Friday, October 30, 2015

Boxed in by Curves

So a little while back one of my favourite online animators posted this image to his twitter.
He's a huge fan of 90's "He-Man" style traditional hand drawn cell animation, and he feels as though a lot of cartoons nowadays are getting less stylistically diverse.

When the cartoon "Adventure Time" first aired on cartoon network I remeber thinking it was like nothing I'd ever seen before. The style was a lot cuter and curvier than a lot of cartoons at the time and it seemed as it's creators had put a great amount of detail into the characters and world of the show. The aesthetic matched the show's pleasantly strange world and for the most part I thought that AT would be one of those cartoons that usher in a new wave of creative aueterism.

However as the years have gone by it seems as though a lot of the new cartoons on cartoon network haven't really branched away from the curvey cute adventure time style. Content wise I think that many of these shows are really well crafted, but I can't help feeling as though a lot of character artists are stuck in a sort of creative rut.

Take a look at the difference between pilot episode for one of Cartoon networks newer series "Steven Universe" and it's release version.

The pilot had a darker more muted color pallet that I thought looked really cool and would have worked well for the show. The final version isn't by any means bad but it seems a lot more kid friendly than the pilot version.
I really miss the stylistic diversity of a lot of early 2000's shows.

Sexism in Disney

So none of us are blind, we are all aware that Disney movies are not the most pc movies out there. But we instead like to ignore that because we all can't criticize the films that we grew up to know and love. Well I recently watched a video about sexism, strength, and dominance in Disney films and I found it pretty interesting. It's things you never really think about while you are watching the films but once you are aware of it, you start to get mad. One of them is dominance and how the climatic scene is always two males fighting each other for either a female, or for the top dominate spot. But if you want to know more you should check out the video:

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Bigger Picture - Oscar Nominated Short

An Oscar nomination for a feature film is a huge deal. I think ever more so for a short however. Christopher Hees, co-creator of the Oscar nominated short animation The Bigger Picture, describes how ecstatic he was when he learned he was nominated.

The Trailer

Directed by Daisy Jacobs, the short is about the struggle of two brothers as they face dealing with their ageing mother. The most clever part to it though, is how the short is 2D animated in a 3D space. Characters are painted onto the walls, while Papier-mâché versions of their arms protrude out and grab objects. These objects are brought back into the wall and become 2D painted versions.

I think the style of the short is awesome, and it's incredibly interesting seeing behind the scenes. You get a real appreciation for how difficult is must have been, and the patience they had. 

Behind the Scenes

Virtual Reality Animation

I was online and I came across this post.  I thought it was very interesting.  It's about virtual reality plugins for programs like after effects. Click here to read about it. 

I also really enjoyed watching this video on virtual reality animation. I love how imaginative and creative it is. “When you draw, you are expressing something real, visceral. By making a line, it’s like a seismograph of your soul. These are not drawings, these are real characters as they exist in my own life.”

Glen was the son of cartoonist Bil Keane (The Family Circus) and he started animating his drawings early in life. But as he got older, he realized that his drawings were an extension of himself, which is quite challenging within the confines of 2D creations.
Keane says, “When I animate, there is a frustration that I have wishing that the flatness of the paper goes away and that I could actually dive in.”
In virtual reality, flatness isn’t a limitation. There are no edges to mind. An animator need not worry about running out of space for his drawing. Keane described his immersion as “more like a dance.” He was almost dancing around with the animation tool, drawing a character in a virtual reality space. Keane wandered through his drawings, going inside lines and bubbles. For Keane, virtual reality animation means freedom.
Hope you enjoy watching this! 

Stop Motion and Brickfilm

I have always been fascinated with stop motion animation and have started to do small projects on my own (I will post a link to something I have done in one of my future posts).

In case you did not know, stop motion animation is a technique where an object is physically moved to make it look like it is moving on its own. For a while now, I have noticed that the Buzzfeed Food channel uses a lot of stop motion in their videos. I think that is a very brilliant marketing and promotions idea as it is quick and very appealing. This is a video of a stop motion pizza.

Stop motion has had a long life in movie history and it is often seen as a very reliable animation technique. This is one of the coolest stop motion videos I have seen and probably one that took hours and hours to make.

One last thing that I wanted to talk about is brickfilm. This kind of film typically uses stop motion to be created. It is so called because the film is literally made on LEGO bricks or similar small objects.

Brickfilming has been around since the 70s and it uses digital still cameras (DSLRs, etc.). The frame rate is usually 15fps as a compromise between minimum production time and smoothest motion.

Watch this video for a cool brickfilm of the Darth Vader vs Luke Skywalker fight scene.

Digital Product Placement

In recent years, it has become increasingly popular for studio distributors to sell promotional spots in their syndicated programing, squeezing even more money out of their rich syndication deals. This comes in the form of product placement. However, it's more high-tech than placing a cereal box in the background of a scene--this is done digitally. If you watch closely, advertisements in some of your favorite reruns may suddenly appear or change from the what was shown in the original episode.

