses as clearly because my camera angle was too drastic. So she went to the long profile view to give feedback. This is where everything went down hill. I had animated all the poses in this view to be nice clean lines of arcs..but wasn't worried about the silhouette of each pose, so she started really rippin' into it. In the end...I learned a ton and learned NOT to give additional views of the animation that aren't as cleaned up as the main one! Lesson learned!!

I took the crit and applied the comments to my shot. This pass is suppose to be a BLOCKING PLUS. Which can mean alot. But the basic idea is that you push your blocking pass further and maybe that includes starting to smooth out the motion into splines. You'll notice that I have added a camera move. I was really stubborn and wanted a better camera angle that showed off my animation. I didn't like how small it was when you saw it in the profile, so I tried my hand at a camera move. It took some work, but I finally got my mentor to see my point and in the end she agreed that the camera angle DIDN'T distract (like she had thought it would) and it does make it better to showcase my animation!

Here's the blocking PLUS pass:

Class 207

My FLIPPIN' shot was due this week. I worked my butt off to take the comments in Rebecca's Week 6 e-crit and implement them into my shot. I really tried to track the arcs in as much of the body as I could. Arcs are in EVERYTHING in real life. Nothing organic moves naturally in a straight linear all has an arc to the path of action. This can be tough..and is something I'm STILL working on. I really worked to polish this shot as far as I could by the Sunday noon deadline.

Here's the finished shot:

The other half of this weeks assignment is the planning for our third and final animated shot for Class 2. I decided to tackle the "throwing a ball" pick. But I decided to have it be a snowball fight, in honor of my missing actual winter in this WAY TOO WARM southern California! I once again used my place of work and shot the reference footage using some camera tricks and some foam pit!

Here's the video footage:

I also then did some planning for the shot. I'll admit..these are rough and in the end I ended up redoing them..but here's what I handed in this week:

I think this is enough to please you hungry, faithful readers this time around. Thanks for checking in with me..and hopefully it was STILL worth your time! Check back soon to see some more work...and check out my other blog DakotaKid's World to see what non-Animation Mentor stuff is going on in my life.

Until laterz!