Sunday, July 20, 2014

Crocodile sighting

running crocodile

After our latest move I was unpacking my office boxes. It always takes me some time to pack and upack my office and to get organized again. As you do as an animator, I have collected countless stacks of flip books, drawings, tutorials (not to mention the boxes of art supplies, animation paper and books, books, books....) over the years. Ususally I have kept the odd drawing here and there from most films I have worked on in the past. Mostly scribbles, thumbnails and so forth. For some reason I have kept my originals paper drawings of this runcycle of a crocodile, designed by my colleague and friend Len Simon. I actually never kept a line test of the animation. We used to create run and walk cycles for new characters as a way to explore the model and design. Also to start defining the character a bit more, usually going from concept drawings. Sometimes we would take a piece of dialog from an actor and animate a short scene to get an idea of how the chacrater would feel (or to use the animation to convince the ctor to sign on to the project)  They rarely represent the final design of the character or animation style, but it is one place to start. Also, with a run cycle you only need a couple of frames of actual animation compared to a full acting scene with dialog .

Late last year our printer (yet another one) needed to be upgraded and we got an A3 one including a scanner. So I tested the automatic scanning function with this little stack of 15 drawings that make up the run cycle (The animation drawings are on 16 inch paper), importing the scans to Photoshop, adding some "color" and finally created a little comped scene with After Effects.

crocodile run cycle crocodile run cycle

you can see a little scene on my vimeo site here: Crocodile sighting !

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

41st Annie Awards Nominations


The nominations for the 41st Annie Awards were published earlier this week. Congratulations to my very, very  talented colleagues for the nominations in story boarding!!

Outstanding Achievement, Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production

Steven MacLeod - The Croods
 - DreamWorks Animation

Eric Favela – Despicable Me 2 - 
Universal Pictures

Dean Kelly - Monsters University
 - Pixar Animation Studios

Jason Hand - Planes
- Disneytoon Studios

John Ripa - Frozen
 - Walt Disney Animation Studios

Outstanding Achievement, Storyboarding in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production

Piero Piluso - Monsters vs. Aliens
 - Nickelodeon Animation Studio

Douglas Lovelace - Dragons: Riders of Berk
 - DreamWorks Animation

Adam Ford, Deke Wightman, Kevin Mellon, Justin Wagner, Benji Williams - Archer
 - FX Networks

Alonso Ramos-Ramirez - Disney Mickey Mouse
 - Disney Television Animation

Daniel Chong - Toy Story of TERROR! - Pixar Animation Studios

Alonso Ramos-Ramirez - Gravity Falls - 
Disney Television Animation Guillermo Del Toro, Guy Davis, Ralph Sosa - The Simpsons -- "Treehouse of Horror XXIV" -- Gracie Films in Association with 20th Century Fox TV

Paul Watling - Justin Time - 
Guru Studio

Even though the Annie Award it is an (US)American award, it is great to see more and more european productions and artists being nominated. Special congratulations also to the artists from "Kellerkind" and "The Wedding Cake" both from the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg, nominated for best student films. Also congratulations to Stuttgart's  Studio Soi 's: "Room on the Broom" , nominated for Best Animated Special Production.

Friday, November 15, 2013

workshop in Ludwigsburg

In the first week in November I was holding a compressed 2 day story-board workshop at the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg in Ludwigsburg. It has been my first time at the Akademie. First impressions count, right? I was very impressed. Thank you very much for inviting me and thanks to the attending students. I had a blast.

