Monday, April 30, 2007

"You mean you have to use your hands?? That's like a baby's toy!!"

Check out this article about future toys/video games that you use your brain to play. Literally.
In 2015 will a little Elija Wood ask Marty McFly why you have to use your hands to play Wild Gunman?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Stewie Worry Song

Hey, sorry it's been a couple weeks since I've posted. But I'm back!

I saw this clip on Family Guy of Stewie dancing with Gene Kelly, and found a side by side comparison video of the FG version and the orignal with Jerry Mouse on YouTube (where else?). Unfortunately the person who uploaded it has disabled video embedding :( so I'm just going to have to try to convince you to click this link!

Stewie/Worry Song

With barely any searching you can also find the full Jerry Mouse version and the full FG version.

I have to say, for Family Guy when I saw this on TV I was impressed. It's amazing how just rotoscoping the original animation, even crudely, there is so much more texture to Stewie's animation! I mean for one thing they had to draw him in poses and angles from which they never usually draw him, but it's also great to see even a hint of squash and stretch that carried over from Jerry. Don't get me wrong, I will never tout Family Guy as an example of great animation, that's not why they make it anyway. But it's an entertaining little idea, and I thought it'd be cool to post video---er, link--that shows the original too. The original was from Anchor's Aweigh.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Composition in Animation

During my senior year at SCAD, I had the great opportunity to take a class under Glenn Vilppu, on Classical Composition. At the time I was a little disappointed that I couldn't get into his Figure Drawing class, since that's what he's most known for, but more and more I'm so grateful that it was the composition class that I took. Hopefully at some point I can upload a pdf of my class notes, but you can go to AWN (or look for Vilppu's name in my links) and check out some of his general lessons there.

He spent almost every class analyzing some classical painting by drawing lines over top of them in photoshop (or painter or something). He talked about things like using opposites, shapes, and the flow and rhythm of a composition--as opposed to just framing. He always said that he used these principles to compose his figures too, though I didn't really understand how. Now when I study classic Disney animation and even films like The Little Mermaid I see these principles of composition in the poses all the time! My main goal in improving my skills right now is to try to really compose the characters well, with good use of negative space and movement in the pose.

I don't have time to post about it all now, but I wanted to post a link to John Kricfalusi's blog.
John is the creator of Ren and Stimpy, and although I don't share his taste for over the top Clampett style, he is posting some very informative lessons on bringing artistic principles into animation. He has a whole category of posts dedicated to composition, mostly in terms of backgrounds, but as Vilppu said, you can completely apply these to drawing characters in poses. John is pretty negative about the state of animation today, and while he makes very good points I don't quite agree with all of them. He also explains the principles of composition in different terms (I think I still prefer Vilppu's way of teaching), but regardless the ideas are the same.

John's posts on composition

The more I think about, contrasting poses, flow, rhythm and other elements of composition, the more I see that even a lot of great CG animation doesn't have it--mine included. I'm feeling more and more that these elements really push animation to a more entertaining and appealing level, and everything else really falls short of its potential, and just becomes natural movement with good timing. And the thing is, a lot of our principles of animation and design are actually based on composition, but those aren't the terms we think in.

Man...I told myself this would be 'short'. More on this later.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Conan O'Brien is not mocapped

Oh wait, I'm getting a little confused here...this will be 2 posts combined into 1!

First off, I was watching Conan last night, and one of their Conan art bumpers popped up after a commercial break--the one where the Conan head logo is the Death Star :P Those bumpers usually make me laugh, so I searched online for more and what do I find? A whole gallery of them! Fun stuff...I'm a fan of this one:
Secondly, and on a completely different note, I've heard from different sources that there are some people who actually think the new TMNT movie was largely mocapped. Why they think this, I don't understand, because the animation is extremely exaggerated and cartoony--not to mention that I would think an actor would not want to jump across rooftops and down fire escapes to record some mocap data. It looks nothing like motion capture! Upon a google search I found a forum post by Kevin Munroe, the director himself, who confirms that not a single frame was mocapped. (scroll almost halfway down the page, post #109). He says:
"Absolutely not a single frame of mo cap. All hand done. I can see why some people like mo cap, but for me, if you're doing animation, make it animated. Mocap always seems to need so much clean up and hand-holding, that you may as well have hand done it from the beginning. Just my opinion."

So that should clear that up. The only reason why I guess people may think it's mocapped is because the physical animation looks extremely believable and accurate--if they'd look closer, they'd see the great exaggeration of weight that creates that believability. Keyframes live!

Monday, April 02, 2007

"Carried Away", by Zach Parrish

Check out this short film by SCAD student Zach Parrish. I'm simply amazed at how good it is! Not only in terms of animation, but lighting, cinematography--and the story is about as good as it gets. So much warmth and heart that emotes so strongly. The sound design is great too. Man, when I was at SCAD I was happy just to get my short done, and here this guy not only gets it done, but done with a complicated bubble element, detailed facial rigging, good animation, and a story that kicks mine to the 99 cent bin at the video store! (Not that it was ever close to that, but you get my point.)

My friend Colin Geller did the beautiful matte paintings of the sky, apparently Zach did all of the modeling, rigging, texturing, and animation on his own. Way to go guys, it would be an accomplishment enough for anyone to make that film, but to do that in the crazy SCAD class schedule is an even bigger feat. Oh, and be prepared--SCAD's gonna market this just as much as "Old Man and the Fish" and "The Potter".