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.