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

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 :)

40 Free Educational Websites

You should always be striving to be the most well rounded artist you can be so here are 40 Free Educational Websites via I heart Intelligence

1. ALISON –  over 60 million lessons and records 1.2 million unique visitors per month
2. COURSERA – Educational website that works with universities to get their courses on the Internet, free for you to use. Learn from over 542 courses.
3. The University of Reddit – The free university of Reddit.
4. UDACITY – Advance your education and career through project-based online classes, mainly focused around computer, data science and mathematics.
5. MIT Open CourseWare – Free access to quite a few MIT courses that are on par with what you’d expect from MIT.
6. Open Culture – Compendium of free learning resources, including courses, textbooks, and videos/films.

7. No Excuse List – Huge list of websites to learn from.
8. Open YALE Courses – Open Yale Courses provides free and open access to a selection of introductory courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University All lectures were recorded in the Yale College classroom and are available in video, audio, and text transcript formats. Registration is not required
9. Khan Academy – Watch thousands of micro-lectures on topics ranging from history and medicine to chemistry and computer science.
10. Zooniverse – Take part in a huge variety of interesting studies of nature, science, and culture.
11. TUFTS Open CourseWare – Tufts OpenCourseWare is part of a new educational movement initiated by MIT that provides free access to course content for everyone online. Tufts’ course offerings demonstrate the University’s strength in the life sciences in addition to its multidisciplinary approach, international perspective and underlying ethic of service to its local, national and international communities.
12. How Stuff Works? – More scientific lessons and explanations than you could sort through in an entire year.
13. Harvard Medical School Open Courseware The mission of the Harvard Medical School Open Courseware Initiative is to exchange knowledge from the Harvard community of scholars to other academic institutions, prospective students, and the general public.
14. VideoLectures.NET – the title says it all – amazing video lectures on many topics.
15. TED – Motivational and educational lectures from noteworthy professionals around the world.
16. Shodor – A non-profit research and education organisation dedicated to the advancement of science and math education, specifically trough the use of modeling and simulation technologies. Included in this site are instructional resources, software, interactive lessons, explorations and information about workshops for students, teachers and learners of all ages on mathematics and science. Make sure you check Shodor Interactive – a great collection of interactive math, geometry, fractal, probability, algebra and statistics activities.
17. Udemy FREE Courses – hundreds of experts teach on Udemy every month including New York Times best-selling authors, CEOs, Ivy League professionals and celebrity instructors. Courses include video, live lectures and tools to help teachers interact with students and track their progress. There are many free courses that can teach you business online, law, programming, design, mathematics, science, photography, yoga and many more.
18. Maths & Science – Courses, tests and learning materials about mathematics and science for students from 1 to 12 grade.
19. edX.org – Free courses designed specifically for interactive study via the web, provided by MIT, Harvard, Barkley, Georgetown, Boston University, University of Washington, Karolinska Institute, Kyoto University and many more.
20. iTunes U – Apple’s free app that gives students mobile access to many courses. It offers many free video courses, books, presentations and audio lectures.
21. Liberty Classroom – Owned by bestselling author Tom Woods. Offers some free courses in history and economics, but at the price of one movie ticket a month you can gain access to a lot of useful information. Not completely free, but totally worth it…
22. Drawspace – Hundreds of free drawing lessons.
23. Codeacademy – Easy way to learn how to code. It’s interactive, fun and you can do it with your friends.
24. Duke U – Duke offers variety of free courses on iTunesU.
25. Scitable – A free science library and personal learning tool that currently concentrates on genetic, the study of evolution, variation and the rich complexity of living organisms.
26. My own business – Offers free online business administration course that would be beneficial to new managers and to anyone who is interested in starting a business.
27. Kutztown University’s free courses – The Kutztown University of Pennsylvania’s Small Business Development Center offers more than 80 free business online learning. Kutztown’s courses are individualized and self-paced. Many of the courses feature high-end graphics, interactive case studies and audio streams.
28. Open Learn – Gives you free access to Open University course materials.
29. Free Computer Books – Free computer, mathematics, technical books and lecture notes.
30. Academic Earth – Free video lectures from the world’s top scholars.31. American Sign Language Browser – Teach yourself sign language online
32. BBC Languages – Teach yourself a new spoken language online.
33. unplugthetv – Randomly selects an educational video for you to watch.
34. Lifehacker – Learn to hack life! Tips and tricks for improving all areas of your life.
35. JustinGuitar – Hundreds of free guitar lessons as well as some basic music theory.
36. DuoLingo – Learn a new language for free while helping to translate the web.
37. Layers Magazine – Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Flash, Premiere Pro, In Design and After Effects tutorials.
38. Creative Flow – list of OVER 950 Photoshop tutorials to keep your skillset up to date.
39. Open2study – Open2Study delivers free, high-quality education online. You can study subjects with real value, and in just four weeks you can learn something new, explore the next step in your career, challenge yourself or simply satisfy your curiosity. These subjects are provided by leading Australian institutions, and are taught by academics and leading industry professionals who love to teach. All you need is an internet connection and the desire to study.
40. OEDb – Choose from over 10,000 free online classes

Pixar's Recruiting Team Shares Invaluable Information During Twitter Q&A Session

Via Pixar Post

Twitter has become one of the most unique social media tools allowing its user base to have a digital connection to people and companies that they admire the most. On Monday, December 19, the Pixar Recruiting team held a very informative Twitter Q&A session - answering more than 100 questions in just over an hour.  If these types of Q&A sessions sound familiar - you'll remember that director Andrew Stanton and most recently director Lee Unkrich both held impromptu Q&A's while experiencing travel delays.

The Pixar Recruiting team did a wonderful job tackling a broad range of topics and sharing invaluable information with those who submitted their questions. This also reminded us of the Steve Job's video, "Don't be afraid to ask for help", where he states, "Most people never pick up the phone, most people never ask, and that's what separates sometimes, the people that do things between the people that just dream about them". 



@PixarRecruiting what are some intangibles you look for in candidates & some suggestions to highlight them?

@medsan14 Be your authentic self! Other than appreciating our movies, know why you want to work here. That'll help us understand you better!


@PixarRecruiting What helps a reel or portfolio stand out from the rest?

@thalliez succinct (no more than 1:30) put only ur best work, keep focused to the discipline you're interested in



@JoyOfodu yes absolutely! all interns are paired with a mentor and receive consistent feedback


Is it possible for some1 who has no formal film-related xperience but is extremely interested in Pixar to get a job there? @PixarRecruiting

@_nikkipoison Yes, there are many jobs that don't require film experience. Check out our careers page! http://www.pixar.com/careers 



@PixarRecruiting Story Intern: Does enrollment in a workshop CEU qualify to be an Intern candidate?


@PixarRecruiting are you hiring for freelancers?

@deborahatorres We don't typically hire freelancers. For shows, project-based positions are called ROS (run of show). Good luck!


@PixarRecruiting Hi, and thanks for hosting this! Do you ever do internships for experienced (Gen IT) people who want to work @ Pixar?

@LRacer2 We're glad you're here! Interns must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program, or graduated w/i the year


@PixarRecruiting Do technical interns contribute to PIxar's feature films or short?

@vfxchrono Yes! The TD interns work on films in production. We also have a classroom based internship that is only offered in the summer.


@PixarRecruiting What advice would you have for a college sophomore applying for a marketing internship?

@dreespinosa Use your cover letter to tell us about you and why you are interested in marketing. We read all of them!


@PixarRecruiting Set Shading: Is coding a must have quality? I focus more on the artistic side.


@PixarRecruiting When looking at student reels (for internships), do you prefer the reel that is flawless or the one that has potential?

@CyrusMickaela We like to see projects, finished pieces and work in progress. We're looking for potential for certain!


@PixarRecruiting For PUP many different types of application materials are suggested, which do you most like to see?

@jtishler22 Pick a medium that aligns with where you'd like to go: for tech roles: Github/code samples, for art/anim: portfolios, etc.


@PixarRecruiting What is the most creative, striking thing you've seen in a story/anime reel that lead to hiring the artist?

@brushmechanic_ clear story telling without any dialogue. knew what characters were feeling by their expressions and body language


@PixarRecruiting Can you tell me a little bit about the interview process? Assuming there is one.

@Jdunk55 every discipline has a different interview process but the basics are phone interview, video interview(s), and onsite interview(s)


@PixarRecruiting for TD effects internship, what kind of work do you look for in a reel?Does having Live Action film experience help?

@alex_nny LA good; anim better! Houdini exp = great! We need to see that you have a good visual eye.


@PixarRecruiting How much does being an intern affect your chances of being hired later down the road?

@OliviaLovesSnow Depending on which internship, it can be a feeder into a more permanent role, depending on studio needs


@PixarRecruiting Is it OK to have a degree in animation but apply to work in art or story?

@wendi_locklar absolutely! There are many people working at Pixar in areas that have degrees from other areas. We look for passion!


@PixarRecruiting what is your least favorite thing people do when trying to get a job at Pixar? (Besides tweeting at you) ?

