30 December, 2008

Benefits of the Simple "Thank You" Note

This post highlights the importance of sending thank you notes to benefit your professional advancement. With the coming new year, many of us look back and take mental note of the many things we are thankful for.

For me, if you read the archives of this blog, you will learn that New Year's Day last year (2007), I broke my leg during a sledding accident. I was in crutches and rehab for over 6 months, and almost a year later, I am thankful that my leg has fully recovered and that I am walking without a limp. I am also thankful for completing my Masters Degree, and for the birth of my new baby boy born on Nov. 19. This was a crazy year, I am thankful that my family and I have made it through, and I'm thankful for all of you have lended your support and encouragement,

This type of feeling toward gratitude can be applied to your business correspondence and image as well. Whenever someone takes the time to interview you, have a business meeting with you, if someone sends you a thoughtful email about you and your work, or if someone does something nice for you...say thank you.

Believe it or not, I see people not saying thank you after a kind gesture. I guess I'm from the old school, but I consider it a sign of respect and consideration, where you bestow value on the person. Not saying thank you makes you appear rude and inconsiderate. The person who helped you didn't have to do something nice for you, but they did, at least say "thanks". In raising my kids, they know that I think highly of saying "Thank You" when appropriate, and if they don't say it someone's going to get into trouble.

In business, this is just as important, but if you want to take it step further, extend that gratitude by sending a simple "Thank You" note. Sure, a simple thank you email or thank you e-card is fine, these suffice and ecards are fun, but the "Thank You" note reigns supreme as the best choice. Use it judicially and in times when you want to make the most impact. Here are four excellent reasons why this works.

  1. Classy: Sending a handwritten note, is a refined timeless and personal form of expression. In our new digital age, many people don't write personalized handwritten letters anymore. The fact that you took the time to do it makes you look good.

  2. Nice Surprise: The recipient of the "Thank You" note, will probably get the note in a mail box, where the note will be discovered while sifting through a sea of bills or unwanted junk mail. The note will be a pleasant surprise especially if it follows a business meeting or job interview that went over well.

  3. Spreading Love: There's not enough love going around in the world. Here's your chance to spread some around. Everyone wants to be loved, respected and valued.

  4. Marketing: (This is the most interesting) Sending a "Thank You" note also gives you another opportunity to get in front of the person in charge of making the decision. In a competitive market where there are many talented people competing for the same jobs, you now have a second chance to make a nice sincere connection and impression a few days after the initial contact. Also, many people are not that quick to dispose of or recycle a nice card, so you actually get to hang out on the person's desk a few more days. That's cool.

As an exercise, I tell my students to imagine themselves interviewing for that dream job. The meeting goes well, you look sharp, you're alert, you seem to connect with the interviewer, you ask great questions and you give a slew of competent answers. Both parties leave thinking that the meeting was successful. There are other people who have had similar successful interviews before and after you but you have feeling that you will be one of the finalists. Now imagine this interviewer getting a thank you note from you thanking them for their time, and how it was a pleasure meeting with them. You now have just instilled personal value in that person reading the thank you note and you have also instilled value in yourself. Not only are you skilled and the perfect match for the job, but with the thank you note, you are perceived as thoughtful, polite, classy, stylish, sharp and that you will work well in a group. These are nice attributes associated with your name. Unlike your competitors, you have subconsciously been reconsidered a second time. Isn't it amazing what a single, simple, well written note can do?

So the next time you are up for an interview, a business meeting with clients, or if you just want to tell someone that you appreciate them, send a simple "Thank You" note. You"ll be doing yourself and the world a favor.

Not sure where to go....Here's one set that has a lot for a reasonable price. Hopefully the banner underneath will show more choices, but for now, this will do. Good luck.

16 December, 2008

"Western Spaghetti" by: PES

PES is an animation studio who has gotten a lot of attention. Time Magazine voted PES's short "Western Spaghetti" the #2 Viral Film of the Year, and has also been selected to be featured in Sundance 2009. If you have never seen the animation, its quite amazing.

The entire animation is stop motion, and as animators, if you have ever done any kind of stop motion animation, you will agree that it takes a considerable amount of patience and shot planning. The concept is clever, interesting and the visual treatment is engaging and surprising. I found myself sitting through the entire animation to see what comes next.

"Western Spaghetti" is unique because in many scenes breaks our perception of things. It forces us to look at things in new ways as it draws together our notions of functionality and shapes attributed to objects. A good example of this are the... candy corn stovetop flames?

Other objects that find movement in this animation are Post It Notes, Googly Eyes, foil, Pick Up Stix and Rubic's Cubes. What other objects can you find? For those of us who are more experienced, I'm sure you'll recognize a lot of the objects from your childhood.

Be sure to spend a few moments to check it out and support PES by visiting their sites below, I can see myself easily becoming a fan. The PES website is located here, and the official PES Youtube Channel can be found here.

Thanks for sharing Dr. Duncan. : - )

09 December, 2008

"A Gentleman's Duel" : By Blur Studio

A few years ago, Blur produced this animated short called "A Gentleman's Duel". Back then, my first impressions of the animation were that it was well crafted, it had great animated characters, story, backgrounds, layouts, and I also liked how it had an adult twist on the subject matter. The art direction and their soft treatment to the sets adds to the period, making a unique stylized animation. Seeing it again for the second, third and forth time, it still is awesome to watch.

Enjoy "A Gentleman's Duel" and when you get a chance, check out the Blur Studios site to be inspired.

03 December, 2008

Marek Denko: 3D Modeling Demo Reel

This is Marek Denko's demo reel from two + years ago, and by today's standard, it still holds up. As usual, he's got great lighting, texturing, particles, in some of his large city scenes a great handle on atmospheric perspective, and an over encompassing interesting and thoughtful presentation to his pieces. You'll like it a lot. Keep watching the demo reel until the end and you'll be able to see his mesh structure and breakdown. Great work Marek. If you read this message, let us know how you are doing.


