Cradle by Devon Manney

After winning the 2017 Student Academy Award, one of my USC students - Devon Manney is aiming for Oscar gold with his short following a veteran as he returns home from the Iraq War after losing both of his arms.

From Hollywood Reporter - The 23-year-old made Cradle as his senior-year thesis film at USC's animation program.

Redshift 2.5 Feature Preview: NVIDIA AI Denoising

Redshift 2.5 will add improved progressive rendering by taking full advantage of NVIDIA AI denoising as demonstrated in this video rendered on a dual GTX 980ti desktop.

Breakdown of a Dragon Animation


She talks really fast but there is some good workflow content there.  I was going to do a tutorial like this because I have a student struggling to make a similar piece in class, but this should cover most of everything I was going to say.  You will just have to stop and start because she really does talk too fast, especially with such a thick accent.

Ziva Lion Breakdown

Latest creature work from Ziva Dynamics

Modeling - Paulo Welter
Creature TD - Andy van Straten
Animation - Paul Tempelman, Tony Wood

Traversal Animation - Dota2 Rig Test

Wes also animated this progression breakdown of Lily jumping.

Nathan Love/Aardman - Winter Refresh


More about the project here.

A collaborative development process “helped [ANL] decide on both the scope and look of the project,” according to EP Jon O’Hara. “We won the assignment based on an incredible stop-motion CG look we gave to several beloved Nick characters, and then our original concept snowballs and their hijinks.” This digital stop-mo effect, meant to recall the old Rudolph and Frosty specials from Rankin/Bass per the project brief, “inspired [ANL] to build a world rooted in tactile materials, but with the freedom to create some wilder narratives.”


BBoy Animation Test

Better When I’m Dancing

Dog Animation Test

Kyle Bunk McCree Pixel Art

Kyle Bunk McCree Pixel Art

more fun from Kyle













Round 1… Fight!

Big Hero 6 Breakdown Reel

Lucas the Spider

Lesson: Tips for Creating, Finding, and Using Reference for Animation

Many of my students push back when I bring up using reference. For some reason they think it is “cheating.” Using reference for your animations is no more cheating than Norman Rockwell using photo references for his paintings.

Using reference for your animation to get an idea of timing, weight shifts, poses, and nuance is a time old tradition that goes back to the early days at Disney. Using reference is an industry standard today for working professionals.

When I first started out animating in the 90’s reference was not as easy to come by as it is today with smartphone cameras and youtube. Why not use every tools at your fingertips to get the best possible performance?

Reference provides you with:

  • Body mechanics solutions
  • Better planning & saves time
  • Acting choices
  • Appealing shapes
  • Assists in the learning process
  • Why not use it? Why not use every tool at your disposal
  • Observation will create a believable performance
  • Good reference is your road map!

Here are some tips on creating, finding, and using reference for animation:

1. Reference is your roadmap. If your reference is poorly executed or misses the mark for the performance, then your animation will as well.

  • Take the extra time to create good reference.
  • Plan by listening to the dialog until you understand the beats and subtext.
  • If the scene is body mechanics or pantomime driven, equally write down the emotional process behind each movement and record important beats.
  • Make sure your scene is lit well when recording.
  • If research involves finding content on youtube instead of trying to commit the action yourself, find many clips to choose from and study.
  • Frankenstein the clips that work best from your recording or content found online to create the best select to work from.

2. Have fun researching and explore every possibility for your scene to get to a genuine choice.

  • Sincerity comes from exploration.
  • Your first ideas will be trite and overused.
  • Film a friend and see what they give you that is outside of your baseline in acting.
  • Sit with a friend to choose the best clips. Sometimes you look at it too long and need a fresh eye.
  • Give any idea at least 15 minutes to breathe. Do not stand in the way of the creative flow while making reference.
  • You MUST stop and watch the reference recorded to asses what is working.
  • If you keep acting things out without stopping to watch, you will have the same take over and over again.
  • EXPLORE the possibilities!

