31 December, 2009

Alice in Wonderland

Saw this while watching "Avatar" over the holidays and found it to be interesting. Initially I thought it was a remake, but is quite new. In this story Alice returns to Wonderland to free the land from the Red Queen. I think any remake with the addition of larger grander battles is a good one, once I saw this, I figured, okay, combine this with Tim Burton visuals...this could be cool.

...and for a different take on the story, and in case you missed it, a miniseries premiered on Syfy called "Alice".

18 December, 2009

Panic Attack: Vis. FX Armageddon

Just watch this quick little movie (Attaque de Paniquo). It begins quietly but ends in a loud roar. There was a lot of work put into this piece, I think the background plates were beautifully shot, they show great compositions, and effective compositing, which means that the bad stuff you see happening all over the place is pretty convincing. Let us know what you think and enjoy!

Thanks for the heads up Mark!

Fire it up!

17 December, 2009

Iron Man 2: Trailer

Okay folks, this is looking pretty slick. Great to see the two suits together. Mickey Rourke looks excellent here as our villain, glad to know those "Wrestler" muscles can come in handy for something else. At about 2:09 we're wondering what's chasing Ironman.

Enjoy! This looks way cool if you liked the first one.

15 December, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins Trailer

"Dragon Age" premiered in the video game arena in early November '09. After watching this trailer, many of us were tempted to buy the game, its really nice to look at. Seriously - Sweet. There needs to be a movie done in this way. One thing to watch out for in this trailer, is the "walking bomb" let us know if you find it. It also has great fight sequences and creature animation to keep us salivating.

Fire it up and Enjoy!

13 December, 2009

Wrath of the Lich King Trailer

I realized that I had never logged this trailer on this blog. Here we go...brought to you by the magicians at Blizzard Entertainment. I love how the entire scene seems to grow not only in size but also in intensity. Enjoy!

Fire it Up!

11 December, 2009

Aisa: Lightsaber Kid

When my son Aisa was five, we caught him twirling a lightsaber around in our backyard. We had him trim the bushes shortly after, and was done trimming in about ten seconds. Good job son!

This animation was a test animation using Corel Painter IX's Glow Brush.

10 December, 2009

"Prep & Landing"

The other night, ABC premiered "Prep & Landing", a animated short about two elves whose job it is to prepare a house for Santa's arrival. Problems occur when one of the elves decides to think about himself and his ambitions, forgetting about the meaning of Christmas.

This animation was so fun to watch. It has got a nice Mission Impossible / James Bond feel to it and there is never a dull moment as there is always something cool (laser, electronic device) to see. I loved the modernization of Santa's equipment and the tools the elves use to get the job done...genius. You'll also like to see the different reindeer personalities and also...the "badass" reindeer Thrasher.

The animation overall I hope you enjoy and I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Also below is a short commercial for the "Prep & Landing" Kris Kringle Academy. When you get a chance, let us know your favorite part.

Pantural Modeling Demo Reel

This demo reel is showing off some mad mad skills...awesome lighting, command of the materials, lighting, and its also very entertaining. Not sure what he means by that subliminal stuff at the end, but that's okay. See if you catch it. Enjoy.

Rob A. Thanks for the link and for sharing.

Fire it Up.

07 December, 2009

Avatar: Featurette

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This is a nice featurette about the making of "Avatar" (Dec. 18, 2009). In it, you'll see more scenes, more creatures, more characters, more environments and James Cameron's personal view of the film, where he shares that he had to "shelve" the idea because the technology was not available to make his story come to life...lucky guy! Its great to see him back with what appears to be a strong movie on his plate. You can tell that he's really passionate about making these types of movies. Titanic?

We're all looking forward to the opening of the film which premieres Dec. 18. Save up your money and be sure to check this movie in 3D. I've seen the trailers in the 3D... the colors and sets were simply gorgeous. Oooooh can't wait. See you all at the theatres. 


06 December, 2009

Ear Modeling Demo: Ryan Kittleson

Modeling the human ear can be daunting at first, but is perhaps the most forgiving of all the features on the human head, primarily because it is outranked by the eyes, nose and mouth. When modeling the ear, remember a few things.

  • The two loops that make up the ear (outside loop and inside loop).
  • The ear hole.
  • Ear thickness.
  • The ridge by the ear hole.
  • The angle of the ear.
  • Take your time in pushing and pulling the vertices to achieve an organic look and feel.

This tutorial shows a simple technique to achieve a good solid blockin of the ear, after that its up to you and your powers of observation to get a realistic ear model. This is a continuation from the previous demonstration that can be found here...


This tutorial was produced by Ryan Kittleson. He is not only a talented modeler, but also has some mad illustration skills too. Ryan is a CG instructor based out of Florida. Visit his website below to learn more about him and his work...


Ryan, we appreciate you posting such a simple and informative tutorial on such a complex subject. If you ever come across this post, let us know how you are doing and keep up the great work.

Fire It Up!

02 December, 2009

Gobelins School of Animation

Gobelins is a visual arts school based out of Paris France. The animations that are produced from the school are high quality, they show good timing, clever movement, they have a beautiful sense of design and texture and they are also very witty. "So Bon".

