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> academyanimation is no longer active and serves as archives

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Spungella goes live!

After a recent run-in with legal complications concerning my sites (not this one... yet), I thought about the look and presentation of this academyanimation blog. Since I never got the official ok to use that name (not that it is AcademyofArtUniversity.blogspot or something), nor images, etc. plus given my rants every now and then, which are purely my thoughts and not the ones of my employers, but especially the fact that this has grown beyond pure AAU material for my students, I decided to change the look and feel (and name) into something more individual. Another reason was also the awesome feedback I got regarding the layout and what you guys would like.

It's time then to redirect you to: SPUNGELLA.

So hopefully Spungella will present itself as more streamlined, accessible and efficient as this current blog. Of course I would really appreciate any further feedback. A few major posts have been switched over already and I will continue to migrate the more important posts. Trailer notices, posters, things like that will stay here, so think of academyanimation as an archive for these type of posts.

That's it for now!


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Friday, May 30, 2008

Space Chimps

New posters for Space Chimps:

- found @ impawards

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Back from Vacation

I'm back and posting will resume!

- pic source

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Movie Screengrab Resources

I know I mentioned his site many times, but if it isn't on your regular check-list, it should be. This time John Nevarez hands you sweet links to sites/blogs which have a really good collection of screengrabs. Definitely inspiring when thinking about starting a new shot.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Damon Bard Maquettes

Head over to this site for the Damon Bard interview and check out the images of his artwork.

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MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The semester is over!

Well, what do you know, another semester is over. Time just flies! Thank you very much for your patience throughout this semester, you've been a great class and I wish you all the best! And who knows, I might see some of you again in another class or as a fellow coworker. Take care!


pic source

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Jason Ryan Animation now open

Head over to jasonryananimation.com and check out the previews for all the tutorial videos. A lot of cool stuff! I've been getting his ramp-up emails and it's very exciting to see everything fall together.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Animate on your DS

So ever since I found out that there is an animation program for the DS I got hooked on the whole homebrew scene. If you're interested in the research I did for it, check the swench posts about said DS Homebrew Research and the one about the Installation Process.

What got me started was the post on Tim Sormin's blog, in which he wrote about the current progams: Animanatee, Flickbook and Inchworm. You can read his review and thoughts about it there.

If you're more into a sketchbook type of program, then Colors! would be more appropriate.

Visit Tim's post for more information as well as the official site of course.

I would have liked to get Inchworm, but since the creator is looking for a publisher, I don't know if and when it will get a release. You can sign up for an email notification regarding the official release though.

So after installing all the necessary components I tried out Animanatee.

Once you start the program, you're prompted to the main menu:

The main menu gives you a nice quick overview on how to use the DS buttons and the rest is pretty self explanatory. Choose "New" to start a fresh clip and it will give you this:

The top screen will show you at all times what your current frame looks like. Or if you have your animation play, then it will always play on the upper screen, even if you are in the animation menu screen or working on your current frame within the lower screen. I actually found it to be very neat to have it play while you work separately on the shot, because it gives you real-time feedback and you don't have to switch to a menu or push a few buttons and lose time. Yes, I know, it's not a big time waster, but I like things quick, efficient and intuitive.

Speaking of quick and efficient: as you work on your shot on the lower screen, no buttons or menu tabs are in your way, therefore giving you the full screen real estate to work with. As the main menu told you, click Y and A (or Left and Right on the D-Pad) to move forward and/or backwards frame by frame. If you want to change the size of your brush, or color, or switch between foreground layer and background layer, etc. just push either the right or left shoulder button on the DS and the animation menu shows up on the lower screen:

This menu gives you all the basic animation options you'd like to see. Add, duplicate or delete frames, clear the full frame, redo and undo, activate onion skinning (showing one previous frame), switch between layers (foreground/background), change the frame rate (from 1 to 30), step through each frame or quickly go to the end or beginning of your shot, change the size of the brush, and pick a color.
The three last black rows are for your custom colors. If you colored something red using the given palette and change the color later on, everything that's red will change. So use the preset colors and don't change them. If you want to create custom colors, then click on one of the black frames within the last three bottom rows and go from there.

Once you're done with your clip, push Start and choose any slot to save your work. You will also see the "export avi" button on the upper right corner.

You need to choose your slot first and then click "export avi" for it to work. The movie will be saved in your Animanatee folder, which you can easily copy off the MicroSD card onto your PC.

I never once had to look up any manuals or extra instructions online, there is no confusion about what to do, the program is very intuitive and a joy to work with.

If I had to nitpick, here's what's missing:

- more than two layers (FG/BG), that would be really cool
- onion skinning for the frame ahead and maybe more than one layer, although one is enough for me
- a way to copy one frame and insert it on any frame you want to
- the possibility to load a sound file (that would be awesome!)

But again, the program is free and a lot of fun, I love it! After a few minutes of trying it out for the first time, this is what I got:

Now on to "Flickbook".

Reading through Tim's post I expected it to be a lot more refined than "Animanatee", but I wasn't into it at all.

First the good things: you can zoom into your shot (and zoom out), you have more layers (up to 4) and a way to copy the full frame or just a section of your choice and paste it wherever you want to, fancier ways to scroll through your shot, etc. So it's addressing points that I missed in "Animanatee" and adding other cool functions.