22 November, 2008

Police Dashboard Cam Captures Meteor

What do you think, is this thing real? Its unfortunate that the footage is very bad, but that's due in part to the lowrez nature of cameras that accompanies law enforcement cars. If this is a real meteor strike, it looks huge and it looks like it touched down before it burned up.

I am inclined to believe that its real because of the nature of the light and because (I think this is funny), it takes place in Edmonton. I think if it were done by a VFX artist, she would've picked LA or someplace more metropolitan. After all, it is more exciting, but then again, that's been done before. The idea that it was captured by police car cam adds to the overall believability. That's one lucky cop car to be in right place at the right time.

What do you think? Before you answer, here is some news footage and different camera angles to help corroborate the event. I haven't found any information about where this thing actually landed. Looks real to me.

14 November, 2008

Benefits of Using the WACOM Tablet

Many people ask me how and why I got started using the WACOM tablet as a design tool and as a creative person, I have to say that its essential and in this post, I'm going to tell you why.

First, its more intuitive than a mouse, the movement is natural, and (for me) it cured my carpal tunnel and various pains I experienced in my hands, which as a creative person, are invaluable. As of writing this post, I still don't have the numbness and pain.

Our hands are like "gold" right? Without them, how can we draw, paint or use the computer, or better yet, design to pay the bills (multiply this by the number of kids you have) and you realize how important your hands are. So, to save our hands, here's my pitch for using the WACOM tablet. It takes time to get used to, but its worth it.

When I graduated with my Graphic Design degree, I got a pretty good design job at a large corporation. We had the best machines, latest software and the best projects. It was a lot of fun and we produced a lot of cool design work. This was both good and bad.

Remember however, when we design on the computer, our hands click the mouse thousands of times a day. Imagine this happening, let's say for three years (this is what happened to me) and after three years of intense design work (and clicking the mouse), I began experiencing a numbing in my right pinky and ring finger. I didn't think anything at first, then the two fingers started to hurt.

I took a Photoshop workshop with the company and I shared with the instructor at the time my problem, and he recommended that I teach myself to use the mouse with my left hand. He said it takes about two weeks, that it was doable and most importantly, it diminishes the wear and tear that was happening to my right hand. So for next week, I literally sat on my right hand while I worked on using the mouse with my left hand. In few short days, I taught myself how to use the mouse with my left hand. This was cool because now I was able to surf the internet and brush my teeth at the same time with my right hand.

Then, (wouldn't you know it) after three years of designing and working in this way, I started experiencing the same numbness and pain in my left hand. Whoa! What the heck is going on here? This took me by surprise and grew concerned because I recognized the "pain". So, I switched back to using the mouse with my right hand.

It took about three months where my right hand began to experience the numbing sensation again. So now, both my hands were experiencing the numbing and slight pain in both pinky and ring fingers. This was bad.

At the company I worked at, they had WACOM tablets available to us for use because many artists used them to draw on the computer. I borrowed one and in only a few days learned how to use. I fell in love with it.

After using it for two days, the pain and numbness went away. The position you sit in when you use it is natural...Your simply holding a stylus which is just like a pencil or pen and instead of clicking (like you do on a mouse), you simply tap the stylus twice, and tap the keyboard to activate various hotkey functions with your other hand. Once I got this down (which took about a week), not only was I working faster, but I was able to be creative without having to worry about what was happening to my hands.

Once in a while, WACOM tablets go on sale at your nearest computer store. The one I use is this one: Wacom Bamboo. You don't need a big one, I have the 6x8 and it works fine. If you are a digital creative, you should invest in one, especially if your hands begin to experience numbing or pain. These days, the tablets have a place where you can clip your stylus so you don't lose it (finally), and also the tablets are now wireless.

I teach a digital painting class where students use the WACOM tablet for the first time. It takes a while to get used to, but once they get a handle on the hand eye coordination required to use it, they love it. The biggest thing I tell them, is that when they first learn to draw, they use a pencil and not a mouse. When you draw on the computer, using a WACOM tablet emulates this natural position, and therefore, can create better work.

I hope this helps you out, if you experienced something similar, let me know. I'd like to hear from you. One of these days, I'll have to get my hands on one of these cool Cintiqs featured below. Only a few of my students roll with them, as the price for them is still pretty steep, but it is sooooo very cool. I'll put this on my wishlist for Santa :-) - Keep drawing and have fun!


10 November, 2008

"60 fps": Is Officially Entered in Aniboom's 2008 Animation Competition

Watch more cool animation and creative cartoons at aniBoom

Hey Ya'll! Randolf Dimalanta here... "60 fps", the animation I completed in the Summer of 2008 to complete my MFA in Computer Animation degree has just been entered in Aniboom's 2008 Animation Competition. Many people contributed to its completion and had been in the works for over 9 months.

On Aniboom, the winner of the competition is decided by popularity, and so the more people view it, the better it will do in the competition. Thanks to all of you who have supported the animation. You are awesome!

If you have never checked out the Aniboom site, its actually quite nice. Its one of the very few places online that features cool animations from independent creators like us. They have great competitions and best of all, they have industry leading judges that review the work being submitted.

The part I like best (separate from any competition), is that the animations are viewed by people who LOVE animations...our people. Its a cool animation community and its all good. So check it out here and if you have a cool animation, be sure to enter it in their competitions before the deadline, you may win your stake of $50,000. These days, the money probably will go to gas cards.

Fire it Up!


05 November, 2008

Video CoPilot : Visual FX Video Tutorials

If you are an animation / game art / visual effects artist / student, you need to check this site now. You won't regret it. I can't say enough about it. You need to check it to get better.

Videocopilot.net is a visual effects website that uses video tutorials to help people learn Adobe After Effects. The tutorials are hosted by VFX artist Andrew Kramer who works professionally in the industry. The video tutorials are fast, clear, informative and surprisingly entertaining.

As an animation instructor, After Effects should be one of the weapons in your creative arsenal, as its linked to what we do on a regular basis (by this, I mean how your work is presented). More importantly, the way our typography is used to present our demo reels is sometimes just as important as the animation work itself. After Effects is definitely one of the best at animating text in interesting ways, and since we are judged on this, we have to get better at it. As animation students, we don't get enough After Effects time.

