Saturday, February 13, 2016

Traveling Pixar Exhibit


A few months ago I had the pleasure of going to the traveling Pixar Exhibit at the Museum of Science in Boston. These types of exhibits are very hands on and interactive. While it may have been a little more technical than the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings traveling exhibits, as a film student take 3D and animation classes, it was awesome. Each station that was set up demonstrated some aspect of animation, whether it be lighting, hair, working in 3D space, etc. There were simplified versions of the programs we use such as Maya, Cinema 4D, After Effects and more, to help kids interact in similar ways as animators do, with their favorite Pixar characters. One example of these exhibits was a computer screen with various lighting options such as intensity, color, and more. When the options are changed, there was a small, physical scene that is affected by all these changes. The exhibit was awesome and felt like walking into a physical manifestation of my 3D animation class. I highly recommend the exhibit if it comes to a museum near you.
Here is some info

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Animatrix


If you are a fan of the movie The Matrix like I am as well as animation, you may want to check out The Animatrix (2003). The Animatrix consists of several different animated shorts that take place in the general world of the matrix films. Each one was created by a different artist and have very different art styles. It is really beautiful to see the variety of animations one after the other, telling different stories in the same universe, but with very different visuals. Watching this is a great way to not only appreciate different art styles, but to understand how each art style in itself creates a mood and feeling about throughout the story. These choices are important elements in influencing the viewers emotional response to your animation/film.

You can pay to watch the film here, or find the full film or pieces online somewhere for free if you're into that.

Zoetropes


Zoetropes are an awesome older form of animation we learned about in my animation class a few years ago. If you don't know, they are a circular device with each frame of an animated movement drawn around the circle. You then look through a viewing window and as the zoetrope spins, it appears to be moving. Here is an example of an older zoetrope. Zoetropes are a great physical example of all the frames of an animation, as well as the variety in the types of animation. Pixar designed an amazing and complex 3D zoetrope. It has traveled the world to places like England, Scotland, South Korea, Finland, and many more at various exhibitions. I would love to see one of these in person. Check out this video to see it and hear how it works:


More about zoetropes: Click here
A little more about the Toy Story Zoetrope: Click here

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Camera Movement Tutorial

This video might be very useful to a lot of people in the class.  I know it is something I want to incorporate in to my projects. This is a relatively short tutorial on how to have a "camera" movement incorporated into After Effects. So you can have pans, tilts, and zooms like a normal camera but all animated through after effects. It's a great  tutorial and its easy to follow.

A nod to the future

This week, one of my animation-loving friends sent me a clip from Craig McCraken's Disney channel show, "Wonder over Yonder."  The clip featured a character flipping through channels, and finding a program titled as, "The Mystery Kids' Mysteries."  Here is the clip below:


What I love about this clip is how it is a cute little nod to both past as well as present animators.  The program shows a spoof hyrbid of 60s classic, "The Jetsons," and my personal favorite current cartoon, "Gravity Falls."  Gravity Falls creator, Alex Hirsch, as well as other gf voice actors featured in the spoof as alien-like caricatures of their respective characters.

This clip really sticks out to me, because as a lover of McCraken's past cartoons, (The Powerpuff Girls, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends) I find it sweet that he is showing his support to younger show creators, such as Hirsch, who most likely looked up to him growing up.  The animation community is full of tight-knit friends, and it's interesting when you look at all of the names that appear in the different shows and movies we watch.

The Power of Motion Graphics

A newer design element that we use to display information and often times numerical statistics is infographics. It is a completely different way to view and digest information. This takes another step when they are crafted with motion and audio. I also notice that is type of motion graphics is used for informing communication of social causes and uses a lot of pictogram icons.

This is a very basic motion infographic that tells a story with a purpose in a very understandable way. The effects applied to the text and masked shapes may seem novice, but are something very valuable to learn how to do. For an upcoming project I may look into doing something like this.