@theHsEdition Apply for every open position. We are a studio of specialization and look for individuals with an interest in a specific role


@PixarRecruiting Do you hire remote software developers?

@dustineichler Due to the collaborative nature of our Studio, all our employees are here onsite.


@PixarRecruiting Do you like to see 2D animation as well as 3D?


@PixarRecruiting I am applying to the story internship. What should I definitely have in my portfolio? What are things to avoid?

@chelsealerond17 Story boards she be included. Also include your sketch book. Make it easy to navigate


@PixarRecruiting since a lot of editing software is very similar, is being proficient in the one Pixar uses required for an intern?

@_BAMFOn Basic knowledge of the Avid makes us smile in Editorial. Final Cut great, too. Don't have to be pro but we need to build on it.


@PixarRecruiting Is there a career path from architecture school to Pixar, designing settings? Many people there with that background?

@imagineerland Yes, there are folks with architecture bg's. They usually do well in modeling depts doing digital assets and sets.


@PixarRecruiting @DisneyPixar I would love to work for Pixar. I am a graphic designer currently working at a local newspaper. Need any good graphic designers? ?

@thismeltingsnow @DisneyPixar We don't hire graphic designers often but check our website from time to time

CGI Dreamworks Animation Studio Pipeline

I use this video every year to familiarize my students with the entire production process on a CG film.

How to convert photos to incredible 3D scenes

How to convert photos to incredible 3D scenes - Hit Film

There is a free demo of HitFilm 3 Pro. The demo version is fully functioning and does not have an expiry time limit but it does restrict your export capabilities as follows:

  • 30 seconds per export.
  • YouTube upload only.
  • Standard definition 480P only.
  • A HitFilm demo title card is added to the end of your uploaded movies.

You can activate the demo by purchasing the full version at any time. Projects created while using the demo will still work in the full version.

Download the HitFilm 3 Pro demo.

particles 2

3D models as particle textures

Ever wanted to generate fleets of spaceships or helicopters, procedural cities, swarms of creatures - all with full lighting support, shadow casting and self-shadowing?  Now take any 3D model and plug it into the particle simulator to create visuals that simply were not possible before.  And, of course, it's all rendered in the true unified 3D space, so you can composite your 3D particles in and around your other 3D layers.

3D camera projection

Ever found during an edit that there's that one extra shot you need which was never filmed? Or maybe somebody left camera equipment in view which needs removing? 3D camera projection provides solutions and redefines what you thought was possible.

  • Photoreal virtual shots - Take a photo of your set or location, convert it to a projected 3D scene and create an entirely new, photorealistic shot, complete with 3D camera movement.
  • Easy object removal - Create a clean reference frame, project it onto simple 3D geometry and use a 3D camera track to remove objects from moving camera shots. Perfect for switching from real to digital actors or objects mid-shot.
  • Total effect enhancement - Thanks to camera projection, effects such as pond ripples and the new rain on glass can now be applied realistically to any surface with accurate displacement.

Atomize your 3D models

Atomic particles are used to create incredible motion graphics animation. In HitFilm 3 Pro the effect can be applied directly to 3D models, creating an array of particles arranged according to the model's 3D geometry.  You can still use all of atomic's features, such as audio-driven animation, fractal dispersion and layer maps, progressively exploding your models from one end to the other.

Auto-tracked masks

Nobody likes masking, especially if you have to rotoscope every frame. In HitFilm 3 Pro the entire masking system has been reworked to be faster, with mask tracking courtesy of the expanded mocha HitFilm.

  • The best of mocha - Need to track a moving object through your shot? Do it without any keyframing by exporting planar tracking data from mocha HitFilm and applying it directly to a HitFilm mask, saving hours of work.

Over 20 new effects

It wouldn't be a new version of HitFilm without a phenomenal array of brand new and upgraded effects.

  • Heat distortion:The atmospheric haze of a jet engine or a hot day can now be created using a single effect. The displacement and blurring seen in heat distortion is simulated with full control over appearance and behavior.
  • Audio spectrum & waveform:Visualize any audio layer as dynamic, highly customizable waveforms and spectrums. Switch between point, line and graph modes and tailor the appearance to your liking.
  • Rain on glass:Add droplets of water and wet streaks running down any surface in your shot, complete with realistic water diffraction and behavior.
  • Auto volumetrics:Create realistic volumetric light shafts, rendered in 3D so that you can move your camera through and around them. Combine with a 3D tracked camera move to enhance your on-set lighting.
  • Classic cine style: replicate retro film looks
  • Color cycle: customizable palette shifting
  • Color phase: offset individual color channels to fix balance issues
  • Duo tone: two-tone color washes
  • Environment map transform: easily shift your maps
  • Glow darks: generate glow specifically from dark regions
  • Custom gray: fine control over desaturation
  • Film grain: realistic, procedural grain
  • Lens blur: generate high quality bokeh from a depth map
  • Lens distort/undistort: correct or create lens distortion
  • Light leak: generate your own light leak patterns
  • New light flares: brand new flare designs
  • Split screen masking: super-fast video tiling
  • Two strip color: simulate the two-strip film process
  • Quad warp corner pin: the quad warp has been upgraded to work as a proper corner pin tool

This is but a taste of all the new features HitFilm 3 has to offer.

Learn More | Purchase HitFilm 3

Download Free Trial (under Standalone)

Kevin Nguyen Snow White Progression

Progression Reel - Snow White from Kevin (Hoa) Nguyen

Snow White Progression Reel from Kevin (Hoa) Nguyen on Vimeo.

I am so proud of Kevin.  He was one of my students at iAnimate in Workshop 5.


Alaa Aldeen Afifah

Shot Progression - Alaa Aldeen Afifah

Shot_Progression from Alaa Aldeen Afifah on Vimeo.

From Alaa Aldeen Afifah:

This a shot progression I did for you guys. Hoping that might helping someone...

The first thing I wanted to do is determine the camera position and the entire flow of the shot.
So I did a simple animatic where I had the character in position and I could see the shot flow, and also seeing whether my thoughts were working or not.
Basically, I'm very obsessed with Blocking, and I love staying in the Blocking stage as much as I can so I get to nail down everything I want to see in the shot.
I recorded lots of video reference for myself playing the two roles. I had different takes for each character and then I chose the best ones and combined them together




CONSTRUCT is a Sci-Fi short film advancing the art of filmmaking, VFX and virtual production. This teaser was presented as part of a tech demo at Nvidia's GTC conference March 25, 2014. This is a work in progress intended to illustrate recent advancements in graphics hardware and software capabilities. Watch how they're pioneering new filmmaking and virtual production workflows.

Special thanks to Chaos Group, NVIDIA, Boxx, OptiTrack, iTooSoft, Just Cause Entertainment and the AMAZINGLY TALENTED team of artists, actors and stunt performers who've supported this project.

1. Rendered using V-Ray RT GPU 3.0 for 3ds Max
2. Rendered with NVIDIA K6000s and K40s on 3DBOXX 4920 GPU Edition
3. Typical video RAM usage 6-7GB
4. Typical render time 5-10 minutes (DOF and motion blur are all rendered in camera)

CONSTRUCT in its entirety is coming soon... For more info: constructfilm.com/facebook.com/constructfilmtwitter.com/MargoKevinkevinmargo.com

JOBS IN CALI: EA Mobile - Sr. Animator, Los Angeles - 2014

THE INDUSTRY The mobile gaming industry is growing exponentially. There are now over 1B mobile gamers worldwide spending nearly $15B a year on their phones and tablets. Top free-to-play mobile titles now make upwards of $300M per year, bringing them on par with top console games in total sales. Simultaneously, the international mobile market has grown 4x since 2012 and with smartphone device penetration at only 27%, there is still massive growth ahead.

THE POSITION We are looking for an experienced individual, who has shipped successful social/mobile and tablet products.  We require a seasoned Animator who understands all facets of game art creation.  We need an Animator who understands NextGen techniques and best practices and can apply them to mobile platforms while adding value to our objectives.  A deep understanding of film and cinematic production is a critical part of this role.

Establish a clear collaborative working relationship with the partner including processes for idea generation, rapid prototyping, feedback collection, and asset delivery.
Immerse with the licensor – learn the culture, brand, people and process to be able to represent their interests to EA Be EA’s game champion’ onsite with the licensor, acting as the key point of contact to drive engagement and to answer all game, process, and creative questions
Create captivating character, object, and environment animation that breathe life into our games.
Help develop character progression through story and animation.
Work closely with the art director, art lead, and creative team to develop concepts, prototypes, animatics and production ready content.
Work closely with engineers and designers to implement animation efficiently to allow for rapid iteration of game design and aesthetics.
Create a wide variety of animation ranging from environments, to characters, to props, and some visual effects.
Develop pipelines for efficiently getting animation from 3D tools such as Maya into Unity3D and continuously improve character rigs and export tools reduce time from concept to game ready assets. Manage and maintain animation libraries.
Help create and maintain animation style guides. Provide guidance and direction to external vendors and contractors as required.
Work closely with satellite offices and collaborate with cross-functional teams.


