Sunday, November 30, 2014

CTNX and California Part Deux!

Well, it's getting late but I'm still pretty awake. At least I am as I'm starting this. Let's see how much I can cover before I pass out!

Thursday! The pre-CTN day. They did some CTN related stuff that day, include a screening I missed that I wanted to see, but it was for an exceptionally valid reason! Thursday started with a quick breakfast, then we got the whole group together again for a new adventure!

Oh, before I go farther, one of the best parts of this trip was meeting new people. Or in a fair amount of cases, people you've only met online. Animation Mentor has been a big thing in my life for the past year, and a big reason for that is meeting so many people that feel the way you do about animating. I've made a couple of very close friends because of my classes. I stayed with them at the hotel for the duration of the trip as well! Technically it was Thursday when she arrived, but the first of these friends got there after a couple of plane delays at, give or take, one am. So after we all napped, we got to actually spend our first day together touring the town! I apologize again Kimberly for being less than half awake when you got there. Haha.

Anyways, it all started with a quick trip down to Hollywood Blvd to try and find John Lasseter's star for Shanel. It wasn't the most glamorous place, but it was still a good bit of fun! It was bittersweet to see Robin William's star. What a great man... he will be dearly missed. And all of Hollywood knew when she saw the star... She squealed. Everyone on the street stopped to watch us all. It was a true animation groupie moment. The giant Baymax balloon over the El Capitan Theater was really cool too! And speaking of Disney, we stopped at the Disney store on the Blvd, because, well, why not? It was great, because it was a Disney slash Ghiradelli store. It smelt so good... They had a bunch of Jim Shore's figures as well. I love that man's statues. If you get a chance, check him out; exceptional craftsmanship. I was hoping they'd have the Sally one I need for my collection, but alas, they did not...

Shanel with John Lasseter's Spirit- I mean star...
Group shot at the Chinese Theater
I think I need some sunglasses... (left > right: Chelsea, Kimberly, Myself)
I somehow didn't move at all between these pictures...
I'd rate my pleasure an 8 out of 10, Baymax.
After this, the group split up. Phil and Jacob had to go on a tour of the Walt Disney Animation Studio; Animation Mentor was doing a special tour for graduates. So Jacob went as a plus one. Haha. The rest of the group decided to get in touch with our friend who works for Riot and drive to Santa Monica for a tour! The drive was a little long, but we got to see so much of Cali on the way! Beverly Hills looked amazing... Anyway, we made it to Riot Games! Sarah, you are super awesome for letting us in for a tour and to geek out for over an hour!

Omg... so close... *heavy breathing*....
You jealous yet Austin?!
Group Shot! L > R: Angelo, Myself, SARAH, Chels, Shanel, and Kimberly
We went inside and signed our silence assuredness clauses (NDA's), and it began. It was so cool, in the lobby they had a giant TV with live streams of games playing. Beside that screen, were two smaller ones with live events being flashed across them. The first place we went to was like a game area, where everyone got to chill together and hang out when they put on events for the employees. Very cool. Then we got to go upstairs to the see the real stuff!

And unfortunately, I can't talk about everything that I saw up those stairs, but man it was awesome. Got to meet so many of the people that make the art for the game, and see some of the stuff they were currently working on. One of the coolest bits was seeing the animators working. Everyone was having so much fun working too! One of the animators, I can't remember his name unfortunately, literally said "They tell me that this is working, but it's just too much fun!" What a great guy, sums up all the feels in one sentence. Everyone there was so nice, and the atmosphere was so inviting. We all wished we could've just chilled there with them all day, chatting and playing games. And maybe the coolest thing in the studio was the art along the walls. Getting to see progressions for some of the splash art was inspiring. Or getting to see just images with line work only, oh man, I was losing it. They were all so good! So much talent at this studio. Props Riot, you're doing it right! 

Can't thank you enough for letting us visit Sarah! This was also the reason I missed the first screening for CTNX, but it was so worth it. Wouldn't change a thing.

