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.