It makes me want to go there and to all you animation students out there, I hope these examples inspire you. If you look at the credits, five students work on these.

The animation gallery showcases the best their school of animation has to offer.

We will be watching these pieces below to begin one of my Background Design classes this week. These backgrounds tell a lot about the story and the character. They have a wimsical feel to them, but are so full of depth. This is done through layering, exaggerated angles, atmospheric perspective, handmade textures, sense of light, and in some of them, a nice merging between the 2D and CG elements. The ones below are great examples of this.

And my favorite one...

30 November, 2009

Who is Sho Kosugi?: "Ninja Assassin" Review

I think there's a commercial in front of this clip, let it load.

This Thanksgiving (2009), after binge eating turkey to fill the entire year, me and the family needed to work it off, so what did we do...watch "Ninja Assassin"! This movie was highly entertaining. Yes, the movie is predictable, we know what's going to happen to the star (Rain), that he's going to survive an attack and you know what's going to happen in the end. But still, regardless of the predictability, it was still engaging, kudos to the group who were able to put this movie together.

For those of you who have seen the movie, I included a clip with this post that shows some of the training and timing involved in creating some of the action shots. I thought it was nice to watch after watching the film. Oh yeah, and if you are a visual effects fan, you'll be happy to know that the special effects shots were directed by John Gaeta of "The Matrix".

Seriously, lots of serious movie goers and critics are not giving this film good reviews, but we're talking ninjas folks, they don't care what you think, they just want to kill you.

Here's what I liked about "Ninja Assassin":

Great timing:
We are used to action scenes in movies, and the timing of the scenes in "Ninja Assasin" were well executed and edited. Good job.

Ninja Supernatural Ability:
Going back to my experience in watching ninja movies back in the 80's, it was interesting to see how this was portrayed, we really haven't seen this before. We see ninjas appearing out of shadows, and disappearing and reappearing in the fight scenes to trick your senses. I thought this was a nice upgrade. Also, add to this, the supernatural, heavy duty, turbo, shuriken throwing skills and you get lots of fun. After seeing this, I really believed that ninja stars can pepper the outer shell of a BMW. Wow!

Story Variety:
I liked how we trained with the young assassins in an old Japanese temple and how we followed them until present time. The timeline jumps back and forth in time which is a nice attempt to make things interesting. It works.

CG Animation:
The CG animation of the main character's weapon was well done. There is also lots and lots of CG blood splatters and decapitations. Although, in my classes, as we discuss the film perhaps, this took away from the film. Lots of people would have liked to have seen more elaborate squib work. Okay - point taken.

The lead actor in the film is believable in serving up some major wup ass. Some girls also think he's good looking (that's for you Athena). He looks like lots of asian guys I know, that's a great conversation starter at parties (Brandon?).

And the best part...

Sho Kosugi:
Sho was the original actor who starred in many of the ninja films in the 80's and I thought it was awesome that he played the father of the ninja clan in this movie. The movie pays homage to his contributions and his appearance was fitting, who else would be the father of the most dangerous ninja clan in the world?

I hope the success of this movie opens up more opportunities to explore the ninja genre in film. In video games and anime however, its always going to be popular, we love ninjas.

Now for a history lesson for all the kid ninja maniacs. The original trailer to "Enter the Ninja" starring Sho Kosugi...I know, you may the white ninja is Stormshadow, but he's not. There are some caucasian ninjas too you know. Enjoy and check out the movie.

23 November, 2009

Head Modeling Demo in Maya

Just as there are many ways to draw the head, there are just as many ways to model a head...one of the most difficult things to create in art and CG.

Of all the methods we've researched, this demonstration seems to be the fastest, and easiest to create within the Maya workflow, specifically because of the ability to use the "Insert Edgeloop Tool". This method, from the very beginning, also establishes a nice rounded shape for the area around the chin and mouth - it turns nice so nice and smooth after you "Mirror" the geometry.

It is placed on this blog for future reference and for easy access.

Let us know what you think.

19 November, 2009

"Legion" 2010 - Rated R Movie Trailer

This movie caught our attention this week. "Legion" premieres January 22, 2010 and is an action adventure/supernatural/horror film about the Apocolypse, where God, disappointed in humanity, sends his angels to destroy humanity. I guess its up to Dennis Quaid and a small group of people in a desert diner to save us all. Why is that so funny :- ) Where is Mel Sharples when you need him?

Anyways, the visuals look cool and it appears to be loaded with lots and lots of eye candy, lots of new things to see: angels with badass martial arts skills, knife and ballistic skills, high kicking angels with leather armor, demonic old ladies who scale walls (freaky - good job on this grandma - check the picture - goosebumps on my arm when I saw this) and a very rare, rated "R" trailer. When was the last time you saw a rated "R" trailer (there's profanity in it, so kiddies watch out)?

As always, this trailer gives way too much away, but I think it might be worth keeping on the radar, so let's pay attention to see how it does as the premiere draws near.

18 November, 2009

Tank Concept: Simply Maya 3D

Simply Maya or Simply 3D, a nice resource for CG artists, has a nice section of downloadable models that we will be using in this week's assignment. To teach background design, I encourage my students to take an existing model and to paint over it primarily because the model render takes care of the lighting and small details, that would otherwise be too difficult to create by hand especially if there is a time constraint.  