So, be sure you check out the Videocopilots.net site, browse their tutorials and help them out by purchasing their DVD's for reference, especially if you have never been in After Effects before, I'll guarantee you'll learn a thing or two just by browsing their site. Some advice for you....once you watch a tutorial, see if you can make something that you would think is totally fun, and that will be used for your demo reel. I'll bet that this will be one of the "standout" pieces in your portfolio.

Hey Andrew Kramer, keep up the great work and thanks for putting up such helpful information.

03 November, 2008

"Get Out and Vote Ya'll" : Frankenstein for President 2008

In the "spirit" of this election year (and Halloween), I thought it would be appropriate to put these two clips up. They're pretty funny. So let your voice be heard, get out and vote! Go Frankenstein!

I remember when Jibjab first came out, their first animations poked fun at the Bush and Kerry elections. They were so entertaining and its nice to see them back and stronger than ever in this year's political races. The short little animation below features Barack Obama, John McCain and Sarah Palin as zombies. What more could you ask for? Whatever are we gonna do when this election ends - I'm sure they'll be another person to make fun of? . . .

Have fun, enjoy and remember to get out and vote!

30 October, 2008

Barack Obama and Joch McCain : Awesome Dance Battle

We watch this clip in my classes over and over again. There a lot of funny things about it: Barack's expressions are great, and his body type matches what we in the media. Funnier, is John McCain's expressions when he moves his head, and that move he does when he's on the floor (kinda scary).

I'm not sure about the Sarah Palin clip at the end though. Looks like they rushed that part, her head is too small for her neck and body, the clip makes her look like that small headed character from Beetlejuice.

Overall, the clip is entertaining, the breakdancers are awesome, and from a visual effects standpoint, its not a bad composite either. Thanks for making this guys. Well done!

27 October, 2008

Typography Survival Kit

Typography is essential to an animation student's ability to graduate. How an artist handles his type says a lot about his basic design sense, sensitivity to detail, decision making and clarity of presentation. When an animation student graduates from our school, they are evaluated during a final portfolio/demo reel presentation by a panel of instructors and a select panel of professionals working in the industry. They are judged on about five criteria, and one of them is typography....literally 20 percent of the final score lies in their ability to use typography throughout their presentation. Its a nice test but it catches people off guard, thus the reason for this post. Its meant to help you out.

The hard part, is that animation students only take one or two typography classes while in school and it takes practice and time to really see the nuances of what makes for effective typography. So, they have to play catch up to the designers who work on it on a regular basis, and thus develop a loathing of the craft. Many animation students also find it boring.

Just know that typography can be fun. Take a look at some of the examples on this post. In my classes, I equate typography to "food" where the information presented by the typography is used to educate, help and nurture people.

I intend to write more about the subject for those of you who find the subject overwhelming and boring and will post these lectures on this blog as they are created. I know it'll help people out, and I know I can refer to it in the portfolio classes I teach.

I am an animator, but before this, I was a graphic designer for a few large corporations. It was here that I developed my type skills...and I got real good at it.

Yes I developed fonts, created layouts and websites for large corporations. It was a lot of fun, but nothing beats the feeling you get when you use those design and typography skills in a way that helps you market your OWN work to help you get that job you want, and in most cases this can be a simple business card, or more importantly, a website.

I've seen some recruiters and employers during these review sessions praise a potential graduate for how well their website is designed, in essence, they can tell a lot about a design/animation candidate by how well their site is put together and a large part of it is in their handling of type, which says a lot about their sense of design.

When I teach typography to animation students we talk about the feeling a particular type face represents. We also talk about effective type combinations (contrast), negative space and most importantly, visual hierarchy, which means that to any effective design, a designer must lead the eye by establishing a single focal point, followed by a second and a third.

When I mention this to my classes, they are blown away and surprised primarily because they find that a concept that is so effective and important to also be very simple. I'll write more about this in a later time.

In the meantime, enjoy the VFS kinetic typography presentation that accompanies this post. You will find a treasure trove of information regarding typography in just a few minutes that some of us take years to realize.

As an animator, does it mean that our work is relegated to just animating characters. Nope. It also includes effective animation of typography and design elements. Anyone ever see the opening and closing sequences for your favorite TV shows? Its everywhere

I hope this quick animation helps you. When I saw it, I thought about my students who yearn to improve their design and typography skills, and thought I'd post it for future reference enjoy.


20 October, 2008

Are These Nuts Moving? - An Optical Illusion

As visual effects people, animators, painters and artists, we are very keen with what the eyes see, sometimes our eyes will do things naturally that are just, well....plain weird. 

Check out this static image, would anyone care to articulate what's happening here? Does it look like its moving? 

Its too early in the day, and I haven't had anything to drink to elicit anything to move (I don't think). The image is moving right now as I create this post. Would you consider this animation?

Don't stare at it too long though, you might get sick, try showing it to the person next to you, I'll guarantee you'll start up an interesting conversation as some people I have found can see any movement whatsoever.

Thanks Mark, for the image!

17 October, 2008

Old Skool Logos Yo!

Here is a collection of animated logos from back in the day. See how many you can recognize as most of them are from the 80's. We watched these in my beginning 3D Animation class to introduce our next assignment, and so I had the students pay attention to how they animate simple shapes, lights, glows and composition. Back in the day, these were all actually very good considering the tools they had.

After we watch the old logos, we watch new ones, and good examples are the ones produced by EA Games as seen below.

16 October, 2008

Barack Obama : Ad in Video Game

Barack's appeal to younger voters like myself is apparent, and I definitely enjoy seeing the direction of some of his ads. This one in particular is a billboard seen in the game Burnout Paradise by EA that is unexpected and surprising. I just think its cool and creative that his ad/virtual billboard somehow made it into the background design. In a fast game, it might be best to place the ad on a long stretch of road where a player can see the ad, and not on a dangerous turn. Nice move EA and the Obama Campaign for trying something new, very smart.

