Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Demo Reel 2013

While I'm here... here's my latest demo reel!

Staff at Blue Sky!

This is probably a good place to mention that I've been hired as a Junior Animator (staff!) starting at Blue Sky Studios in May of this year. I'm super SUPER excited and can't wait to plunge into this dream come true on Rio 2!

Animation Eye Candy

I've been spending a lot of time lately working on my reference library for animation, just scouring the net for fascinating drawings and videos of interesting creatures. Here is some of the eye candy I've found:

Head Like An Orange

Warning: You can get totally sucked into this website. It features gifs of various nature scenes, including lots of neat animal cycles.

Academy of Art Character and Creature Design Notes

Lots of fun poses to be found in the bowels of this website.


Artsy dance video that shows multiple frames at once.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Customizing Maya for Animation

So I just got a new computer, and with some feature animation under my belt at a couple studios now, I decided to take a couple days to customize Maya for the most comfy animation workflow I could . I spent some time searching around for plugins that would give me the animation tool flexibility I found in the studios I had worked at. I am very happy to say that Maya is so much better now! :)

Here's what I did...


-Make key ticks bigger in timeline
To make the keys bigger click animation preferences on bottom right, go to time slider, and adjust "key tick size"

-Hide UI elements you don't use to get more screen real estate

-Preferences>Interface>hide extra menu nonsense you don't need

-Windows>Settings/Pref>Color Settings>Animation
I made the Current time bright pink so it doesn't match the x channel color, and I made the z channel a brighter blue so it stands out better on the dark gray background

-I'm still trying to figure out how to make keys and curves bigger/thicker in the graph editor for easier clicking and ease on the eyes. Any ideas?


-Install tweenmachine

-Install autotangent

-I have the Animation Mentor shelf installed to get a grease pencil and arc tracker. I recommend seeking out alternatives to these for sure!

-Graph Editor Redux
(pain to install but so VERY very worth it! I can't imagine animating without it)


-Grease Pencil
-Ghosting (GhostObject) - this is already on the animation shelf so there is an icon for it
-No Ghosting (UnghostObject) - already on the animation shelf so there is an icon
-Motion Trail (CreateMotionTrail) - already on the animation shelf so there is an icon
-Arc Tracker
-Show/Hide Curves - I got this script from Animation Mentor
$currentPanel = `getPanel -withFocus`;
string $panelType = `getPanel -to $currentPanel`; if ($panelType == "modelPanel") {
modelEditor -e -nurbsCurves ( !`modelEditor -q -nurbsCurves $currentPanel` ) $currentPanel;

-TweenMachine (tweenMachine;)
-AutoTangent (source "autoTangent.mel"; autoTangent();)
-Reset controls to default (see below)
-Reset controls rotate to default (see below)
-Change rotate mode (object or world) (see below)
-Change translate mode (object or world) (see below)


(I use a heavily ergo keyboard so some of the nontraditional keys are in weird places, hence some of my odd key choices.)

n - Play (togglePlayback)
h - weighted tangents (keyTangent -edit -weightedTangents true;)
j - free tangents (keyTangent -weightLock off;)
k - break tangents (keyTangent -lock off;)
l - autotangent
` - previousKey
\ - nextKey

g - Reset control to default position - - source

The second line of the script is removed and replaced with asterisks because it doesn't post correctly.
Visit the source link and copy the second line which he posted as a jpg to avoid this problem.
string $mySelection[] = `ls -sl`;
setAttr ($mySelection[$n] + ".rotateZ") 0;
setAttr ($mySelection[$n] + ".rotateX") 0;
setAttr ($mySelection[$n] + ".rotateY") 0;
setAttr ($mySelection[$n] + ".translateZ") 0;
setAttr ($mySelection[$n] + ".translateX") 0;
setAttr ($mySelection[$n] + ".translateY") 0;

t - Reset control to default rotation - source
The second line of the script is replaced with asterisks, use the replaced line from above here too
string $mySelection[] = `ls -sl`;
setAttr ($mySelection[$n] + ".rotateZ") 0;
setAttr ($mySelection[$n] + ".rotateX") 0;
setAttr ($mySelection[$n] + ".rotateY") 0;

m - change rotate mode (local / world) - source
if (`manipRotateContext -q -mode Rotate` != 2)
manipRotateContext -e -mode 2 Rotate;
manipRotateContext -e -mode 0 Rotate;

/ - change move mode (local / world) - source
if (`manipMoveContext -q -mode Move` != 2)
manipMoveContext -e -mode 2 Move;
manipMoveContext -e -mode 0 Move;

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

On getting your posing just right

I was asked about how to really get your posing right so once you start animating you aren't totally lost. That isn't really the question, which was more vague... but here is my also vague answer. ;)


Tough question! I'll see what I can do.

First, the disclaimer, everyone tends to find a worklow that works best for them so one approach isn't best for everybody.

Shoot video reference. Even if you don't end up using it, it helps you explore your ideas and can be a lifesaver if you are having a particular problem with some body mechanics. It always give you something to refer back to when you need help. Some people use it for body mechanics, I personally use it for acting. But definitely most people shoot reference in this industry. Just remember to shoot your reference authentically. If your character is standing, stand up! If your character has a heavy prop, find a heavy prop. Don't act cartoony even if it's a cartoony shot. You're looking for realism so you can caricature it later.

Pay attention to every single control and axis. It's hard to get things right if you miss some important controls. But if you do some rough blocking and then go control by control, axis by axis (mainly on the spine, head, and wrists for axis by axis), second by second, and pay attention to what everything should be doing to improve your rough posing. Start with the base, butt, upper spine, and work your way out to the limbs and face so you don't waste time compensating for big changes.

