Tuesday, May 3, 2016

10 Quotes for the Aspiring Animator

“Animators can only draw from their own experiences of pain and shock and emotions.”
-Hayao Miyazaki

“The secret source to animation is truth.”
– Pete Docter

“The strength of animation is in its simplicity and caricature, and in reduction.”
– Pete Docter

“Animation is about creating the illusion of life. And you can’t create it if you don’t have one.”
-Brad Bird

“All the technical considerations are unimportant when confronted with the question of 'Does it look right?'”
-Ron Brinkmann

“Animation is not so much about moving stuff as it is about moving the audience.”
-Glen Keane

“Believe in your character.”
-Glen Keane

 “The better we [animators] do our jobs, the more invisible we become. The characters become the real ones.” -Glen Keane

“If the character emotes authentically, it has a power to connect with the audience.” -Rob Minkoff

“Animation means to invoke life, not to imitate it.”
-Chuck Jones

To come and learn at one of the best online animation schools, please visit animschool.com

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Guide to Making Modeling Demo Reels with Brien Hindman

Brien Hindman is an environmental modeling supervisor at Disney Animation and an Instructor at one of the best 3D animation schools-- AnimSchool. Previously, he was a senior modeler at Blue Sky Studios as well as the environmental modeling lead for Ice Age 3. Films he has worked on include: Moana, Big Hero 6, Frozen, Wreck It Ralph, Epic, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Rio, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Horton Hears a Who!, Ice Age: The Meltdown, and Robots.

As he himself is one of the many modelers at Disney who watches incoming demo reels on a regular basis, he gives his students lots of advice about the best, most effective ways to create their demo reels. Despite being a very busy guy, Brien agreed to share his insight with all of our readers.

What are the guidelines you tell your students when making a turntable?

Be sensitive to screen time. Remember that professionals are looking at your work, and they can tell within a few seconds if it’s good or not. It’s important to keep the energy of a demo reel up, so you don’t need to make the turntable excessively slow. Generally about 3 rotations within 5 seconds is enough, which includes almost a full rotation with the wireframe comped onto the model. Start the turntable almost a full second before the most important side of the model, which typically includes the face. This gives you time to cross dissolve from your previous model, as well as giving the viewer enough time to figure out what she or he is looking at. It’s a bit annoying to have to wait a full second to see the face, but I’ve seen many turntables that start out on the face, but includes a cross dissolve, so we are essentially seeing the backside of the model first. It’s a good way to kill the moment of the demo reel. Further, end the rotation in a smart place. It doesn’t have to be where you began it, but you want to leave the model in an interesting place. It makes a better impression. Generally, 2 seconds or so per rotation is good, but it really depends on the model. I would say 4 seconds is pushing it in terms of speed.

In general, what should a good modeling demo reel look like in terms of length, variety, and number of models?

Longer demo reels do not constitute better demo reels! It’s better to make a shorter, stronger demo reel that is 1 minute long than pad it with an additional minute of mediocre work. Don’t overstay a model’s welcome. You’ll only annoy the professionals. Remember, they have a dozen others to get through, as well as get back to work. You’re not fooling anyone by making the demo reel by including that crane up rotation in addition to the standard demo reel rotation.

Consider who you are sending the demo reel to. Your demo reel is a commercial, as well as an extension of yourself. Variety is usually good, as it implies you are willing to work on sets as well as characters. Further, different styles show you are adaptable and have a good eye. From one project to the next, the style can be very different, and an employer will want to see you can produce from show to show.

In general, I tell my students they should include a variety of body types, genders and styles. A hyper real character is good to include as well, but if it’s a feature animation studio, they won’t want to see an entire demo of hyper real characters. Conversely, a video game studio won’t know what to do with stylized cartoon characters for the most part. Environments are important as well. An interior with plenty of scale cues is a good choice, as is a stylized car if it’s for a animation studio, real otherwise, as well as an exterior organic environment. Making trees is hard. Most people are terrible at it. Hard surface is good to demonstrate as well, but that is usually covered by the interior.

What makes the best arrangement of models, for example should the best ones be at the beginning, the end, or a little of both?

Many people have different opinions on this matter. I think best first, second second and third last is best. You may only have 10 seconds to get someone’s attention before they move on to the next demo reel, so it’d be a shame if they never saw what you consider to be your second best work if it is last. That said, you want to end strong and leave a good impression. The third best model is generally enough to do that.

Should our modeling reels differ depending on the studio we are applying for? If yes, how so?

Yes. In addition to what I mentioned, consider each prospective employer a client. Said employer generally is not going to want to think outside of the box. If they can directly apply your skills to their needs, you will have a better shot.

You guys look through hundreds of demo reels all the time and I’m sure they all start to look the same. How can we make ours stand out from the rest and be remembered?

Follow everything above. Generally, HR screens the demo reels for us, and then we look at the top picks. You have a lot of hurdles to get over, so if the demo reel is entertaining from beginning to end without music, then you have a good shot. An easy way to stand out is to not build the same kind of characters or models as everyone else. Anime characters with giant swords are generally a good way to be forgotten. Everyone does it.

What are some common mistakes that you often see people make in their modeling demo reels?