Used primarily for speed, the CG model will provide us with the lighting and general details then, we'll be using Photoshop to put elements of the painting that make it look real, like atmospheric perspective, rock texture, clouds, snow, ground detail and fog. 

The above image below what we started with. Its a tank model from the Simply Maya 3D site. If you know of a similar resource that we can use to learn from, please let us know. We'd like to keep tabs of sites that exist to help us out. Thanks for all of your help.

There was a lot that we covered in today's demonstration and I was pleased to see everyone follow along and keep up.  In all, we painted for about two hours. Perhaps I should create a video tutorial about some of the processes I used to create the shot for future reference. Some of the skills we learned in this assignment were:

  • Maya setup
  • Maya rendering
  • painting mountains / blockin and detailed contours
  • snow on mountains
  • creating and adjusting cloud perspective
  • color harmony
  • atmospheric perspective
  • foregound elements
  • essential Photoshop hotkeys
  • ground texture
  • lighting effects
  • adjusting focal point by using the burn tool
  • clean up and refinement
Attached to this post are the final demonstration examples I created from class. Adding snow came last, and took about 15 minutes to add. I'm calling it "Winter Playground". How do you guys like that? Below is the original shot.

When you get a chance, check out the Simply Maya 3D Site. I just learned that they are now on Twitter, so we can get updates on their latest tutorials and resources. Nice...

Fire it Up Everyone! Keep drawing, painting and animating. 


15 November, 2009

20 Animations Nominated for Oscar Consideration

The Hollywood Reporter posted the list 20 features were nominated for Oscar considerations this year (11/11/09). That's great news. It shows that the general public likes the medium, and that the industry supports it. In the past, only three films could be nominated, but since there are now twenty, five will be selected. Here is the list...thanks Dr. Duncan for the heads up...exciting to see who will win.

Does anyone here have a favorite? Me? Meatballs!

  • "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" (Fox 2000)
  • "Astro Boy" (Summit)
  • "Battle for Terra" (Lionsgate)
  • "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" (Sony Animation)
  • "Coraline" (Focus)
  • "Disney's A Christmas Carol" (Disney)
  • "The Dolphin – Story of a Dreamer" (20th Century Fox)
  • "Fantastic Mr. Fox" (20th Century Fox)
  • "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" (20th Century Fox)
  • "Mary & Max" (IFC)
  • "The Missing Lynx" (Kandor Graphics, YaYa! Films)
  • "Monsters vs. Aliens" (DreamWorks Animation)
  • "9" (Focus)
  • "Planet 51" (Sony)
  • "Ponyo" (Disney and Studio Ghibli)
  • "The Princess and the Frog" (Disney)
  • "The Secret of Kells" (Les Armateurs, Viva Film, Cartoon Saloon, France 2 Cinema)
  • "Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure" (Disney)
  • "A Town Called Panic" (Studio Canal)
  • "Up" (Disney/Pixar)

13 November, 2009

"2012" : Tsunamis and Vegas Destroyed

Las Vegas in the movie "2012"? Can you recognize those buildings? There are two featurettes below that I found interesting as the movie premieres tomorrow. The movie looks good. As an animation instructor all I can say is "Yay - more research for me".

Here we go...Water is one of the most difficult elements to animate, and in this movie, there is plenty of it. Its hard to control and difficult to make realistic. The featurette below talks about some of the processes involved in the creation of water. I saw this featurette a long time and ago, and felt the need to watch it again, its pretty cool to watch.

And since many you are from Las Vegas, here's the featurette that describes the process for destroying Las Vegas in the movie. See if you can recognize some of the buildings on the Strip. I saw Encore, Wynn and the Venetian. If you happen to check out the movie, let us know how you liked it.

Fire it up!


12 November, 2009

"Clash of the Titans" : New Trailer

So how do you feel about remaking old movies? Fine by us as long as they are well done and entertaining. Here is the trailer for "Clash of the Titans". The movie looks stunning, and its great to see (however short they may be) the redesigns, of Calibos, Witches and what looks to be a great Medusa scene. Let the snakes go girl!

The original premiered in 1981, how old were some of you? Some of you were not even born, so be sure to check out the original before watching the new one.

11 November, 2009

"Despicable Me" : Villains, Villains and More Villains

Its about that time of year again when animations begin to flourish and entertain us in dark theatres while we sit and digest the holidays. It seems to be a nice tradition that everyone looks forward to. This next animation looks way cool.

"Despicable Me" is an animated feature that shows lots of promise. From the creators of the Ice Age movies, it is simply unique - it is a story about "bad guys" or "villains". The characters are well designed and made me crack up the first time I saw them. The main character in this trailer not only looks funny, but is also very independent, confident and charming, something every villain needs these days.

In class, we view many trailers of animations that are being released, and we discuss if whether or not if they would pay to go see a particular animation. "Despicable Me", scored high on our list.

I'm also diggin the spy, hip hop, ultra lounge soundtrack too. When you get a chance, be sure you check out the official movie site. Check out their awesome URL, probably one of the first to use that .me URL ending. The site below is lots of fun. Hopefully this movie performs well, it shows great promise.