  • Expert knowledge of NextGen techniques in control rigging and skinning for character and prop animation.
  • Outstanding ability to tell story through key gestures and strong poses.
  • Must be able to storyboard animation sequences, create animatics, and deliver high quality production animation.
  • Proven experience working from existing storyboards, as well as developing your own storyboards for animation creation.
  • Must exhibit strong traditional animation skills and be able to demonstrate that knowledge.
  • Must be able to quickly match existing styles of animation to maintain a cohesive look as well as help develop ideas to further existing styles and create new ones.
  • 8+ years of game art creation in a production environment or equivalent experience in film or commercial. Must be a team player.
  •  BS degree in Fine Arts or equivalent work experience and outstanding portfolio


  •  5+ years of 3D game and or film character animation using Maya, Max, Modo, or equivalent.
  • Strong storyboarding skills a plus.
  • Must have strong understanding of Animation State Machines or Anim Trees Must have Unity3D experience.
  • Passion for great consumer experiences with proven ability to deliver Ability to drive high velocity, high impact development cycles in an agile fashion, balancing out short term needs and long term vision
  • Ability to adapt and be effective in new situations a highly dynamic environment
  • Able to effectively and quickly build relationships and establish trust, respect, competence and confidence
  • Self Starter who is able to identify and solve problems
  • Experience working with multiple teams across multiple locations Passion for interactive entertainment a big plus

Workshop 4 and Workshop 5 Feature Student Work iAnimate - Instructor Angie Jones

This is a collection of the best of the best work by my students at iAnimate in Workshop 4 - Close Up Acting and Workshop 5 Full Body Acting. Above is a sample of the past three years. Each student's name is located in the top left corner and workshop level in the bottom right.

I will be teaching my usual three Workshops this Summer, at iAnimate.net starting in May... and the classes are filling fast!
Workshop 3 - Advanced Body Mechanics - 1 spot open
Workshop 4 - Close Up Acting - 2 spots still open
Workshop 5 - Full Body Acting - 4 spots still open
Click here ianimate.net/workshops/feature.html to learn more about the workshops I teach at iAnimate

I like to combine the lectures for WS4 and WS5, since I teach both.  The energy from students is both workshops is similar and I like to house everyone in one place.  The WS5 students push the WS4 students and more time than not the WS4 students also inspire the WS5 work, too.  The only real difference between these two workshops is the camera is pulled back a bit in WS5 to incorporate more acting and gestures which can complicate the approach.  
Here is a sample of some of the topics I cover in lecture for WS4 and WS5:
  • Character Analysis
  • Maya How To's Advanced
  • Using Reference
  • Workflow
  • Workflow Checklists
  • Roadblocks
  • Eyes
  • Lipsych and Facial
  • Lipsynch Workflow
  • Pushing Poses
  • Hands and Gestures
  • Staging
  • Laban
  • Comdey VS. Tragedy
  • What is Funny
  • The Comic Hero
  • Career Strategies
  • Progress Reels
  • Moving Holds
  • Phrasing and Texture
  • Animation Styles
  • Polishing

JOBS IN CALI: Storyboard Artist - Bad Seeds - Nickelodeon, Burbank, CA

Storyboard Artist - Bad Seeds
Nickelodeon, Viacom
Burbank, CA, United States

Tells the story visually, in storyboard form.

Meet with creative supervisors to discuss objectives of storyboard; what is desired or to be achieved. Create storyboards by implementing storytelling objectives.
Follow instructions of creative supervisors.
Address any problems with creative supervisors; ask necessary questions.
Communicate progress of work to creative supervisors and to appropriate production staff.
Ensure quality and style of show is consistently achieved in storyboard work.
Follow proper document management requirements (i.e., file naming and storage) according to the production’s guidelines.
Meet all deadlines as determined by Line Producer or Production Manager.
Attend and contribute to relevant meetings and pitches as needed.
Maybe be required to pitch Storyboards.
Ensure all storyboard notes are added.
Assist with special projects.

Basic Qualifications: Looking for a good draftsman, with strong storytelling skill. Proficient in Photoshop. Must demonstrate proficiency in style of show. Strong staging and composition skills. Strong drawing and mechanical skills. Knowledge of or willingness to learn applicable design software and hardware. Strong time-management skills. Work well under pressure. Ability to multitask a plus. Desired Qualifications: Preschool knowledge a plus. Relevant drawing experience necessary. BA/BS preferred. Minimum of 1 year storyboard experience and/or training on a similar show; or equivalent combination of education and experience.

 PLEASE NOTE: Will require a test.

 HOW TO APPLY: You MUST submit a portfolio in order to be considered for artistic positions! Please be sure to upload your resume and website link in the online application process. Please include the website link on your resume. You MUST upload the portfolio release form to your application. To download the form, please go to: http://nas.nick.com/SubmissionReleaseForm.pdf

Ice Age:Continental Drift Progression Reel

Pretty tight to the storyboards!
In my experience, although the storyboards are revised and gone over and over before ever getting to layout and workbook stages, RARELY does the final animation ever look this much like the boards.
Maybe it's just too many cooks int he kitchen on the shows I have worked on?  For the most part, the previz is what I am given as the final staging and ideas and never the boards for this reason, and then MUCH can continue to change as you work on a shot in animation with notes from leads, sups, anim directors and the director.  
Anyone else have the same experience?

iAnimate Student Spotlight - Yukari Kawasoe and Pedro de la Llave

I fell behind this month on the student spotlight, so it's a double feature!  Two for the price of one!
My student last block Yukari took WS4 - Closeup Facial Acting and did an amazing job!
She is now working for Luma Pictures in Australia.

This is Pedro de la Llave's work from WS4 with me and he has been doing an amazing job!
You can see more of his work here!

Nathan Love - McGraw-Hill "Wonders"

Nathan Love does it again :)

Nathan Love was approached by McGraw-Hill Education to develop a brand-identity for their new reading program, titled "Wonders".

McGraw-Hill was interested in creating a rich, 3D world, filled with unique characters and fantastical environments. Once this world was established, the design motifs, themes, and visual language we developed would be applied across all the different elements of the program - everything from textbook covers, to digital tools, web products, and sales/marketing material - including an animated trailer to promote the newly designed program.

Working closely with the design, editorial, marketing and sales teams at McGraw-Hill, our first step on this journey was to create a series of book covers for the reading textbooks. There are twenty covers in total, covering all the years from Kindergarten through 6th grade. Each cover contains a unique character or prop, and is designed to work as a self-contained story. Ultimately, all twenty covers combine into one epic tale that embodies the joys and wonders of reading.

In designing the covers, we wanted to take young readers on a visual adventure. As they progress from Kindergarten through 6th grade, our covers are designed to grow with them. The world expands around them - getting bigger and more complex as the story moves forward. The characters also grow in complexity, from simple shapes and primary colors to increasingly detailed and sophisticated designs.

We created over 17 unique characters for the program - each designed specifically to have unique features and personality traits. Once the characters were created in 3D, they could be used for anything, from any angle, in any pose. As part of the package, we provided McGraw-Hill with additional character poses to integrate into their book interiors, websites, marketing materials, and other program elements.

These characters, and the narrative established by the book covers, provided a foundation for a two-minute animated trailer that tied everything together and brought the "Wonders" world to life.

Our collaboration with McGraw-Hill marked the first time that they had ever hired a single vendor to handle the entire program, and their first time working in a 3D pipeline.

We feel extremely lucky to have worked with such a fun and entrusting client - they were one of the best clients we've ever had, across the board. They knew they wanted to do something special and were willing to take a risk to get there. They trusted us with a process that was completely new to them, and through their guidance, we believe we created an amazing final product.
We had an incredible team behind us that did what they do best, with pride, and they did a fantastic job. A big shout out to everyone involved - we can't wait for the next one!

Building Brave New Hair

Great behind the scenes article of Brave focusing mostly on the hair solutions.

iAnimate Classes - Next Block

Hello All!  My schedule for iAnimate is being moved around a bit, per enrollment needs.  I am logged to teach two WS4 Close Up Facial Acting and Lip Sync classes  next block. Plus I might be adding a WS3 Advanced Body Mechanics and/or WS5 Full Body Acting classes

WS4 Close Up Facial Acting and Lip Sync
Angie Jones 1
Q & A Tuesday 7:15-8:15pm
Review Thursday 7:30-9:30pm

WS4 Close Up Facial Acting and Lip Sync
Sundays 11:30am-1:30pm
Tuesday 8:30-9:30pm

Contact iAnimate here if you are interested in signing up!

ALSO! iAnimate.net has started anew video feed called iAnimate.net Lab. It will feature clips from classes and give some really great little nuggets of animation gold!

Below are some testimonials from students of mine.

“It was an honor to be able to have Angie as a teacher at iAnimate. She helped me to grow as an animator more than I thought possible over the course of just a few months. She was always prepared for our lessons with planned out outlines of what she would cover. Angie would tailor her lectures around questions that her students asked as well as incorporating things that she thought was important for us to know.