3. Using reference does not mean copying exactly what is there.

  • Many times you have to plus the action beyond what is in the reference.
  • Do not copy frame by frame.
  • Understand the choices made in the reference and apply the same force to your character.
  • Too much of you in the scene can be bad. Stay true to your character’s baseline.
  • Most likely you will have different proportions than the character. Compensate.
  • Overacting = bad

4. Get all of the technical stuff out of the way.

  • 24 fps on camera, if possible. Phones are usually 30 fps, so convert before using.
  • Camera should be secured on a solid tripod.
  • Check the angle (similar to the shot), is there enough light? etc.
  • Take shades off lamps for better light.
  • Shoot a wider angle than the original staging in Maya.
  • Shoot a close up too, for facial acting.
  • It’s hard to get good acting when you have to stop to fix the lights, tripod, etc.
  • Create the stage, props and furniture first.
  • Set up camera, no lower than a 50 mm lens for camera if you have control.
  • Create marks to look at. Place a teddy bear in front of the actor to look at.
  • Costumes, wigs or clothing can help get into character.

5. Shoot A LOT of reference footage!

  • Try it where you are only speaking, not the actor.
  • Think about the subtext while acting the scene out. Write it down.
  • Speak the subtext and not the actual lines of dialog.
  • Take your best takes and compile them into one, if you don’t have one solid take.
  • Maybe film a friend, who is better and direct them?
  • Sometimes I ask friends to do a take or two for me.
  • Other people can come up with surprising acting ideas for a shot.
  • If it’s not working, maybe it’s not the right clip? Are you forcing it?
  • Reference is easy to make! Redo it if it’s not working.
  • Watch out for clichés. Do not overact!
  • Write down words as you watch that illustrate the emotions, verbs are best.

6. Thumbnail from your final cut of footage to figure out your story poses and work out the important reversals.

  • Study timing and adjust if needed. You can even change the timing in the video.
  • Timing can always be compressed and elongated to plus the action and heighten entertainment.
  • Study weight shifts in the video from hips to shoulders.
  • Analyze specific movements of the situation and idiosyncratic actions.
  • Simplify the movement if it makes the scene stronger, edit the video clip.

Below is a video explaining an approach to re-timing reference footage presented by Cameron Fielding that might work for you to get the timing you want for the scene. By simply bringing in the footage as an image sequence and animating the frames in the graph editor you can re-time the footage on the fly while animating. You could even figure out the blocking poses and re-time them before ever setting a keyframe on a puppet!

7. How to choose which take from all of that footage?

  • Critical eye, ask a friend to watch with you.
  • You will know the right take, trust your gut.
  • Look for specific actions that do not feel overused.
  • Learn your own idiosyncrasies. If you point a lot make sure that is something your character would do, too.
  • What is successful and how can you plus it?

The Daily Dweebs

The Daily Dweebs’ is a pilot episode of an animated series revolving around the pet Dixey and his shenanigans in 1950’s American suburbia.

More information:

This pilot was created by the Blender Animation Studio in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and made possible with support from thousands of people from all around the world via subscription to the Blender Cloud. Entirely made in Blender, released as Creative Commons for Blender Cloud subscribers.

Join today.


Zootopia Progression Reel

Devon Manney - USC Alumnus’s Wins Silver Student Academy Award

I am a little late on this but one of my USC Students won a silver medal in Animation at the Student Academy Awards.


Alumnus’s award-winning animated short explores phantom limb pain

“No one makes a film in a vacuum,” Manney said. “And ‘Cradle’ is indebted to so many beautiful souls and talented artists that it really just makes me dizzy to think about it.”

AnimatorSteve - Stephen Vyas - Breakdown of Fight Animation

Animating a fight with multiple characters is tough.

For every contact, the silhouette needs to be extra readable with a clear line of action.
I think this fight is a good example if you want to animate one!

