Thursday, December 18, 2014

AnimSchool Students at CTN Animation Expo!

Wondering what is it like to attend CTN? We've asked a few questions to some of our students and graduates that were there this year. This is what they've said.

AnimSchool Booth at CTN

1) Best bit about CTN 2014?

For me, the whole experience was awesome. Meeting fellow students from different classes, instructors, AnimSchool staff and networking with so many talented people from all over the world was something very inspiring. Also thanks to Disney Animator Tony Bonilla and DreamWorks Animator Ben Rush (who happened to be my instructor at that moment), we had amazing guided tours on those studios. (Martin Schusterman)

AnimSchoolers with Animators Tony Bonilla and Ryan Hobbiebrunken at Disney Studios


AnimSchool Students with Animator Ben Rush at DreamWorks Animation Studios
Being surrounded by all the industry and being able to chat or meet the most talented artists, that furthermore, inspire constantly. (Max Schneider)

Meeting so many artists that I've been following on social media for a long time. It was a realization that these guys were real people, not just fan pages. (Talin Tanielian)

Meeting AnimSchool instructors and friends in real life. General reviews can feel distant at times because everyone is behind a screen but talking to each other in real life is always a treat. (Obo Agboghidi)
AnimSchool Graduation at CTN

It was an awesome experience. I really liked that you can meet so many talented people and at the same tine you realize that all those people are just like anyone of us! (Carlos Rivas)

Meet a lot of great artists and share my work with them. (Paul Gagobel)

There were so many best bits it's hard to answer this! But I think the most valuable part was meeting so many awesome people, networking, and just making some good friends (and finally meeting the awesome friends I've made at AnimSchool!). The atmosphere there was super friendly which is what really made the entire experience a lot of fun. (Jonah Sidhom)

All CTN was awesome, the workshops were great but what I liked the most was to see Danny Williams sculpting (ZBrush). In less than an hour real time he went from a caricature to a real model. And of course Animschool graduation! (Julia Marenco)

2) "Didn't see that coming" moment?

Glen Keane with AnimSchool Graduate Carlos Rivas
How popular CTN is. Each year it seems to get bigger and bigger. (Obo Agboghidi)

Shaking hands with Glen Keane! (I won't wash my hand ever again). (Carlos Rivas)

Everyone was so approachable and kind. As intimidating as it felt for me to meet so many incredible artists that have inspired me throughout the years, I had nothing to worry about because they were all so humble and they offered amazing advice. (Talin Tanielian)

The interview with Disney Infinity. And the good feedback on the reviews from both recruiters and artists. Also maybe when Peter de Seve signed me the book and told me to send him the 3D model I was doing of his character. (Paul Gagobel)


I was expecting less to be honest, but perhaps could be related to how crowded it can get. Because of that, I missed some talks (which I've had already paid), so I guess I've missed that "expected moment" :P (Max Schneider)
Eric Goldberg with AnimSchool Student Martin Schusterman

I didn't expect to have such a blast when I met animation legend Eric Goldberg, sharing so much knowledge with a small group of people. So much fun and entertaining. Great inspiration. (Martin Schusterman)

I ran into Glen Keane in the hallway and got to meet him!! (Jonah Sidhom)

For me were the interviews with the Studios, I really "didn't see that coming". (Julia Marenco)



3) Lesson learnt for the future

Continuing perfecting my craft. The industry is looking for the best people around and we need to improve all the time to not be left behind, and of course keep applying for jobs no matter how many times I have been refused. Part of professionalism is to understand how the industry works. (Max Schneider)
BlueSky Animators Drew Winey and Graham Silva on "Animating the Villains of Rio 2"
Take chances, and always be kind. All of the artists and animators I met were kind and seemed like they were cool to work with. I've heard from many of the attendees that being easy to work with will help you get ahead in the industry, not just good artwork or animation skills. If you don't have a good personality, you're pretty much stuck. (Talin Tanielian)

Genndy Tartakovsky's Master Class at CTN
The biggest thing I've learned was how many smaller studios and projects are going around. It's easy to forget that animation is more than tentpole movies.  The Dam Keeper, Song of the Sea and The Ottoman were really impressive projects being done outside of a major studio. (Obo Agboghidi)

