Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

New Doctors... and News..

- We have added two Docs to the site. Adam Burke and Ross Stevenson. Both are animation Vets. Adam has been in the industry for 15 or more years and has worked at Bluth, Warners with Brad Bird on Iron Giant and other projects and even started his own Studio in the Boston area. He has been at Pixar since the Incredibles. Ross is teaching the first level class at the Academy and has been animating at Pixar since A Bugs Life. Look for a more detailed profile and hopefully some interesting posts in the coming year. Feel free to ask these guys any questions in the comments section.

- We are in the process of updating the Web Site so that we can archive all the past articles and Splinecasts. As you already know, we are in Crunch on our current film, so its difficult to get much of anything done. Its all done with help of volunteers. If you would like to be a volunteer, let me know and I'll gladly take any help with the web site and other stuff.

- I am trying to do another Spline Cast. Hopefully it will be with one of the animators. I also am in the process of doing a written interview with Doug Sweetland. I am at his mercy, so be patient. It should be a good interview!

- Sorry if I have not answered emails. My account was filled with 5000 spam emails, so I couldnt get in. my new email is

- Thanks again for all the support and continued interest.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Brows

As we get into facial animation in class, one thing that is often overlooked is the brows. The brow is such an important signal for telling you, the audience, how a character feels. So what?, you might say... What do I really need to know about the brow? Well, here are few things that you want to keep in mind when animating them...

For one, the brows should be treated as a unit. You often see animation notes that show the invisible line that connects the eye brows. This is done to retain a sense of anatomy and design. You don't want two French frys sitting up there. Another thing you want to try to incorporate is how you design the poses. An example of this would be leading the eye. If a character is looking screen left, you really want to pose the brows in a way that complements the direction of the look. It seems basic, but it is missing in a lot of work.

Transitions. The timing between brow poses is important to get right. You really want to think about how the actual muscle works. When I see a brow drifting for a lot of frames, it just doesn't look right. Usually, the transition between poses is relatively quick. Also, think about the clearest "change" from one pose to another. Don't over complicate it. The most successful brow animation I see is well designed, has good timing and is subtle as well. You can get really fancy with how your brows emote. Think of all the small details that a face has. Understand the difference between a brow going up and down, as opposed to Left and Right. Each has different meanings.

Complement them with the eyes. Usually when the brows are moving, you will get some small movement in the eye lids. This is important to understand. There is no rule for how much, its just something to be aware of. I can go into detail about this, but observation is your best friend here.

Happy Brow-loween


Sunday, October 15, 2006


I wanted to talk a bit about what we are doing at the Academy this semester. This semester, Scott Clark and I recorded 4 improv actors doing random scenes. We then picked the best one out of 20 or so skits and are animating to it. The students are in charge of every aspect of the process. We started by doing visual development. Then tasks were assigned to each student. Some Model, Some are doing layout etc... We have cast out the scenes and the students are beginning animation. Each of them will have a chunk of very juicy shots to animate. The dialogue they are animating to is full of great stuff. It give them the opportunity to animate something original with interesting characters. Granted, the story is improvised, so it aint Bambi but its good and alot can be learned. Scott Clark coined the term "Improvimation" I think its a great way to generate content, especially on the student level. Alot of the time, students take dialogue clips from movies. Unless they are done really well, most of them are lack luster. Expect to see the final film at the end of the semester.

The image is of one of our characters "The Captain" It is a skit involving three characters.