We did get back in time to prep for the Animation Mentor Graduation Party though! After the arduous journey driving from Santa Monica back to Burbank, we were all able to register and pick up our badges for the conventions. Now that was an experience in and of itself. I got to meet another one of my classmates/great buddies, Zeina, who'd arrived before us. I met her in the VIP lounge to get my VIP badge, and it was all chill. I was just chatting away with the two girls manning the table in the lounge, when I looked up toward the back of the room, and Glen Keane was just leaning against the back wall drinking water. Glen Keane! I was trying to get my head around that, when I turned back to talk to Zeina, when Carlos Baena, Shawn Kelly, and Bobby Beck walked in. What the heck! It seemed so surreal; all I could do was say "What's up Bobby?!" Because, you know, he was first in line, and I couldn't function at that point being in the presence of celebs. Or are they royalty? *Shrugs*

As a note, for anyone who doesn't know who these gentleman are:
     ~ Glen Keane is a famous Disney animator, who's been working at Disney for decades. He is credited as developing the style that Disney Princesses have followed from The Little Mermaid on. He also brought the feel of 2D animation to Tangled after Walt Disney Studio's revamp a few years ago. Most recently, he worked on the short "Duet" for mobile platforms.
     ~ Carlos, Shawn, and Bobby are the three co-founders of Animation Mentor. Carlos and Bobby were both Pixar animators, and Shawn works at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). 

Bobby was so cool about it too. He just threw his arms out and replied "Heeeyyyy!" It was greater because it felt like he kind of recognized me from the AM campus, but couldn't really put his finger on it. I was all smiles watching these idols walk past me to go meet with Glen. I ran back to Zeina and we were both just having a mental conversation with each other. No words were spoken, only hand gestures, but this was what transpired between us:

"Dude, did you see that!"
"Yeah man, I told you, VIP Lounge!"
"This is insane, it's them! They are real, and here, and so close!"
"Stop drooling, we should go talk to them!"
"Oh my gosh, yes, we need too. How's my hair?!"

Roughly what was said. Haha.

So while we were silently making our way toward them and waiting, another Animation Mentor buddy joined us. Brad came up to us like "Hey, Chels and Kim wanted me to let you guys know they are waiting out there, you ready?" Zeina and I didn't even say anything to him, just pointed to the back of the room. It took him a second, but when he he saw who they all were, he agreed to stay with us in the lounge for a little bit longer. We began inching toward them all again.

And just when I thought it couldn't get any more amazing or crazy, it did. I get a tap on the shoulder and Steve Cunningham is there, asking who let us into the VIP section. Steve! My mentor from Class 03 at AM, and current animator working at Reel FX! Though his credits include Frozen, El Dorado, Sinbad, and more. It was great to meet him in person. He was the same face to face as he was in class. He was so kind and funny, and he gave us more of his Animation Analogies for understanding Animation and the Theory Behind It. (I hope he sees this and writes a pamphlet or something called that.) 

Sadly, our conversation had to come to a close because they all had someone else to be. They were meeting up before they all went to the AM Graduation Ceremony. Then they all got together for an impromptu photo op. It was only supposed to be for like, CTNX publicity I think, or for themselves, but everyone in the room pulled out a phone to snap a pic of them all together. So much amazing in one pic.

The Idols Convene L > R: Carlos, not sure, Glen, Shawn, not sure, Bobby, not sure, Steve. (I hope these not sures don't see this >_>)
Then they all began to leave to go to the ceremony, but obviously got stopped and separated on their way to the door. We chatted with Shawn for a little bit. He was so chill and nice! We told him how we were looking forward to his eye animation workshop, and he got all excited. "All right, at least three people will be there!" I laughed and told him "Of course! But hey, don't you have somewhere you have to be?" "Oh yeah, I should probably get to that. See you guys later!"

The convention hadn't started yet, and already it was kick ass. 

At this point we all decided to go upstairs, settle in, and head out for dinner before the graduation's afterparty. Back in the room, we met the final partner in our five-man hotel room, Lorenzo! So then we all went across the street to Del Taco for dinner. That's where this lovely image came to be!

Del Taco Dinner Party! L > R: Brad, Me, Lorenzo, Jacob, Chelsea, Kimberly, and Zeina taking the picture.
Then after dinner we went back to the hotel for the afterparty. It was another great socializing event to meet new people and classmates! Met so many AM "celebs." And for whatever reason, they showed my reel as part of a loop that they had going during the party. I'm not quite sure why my reel was in there, I thought it would've only been for grads, but hey, it was really cool to see it up there and hear a couple chuckles over my pie shot!

We stayed there for a while until we all got tired. Then we made our way back up to the room to sleep. 

And thus, the Pre-CTNX Saga comes to an end. Upon the next day we would wake, it would be the real convention. 

I made it through the whole post! Woohoo! Stay tuned for more Californian escapades!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

California and CTNX! Part 1

This past weekend may have been the best weekend of my life, no foolin'. It was the weekend of the Creative Talent Network eXpo in Burbank, California. It was SOOOO much fun. It was a big convention made pretty much exclusively for animation enthusiasts, for anyone who might not have known that.