The lines were really long for reel reviews, so next year I'll get to them earlier so I can get more reviews in! (Jonah Sidhom)

Bring Personal Cards!! (Martin Schusterman)

All the time I've spent in CTN was about learning. Perhaps, I need to prepare better for studio interviews and portfolio reviews. It's a big opportunity to meet with the studios so we must seize it. (Julia Marenco)

Spend more time reviewing my portfolio and talk more with the recruiters. (Paul Gagobel)

Need to take more personal cards!! Hahah! (Carlos Rivas)


4) Coming back next year?

Yes, I hope so! (Julia Marenco)

Of course! I met way too many wonderful people and made great friends and connections. It was a world where artists could talk, share ideas, express themselves, and have a blast! (Talin Tanielian)

If the economy is on my side, absolutely! But I will go way more prepared so the feedback I get there is more and more precise, until eventually my demoreel will open doors to me on the most talented studios. And once I got there, continue growing as an artist. (Max Schneider)

I haven’t decided yet between Siggraph and CTN but yes! I would love to attend CTN next year. (Paul Gagobel)

Absolutely! (Obo Agboghidi)

Yes, it's my graduation so I will do everything I can to be there! (Martin Schusterman)

I'll definitely try!! (Carlos Rivas)

Absolutely, wouldn't miss it for anything! (Jonah Sidhom)


Thanks to all who have answered our questions!
Thanks to Max Schneider, Carlos Rivas and Martin Schusterman for the pictures.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Drawing Class with Sylwia Bomba

In AnimSchool's Drawing Class, our amazing Instructor - Sylwia Bomba shares some of her tips on how to approach drawing.
Similar to animation, she first blocks out the shapes, and then adds the details.

As many of you already know, drawing is so helpful in animation career. Being able to sketch out the poses or ideas quickly is a big advantage in this industry. Also, while drawing - you train your eyes to see simpler shapes, analyse everything, and what could be more useful to an animator than that?


         


Drawing classes (and many more) are available to all Animschool students for free. In order to enjoy this benefit come and join us at www.Animschool.com

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

AnimSchool's Animation Student Showcase 2014

AnimSchool has released our new Animation Student Showcase for 2014!
We would like to salute all our students, recognizing the huge amount of work each one of these assignments represents and the level of talent they are achieving.

The quality of our students, our programs, instruction, and our appealing characters is seen in this impressive showcase.

If you want to recognize their efforts, comment on the youtube section.

To learn 3D animation skills with us, apply at www.animschool.com. Talk to an admissions advisor using our Live Chat, phone, or email.
(The work of AnimSchool's amazing rigging and modeling students (Character Program) is featured separately in another Showcase.)

Friday, November 14, 2014

AnimSchool Interview: John Paul Rhinemiller


Animschool: Hello John, please tell us a bit about yourself: 

Currently I am a Lead Cinematics Animator at Vicarious Visions, Activision Blizzard. I recently finished work on Skylanders:Swapforce, where I helped develop a cinematic pipeline and worked with the directors and writers to create story driven cinematics from concept to final render. Before VV I was a Lead Animator at Rhythm & Hues and had the chance of working with both creature and character animation. Having both film and game experience gives me a great understanding on a wide range of animation styles. I have worked on titles such as Hop, Yogi Bear, Alvin and The Chipmunks, and Red Dead Redemption.

Did you go straight for an animation job or was your career as an animator more opportunity-based?

I went straight for an animation job. When I was at SCAD studying for my Masters, I concentrated everything I had into animation and tailored my reel specifically toward that.
                                          

What game influenced you the most?

As a kid I think one of the biggest influences on me was Sonic. I was lucky enough to get a Sega Genesis one year for Xmas and it came with Sonic. That was one of the first times that I remember looking at a game and wondering how they made it. It was such an exciting game...still is fun to play.


                     
                                   
                                      Skylanders Swap Force - John Paul Rhinemiller Demoreel


Tell us about your normal work day? What are your responsibilities? What is the best and what is the worst part?
So that question I think has to be answers a few ways, it depends on when in development we are.