Enjoy - Fire It Up!


07 November, 2009

New Longer "Avatar" Movie Trailer & Official Site

As news of the premiere draws closer, I always find it interesting to see how the producers choose to market a film in preparation for a particular season. In this case, the Holiday Season. Notice how different each of these trailers are. Which one do you like best?

Pay attention to how different the tone is for each. I think you will like watching both as each gives a little more insight into the story, something very important to us. Have fun checking out these two trailers. Check out the official site at the bottom as well as the various interactive toys such Avatar iTag that just look way cool.

We can't wait!

Visit the offiiclal Avatar Movie Site here >>

Visit the cool Avataritag site as well to see what's available to play. I haven't done this yet, if you have, feel free to leave feedback. Visit Avataritag here >>.

And I couldn't resist, here is a clip of the Avatar iTag in action. Be prepared to trip out guys.

Jean Denis Haas: "Shark" Animation

Here is some personal work from one of our favorite animators Jean Denis Haas. Jean is based out of California, animates for Industrial Light and Magic and has worked on Star Wars III and Pirates of the Caribbean II.

You can learn a lot from his animation, when you watch it, pay attention to his timing, posing, pauses, camera angles, overlapping action and moving holds. His handling is subtle, but still very interesting.

There's a lot to be said about starting and completing projects on your own. The process keeps you energized because its fun, and it makes you sensitive to all the nuances needed to create realistic movement.

Personal projects don't have to be complex. They should be simple, fun and engaging, enough for you to work on it after a hard days work.

Hey, keep up the great work Jean. Looking forward to seeing more. To learn more about Jean, check out his blog and website below.



03 November, 2009

"How To Train Your Dragon" : Movie Trailer

Watched this trailer in both of my classes today and was well received. Great animation and what seems to be a great story. Hopefully we'll get another animated feature as good as "Panda" - that was awesome, still my favorite animation. Personally, I'm hooked on how beautiful 3D has been.

And, while we're on the subject, does anyone remember the animated intro below...

I think you can play this now on DVD.


27 October, 2009

Halo 3 - ODST / Assassin's Creed II: Live Action Trailers

We looked at both of these trailers of two video games we love the most. It was interesting to see both of these games interpreted in live action. Can anyone see a full length movie coming down the pipe? We could! Lots of fun entertaining the thought. Enjoy!

23 October, 2009

Amazing Transforming Bumblebee Costumes

Lots of blogposts this month. But I had to post to show my students on Monday. This is actually way cool, be sure you stick around for the transformation at the end. If you look carefully, he's got his headlights working too. Doesn't it look uncomfortable? Who cares, its still genius and cool.

And here's a litte kid with a smaller version that.

Where do we get one of these? Awesome!

Xing Tain: "Exotique" Conceptual Artist

Saw this artist today and felt it was important to spread the word about the way he works. Yu Chong Heng is a conceptual artist who is featured in all of the "Exotique" publications. He knows anatomy, lighting and an understanding of design that helps propel a story. The piece you see is of the mythical character Xing Tain.

Yu Chong Heng has created a short tutorial for you to gain insight into his work process. He shows his research, photoreference, and process. The most important thing I want you to see, after the initial research and sketch, is his use of the lighting systems in Photoshop, and simple models in Maya to enhance and make his piece believable. The tutorial is designed to be easily scanned, so you can get a quick hit of information. You can see his demo by clicking here >>

In this character, yes...he could have drawn the horns and bracelets by hand, but he used Maya instead to quickly solve for the form, lighting and detail. Using the tool in this way makes for a believable piece, and in sci-fi illustration, this is essential.


Fire it up. Keep drawing, painting and animating!

- Randolf

22 October, 2009

Dan Platt: Hard Surface and Organic Modeling

Dan Platt is a conceptual 3D artist who works in traditional sculpture but who also has some mad cg skills to boot. Dan is battletested! He's done work for films like, "The Cave", Disney's "Meet the Robinsons", and "Bolt". His work is nice, clean, balanced, exemplifies good form, is capable of creating a variety of forms and surfaces, and also has a nice storytelling aspect to his work. Many of my students marvel at the level of detail he puts in his pieces.

You can learn more about his work by visiting his website here:

Thanks Mike B. for the heads up.

Fire it up! Keep drawing, painting and animating.


21 October, 2009

Paul Debevec : Realistic Facial Animation

Paul Debevec is a pioneer in computer animation famous for his eyecatching breakthroughs in technology that were eventually used in films such as the Matrix, Superman Returns and Benjamin Button. In my animation classes, I show his animation called "Parthenon" as a good example of lighting, texturing and how animation is used to educate people in an interesting way. He has inspired me for many years. If you've never seen it before, click here, you'll like it and just maybe, you'll also be inspired too.

In the above lecture, Paul talks about the light array process called Photometrics used to capture realistic detail in a human face. The results, as you can see below are amazing (face only). He also shows how the information can be used with Imagemetrics to create a digital puppet of the actress named "Emily "that produces startling results. The image below says it all. Check out the lecture above and here from one of Computer Animation's greats.