It was such an amazing experience. For starters, this trip was a lot of firsts for me. First time flying, first time leaving the east coast, first time one a big trip that wasn't with family. Not the first time sleeping on the floor in a hotel room though... ha. But that wasn't even a bad thing because of how awesome the weekend was! I'd go back and sleep on the floor the whole time if it meant I'd get another weekend with a couple thousand people who love animation like I do!

One of the best parts about the trip was the people. Not only did I get to fly out with a group of good friends, but I got to reconnect with friends that had already left for Cali. Then on top of that, I got to meet people I'd only ever talked to through my computer screen! I flew out there with my roommate Chelsea, who went to college with me, and is also an animator. We flew out with our friends Phil, Shanel, and Jacob, all whom we also met in college, but they were the year ahead of us. That first five our flight was something. It took forever to get to the bathroom. And it was Shanel's first flight too, and that was a lot of fun to watch. She wasn't the most composed on take-offs, haha.

From the left: Phil, Myself, Jacob, Chelsea and Shanel. First leg of the trip to Cali!
When we landed, it was immediately apparent how different the other side of the country was. There were mountains, something you never see in Florida. Heck, you're lucky to see a hill. The best part about the airport was that it was right next to the hotel where the convention was at and where we were staying! But to meet us at the airport was another member of the college class before me, Matt. He picked all five of us up in his car and took us over to the hotel so we could put our stuff down. Then I got in touch with a friend from Chels and I's class, Angelo. We all met up and Matt led us on a mini tour of the Burbank area. It was insane to drive by the Disney Animation Studio. I wasn't able to get a picture of it when we passed, but it became real at that moment. Like, you always see the movies they make, and you know they are out there. But then you see it in person, and it's real. It's right there. Disneyland, Disney World, no, not the happiest places on earth. The Animation Studio is where the magic is. And then we went to Dreamworks!

Angelo, Shanel and I, standing in front of Dreamworks!
Another moment where it became real. The security guard kept poking his head out of the booth to watch us. I almost went over to him to shake his hand and just say "Hey, you're gonna let me in here one day." 

The Matt took us to Griffith Park and their Observatory. That was really cool. You could see so much from up there, all the way to Santa Monica! It was great to see the little pockets of cities from up there. And I love spacey stuff. I've only ever wanted to be two things in my life: an astronaut/astronomer, and an animator. So going to planetariums and observatories are awesome to me. It was a little cold, but it was a lot of fun.


Yeah... that's my finger in the last one... Haha, no edits.

So then the final thing for Wednesday was dinner. We were all hungry at this point and hadn't eaten much all day. I wanted some Mexican food, and we wanted to get everyone in Cali together again. And we were able to! We hit up all the people we knew from Cali (we realized after that we forgot a couple, sorry guys if you read this!) So we all met and had some awesome food, and we all got to catch up. Not only that, but Shanel also introduced us to someone new! In one of the earlier classes of our college program, a short was made called Atlas's Revenge. One of the riggers on the short was a guy names Mike Navarro. He recently got a job at Walt Disney, and he was actually one of the main riggers on Hiro in Big Hero 6! And he went to school where we did! There's hope after all! It was so cool to meet someone who came from where we'd all started and made it happen. And he's so down to earth, we all just chatted and were introduced. It was so chill. That was something else I'd come to learn over the course of the weekend; that most other people within this industry are just so personable and awesome. You can walk up to almost anyone and just start a conversation. But Mike was really cool. We chatted about working on Big Hero 6, to daily life, to even playing League of Legends. He had some good behind the scenes stories about working with the animators and the assistants, and his work on Hiro shows. I think Hiro has some of the best subtleties I've seen in recent movies. He was telling us about how he kept adding in controls for the animators because they kept asking for more. And that facial rig is intense, just watch some of the TV spots and watch how the face moves. You can tell there's a lot of time and care put into it. Great job Mike! Especially for your first true feature!

Catching up with everyone was great. We got to hear about how everyone in Cali had managed to get some form of job. I'm in the wrong area.... Sarah and her boy are working at Riot Games, makers of League of Legends, Ben is working at Dreamworks TV, Mike of course is at Disney, and Erik and Matt are at visual effects houses. Seriously, I'm in the wrong state!