Angie's critique sessions were very helpful and encouraging. She was not afraid to push us and teach us how our animations could be stronger. She was extremely encouraging towards us and would be ecstatic whenever our progress was successful. I would be lucky to have her again as a mentor in the future.” 

Top qualities:Personable, Expert, High Integrity

“Entering IAnimate, I was expecting a lot from this workshop and Angie has managed to exceed those expectations. Her knowledge of animation and acting seems limitless and she manages to distilled those information down to a point that it's really easy to understand and incorporate in our own shots. Her enthusiasm, critical eye, and her entertaining lectures have really help me grow has an animator.” 
Top qualities:Great Results, Personable, Expert

“Angie was my teacher at iAnimate, it was a real pleasure, she's very passionate, and wants to share all here knowledge.
She was always in a pleasant mood.
She had a lot of visual material to explain some animation principles, and she knows how to help a student improve his skills.
It will be a pleasure to have here again as an instructor.” 

“Fab teacher. Learning so much and gives great inspiration! Awesome!” 

“I recently had the privilege of being Angie's student in iAnimate.net's Facial Acting And Lip Sync class. I can say with certainty that I experienced my greatest ever degree of growth as an animator under her watchful and caring eyes - far surpassing my previous four years of undergraduate study. I cannot recommend her enough as an instructor, or as a personal mentor.

-Chris McCormick
1stChris McCormick

“I would like to recommend Angie.I learned so much from her. She is friendly, knowledgeable, and encouraged me to do my best work. Amazing mentor and passion.Not enough good words can be said”
“I highly recommend Angie as an instructor. I found her to not only be very knowledgeable and organized, but also very approachable. I believe she continually went above and beyond her duties in order to assure each student had their needs met. I would consider myself lucky to be able to study under her again.” 


RUIN from OddBall Animation on Vimeo.

Wes Ball, a graphic artist best known for his work with HBO and his award-winning student short A Work in Progress, has spent the last two years working with his company, OddBall Animation, on a “passion project” called Ruin, described as “an animated short set in a post-apocalyptic universe.”  The animation needs a little work, missing texture and weight, but overall a really fun ride!

Orelha Negra - M.I.R.I.A.M. X Vhils

It's hump day, so I thought I would post something a lil more artistic.  This could be a great reference for a vfx sim.
Lisbon-based artist Vhils explodes walls to create his graff.  This music video for M.I.R.I.A.M. from the Portuguese instrumental hip-hip band Orelha Negra has some gorgeous slo-mo record of the artist's work in progress. In a world where street art is expected to be temporary, Vhils is making his mark permanently.

Effects Corner POV

I keep hearing "All of a sudden. the folks making VFX have grown up.  Now they are concerned about their families and want stability.  This is why the issues about pay and hours are now important to the workforce."  Poppycock. Yeah, I said poppy cock.  I worked with men who were in their 30's and up when I started in Animation and VFX in the early 90's.  They were happy.  They had resonable schedules, decent pay, comfortable hours (with the occasional push) and most owned houses even in LA's real estate market because of their stability.

Today, facilities are telling the supervisors they have one day to get a shot done that would have been bid at 5 day just a few years ago.  On top of that, budgets force the producers to assign cheap labor instead of seasoned professionals to these shots.

Scott Squires has been around the block.  His career dates back to creating the clouds for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  He has a blog that everyone should be reading.  I placed some favorite excepts below concerning the recent events regarding labor issues and the future of the VFX Industry, but I also encourage you to go through his blog archive posts.  His blog should be required reading for every artist and TD working in Animation and VFX.

Effects Corner Blog
You can also follow him on Twitter

Excerpt from this posting: Response

"The VFX industry is like a tire that has gotten out of alignment and is getting more out of balance all the time. Toward the end of the optical era and the beginning of the digital age most projects ran reasonably smoothly, at least at ILM. There was still the sprint at the very end but it wasn’t super crazy. ILM was powerful enough to let the studios know how much time was involved.

With film you had to make sure you finished your shot in time to make the lab run. Once you made the lab run at 7pm or 8pm that was it. That was the end of the day for most vfx artists. Working after that cut off time was only worth it if there was a late lab run, which was only arranged in the final sprint. The next morning you’d see the dailies and would reshoot. Even if it was a small change you’d still have to wait until the next morning unless you sent the film as a daylight run (more expense). When digital came in, the render took the place of the lab run. Sometimes it took longer time to render than to process the film. You’d get your render prepped for 7pm or so and the CG supe would allocate procs in the render farm. And you still have dailies in the mornings. However now it was possible to actually see composites and other things during the day so turn around time for some tasks was much less. As computers became faster the internal deadlines became more flexible.

Certainly in the early days of digital the studios would at least discuss how much time would be required to do the vfx for a large film. The studios would use that information to determine the release date. As more projects were being done digitally the studios realized how much flexibility was available. Both studios and directors started pushing the limits not just creatively but technically and time wise. And we, the eager and hard working vfx artists, jumped to meet those goals. While we were wiping our brows afterwards, amazed at what we had accomplished, the studios and directors now used this as the new standard. Directors on their next show would say, 'You guys say you need clean plates and markers. But remember that last film where we had one shot that we didn’t do any of that and you still made it work? Well that’s what we’ll do for all these shots. That was much faster and easier to shoot'. The studios were now saying 'You did the last project in 6 months and we made changes two weeks before the release and you still did it. This time you’ll have 4 months and we’ll be making changes 1 week from release.' Some of them like to brag about this type of thing."

Excerpt from this posting: VFX Service - The Big Picture

"When I think of a service I think of a dentist, a car shop where they work on your car or a plumber that comes to your house. In these cases they do work but don’t tend to produce anything. The costs are based on time and materials.
Custom manufacturing?
Should vfx be considered as custom manufacturing? We actually create something when we finish our work, whether it’s from scratch or a montage of material provided. That’s what the studios want, not the actual service part.

Here is where things get crazier. Each shot is unique like a snowflake. It’s own little world of issues, handwork and tweaks. You try like anything to make shots as consistent as possible and to be able to run them through the exact same process but it’s never full automated. For all the talk about computers in our business it’s still a very labor-intensive process. The number of people and the time required to do a shot from start to finish would astound most outsiders.
If you go to most manufactures and request custom work you will be required to make specific requirements in writing. (I.e. you want cabinet style 32 but in this specific color of blue. You want a custom cake that says Happy Birthday. It will be yellow cake with vanilla ice cream and chocolate frosting.) And that is what you will get. They seldom show you the work in progress or have your input at every single stage. The other thing is a custom manufacture will tell you when it will be done. They dictate the schedule. In the film business it’s the opposite of all of this. The studio specifies when the delivery will be. It’s almost always less than the time that would have been arrived at by a normal scheduling process for the facility."

More interesting highlight posts by Scott Squires:

Creature Review

I have been working with a young animator who needed help with an animated creature test. He gave me permission to post our correspondence here for those who are learning and those who might be interested in similar mentor ship I offered last month.

Creature test for review Version 01

Hi "J" -
This is really good.
It's funny though.
This test you made involves much more acting, than the mechanics of motion a creature test usually demands.

This is not a bad thing, but what I see lacking on many reels (regarding creature stuff) is real mechanics of motion and understanding of weight shifts. Like taking a creature and having it run towards camera and slide to stop? Showing the momentum gaining and topping out and then trying to stop all that weight from moving.
Know what I mean?
Like a train.

For this test I would just start at frame 30, where he reacts. That first beat is kind of boring and confusing, so I would dump it.

Frame 47 hyper extend the elbow to show that the swing of the arm happened all the way in the other direction before coming back.

Frame 62- 65 the elbow seems to hit a brick wall and needs a little hover there.
It holds so still while the wrist is overshooting, it needs to feel the weight the shoulder is forcing.

Frame 71 hyper extend that elbow again to show the shoulder is leading the move, dragging the arm.

Frame 87 break the left wrist down to the ground here to show it's reacting to the force of the arm coming down. This pose will then compliment Frame 90 and the wrist continues the arc dragging down.

Frame 138 I would antic the COG (center of gravity) hips down before moving up for the jump.

Frame 140 arc the whole body and head down so the spine and head make an upside down C shape from the side view.

Frame 148 should create a reversal of that C shape through the spine as his body absorbs the move.

Frame 158 I would hang the hips in the air like one more frame before coming down - think bouncing ball here.

Frame 162 I would drag the head so it's looking up here more before it comes down.

Frame 166 rot the head down here to absorb the weight of the body moving.

These are just little things, but they will help with weight shift and adding life.
Make sense?

Creature test for review Version 02

Hi "J"-
Nice work.
The addition of the leaves, tree and camera reacting are a nice touch.
I still feel he isn't as heavy as I would expect.
How heavy is this guy - in your mind?
He feels young but his design looks old - you see what I am seeing?

He moves VERY fast.
If he is a small chimpanzee then that works.
He feels he is moving at this size.
Check out this clip from the BBC Motion Gallery as reference.

If he is a mature gorilla, then he needs to gain momentum before moving that fast.
Look at this for reference...

