Monday, September 25, 2017

Racing Legends Ride Thru

This is the best video I've seen yet for Racing Legends.  I animated the first Barcelona sequence, the Rome bit, and the Future Track at the very end.  Really fun to see in action, even if it's handheld non-stereo...

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Some Educated Thoughts

So...I love college.  I loved being a student and I love being a professor.  I see a great many advantages to getting a degree in art and animation - it is an amazingly rare opportunity to grow and develop and discover in an energetic atmosphere.  That being said, it's a path that's not for everyone.  While it's true that a "degree" is not needed to get a job in the industry - I do believe that an "education" is necessary to become a viable (and hire-able) artist.  

To often I see people (often those initially trying to get into the industry, but others too) say they are going to be taking time off to "work on their portfolio for a bit" - words that strike my soul cold.  So I would like to offer a few thoughts on “portfolio development” based on what I’ve seen others go through over the years…

Even if you’re not pursuing a traditional education, I highly recommend taking some online classes.  Some of the most talented artists I know are now also doing online classes – many include personal feedback sessions and are I think the best education you can get right now if the goal is to get “into the industry”.  A bonus result is also the start of networking.  I know my wife and I have recommended students we had in online classes for entry-level jobs (or work too busy to take on).  These workshops are almost always shorter than a usually University semester (4 to 8 weeks) and can be a more affordable option.  

Why I recommend these is so that you aren’t developing your work in a bubble (even sharing among your friends and online peers is still a bubble).  An industry pro (who doesn’t have time or patience for B.S. work) is a great mentor and forces you to A) work outside your comfort zone B) have hard deadlines and C) have to share your work with a new set of peers who have different backgrounds/expectations.  I’ve seen too many people who spend years working (or worse, endlessly “revising") their portfolios with no deadlines or honestly any real improvement.  Don’t get trapped into an endless spiral of just “portfolio development” - get out and get some experience too!

My ideal world for someone would be to get out to a city with some industry jobs (Vancouver, LA, NYC) and get some job in the industry (ANY job..even a production assistant busy getting overtime dinners ordered) while you take some online workshops.  Get feedback from artists at the job/internship you can land – THEY are your best chance at a full-time job.  A great portfolio can  sneak a foot in the door – to have it open wide you need job experience and a hearty couple of recommendations from current employees.  

All that being said, a few online places I recommend (depending what you want to build your portfolio on):




2D/3D mix

Monday, September 18, 2017

Highway Rat Animation Wraps

As the Triggerfish Facebook post says, we wrapped on animation on The Highway Rat this week.  There's some incredible animation on this one and it only will keep looking better in lighting!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Heather's Pluralsight Course is Live

Yay for Heather!  She had a busy summer creating a stunning online course for Pluralsight.  There's seriously so much info packed into this well-crafted class.  I'm very proud of Heather.  You can check it out by following this LINK

Description from the site:

Learning how to you matte painting effectively and efficiently can elevate your work to the next level. In this course, Matte Painting Basics and the Static Camera Shot, you will begin by gaining a solid understanding of foundational techniques by learning about resolution, static grain, distorted plates, bit depth, and software settings. 
Next, you'll learn how matte paintings should be organized, what painting techniques will break your shot, and even small details like how to name your files and layers. Once you understand how to properly setup and build your file, you will learn how to match your plates perspective, and alter the perspective of some architecture to fit into your shot. During the blocking phase you'll also learn how to build your own personal reference library, and then how to extract and clean up your painting after you've finished blocking. You will then take your painting from photoshop to nuke to composite and add life and movement to your static shot. 
Finally, you'll learn a bit about how matte painting fits into a vfx pipeline, how to hand off your shots to another artist or department, and the process of revision in the visual effects world. By the end of this course, you'll have a beautiful shot and be more confident in setting up your own static matte paintings. Software required: Photoshop-CC-2015.5, NukeX-10.5v2.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

FLASHBACK: DreamWorks B.O.O.

I really wish DreamWorks B.O.O. had made it over the finish line.  DreamWorks killed the project, and that (along with the very recently also canned Monkeys of Mumbia) started a chain reaction that changed DreamWorks as I knew it.  Long the refuge for artists wanting stability, ownership, and believing in the studio (something in very short supply in the freelancing vfx world) - now DreamWorks would cut a third of it's Glendale studio, close the northern branch at PDI, and usher in an era of uncertainty that led many other artists (including myself) to leave on their own accord.  Eventually this leads to the company being sold to Universal and the shuttering or selling of the India and China branches as well.

But for a moment, I was animating on B.O.O.  I'm still credited for it on IMDB.  I initially did some under the table help with hand animating some midground characters that weren't holding up in crowds.  The Head of Anim and the Anim Supervisor were impressed with my work and wanted to start handing me full character shots.  So I was doing cycle work for Home during the day, but over lunch and staying a bit late I was handed some full shots.  In order to make the release date, the Anim Dept was going to have to ramp up and I was going to be brought out of Crowds and into Animation proper.  They were just waiting for one last screening to get the green light on the third act - but alas that screening didn't fare well (with even Spielberg rumored to have watched it and pondered it over the weekend).  Then word came that they were scrapping it.  Some folks had spent years on it and by some estimations over a third of it was already animated.

I ran across this Viz Dev reel by an artist from the studio Danny Williams - it's the best look out there at what the movie would have been like.

It was a really great concept, one that I personally loved involving amateur ghost hunters, a dad by Seth Rogen, a ghost cop by Melissa McCarthy and the big bad was none other than Bill Murray himself.  It seemed like a great setup and the production design was pretty wild.  You can google and find some of the toy concepts and tie ins that were going to launch with the film.

What could have been, both for the film and my tenure at DreamWorks.  Somewhere I still have my B.O.O Crew Patch....

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Highway Rat

I'm really excited to be helping out Triggerfish during their final push on The Highway Rat!

It's a holiday TV special that will air on the BBC.  It is produced by the same authors and production company that created The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom - which are staples in our house.  The production is very much like those shorts - charming and a fun almost stop-motion quality.

I can't wait for everyone to see the amazing work going into this short.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Work in New Mousetrappe Reel

Mousetrappe posted an updated reel called Shifting Perspectives today - and it features work from both Heather and I.  Which is really fun!  The second shot is mine and you get a few glimpses of the Racing Legends ride in action.  The shots of Happily Ever After features Heather's work on the Hunchback of Notre Dame sequences.  Really excited to see all the amazing work this company is creating!