Tobias Schwarz Animation Professional

Many times the simple description of "story-board" is not really sufficient. Mostly with first time film makers, the actual "story-board"  stops at the concept phase, before jumping right into the fun stuff...the filming... or animating.  A little bit like building a house from scratch without a foundation. So I am very pleased to see that the Filmakademie has decided to include story-board into the curriculum at an early stage. I extended my talks to include the VFX workflow as much as I could and how the story-board process could be incorporated here. As Steve Hulett just recently mentioned in the TAG blog:
"Of the year’s 10 top-grossing films, three fit what the Academy celebrates via its 13-years-young animated feature category: “Despicable Me 2,” “Monsters University” and “The Croods.” But then, what do you call “Iron Man 3,” “Oz the Great and Powerful,” “World War Z” and “Gravity”? Each of those more-digital-than-not blockbusters could be “animated” enough to fit the Acad’s definition, “in which movement and characters’ performances are created using a frame-by-frame technique.” “Gravity” makes an especially intriguing case, since Sandra Bullock and George Clooney’s faces are often the only practical element that appears onscreen. Director Alfonso Cuaron has repeatedly described the innovative process they developed to create the film as being akin to that of making an animated movie. Only after the team had spent 2½ years nailing down the lighting, angles and character animation in a detailed previsualization did it reverse-engineer a way to shoot footage of the actors..." (read the rest of the article here)
I am not sure if Story-board Artist will ever be able to get  a nomination, but the time that  animation is treated as its own category might be over eventually.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Running Crocodile....

...animated on pencil some years ago. As animators we hardly ever get to keep many copies or originals of our work. I found these 15 drawings of a run cycle in a stack of drawings a few weeks ago to show to some cgi colleagues as a reference of a cartoony run . Not sure, but I got the feeling single drawings make little to no sense to most digital animators. And flipping a run cycle is pretty much impossible (So I finally scanned them in today).  I animated the crocodile in preproduction for a never realized project (too many of them). We had long discussions back then if we could use the rough pencil line and go right to colour from there. That is why I kept the rough pencils fairly clean and the lines almost closed.  We never got around to color this one....But since it only has 15 drawings....I might.....

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

rusty knight trailer

"rusty knight"  is slowly making it to international markets and therefore:
i just found the english speaking trailer of the feature film online.  the film is based on a popular childrens book character, which sparked a musical. it ended up having a few really nice sequences. in any case i had a blast working on it and only wished we would have had some more time ....

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

the magic house (2013) teaser

a teaser from a production i worked on some time ago as a story artist for nwave pictures in brussels was just released. "le manoir magique" coming out later this year... it was a real pleasure working with my colleagues from belgium. really looking forward to seeing the final film eventually.

Monday, November 26, 2012

We Need Storytelling....

I am a great admirer of the visual storytelling of Ang Lee. The other day this quote "We need storytelling. otherwise, life just goes on and on, like the number Pi." popped up on the interwebs. Story not only is the heart and soul of a film, it is the motivation, the driving force to making one. It goes into every aspect of film making, character development, visual narration...we cannot get reminded often enough. Also, it's a  huge part of  what makes us human.
Ang Lee

Monday, November 19, 2012

storyboarding for cg

For some years now I have been doing storyboards  for cg productions. Generally speaking I would  approach it the same way as I would for a traditional  or flash show. Visual storytelling driven by strong characters. A major difference I noticed is the freedom of not having to stay 100% close to model (drawing wise) and having the freedom of using a flexibel camera. On his website,  story artist Giancarlo Volpe published some of his own notes about storyboarding for  cg animated films, which he used on the production of the animated "green lantern". Its a great take on the subject. There is little common ground between productions and  artists on how and when to handle the virtual cameras in the storyboarding process.  From sticking to traditional 2d use (pan, truck in/ out), to animated bg, to camera setups. I believe CGI and storyboarding for cg productions has brought storyboarding much closer to life action film production when it comes to the use of cinematography. More and more the creative split is between the story-reel and the layout or previs reel. Personally I find the use of grids (horizon line and perspective lines) in storyboarding crucial. also use as a guide for the camera setup as it is more common in life action productions If you are interested on the subject also have a look at Ben Caldwells Blog. More precisely his post "storyboard tip sheet from dreamworks."
happy storyboarding everyone!