Silverback Gorilla Fight Example

I also want all of the weight to start at the hips and slowly, progressively offset through the spine and out to the arms. You have nice offsets in the arms, but the hips need more time to recover if he is a heavier creature. Right now it feels a bit "game-like" because it moves so fast and many times when making game animation you have only so many frames to make a move.

The reaction at frame 123-137 seems to hold too long. Only use about 8 frames for a moving hold for him to see what he hears and react more quickly. This may seem contradictory to my other comments saying he is moving too fast, but this is the acting bit in the piece. The overall comment about it being to fast has to do with his weight shifts in his body recovering from the jumps and hops, not the acting.

The slam of the fist at frame 167 is nice. The whole body needs to come down from that slam of weight. He recovers to quickly at frame 170 making him feel light. This is where I would have him hold a bit more and do some acting. He is making a stand. I would give that slam a beat where he sizes up the prey.

Then, he stands up and beats his chest.

Might be more engaging if he broke the 4th window and did it for the camera.

Sound good?
All the best,

Hey Angie

Great feedback again.

I do see what you saying about the weight. i see this character as begin somewhere in the middle of what your saying. the model of the character is very muscular hence my head space of his speed but if you think its too quick I'm going to give it a try. since i really want to push the weight with this exercise. I agree with his too quick recovery at 170 I'll try there first and see how it feels.

hmmmm, i whole new acting piece. from 170 . great thought. I didn't want to do too much acting with this shot. I'll have a good think about it and shot some reference and see what i come up with. (i don't mind a challenge)

There is one suggestion that I'm not 100% sure what you mean but i think it's something i have always struggled with or just lazy....! when you said "the weight to start from the hips and slowly progressively offset throughout out the spine". i gather you meant the rotation of the torso a chest not the translation?
and "the hips need more time to recover". do you mean the hips should slow down like a sine wave.(a very subtle wave) or to be slower generally and more frames?

thanks again for the feedback and reference.


J -
I would do this.
Hide everything but the legs, hips and feet.
Playblast that.
Watch how far down, the timing and the spacing that the hips make to recover from the jumps.
It's pretty quick and need to hang a bit to recover.
I could show you this so easily in person, but I think this exercise will help you see.

Then, look at your animation.
If the hips are going down - the shoulders go up... until the hips reverse, and move up...and then the shoulders move down.
This will make him feel more natural and very heavy.

The hips should hang and be recovering - moving down as the body-torso catches up to it.
There are two ways to do this.
Manually offset an fk spine through to the shoulders.
Or pose it and create effective breakdowns.
No one way to do it.

It's all about that bouncing ball.
Does that make sense?

I know you didn't want this to be a big acting piece, but you already went down that road...so let's make it rock :)

More to come...

HDR Helper Application for iPhone

Yes, I love my iPhone. As a supervisor the iphone has become a great tool for presenting previz, reels, style frames and work in progress to clients - off the cuff. Of course, one of the best things about the iPhone are the applications.

HdrHelper is an application designed to assist photographers in making High Dynamic Range Photographs by varying exposure time, aperture and iso settings. In HdrHelper, enter the start and end exposures and how many pictures you want to take and it figures out the rest for you. You can then combine these photographs on your computer using HDRI software..

Writer's Strike

Not good news with Sony and R & H layoffs recently.
This could be less work through the holidays and more out of work artists?

Hollywood readies for possible strike - Nov. 1 scenario takes on new weight

Networks and studios have started thinking about the unthinkable this week.

The harsh rhetoric surrounding the WGA negotiations plus the guild's recent move to seek strike authorization have convinced execs that the threat of a Nov. 1 strike may be very real. A possible lockout is also being discussed.

"We are trying to get as much stuff as possible shoved through," said one studio VP. "It's as hot as I've ever seen it. And whether or not they strike on Nov. 1, we have to act as if they will."

On the feature side, studios are no longer taking writing pitches and are pretty much limiting themselves to making deals on fully developed packages. Warner Bros. and Universal, for example, have put out the word to agents: Don't bring in any spec scripts until the situation resolves itself.

"A strike on Nov. 1 is a real option," WGA West prexy Patric Verrone told Daily Variety on Monday. "What I'm hearing from our screenwriters and showrunners is that they're being asked to schedule additional table reads, prepare additional scripts and squeeze in more shows, which may be physically impossible in that amount of time."

More than one option

On the TV side, the nets are scrambling to figure out how they'll fill primetime with no new scripted shows and trying to get pilot scripts completed as quickly as possible. There's also been a rash of series commitments in recent weeks, with nets handing out an unusually large number of six- and 13-episode orders.

Agents admit that the pace of feature dealmaking has stayed hectic in recent weeks -- but only for short-term projects. "Making any deals in long-term feature development has become really tough," one tenpercenter groused.

Producers and execs say available writing jobs have been drying up in recent days. "Unless you're a triple-A high-end rewriter, you're not getting an assignment now," one prominent producer said.

One agent noted that feature animation writing jobs may become a hot area for scribes in coming months since that arena's not covered by the WGA.

"I am looking more toward open director assignments rather than writing assignments," a manager noted, pointing out that the DGA is unlikely to go on strike and will probably make a deal by the end of year.

The possibility that a writers strike could start in just a few weeks, with the current contract expiring Oct. 31, had not been prominent on the town's radar until recently. The prevailing sentiment had been that the WGA would wait for several months -- perhaps until summer, when both the SAG and DGA contracts expire -- before staging a work stoppage.

The WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers return today to the bargaining table for a seventh day of negotiations in a process that has so far yielded only acrimony and finger-pointing. Verrone said that the guild's stressing the possibility of a Nov. 1 strike to get the companies to come off their proposal to revamp residuals.

"We're hoping that possibility will get companies to negotiate seriously," he added.

But AMPTP president Nick Counter told Daily Variety that the prospect of an early strike has always been part of the planning for studios and nets.

"The companies all have contingencies and will be ready in the event a strike occurs," Counter added.

One industry insider believes writers will wait to see if any progress is being made before deciding to walk out.

"If there's absolutely no progress being made, they'll go out," the insider said. "If there is some movement, they might give it a few more weeks."

Endeavor partner Rick Rosen said he remains hopeful that a strike can be averted altogether.

"I'd hate to see this turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, like the Iraq war," Rosen said. "I'd like to see people trying to engage in some meaningful and constructive dialogue rather than making pronouncements."

TV types are split as to when a strike would hurt the most, but almost all are now convinced one is coming -- and sooner rather than later. Many believe a November walkout could be particularly crippling since it could affect both the current TV season and the next one.

By Nov. 1, nets will have enough episodes of current shows in the can to get them through mid-January. But the February sweeps would be decimated, and new shows would halt production well before they'd filled their initial 13 episode orders.

As a result, an early strike could spell doom for some newer shows struggling in the ratings.

"If Fox has to shut down a show like 'K-Ville' in the middle of filming the seventh episode, they might just decide it makes more sense to simply cancel it," one agent said.

That's because keeping the "K-Ville" sets in place and its cast together would be costly. If the show were a hit, keeping the skein in a holding pattern would make sense, but given its weak early numbers, Fox might simply decide it makes sense to cut and run.

That decision would have a cost, too. TV shows generally need to produce 13 episodes to earn international coin. If shows such as "K-Ville" -- or CBS' ratings-challenged "Cane" or NBC's "Bionic Woman" -- wrap before they get to 13 segs, they'll likely end up a total loss for both the network and the studio that produces the show.

A writers' walkout before Thanksgiving could also cripple pilot season if scribes stay out for several months. While nets have purchased the bulk of their pilot scripts by now, they've seen only a few completed drafts. Most pilot scripts don't come in until late November or early December. An early strike would put pilot season on hold.

There are some observers, however, who think a January strike might make more strategic sense. The TV season would still be hurt, with original episodes of shows running out by late February. Pilot season would still be affected, since nets might be reluctant to lense $4 million pilot segs without scribes available to do rewrites -- especially for comedies.

If scribes wait until January, they can also claim to have gone the extra mile on negotiations by working without a deal for two months. On the other hand, almost all nets have made early pilot commitments to at least two or three projects, some of which are expected to lense in December.

So a November strike could put a crimp in nets' plans to get a jump on development. To some, waiting until the end of June -- when SAG and the DGA see their contracts expire -- has become a less likely option.

"The writers have realized if they do that, they're just letting the studios fill their pipelines," one agent said. "They know that if they want to have an impact, they go out now."

Fox reality prexy Mike Darnell said a few months ago that he'd never been so busy. Two cycles of the red-hot "Hell's Kitchen" are in the works, while the net held back the buzzworthy "When Women Rule the World" for a later date. And, of course, "American Idol" wouldn't be affected by a strike.

CBS alternative chief Ghen Maynard is said to have two dozen concepts in the works for CBS and sister net the CW. Emmy magnet "The Amazing Race" is also on the shelf.