During Pre-production and early stages of development its all about Story. So I work with the writer and a small team to break the script down, develop storyboards and put everything together on animatics. This part is always super fun and exciting. It keeps me fresh and always challenges me to think outside the box and really push our ideas


Then during production I have two roles:

1. Manage the cinematics team.
- Making sure they are getting what they need for assets and tech to be able to do their jobs efficiently.
 - I provide a ton of feedback and review sessions to constantly try to push the quality higher and higher.
- I work with production to make sure that we are coming in within budget and that has to do a lot with scheduling.
2. I also keep animating. Probably not as much as I would like sometimes but I always take on shots in most sequences to stay fresh and push myself.


Please share your workflow with us.

- It really depends on the shot but most of the time I start by shooting lots of reference...if I can’t find that I look for it..these days mostly on Pinterest.
- Then I may sketch out a few of the areas, maybe transitions that I still need to wrap my brain around especially body mechanics heavy shots.
- Once I get into 3D I just start blocking out my Key Poses. No timing yet just on like 2s. I can flip back and forth on those keys to see how the flow is working.

- Once I’ve worked all of those out I start to time it out and refine any poses that need it. Then send out for feedback.
- I go back and usually do a blocking plus pass to add in breakdowns, overshoots and even ease ins and outs sometimes depending on the shot. Send out for feedback.
- Then a rough pass - get feedback
- Final Polish pass - in games if we have time for this pass...unfortunately the amount of time and work you have along with a smaller team in games, doesn't allow for the polish pass that I used to do in film.




You have been in the industry for a long time. How do you stay fresh? Do you have any fears from burning out?

I constantly am looking at other animation and framing through stuff. I think that inspires me alot, because almost every shot is going to be different whether its in film or cinematics. Every new shot seems like its own challenge and I think that will always keep me guessing and learning. Seeing other animators shots at work always motivates me to keep pushing my own shots. Getting feedback a lot always reminds me how I can learn new things and see animation differently.
I think it’s natural to feel burnt out occasionally. Animation is like a roller coaster and there are highs and lows I feel. You can get bursts of energy and motivation that last long stretches in production and then come down the hill and struggle a bit. The key is to figure out ways to help push you through the lows. Getting inspired and getting feedback have always helped me push through some of those times. Trying to strike a good balance between work and life I think can also help you not burn out as much. Its super important to turn off the animator brain occasionally even though I feel that’s easier said than done.

Since you are a Game Animator, we just have to ask - what's your favorite game character? And while we're at it, what's the best character you had a chance to animate?

Well animating John Marston in Red Dead Redemption was a ton of fun, but lately Flynn in the Skylands Franchise has been a blast. He is that quirky cartoony character that always has a ton of fun dialogue. 

- Do you enjoy being a teacher? At AnimSchool, you have your own Game Animation class - how's that going for 
   you?
I have had a great time so far teaching. I feel lucky to have any part in future a animators career path however large or small that may be.
It has been a ton of fun working with Jarrod on the course and I especially have been having a blast teaching some creature stuff with the new Hellhound character. I think being a teacher has inspired me as well in ways that I wasn’t seeing before I became a teacher at AnimSchool.


                                           John and AnimSchool students at the end of the term

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Animschool Interview: Sony Imageworks Lead Animator Kevin Jackson

Today we would like to welcome the talented 3D Animator Kevin Jackson. Tell us a little about yourself, what is your background? How did you get into character animation?

Like most kids I grew up on cartoons, but I’d say a turning point for me was Roger Rabbit. The baby Herman cartoon at the opening and the three Roger Rabbit shorts that followed blew me away; I knew this is what I wanted to do. Also, like most animators, I have great admiration for the old goofy shorts. Nothing teaches the principles of animation better than goofy. I have entire shorts saved out as image sequences just so I can analyze the frames, memorize the timing, spacing, etc.
In college I studied animation for four years, two of which were taught by former Disney director Hendel Butoy. Of all the influences that got me to where I am today, he is the one I have to thank the most.