Stephen Vyas drew over some of the contact poses to show the importance of line of action and silhouette.

Clip to study from: Fight VII animated by Stephen Vyas

Clip to study from: Fight VII animated by Stephen Vyas

Animating a fight with multiple characters is tough. For every contact, the silhouette needs to be extra readable with a clear line of action.
I think this fight is a good example if you want to animate one!

I've drawn over some of the contact poses, enjoy :)

Clip to study from: Fight VII animated by Stephen Vyas

Posted by Frame by Frame on Monday, October 16, 2017

Anatomy of Facial Expression

Anatomy of Facial Expression: From website... "With our second book, we are redefining the human head, often the most difficult area of human anatomy to understand. This time we are taking it a step further by bringing this imagery to you in full 3D.  This book focuses exclusively on using 3D modeling, CT, Mri and 3D scan techniques of the head & neck. It covers forms, shapes, facial topography, gender differences, age groups, body types, ethnicities, and the anatomy of the human head and neck."

Animation Insider's eBook - FREE!

Animation Insider's eBook

This free digital download describes the workflow of talented animators such as Mike Nguyen, Victor Navone and Jason Ryan.

Tutorials - Image Based Lighting in Maya

Maya - Basic Character Lighting Tutorial from Rahul Rohilla on Vimeo.

In this tutorial, we will discuss about basic character lighting with the help of Image Based Lighting technique and how to optimize your Final Gathering process for reducing your render time.

Storyboarder - Free Storyboard Software

"Storyboarder" works on both a Mac and a PC and is free to download.

Cinematic Storyboard Class Syllabus

I posted this back in 2009 and decided to re-post it because his work is so good...

If you are a rising storyboard artist, you are making your own film or are interested in how to set-up and stage storyboards, check out Jay Oliva classes. I have heard great things!

One thing many people forget or do not recognize is that drawing is a minor skill when it comes to storyboards. It's storytelling that is king.

Cinematic Storyboard Class Syllabus

Storyboard and Layout | Gigglebug Behind the Scenes Using TV Paint

Gigglebug Enternainment team in Finland ! They show you how they have been creating the season 2 of Gigglebug animated series. This week episode is about the storyboard and layout process. Learn more about Gigglebug on Discover TVPaint on our website : Try the demo version here : Video by Benjamin Cerbai and Elodie Moog. Music Credits : Easy Day by Kevin MacLoed And discover many things made with TVPaint on our social media : - - - -

Ctrl + Paint

Ctrl+Paint is a free learning resource dedicated to the basics of digital painting. Each bite-sized video covers a different concept, allowing you to learn complex subjects in manageable increments.

Layer groups - 2 - overlays from matt kohr on Vimeo.

Easy Curved Selections from matt kohr on Vimeo.

Texture overlays Group from matt kohr on Vimeo.

Emotions Of Pixar

In anticipation of "Inside Out", I made a video showcasing the emotions in Pixar movies.
Hope you like pop music and mush!

Edited By Lindsay McCutcheon
Music: Breathe Me - Sia & You Know We Can't Go Back - Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Toy Story
A Bug's Life
Toy Story 2
Monster's Inc
Finding Nemo
The Incredibles
Toy Story 3
Monster's University

Thanks to Rishi Kaneria's "ROYGBIV" for the title screen idea.

Study of James Baxter’s Animation

The artist will not let me embed the video but here is a link

and here is another one

How-To Draw Judy Hopps From 'Zootopia' | Disney Parks

Walt Disney Studios just shared this great step-by-step tutorial on how to draw Judy Hopps from new film, “Zootopia”. Grab a pencil, paper and get ready to check it out! To read more, visit the Disney Parks Blog:

11 Best Animation Drawing Resources

If you want to learn to draw, draw better to become a better animator or improve your drawing skills overall... These are the 11 Best Animation Drawing Resources - IMHO ~ Angie

11. Ryan Woodward Drawing For Animation

This guy really understands how to create a moving drawing.