Over at NBC, new chief Ben Silverman has been greenlighting project after project, while shows that pre-date his arrival -- the provocative "Baby Borrowers," for example -- are ready whenever he needs them. He's also said he's been talking to international broadcasters about snapping up shows already produced for English-speaking markets such as Canada and Blighty.

ABC's got a high-profile skein from Oprah Winfrey called "The Big Give," as well as a spinoff of "Dancing With the Stars."

Newsmags like "20/20" and "48 Hours" are also gearing up to add nights if needed. And with gameshows proving to be very popular lately --especially as short-term plays -- don't be surprised if quizzers multiply quickly.

One daypart that would be immediately crippled by a strike is latenight. Both Johnny Carson's and David Letterman's shows went dark for a couple months during the last big WGA strike in 1988, and it's almost certain the current batch of talking heads would sign off for at least a few weeks if there's a walkout.
While the WGA might ultimately grant the talkers a waiver, nets would instantly lose millions in ad revenue.

One writer too young to remember the last strike said he's trying to proceed as normal even though he knows it's not.

"We're just going ahead with the show," he said. "Everyone's a little bit in the dark about what's going to happen. I think everyone is finally realizing this could be real, and everyone's freaked out about what it means."
Hollywood Reporter...

The Eleven Second Club

I don't know if it just wasn't enough time alloted for people to gett he work done? or what? But, I personally never thought these tests were that good, even for students. Hopefully, this time around - since they have people post in the Works In Progress Forum for feedback - the work will be at a higher level!

The 10 Second Club, an online character animation competition, was beloved by nearly every animator who knew and participated in it. Sadly, without explanation, it disappeared from the Net a little more than a year ago now.

Aja Bogdanoff, a freelance feature film animator and Animation Mentor graduate, along with her husband, software developer Mark Bogdanoff, decided to reinvent the idea of a monthly online animation competition and called it the 11 Second Club.

Check it out, it formally launched today: 11SecondClub.com. It offers some cool functionalities: a monthly reward for winners (a free critique from a studio animator courtesy of Animation Mentor), a QuickTime player with a frame counter, a library of rigs, a specially designed super fair voting system, and more.

Negligent Blogging amd Excuses...

I have been a bad blogger this month. I apologize reader. Lately, I have found some new interests that are taking up more and more of my time...and so I have less and less time to blog here.

Jonesie Cake is taking off. I had a booth at the Abbott Kinney Street Fair and it was very successful. I am placing my clips in salons and stores. It's growing so quickly, I cannot keep up with the website these days. Seriously, if you have a niece, a sister, a cousin. Get them a Jonesie Clip for Christmas...they will love you for it.
Oh Yeah...This is what happens when the Santa Anna Winds blow in California. It took me a couple hours to clean up this mess...and...

I also started a new gig at Asylum FX on National Treasure 2 and I am very happy to be back (I worked on the first National Treasure there in 2003). It's so nice to work at a studio that actually has a pipeline, has systems in place for doing things AND has effective, experienced people there making the calls. My days there are full with plenty of work to do and no surfing or blogging!

If that wasn't enough? I started a classical oil painting class under Cheryl Kline and I am so stoked to be there painting again. I also have an artist blog that covers my progress in the class, if you are at all interested in that stuff.

So, I hope you accept my apology, because I am about to slam you with a bunch of stuff sent to me that has just been sitting in my inbox waiting to be posted! Oh, goodie. ~Angie

Siggraph 2007 - Wednesday

Your friendly Houdini Character Team: Yours Truly, Ed Lam - Programmer Extraordinaire and Calin Casian - My Rigger and Resident Punching Bag ready to demo with a pounding headache from last night.

Jeff Wagner was demo-ing with me today. He showed me the FX tool shelf they built. I hadn't even had a chance to see it! OMG! Amazing! I made smoke and contrails and bubbles, with a click of a button! ME! I recommend every ready go to the LA office and see it for yourself - seriously!

Kim Davidson (CEO of Side Effects Software) came by to see me and inquire bout how it was going. If you don't know who this guy is - you should.

It was great to see my friends from Motion Theory to my right, every once and a while I walked over for a visit and they had a simple and effective booth. They had a mail box for Demo Reel drop and I watched a girl almost throw here "hopefully empty" soda in there thinking it was a trashcan!

Lunch time now, and my tummy is not ready for food. I decide to walk the floor a little bit. I see my man Jason Anastas at the Disney booth demo-ing their proprietary tools for Meet The Robinson's.

Jason! WTF did you do to his head?
I thought the FX peeps at the Houdini booth were bad!

Here is video of Jason demo-ing,
but you cannot hear a thing really because the floor is so loud...
so at least Disney knows he was working hard.
The Disney Char GUI

I stopped by the Massive booth, They were showing off how they worked out all the crowd stuff for Evan Almighty and the Noah's ark scenes. He has a microphone, so you can actually hear him, though not nearly as animated as Jason at Disney. He actually is talking about a point we touched upon in our Expert Panel
regarding multiple studios working on separate elements for one shot and how you manage assets and keep all of the files straight.

Ran into Bill Ball at the R & H booth

Took this pic with my iphone cuz battery was really low in my camera... unfortunately if you move even a little bit the camera can't handle but you can still see that dazzling smile!

Sony Pictures has Karl Gnass do his drawing class every year and it never falls short. I remember taking his classes when I was at Sony for SL2, and he really knows his stuff. I plan on taking some of his courses in the Fall at the Animation Institute in Hollywood.

Blue Sky was representing with their Horton Hears a Who. I know the trailer is online for download, but I couldn't resist recording some of it because its just so damn pretty! I also love it when you are filming and people walk right in front of the screen.

Autodesk in da house! Even though their party
was a hot mess, the demos were on!
I tried to record video, but the screen just came out white.

Softimage represents their layering ability in animation. I also tried to record, but my video was just white...maybe next year. The Softimage party is tonight, but for some reason they decided to have you register AND try and get tickets. They handed out too many and even ran out...I have a feeling we won't make it to the party. I also have a feeling we will do just fine on our own.

Pixar's booth was drop dead gorgeous,
but I didn't stay too long for I might be blinded in awe.

I don't know what the heck this is, but it was kewl.

The Gnomon booth was hard to miss with that green glow surrounding it. I had the opportunity to meet with their last Senior class thanks to Pamela Kliebrink Thomson and I must say I was impressed with several of the students reels...especially modeling and animation!

I had to return from lunch to report for duty at the booth again and Cristin came by to visit.

And BTW, this is the "sexiest man in software development." Cristin Barghiel, Director of Product Development at SESI. I was so worried when I walked into that Toronto Office and he said to me "Angie, I thought you and I would sit down first to go over H9" I heard music in my head "Duhh, Doooo, Duuuuaaahhhh!" But, this is has got to be the nicest programmer I have ever met. He made my job so easy. And, notice the Jonesie Cake flower on his lanyard? I love this man!

"Baby Bird" joined me for drinks after a long day on the floor. He and I soon scooted to the Buster Beach House for the Animation Mentor/Reel FX party there, but we were so hungry we just sat downstairs and had drinks and h'orderves with Jason.

When we left the Beach House, I took a few pix of this boat Jamie was eyeing from our room window and some planes were doing aeronautical moves. The pic below is the best I got, I wasn't fast enough to really catch the planes in formation.

We headed back to the hotel and changed to meet Jason and his buddies at some pub called The Fields before attempting to enter the Softimage party. Even though we were registered, they ran out of tix. Here is Jason and Samir harassing a layout artist.

WE had a few drinks and Jason illustrated that his wife Joan dresses him. He has the most beautiful shirt on and the inside of the cuff has this gorgeous silk embroidered fabric. He informed us that...

This is straight...

and this is gay...

We soon decided to walk up to House of Blues. Samir saw a cute girl driving a rickshaw and decided to ride in it. We all walked. Once we got close to HOB, we saw the line and decided against it. Waiting for Samir in the rickshw...yes, we beat them up the street. We ducked into possibly the loudest sushi bar I have ever been to. It was so
ridiculously loud...I truly cannot express that to you. I have video of Jason explaining just how loud it was, but of course cannot show you. Read on and you will understand.

There are only a few pix from this evening I can share and absolutley no video. I had to censor the few I can show because...well, Jason decided to gesture for most all of them. Black box is accordingly placed. View at your own risk.

Samir progressivley got excited and knocked a full beer on the floor. The OCD bouncer freaked and Samir cleaned up his mess.

"Baby Bird" is done cleaning.

As you can see, we had plenty of fun without attending the Softimage party. Michael Kaschalk and others joined in the fun with myself, Samir, Calin and Jeff Wagner.

Whew! One more day to go, but all of this should keep you guys busy!

Mocap, keyframe and enhanced didgital acting...

I was talking with a friend of mine who worked as an animator on the movie - Beowolf. There has been much discussion online, at the pub and in general, amongst animators, of the merits of mocap in animated films that are using digital actors.

My friend has also worked on many other big films, creature, cartoon-y and otherwise and I think he is amazing talent. I decided to protect his identity here because people can be so brutal in this industry over just having an opinion. However, I think his opinion is not only valid (much more than mine, since I only worked on one mocap show at Henson for ten days) but I also think he articulates something that really should be stated on this blog. I personally have tried to avoid mocap because it seems all of my animation colleague's long-term mocap experiences involve...