But what killed it for me was:

- the lack of an undo button (if you accidentally drew something on your frame, you would have to erase it using different colors, basically "fixing" your drawing)
- no looping function (bye bye bouncing balls, walk cycles, anything that requires a loop, plus it's annoying to always click on "back to first frame" and "play" in order to watch your clip multiple times)
- a somewhat clumsy menu ("Flickbook" gives you the chance to reskin your menu, which is a cool option, but the default layout was just not that intuitive, plus some of the icons didn't really tell you what they were for, forcing you to look up the online manual - no, I don't mind manuals and reading, but after Animanatee's ease of use you notice a difference)
- too many steps needed in order to export your clip (you need to use a second program on your PC for it)

There are other things that I didn't like too much, but there's no need to slam something which is free (go here for a more detailed overview of the software). Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, it's just not what I am looking for, especially after having tried out Animanatee. I think I read that Flickbook is more widely used, so what do I know. They are almost identical, but even if it had a looping function and an undo button (the two things I miss the most), I'd still go with the other program because it's so efficient and easy to use.

There you go.

If you don't have a homebrew kit for your DS but want to test out the two programs on your PC, just download a DS emulator and give it a shot.


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Animation Mentor Newsletter - April

Wow, that tells you how behind I am with my emails (so much to do, not enough time...).

Again, as always, if you haven't subscribed (it's free), you should. :)

This time around we get:

- AM grads work on Horton
- "Daphne's New Broom" short
- Mentor: Don Kim
- Student: Eleanor Dayton
- Round 2 of the Animation Lightning Round with Shawn Kelly

Definitely read the Lightning Round, especially the first Question/Answer. But the rest is very informative as well, so please take a break from whatever you're doing and read Round 2.

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Last class and finals

Hey guys,

for next Monday, please bring your latest and greatest version for each assignment, since I will be grading you for this semester's work.

How it works:

- for each Blu-ray DVD your grade goes up by one letter.


It's two Blu-rays.


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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fantastic timing!

This clip is awesome! The timing on the drop is GENIUS! :)

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New Kung-Fu Panda Trailer

Looks awesome! Watch it @ Yahoo

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Brains from Thunderbirds takes centre stage in drench ad

Looks like they're mixing a cg puppet with a regular string puppet? Either way, looks awesome!

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Igor - Trailer

Watch it @ Yahoo!

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Original Ideas

One more week to go and I'm sure you guys are all tired of my same old rants. But look, I'm not the only one ranting about the same thing. :)

The Spline Doctors site got an update (content and look) and the latest post is a demo reel guideline. Once you read it you can tell that Dr. Gordon is a bit frustrated. One might argue that the name calling is a bit out of place (although the commenter actually liked the harshness), but I agree about the content, as you've heard me saying the same thing many times. Here's what I mean:

4) Same old, Same old - If I see another canned physical test I might go crazy. We see alot of the same thing over and over. Whether its an animation mentor character jumping on some poles, or the same ringling assignement where you have to model yourself and animate a piece of dialogue…. It all starts to blend in. I want to see original ideas. Stories, interesting acting. Remember, its always about the ideas and acting abilites. Polish can be taught. Focus more on coming up with original acting and good ideas. The problem with many animation schools these days is that they seem to be copying each other. We see many different reels that contain similar models. If possible, create your own character designs.

Seeing the same walk, the same jump or in general, the same type of animation test becomes boring. Do it a different way. Show the potential employer that you have good ideas. If you are using a pre-built rig then try to change it so it has a different character to it. After a while, when you see so many reels, you see the same stuff and it gets really boring to watch. When you see a fresh idea or character, it is refreshing. I think that someone out there needs to build a rig that is almost like a universal character that can be manipulated. This way you can create any character type and come up with any scenario. I will try to put together some links of successful reels.

Basically, don't make any mistakes. HAHAHAHA! (that one was for my Fall '07 class)

No, seriously. He's right. It doesn't have to be the best looking character in history, but don't stick with a grey Norman (or blue Generi), add props and a set. Even a simple set will expand the story of your shot, beyond the pure exercise. I'm not constantly asking why your character is doing what he/she/it is going because I like to torture you, it's because I want you to think about the bigger picture and the motivations of your character, so that you can elevate your clip beyond a pure assignment into an original and creative piece of animation.

Back in the day people got hired based on their bouncing balls. Well, the game has changed, the expectations are higher. If you're not willing to go the extra mile, you will have a hard time. And face it, if you want to work for a company, you need to figure out what they want and then give them what they want. If you want to do whatever you feel is right, then do your own short. If you're lucky, people will like it, maybe people at companies and that will result in getting hired. But you're only limiting the chances of finding a job. Use all the time you can get to work on single clips (or a little sequence), which fit the style and taste of the company you want to work for. The company is your client and you need to please the client. Once you're hired you can go off and do your own thing, no problem.

Show me an interesting character, not the same damn thing I’ve seen over and over. Be original with your characters, ideas, acting… everything.

If you have a hard time sympathizing with that, then I suggest you spend a Saturday or Sunday (full day) going through ALL the reels you can find online. Watch as much as you can for a whole day and you will realize what he's talking about. It's also good reference in terms of what not to do. You will quickly realize which audio clips, acting choices, set pieces, etc. are overused. So don't replicate any of it, figure out something new.

The suggestion that someone out there should build a universal rig which can be molded into any character is a good idea (Norman is a good example), but a bit out of touch in terms of the time and effort it takes to do so. Dr. Gordon is aware of it ("Sure, it would be great to be able to design your own character, but I understand, as much as anyone that it isn't easy and animators want to focus on performance."), but I wonder if reviewers at other companies are as well. I have my doubts that they REALLY understand it unless they are job hunting, animating and rigging while trying to pay off their student loan in today's environment.

How about the companies use their resources and build a universal rig for the animation community? Bluesky has a proprietary rig they hand to job applicants as a testing tool. I'd like to see other companies do the same and more. How about once you submit your reel and it's promising, the company provides links to a library of their own rigs? You wouldn't be allowed to share them publicly, maybe only the company will end up seeing the clips, but at least they get to see what they want (rig wise).

One day maybe.

- pic source

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Friday, May 2, 2008