Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Californias' Best Kept Secret


In terms of animation education, one of the best programs I have seen is CSU Summer Arts. When I got out of high school, I really wanted to learn stuff about animation. I think it was something I saw in an issue of Amiga World Magazine (I'm dating myself) that prompted me to check into a computer animation program that was being run by this organization. Back then, all the stars of computer animation gathered at Humboldt State University. We did films using swivel 3d. It was great! It was the first time I really knew that I wanted to make films. The CSU summer arts program has been running for 21 years now.. Lately, its been at Fresno State.

This Year I had the privilege of being a guest artist for the 5th time. Rick Vertolli has been the guiding light of the computer graphics program at CSU summer arts. The range of Guest Artists is really amazing. We had Mike Wellins, who is an independent film maker and director. He works up at Leica. Rusty Mills, who has been a Producer/Director for many projects including Pinky and the Brain and animaniacs. Brian Boyd, a TD from Pixar was their to talk about all aspects of color, lighting and also rigging. Chuck Harvey, who trained under Milt Kahl was also one of the guest artists. Chuck, having worked with the greats, had so much inspiring artwork to show. His collection of animation art blew everyone away. The subject of this years workshop was character development. The students got to take acting classes from a teacher from Second City and then develop that character using a CG rig. Things like Walk cycles, Pose Tests and Acting scenes are some of the work being done. The students were also lucky enough to get a tour of Pixar, which usually is impossible to do for a group this size.

Another great thing about summer arts is the fact that alot of other workshops are going on around the campus. There is an energy that really feels great. Students are working till 2 am. Its an intense experience. One thing that should be noted is that 80% of students receive some sort of scholarship. When you think about how expensive animation education can be, this is why Summer Arts is the best kept secret in animation education. The culmination of the work will be on Friday, the 27th of July 2007


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Spline Casts Coming Soon!!!!

Yes, its summer, and that means things are a bit slow. What a perfect time to grab some artists and do some Spline Casts. Here are some of the Splinecasts you can expect in the Future:

Story Roundtables

Animation Roundtables

Doug Sweetland

Pete Doctor

etc etc... Be patient, they are coming.

Here is a preview of a Story Roundtable interview with Incredibles and Ratatouille head of story, Mark Andrews and Veteran Story Artist/Supervisor Ted Mathot. Look for the entire interview in the next week or so.

Remember, safari has problems with mp4 files... Also, if you like the interview feel free to use the tip jar at the bottom of the page to support getting better equipment. All donations go to making this a better program.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

IK Is Not Always OK.

One thing I've noticed a lot of students do recently is animate with IK on for no apparent reason. For example, a character just walking forward in space and gesturing with his/her arms would be animated with the arms in IK. I'm not sure if this is a rookie mistake, laziness, or if people do it so they don't have to deal with orientation switches but, in my opinion it is very noticeable and it almost always looks wrong. If we just look at the terminology we're using we can get some obvious hints that will help you with your work method. "Inverse" means the reverse of something. So the opposite of FK, or forward motion, must be obstructed motion or motion impacted by an external element.

That external element makes perfect sense when it's something like a ground plane, table top, or any surface that your character may need to interact with. However, if a character is just walking around or standing still and gesturing and the arms are free of any external element, then IK stands out like a sore thumb and your animation looks like a puppet with arm rods. Movement begins to look externally motivated. You don't want to do anything that's going to break your "illusion of life". I love the Muppets as much as the next guy and those characters seem real to many people but Kermit's arms still look like their on sticks..... which is just bad IK.