Where are you currently working? What is your job there?

My first job in film was Rhythm and Hues. I started in 2007 and worked as an animator and supervisor until 2013 when I got hired at Sony Imageworks for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. I’m currently working as a lead animator on Hotel Transylvania 2, directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, but in between projects I had the pleasure of working on the Popeye test with Genndy and a handful of animators.



You have an interesting reel with creature animation but also some cartoony stuff. What do you like about each style?

The nice thing about realistic animation is it forces you to be hypersensitive. Everyone is an expert on realistic motion, specifically human faces, so if anything is off it will be noticed right away, even if the viewer is unsure of what is actually flawed. In a way you have to rely on the principles of animation even more because things have to be exaggerated just slightly so they don’t feel flat. Timing, spacing and arcs are where you really want to focus the exaggeration.
The downside to realistic animation is that most directors are not themselves animators and they have little understanding of the process. The animation is treated like a live action shot and they need to see a fully fleshed out, nearly complete version before they can give notes. It’s like someone is standing behind the camera saying, “Good! Now let’s try it this way, maybe one where you turn and walk this direction instead of that,” and so one, but in the animation world that takes weeks of work. If you get a shot that is particularly vague, meaning the director is really unsure of what he wants, you can be buried there for several months.

Cartoony animation, on the other hand, tends to move a lot quicker. In this world, most directors are animators themselves, and you get much better, more precise notes. Both Cloudy 2, HT2 and the Popeye test were a dream to work on because the notes are so clear and the director knows exactly what he wants. With those things in place, it really just comes down to how the shots are cast; making sure the right people get the shots that are just right for them. My passion is with cartoony animation, and I’m lucky to be at Sony because of all the big studios they seem to be pushing things in this direction the farthest. If you liked the Popeye test you will be blown away by what Genndy has planned for the film.


Having worked on realistic animation for about six years prior to Sony has taught me many valuable skills that I would have missed had I gone straight into cartoony stuff. I much prefer cartoony, but the former has made me a stronger animator.




Your latest “Wake Up Call” shot featuring Malcolm really caught the eye of the animation community and it's really entertaining with some broad animation. Did you have any goals before approaching the shot? What was your process for it? Could you share your workflow with us?



My goal was to animate something just for the sake of animation. Obviously, there isn't really much story to it. It’s “guy at work wakes up to a ringing phone and tries to answer it.” Try pitching that. “Seriously, it’ll be great! he gets stuck balancing on his chair, but can’t reach it, then he spins around and has all sorts of trouble… really you gotta believe me.” Nope, this is the kind of thing you want to do on your own, and really Malcolm is the perfect rig for it. 

Malcolm is the perfect mix of speed and flexibility. You have no idea how lucky you are to be able to play your shot in real time and get those kinds of noodle limbs and deformations until you work with crazy slow rigs in feature film. Each set of arms attached to Malcolm is a complete rig, so I had maybe 8 extra rigs in the file and could still scrub at high speeds as long as they were un-smoothed.

As for my process: animation is an interesting thing, as soon as you think you have your workflow figured out the next shot you get will force you to re-examine your workflow. Every shot is unique and so your workflow is constantly evolving. I’ll try to share a few things that worked well for me this particular piece.


I started by posing out all the key pose Ideas I had in my head. I do this on ones, so each pose is a new frame. I’m not concerned with timing yet, I just want to get the ideas on screen so that I can step through them manually and try to visualize if the idea works or not. After a couple days I think I had about 70 poses, each one representing the pose Malcolm strikes for each balancing act. With all the poses in place, all you have to worry about is timing and how your going to transition to and from each pose. At this point, no constraints are set up. If you set up your constraints from the very beginning, you may find out later on that you wish you had set them up differently. In my blocking, I usually just put things where they belong, and then when I’m ready to spline I can figure out exactly how things need to be setup to enable the smoothest transition of my curves in the graph editor.

The next step was to get the timing down. So keeping the keys in stepped, I began adjusting them throughout the timeline until I had roughly the timing I thought was right. It’s never quite right going from blocking to spline because your mind fills in the gaps for the blocking even if there is not enough frames. Once the computer fills in the gap for you, you find out that you need a lot more time for a transition.