"Day & Night" Pixar Short

While searching for some animation videos, I came across this little short, "Day & Night" from Pixar and instantly fell in love. The concept is such a clever and captivating idea, and I was instantly hooked. I can only imagine how much fun it must have been created these two characters of "Day & Night," and exploring where they could take them. Watching the two interact with one another was severely enjoyable. I also thought the sound choice was interesting, with just having the sound effects from the aspects of Day & Night, versus having background music and such. Overall this animation was extremely entertaining and I would recommend everyone checks it out in their spare time!


Animation On Tour : Yeezus Tour

I thought it would be interesting to see how animation can be incorporated in the set design and graphics of musical performances. For example, Kanye West’s tour “Yeezus” displays animations that were designed by a whole crew of designers and animators. Kanye worked with international stage designer Es Devlin to create psychedelic visions throughout his performances. Check out these pictures from the show!

  

Rotobrushing is hard...

http://www.lynda.com/After-Effects-tutorials/Welcome/152429/161547-4.html

A friend of mine had recently asked me if I'd be willing to help him with some sign replacement shots for his upcoming cinema project.  Not knowing anything really on the subject itself, but knowing that there were plenty of resources and tutorials on how do such a thing, I agreed to help him and then went straight to Lynda.com to find some videos that related to the process.

Thankfully, I found exactly what I was looking for with a tutorial that shows how to place a new computer screen over an existing one.  It goes through motion tracking the shot in Mocha AE, bringing it back into After Effects and adjusting it for the shot.

What really made this tutorial series so interesting is all the techniques that are used to make it look more realistic, the one trick that was especially clever was the creation of shape layer with a gradient, and then using that shape layer for the screen's blur map.  This helped the screen emulate almost perfectly the depth of field that was in the shot, and it made it look way more realistic.

However, the hardest part of the whole process was rotobrushing the hands that were moving in front of the computer screen, because it definitely takes way more than to just blur it in the same fashion.  For those who are unaware, rotobrushing involves a very tedious process of identifying a section of a video layer to be masked out and put over the footage to make it perfectly seamless.  Think of it almost like using the selection and refine edge tool and Photoshop for nearly every single frame.  It does beat using the pen tool to create masks over and over again though...

But it seems like something I can do.  If I managed to make three stop motion animation films in the past two years that all involved adjusting something frame-by-frame this doesn't seem like it'll be out of my reach.  Only time will tell.

Bass/ Treble Tutorial



Last week in class we went over the steps to tracking the bass and treble with different types of layers. I was going through some tutorials on youtube and stumbled upon this step by step video that teaches you to makes a pulse logo that reacts to the audio (bass/treble). The videos twenty minutes so its a bit long but when you get the steps down its easy to do with any song!

Interesting Animator

http://stephenmcnallydraws.com/

Above is a link to the website of Stephen McNally, a very talented Irish animator I recently discovered while looking through Vimeo videos.  A lot of his videos combine the use of 2D and 3D animation, giving his work a unique style. He has also uploaded several making of videos that break down the steps he goes through to create such interesting animations.  I strongly suggest you check him out.

Here's his vimeo page too: https://vimeo.com/mcnallystephen

Unnecessary Explosions



Unnecessary Explosions

I was browsing the web the other day and I came across a funny post about adding random explosions to gifs. While they're all pretty silly, I thought of this class and how these short clips could be used for inspiration if anyone ever wants to try animating explosions.



1


2
3
4

A lot of these exist, but not all of them are that funny. I think what makes this specific batch really successful, is the timing of the explosions and how they fit so naturally into what's already happening in the gif. My favorite is definitely number one. I love how smaller explosions go off near his feet as he's stumbling. They set up his final explosion really well. 