09 October, 2008

Gears of War 2 :

Hi Guys - I ran into this today while checking the latest news on MSNBC.com of all places. The first Gears of War game I thought was excellent, it had great visuals as well as unique creative ways of handling weapons. Gears of War 2 looks even better. The environments and creatures look massive and majestic, and I have to say that the taking enemies and using them as "human shields" thing is pretty cool...nice touch.

Check out the clip to see what I mean. Enjoy!

Hey Epic Guys, great work!

07 October, 2008

Conrad Ostwald : Animation VFX Demo Reel

Conrad's demo reel is a good example of using transitions effectively. The concept of the "Demo Reel Parody" is simply genius Conrad, thanks for posting, and even though its comical, for those of us who are just starting, you could learn a lot simply by looking at his examples, all of them are well executed.

02 October, 2008

Empire: Total War - Game Footage

The in-game cinematics in this game look really good, and are reminiscent of the movie "The Patriot"... remember that movie? The commercial is engaging, put together well, entertaining and informative (imagine that). You'll actually get a short history lesson here...in any case, its worth checking out, especially if you are big on real time strategy games.

For those those of you working in the game cinematics class, take notes. This one's a good one.


29 September, 2008

60 FPS: Final Animation

60 FPS from randolfd on Vimeo.

Here is the final animation. Thanks to everyone who made this project a success. I wish all of you continued health and prosperity. I'm going to rest a bit, and after resting, will work on a new animation soon (perhaps "The Final Task" sequel).

Until next time...
Randolf Dimalanta

27 September, 2008

New Citroen C4 Animation

Hey Guys - A new animated car commercial for the Citroen C4 has just come out and is now playing in the UK. As always, the studio that created the clip is sharp in terms of handling the overall compositing of the robot with the environment, storytelling and presentation. As expected, we have some pretty slick movement and dance moves, see if you can pick out the theme/genre. 

For those of you who worked on the commercial, good job. Keep 'em coming, we like dancing robots! Wish this was longer. You can view the original Citroen car commercials here.

Fire it up!

22 September, 2008

Maya Tutorials By Jesse Toula

Jesse's got some great tutorials on how to animate extrusions, gun muzzle fire, creating a shirt and creating cool text (pictured here on the left). Visit his site by clicking the link below.

Thanks Jesse for posting and sharing your talent! Fire it up!

21 September, 2008

Life Drawing / Gesture Video Demonstration

Hey Guys - - In order to advance your skills, its important to be somewhat proficient in lifedrawing. The practice of which has many benefits, these include: knowledge of anatomy, proportion and movement that inevitably leads to the expression of character in animation. 

Below is a link to a video tutorial I created to help you with the gesture lifedrawing process I use. Keep in mind that there are many ways to do this, this just happens to be the procedure I follow to help me with proportion and construction of the figure (I've tried lots of methods, this is the best way for me). 

Once this is established, I can begin to add details in the contour (outline), anatomy and shading.  The lifedrawing tutorial moves kind of slow, but was necessary in order to explain a few things. 

The goal, is to do this often enough that you become proficient and fast. Keep a sketchbook handy, attend lifedrawing sessions, and or draw whenever you are kicking back in a public place.

Click below or the picture above to view the tutorial. . . enjoy!

11 September, 2008

One Rat Short

Written and Directed by Alex Weil, and the winner of numerous awards in 2006, "One Rat Short " features great modeling, lighting, texturing and fur, but most of all, it features a unique interesting story about a rat in a hight tech lab. Turn up the volume as the sound kicks. For those of you modeling your organic object this week, this is a great example of organic and inorganic models working together to help propel the story. Notice how the environment colors and textures change as we move from one environment to the next. 

The official site can be found by clicking here.


Berni Huber: VFS Demo Reel

Hi Guys - Great work here. I saw this about a year ago, and it still stands as great example of what he can do. During the turntable, take a look at how organized the mesh is. Great lighting, materials and compositing too. What are you doing these days Berni?

08 September, 2008

3D and Interactive Media Design

Incorporating 3D graphics into an interactive webpage makes for unique cutting edge presentations. Most of the animated graphics we see on the web are flat or are vector based through the use of Flash, Fireworks, Ai, and is always impressive to see a slick integration of 3D into the design. Here's a great example from the MSNBC site that I thought was pretty cool. This post is actually for all those interactive web designers who are in my classes wanting to learn 3D. Begin thinking of ways to incorporate your new 3D skills into your designs.  

06 September, 2008

Ironman: Pre-viz to Screen Final Comparison

Hi Guys – Here’s a pretty nice side by side pre-viz to screen comparison reel of scenes from the Iron Man movie (2008). It shows great examples of lighting, texturing and reflectivity in the final shot, but its always good to also see what they started with as seen in the animatic. Also, when you look at the animatic animations, notice how very close they move to the final shot, the post camera shakes to make the shot believable, as well as the addition of motion blurs. Inspiring stuff. Definitely doable, but definitely done alone.
Thanks Patricio for the link!


26 August, 2008

Laugh Yoga : Laughter is the Best Medicine

This week, in the Acting and Movement class, a new class I'm teaching this quarter for the animation students, we experienced Laugh Yoga.  In essence, you do exercises as a group to induce laughter. At first the laughter is fake, but in a group, where everyone is doing it, and you make eye contact with person next to you, you can't help but get all giddy and giggly. Eventually, a real laugh arises and that's the goal. Laughing reduces stress, and increases hormone levels that promote relaxation. Its all good. 

The first clip is from a foreign TV show where the host can't stop laughing at his guests, I crack up every time I watch it, and so I'm posting here every time I need a good laugh. Its always more funny when you are laughing in a situation where it is rude or inappropriate to laugh.

And the second clip is a documentary by John Cleese on Laugh Yoga that was featured on the BBC. Keep laughing, stay positive and be healthy. 

23 August, 2008

Citroen Car Commercial :: Robots Everywhere II

I wanted to post this Citroen car animation for inspiration. I saw it many years ago, and it still scores very high in my book for entertainment value. Its a great simple concept, the robot's got some great dance moves, and the soundtrack is catchy. 