Next I figured out the constraints. I set it up so that the feet could be attached to the chair no matter which leg of the chair was the pivot. From there it’s just a matter of filling in the gaps, making sure each transition happens the way you want it.

The extra limbs and smear frames were the last thing to add. For the limbs, I took an extra Malcolm and deleted all his poly faces except for his arms. Then I referenced that in as many times as needed and parented them to his body. Whenever needed I just snapped them in place, then hid them afterwords. For the end there are about 8 rigs wrapping around his body. It proved too difficult to hide the connection point of each arm so instead I painted that out by hand in photoshop.

The most important part is the blocking. Make sure every part of each pose is deliberate. You want clear shapes and pleasing curves to move your eye where you want it. If something is not quite straight then commit to one or the other. Either make it obviously straight or not. Nothing should live in between shape ideas.

That’s it for now! I have another one in progress with lots of new exciting ideas, but who knows when that will finish. HT2 is getting busier and busier so it may be a while.


Thank you very much for your time, Kevin!!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

AnimSchool Interview: Jorge A. Martinez Teran

We'd like to welcome AnimSchool Graduate Jorge A. Martinez Teran. Tell us a little about yourself, what is your background? How did you get into character animation?


Growing up  I knew I wanted to have a job where I could create things for people to appreciate and enjoy. I tried traditional painting and some sculpting when I was a teenager, but eventually the thought of getting a bit more profit from my skills put me on the path to become a graphic designer, where I got a good foundation of Art and Design. 

As for how I got into animation, I think I would need to blame my parents. It was an unintentional indoctrination process. 
Every morning in order to get me ready  for school they would wake me up and put VHS tapes with cartoons to get my attention. From Disney movies to good old Looney Toons cartoons, and some crazy anime, most days would start with a cartoon. 

I've met  friends that have similar interests and love for animation, and we've always had the idea of  developing our own web cartoons, but it was more of a hobby back then. It has never occurred to me I could make a living out of it since there were not a lot of opportunities to work in animation in Mexico at that point.

One day at university walking through the halls, I saw a poster saying: "Get a career in Animation! Come study 3D Animation in Vancouver". And BAM! It hit me right there. I had to give it a shot.  A year later, with the help of our families, my friends and I jumped on a plane to Vancouver to start our animation journey. 

After an intense year, I finished a short film that landed me some interviews and got screened at a small film festival in Oregon. From there on I had the chance to work in a couple more short films doing visual effects and character animation. I enrolled in the AnimSchool program to become a better artist and I landed  my first studio job right before starting on Class 7 at AnimSchool. 

Are you currently working in the animation industry? What is your job there? Tell us about it.

Yes I am! I work as a Senior Animator at a studio here in Vancouver called Nerd Corps where, if we are not fighting with nerf guns, we make TV shows for kids.




I'm currently working on the new Max Steel TV show.  From an animation point of view, That show provides great opportunities to try different styles of animation.  On a normal week I could go from working on emotional serious acting, to quirky comedic acting, to a full on fighting action sequence.  There is always something fun and interesting to work on. 

Before Joining Nerd Corps I had the opportunity to work as a freelancer doing some visual effects, motion design, and character animation on some fun independent short films like “Overboard: At The Helm Of An Animation Crew” and “Be The Snow” that have been hitting some Film Festivals here and there during their festival run. 

 

"Overboard: At The Helm Of An Animation Crew"

In what ways do you think AnimSchool has helped you to be a better animator? What was your journey like?

I enrolled on AnimSchool after a period  where I felt my animation skills got rusty and I reached a plateau. Even though because of my background I could have the chance to skip a class, I decided to take the full course and start from scratch, that would give me the opportunity to learn from more instructors during my journey through AnimSchool. And it was probably the best decision I could have made.   

It was during that year and a half at AnimSchool when I truly understood performance, appeal, and how to push myself creatively to find the best acting choices. This also helped me develop a good workflow and an eye for animation. The process also allowed me to get better at giving and receiving constructive feedback.