20 October, 2009

Easykiss 123: Free Web Photo Galleries

In teaching my website design class for "non-webdesigners", the task of designing a "gallery" is by far the hardest thing to design. In it, artists usually showcase their drawings, paintings, conceptual designs and even photography, that gives the recruiter a better idea of the artist's drawing and painting skills, use of color, composition and design. Here is a collection of free web photo galleries that you can use to spice up your web portfolios.

It is difficult to design because students come with a large array of pieces, and so the student must find a way to narrow down his pieces to only the best, and in some cases, must group them so that a user can navigate through them easily. For example, all of the 3D renders could be grouped together, as well as all of the lifedrawings, paintings, photography, etc...

In the last year of teaching this class, the gallery of choice for many of my students is Lightbox. To make it easier to install this in someone's website, I've created a video tutorial that you can check out, and to see an example of it, click here. This usually eases the burden for the student to learn "code" as the tutorial explains things fairly easily and so far...no complaints. It actually makes me feel great when someone on their own, puts it together and tells me of their success.

But, if you are tired of Lightbox, be sure to check out the Easy Kiss 123 site. In it, you'll find many great examples of free photogalleries that are just plain sweet. But hold your horses....

There is a cost. The only cost to you is the learning curve. You have to spend time reading the instructions to learn the basics of how to put the gallery together. Its well worth the time and energy to find a nice gallery presentation for your precious drawings, paintings, designs and photographs.

If you have a favorite one, please let us know below so that other people can benefit as well. I like the Flash Photo Stack and Autoviewer

Thanks and Fire It Up!


19 October, 2009

Preparing for the Animation Industry: Animation Mentor

On the Animation Mentor - Tips and Tricks Blog, there is a posting about how to prepare for the animation industry. The blog post is informative and covers the following, but if you think about it, the advice crosses many disciplines. Visual Effects and Game Art and Design professionals would benefit from this advice as well. The blogpost includes:

  • Know the studio and the work they create, so you can tailor your reel.
  • Avoid putting work in your demo reel other than your own.
  • Keep in mind that you will be hired during crunchtime - so meet those deadlines.
  • Check your ego/attitude at the door.
The last one is interesting. Lots has to be said about being humble and open to critique. Having an attitude that prevents this stifles growth, and nobody will want to be with you because you will be deemed hard to work with.

Check out and bookmark the blogpost here >>.

Keep drawing, painting and animating.

Fire it Up!


18 October, 2009

Joshua Slice: Character Animation Demo Reel

Joshua Slice Demo Reel 2009 from joshua slice on Vimeo.

Hey Guys, here's a nice example of character animation. Pay close attention to his moving holds, his use of arcs and variety of timing. All of the these together make for seamless smooth movement as he transitions from one pose to the next. He's also got a kick butt last name. "Slice" it up.

Keep up the great work.


14 October, 2009

Cacure Animation: "Mouse"

Some more "animation fuel" (Hey! That's not a bad name for a cool animation blog). Paparalla is an animator and visual effects artist for Cacure Studios in Venezuela. Their work is muy bien.

Whatever those guys are drinking down there seems to be working...their animation work is superb. Check out the "Mouse" visual effects piece below as well as the "Making of" clip so you get an idea of the many passes and renders needed to compose the shot.

And the "making of Mouse Cacure"...

And oh yes, their work is also very cute. Check the bird piece below and pay attention to their lighting and texturing. The animation also features nice styling and clever music that I think you'll enjoy. Thanks Trevor for the heads up - this was lots of fun.

And while we are at it, we might as well check out their 2008 Demo Reel.

Fire it up! Keep drawing, painting and animating.

11 October, 2009

Making Games Fun: Unity 3D Engine

In this video, we explore gameplay within a simple environment created within the Unity 3D platform, in it, the designer talks about the various components needed to make an interesting game such as pacing, balance, the creation of a challenge and reward system and the amount of time needed to create this simple game. It took him about 4 weeks to make (this is great information if you've never made a game before). If you are interested in the subject and would like to one day create and design your own games, be sure to check out what this video talks about. I think you will find the information to be most beneficial.

Another reason to watch this piece is that our school will soon be switching over from the Unreal Tournament Game Engine, to the Unity 3D game engine. Watching the video will give you an idea of its capabilities. The video is another example of what Unity can do. Be sure to check out the Unity 3D site to get a feel for the variety Unity offers. Its pretty awesome.

Fire it up and enjoy!

07 October, 2009

How to Break Into the Animation Industry

Allow me to add some gasoline to your "animation fire". Clay Kaytis, blog host of the Animation Podcast, interviews professional animators working in the field and posts these interviews on his blog. His latest podcast is going to be of some interest to you if you are interested in breaking into the animation industry. In it, he interviews 4 animators currently working in industry at Disney, and they share many great tidbits of advice to help you improve and break into the animation industry.

Collectively, each animator talks about the following:

  • Going to college to study animation.
  • Continuing the practice of drawing.
  • How to tailor your portfolio?
  • Creating a voice and versatility in your work?
  • Importance of figure and gesture drawing?
  • Getting feedback on your work.
  • What is it like working in an animation studio...good and bad.
  • Importance of having "the drive".
  • Starting out, aiming high.
  • Having fun.
  • Getting out of a creative or professional rut.
  • The importance of working on your own projects...