They add music. They don’t show wireframes. They add models that they shouldn’t have added that aren’t nearly as good. It shows a lack of judgement in that case. Remember you are saying you think these models are the very best you can do. If you don’t think it’s the very best, then don’t include it.

Don’t model well known 3d characters. Someone with more experience has already done it, and so you are inviting a comparison between someone with 15 years+ experience and yourself.

Any final words of wisdom?

Make your demo reels as modular as you can, so you can drag and drop turntables in with as little effort as possible. The more customizable the demo reel, the better you can tailor it for a prospective employer.

Thanks Brien!

To learn more about AnimSchool's online animation programs, as well as Brien's Intermediate Modeling class, please join us at animschool.com

Monday, April 25, 2016

Justin Barrett: Maya's rotation tool and its Gimbal mode

In this clip from a class lecture of "Introduction to Maya," AnimSchool instructor Justin Barrett talks about rotation tool and how to effectively use its gimbal mode.

For more helpful tips, come and join us at www.animschool.com

Thursday, April 21, 2016

AnimSchool Interview - Dylan Hoffman

Former AnimSchool student Dylan Hoffman was incredibly fortunate last year to have had the oppurtunity to intern at not just one, but two of the industry's most well-known studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Lucasfilm. We were fortunate enough to catch up with Dylan and ask him about his experiences.

How did it feel the moment you got your first internship at Walt Disney Animation Studios?

I honestly couldn’t believe it. I just got a phone call out of the blue one day offering me the position. Obviously I was over-the-moon excited, and the feeling never left. Everyday I woke up I felt just as lucky and excited to be there as I did during that first phone call. I STILL feel incredibly lucky to have gotten the chance.

Dylan with the other 9 Disney Interns at Disneyland

What was a typical day like for a Disney Intern?

I was on a team with 10 other interns, all from different schools and backgrounds. It was structured as a learning experience more than anything else, with different “classes” each day where we met with members of different departments to learn more about the whole 3D pipeline. Throughout the process we also worked together to make our own short film. I helped with modeling, rigging, and animation, so my “typical day” was filled mostly with working on the film in between class.

Was that very different from a typical day as an intern at Lucasfilm?

Very much so! While Disney was a structured internship program, with scheduled tours, trainings, and much more focus on us and our learning, Lucasfilm was, simply put, a job! Still an incredible opportunity, but from day 1 I was thrown into actual production on the Star Wars Rebels TV series, with fast-paced tv deadlines to hit and projects to finish. It was also on a much smaller scale, as I was the only intern on a team of 40 or so, as compared to the MUCH larger Disney. They were both incredible, and I learned very different things from each.

How do you think you have grown from your experiences at two of the biggest animation/vfx studios of all time?

Wow. That’s a loaded question! One of the biggest things I learned from working at these places was how important it is to stay humble and teachable. Even though those studios are crammed from wall-to-wall with some of the best talent in the world, everyone I met felt as lucky and fortunate to be there as I did! They never stopped learning or working to keep that feeling of wonder alive. As a result of my experiences, I have a renewed desire to work harder, but want to make sure I’m always kind and teachable. We are all learning, and will hopefully never STOP learning. The moment you feel like you “know enough” and stop actively trying to progress, you’ll quickly fall behind!

Clearly you are a pro at getting huge internships by now, so do you have any tips or words of wisdom for the rest of us who want to apply?

Haha! I certainly wouldn’t call myself a pro! I feel incredibly fortunate to have had these opportunities, and I still feel like I’m no different than all the other incredible friends and classmates I work with everyday. So much of my opportunities just came down to fortuitous timing. I guess if I had to give any tips, I’d honestly say the most important thing to do is just be nice! We all know that our work has to be top-notch, but in such a competitive industry sometimes it’s easy to forget that just as important as what you know is WHO you know. I don’t mean that in a sneaky, “sweet-talking” sort of way. Quite the opposite. I just mean always being genuine and kind to people. I’ll always try and take time to help my classmates, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but I know someday we will probably be working together! The animation world is SUPER small, and when your name comes up during an application, you want someone in the room to be able to say, “Oh ya! I went to school with _______. They were always a great team-player.” I’ve talked to recruiters about this quite a bit, and they’ve said they’ll take ability to work well with people over just raw ability every time. So work hard, but BE NICE!

Thank you so much for chatting with us Dylan and best of luck in the future!

Check out Dylan's Demo Reel:

Come learn with us at animschool.com

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

JP Rhinemiller: Adding interesting transitions in game animation

In this clip from Advanced game animation term, JP Rhinemiller critiques a student's shot and highlights the importance of adding interesting transitions in game animation.

For more helpful tips, come and join us at www.animschool.com

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Making Characters Relatable with Matt Boismier

During most terms, AnimSchool offers a free art class open to all of the students. In this term's Character Design class, Art Director and Visual Development artist Matthew Boismier explains the importance of making characters relatable.

To learn more about character design, join us at animschool.com

Monday, April 11, 2016

Kent Alfred- Basic Jumping

In this clip from a class lecture, AnimSchool instructor Kent Alfred talks about basic jumping and spine reversal and the how the latter helps to sell force in the jump.

For more helpful tips, come and join us at www.animschool.com