Any particular tip or advice from an instructor that particularly stuck with you?

“Animate within the pose”, That advice was mentioned a couple times during each term, and it’s something I try to live by now. It's a common occurrence for starting animators to over-animate their shots and make the characters move all over the place all the time for fear that their shots might feel dead or too simple. It's a hard thing to do, but once you do it, you find so many other subtle ways of keeping your characters alive. 

One more thing that got stuck is something that Rahul Dabholkar mentioned; he learned it from one of his colleagues at Disney. I don't remember the exact words but it goes something like this: Every shot has a special moment that will make it shine, if you can find that moment and emphasize it, it will make the shot amazing.  

What's the best part of online education?

Learning from industry experts from the best studios around the world is great and you learn so much, but I would have to say the best part of online education is the community.  You become part of a big family, and even if you haven't met in person, you know every single one of them will do their best to help you grow as an animator, giving some feedback on personal shots,  and help you get opportunities in the industry. Or, you know, go out for a meal and talk about animation if you get the chance to meet them in person. 

What part of the animation process do you enjoy the most?

I really enjoy every part of the animation process, planning a shot is always fun, exploring acting choices and shooting reference is a nice challenge. 
Blocking is where I put most of my time getting the  timing right and pushing my poses over and over. 
But, when I really get in the zone, is when I start polishing a shot. I can easily lose track of time bringing the characters to life.

What type of animation inspires you?

There are some amazing animated shows and movies out there that it would be impossible for me to choose just one type. From the jaw-dropping stop motion animation from the guys at Laika, with their beautiful and refreshing movies, going all the way to the hand drawn 2D fighting sequences from Avatar The Last Airbender and The legend of Korra. In 3D, I favour the cartoony style of Sony's  Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and Hotel Transylvania, it's so appealing and every shot looks like it would be a ton of fun to animate. Moving on to more realistic VFX animation, I love creature animation. Believable weight, power, and great physicality are things that I love to focus on, and hope to fully master as I keep animating. Pacific Rim and the new  Godzilla are two movies that keep coming to my mind every time I think about VFX animation.

How do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I definitely see myself animating on feature films, I don't know if it will be an animated feature or doing some creature work on a live action movie. Right now I'm still undecided on what path I want to take. I love acting shots, but the challenge of nailing an action shot is so rewarding... I want it all!

I have also considered, after a couple more years of experience, that I would like to start teaching animation too.

Any hobbies, sports or other activities that you would like to share with us?

Scuba diving. It’s the closest thing I know to an out of this world experience. It’s relaxing and very exciting at the same time. A good way to stay in touch with nature.
Also, I recently started practicing bouldering with some friends from work. Great workout to strengthen your arms after working all week on the computer, my forearms have been feeling great after a couple of times. No more computer pain. Our goal is to do some outdoor climbing soon.

Any quote to get yourself motivated?

I really like the part when Dory is trying to cheer Marlin in Finding Nemo. After the mask fell into the deep and she says: "When life get you down you know what you got to do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming". That song comes to my mind every single time something goes wrong, and it always keep me going no matter what. 

What is your ultimate goal?

The more I get involved in the industry the more I keep thinking I want to be an Animation director one day.  Working with the directors at Nerd Corps has been great, I'm learning so much from them and the way they approach the shows. 

Also, every time I give feedback or I receive feedback from coworkers is a great and valuable opportunity to learn. Weather is learning something new about acting  and performance, an animation trick, or just simply better ways of communicating with people. Each one of those information exchanges is a learning experience that put me a bit closer and better prepared to reach my goal. 

There is still a long road to cover to get there and so much more to learn, but I believe I can get there if I keep working hard. 

Thank you so much for having me!

Check out Jorge's Demo Reel:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

AnimSchool Gaming Interview: Carbine Studios Cinematics Lead Seth Kendall

AnimSchool Gaming Instructor Jarrod Showers interviews Carbine Studios Cinematics Lead Seth Kendall.

Seth tell us about his career journey at Carbine, working on the MMO game Wildstar!
http://wildstar-online.com/en/