Monday, November 15, 2010

"Goatboy" Bebop and Abstract Animation in general

This is a short abstract film I created as part of the "Bored Animators Club" challenge at work!  After we were done with Medal of Honor we were sitting around thinking of stuff to do, so we came up with the idea of 24 hour animation challenges.  Take that, 11 Second Club.  Who needs a month to make a short film? Hehe.

Anyway, I figured it would be a fun opportunity to finally get around to making an abstract film!  I've always loved watching experimental animation - as a kid I was drawn to things like the pink elephants in Dumbo, song sequences from Fantasia, seashells gliding around in the sand on Sesame Street, and so forth.  In college we studied lots of different animation styles, from the Hubleys to Oskar Fischinger to the Brothers Quay and even Chuck Jones.  Although I knew I wanted to work in the mainstream industry, part of me highly respected and envied the people who found time (and money) to create something completely new and unexpected.

Abstract animation, to me, is like visual poetry - it's able to convey things that aren't easily put into words or purely representational images.  The scene from Ratatouille where Remy tries to describe "taste" is a perfect example of this.  Perhaps because I grew up in a musical family I also feel a strong connection between music and image.  When I listen to a song, I visualize it too, if that makes any sense.  That's kind of how Goatboy Bebop came into being. 

I'm glad that some artists and studios are still making room for experimental work in their films.  In an era where 3D photorealism is all the rage, it's nice to see something that takes a different path.  So often we stay grounded in real life and we forget how to be artists and poets, we forget we are capable of transcending the representational world.  Our brains can make those abstract connections between color, line, icon, shape, sound, smell, object and feeling.  That's what makes being human so awesome! 

Huh, I guess it's been a while since I've waxed philosophical about animation.  I could keep going on about this topic, but I think I'll wrap it up with a link to some abstract animations I've compiled together that have inspired me over the years. 

Abstract Films and Film Sequences

I hope you can find time to enjoy them as much as I have!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

11 Second Club - October 2010

I found myself with some free time last month so I tried out the 11 Second Club competition for the first time.  I've always found the competition inspiring but never quite worked up the nerve to enter myself.  I earned a respectable 5th place out of 256 entries, not bad!

Here's my piece:

You can check out the other entries here:

I went through a lot of free rigs available on the internet before settling on the "Blake" rig by Jason Baskin.  I found that his rig had a decent facial setup and controls that I wanted for the body (although I did wish the spine was better).  There were some other good rigs, but Blake's character design seemed like he would fit the audio for the month.

I'm playing around with Josh Burton's "Morpheus" rig which also seems very promising.  Maybe some other month... once we're done with all this condo-buying nonsense :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Avid baseball fan

Kind of piggy-backing off of my last animation assignment, I decided to do a little concept work for my characters on the short film brewing in my head to nail them down a bit better.  Hopefully the more I can visualize them on "paper," the easier it will be to model them in Maya.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Final assignment for guild class

Wow, 12 weeks went by fast! This last assignment features two characters I'm thinking of developing a short film for. Not sure I've nailed down the design yet. I was mainly considering the contrast between the two personalities for this test. I'll probably end up animating the short in 3D since that's the medium I'm most comfortable with. I wish I didn't have to go through the trouble of creating my own models and rigs, though! It's been so long since I went through that process for "Swing."

Anyway, the shot was a bit poorly planned as you never see the fan catch the home run ball (ran out of room at the edge of the paper, something you don't have to worry about in 3D!) I still had fun with it though, and enjoyed the class with Alex Topete and Mike Polvani! It's nice to do something completely different and remind myself of the reasons why I wanted to become an animator in the first place. Mocap cleanup has a nasty habit of sucking the life and creativity out of one's work. Thanks Alex and Mike for reigniting the spark! :)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Another Pencil Test for Guild Class

This time the line of dialogue is from a movie called "Sling Blade" starring Billy Bob Thornton. The audio quality for the dialogue wasn't great, but I had fun working with it. I also wanted to try my hand at more exaggerated takes like they did on the Looney Tunes. I studied "Dripalong Daffy," in particular the scene where Daffy takes a drink from the bar. It's amazing what the animators were able to do with just a few drawings! Very efficient yet hilarious at the same time.

I've got to give props to the sound engineers who worked on those old WB shorts as well - up until I started adding some SFX to my pencil test I kept thinking it was not quite finished. The right sound can make all the difference!

I have to say... the hardest part was the rocking chair! I should have just modeled the damn thing in Maya instead of trying to work out all the in-betweens and perspective by hand. But hey, now I can say I did the whole thing old school.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Pencil test for Guild class

I signed up for a traditional animation class with the Local 839 Guild up in Burbank on Monday nights!  It's a lot of fun getting to pick up paper and pencil again.  Here's the latest assignment pencil test:

My professor Alex Topete gave us model sheets for Darla Dimple from Cats Don't Dance (an excellent movie if you haven't seen it) and an audio file from "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"  I had a lot of fun pushing Darla's facial expression as she manages to shut off her alarm clock by pure fury. 

On the side I've also been helping out a friend with his short film so hopefully I'll be able to post my shot for you from that soon as well.  Meanwhile it's crunch time at work, we're shipping in October but we have to pass certification much earlier.  Hopefully things will cool down in a couple weeks!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Contest Entry

So one of the online games I play has these drawing contests on their forums every few months or so.  Figured I'd give it a shot for some in-game currency.  Mostly it was an excuse to keep drawing and trying out new stuff.

This time I tried a technique that one of the panelists at last year's Comic-Con demonstrated when coloring in Photoshop.  Basically they start out "flatting" dark shadowy color, and then layering it up on "screen" until it reaches its lightest highlights.  At first I didn't see how this would be possible, I mean, if you want something red, shouldn't you start with the midtone red rather than the dark murky brownish-red of the shadow?

But after a little experimenting with my color palette it did seem to work out alright.  My question now is how to keep all those shades of brown organized!  They all look the same on my monitor, it's only once you start building up layers that you see what different colors they turn into.

Anyway, here's how it turned out:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Promise of Living

Yet another card design, this time a thank-you for some members of the Angeles Chorale who have been working tirelessly to put together our concert taking place this Saturday!  I was inspired by one of the songs we're singing entitled "The Promise of Living" by Aaron Copland.  Had a little fun with custom Photoshop brushes to make the field, and heavily modified an old photo I snapped along highway 5 for some cloudage.  Someday I might learn how to paint clouds by hand... but why bother when I can take pictures?  God does a better job painting clouds than I ever could!

The composition is a little wonky because the finished card will have text.  But who needs the rule of thirds anyway. ;)

Crunch time at work.  It's nice to draw and do something completely different now and again.  Have you seen the extended trailer for MOH yet?  You can catch it here:

My shots: the shepherd (and goat! :D), the ATV, and the floor collapsing (which was quite a challenge). 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

ArtRage tryout

I discovered a cheap, simple art program called "ArtRage" that tries to simulate real-world tools such as paint brushes, pencil, marker, etc. They have a 30-day demo so I tried it out. Overall it feels really nice! You can control how much paint is loaded onto the brush, add thinners, easily control the rotation of the canvas and the drawing implement (very useful!) and all sorts of intuitive settings. And for $40 it's definitely affordable. I just wish I knew how to paint better. :P  Anyway here's how it turned out (I got too lazy and didn't do a background):

I've been fascinated with birds lately since there's a freshwater marsh across the street from my work, and I recently picked up David Attenborough's "The Life of Birds" BBC series so I've been watching and sketching.  Maybe I'll post a few sketches that I'm happy with later.

Work has been busy as we prepare for yet another demo, but there's some fun stuff I'm working on :)