Take this approach to analyzing your video reference too. Limb by limb, axis by axis. And then improve on your video reference as only an animator can. :)

It doesn't have to be perfect in blocking. You want to strive for perfection to avoid problems down the line, but it will not be perfect as you will learn as you progress through the shot. Probably every pro animator, when they spline their shot, experiences a brief twinge of panic because the timing and body mechanics are suddenly not quite working as they envisioned. Most animators hate this step. Save a playblast of your blocking so you can always refer back to the timing and posing you had there. On the plus side, once you spline or start refining, suddenly new possibilities will open up about how to improve the motion and the blocking that you couldn't see in the earlier limited version of your shot. Have fun and be creative with it. :)

Get feedback from others as much as you can. They'll see things you missed. Professional animators sometimes have to show their work every day to a supervisor, sometimes twice a day. I'm working on a shot right now where almost every single pose has been changed due to supervisor feedback. It's way better because of it. Obviously you have to do all the hard work, but the work you do can inspire someone else to give you inspiring feedback.

There's an awesome video online of Glen Keane drawing over the poses for the CG blocking in Tangled that is pretty amazing. Even Disney's best and brightest need to explore their way to a better shot. - the Glen Keane bit is somewhere in the middle of that video.


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Monday, July 26, 2010

Animating a Heavy Character

I've been animating a big 'ol dinosaur lately and here are some tips I've picked up along the way before and during this test:

Animating a heavy character -

-Big up and down as the legs absorb all that weight

-Ease a lot on downs, Spend more time down than up, it's harder for the weight to go up, and once it's up there, it really wants to come down!

-The feet stay on ground as long as possible before stepping: peel up slowly keeping that weight support as long as possible, and then quickly throw themselves forward, hitting that ground with hurried force to catch all that weight as soon as they can

-Super exaggerated overlap from all that heavy weight dragging behind what the body is doing, again, lots of ease when dragging down and spend as little time as possible when up, without looking too snappy.

-Overweight people seem to have a tendency to throw their arms forward to try to gain momentum. They don't bend very much, so they're kind of stiff, but the arms will work more to try to move all that bulk.

-If you have toes, show really clear toe spread and toe straighten as the foot takes the weight. You can fake this "foot spreading" with shoes by translating the foot up very slightly, rotating the whole foot down very slightly, and rotating the toe up accordingly, so it stays above the ground. It's very subtle but it's way more effective than just freezing the foot to the ground. As the weight transfers to the other foot, you can reverse this action with a quick copy/paste. Voila!

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Just Keep Swimming

I wrote the following email to a friend recently who was worried about staying motivated and not giving up on animating. I think it's advice that I'd like to remind myself to listen to as well, so I'll post it here too.

The best I can say is that you aren't alone. I've given up on being an animator a few times, once after working at a studio for years. Sometimes you just don't think you are cut out to animate. But you are cut out to do whatever you are really dedicated to doing.

If you are having trouble on something big, try smaller exercises. I read on someone's blog once that they would do little exercises where the only point was to do one principle of animation and get that one principle working really well on super simple characters. Doing lots of different little tests can be better than spending 2 months on one thing. You learn faster and don't get sick of it.

If you have animation in progress right now that is hanging you up, and the motivation just isn't there... maybe pick a principle you think you're worst at and obsess over that one goal for a day. Get that principle right. Focusing on one thing can take away the pressure of all the rest of it and help you find fun ways to explore that principle that you perhaps never would have thought of otherwise.

The hard thing about being an animator is that even if you are really good, you still think you're bad. Cause it's hard. And you're always thinking, oh no, this next shot is way too hard, I can't do it. But that's a good thing, because then you try harder and do better and people watch it and are like holyshitthatsawesome. Let yourself enjoy the awesome work that you've created, revel in it, and then move on.

Good luck!


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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dragon Flight Cycle

I've been ramping up for doing a big dragon test. Yes, sadly that means my short is on hold. But it's something I've always wanted to do and I do want some creature work on my reel. To that end, here's a flight cycle I'm working on. Next will come a walk cycle, and finally a little story that I can really have fun with! I'm very excited about it.

This guy was purchased from Turbosquid, rigged with Anzovin's The Setup machine, and then I used the rig to adjust his proportions. I wanted much more massive forearms so he can use them to walk in the mini short. And also the wings were waaay too small for anything. They're still too small for feasibility but hey it's a giant flying lizard! Magic! Ponies! Unicorns! Yay!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Networking is my Friend

Man, it's hard to believe that Animation Mentor is over and I'm out in the real world now!

I'm learning more and more that one of the most important parts of the school is the amazing networking opportunities. I've applied to only twelve studios (because honestly no one is really hiring animators right now) and of those twelve studios, the only ones I've heard a peep from are the few where I have friends trying to help me get in. It's all about who you know and I am so thankful that I put in the extra effort to make friends at the school and make a good impression on people. We like to work with the people we like. :)

Meanwhile, I suppose this is no longer an Animation Mentor blog... perhaps it's time to make it a blog about my short in progress! Ah, updates on that coming very soon.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Request for feedback on my reel

A former mentor made me realize that I really need some professional work on my demo reel in order to stand out. I recall that I got a much stronger initial reaction at the job fair at Siggraph three years ago, when they saw professional work all over my shot breakdown, than I did at the more recent animation mentor job fair, with just AM stuff listed.

I'm not sure how much that matters when the work on your demo reel is good, but I really don't want to shoot myself in the foot with first impressions.

So I've quickly put together a new reel, trying to ease in some professional shots. They are likely the weakest stuff on there and the reel is running a bit long now. Could you guys please let me know what you might cut, either from the professional or Animation Mentor work? Thanks so much!

View Better Quality HERE or see below:


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