Simply cleaning up pops in the curves created by the technology and make it look as close to the original performance as possible, instead heightening a performance and adding entertainment value and personality.

This takes any and all of the fun in our job as animators and frankly dilutes the heightened experience animation usually strives for.

I wanted to share what he said with you, since so many folks seem to be arguing about this movie on topics like creativity, the loss of craft in light of technology...and so on.

My friend says...

"The fact of the matter is...these films, for an animator, are a double edged sword.

These films provide work and steady employment, but do nothing for animators creativity or career expansion. There is little to gain in terms of skill set growth, or animation knowledge by working on these films.There are some technical gains to be had, but there are usually pipe line specific and non-transferable to other studios unless you continue down the mo-cap career path. Some folks try to rationalize"animating" on these films by figuring that they learn a lot about natural motion. But animation is not about natural motion, it is about caricature. Digi-double work maybe an exception, but even that work is a caricature.

Even motion as natural and realistic as Spiderman 3 calls for pushing naturalistic poses, and accents into a hyper real caricature of reality that is dynamic, powerful and entertaining. Mocapped films are great for integrators. Some of these artists actually love the technology and love the progress performance capture is making. Some of the artist have even designed t-shirts with a "Satan's Rotoscopers" logo in a light hearted jab at the oft used description of the mocap technology. For lighters and the rest of the CG pipe line I can not speak, but I am certain it is a more creatively satisfying experience than it is for an animator.

Bottom line, stay away from this work if you can, and if you must, then make sure to spend your free time actually animating and keeping your skills fresh and sharp. Because, in this fast paced animated world, your skills can quickly sink below the bar within the time you spend working on a mocapped film."

What CG should have been from the beginning

I normally don't say too much about animated movies today because...well, I just don't like most of them. My mother always told me "If you don't have anything nice to say...come sit next to me." Oh wait, that doesn't really help my point here...

Okay then, for the record...I like to stay focused on what is GOOD in animation on the blog. Animators are so self critical as it is - (which is a big part of the job) - that I like to keep topics super inspiring and positive.

Well, I saw Ratatouille last night with 3 of my buddies.
Let me just say...

wowsie, wowsie wow!

I am going back on Sunday to see it - and...I don't do that. Sitting in the dark watching movies feels too much like work to me, so I wait until I can do it in the comfort of my own home. If the movie is awful, I can just turn it off and god read a good book instead. But!!! back to the subject at hand!

I am going to do my best to explain why I think this movie is so important to CG animation without giving away any spoilers.


The storytelling points and character designs took me back to my childhood and to the old school animation of the 70's and 80's (yes, I know I am dating myself, but I don't care). Also, each shot moves with classical lines to follow the action. The cinematography is not gratuitous with the camera moves, just because you can.

There is even a very obvious shot that is homage to Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. Like Where's Waldo - look for it...it's great.

Every single chase scene reminded me of being 8 years old and running downstairs with my sisters and brother to watch Saturday morning cartoons like Tom and Jerry.

Tom and Jerry, 1965

The character design in Ratatouille reminded me of many early Disney films. The design is so strong, clear and appealing. You know EXACTLY who the character is before they ever utter a word. Remi - the rat is just the cutest little rat you ever did see. His animation is some of the best I have ever seen, as well at his apparition Gusteau - the chef. The fluid reversals and line of action on every single pose made me water at the mouth.

More on character design...all of the characters FELT like a drawing. BUT, let me explain. When I first learned how to create a cartoony caricature, I was taught to look at the shape of the head. Some people have really oval long faces, some have a squashed head, some have a large chin making for an eggplant shaped head. Look at this image and tell me if you see the drawings there. Just brilliant character design.

My buddy Roy doesn't work in CG animation. When the character Ego entered screen for the first time, I muttered "Oh My God..." under my breath.

My friend looked at me to see if I was "okay." For the first time, THIS was an evil character that had the chutzpah of the wicked Queen from Snow White. Ego (Peter O'Toole) moved with grace and determination and was truly scary. His hands, both design and animation where mesmerizing. I am in love with Ego. I was blown away.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937

The rafting water scenes screamed influence from the Disney Movie - The Rescurers. I wish I could find more stills on Google of this Disney movie to illustrate the comparisons, but you will see it for yourself. Gorgeous lighting and the CG look almost looked old and gritty like the Disney movies of the 60's and 70's. I never thought this was possible. The lighting, water, effects, everything was just breath taking. All 4 of us were just looking at each other in awe.

The Rescurers, 1977

The female character - Colette - is brilliant. After her first big scene where she draws a "line in the sand" with the lead - Linguini, I looked at one of my buddies and said "I like her!" She is a female working in a predominantly male-driven field and is a very strong female character who isn't looking for a man to save her or define her existence - FINALLY!

Played by Janeane Garofalo, no wonder I like her. One of her funniest and at the same time touching scenes involves a can of pepper spray.

Skinner's lawyer, Talon Labarthe, played by Teddy Newton was straight out of the movie Aristocats and one of my favorite to watch. Unfortunately, I do not have an image of him from the movie, but look at the pic below of Edgar - The Butler, from Aristocats and you will see the influence. Skinner's Lawyer took me straight back to my childhood and to every "butler or upper class type character" you found in Disney movies.

Labarthe was so well animated I wanted to cry. I didn't know CG could move with such subtlety.

Aristocats, 1970

And I know I am (as they say in the movie) "blathering on..." here, but I have to give Skinner's character his props too. Skinner (Sir Ian Holm) has some of the funniest dialog in the movie. Each of us were looking at each other like - what did he just say? and giggling at the same time.

Everyone loves to watch the neurotic guy who just cannot get it right. Ben Stiller has built an entire acting career based on this type of persona. I don't want to give anything away, so I will stop at...this guy is a funny little muther f*$ker.

It felt like to me, the characters in Ratatouille are real people, and we just kind of tripped into their world to see what they were up to. They have real histories and motivations. Nothing felt scripted and the story unfolded where you had no idea what would happen next. The world and characters created for Ratatouille felt like they had been doing their thing before you sat down in the theater and would continue after the you left. I can't wait to find out how things progress for these characters and I really care. Cars didn't leave me with this feeling at all.

I think technology has driven stories in CG for far too long. We started with toys because they are hard and shiny and that was easy to build animate and render. Then, stories were driven to bugs and robots which again have armatures that are hard pieces like toys. Soon, its talking furry animals and monsters as the fur shaders are perfected. Now, moving to underwater stuff because of new technology that can handle caustics, etc. and although I think all types of animation is difficult because you are always solving new problems...animating a floaty underwater motion comes natural on a computer. Then, we have the penguin rage which the construction of a penguin is really a flour sack, and wet fur and fluid water sims are the new challenge. But!!! it was, at least in my mind, the introduction of Brad Bird and The Incredibles that caused people to think outside of the technology for story and push what CG can do. Ratatouille is the evolution of the CG animation medium to finally have story driving the technology, instead of the other way around.

The only critical thing I can say about the Ratatouille story is there really wasn't that big "lump-in-your-throat" moment for me, like I had with the Incredibles. I am not sure if seeing that pre-released 9 minutes of the movie ahead of time is the culprit or not. The one scene in the Incredibles when the mom is talking to Violet outside of the cave and Mom gently brushes Violet's hair behind her ear to console her...that scene actually got me a bit teary. Maybe this is because it was a mother/daughter moment that I identified with?

But, the only moment that had that kind of emotional prodding for me in Ratatouille was when he let Remi out of the jar and the rat ran off. But! he came back...that moment might have been a bit more solid if I had not already watched it over and over again online.

But this is an animation blog - so let's talk about how it all MOVED! The animation was finally!!! a style I had been hoping to see. I think CG animated films had to go from stiff interpretation of what technology would allow us to create to the pendulum swinging wildly out of control to the other end of wacky and insane squash and stretch that became just plain hard to watch. Ratatouille finally brings us back to the use of squash and stretch used specifically where needed and not in a gratuitous way. Squash and Stretch and blur poses are not overly exploited. Since the animators go in and out of the extremes on a single frame or two - you FEEL the weight and timing and heightened entertainment value to it rather than see all the wackiness of the poses themselves. The physical comedy is "off the hook!" and I heard all ages giggling with delight in the theater.


So, we were pretty hungry when we left the theater. It was 10 pm and we hadn't eaten dinner, but also! everything in the movie makes you want to eat, drink wine and celebrate food! We went straight to one of my favorite bistros - Primitivo - and celebrated with good wine, tapas and laughter. What and awesome Friday night.

The messages that drive the plot of this movie are everything from "anyone can cook" to a critic's role in society to remembering the sweet times from childhood. I loved this movie and cannot wait to see it again tomorrow. The online trailers give you a taste, but nothing compares to viewing these images and the storytelling on the big screen. Go see it now and take your kids, nieces, nephews, mom, dad, friends - tell everyone...Finally, we have come full circle to what animated films should be.