After you watch this, be sure to view the parody below.


And of course the parady.....

And a new Citroen commercial...

Adding Music To Your Demo Reel

When putting together a demo reel, one often asks if I should put music on it. Of course you should, however be sure the song does not distract from the work, and that its a soundtrack that adds to the overall mood of your reel. Many times, recruiters will turn the sound off, which is fine, they see lots of demo reels throughout the day, and with the music turned off, they can focus on the actual work, and not have the music be a distraction. 

More often than not however, it is best to have music. I've been in portfolio reviews where the person has no music at all, and the demo reel is a drag to view, and it gives the illusion that its too long. Do do yourself a favor by picking a song that you like, which compliments your work.


Having said that, I wanted to post these visual effects because their choice of music is unique. They are good examples of musical contrast, the soundtrack does not necessarily match the mood of the images being displayed, but changes it to make for an interesting presentation. 

Check these reels out to see what I mean. Not only do they present an interesting unique soundtrack, but also, excellent professional CG work.  Their music selection for the most part is fun, and gives the work a lighthearted lift. Enjoy!

Other things to remember is the pacing of your music. Some songs pick up in tempo, make sure the tempo picks up sooner than later, and see if you can time your editing to the beat of the music, making sure you leave enough time for us to view the clip.

Arison Vilela :: Demo Reel

Saw this today and had to post for future reference. Overall, great presentation, use of type and design, highlighted by a great model of a crotch rocket/ mantis robot. Very nice. Keep us posted as to how you are doing Arison. 

13 August, 2008

Matthew Bessudo : Animation Demo Reel

Matthew is an animator from one of my favorite animations "Sigg Jones" by Supinfocom. His demo reel shows a variety of style, good typographic design and layout. Thanks for posting Mr. Bessudo.

Dstrukt : Visual FX Demo Reels

Came across two visual effects reels from Dstrukt. The reels exemplify good design, timing and creativity. I thought I'd put them on here for future reference. Don't mind the image of the creepy looking kid. 

30 July, 2008

The Dark Knight : Movie Review

Great movie guys! If you haven't gone yet, go see it soon. I recommend seeing it IMAX if its offered in your area. Below is a quick featurette about the IMAX processes used in the film. Its not easy, the camera is heavier, cumbersome and there's quite a bit of additional set up,  but in the end, YOU (the audience), get exciting, one of a kind action sequences. 

Overall, the acting was great, great timing and build up, nice twists throughout and its got some some pretty awesome stunt/action sequences, (my favorite part). I think the hand to hand combat could've been better, but that's because I'm into that stuff. Does anyone else notice the drastic voice change when Bruce changes to Batman? Sounds like the suit is choking him. 

As far as Heath Ledger goes...bravo, well done! His portrayal of Joker is dark, unpredictable, and creepy. His portrayal is actually a lot tougher than previous Jokers, the disappearing pencil trick was nice right? Go see the film everyone. 

If you are visual effects student, check out the documentary below.

29 July, 2008

Glen Keane on "Tarzan"

In my animation classes this week, we watched a short documentary of Glen Keane commenting on the animation of Tarzan. Glen was the supervising animator of Tarzan, and in this documentary describes the animation process, shares preliminary exploratory drawings, and talks about achieving emotion in the character. 

I've seen this many times, and every time I watch it, I learn something new. I think its about time to post it here on my blog for future personal reference and future inspiration. As an animation instructor, I hope it helps make you better.  

Take a few moments to learn from a master animator...Enjoy!

14 July, 2008

Hellboy 2 : Golden Army - Fight Scene

"Hellboy 2" premiered last week. Guillermo's fight and action sequences are among the best. He shows good timing and angles that create some pretty dynamic action on film. 

Check out the Hellboy Production page and find the clips on the lower right. Scroll down to find the link called "Red Fights Nuada". Sorry it can't be a direct link, the page is one big flash file. 

07 June, 2008

"Big Buck Bunny": Blender Animation

Premiering on the internet this week is "Big Buck Bunny". The movie is special because it was modeled, rigged and animated in a free open source 3D program called Blender. This animation really shows off what the application can do.

The environments display beautiful color and lighting and texturing, we see great examples of fur, water, FX animation, rigging and smooth animation. The animators were also able to create some pretty funny emotions in the characters. It has a great story that will keep you entertained. 

The project is entirely Open Source, if you would like to learn more check out bigbuckbunny.org. You can learn more about the project, browse through galleries, download the files (oh yes, you can actually download the actual models and play with them), and its also where you can also purchase the DVD, a good idea as sales of the DVD goes to help produce more projects like this. 

The idea of Open Source is really nice. The script is available for programmers to enhance and therefore, new and more powerful versions of Blender are always available to you. I often encourage my classes to check it out. The program is free....the only cost however is the learning curve. I taught myself Blender earlier last year and visited the Blenderwiki site to access some pretty helpful tutorials. This Blender tutorial will show you the basics of the navigation. 

Give it a shot. The Blender program can be downloaded off of the Blender.org site. 

Cheers to the group that created "Big Buck Bunny", well done. 

27 May, 2008

VG Cats: Online Comics Site

VGcats.com features online comics from a new generation of comic artists. I'm sure you'll recognize the subject matter described in these strips, they're different from what you would find in the papers. They feature a lot of great vector line art, which is key these days, the style is marketable, hip, clean, easy to produce and fits that "cute" character style well. The site is updated every Monday, so you can have your fill before beginning the school or work week. Check it.

23 May, 2008

Corel Painter Magazine Site & Digital Painting Thougths

Corel Painter publishes a magazine that's pretty amazing and it also has an accompanying Corel Painter Magazine website. Below is a link to the part of their site that contains tuturials for you to download.

Those of you interested in painting realistic characters, may want to check out some of the airbrush tutorials available on this page.

One of the features of the magazine that I love, is that it covers basic and advnanced level foundation knowledge, like drawing, layout, design, color, value and composition, and they cover how you can accomplish this is Corel Painter.