Take this How I Met Your Mother reference for example. 

The first picture is what originally aired when the episode premiered. The ladder features a Gatorade advertisement that was added years later.

In 2011, another syndicated episode of HIMYM (2006 original air) contained this advertisement for the movie Bad Teacher which was released in theaters around that same time. 

This was done by SeamBI; a company that is changing the game. They've made it so that brands can purchase product placement within a syndicated show in the same manner that they'd buy regular advertisements. SeamBI is responsible for digitally inserting new ads into old programs. The break down their process into three steps: 

1. Identifying product placement opportunity with content
2. Integrating the advertisements once sold.
3. Delivering the ad-enhanced content to the designated broadcasters. 

Most recently, Mirriad has also become a popular digital ad firm. 

The major value in this technology is the ability to customize and integrate content quickly. It works to help target very specific geographic areas and markets. That is something that every advertiser wants. 

Cool Stop Motion

So I know that this video is old, and by that I only mean a few years old but still thats practically ancient in internet year. Anyway, I know this video is old, but it is one of my favorites. Some of you may know the YouTubers Rhett and Link, they are most well known for their morning vlogs "Good Mythical Morning", however they also often make goofy videos such as this one that was an awesome use of stop motion.
They had a different shirt for each position of each object, which as stated in the beginning of the video is 222 shirts to be exact. I also like that they incorporated both 2D objects on the shirts and 3D objects in real life to make this cool video. Anyway, hope you guys enjoy!


A new form of photography editing that I stumbled upon recently is sweeping across the web known as Cinematography. This is when a video is freeze-framed except for one element in the shot. For instance, a candle on a birthday cake is still flickering, but the person who is about to blow it out is completely frozen.

There are plenty of tutorials online that teach you how to do this technique so I'll just link you to one: Tutorial

I'll leave you with a couple of really nice ones that I stumbled upon.

The Book of Life

Now here's an animated movie that's appropriate for this upcoming Halloween. I watched The Book of Life last year and it was stunning! Aside from the concept, because this is a graphics and animations class, what immediately caught my attention was the decision to make all the characters look like wooden marionettes. It gave a whole other layer of fantasy and really the interesting choice in texture, oddly enough, gave them more life.

The movie is all about big, bold colors and intense lighting. There is nary a simple scene, in fact, what is meant to be the underworld is even brighter and more colorful than the land of the living.

International Animation Day

Yesterday marks the 13th annual International Animation Day, as in 2002, ASIFA proclaimed October 28th as the day to globally celebrate the art of animation. The day also commemorates the first public performance of Emile Reynaud's Theatre Optique at the Grevin Museum in Paris in 1892. The global event has gained a lot of popularity over the years as it is now observed in more than 40 countries. And for the first time ever, countries such as Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mozambique and Poland have participated. It is definitely a great celebration that is rapidly growing.  To celebrate, the blog KQED has selected 6 animated shorts to watch and enjoy. Here are they are below:

1.) Little Favour

2.) Dia de los Muertos
3.) Steadfast Stanley
4.) Will

5.) Owl and Mouse
6.) Last Day of Freedom

Lightsabers: The First Effect I Learned in AE

I've used After Effects since 2009, right before I started high school. I got into After Effects because I wanted to learn how to make my own Star Wars fan films, particularly involving the infamous lightsabers. I was inspired by a fellow VFX artist that I found through YouTube named Ryan Wieber. I first saw his famous youtube lightsaber fights titled: Ryan vs. Dorkman. Then I watched his tutorial from WAY back in the day (like early 2000s) on how to make lightsaber glows in Photoshop and After Effects. It inspired me to want to get after effects and start making my own effects for my movies. 

So I got an EDU discounted copy of AE CS4, and started making effects for my own videos. It did take some time for me to get use to the technique (let alone the program). I think I watched the saber tutorial at least a dozen times before I was able to memorize it by heart. And then I think it took about a year for me to understand the program in its most basic format. 
Here are some samples of my earliest saber effects in AE:

And then as the years went by I kept practicing with AE, and slowly but surely, I got the hang of making a good lightsaber. 
Here are some more samples from a few years after the previous ones:

But obviously, I couldnt just limit myself to lightsabers. I had to expand my skills to other effects. So then I started to watch tutorials from Andrew Kramer and Ryan Connolly of VideoCopilot and Film Riot. And I learned how to make all kinds of different effects.
Such as:

This particular post is not meant in anyway to show off anything or be a portfolio. I just wanted to share what my journey to learning After Effects was like, and what I did to learn the program. It took me a very long time to understand the program the way I know it now, and I'm still always learning new things about After Effects that I never really thought about in my earlier days. I'm in no ways a true master like Andrew Kramer is. I also really want to practice making effects and graphics in other advanced programs beyond just After Effects, like Maya (which we are learning in class currently), 3DS Max, Fusion, Nuke, and more.