I think I'll wrap up this blog here. Kind of a summary of the first day there. I'll get into more later or tomorrow. But it was amazing. After just this one night, not even at the convention, just in Cali with people I went to school with working in the industry, I was so inspired to get back to work. Even mroeso as the weekend continued. I'm more determined than ever to make it happen. I won't be happy unless I'm animating. That's my bottom line! Animation, animation, animation! Hoorah! See you all soon with more of my escapades in Cali and CTN!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oh Blog, How I've Missed You...

To My Blog,

I am sorry for having neglected you for so long.

It's been way too long since I've updated this blog. Very shameful of me, I apologize. Nothing like life to keep you from the things you enjoy! But I've been very busy! I've completed my stint at Animation Mentor for starters! What a year that's been! Probably one of the best decision's I've made though. I've learned so much this year, and I've made some awesome new friends! I've also come to realize that I still really like animating. This profession is awesome!

Acting shots are a lot of fun now too! I'm looking forward to doing some more. Facial animation is so in depth, and there's so much to think about. It's twice the amount of animating in one shot, so much to learn and do!

Well, since this is about updating, let me share my new reels! First I'll show my new demo reel. This guy is update with all the shots that I think showcase what I've done up to this point. I also think I've gotten to the point where there are no longer any shots from the short I worked on in college, "Gaiaspora." It's a little bittersweet now, but I do think all of these shots showcase my skill set better.

Animation Reel- September 2014 from Nick Arbeiter on Vimeo

First we have what may still be my favorite shot. Rock's going for some pie on the sill! Shame too, he almost had it! This one was a lot of fun to try an exaggerate with. Then there's my first ever dialogue shot. Learned so much, and had a lot of fun doin' it! Then there's my "creature" animation in the dog walk, and then Twig is spending a day in the park!

Unless I finish the new dialogue shot I'm starting before CTNX, this is what I'll be showing there! Hopefully it goes well!

Now I think I'll follow up with my AM reel. This is a progression reel using all of the work I've done through my four classes at AM!

Animation Mentor Progress Reel (Class 04, 2014) from Nick Arbeiter on Vimeo

Some of these definitely still need some work, but it's onward and forward for me!

Here I will say that I'm get back into this blogging thing! I've got a few lined up that I want to write, so stay tuned everyone!

Also, I'm super stoked to be going to CTNX this year. I ca't wait to network and meet more people that like animation as much as I do! I'm going to try live tweeting and daily blogging for the event to document the experience, so let me know if you can't make it and you can live vicariously through me! I'll be sure to take lots of pics. Need to get my business cards made, as well as my new dialogue animation using Aia and Mery! Man this animation will be tough, but potentially a job getter!

Stay tuned all, and thanks as always for reading. =]

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Soapbox: The Truth of Animation for Me

I think I may turn this post into a real blog kinda post today, pop onto a soapbox. But I've been inspired by my Q 'n' A session with my mentor tonight. Steve had us working out an animation stew tonight. Basically we started putting in all the ingredients that make up animation as a whole. Then we started to boil it down and we came to the essence of what Steve's personal Truth of Animation, and what animation boils down to at it's simplest form. And I love hearing Steve ramble on about animation and ideals like this, but I really did start to think about this myself after he posed the question to us: What is the truth about animation for you?

I'll start with what Steve eventually directed us to. After throwing out all of our ingredients and mixing them over the heated pot, he began to help us start narrowing in by asking what makes animation, or any movie, stick with you. What makes something you see on screen stick in your brain afterward? My response was the visuals; the other two responses he took out was connection with the viewer, and memorable characters. These three variables are key in making a film stick. These are not the only things, by any means, but can be pretty darn big. The visuals are what the audience is physically going to see, obviously. A strong setting or effect will immediately stand out and set itself apart from the norm. Then connection with the viewer. The acting and dialogue of and between the characters should be relate able. Something that a character says that strikes a chord with an experience that an audience member has been through creates a connection between the two that is easily recalled. And lastly there are memorable characters. Uniqueness stands out. Characters need to be themselves, and not someone else. That sentence sounds weird, but it really is the truth. Everything is BASED off of something else, but this doesn't mean that it has to BE that something else. A character should be a collection of their experiences, melded into their own innate personality.

