Hedgehogs’ Dilemma is Wrapped up!

Yes, that’s right!

The upcoming animated short “Hedgehogs’ Dilemma” is finished and on its way to post-production. Rob Wood helped me with the editing, fine-tuning those little timing aspects of the short and small details in colour that escaped me for some reason. Starting monday Matt Thomas, the school’s main sound designer, will be making a soundtrack for the short.

I can hardly wait to see it finished in its entirety!

The best compliments I have had so far have been from Moose, saying that he wouldn’t change anything timing-wise, Adam Rogers saying that he liked the colors I used and Rob Wood saying that I’m the first student to pull off a reddish-magenta (or a magentish red?) that he likes and its not annoying on the screen.

I can’t thank enough the amazing professional staff at VFS for all the knowledge, help and for being there hours after class, helping us achieve the best we could.

As a “Thank you”, I’m posting some of the backgrounds of my short. Hope you like them and feel free to comment!

The nerve-wrecking process

Yes. Animation can be a nerve wrecking process indeed.

At a given time, your animation is all over the place…you can’t figure out what it’s working and what needs to be tweaked a little bit more. As you go deeper in compositing, painting, making the proper camera moves and deciding if all the work that you did on the Layout stage translated well into the digitalized version of the animation, it feels like the pieces of a huge puzzle start to fall into place. (The mantra becomes “JUST trust the process.”)

Now, a image speaks a thousand words, and just as a special treat, I’ll show you a little bit of the behind the scenes for now: the first 10 seconds of my animated short. One part is pretty much finished, the other is not so.

Can you spot the differences? Tell me what you think!

First Preview of Hedgehogs’ Dilemma

Sorry for the delay on the posts, but it has been a hectic ride this year so far.

Right after Christmas break and after my New Years post, I dived into finishing my rough animation. some technical difficulties regarding the school being closed delayed me for a couple of days and have been working pretty much non stop since then, until an ear infection knocked me out for a week (more than 40 hours worth of work were used in battling the illness).

But all the work trying to catch up with my great friends of the Classical Animation 76 class has been paying off nonetheless, so I have some cool stuff to show you. I was going to document the whole process, but for the time being I think I’ll skip all the layout explanation and jump right into rough, clean and color animation examples… plus a surprise.

It’s just a sneak preview, the animation is pretty much final at the Clean Up stage but everything else might change, like color, timing and even framing.

First, we have the layout version, which was a perspective accurate version of the storyboard version of the short film idea:

Here we have the rough animation stage, where the keyframes were defined and the suggested timing was used:

The Clean animation stage is next, the final timing is used and also breakdowns and must inbetweens are added:

The first color test is this. There are color issues still, but is a good point to work from:

As an extra bonus, this is another scene (final in artwork and timing, but not quite there in color):

HAPPY 2011!

As the second decade of the 21st century starts today, I just wanted to thank you for reading this blog, and I wish that this year is full of great animation, surprises, fun and success for all of you.


Happy 2011!!


Oh, layout…

Layout is one thing that can get you right on track or make your animation project a total nightmare. And I really mean nightmare! Basically, layout in animation is the blueprint, the foundation if you will, of the whole short or feature. As where the storyboard helps you define the story and the way you tell it, layout is the process in which you decide ALL the technical stuff to actually make it.

Technical stuff in animation, you might ask. My short answer would be: Yep, and lots of technical stuff indeed! And we haven’t got to the actual animation process yet, we’re still in the pre-production phase. Storyboarding to make the story flow right and then layout, to make it feasible to animate properly.

An example of how layout works: If you have a close up of a character, you might want to animate it in a certain size: not too big (because it’s really hard to control and maintain similar quality overall) or too small (lines start to get all cluttered and messy if you draw it wrong only once). This is where Layout really shines, because you define the size that would work best and lock it! You do all the basic poses of the action “on-model” (the term for “stay-in-the-approved-character-design” in animation jargon) based on the character model sheet and then the animator would have a foundation to make the animation happen. (He or she would go from pose to pose, adding or removing things as he might judge proper, but that’s a different subject and I’ll add more on that on next posts).

Also, in Layout you define all the camera movements: panning, diagonal pans, dutch tilts, zip-pans, etc. and if you have multiplane camera shots or movements, you define all the “layers” in which that action it’s gonna happen. An example of that (and how complex you can get) can be seen here:

Layered composition

layered composition

Every “box” represents one piece of artwork that combined makes a composition. In this particular example, the first red box “level” belongs to the branch at the lower left part of the composition and so forth. Some layers interact with each other and some others interact with the characters, making things fairly complicated really fast: that’s when layout can become a life vest or an anvil in the middle of the ocean.

You also design the final backgrounds without colour and major rendering at this stage. Now, this makes the importance of layout stand out because at this stage, is fairly simple to solve staging or composition problems than trying to make an animation work in a bad planned environment.I’ll post a couple of videos showing a little bit of the layout process later on…


As a little present, I’ll let Walt Disney himself explain what a multiplane camera is:


Leica reel signed off!


I know it has been a while since my last post, but it was for a good reason.

After Peter challenged me to do better and improve the way my story was being told,  I stepped up my pace and did the amount of two weeks worth of changes in about 4 days. A lot of blood, sweat and tears but all the good advice of Peter MacAdams, Moose Pagan, Dieter Muller and Marv Newland was enough to keep me going and trying to make it better.

Right now, Im starting the Layout process, which Corey Evans (one of our instructors) has dubbed as the “problem solving phase” of the animation process. It’s kind of annoying, but it’s quite interesting how all of the pieces of this animated short start to fall into place.

Thanks for stopping by! Now, time to go and continue working on some more layout!

Reality check 1… *sigh*

Hi again!

I’ll need to postpone the One sheet post I promised because some more important questions came up yesterday morning.

We have now an assigned Final Film instructor: Peter MacAdams. Peter is awesome! Is the only teacher that constantly pushes me to achieve even more than I push myself (And I have suffered some major drawbacks because I push myself really hard… I try to learn and do some stuff that sometimes grows way out of hand! More often than not, I try to chew more than I can swallow.) So it is great for me to have Peter as my final film instructor because it will help me make it better and then learn a lot more… but I have to control my own perfectionism impulses and keep everything in check so things don’t grow out of hand!

So my first honest reality check was yesterday. We saw the latest Leica Reel together (The Leica reel which I already posted about here) and he was… how can I say it? … Not convinced.  After questioning him a little about it, the truth came very clear to me as I finally saw things the way he did: The story has major composition problems and there are two major points of the storytelling that don’t actually help. This points are there, but it wouldn’t matter if they are removed because they don’t help the story to grow. The great part is that he understood the story just the way I wanted to be so THAT’S GREAT! Once again… time to draw a lot and polish, polish and polish it some more!

Now, that’s a major issue for me. I’m rethinking the whole story as I write down this, and lucky for me, all this happened on this part of the process. Wish me luck, I’ll need it!

On a different note, autumn is starting to leave and winter is starting to come… So sad, I  sure love the colour of winter!