Cuphead

I was recently reminded of the fact that this game is being released this year, as I had forgotten about it until now. Cuphead, announced back in the summer of 2014, is a "run and gun" style game being developed for the Xbox One and PC that looks like it ripped all of its art right out of a 1930's cartoon. The game puts the player in control of the character Cuphead, who, along with his friend Mugman (who can be controlled by another player for cooperative play), are forced to do the bidding of the Devil after losing to him in a bet. The developers of this game said that all of the art is hand-drawn, and it brings a very unique look to an otherwise familiar video game genre. Between the seamlessness of the drawing's animations and the overall wackiness of the art itself, it's hard to look at footage from Cuphead and not think that you might just be watching a cartoon instead of playing a game.

Animating Ads in our Dreams

With the Super Bowl over and all of my guacamole gone as well, one thing still is on my mind. That is the commercials. The one goal of Super Bowl commercials is that they should be playing in our minds and even our dreams well after the game. What if branding was in our dreams?
Studio Smack came up with an interesting animated short that deals with subconscious thinking when it comes to branding. The short "Branded Dreams- The Future Of Advertising" also has some pretty cool effects as well as a nicely paired audio track, so make sure to have the volume on when you watch it. Can you guess what product you are dreaming about?



 

We Can't Live Without Cosmos

We Can't Live Without Cosmos, is an animated short-film that is nominated for an Oscar this year along side other shorts such as World of Tomorrow, which I reviewed as part of my first blog post of the semester. It was created by Russian filmmaker Konstantin Bronzit and centers around two life-long friends and aspiring astronauts as they train in hopes of one day venturing into the vastness of space. However, when tragedy strikes midway through the film, the change of tone falters from cheerful to depressing. The short is devoid of dialogue but is able to tell a compelling story nonetheless through clever animation. One of my favorite scenes in particular is when a shot of a starry night sky transitions into snow falling, an effect that illustrates the change of tone perfectly. The animation itself is unique and fun to watch throughout. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the 15-minute film and wish it luck in the upcoming Oscars. You can watch the entire video for free by using the link below:

http://video.newyorker.com/watch/we-can-t-live-without-cosmos

The Most Popular Girls in School

The Most Popular Girls in School is a stop motion web series on YouTube. There are four seasons of these animated Barbie, Ken and other fashion dolls being ridiculous, crude and completely hilarious. The main focus of the show is on high school cheerleaders and how they run the school and treat their family, friends, and enemies. A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign helped launch season 2, and Indiegogo campaigns helped launch seasons 3 and 4. If you haven't seen it, here's an episode featuring Tyler Oakley:

Hayao Miyazaki

I have been a fan of Studio Ghibli films for as long as I can remember, more specifically, the ones directed by Hayao Miyazaki. His films are all unique and beautiful. I've heard that because he has such a heavy hand in all of the projects that he works on that he can be kind of a pain to work with, but he produces such quality films that I think it's okay. I've also heard that he only hires young animators to fill in the movements between the key frames because he feels their youth allows them to be more in touch with movements. Unfortunately, he is retired now, but his final film- "The Wind Rises" was such a beautiful note to leave on.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Anomalisa

Last weekend I attended a special screening of the film Anomalisa followed by a Q&A with the animation supervisor for the film, Dan Driscoll. Written by Charlie Kaufman, the film is an incredible and beatuiful stop motion animation that has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Anomalisa tells the story of a man who is stuck in a mundane world, only to fall in love with the only person who can bring color back into his life. The narrative reveals the mysterious and dark workings of the characters' worlds around them but the film ends ambiguously, leaving me wondering and with numerous unanswered questions.

While the story itself was unique, the animation was the highlight of the film and Driscoll shared many interesting aspects of the animation process. I was particularly intrigued by the careful attention payed to the movements and mannerism that would be executed for each physical action taken by the animated characters. Driscoll revealed the very slow process of shooting only a few frames per day, which only was possible after months of planning for each various individual scene. This attention to detail was evident in the animation, bringing the figures to life and adding a sense of humanness to the silicone "people" that one would never expect.



Strange Motion within Emperor's New Clothes

Animation and motion graphics in music videos is another factor that has drawn me to animation. There are many creative ways motion graphics and animation can be used in order create visually striking images, especially within the realm of music videos. In music videos very little has to make sense and therefore a whole hodgepodge of images and animation can come up.
         A friend of mine recently told me to watch Panic at the Disco’s music video for their song “Emperor’s New Clothes”, not only because the song is kind of cool but the video itself is very intriguing. As someone analyzing the plethora of ways the music video was made, a couple conclusions have came to my mind.
         The first thing I noticed was the strange and intricate use of stop motion through out the music video. Although the stop motion is most noticeable during the shots of the skulls “singing”, it is sprinkled throughout and subtly shown through Brendon Urie’s actions as he moves around the scene.
         Another affect that is shown within this music video that could either be very intense make up details or just animation techniques is when Urie’s skin starts to chance color and texture as well as the growing of the horns and other strange bodily things. Although after the full transformation is complete it is definitely completely make up, but the fluctuation that happens with his skin while these things are growing out of him are, at least, in my opinion, due to animation.

            Regardless of how creepy this video kind of is, It’s still pretty cool and Panic at the Disco is definitely still one of my favorite artists. So yeah! Check out the video below if you want to experience it yourself.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Animation in Performances

If you watched the Superbowl last Sunday, then you saw plenty of animation in the advertisements, but there was also some great animation in the halftime show. I'm talking about the stage Coldplay performed on. IT WAS SO COOL!!!

~woah~



I love it when artists use technology in their performances. Obviously I don't know whose idea this was, but for me, it totally worked. The bright colors, butterfly animations, and radial designs fit perfectly with the music and the color scheme of the dancers, musicians, and other performers. My friends and I agreed that Coldplay's performance would have looked even cooler if it were darker outside.

Another performance that I always think about when it comes to animation is Beyoncé's performance at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards. As a powerful artist and dancer, she's perfect for this type of performance. She must have had to work on her choreography for a long time working with animators, and then practicing to get the timing exactly right with the animation in her performance.


Still, we all know who had the best super bowl halftime show...

Never forget.



Thursday, February 4, 2016

Jar-Jar and the Phantom Menace

Let's talk Star Wars for a sec. Yes everyone is talking about Star Wars these days because of the new re-boot, but  what makes a sic-fi like Star Wars interesting if not ground breaking? I believe it is the special effects in the films.
The first trilogy without a doubt made stop motion seem flawless in space and on the frigid plains of Hoth. The second trilogy however, didn't waste time with stop animation but used computer animated graphics instead. This, at the time (1999), was a monumental task and a daring undertaking. I grew up watching the prequels and to me I grew up with the expectation of CGI creatures like Jar-Jar Binks. Which brings me painstakingly to my next point, Jar-Jar Binks. Jar-Jar was the first fully animated creature when Phantom Menace came out. Jar-Jar was played by Ahmed Best, who wore a suit that resembled the creature, this suit at first did not have tracking devices, it was only in post production that animators realized that to better convey actions they would need to track Best's movements. The animators then could have their way with the expressions. Overall the reaction to Jar-Jar as a character is that it could have been done without, but I still think that without Jar-Jar, the path for other movies like I, Robot that rely heavily on CGI would have been difficult. Above is a special on making the film and gives a more in-depth look at creating the the special effects.

Pineapple Calamari

Pineapple Calamari is a short film that has been recently highlighted on many animation news sites. It was created as Kasia Nalewajka graduation film and was produced at the National Film and Television School. This stop-motion production features a racehorse named Pineapple Calamari and his life with the two caretakers that look after him. The short has a lot of shifts in tone over the course of ten minutes. It starts off on an overwhelming happy note, takes an unexpectedly morbid twist which then leads into a rather creepy situation. There are a few endearing parts thrown in however and the stop-motion, especially on the horse, and beautifully crafted sets definitely make it a short worth checking out. It can be found through the link below:
                                                        https://vimeo.com/119044030

Titles

Being on the topic of animated title/names for the period I thought I'd share my opinions on titles. Personally I find that an interesting title can keep my intrigued even if the show is decent, the title can easily draw me in due to a catchy theme music or just that I'm impressed.
I am gonna show you two titles that absolutely blew me away and they are for Marvel's Daredevil and Marvel's Jessica Jones. The things I really love about them is how they really reinvented what a title sequence really is, Netflix is doing that quite a bit with adding longer title sequences because they have the time to and believe me Daredevil and Jessica Jones were all aboard that train. Not only is the music captivating, but the effects and design of them are just another amazing spectacle that the show brings to the world. Daredevil's title was nominated for best title sequence at the Emmys. Below I posted the videos for each. They've really captivated me and it makes me look forward to what will the title be for future Marvel Netflix shows like Luke Cage and Iron Fist.


A new wave of creation

Taking a link from one of the many Youtubers that provides tutorials on animation software, I was particularly drawn to this one in particular called Hexjibber.  What I found to be unique about his tutorials is that they include techniques and working in more than one Adobe software program.  The playlist that I found was a series that creates some looping animations of special effects that are akin to those from anime.  There are some like waves washing, dust flying, dirt streaks, and even fire.  What makes these so valuable is that he goes through After Effects first to create a template to follow, and then draws over them in Flash.  The specific one I was working in was the tutorial that creates dust and smoke flying, which I wanted to use for creating a race car scene and have them drive past real quickly (still brainstorming how that will fit into my projects...).  The video starts out with applying a series of wave warp effects to some shape layers in After Effects, exporting them as a PNG sequence, importing it into Flash and then drawing over each reference layer to create your own effect.
It really was and is a great way to get more practice in both the technical and artistic side of animation, and it could be a great way for an animation team to create action sequences and special effects.  Members with the more technical knowledge would create the reference layers, and the lead animators would draw over them in Flash.  I love how this series of tutorials encompasses both pieces of software, making it for quite an interesting exercise.  I would have been able to do the drawing part if it weren't for the fact that me and my drawing tablet have a love-hate relationship.

A$AP Rocky - JD Music Video


About 8 months after the release of his May 2015 album At.Long.Last.A$AP, rapper A$AP Rocky recently released the music video to his song "JD". I watched this video when it first came out last week and was captivated by the way that the animation it used was blended with real video footage. It was a style that I haven’t seen very much at all before (although I’m sure it has been done), and I really enjoyed it. This is something that I would like to eventually learn how to do, and it could possibly the topic of one of my future animations of the week. I like the style of the flickering paintbrush strokes that the animation was drawn in, and I found it a lot more engaging than just plain old video. My favorite part of the video however came at about 0:48. The beat drops and makes three distinct thumping sounds, which the video parallels by switching back and forth from animation to video in time with each thump. It matched excellently. and I immediately was drawn in even more for the remainder of the video. Videos like JD are part of what initially got me interested in motion graphics - it’s a way to make the work I’m already doing look significantly more visually appealing. This video was very well done, and I’m definitely going to look into tutorials on the paintbrush animation style that it used.

A World of Tomrrow

Netflix came out with animation that was amazing. It is only 16 minutes long, but it says so much. Using 2D animation but a complex plot the characters seem very realistic with only being stick figures. The creators use the animation to their advantage, having the characters interact with it. It is an adorable short film but it says a lot about where our society is going, and where we will end up. It is simplistic and fun, yet deep and saddening. It gives you all the feels. Here is the trailer for it. I encourage you to watch the full thing.

Artistic/Creative Thinking and Me

I've never really considered myself good at creative and artistic thinking. I get too bogged down in either why any sort of creative idea that I come up with is either too difficult for me to actually do or too silly for me to seriously consider actually following through on. Conversely, I do consider myself pretty good at learning how to use a particular application with which I could create creative and artistic works, such as Maya and (hopefully) After Effects. The issue then becomes getting those two things to work in tandem, so I don't either have what I consider to be a good idea that's way too difficult for me to actually do or know exactly how to make something, but think that the idea is too stupid and scrap it.

It took me a little while, but in the last class that I took that involved thinking like that (my Maya class), I was able to create some pretty cool stuff when I got my act together. I figured that I'd share one of the only animations that I made there, because I like how it turned out and it could give anyone who hasn't seen Maya before a very small (and very simplistic) glimpse at what can be done in it. The animation is of a toy robot assembly line, because toy robots can be made out of simple polygons and those are easy to work with.

video

Apparently Quicktime files don't work too well...

Amateur at After Effects.


This past week I have been experiencing Adobe After Effects and I have to say it isn’t as scary as I had originally though it would be. Although I have had friends and classmates who have utilized After Effects within their projects, I never though I would one day attempt to tackle this program myself.

After my first official week of After Effects, I can say for myself that it is one hell of a program that where you can do almost anything you set your mind to. Granted, watching Video CoPilot tutorials has been a huge service to me and has personally made After Effects more manageable to comprehend. Although I still need the aid of tutorials I do honestly feel as if I am learning something that will hopefully help me in the future of me career.


But enough about me! I want to talk about one of my favorite animated shorts. Remember that short about the older gentlemen that is in a very heated game of chess with what seem to be his arch nemesis? Yeah Pixar’s “Geri’s Game” (yes, I had to Google the title.) has been and is still one of my most favorite animated shorts of all time. It’s just so comical and the twist at the end was just astounding. So yeah, refresh your memory and take another look.


Joey Bada$$ - "Christ Conscious" (Official Music Video)



I don't know if you guys are as into music videos as much as I am but after watching this Joey Bad video I thought it'd be a good idea for a post. I hope to make more music videos in the future and maybe as a profession some day, so after seeing how the editor added graphics to this video it immediately gave me a few ideas on what I can start to focus on learning in the realm of after effects. Take a look at this video and check out all the effects the animator used and how he managed to get them to go in sync with the beats/ levels in the song.

Chemical Brothers Video


Electronic music artists, The Chemical Brothers, recently released a music video for one of the songs off their new album Born in the Echoes.  The video makes impressive use of 3-D visual effects and motion capture technology by replacing the main actors body with 3-D printed constructions while she dances. The video was also taken in a single take and lasts just over four minutes.

There's an (article) that breaks down how they did it, as well as a (Making of Video)



Typography


Typography is the technique of arranging and designing written language/word to make appealing when displayed. It is its own art form. Especially as seen in this video it’s incredible how you can animate words to create a story. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this video, seeing where each word would lead me. I loved the little details at the parts of the “chemicals being breathed in” and “I feel it in my bones.”  It's incredible how much time goes into such little detail that people tend to leave unnoticed. I now have a new appreciation for title sequences in TV shows and films, and how much thought goes into the process of deciding the font, coloring, and movement. Next time you are watching something on TV, make sure to notice the title sequence, because it tends to reveal a lot about the program.

Rotoscoping

This video is a short overview of how to make a rotoscope animation in after effects. Rotoscoping is when animators trace over footage, frame by frame. It turns live-action into animation. Rotoscoping is something that I find very interesting because of how realistic it can look. It also fascinates me how much work the animators have to put into drawing each frame to create a smooth animation. I find this video entertaining due to the fact that he shows us the live footage first and then reveals how he slowly turns it into an animation. He doesn’t go too into detail, but he highlights the general steps that are needed to accomplish rotoscoping. 


Particle Fire

Last class, with the introduction to particles, inspired me to use this method to try and create a fire effect. I ended up having a decent amount of success but wasn't quite happy with he product so I searched the internet for a good tutorial on how to do it. Although this tutorial doesn't have great structure and is kind of long it did help me to create a good fire effect in the end. If you're at all interested in creating some particle fire I would recommend checking this one out.