Steve wanted to boil it down further. What is a movie? Moving pictures. Pictures in motion. Each frame of film is a piece of art in and of itself. It can be taken out of sequence and broken down as a still image, but then works in tandem with the images before and after it. Each frame depicts the subject clearly, and displays the character's state of mind, what action they are performing, and even their thought processes internally driving the performance. Animation is characters in motion, placed upon a timeline. So it all boils down to POSES IN TIME. Poses. In. Time. To Steve (at least for this day or so, haha), this is the truth of animation. Animation is the depiction of a character acting over a specific amount of time. Each pose works by itself, and is clearly and easily readable. Then these poses are placed back to back over a timeline and played, creating a sequence in which the animators drawings can come to life. These drawings can now tell a story, and portray a character that can FEEL real.

I completely agree with Steve, this is such a crucial portion of animation. Posing. It's one of the 12 Principles even. Poses in time are essential to what animation is. But does this envelope the truth of animation for me? Not completely.

Steve told us never to take anything someone teaches you at face value. It's never the know-all-end-all. Everyone is their own person, and we all interpret things completely differently. I feel like the reason Steve's definition isn't complete for me is because I interpret the original question differently. What is the truth in animation for me? I feel as though Steve's answer is more physical, it's a tangible truth. But for me, the question begs an emotional answer more so than a physical one.

And thus the purpose for this post! Haha. How do I answer what animation's truth is for me? I've thought about this for a bit now, and I think part of the answer is what draws me to animation, and what makes me want to do this so much. I originally got into animation from a story writing perspective. I came up with stories that I wanted to share with the world somehow, and I eventually settled on animation being the best possible outlet to meet that end. I have all these ideas in my brain, and they want out. They want to be shared. I want a story that I've concocted to impact someone else in a way similar to how they affect me.

Animation is an artform; it's an outlet for so many people's creativity. Animation is not a single man's job. No one wakes up and just draws a few images and creates gold. You need to learn how to sketch, how to convey an idea through the picture, how to stitch these images together, what the cinematics of the shot are. All of this stuff and then some. It doesn't just come to people naturally. You have to pick up on it from somewhere else, then use your creativity to help explore.

I feel as though I've rambled a bit now, so let me get back on course. At the heart of all animation, to me, is creativity. Thoughts. Ideas. Piqued interests. Experiences. IMAGINATION. Imagination is the greatest tool creativity has. Animation is one tool that creativity has to be shared with the outside world. It's a fun, constantly changing outlet for people to share their ideas and stories with others. Animation is never the same twice. It will never look the same twice. It will never sound the same twice. It will never have the same characters twice. It will never be interpreted the same way by two people. It's so much fun! Flsafjdhlasfgh! It's such an amazing thing that we've gotten ahold of. I love creating, and I love seeing what other people's creativity yields.

So the bottom line, and probably what you've been waiting for me to say this whole time. What is the truth of animation for me? In my mind, the truth of animation, is the ability to share your creativity with the world around you in a way that is only limited by your imagination.

*Drops mic, steps down, and walks out.*

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Blog Updating: Completing Class 02 and This Update

So you'll have seen a lot of this post already, but this post is going to be a wrap-up of Class 02!

Like I've said, the past few blog posts have covered everything else that's in this reel, but if you haven't seen 'em, voila!

Ray was an awesome mentor to have. I really did learn a lot from him this semester, and picked up some nifty new tools from him as well. Isolate Selected is now something I've been using a lot lately. I found a cool script online that acts as an on/off switch for the Isolate Selected for the current Panel. I don't know this person, but I'm going to personally thank them for the script here, it's exceedingly useful!
//Toggle Isolate Selected in Current Panel
$currentPanel = `getPanel -withFocus`;
$state = `isolateSelect -q -state $currentPanel`;
if ($state == "0")
    enableIsolateSelect $currentPanel 1; 
    enableIsolateSelect $currentPanel 0;
 And also, I know this one is more common, but the K+Middle Mouse scrolling is also something I've spammed on this last animation. I didn't know that it worked in any window, and that's why I didn't see the point in it before. I could just scroll through the timeline in perspective window. But what if I wanted to have the main monitor house the Graph Editor and my extra monitor hold my shot camera? How would I scroll then? Why, the K-Scroll method! It's especially helpful having it attached to a function key on my mouse. I've also got "Alt" attached to another function button on m mouse, and the W and E keys as well. So I can do a lot without ever touching the keyboard!