Great advice! Are we crazy to want to be part of this industry? I think so.

The interview can be heard on the Animationmentor.com site, a great resource for learning how to animate from professionals in the industry.

Hopefully, these interviews inspire you. Keep drawing, keep painting and keep animating.

Fire it up!

- Randolf

01 October, 2009

2012 Visual Effects & Movie Premiere

The movie "2012", one of the first, main, visual fx loaded, blockbuster films of the season premieres Nov. 2009, that depicts the end of the world. The documentary below highlights the various theories that may cause many of the natural disasters depicted in the film, which in my opinion are artfully done. If you choose to check this movie out, I recommend you view it IMAX.

And, since we are on the same topic, here is a documentary about Notradamus' predictions about the end of the world in the 2012.

16 September, 2009

Let's Take a Tour of Pixar

The producers of Pixar give us a tour of their studio. In this presentation, you'll see lots great concept art that were used during the design process for many of their scenes and characters. If you watch the piece all the way through, you will even take a peek into one of the animation studios, that has a secret passage into a hidden room, where...perhaps lots of inspiration is exchanged.

Click here to check it out.

Enjoy and Fire It Up!


Autodesk Showreel: Starting Personal Projects to Enhance Your Demo Reels

I often encourage my animation students, on the side, to begin and work on personal projects. Its best if they are simple and short and can be as simple as a compositing exercise, 3 - 5 second character animation, acting or lip sync exercise. Be sure that the exercise is fun for you, because it has to sustain you and so that in the end, your payoff/satisfaction is well worth it.

Once this personal clip is completed. It will stand out as being one of the best pieces in your demo reel/ portfolio. Simply, these pieces will stand out because we can tell that you had fun working on it, and the presentation will be better than anything else because we can sense the level of care you put into the overall display.

I've attached the above clip for inspiration. In a very short time it will give you ideas and concepts to build from, just remember to shoot your own footage. Begin by watching the clip and making note of shots that attract you. Narrow these down to the one or two that would be the easiest for you to create, storyboard it out and get to work. Don't give yourself a time limit (although some might think it may be a good idea, depending on how you work), you don't want it to be stressful - just fun.

Keep those personal projects flying to stay sharp, engaged and to enhance your demo reel.

Fire it up!


12 September, 2009

Black Eyed Peas: Infectious Flash Mob Performance on Oprah's Season Premiere

This week, I saw this and felt that it was one of the most incredible things I have seen in a long time. I am a dude, and don't usually watch the Oprah Show, but if you're like me, your significant other is into Oprah. So, once in a while, you have to watch it. For the most part, her shows are positive and full of great helpful information that even a guy like me would like.

Oprah's season opener featured performances from popular groups, but there was one in particular that I though was very special. During the The Black Eyed Peas performance of the song "I Got a Feelin" there was an incredible Flash Mob performance. For those of you who don't know, a Flash Mob is a large scale choreographed performance involving hundreds, even thousands of people. The cool thing about this Flash Mob, is that I don't think anyone knew about it, including Oprah. When I saw it, I thought it was incredible, the energy was infectious and left me feeling really happy.

If anyone out there was part of that Oprah Flash Mob, and happened to stumble upon this blog, feel free to chime in and let us know what it was like. I'll bet that you'll never forget that day. I wish I was there, but in all honesty, the energy could be felt from far away - it was truly amazing. I could only imagine some of the bystanders who were attended but were not part of the originating group, I'm sure you couldn't help but join in either.

The Flash Mob portion of the clip begins at about :58, and after the performance, you'll see a segment about how the entire stunt was planned, organized and executed. The incredible thing is that the word got out through the use of Facebook and Twitter. Way to go guys on pulling off an incredible memorable event.

The original instance of the Flash Mob can be seen in this clip below, filmed in Antwerp Belgium approaching 11 million hits.

and more recently in Mexico, over 13,000 people perform Michael Jackson's Thriller, I think that's a new Guiness Book World Record.

Fire it Up!


10 September, 2009

Naldz Graphics: 3D Typoography

In my advanced animation classes, as everyone progresses towards the creation of their final demo reel, comes the subject of typography. No, we aren't graphic designers working with typographic layouts on a regular basis, nevertheless the subject is important. Its important because its directly related to marketing, and marketing is what you have to keep in mind when designing your portfolio, website and demo reel. As an animator, you may be called upon to create animated text via CG or After Effects and you definitely have to create animated text to spice up your demo reel.

Your animation demo reel will work fine without animated text, but since you are "the animator", you want to show that you can animate anything. Doing so, shows people that you pay attention to detail, the overall package, and it showcases another marketable skill that Art Directors might want to use.

Naldz Graphics is a site that showcases great examples of integrating CG text in design. When you look at these examples, pay attention to the camera angle, the diagonals create interesting compositions and if you are animator, take it a step further and ask yourself how these designs can be animated. One other benefit in creating text in CG is the ability to create materials, notice how the text in the example I've included has a shiny reflective plastic material. This ability also creates unique textures, gradients and values that unique only to CG.

So if you are a modeler, texturer or animator, use those CG skills to create interesting typographic compositions and spice up your portfolio. Have fun and fire it up!