The magazine also features a contest for every issue...that's pretty cool. Contests are an excellent way to get your name recognition. They supply the photos and you turn it into great art. Give it a shot, you may win a prize, you might be featured in the magazine, you may win software, or you might have your painting printed on canvas.

I shall be joining the Corel Painter site shortly. I've used it for over three years now, and I've to say that its been an incredible tool for creating artwork. I get lots of questions from people about the differences between painting traditionally and digitally, and there really is know difference, and what I'm speaking about is the feeling that I get when I'm in the process of drawing of painting. The feeling is the same, and for some of you who have been drawing and painting for a long time, its that feeling that keeps calling to us, its the reason why we draw and paint in the first place.

Painting digitally offers many benefits. Its economical to be able to experiment with different visual styles, I don't have to worry about storage or flatfile cabinets, I can use it immediately in an online portfolio to market myself as an artist, and the most important reason of all, I don't have to worry about hazzardous materials like Cadmiumum and Turp that had once affected my hands. I know there are always precautions for working in this way to prevent this, but despite my careful attempts, I experienced bouts of handshaking that have since disappeared when I switched to painting digitally.

You can check out my digital painting portfolio here. All of the images were created in Corel Painter iX and all but four were done traditionally in oil.


17 May, 2008

Alberto Landeros : VFS Demo Reel

I couldn't resist. I had to post this for future reference. Alberto not only shows mad VFX and Compositing skills, but what I like the most, is his presentation and design sense. 

He's got a sensitive touch to his typographic presentation, something that we should all keep in mind as we prepare to show our work to professionals. 

Like many of these VFS Demo Reels, we appreciate the breakdowns. See if you can count how may passes he has for Shot III.

Thanks for posting Alberto.

James McPhail : VFS Demo Reel

This is a pretty nice presentation of some well executed compositing, and as always, we appreciate the breakdowns. The "Lego" theme is also very thoughtful, creative and lots of fun. I'm posting this because it serves as good inspiration for my Painter class this week, where they will be exploring special effects in the program. Its not After Effects by any means, most of the effects will be frame by frame, but its fun and his breakdowns show the layers he used to create the effects.

13 May, 2008

Video Box

Videobox is a script which enables you to show videos in your page as an overlay. It was inspired the Lightbox portfolio, which became popular with many portfolio students once we figured out to install and activate it. The presentation was nice, clean and beautiful. 

Videobox works in much the same way and is actually much simpler to set up and activate. What's cool is that it plays videos or demo reels from sites like Vimeo in order to save server space, it also loads very quickly. This works much better than linking to an actual quicktime file hosted on your site. 

The only problem is that a Vimeo embedded file lose their fullscreen feature once its integrated into Videobox. Otherwise, the presentation looks good. For those of you wanting to use this for your demo reels, you have to decide if the fullscreen Vimeo option is worth it. In my opinion, it is very important and so therefore, you're better off linking to a standard HTML page with your Vimeo video embedded into it. Feel free to use Videobox for your other videos.

UPDATE: 5/13/08
Found out tonight that Videobox doesn't work well in IE6, so I'm going to hold off before using it permanently on my site. I'll keep an eye out for a fix. The black overlay doesn't extend, but the player animates and plays fine. 

Adam Marisset : VFS Demo Reel

Adam's demo reel is exceptional. It shows awesome compositing, animation and rigging work. On top of all of all this, its pretty darn entertaining. One of the great things I like about the model turnaround of the robot, is that it looks at us as it spins...a nice touch that I appreciate and would like for students to remember. Keep up the great work Adam, thanks for posting your reel.

01 May, 2008

Kuler : Amazing Color Site

Okay, this site is amazing. Its called Kuler. As an art and design instructor, one of the most difficult things to teach is color. After you've done the traditional color wheel (by hand), the goal is to develop a personalized color sense. This means using color combinations that not only look good together (which is infinite), but that express who you are as an artist. This takes time and experimentation.

The site below can help speed up the process for you. If you ever need a quick recommendation for a particular color strategy, this is worth a try. I've also attached an image that I'm creating for a DJ friend, using the "watermelon" palette. The black line work and colors were executed in Painter

Hope it helps out. Thanks for the heads up Zach!

25 April, 2008

Painter IX Matte Painting Demos

Here are a few of the demonstration pieces created in the Painter class this week on matte painting. I'll see if I can work up a quick video tutorial on this stuff in the near future, its a lot of fun.

Be sure when you do your matte painting, that you keep atmospheric perspective in mind and that you have an idea of your composition. This means establishing your focal point. Case in point, just because the glow brush makes things look cool, doesn't mean that you add it everywhere. Be judicious and selective in where it is used.

If everything on a painting is shouting with glows, the viewer will not know where to look. Show some restraint, this is where your power resides.

Happy Matte Painting!



24 April, 2008

Francisco Moncayo : Demo Reel

Francisco sports another great VFS Demo Reel. I love this concept for its simplicity. His modeling, lighting, texturing and motion capture work together to make a believable and entertaining piece. For those of you who like sushi and animation, this one's for you. Thanks for sharing Francisco, let us know what you are up to next.

17 April, 2008


Hey guys, I close friend shared a link to animationpodcast.com. Its run by Disney Animation Supervisor Clay Kaytis. This is so informative and inspiring. Its great to listen to while you work or drive on the freeway. 

In his podcasts, Clay interviews top animators in the field (you name them, he's interviewed them). You get to hear and learn about animation techniques, animation lessons on the job, news about the animation industry, but what I like the most is its focus on the craft of animation itself (old skool style). 

For those of you hardcore 2D Animators, its definitely worth checking. Listen to it so you become more powerful. 

Thanks Ruel for the heads up!

Fire it Up!


16 April, 2008

Color Comp Demo

Here is today's demo on matching color on the computer. In order to improve your color memory, its essential that you take time to look at color combinations from artists you like, and see if you can apply the same colors to your own piece.

