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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Animation Mentor Fall 2007 Student Showcase

Alright, ready for a big piece of humble pie and a refill on motivation?

Stop whatever you're doing and watch the AM Student Showcase 07.

It's fantastic and humbling to see how high the bar is now in terms of student work.

Perfect example up front, Nathan Engelhardt's Body Mechanics clip with the cave men. It could just be a weight assignment, but there is so much that makes this clip stand out. First of course, the animation. It's very well done and funny, the emotions are clear and the character seems alive. There is also interaction with the set, as he pushes away his tools during the struggle.
The 2nd guy adds humor to the whole "exercise" and gives it a little story. Also a good incorporation of a cycle (with some extra tweaks to disguise the cycle).
The composition is clear. Even though the character is right smack in the middle of the frame, the emphasis is on the stone, which occupies most of the left screen half. He's standing in front of the sky, which makes his silhouette clear, there's nothing busy behind him.
It's not just an empty space, it's an actual location and the character is part of it. He's wearing his little loincloth. The landscape is not just flat, it's a bit uneven where he stands, there are hills and rocks in the background and stones and bones in the foreground. Nice touch how the foreground and background are out of focus, adding depth to the scene.

All of this doesn't require any technical skills (besides the animation mechanics of course). There are no crazy modeling skills necessary, this should all be doable.

The visual icing on the cake are the textures. The stone, the landscape, the exaggerate form of the clouds, beautiful. The lighting works also very well.
The rocks and the sky could be taken from an image and not be actual geometry. But the realistic stone texture makes it all work together and nothing stands out as out of place.

But that "little" extra requires skills beyond animation and basic modeling. I would always spend the extra time on animation. When you feel that the animation works and you have free time, then you can work on the extra visuals.

Either way though, this is what students do, that's the current level.

As you continue watching the reel, you start to wonder if all the students took extra texturing classes, since all the sets look very nice (even the snow on the 2nd clip). :)

Another fantastic clip is the two character interaction one by Shad Bradbury. I've always been waiting to see a clip like that (since most clips online are about one or two characters talking). This one shows a great feel for weight.
The struggle of the little guy lifting/pushing/pulling the heavy one is great, but I'm actually always watching how the heavy one moves. The way the body feels heavy and squishy is great. A bit cliche maybe but to push it further you could put those characters in a warzone or some environment which makes it clear why he's pulling his buddy. Yes, it's the desert and he wants to help/save him, but a more interesting set and maybe interaction with it would have been top notch.

There is a lot more in that reel, so please check it out, it's well worth the time.


Joey said...


CAMILO said...

it's truly worth it to watch! Great inspiration source ;)