Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Art Department Roundtable!!!!

We're proud to announce the next splinecast in our Animation Roundtable series. Andrew and I were very fortunate to gather an amazing group of some of Pixar's art department A-listers for our Art Department Roundtable. In this podcast we are joined by production designers Harley Jessup and Bob Pauley, director of photography Sharon Calahan, art director Tia Kratter, and character designer Teddy Newton. Andrew and I can't thank them all enough for their participation. We had a great, anecdotal conversation about the development process from art's point of view with some of the most talented designers working in animation today. Below is an mp4 and wav file of the recording. Andrew and I will do our best to publish a polished version with recorded wraps and slideshow up on iTunes as soon as we're able. Till then take a listen to a group of people who have had a hand in creating some of the most stunning visuals in film's recent history. We hope you enjoy it.



Spline Doctor Q&A Answers

Sorry, about this post I was suppose to post the answers last week. I got really busy, I'm leaving for Europe and New York for a month, and haven't had time to edit it together. I promise I'll post it as soon as I get back. There were a bunch of great questions and I want to make this a great splinecast that will be informative as well as interesting, unfortunately that takes time. If you want you can post some more questions in the meantime if you have any.

see you all in a month!
-Dr. Stephen G.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Jeff Pidgeon Interview

Hey guys I found this interview with the amazing Jeff Pidgeon on-line today. Everyone should check it out. Jeff has been at PIXAR forever and he is in my opinion one of the most influential artists of PIXAR's earlier films, Toy Story,Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, etc. Worth a listen.

here is the link!

--Dr. Stephen G.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Elements of Strong Posing Part 2: Weight & Balance

We're all familiar with this concept from having to do "heavy object lift" tests and the good ol' "ball bounce" but what weight and balance really do for your poses is give them a sense of "believability". One of the gifts we have in animation is the boarderless playground of our imagination to create whatever characters and worlds we can dream up. However, in order to get our audience to believe in the products of our imagination we have to give them credibility. No matter how caricatured you are working, weight and balance should always come into play or there will be something about your work that will look odd, wrong, or worse yet....unbelievable.

Take a look at this pose from Frank Thomas of the woman and Merlin squirrels from "Sword in the Stone".

The female squirrel has a great sense of weight (and I'm not talking about her size). Her sense of being off balance is reinforced by the Merlin squirrel leaning in opposition against her. You can see by the use of straights and angles in the arms the tension and strain of Merlin trying to hold up the other squirrel.

Last year I had taken my family to see a performance of chinese acrobats. Beyond the amazing and entertaing feats of physical discipline, I was fascinated by studying how they carried their weight. No matter how fantastic the pose, the heads of the performers (unless balanced by a wider stance) was always in a direct plumb over the weight bearing foot. This idea of weight and balance should also apply to the physics of your animation as well as your poses. Keep Sir Isaac's laws in the back of your brain when posing and working on the physics of your movement. You can have a character with 8 legs walking on a planet made of spounge cake, but does it have a believable presence in the space it's occupying? That's where wieght and balance help the audience connect with your work.

Law and logic clearly prove to me that a coyote cannot ski down a hill with a refrigerator on it's back. However, if you show me an entertaining and believable can probably talk me into it.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Elements of Strong Posing Part 1: Attitude

I was going back through some old reference material and was reading up on the elements that factor into character posing. I'm constantly surprised how much I learn by just refreshing myself with some of the most basic principles. So I'd like to spend a couple posts going over some of the basic elements that factor into clear and expressive posing. The first element I'd like to talk about is "Attitude".

I just purchased one of the Looney Tunes DVD collections recently for my sons because if I heard one more episode of a screaming Nicktoon I would have been compelled to take my own life. So in the effort of saving me from myself and to preach the gospel of quality to my boys we popped in Chuck Jones' "Duck Amuck ". I probably hadn't watched it in about 7 years and I was smiling from ear to ear by the end of it. Not only did I have the joy of watching my 6 year old see it for the first time, but to watch my seventeen year old recite along with it like he saw it the day before. I began thinking about what it is that makes it such an enduring short. Clearly, it's a very imaginative premise, but then I tried to analyze it with an animator's eye and I kept focusing on Daffy's poses. They are so expressive and had such clear attitudes. When you watch the short there is never a doubt in your mind how Daffy is feeling or what his emotional state is. Attitude is how your body language and thought process comes through in your pose.

It's the tiny details that are easy to overlook that can help to strengthen the attitude in your posing. Explore all of the possibilities while you're working out your poses and ask yourself questions. "What if I drop the shoulders a little more?". "Should we see more of her face?". "What would widening the stance do?". It can also be as simple as showing your pose to a friend or colleague and asking them "How does this read to you?". We'll talk about more over the next few weeks. Andrew and I just recorded a new round table so stay tuned for that as well. In the mean time, watch a little "Duck Amuck".


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Doctor is in.

I was thinking about these splinecasts and round tables that Andrew and Adam have been so nice to put together for all us, and realized that none of us have been the subject of one. So I figure I would do a Doctor Q&A with me, Stephen Gregory. I'll also open it up to our readers who might have questions for me. If you have a question send me an e-mail to this address by Thursday September 13th and I'll answer your questions in my splinecast I'll post next week.

-Dr.Stephen G.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Whats up, Doc?

Finally, The Pete Docter Spline Cast is up on Itunes. I'll be tweaking it a bit, but the interview is done and hopefully the audio is ok. We did it with a special microphone at Pixar.


Pete Docter Spline Cast

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Introducing the new iTutor!

Interested in tutoring? I'm going to be taking a few students in November for more info click here.