When matching colors I follow this method:

Match Hue
Match Value
Match Saturation or Intensity

Work from the background to the foreground.
Block in the basic shapes.
Add atmospheric perspective by adding haze or blurring portions of your painting.

11 April, 2008

The Ai Instructor

Here's me as a character in a work uniform.

09 April, 2008


Created in Painter iX, using the charcoal, and fx shattered brushes. The piece also demonstrated the pickout technique, where you apply a transparent midtone over the entire image, then upon it, you add darks, lights, then highlights to complete the image.

29 March, 2008

Advent Children : Crisis Core

We viewed this animation in one of my modeling classes. Like many of my students, I'm a big fan of Advent Children. The lighting, texturing, modeling, character and set design, timing, staging and voice acting work well together. It wasn't unusual to watch this piece more than once.

I took a while to locate this piece. Once I did, I figured I'd put it on my blog so I can refer to it in the future. So here it goes.

28 March, 2008

Leg Update: 12 Week Update

Went to the Doctor to have the leg checked. It has been 12 weeks (about 4 months) since the surgery where I had a metal plate screwed into the lower part of my fibula. Its now official, the doc told me that I could officially ditch the crutches...woohooo!

My job now, is to start putting more weight on the leg,and as much as possible, try to walk without limping in order to stimulate bone growth. I come back in another 4 weeks, and if I still have problems walking straight, then they would recommend physical therapy to improve my gate and stride.

Walking without limping is difficult and tiring. I can't do it for very long. So, I continue to walk slow wherever I go. I actually enjoy it, walking slow relieves a lot of undo stress for wanting to get someplace. It definitely takes a lot of planning on my part so I arrive to places on time, but its all good.

One thing I started doing this week, was working out in the gym, which felt great. I rode the bike for twenty minutes, worked out my upper body, stretched and did some leg extensions. My recovering leg is so weak. This may have been a bad idea, because since I had not worked out for over 6 months, my body was extremely sore the next day, especially, my arms. My arms could not bend and so my wife had to help me put on my socks and shirt so I could go to work. It was also a challenge to shampoo, and brush the teeth.

So not only was I limping, I couldn't move my upper body either, I was bad shape. Nobody said recovery was easy.

21 March, 2008

Andy Goralczyk : Creature Factory

I got into Blender about a year ago and had to put it aside in order to finish up with school. I'm still pretty impressed with what it can do. Blender is an open source 3D software that can do just about anything. The best part about it is that its free. The only cost however, is the learning curve. How much time would you like to invest into getting to know it?

I saw this demo reel and was inspired. I particularly liked the node based editing screen, where one can see the image in the background being adjusted. The project is by Andy Goralcyzk, and there's no word yet as to when he's completed it or not. You can check out high rez pictures of the project by clicking here.

Until the DVD comes out, enjoy!

18 March, 2008

VFS Demo Reel: Jason Findkey

I was involved with graduation portfolio reviews this week and had noticed a couple of things that I think any animation/design graduate should know about.

1) Include music in your demo reel to make it interesting. Music makes the presentation go quickly, without it, it seems to drag. These are industry professionals in the room and they have things to do. Therefore, adding music not only makes the time go by faster (for someone busy), but its also more interesting and engaging. The demo reel featured on this blog is by Jason Findkey, his demo reel is exceptional ways in which I will explain below. His music selection added to the look and feel of his presentation.

2) Only show your best work. I'd rather see a few fantastic examples (like 2 - 5), rather than 11 - 20 mediocre ones. If you use only a few excellent samples, be strategic in their placement, by showing them off well, and by putting some thought into the presentation design.
How do you do this?

3) Watch more demo reels. There are lots of outstanding demo reels that you can learn from. You can start by clicking the demo reel on this blog. Click it and see what else comes up on the side. When you watch them, look at how long they are, what they show and how they show it, timing, pacing, music selection and polish. One of the reasons why I like Jason's reel, is because it feels like a movie. He gradually draws us into his work through the music, logo intro and Hellboy silhouette which piques our interest from the beginning. Hey Jason, if you read this, nice work!

4) Know your audience. In our geographical area, its not unusual for gaming companies to sit in on these portfolio reviews, so early in your school career, you should see if you could create graphics that these gaming companies could use. Does it man you do graphic images of fruits or money? Maybe, but if you look at the variety of imagery these companies use, you'll see that subject matter range from characters (cartoon to realistic), typography, 3D and 2D vector based graphics. In all of these, a good sense of design is essential. How can they tell you have good design skills?

5) Have a working website. Your site represents your design sensitivity and the type of work you are interested in. Many of the gaming companies present were not receptive to 3D modeling and texturing work, but were impressed with the graduate's website. Its a nice a little added touch that makes you look really good (provided that it works). If the site doesn't work, or isn't designed well, it will hurt you. So, be sure to test your site by having people you trust to test and comment on your site, and fix things before your site goes live.

6) Plan B. Have a contingency plan, a "Plan B" just in case your demo reel doesn't play. One thing you could do, is point people to your site. Be sure to test your site to see if your demo reels load. In using Quicktimes, I've noticed a slight delay. You may want to upload your video to Vimeo.com, get an embed code for your video and place this embed code on to an HTML page. This loads much faster, and you have the option to view your demo reels / videos in full screen.

7) Be Prepared. Before you leave the room, or before the meeting starts, check to see everything works. This means, if you are going to show your site, that you open your website in the browser window that is being projected at the front of the room.

8) "Damn" When I show the Jason Findkey demo reel to my classes, it is met with silence and often, I hear someone quietly say "Damn". One word says it all right? "This guys is really really good", his work is so outstanding, that we're left speechless. The scary party, is that this was his work coming right out of school. His work is interesting on many levels and the best part, is that he doesn't really show that much. So what are you gonna do when you apply for the same job as he does? Seems like an unfair question, but it happens all the time. Better yet, what if you were both hired, and both of you work on the same project?

What I want for you, is that when people see your work, that they are so impressed, it would be foolish to not hire you. You don't do this in 2 weeks. You have to keep working at it (whatever you do) and you have to get feedback. Following the tips above should prepare you to do battle in the field.