I just wanna take a second to say what an awesome guy Ray was. He was so cool and fun, and it was awesome seeing his breakdowns and progressions for some of the shots in Epic and Ice Age. He was a character lead for MK in Epic, and it shows! He did what i think must've been one of the most difficult shots in the movie, where she goes from being human size and shrinks while spinning in a whirlwind and grasping the pod. Insanity to me! He's working on Peanuts now, super excited for it! He's also really cool for still allowing us to message him and talk to him and get feedback from him outside of class as well! He even said he'd be willing to check out reels and stuff later on, how awesome is he?! He was just an awesome teacher, and he told us a lot about Blue Sky and working there as well. It makes me really want to get there soon. Hopefully at the very least, I can tour there sometime and thank him in person. Goal set. (Bring it Zeina!)

Back to learning animation, Ray told me that I have an alright eye for weight in my animations, but the one thing I need to work on is spacing. So That's what I'm gonna focus on this semester!

Speaking of the new semester, I actually have my first chat with my class 03 mentor tonight! This time, for Advanced Body Mechanics, my mentor is Steve Cunningham. He seems like he's gonna be a touch kind of mentor, but I think that's a really good thing for me! Here's a link to his reel if you're interested.

Really excited again for this semester!

Blog Updating: Physicality Assignment

This blog is about the last assignment from my semester in class 02. This one was all about physicality and weight. AM gave us a bunch of options to choose from, and each one had a difficulty level. I chose one of the level four difficulties, naturally, haha. It was carrying a chair, setting it down, and then having the character sit down in it. I decided to give myself another difficulty level by choosing AM's character Stan, who has very strange proportions. It was a very interesting and challenging animation assignment.

I will say this before I get into the assignment. I'm glad I got the chance to work on Gaiaspora. I say this here because being on that short allowed me to understand object interaction animation, and how you set up animations with objects technically inside Maya. I became fairly well versed with parent constraining objects to characters or vice versa. That came in handy setting up this animation, took no time at all!

Where better to start an animation than with the reference!

So when I picked this assignment, I thought "I've got a chair that's perfect for this assignment in my room!" And then I went to shoot the reference... and I don't remember the chair being so heavy. So there was no faking weight at all in this one. I tried to get a more awkward way of carrying it for interest. Then after all these, I took it into Maya. 
Stan was way more difficult to get used to than any of the characters I've used thus far. I couldn't get the same poses that I got in the reference videos. And his arms were so long, I had to really play with the hand poses while holding the chair. His off top-heavy size and body proportions also made the weight read completely differently than mine would, so all in all, crazy exercise!
That's what I ended up with! Using Stan changed a few things in the animation, and I decided to drop the chair for time constraints on the assignment. I also had a whole other half of this animation planned, so I might go back and add on to this one sometime, who knows.
I also tried more of a blocking plus stage in this assignment, however I did this after the blocking pass. I think after this assignment, I'm going to start making my blocking phases as detailed as the blocking plus pass was in this animation. It also seems to be more of what the larger studios look for in initial blocking phases as well. So new challenge!

And with that, my class 02 career is complete!

Blog Updating: A Quadruped is Walking

If there's anyone out there who's been reading these, than you'll know that one of my posts was going to about my quadruped walk cycle assignment! Welp, here's that post.

Poses of a Quadruped Walk
I'll start off by sharing the sketches I worked on. I got a lot of information from the Animator's Survival Kit. However when I was sketching from it, I decided to add some of my own tweaks to it, like with paw placements and landings. The most important thing to note when doing a lateral walk like this, which most animals have, is the foot chasing. When the back foot is moving forward, it moves to take the place of the front paw. It gets placed down in almost the same spot as the front paw, and only two to three frames after the front paw leaves the ground. I took each of these sketches into Maya as my blocking phase.

Ray, my class 02 mentor, wanted to make sure we got the full experience for our primary foray into quadruped walks, so he told us not to do the cycle in place and make sure we translated Sloan forward. And I'm glad he made us do that, it was nice practice!

Here's the progression reel. You can see all of those individual sketches in the top left corner version of the shot. When I got into splining, I began to give it a little personality by loosening it up through some head movements. One of the bigger changes I came across was the footfalls. In the sketches and blocking, I had the paws landing on the heels. It felt a little weird, but I went with it because I saw that in the notes that I sketched from. However, Ray commented on it too, and I switched them to hitting toes first. This helped a lot with how the footfalls felt.

For a closer look at the final version:

This was a fun assignment, I liked animating a dog! It was a good challenge.

Blog Updating: Class 02 Poses

Unfortunately it has been a while since I've added anything to my blog. The shame! So I'm gonna backtrack and get this updated as much as I can today. So let's start with some of the assignments from Class 02 at Animation Mentor!

This was the first experience I've had with a character with more than two legs. These posing assignments spanned three consecutive weeks, while we were animating a quadruped walk cycle. So let me post these poses here!

