Tag Archives: Arts

The Summit (The Digitally Animated Short)

Hi again!

Finally, Im able to post the Flash/After Effects short film I made. We had “1 month” to learn how to animate on Flash and develop the story, as well to learn another piece of Software called Toon Boom. Long story short, I had 1 week to do the sound design and something close to 2 weeks to do the actual animation (I think it was a little less than 2 weeks, but Its a big blur now in my head…I can’t recall!)

Hope you like it, here it is:

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Hedgehogs’ Dilemma (The Short Film)

Hi everyone!

Im happy to finally show the work of 6 months. Please, feel free to comment, share and give feedback.

Without more delay, here’s my first animated short film:


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):


Layout

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…

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

Enjoy!


The Leica Reel…and the story

For most people, this is like listening to alien mumbling. At least, that was my case.

In most animated features and animated shorts, in the DVD “Special Features” section, they have all the secrets of how the production was done. First, you start with an idea (usually, the most complicated to define yet the cornerstone of anything in this media). After developing your idea, nurturing it and make it stand by it’s own, comes the next step: defining the style or “feel” of your film.

This is where the storyboarding process and Leica Reel come into play… and that’s exactly what I’m doing right now at VFS.

The first is a storyboard, where you translate all of your visual ideas or/and the script (if it there is one) into a physical state. This process is painful because most times, everything that is your head is close to perfect…and for some unknown reason, at the moment of putting it down on paper and drawing it, comes nothing close to perfection at first. So after a couple of drafts, usually in the form of thumbnail drawings, you’re ready to apply all the technical side of how you’re planning to tell your story.

After the genesis of the idea becoming a coherent storyboard that looks kind of a comic book with camera instructions and some other technicalities, The Leica Reel comes next. Here, you scan the complete Storyboard and you import it to a video editing software program, like Adobe Premier. There, you add a scratch track of music -not necessarily the final audio you plan to use- , special effects, sound effects, basic motion and ANYTHING that helps tell the story. No animation is done at this point.

At this part of the process, all the storytelling issues that may not be seen before are more clear and sound. Usually, the Leica Reel is shown at a producers meeting with the director and his team… or the director alone. There, changes are usually required from both sides and the cycle repeats itself a couple of times. The Leica Reel, though, may not be shown to the public, and usually the final draft is the one on the features at the DVD’s. This is done to save money in the production and to come out with a good product

I’ll leave a couple of examples. One of my favorite movies of all times, Pixar’s Monsters Inc., with a Leica Reel comparison with the movie!

And also the fantastic intro sequence of Tarzan, from Walt Disney Studios:

Did you like them? Wish me luck with mine!

Quick edit: I found the first Leica Reel of the opening of Tarzan. It’s a great example of why this works perfect as a story refining tool… and the previous one I posted was chosen over this one.

Enjoy!