Dennis Goes for a Swim

This was my final assignment for my iAnimate class. One of the great things about iAnimate is that they have a stable of really interesting characters for you to work with. This is one of the newest ones. His name is Dennis and he's some sort of lizard/dinosaur/monster thing.

The last assignment was to do a basic jump with a character, but our instructor really encouraged us to come up with a story line and motivations for the character's actions, so this is what I came up with. I also did a little modeling for this one, I made the arm floaties, and the pool.

The Many Head Injuries of TOtS

A little more from my class on iAnimate. Check out the previous posts if you missed them. TOtS (Thing on a Spring) is the first real rig we got to work with. It doesn't have arms or legs so there is less to worry about while you're trying to learn, but it's very flexible and expressive so if you work at it you can still get a good performance (you'll have to look elsewhere for that ^_^). TOtS is sort of the 3D equivalent of a flower sack animation.

I did two shots with TOtS (rhyme, 10 points). Here's the first, a standing jump:

And here's the second. The diving board is a prop provided for the assignment but I modeled and rigged the vaudeville style hook myself.

I really do like TOtS. I don't know why I did such violent thing to him. He's tough, he can take it.

Bouncing Balls

I've just wrapped up my first block studying at This was the first time I've taken an online class and I had a little trepidation, but the experience was great and I think I learned a lot. For those who don't know, iAnimate is an online 3D animation school. If you're familiar with AnimationMentor then iAnimate is the same sort of thing. I won't get into a whole review just yet, but I wanted to share some of what I've been doing since it was so much fun to make. Here is the first batch. I was in the beginner's class, they call it Workshop 1, so we covered all the basics of timing, spacing, offset, etc. We started at the very beginning working with bouncing balls. I know they're not super exciting to watch but they are fun to animate and they make experimenting easy(er).

These are all animated in Maya. I used a ball rig that was supplied with the lessons, but I ended up doing quite a bit of modification to the rig to try out different things. I also did a lot of shot planning in 2D in flash. I have to say I like drawing a lot more than working in Maya.

First a simple ball bouncing in place:

Then something a little more dynamic:

Next, trying out different ball materials:

And finally, something really complicated:

Some AfterEffects

At work we recently did a big digital projection project for a music festival. As part of the project we created a bunch of little bits of eye-candy that were later composited together to form a visual display for some of the music. Here are a few of the bits I made playing around with AfterEffects plugins.


All video's and music © 2011 Bazillion Pictures.

8-bit Ada Animations

I had the chance to play the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World video game at a friend's house just recently and it got me thinking about pixel art. I've been playing a lot of animation lately and I thought it might be fun to make a short character cycle like the ready poses of the characters in the game. First I needed a character to represent me. Ada volunteered. It took a few tries to get a good pixel version of her, but the third time was the charm:

Next was the animation. I spent some time looking at clips of the game to see what the other characters do while they're ostensibly sitting still. Most do a simple 4 frame breathing cycle, but several are a bit more involved: moving fists, rocking back and forth, bouncing their hair, etc.

I decided to just make a run at things and see what I could come up with. Here's my first pencil test. Key frames are blue, breakdowns are orange:

This cycle was a little too active. I also thought it might be nice to have 2 cycles, one general movement, and then one that I can throw in every few base cycles to break things up. Here's pencil test number two:

This one turned out great. Here's the finished version with color. This one runs 3 cycles of a fight stance, and then one cycle of Ada fixing her glasses. The animation runs 6 frames a second.

Press Start!

Kitty Rotoscoping

It's Thanksgiving Day here in the States, and today my Thanksgiving started, as all good Thanksgivings do, with Robert Krulwich, science corespondent for NPR news and cohost with Jad Abumrad of one of the best podcasts on the planet called Radiolab. Well on this particular Thanksgiving morning Robert was talking on the NPR morning program about walking in a straight line, which for all sorts of fascinating scientific type reasons turns out to be impossible. Now I'm not here to rehash Robert's story, in fact I suggest you use your clicky thing to go over to NPR and listen to it. But, while you're there, you'll see an accompanying animation put together for the story. What the heck, here it is right here:

This animation was put together by Benjamin Arthur from rotoscoped video of actors. It looks SPLENDID. I love the way he uses hash marks to interpret motion blur.

So I thought to myself, my phone takes videos, I have a cat, what am I doing sitting here listening to NPR for?  After a few tries here's what I made:

The first part is the original video of my cat. I started out just tracing around the video but I quickly found out that doesn't work. There needs to be a continuity between the lines in each frame otherwise things jump around and jitter and thats very distracting.

After a few tries I scrapped the tracing and blocked out my kitty's masses so I could see where things were moving. That's the middle section in the video.

After that, I took another stab at rotoscoping. It took a number of passes to get all the parts to look cohesive, and the lines are still pretty jumpy, but at least they are consistent. In short, I had a blast. And, what a great way to study anatomical structures.

Show + Tell: Rough Pencil Test

Well animation class is over, and the big premier show went very well indeed. Now that the whole process is over (and I have some time to do something other than animating) I thought it might be fun to post some of the artifacts I created along the way. You may remember I posted my animatic back in late September. Based on the timings I worked out in the animatic, the next step was to animate a rough pencil test of all the action in the story.

The video on the top is the original animatic, which I've included to help you see what's going on in the pencil test because without faces or backgrounds or, well anything but Ada really, is a little out of context.  You can see that the simplified rough Ada is lacking a few bits and pieces, but all the basic movement is there.

Summer Movie Trailer

As a warmup exercise for animation this semester I created this mock movie trailer. The scenes are cut together from various sources, mostly other movie trailer. After you've watched it through, you can click over the the Vimeo page where I have a listing of all the sources. If you can, watch it full screen and with the volume turned WAY up.

I will give you one clue to listen for, see if you can spot the bit from Muppet Treasure Island.