Help with Expressions

So while I've been becoming more comfortable with After Effects, one aspect that just doesn't seem to come easy to me is the adding of expressions and their outcomes. Maybe because I have no experience with coding or I'm just not familiar with them yet setting a "wiggle" expression is about all I can do. So after watching some youtube videos and searching out links, the adobe site helped me the most. I will definitely be bookmarking that site for later use.

Adobe has many other pages that will not doubt help as our projects become more and more complex, including pages about techniques and new features, just to name a few.

One video I enjoyed watching is about the wiggle expression and a lot of fine details about what it can do.


White Winter Hymnal, Beautiful Clay Animation

I stumbled across this animated music video a few years ago simply because I liked the song White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes, however I couldn't be happier that I did. Every time I hear the song I think about this "simple" and beautiful animation, directed by Sean Pecknold. It is a claymation that was carefully constructed with gorgeous textures in the materials and also fittingly uses and animates all organic materials. The palette of the film adds to the atmospheric feeling that the animation and diffused sense of lighting provide, only to be complimented by the music.

There are great moments that have stayed with me, like the animated snow melting into puddles of water with the play of light reflecting as clay flowers sprout from the ground (starts at 1:19). The video tells a simple story about time that is whimsical, beautiful, saddening, and overall very cinematic.


Knox's Korner Klaymation


Even though since I last watched this series on YouTube, the creator, Knox aka Robert Benfer, has gotten into a little bit of trouble with fans, I think that Knox's Korner is a pretty hilarious claymation (klaymation to go with Knox's 'k' theme). It features human-like blobs, which started out as just practice for the 'klaymator,' who go through pretty extenuating circumstances, like getting stuck in the VCR,  or drowning in a glass of water. I've read that most of what we see is improvised as well, so the comedic tint to it is funnier and more clever (is clever the word? it's sort of childish, but fun to watch) because of that. He won 35 awards from Newgrounds from this series of shorts. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Henry

Virtual reality has been a technology that I feel like I've heard a lot about over the years, but I didn't know what it would be used for other than sci-fi or fantasy video games. Obviously this new tech would make games cooler, more realistic, and maybe more fun (I wouldn't know; I've never tested out the Oculus). However, I didn't know until recently that Oculus VR has a film company called Oculus Story Studio.

Oculus Story Studio made a short film called Henry about a little hedgehog who wants to make some friends. (Adorable, right?) Henry is super cute and looks very much like a Disney Animation Studio or Pixar character.



In this video Saschka Unseld, the creative director, says, "We grow up, we kind of forget that as kids these characters in the films we watch, they're alive. And with VR, it makes me feel again like I'm a kid because I can see this character is real." This is one of the reasons I like animated films so much in the first place--they make me feel like I'm a kid again. I always go see animated movies with one of my sisters, Jess, who is six years younger than me. Now Jess is at the age where it's starting to be "uncool" for her to go see the newest animated feature with her friends, but I know she'll always see them with me.

Another part of this video I found interesting was when Ramiro Lopez Dau, the director and animation supervisor says, "Empathy, in VR, is the most important field that we need to explore." I had never really thought about this because I was so stuck in the mindset that VR would be used mostly for sci-fi video game users to see more of the game world. Perhaps the way VR films and VR games are created are not similar at all. I'll have to do more research to figure that out. After watching this short trailer, I'm more excited about VR technology and, of course, I really want to see Henry. 

The Nightmare Before Christmas

One of my favorite animated movies has always been The Nightmare Before Christmas which is a stop motion Disney film. In typical Tim Burton fashion, it is a creepy, cynical, and humorous film that has it's quirky songs and lines throughout the film. The film is extremely impressive because it was filmed in 24 frames per second which means every character was moved 24 times per second in every scene, which made just one minute of the film take a whole week to make. The three years that went into creating The Nightmare Before Christmas was well worth it. The beautiful animation has created for some iconic still photos and characters that people still rave about to this day.