Ryan Woodward, 2012 SoDak Animation Festival from SoDak Animation on Vimeo.

10. The Art of Aaron Blaise

Lots of cheap tutorials.   Aaron specializes in creatures.

9. John K Animation School Lessons

...a wealth of information from John Kricfalusi

8. Tom Bancroft Blog

I worked for Tom's twin brother Tony on Stuart Little 2 many years ago and these guys are both full of experience and information.

Tom has released several books to help artists get better at drawing for animation. Tom's daily drawings on his blog feed are fun. He also has a podcast with his brother Tony you can check out here.

In addition, he has a bunch of lessons on youtube.

7.  Gesture Drawing Tutorial By Prem Sai

This is a terrific explanation of line of action in a gesture drawing.


6. Karl Gnass - Spirit of the Pose

I studied with Karl Gnass when I worked at Sony.  He is AMAZING.  He truly understands anatomy and movement and can explain it where you begin to draw better in minutes. His blog is mostly announcements about his classes. 

You can also google his name and find plenty of his past student's posts with content from classes like this.

His youtube channel is a tremendous resource.

5. Proko - Stan Prokopenko - How to Draw

Stan has provided an insane amount of free content in videos on youtube.

and... more.

4. Draw the Looney Tunes Book 

This book can be hard to find. I swear by it.  Concentrated effort of training in a beautiful book.

3.  James Gomes Cabral Tutorials

Gorgeous drawings with informative tutorials.

2. Drawing Force - Mike Matessi

Mike also has forums you can join, private mentor ships, books, and more.

1. The Youssef Drawing Syllabus - Movement & Form

Ok, this is not really a website, but I highly recommend this book to improve your drawings skills. Her twitter account is also pretty informative

Duality Redux | Slow Motion Cats Phantom Camera Series

A study in duality, a domestic cat and a jungle cat embody the civilized and the wild.

Great reference for animators.

17 minute animation process with Richard Lico

Richard demonstrates what its like to animate Quill, the mousy hero from Moss. He gives her a quick look around animation, as you get to see some of the basics behind the Maya tools workflow.

More about the Moss game here

Chunyong Chong Panther Animation

Final animation form Ianimate creature class1 - Rig from Ianimate

Making Of - Song Of A Toad



“SONG OF A TOAD” is the story of a stressed out human being who is carrying an unbeloved relic from his childhood right on his head – an old choleric toad.

As a grown-up and adapted adult, he tries to ignore this grumpy thing talking from above. But now he is confronted with something he almost forgot.

The 7.5 Minute short film was realized as a diploma project at the German Film Academy Baden-Württemberg.

The film was directed, partly animated and developed by Kariem Saleh over the course of three years. The talented team consisted of nearly 50 students and volunteers.

For a complete cast and crew list, take a look at the poster or visit the institutes web-page:


Festival Screenings:

  • Los Angeles SIGGRAPH 2017
  • Rio de Janeiro Anima Mundi 2017
  • Viborg Animation Festival 2017
  • Zagreb Animafest Zagreb 2017
  • Stuttgart ITFS Internationales Trickfilm Festival 2017
  • Lille Fête de l'anim 2017
  • Lille Fête de l'anim 2017
  • Roanne Ciné Court Animé 2017
  • Stuttgart Filmschau Baden-Württemberg 2016
  • Paris Panam Anim 2016
  • Martha's Vineyard Festival 2017
  • Woodstock Film Festival 2017

Francis Francis Scene Progression

Progression of a scene Bryce McGovern animated for Dreamworks 'The Boss Baby'.

From the layout that we get launched on, through final animation and lighting. Of course, all images are copyright Dreamworks Animation, and intended for educational purposes only.

Funny Guy

From Bohdan Frantsishko: This is a progression shot of a 3d animation I did in Animschool.

It includes reference, blocking, final spline, and render. Enjoy :)