That's all for now. I'll add things to this as things come up as I feel it could help others.

Fire it Up!

12 March, 2008

VFS Demo Reel : Teh-Wei Yeh

The Vancouver Film School in Canada produces some of the greatest demo reels I have seen coming out of any school. The demo reels are well executed and produced. They feature not only the effects shot, but also an integrated breakdown compilation of how the shot was created. I will be posting the ones I like here on this blog for future reference and inspiration.

This demo reel by Teh-Wei Yeh is exceptional. He shows some excellent compositing, animation, texturing timing and editing. His intro with the falling bullets is "Off the Hook!"(as they say in my neighborhood). You can view his demo reel below.

10 March, 2008

Flash Animatic Tutorial

In Storyboarding class, there were many requests for me to create a video tutorial that demonstrates how to create a storyboard animatic in Flash. So, here you go. The tutorial covers setup, importing images into the library, organizational tips, hotkeys and publishing.

You can access the tutorial by clicking the image to the right or by clicking here.

The tutorial is my first and is essential for the way I teach. I don't like that in the past, I would demo software essential for an assignment, and there are no computers in front of students. It isn't the most beneficial in regards to remembering things, and forget about it if the student chose not to take notes. They're just not going to remember. Creating a video tutorial in this fashion, makes it easier for them to access the tutorial while in front of the computer.

I hope to make more as the quarters progress.

05 March, 2008

Lightbox Portfolio

Be sure that your digital portfolio is well designed and that it showcases your best work. Your animation portfolio may include a series of drawings, paintings and lifedrawings to now only show off your knowledge of anatomy, figure construction but it also give one insight into you aesthetic sensibilities. You can tell a lot from about someone's maturity by looking at a drawing or painting.

You can create this in a number of ways, one way is to use the automated web galleries in Photoshop, or you can use of the pre-existing applications available for free on the internet. In the digital web portfolio class that I teach, we have a long discussion about the pros and cons of each, and recently, there was a lot of interest among my students in wanting to use the "Ligthbox" Portfolio application.

The design and presentation is attractive and "sexy". When a user clicks an image, the entire page will darken and your image will be framed and cropped in a simple elegant animated style. From a usability standpoint, it keeps the user on your site, and will stay on the page as long as they wish...very very nice. Navigation is clean, simple and minimal just the way I like. I've added it to my portfolio and can viewed here.

The jury is still out if this can still be viewed on a majority of the machines, and for the most part, it does. No complaints yet. This is an alternative to using the Simpleviewer Portfolio, an attractive Flash Based portfolio, made by Airtight Interactive which can found by clicking here, is also very nice and easy to create.

The hard part is installing it in your webpage, especially if you are not used to Javascript, it may be a struggle, it took our class about a week to play and to search for a site that explained things well. It is however, easy to do. Simply follow Justin Lyric's instructions on his blog below. You are going to download the files from his blog and place these in your the main folder of your site, paste four lines of javascrip into your header and finally, you are going to add the "rel=" tags to each of your "href" link tags. Access Justin's site below.


"Lightbox" was created by Lokesh Dhakar. More information about the "Lightbox" portfolio can be found on his site here. Thanks Guys.

04 March, 2008

Week 9 :: Leg Checkup

Last Thursday, I had a 9 week checkup on my leg. It has been 9 weeks since the surgery and 5 weeks since the doctor removed my cast. When the cast was removed, I noticed that the area was stiff, specifically the heel area and the front of my ankle. On a weekly basis and daily basis, I could slowly feel the flexibility return, but it still isn't one hundred percent. Returning to work was tough, my energy wasn't as high as I would like and I look forward to being able to workout. I'm thinking about going to the gym and to workout my upper body.

Last week, I stood on both feet for the first time without crutches and pain. This felt great. I could also sleep properly as my leg is not affected by a simple blanket laying on top of it. Last week, I was also able to wear a shoe, and noticed the support it provided.

I still still use my crutches while walking, but this time with both feet on the floor. The leg seems to have great support, but I don't have the heel toe roll just yet to be able to walk normally. So, on a daily basis, I do three sets of thirty reps of calf raises and toe raises to help strengthen my leg and to get my heel toe movement back.

My foot is still swollen and its still a different color, but its not as bad as it was about a month ago. I have a tingling in my big toe, not sure what that's all about, and sometimes my knee feels week. The doctor said that its due to the plate in my leg and that it could be touching the nerves that affect these areas. I'm worried about the knee, and that it didn't tear during the accident - I just remember seeing my leg kinda weird that's all. I'll wait and see how the area feels as the weeks go by.

So, 9 weeks after the surgery, and 2 months since the accident, I can now put weight on both legs, and I can walk easily with the help of crutches for support. I'm still not off the crutches, but I can now start to slowly add more weight to the leg, keeping in mind that I have to do this slowly, I would hate to injure the area again from impatience. As far as physical therapy goes, the doctor saw the range of movement in my foot and he said that I was doing great. He said if I kept doing what I was doing, that I wouldn't need physical therapy. I see him again in about 4 weeks.

Today, I took 4 steps without crutches. I'm thankful for the doctor and his staff and everyone's support, I would not have been able to do it without you. I'm also thankful for calcium pills, if you look at the xray above, and compare it to the previous x-rays, you'll see the bones beginning to fill in.

So here's to a great year and to stronger leg. I'll post another update in about four weeks.

Lesson in all of this, besides being careful, is to enjoy life, slow down, appreciate what you have and do your best to stay positive. In times when things aren't going your way, get support and advice from people who love and care for you and take time out for yourself. What does this mean, it means you do something that you love, something that recharges your batteries. For me, its a great movie, hugging my kids and (this is funny) seeing how much money those Google Adsense ads bring in. The Adsense money is not that much, but its pays for coffee (caffeine, by the way, isn't good for bone healing).

When I broke my leg, I found it encouraging to read other people's accounts of their leg accident and their recovery and so I hope this helps you out too.