There are probably over 60 characters in this movie, which makes it more impressive that the animators had to use the technique of stop motion with them for three years straight (and there was only 4 of them!!! what!!!!!) Overall, this movie is amazing watch, but even more fun to research and look into. Stop motion is something that has always intrigued me, and I believe that this movie might be what started that interest.

Is Animation a Driving Force Behind Americas Sequel Craze?


With the upcoming release of the third installment of the Kung Fu Panda series, I can only shake my head at the direction that modern day audience attention spans are heading. This, in combination with the fact that a sequel is almost guaranteed profit for the distribution company, is driving studios to play it safe and stick with tried and true stories over taking risks on other ventures.

The other genre I see pushing the limits of American wallets is Action / Superhero, with billions being raked in on sequel after sequel. This largely has to do with its international profit margin (another large category for Animated films as they are easily dub - able) and in the end the movies that get made are the ones that are going to make the money.

Pixar and Dreamworks seem to be the two worst at this, and the first sequence I can remember takes me back to Shrek. There are now four movies in this series and has thus been played out, but who knows where something as big as Frozen could go - could it get an elusive fifth movie in addition to its millions of dollars in other branding enterprises?

Kung Fu Panda seems to be its counterpart for the young males of our this sequel crazed generation, and with its box office numbers it seems to be headed toward many more to come. Especially with multiple new platforms for distribution I think we could see many more of these series make it further than any of the past ones have been able to.


The Pixel Art Path

Recently I have become really fascinated with pixel art, and how people animate it this unique style.  For my name project in class, I wanted to go in a more retro direction, and make something that looks like a classic NES game, such as The Legend of Zelda, or Metroid.  While searching for tutorials, I found that making pixel art is a relatively simple process, yet it could end up taking a long time to master.  It requires quite a bit of patience, and a lot of creativity.
One video that really struck me was a speed-art video done by a youtuber by the name of, "Binof trash."  In the video, she draws a cute rpg style girl, and shows her animation process, resulting in the adorable short clip below:


This artist has a number of videos showing her skills in animating pixel art, and they're all very fun to watch.  I hope that one day I could end up making animations as beautiful as hers!

More Helpful Tutorial Sites

As Arturo mentioned in class, Video Copilot and Lynda.com are great sites to help you get more comfortable in After Effects. I'd like to add on to that and give you all links to the YouTubers that I learned from. Go check them out and follow the tutorials that interest you.

Mt. Mograph - Creates really neat and minimalistic After Effects projects. Really simple and quick to follow, plus you'll have something at the end to show for your hard work.

Ch-Ch-Check It - These guys stopped uploading in the last few months, but they've uploaded tutorials regarding After Effects and Photoshop in the past. They have similar attitudes to Andrew Kramer of Video Copilot and they're just really cool guys.

VinhSon Nguyen - This guy is one of the harder YouTubers to follow, especially recently, but I'm sure you can find some tutorials to either follow along to or get inspiration from.

VFX Bro - The VFX Bro is the other half of FinalCutKing (if you've ever seen his vines). VFX Bro goes more into the behind the scenes of the effects.

Howard Pinsky - Howard Pinsky, maybe better known as Ice Flow Studios in years past, has a bunch of Photoshop tutorials, which can really help you out in After Effects.

Sam and Niko - Sam and Niko are best known online as CorridorDigital, an entrepreneurial filmmaking studio out in LA. These guys have been making videos forever and this is their behind the scenes channel. You'll find so many tutorials on how they do their effects, plus they're really chill.

BrandonJLa - Brandon Laatsch, the other half of FreddieW before they disbanded last year, posted all the behind the scenes videos for them including the After Effects tutorials that got me into it.

TrooperFX - Ok so this guy doesn't post tutorials, but his motion graphics are incredibly inspirational.

AcrezHD - Acrez used to post videos, I don't think he has in a while, but he's a great tutorial channel that you should definitely check out.

Hexjibber - Hexjibber is a bridge between After Effects and Flash and if you're really into Flash animation or just Anime style animation, this is the guy to check out.