Sloan was an interesting rig to use. These poses were harder because they were the first real experiences I had with researching animals. I think the last one is my favorite of the dog poses!

But this class wasn't all about animals!

These poses were way more fun to do than the ones from class 01!!

Friday, February 7, 2014

You've Gotta Strut What You've Got

So here's that post I was talking about for my walk cycle. Haha, it's a bit late, but I've got it and then some!

So here you will see my first full-bodied animation from AM. Both my mentor from my first semester and my current mentor talked about how when starting an animation, it's useful to come up with a back-story for the character if they don't have one. So since we were using a female rig, I originally planned on doing a runway walk. However I saw a bunch of other students chose to do that as well, so I wanted to try something else then. Then I thought about strutting. And once I'd decided on that kind of walk, I came up with her back-story.

Stella: Stella's just been asked to prom by the HOTTEST guy in the ENTIRE school. That's right, not Lindsey Shields, HER.

That's the gist of the profile I made for her. So naturally I started with reference videos. Then I blocked it in Maya; and submitted the blocking for an assignment. Then I went into splining and finishing the animation, but I was seriously pressed for time so I wasn't able to polish it as nicely as I would have liked. After that critique however, I took a bit of extra time to work on it. So, without further ado:

Strutting Animation! from Nick Arbeiter on Vimeo.

I must admit, to help myself with the reference videos, I was totally playing that song on repeat while recording. Speaking of video reference, want to see parts of mine?

Strutting Comparrison Reel from Nick Arbeiter on Vimeo.

So here we have my reference, my blocking, what was submitted for final, and then finally, my edited, completed strut.

This is also the first time I've done a double-bounce walk. It's not very apparent, but my mentor Ray pointed out that the blocking pass didn't feel as energetic as the reference footage. A classmate had told me that she a double bounce in it as well, so hearing it from two sources made me feel like I'd missed it. Ray then explained to me how a double-bounce works. Instead of the normal poses in the walk (contact, extreme down, passing, extreme up), Ray told me that a double-bounce actually has a fifth pose in a way, at least for the hips and feet. This extra pose takes place between the extreme down and passing positions. Normally, the hips raise out of the down position into the passing.Then they continue up higher for the extreme up. However, this fifth pose is actually higher than the passing position. So to create that second bounce, the hips start at their lowest point in the extreme down. Then they lift up higher, as if they are going to go as high as their extreme up poses. Then because of this, the hips have to go down to get to the passing position. After which they raise again into the extreme up. See, two apexes, so two "bounces."

You also may notice that in the last version, she has only one ponytail. I couldn't get the other one working, something weird was happening with it! However, I think she looks more interesting this way!

So this next vid is one that I just had fun to make because I was curious how it would appear. I've always liked seeing all the different versions a shot can go through, so that's exactly what I did for my own animation! This will show you my exact process for animating this shot. How I went through a full body blocking phase, then started splining the individual pieces. Then I retweaked some things based on my critiques. So... why wait?

Strutting Progression Reel from Nick Arbeiter on Vimeo.
This can also illustrate to any non-animators how many versions even small, short animations go through to get made.

So here's my Strutting Stella! Tell me what you think! Coming soon, a quadraped walk and poses!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

3D Atmospheres Made From... 2D Plates? What??

So a friend of mine was having some trouble trying to do something in Nuke, and he asked me if I could make a tutorial for him. The trouble was making some atmospheric effects inside of a composite that felt 3D without having a 3D render. He was already using the 3D camera tracking abilities inside Nuke, so I suggested using Cards inside of the 3D Scene Node. He asked how that would work, and then this little brainchild was born!

So here is a tutorial detailing a very quick, but effective, method for using NukeX's 3D capabilities to create haze effects using 2D plates. (It seems like a lot of weird things happen when you keep going back and forth between saying 3D and 2D, haha. I had to keep rereading this as I was making it!)

NukeX: Creating a 3D Haze Effect with 2D Cards from Nick Arbeiter on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I'm At It Again Ya'll

More poses! I know I'm a little behind on a post, but two weeks ago we blocked in a walk cycle, and last week we had to finish it, so I was a bit busy! I'll be making another post about the walk cycle, so this one is for the poses!

So we are still focused on movement and motion, this is a body mechanics class! This week I tried to stick mostly to martial arts poses. I love fighting! Some of these may look like breakdancing, but they are actually capoiera fighters. It's a very interesting fighting style that's based off of perpetual movement. I did get a couple sports ones, and in the end, I chose a soccer one and a fighting one. And I know we exaggerate a little when sketching out poses, but this guy literally made this pose. 

