Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fugitive Animation - First Blocking Pass

Fugitive Animation - Blocking from Matt Long on Vimeo.

Here is the initial pass at my fugitive animation for the 1st assignment for the 3rd class of Animation Mentor. It's part 1 of 3-4 scenes that will tell a little story about this fugitive who survived his prisoner transport vehicle crashing and in the process breaking him free of his restraints.

I gave him a limp/sleepy foot to add some interest to his movement.

As for this term, my animation mentor is Martin Hopkins who has been a long time Dreamworks animator going from their older 2D projects into their 3D films. So he has a lot of experience to pull from and I think he will be a great mentor this term like Drew was last term.

In other news, I have a new job. I am no longer a Production Assistant, I'm now a Storyboard Revisionist for Generator Rex. So now I get to draw all day for a living, finally! Now I can keep improving my 2D drawing skills and 3D animation skills without any of that paperwork stuff getting in the way, I'm looking forward to it.

See ya next week.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Animation Mentor Class 2 recap

Animation Mentor Class 2 Reel from Matt Long on Vimeo.

I'm back in town and caught up with everything so I finally had time to try to figure out why Vimeo kept dropping frames on my class 2 reel. So here it is, hopefully it's running smooth for everyone. Now fully rendered. Ooooh colors.

Class 3 began last week, and I've started planning my next scene. This time we can link up all the scenes this term to work as a mini short film if we like. So I'm going to work in the junkyard scene from class 2 to make it 4 scenes long and hopefully make a nice little sequence out of it.

Meet Stewie, the escaped convict. He'll be running from the cops, so we'll see how that goes for him.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Class 2 - Final Assignment

Run and Turn - Final from Matt Long on Vimeo.

Here is how my run and turn animation turned out (sorry, Vimeo added some frames from the end to the beginning for some reason and made some textures pop at the end for some reason.) I want to add a head turn in the run before the slide so that he's looking around then notices the dog and then anticipates into the slide. Also I want to animate the dog fully.

That's it as far as assignments for Class 2 of Animation Mentor, now it's off to Class 3, more body mechanics all with the same character.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

1 Week Left

Run and reverse direction - refining from Matt Long on Vimeo.

So here's my animaion as it currently stands. I have one more week until it is due, and a little under a half week after that to make any final adjustments for the end of term progress reel. So this week is going to be pretty much getting in there and getting the beginning all splined and polished up, and fix some spacing issues in the run and then really refine the movement and timing of the slide and run at the end, that part is still pretty rough. This week I've shown it in a few different views to see it from static camera, the first is the one that matters though.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Double update!

Run and reverse direction - Blocking pass from Matt Long on Vimeo.

This is my latest animation, still in the blocking phase, with and without the extra stuff. The assignment was to have Stewie running, and reversing direction. So I set up this junkyard scene for it. The dog poses are just stand-ins to sell the idea, and the BG elements are going to be desaturated and slightly out of focus in the final render so it will be easier to read the action. The run spacing is temporary as well, the strides should be closer and faster but it didn't read well at-speed in blocking like that, a bit too Benny Hill looking, so I spread it out to help at this stage. It's also my first time animating to a moving camera, it's a welcome addition I think.

Walking in a heavy wind - splined from Matt Long on Vimeo.

This is the spline pass on my heavy wind walk. It's not really polished, more just cleaned up and somewhat presentable. Life took priority that weekend, I'm going to finish it off for the end-of-term progress reel though.

See ya next week.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Refining the blocking pass

Walking in a heavy wind - Refining Blocking Pass from Matt Long on Vimeo.

Here is the same animation, this time taken a step further with more breakdown poses. This week I'm finishing and polishing it up.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Class 2 Assignment 2 - Blocking

Walking in a heavy wind - Blocking pass from Matt Long on Vimeo.

Here's my blocking pass of my new assignment. I'm to have the no-armed Stewie walk in a heavy wind for 120-200 frames, that's all the assignment asks for. I approached it the same way Mike Nguyen taught me during my time at July Films, to try to feel the forces and where they originate and how they act on the body and unfold throughout the animation to make for good clear animation. I think it's pretty successful and reads fairly well.

Saw Inception this weekend. It was really good and I highly recommend it. Interesting story, great acting, and an intense 3rd act. What is it with Christopher Nollan always making Cillian Murphy wear a bag over his head in his films?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Polishing pass, and Comic Con

AM Class 2 - Big step Polished Pass from Matt Long on Vimeo.