04 September, 2009

Rising Sun Pictures: Visual Effects Coming From Down Under

Rising Sun Pictures is a visual effects company based out of Australia, and for most of you, are pretty familiar with their work, you just haven't heard about them. They've created some pretty impressive effects for some of the top movies which premiered this year such as Wolverine, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Terminator Salvation and Superman Returns. The reel below showcases the work they completed for the last Harry Potter film.


For my animation students, be sure to check the link to get a nice sampling of what's possible with the applications that we are learning. You'll see great examples of animation, compositing, lighting and texturing, motion tracking, digital matte painting, and moving animated textures. The reel is impressive and should get you inspired and pumped up for what we do.

Jerry - Thanks for the heads up and the link.

Fire it up and enjoy!


01 September, 2009

Dean Zulich: Photography Website

Today, we were visited by former Art Institute of Seattle graduate Dean Zulich. A native of Bosnia and Herzogovina, Dean is a commercial photographer focusing on conceptual fashion, advertisement and celebrity photography and is most famous for his success as the runner up on Vh1 reality television show "The Shot".

In a short amount of time, Dean garnered success from his engaging photography. His compositions and subject matter are interesting and thoughtful, and we were very fortunate to have him share his road to success with us. His talk was quite inspiring.

What struck me about his talk today, was his feeling on the importance of continuing personal projects. Doing this "keeps the fire alive" and its what keeps him going, and he said that, I realized how much I missed that feeling, and will be putting together a personal project soon. Doing personal projects is an easy way to enhance your demo reel and or digital portfolio. Viewers will be able to sense your enjoyment in personal projects and they usually get more attention.

To learn more about Dean, visit his website, http://www.deanzulich.com His website is nice and clean and features his different portfolios (books).

Hey Dean, thanks again for your visit, for sharing and for inspiring. Keep up the outstanding work and best of luck in all you do.

Fire it Up!


26 August, 2009

RWE Energy Giant

Oh how nice it would be to a Giant, all the world's energy problems would be solved. The hard part...is the funding. I think the Giant would want to get paid don't you think?

Very nice animation with a great message.


Rockstar Games SIGGRAPH 09 Interview

So what does it take to make it in the gaming industry? Recorded from SIGGRAPH 2009, listen to what the managers of Rockstar Games have to stay. They touch on the aspects of your portfolio, examples that you should have, highlighting your strengths, programming advice and even the type of attitude you should have when entering such a competitive market.

This is a great interview that will surely keep us going. Thanks to the Art Institutes and Rockstar for putting this interview together and posting.

Fire it up!

25 August, 2009

Alex Huguet: Metamesh 3D

Alex Huguet's modeling reel is outstanding. He's got great attention to detail which probably stems from his advanced knowledge of anatomy and lighting. Be sure you check out all of his models. He is based out of Spain works primarily in 3DS Max and ZBrush.

Great work Alex. If you see this message, thanks for posting your work, its pretty inspiring.
Check out Alex's website by visiting metamesh3d.com

Fire it up!

- Randolf

12 August, 2009

SIGGRAPH 2009 Computer Animation Preview

SIGGRAPH 2009 took place in New Orleans and is considered to be the Mecca for CG Animation of all styles and Visual Effects. If you are in the industry or have dreams of someday rubbing elbows with professionals in the industry, then this place is where you need to be. Next year, it will be in Southern California, it may be a few hours drive for some of you near the coast, but its worth it. The following year, it traditionally goes to the East Coast.

For those of you who attended, it is an awesome experience is it no? This clip features the previews of pieces featured at SIGGRAPH's annual Computer Animation Competition where animations from the best and brightest, including ones from the large studios like Dreamworks, Blue Sky and Pixar come to share what they've been working on the past year.

Hopefully the clip inspires you to attend and its also an excellent place to get feedback on your work.

Keep animating and Fire It Up!

- Randolf

08 August, 2009

The Importance of Storyboarding

In my animation classes, before undertaking an involved project, students are required to create a storyboard. I have students draw these out, and or design them in Photoshop, include a short description, panel/sequence number, and lastly, I have them submit the storyboard as a jpg or pdf. This is so that a client such as an art director or animation supervisor, can approve the work easily on the computer. It is crucial that the concept being displayed in these storyboards are clear, because the approving individuals are business minded and it is not unusual to review these storyboards within a large board room meeting with lots of people...it happens all the time. The storyboard, and the concept presented in it, becomes the center of the discussion.

Its an essential planning tool, not only in animation, but also in visual effects in order to plan out a shot, and to see how much work is actually involved in a particular scene. The storyboard you see above was created for Harrah's Entertainment when I was hired to create a series of Flash presentations for each of their properties, at the time, they totaled twenty (lots of work). As you'll see, each panel is clear and labeled with descriptions so that anyone involved in the approval process can understand it and make suggestions.

The project was fun and because of the storyboard examples, it was easy to manage the expectations and suggestions of over twenty approving parties.

Make your storyboards clear and present them well, it will pay off in dividends, not only will things smoothly, but they will trust you, and you will also make a good impression on them by appearing sharp and well prepared. The next step in the storyboarding process is to create a working animatic to help you adjust for timing, sound, dialogue, scene duration and planning.

