We'd like to welcome Animator Alaa Aldeen Afifah. Can you tell us a little about yourself, what is your background and how did you get into character animation?
Firstly, I want to say thank you for having me in your Blog.
I've become obsessed with animation and film making at a very young age, when playing video games and watching movies.
Since then, I've come a long way. Now with 11 years of industry experience, I focus on character animation and how to bring characters to life.During my career I've worn many hats, from rigging to modeling but also lighting and other aspects of CG, which gives me a solid understanding of the entire CG pipeline.
I've started as a self taught animator but when I realized that I couldn't push myself any further I decided to join an online animation school to expand my knowledge.
I would love an opportunity to work on a big studio like BlueSky, Disney or Sony.
What is your current work?
Right now I'm a Senior Animator and the Animation Team Lead for Real Image Post Production Studio. I also work as a tutor where I record video lectures specifically focused to the Arab World future animators.
Your shot "The Elf" it's pretty impressive and really funny. You went for a cartoony style there, what were your thoughts before animating it?
Actually, I am always looking for something challenging and that I've never worked on before. For me, this is very important in order to improve my skills as an animator.
Also I have been animating subtle shots for a while so I thought it was the right time for something cartoony. I wanted to get out of that mode and try out something new and fresh, where I could push the character's facial even more. And in the process have some fun with it too!
What was your workflow for this shot?
The first thing I wanted to do is determine the cameras position and the entire flow of the shot.
So I did a simple animatic where I had the character in position and I could see the shot flow, and also seeing whether my thoughts were working or not.
Basically, I'm very obsessed with Blocking, and I love staying in the Blocking stage as much as I can so I get to nail down everything I want to see in the shot.
I recorded lots of video reference for myself playing the two roles. I had different takes for each character and then I chose the best ones and combined them together.
Here is a progression for "The Elf" shot showing my workflow:
You've worked with the Animschool Malcolm rig for that shot, what do you think of it?
Simply Amazing! Malcolm is one of the best rigs I've ever touched, he is very appealing and expressive, and it has never constrained me or hold me back on doing any expression I had ever thought of.
Not to mention the performance and the speed factor of the Malcolm rig, where I could play the shot in real time inside Maya's viewport without making any playblasts!