Here is my polishing pass on my animation for Animation Mentor.

I went to Comic Con today. Overall it was a bit underwhelming. I think I've been to too many in a row that I'm running out of books to buy now. I only got 4 books this time. Peck 'n Paw, Florian Satzinger's "Duck," John Nevarez' and Chris Sanders' new sketchbooks. Even Stuart Ng offered nothing that I had to have, closest was the oversized Daan Jippes process book that shows his roughs and final art on non-reduced pages. The $200 price tag however turned me away.

So that's it for this update, see you next week with a new animation assignment.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


AM Class 2 - Big step Refining Pass from Matt Long on Vimeo.

Here's my refinement pass on Ballie. Got a few minor notes from my mentor on it, so I'll fix those and then take it into spline mode to smooth it all out. This is mostly on 2's with some 3's and 4's in there. I have to finish it up soon, San Diego Comic Con is this weekend and I can't stay up all night Saturday working on it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

And they're off!

AM Class 2 - Big step Blocking from Matt Long on Vimeo.

Class 2 is in full swing, I'm at the start of week 3 now, and this was the blocking pass for this 4-week assignment.

My mentor for this term is Drew Adams, he worked on the late 90's Disney films as an in-betweener then got into 3D for Ken Duncan's studio and ReelFX, and is now working on Kung Fu Panda 2 at Dreamworks. I'm really enjoying his teaching style, much more of a lecture/classroom-type of style with video reference and he gives in-depth critiques with plenty of draw overs.

I got quite a few notes from Drew on this so I'll kind of be doing another blocking pass on it before getting into all the little details. I figure AM is supposed to be preparation for a studio environment, so I'm treating my mentor as a director and will try my best to address his notes and comments. I wanted to go with something more cartoony this time around and this was the result but there are some areas he felt could use a little clarification and believability.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Class 1 Wrap Up

Animation Mentor Class 1 Reel from Matt Long on Vimeo.

My first class at Animation Mentor has concluded. Above is my work from the last 12 weeks minus the sketches that I did for the class. This is the first time my character walk has appeared, I'm not too happy with how it turned out, it can use another finishing pass to fix some of the timing and stuff. We get 1 week off, and then it's off to Class 2 where we will be doing things like 180 degree character turns, intricate maneuvers and even some parkour/free running. It should be fun so stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Limitations of the computer

Vanilla Walk from Matt Long on Vimeo.

For the last two weeks on Animation Mentor we've been doing a plain vanilla walk using the Ballie rig. I've done quite a few walk cycles in the past, and they're something I admit that I'm not great at, but I'm fairly comfortable with them and can do them satisfactorily. Or that was until I had to do them in Maya and with Ballie. For a beginning walk assignment this rig is a horrible torture device for us naive enough to think he is our friend.

The first of these two weeks was the blocking phase of the walk. Simple enough, do the contact positions, and passing positions with a couple of breakdowns, and plan for the arcs and anticipate the overlapping parts and any overshoots. So we did that, all was well, and then this week it came time to do all the inbetween frames. This is when the true Ballie showed his evil self.

The greatest aspect of hand drawn animation is that you have complete freedom to draw a character any way you want, and you can cheat in ways that are imperceptible to the viewer and allow you to maintain the motion and feel you like. In Maya if the rig you're using isn't built for it, it's nearly impossible to pull it off because the controls just aren't there to do it. This week that was the problem with Ballie's knees. We have an extremely limited amount of control over his knee positioning, so when making the animation all look good on the rest of the rig, the knees will be popping into seemingly random positions or moving backward in relation to the movement as the legs straighten in the middle passing position. (edit: I just noticed you can see an example of this in the above video at frames 34-40 on the front knee, the knee goes straight and pops backwards, this one managed to slip by) It became infuriating. The only way to rectify it was to change the rest of the animation to compensate for the knees' limitations resulting in many awkward walks or lack of fundamental basics in the walks.

In my case I had to shift the foot position in a way that removed the straight leg from the contact position, removing much of the contrast between the contact and down position. This is something that is so important in an animated walk that I tried to work around it at all costs, but it was a futile effort. In the end the CG animation industry's need for pristine and smooth movement with no jitters or pops left me with no other option but to alter the animation for the sake of the knees. So I was left with an awkward walk that moves smoothly with little to no knee pops but is lacking by my standards believable weight and nice spacing and is being critiqued by campus mentors as not having enough of a straight leg in the contact positions. Talk about a lesson in frustration, damned if you do, damned if you don't.