Check out the the storyboards used for TV and film from Storyboards and Animatics.

Make those storyboards great! Fire it up!
- Randolf

31 July, 2009

Shaolin Form: Da Hong Quan

I'm posting this video as many of us are big fans of fight scenes. The movements in this clip are from an impressive young Shaolin master. As I watched this clip, my knees began to hurt...Ouch!

Check out his vertical movement as he completes the form. Well done.

Enjoy and Fire it Up.

28 July, 2009

Tron 2 Trailer : Premiering 2010

In my animation classes this week, we couldn't get enough of the above Tron 2 trailer. As a person who remembers watching the original Tron in 1982 in the theatres, all I have to say is, "Its about time". With so many great movies embedded into my brain, the first Tron movie was pushed to the back of the line. I'm glad however, that its being resurrected, because the new look and feel is simply awesome...definately an upgrade. This is going be fun.

For those of us who weren't born before the movie's premiere (as most of my students are), Tron premiered in 1982 and starred Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner and David Warner and was about a computer hacker who somehow got trapped into the digital world of the computer. With a great story and impressive visual effects, its was the first movie to give us a view into what the world inside of a computer would look like. You could compare it to The Matrix (1999), both movies presented stunning visuals and ideas of what the abstract complex world inside the computer could be. As a 5th grader, watching it for the first time, I was carried away. The feeling was similar to the first time I saw Toy Story, Star Wars or the Matrix. I realized that I saw and experienced something completely new.

When Tron 2 Legacy premieres in 2010, its going to be interesting to see, not only a new visual interpretation of how a computer world would look like, but also, the aspects of our technology and computing in our current day and age. What are they going to put into the movie. So much has changed since 1982, prior to the premiere of the first movie, technology (at the time) seemed advanced, but in hindsight was limited to Commodore 64's, large servers, floppy disks, green and black monitor text, dot matrix printers, and the first video game arcades. In that time (since 1982), think about how things have changed: The Internet (for everyone) was developed, smaller PCs, websites, CD's, DVD's, email, Youtube, laptops, online gaming, xbox, Playstation I, II and III, iphones and let's not forget social networking sites (not necessarily in that order - but you get what I mean), the list goes on and on. Are these ideas going to be interpreted in the film?

So we'll be on the lookout for more clips of Tron 2. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer above, and for added interest, I've also included the Lightcycle clip from the first Tron and the original 1982 Tron Movie Trailer. Both are interesting to watch. For some of you who remember Tron in the movie theatres, I hope this brings back fond memories.

23 July, 2009

Cel Phone In Microwave

This piece shows what happens you put cel phones in microwave ovens - nothing more. Just watch and enjoy. Good job to whoever created this creepy piece of work.

Thanks to Curt and Mike for the link. Be well and fire it up.

- Randolf

15 July, 2009

VJ Robson Victor: Demo Reel

One in a while, I'll browse through various video sites to check out the latest and greatest of demo reels. This one, by VJ Robson caught my eye initially because of the Wolverine image before it plays.

What a nice surprise. When I saw his reel, I was immediately impressed. He's got a good sense of design, color, layout and knows how to animate elements in a way that is engaging. He's got great timing and shows a lot of variety in his work. I think VJ has been around. The students in my classes are often very expert in drawing, painting and are very good at creating vector style graphics, but need to see more examples of how movement can make their pieces better. This demo reel is a great example of that and its a trait that comes with years of observation, practice and taking risks.

Hey VJ, well done. Thanks for inspiring us. If you happen to see this post, feel free to post a response and by all means, keep up the awesomeness!

Fire it up!


10 July, 2009

Michael Jackson's Arcade: Virtual Tour & Scavenger Hunt

Like many people, I too grew up to Michael Jackson's music, was enamored by his lifestyle and like many, am saddened to experience his loss. There really is nobody who can measure up to his singing, dancing, versatility and shear creativity. I think about all the times growing up I would watch his videos and listen to his music, everything had universal appeal and I found myself listening to him over and over again. He spanned many generations, but the Michael I am most fond of was the "Off the Wall" era, and right before that, the twenty year old Jackson 5's, sporting the big afros, heels and disco beats. That was an awesome time, and although its very sad to see him go, its been a joy exploring and revisiting all of the Jackson music again.

Today, we came across a virtual tour of Michael Jackson's famous arcade. Growing up, we always heard about it and its nice to be able to finally check it out. Exploring the arcade, for me, became an nostalgic look at many of the arcade structures I grew up with, like Karate Champ and the Terminator 2 pinball machine. See you if you can find these in his arcade.

While you are at it, see if you can also locate the following "old skool" items as well. A life size Boba Fett figure, Superman and Batman figure, the stand up Karate Champ arcade game, lifesize Spiderman, Lego Darth Vader, C3P0 and ET the Extra Terrestrial (Remember when Michael recorded a song and narrated the story for a ET children's book)?

The navigation to the arcade is at the bottom of the screen, but is a bit quirky. You'll notice that the camera moves on it its own and is a bit hard to control. Just use the arrows at the bottom of the screen and you'll be okay. Once you get used to it however, it's lots of fun.


Click here to check it out.