Gah, I can't find the picture now of course, and I didn't save it, but I promise! He was way off balance, but because of the momentum he had from the kick, he was still fine. I'm sure he stumbled a little as he tried to regain a normal balance. But motion can keep something off-balance still seem grounded. And I love poses like this. Basketball players running for a layup. Someone kicking an apple off of a knife. Kicking a soccer ball. All of these actions result in fast, shifting movement that can cause someone catching random frames to get very strange poses that are impossible to recreate unless you are performing that action yourself. Or you're using a character in 3D, like me.

While it may not completely have the momentum as the actual soccer player, it definitely feels like Stella just kicked a ball. And I like to think that even though she's off balance, clearly, she still feels "balanced" by the action she's taking. you can tell that she's mid-kick.

Ouch! I think the selling point for kicks is that you notice the extreme counter-rotation between the hips and the shoulders. When performing a spin kick, your torso seems to lead the kicking momentum. Then, your legs and feet take over and snap out at the target, leaving the torso to follow or twist the opposite direction. It's similar to an arm swinging forward on a walk. The shoulder leads the action, but once the arm passes the shoulder, it takes over. I tried to capture this snapping motion of the kick here in the character to the left. The one on the right I had a little more fun with, and might have been less successful with if only because "just got kicking in the face by someone's heel" reference isn't as easy to find. Haha.

As for the walk cycle, I'm going to touch it up for the next couple days while working on my poses for this week. I got feedback from my mentor, and I'm going to take more time to clean it. I had to rush it last week because of work, and I didn't get the result I wanted. But I promise, it'll be an interesting post!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It's a New Semester!

Hello out there to anyone who happens to stumble across this one! Haha.

So it's a new semester at Animation Mentor, and I've begun the Basic Body Mechanics class. This time, my mentor is Ray Ross, a really cool senior animator over at Blue Sky! He's worked on a bunch of their movies, and most recently has worked on Epic. He's also really close friends with my animation idol, Jeff Gabor. All the excitement for this semester!

So one thing I wanted to do was start getting better at actually blogging through my processes for animation and AM. To do so, I thought I'd start with my first week's assignments!

This week was a simple "get back into the flow" kind of week, and we just had poses to do. However, we had the opportunity to use this as a test run for one of our new rigs, Stella. We are all about the full bodied stuff now! Stella is a really cool and fleshed out rig with a lot of opportunity for different animation styles. Once again I have to find a way that works best for me.

We start off testing the waters by doing poses that describe motion or movement. Immediately this brings two of my favorite reference materials to mind: fighting/martial arts, and dancing. Both of these activities are exceedingly motion heavy, and you can get some pretty crazy poses or find some pretty limber people. So as with any posing assignment, we start with sketches.

Here you have my sketchbook pages dedicated to exploring motion. I started by looking up people flipping, and then decided to delve into sports, martial arts, and dancing. Practically all of the page on the right is dancing, minus the last two poses in the bottom corner. I found a couple good reference shots of runners. I remembered going to the gym in my last semester to try and sketch people there playing sports, and recalled that there were some pretty crazy poses when people were moving full speed with a basketball during their games. A lot of basketball poses are the furthest thing from symmetrical, making them a great reference source. Sometimes, they even appear completely off balance, and you find yourself staring at what's in front of you going "how is this even possible?!"

Next I moved on to dancing, and by far got most of my material there. Dancing comes in many forms, from jazz, to African, to contemporary and hip hop. A good source I found was So You Think You Can Dance. I was Youtube-ing for a good hour and a half just watching dancers and pausing videos for quick sketches. Some of my favorites were of course the Hip Hip and breakdancing poses. However, the difference between poses I found in Hip Hop routines and Contemporary routines (my second biggest pose source) was that Hip Hop poses appeared more angular and had more breaks in them, while Contemporary poses and moves much more easily flowed together and their line of actions were very smooth and carried through the entire body.  So the first chose I went with was of a dancer with arms and legs that just perfectly accentuated the LOA, and then I went with a runner because I felt that the sketch had more movement in it than most of my other poses.

So after posing them out, and then getting critique, here are the results!

Originally, I had way too much bow bending in the poses, so I toned it back to give Stella some more straight lines and angles; gave her back some bone structure.

So what do you think?! Coming up next week: Full Bodied Walk Blocking.