This was the pose for Week 8, "Strength." I chose to have Stu lifting a manhole cover. I went with the first pose because of the strain he shows, it didn't really work out with the rig though. Stu lacks shoulder controls so I couldn't use them to increase the sense of strain, and he doesn't really have a rib cage either, so I had to exaggerate the pose more. Ultimately my mentor thought it was too much, felt broken, and wanted me to do pose 11 instead, or 4 or 9. I went with 11 due to time constraints but it seems a bit bland to me and lacks a sense of actual strength.
Week 9's pose was "Concern" This was a difficult one to think up. In the end I decided the best way to show concern was to show the person or thing Stu should be concerned about, and then come up with a small scene that will tell a little story. So here's Stu checking up on Tailor.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Animation Mentor Week 7

Tailor Ball Animation from Matt Long on Vimeo.

Here is my assignment from week 7 of term 1. The assignment was to have the ball and tail rig named Tailor, hop around and show overlap animation of the tail within 75-120 frames. So I made it harder on myself by introducing a second Tailor, and making one chase the other for a more interesting scene. I'm fairly happy with how it turned out, I wish I could have a few more frames though to show the big one's reaction after it leaves the log, I'll just let your imagination come up how that goes, for now consider the end a camera cut to the next scene which will never exist.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Animation Mentor Week 6

Pendulum - Animation Mentor Week 6 from Matt Long on Vimeo.

Here is my work for Week 6 of Animation Mentor. Overall I'm pretty happy with it, though there are things I would have liked to have done with it but couldn't due to the 200 frame limit. Even now, I had to cut off the first 3 frames to get the ball and the pendulum off screen (except the tail thing) at the end. So most of my time was spent hacking up previously animated stuff and trying to figure out how to do similar things with less frames.

There wasn't a sketch assignment or pose for this one, and there isn't one for next week either. We have the one legged ball or the fox tail ball to animate for next week, we get to choose so stay tuned.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Animation Mentor weeks 4 and 5.

Weighted Ball Bounce and Obstacle Course from Matt Long on Vimeo.

Here is my animation from week 4 and week 5. The assignments were a heavy and light ball bounce (no squash and stretch enabled on the ball rigs,) and a ball capable of squash and stretch bouncing through an obstacle course. Both were limited to 120 frames. The obstacle course took longer than I anticipated, it's difficult maintaining those arcs and not going through the geometry while making timing and spacing adjustments.

Week 5 had a sketch/pose assignment due as well, we were supposed to show somebody feeling devastated. It kind of looks like he lost an eyeball now that I look at it, I should add one to his lower hand.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Generator Rex Premiere

The show I've been a part of for almost a year now as a production assistant is gearing up (pun not intended) for it's big premiere this Friday the 23rd at 8:30pm right after the new Ben10 premiere. Generator Rex is a really ambitious show and we're doing things that you don't usually see in American TV animation, like slow motion action sequences, hand-held camera type moves, detailed anime-inspired BGs, licensed music from a real band and more. So check it out.

You can find some stuff online already, like there is a free music video of the theme song on iTunes available right now: Link

Here's a promo that's been available for some time now:

My First Animation Mentor Assignments - Meet Stu

I am now in week 4 of animation mentor. So far everything is going smoothly, some pose assignments, bouncing ball assignment, and some sketching have already been completed. This week we have a light and heavy ball assignment. Here are what I've turned in so far.

This was my week 2 assignment. This is Stu, the assignment was to go sketching on location and take one sketch and pose it out with Stu. The top one with the basketball is the one I turned in for credit. The bottom was just an extra one I did for practice and now I'm liking it better than the one I turned in. Oh well.
These are my poses for week 3, the assignment was to pose Stu expressing excitement. and below are the ball bounces I did for the week's animation assignment. I did 4 total, here are 3 of those, the last one is the one I turned in for credit.

Ball Bounce Exercise from Matt Long on Vimeo.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A new journey

Today was the first day of Animation Mentor for me. For the next 18 months I'll be taking part in this journey trying to build a large body of work and learn how to improve my animation and hopefully become comfortable with Maya for once. I discovered trying to animate on my own that I really need hard deadlines to force me to get my butt moving and finish some work, back to school I go :)

My mentor for this first term is Raquel Rabbit who's site and reel can be found here: we'll be meeting with her for the first time Thursday.

So stay tuned for regular updates again with some work-in-progress videos (It's about time!)