Ratatouille Scoopville!

Most people who read this blog know I am pretty
excited about this movie by my previous posts!

I have purposely missed early screenings of Ratatouille - so I can experience it with the rest of the "excited-normal public" and not with a bunch of industry types. RATATOUILLE opens in theaters THIS FRIDAY, June 29th!

Here is an interview with Brad Bird on KCRW

A little birdie in marketing for the Ratatouille sent me some great hi-rez images and links to post here on the blog! Click on any of the images above to see the HI-REZ stills - the characters are really amazing, especially the soft textures and designs. This movie is really pushing what CG can be aesthetically.

Also! The first link takes you to a Progression reel from animatic to Workbook/Previz to Look Dev and Animation through to Final Renders. Nice!


Downloadable 9 minutes of the new Pixar animated feature Ratatouille

Two words...


1024, 720 and 480 direct downloads here

Go Frame by Frame to see the crazy awesome poses!

And here is a Behind the scenes clip!

Thinking Animation Article in CGW

Issue Date: Volume: 29 Issue: 11 (Nov 2006)
Bridging the 2D and CG Gap

Thinking Animation Book Cover

Animation has been through some major changes during the past 10 years, and some of these changes have blindsided artists. The signs were there, but resistance to change, fear of the machine, and denial prevented many artists from seeing what was on the horizon.As in many other fields, the computer has made what is known as a disruptive impact on our art form. Think of the car and the horse, the cellular phone and the pay phone, computer-generated animation and traditional 2D animation. The introduction of the computer has changed an art form that had been, until recently, a pen-and-paper medium. Every animated feature film from the early 1900s to the late 1980s was a traditionally hand-drawn or stop-motion animated film. The tools used to make those films did not significantly change in almost 80 years.

The art of classical film animation has been ever-evolving since its early days. Artists and the studios have strived to raise the bar visually through storytelling since the first crude attempts at putting moving images on the screen. We are talking about classical animation and its evolution into computer-generated feature films—think Steamboat Willie and its progression to The Incredibles.

It is important for an animator to recognize trends in filmmaking, storytelling, and technology in order to increase his or her chances of continued employment. Trends and history reveal how evolution of an art form occurs. Paying close attention to the trends and growth of any field helps predict the future of that industry. Three major shifts are responsible for the progression from pencil to mouse in feature animation: aesthetic, audience, and storytelling.


Disney Talk mp3

Per your requests, we now have the Disney Talk in an mp3 format!

We hope you can distinguish who is talking and
without the visuals and this provides a much smaller file.

Disney Talk, mp3 format (50 meg)

Original Video of Disney Talk (100 meg)

Here is the text from the handout we gave to the attendees:

Fleas on The Shoulders of Giants
Thinking Animation Panel and Book Signing
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
12-1:00 pm
Disney Feature Animation

This panel seeks to demystify, debunk, and drive the dialogue about the future of 2D and CG character animation. It is motivated by the sea change that is currently affecting our industry. The introduction of the computer has changed an art form that had been, until now, a pen and paper medium for upward of 80 years. Today, traditional animators and artists are giving up their fear of the machine and embracing CG in droves. The art of classical film animation has been ever-evolving since its early days. Artists and the studios have strived to raise the bar visually through storytelling since the first crude attempts at putting moving images on the screen.

We are talking about classical animation and its evolution into computer-generated feature films—think Steamboat Willie and its progression to The Incredibles. It is important to recognize trends in filmmaking, storytelling, and technology for an animator to increase his or her chances of continued employment. Trends and history reveal how evolution of an art form occurs. Paying close attention to the trends and growth of any field helps predict the future of that industry. Three major shifts are responsible for the progression from pencil to mouse in feature animation: aesthetic, audience, and storytelling.

Looking at the interesting turn of events in animation, many questions come to mind. What makes for a smooth transition? What has helped those who have made the jump? How much of the 2D art form is applicable to the digital realm? What have we gained and lost in the rise of CG? What is the impact of more 2D animators entering the CG industry? Without drawing as a craft threshold, is there room for a new set of animation heroes in CG with a signature style like, say, Ward Kimball’s (of Disney’s Nine Old Men fame)? This is a relatively new art in the broader sense of the word, and we are all learning as we go because we are but fleas on the shoulders of giants.

Tenny Chonin

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Hanna Hurme
Book Soup Sales

Angie Jones
Digital Domain

Angie Jones began her animation career at a San Diego studio with more than 150 traditional animators 12 years ago called Lightspan. Although she was trained at Atlanta College of Art in Fine Arts, she readily embraced animating with the computer. She has worked on numerous productions, including Stuart Little 2, Disney’s 50th Anniversary commercials, Oddworld: Abe’s Exodus, Garfield, Dino Crises 3, Pan's Labyrinth, Zoom, Scooby Doo Too, XMen 2, and National Treasure. You can find out more about Angie here - Spicy Cricket Animation.

Jamie Oliff
Reel FX

Jamie Oliff was trained in classical animation at Sheridan College of Art and Design and has worked in the animation industry for more than 20 years. An award-winning director and long time feature film animator, his credits include the first season of The Ren and Stimpy Show, and many feature length animated pictures such as Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, Hercules, The Emperor’s New Groove, and CG animation on titles ranging from Kangaroo Jack to Scooby Doo Too and National Treasure. He lives in Burbank, CA. with his wife and two children and a biplane project that he never finds enough time to finish.

Richard Taylor

Electronic Arts

Richard Taylor has an extensive background in live-action direction, production design, special effects, and computer-generated images for theatrical films, television commercials, and computer games. He began his career as an artist and holds a BFA in painting and drawing from the University of Utah. In 1971 Richard received The Cole Porter Fellowship to USC graduate school, where he earned his Master’s degree in photography and printmaking. In the past 30 years, Richard has lent his talent to a number of companies, resulting in many award-winning commercial spots and seven Clio awards, along with two Hugo awards and two Mobius awards. Richard was a member of the team at Magi, whose commercial for Atari’s Worm War I was the first to win a Clio for computer animation. His other commercial work includes spots for companies such as Ford, RCA, Kellogg’s, Reebok, McDonald’s, UPS, Honda, Toyota, Bud Light, Intel, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Census 2000, Warner Bros., Disney, Duracell, and 7-Up, for whom he launched the internationally acclaimed “Spot” campaign. Richard’s years in the industry have provided him with a wide array of opportunities in addition to commercial work. He has done everything from directing promotional films for major networks, to designing, supervising, and directing special effects and computer-generated images. Richard has worked in various capacities on features such as Tron, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Looker, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Where the Wild Things Are. Presently Richard is cinematics director at Electronic Arts Los Angeles. Over the last four years he has designed and directed cinematics for such games as Top Spin, Links 2004, Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth 1 and II, and Command and Conquer 3.

Jerry Beck
Cartoon Brew

Jerry Beck has become one of the most knowledgeable and well-rounded animation historians ever known. His dreams of becoming a cartoonist rooted from his early childhood with cartoons such as Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound. Despite the fact that animators were not in demand by the time he graduated from high school, he still found a career in the field that he loved as an animation scholar. Working as an associate alongside Leonard Maltin, an experienced animation researcher, they published Maltin’s book, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons in 1980. From then on, Beck would take part in various cartoon research projects, both solo and with partners such as Will Friedwald. Many of his findings on the subject are in the form of books such as The 50 Greatest Cartoons and Warner Bros. Animation Art, but he has also created television specials and has even taught several college courses on the history of cartoons, as well. In addition to being an animation historian, he is also an animation producer, and has been, and is working on creating cartoons.

Floyd Norman
Disney Publishing Group

Floyd Norman began his cartooning career while still in high school assisting Bill Woggon on the Katy Keene series for Archie Comics. He attended Art Center College of Design as an Illustrator major. Floyd started working as an animation artist for the Walt Disney studio on Sleeping Beauty and eventually graduated to the story department where he did story sketch on The Jungle Book. This was the last film Walt Disney personally supervised. Floyd wrote and produced animated segments for Sesame Street, Villa Alegre, and dozens of educational films. Also, Floyd supervised animation layout at Hanna-Barbera Productions and storyboarded several shows including The Flintstones, Smurfs, and Scooby Doo. He wrote scripts for The Quicky Koala Show, The Real Ghostbusters, and Monster Tales. Floyd returned to Disney in the early eighties to join the Disney Publishing Group. He wrote the syndicated Mickey Mouse comic strip and contributed stories for Disney Comics. As Project Supervisor in Creative Development Publishing, Floyd created, wrote and designed several children's books. After a ten year absence from film, Floyd returned to his roots doing story work on several feature length Disney animated films, Hunchback, Mulan, Tigger Movie, Dinosaur, and Toy Story 2. Intrigued by the new digital realm and interactive computer media, Floyd helped develop computer software for painting and animation. After a long and varied career, Floyd enters a new millennium more excited than ever about the possibilities of a new media. Now Floyd works with his previous associates adding his special blend of wit and whimsy to the Afro-Kids.com website.