I hope this post was inspiring in some way to those who might still be a little bit intimidated by AE. But dont worry, if you take some time and practice enough with it, make stuff that you think is cool (like I did with lightsabers), you'll get the hang of it in no time!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Comets, fireflies and The Good Dinosaur

I've been doing research into how to make a good comet effect for my title sequence, and I wanted to share some of the videos and Links I've come across in my research.

Video Copilot Blog about Comets There isn't too much there, but it does reference some video examples and make a few suggestions I'd like to try.

I've thought about the option to instead of using particles, maybe it would make more sense to use some kind of shatter, especially if I want the comet trail to morph into the fireflies that are scene in the trailer.

The Shatterize Effect
The Disintegration Effect

In my experience, none of the Native Particle Simulators in After Effects allow me to use custom particles, but I believe I can shatter something in a custom way.

Ultimately, If I can't find a way to create the fire fly shape from the comet, I will end up just doing shaded spheres. I wonder if I can find a way to have them follow some Path.
Maybe, I can find a way to make the particle emitter make only one particle and move that layer around.

Either way my idea needs some more work.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Particle System Animation

This blog post is very late - sorry about that! (It's for 10/22)

In the past two months, as I am learning more an more about After Effects, I have found the CC Particle World and Particle Playground effects to be some of the most useful and awesome effects to work with.

I got a chance to look more into particle system animation and how it has developed over time. Simply reading through the theory behind particle systems helped me understand a lot.

The most important thing to know is that particle systems can be either animated or static - even though particle systems are usually just associated with being animated. An animated particle has it life trajectory spanned over time while a static particle is rendered all at once.

For things like fire, smoke, rain, sparks, etc., animated particles are used as each particle occupies a single point in the space position and then slowly fades out.

For things like hair, grass, etc., static particles are used as the entire life journey of the particle is rendered at once, therefore, creating strands - which can then be controlled.

Even when using the Particle World effect to simply create a small fire, there are so many things to be controlled and it can seem overwhelming. I found this video from a game engine called Unreal Engine and the video goes over some basic and complex particle terminology. So if someone is interested in developing games, especially shooter games, check this out.

Typically, the particles are generated through what is called an emitter. The emitter holds a position in 3D space which can be manipulated to determine the amount, shape, size, and direction of the particles among other properties. 

There is a lot more information out there if someone is interested in learning more about particle systems.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Articulate Storyline

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I am extremely interested in E-Learning. In my E-Learning course we learned how to create interactive learning modules in a program called Articulate Storyline. This is a program that we referred to as “PowerPoint on steroids” because it had a very similar workspace layout to PowerPoint.

"PowerPoint on Steroids" - Articulate Storyline interface

The major differences include the fact that you can edit a timeline and keyframe positions of objects on the screen similarly to Adobe Premiere or Adobe Flash. What is extremely interesting about this program is that it exports the project as a folder with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files. These files can be uploaded to a server and shared as interactive online lessons. A good deal of animation can be used in these lessons as well. Because the modules are interactive, users can click and make things happen, characters, move, or text appear.

Here are some videos of people explaining their animation techniques in Articulate Storyline.

Friday, October 23, 2015


The brain likes to learn. Over the summer the company I worked at was responsible for recording a lot of TED talks. If there's one thing I learned from sorting through and watching these lectures it's that the best TED talks are quick, informational, and usually have an endearing personality attached to them. Recently I've stumbled across a YouTube channel that takes these same principles and combines them with sleek and beautifully animated graphics.

I found myself tearing through these videos not only because they were so interesting, but because each poignant snippet of scientific jargon was elegantly matched by equally beautiful images. It just goes to show how eager one really is to learn when the information is presented to them in an engaging way. 

I'd love to see how a video like this comes together but from what I've heard videos such as the one above require more over 200 hours of work so for now I'll settle for cutting up digital paper.

The Most Popular Girls In School

As quotable as Mean Girls and as saucy as South Park--if you're a college student who has to check out The Most Popular Girls in School, I highly recommend you do so immediately. The Most Popular Girls in School is a stop motion animated web series found on YouTube. It chronicles the daily lives of a number of Overland Park High School cheerleaders, their boyfriends, enemies, and the constant battle to stay atop the social ladder. The creators, Mark Cope and Carlo Moss, use various Barbie dolls to depict their funny characters, who curse a lot and occasionally talk about poop. In my opinion, MPGIS is arguably one of the funniest projects on YouTube at the moment. After the reception of the first season, a Kickstarter campaign funded season 2, and an Indiegogo campaign funded seasons 3 and 4. Up until season 3, the show was solely animated and produced by Mark Cope. With enough funding, however, Cope was able to produce season four as a professional animated series at the YouTube Space in Los Angeles. To this day, MPGIS has four seasons and a total of 70 episodes. Interestingly, I just took a look at their YouTube page and found they even have an app now too! Crazy where that one silly idea can take person...

Enjoy episode one, here: