Sunday, May 30, 2010

Website Updated

Hey, did you see that we updated our website? Take a look!

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Animation Math

A motion spans btwn keyframes 58 - 180. Where would u put keyframes 2,3, & 4 to split it into 4 sub-sections?

(and who said artists don't need to know math!)

1 - subtract 58 from 180 to find the total amount of frames in the motion

180-58 = 122

2 - divide by 2 to get the halfway point

122/2 = 61

3 - divide again to get the quarter points

61/2 = 30.5

4 - add numbers to your keyframe timeline -

A - 58 (start)

B - 58 + 30.5 = 88.5 (89)

C - 58 + 61 = 119

D - 58 + 61 + 30.5 = 149.5 (150)

E - 180 (end)

Happy animating!


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Friday, May 7, 2010

Behind The Scenes - Animating Wombats

Watch, Rate, Fave, and Share 'Three Wombats' on Aniboom

Wombats really aren't that hard to animate.  It's just VERY VERY time consuming.

Everything starts with the storyboards (that is, after a draft of the script is written, of course).  The drawings themselves don't have to be perfect, but it helps. The real focus should be on making all the creative decisions.  How the characters move, how does the camera move, what is the basic idea behind each scene, etc.  Storyboards can end up looking sort of like a comic book version of the movie.

Right after Dan Belleville and I decided on the story (which he wrote), he went off to his little cave and started noodling around with music - a bassoon to be precise.  I loved the idea of using an instrument that was a little out of the ordinary, like our wombats.  And besides, the sound complimented the cute, round, simple wombats. 

I emailed the script to Oliver Darrow, and he was excited to be on board from the start that he recorded a scratch track for us right then and there.  Later, we had him over to the house, and recorded the track right in our living room.  We used a ZoomH4N recorder and an AKG C-2000 B condenser mic. 

Watch the behind the scenes video of Oliver doing his thing here.

I've heard that a lot of animators skip this step, but I do one for every production - even the short little ones.  Mostly because I get too impatient.  I want to watch the cartoon as soon as possible.

All I did was take the storyboards, Dan's music, and Oliver's scratch track (the final audio mix was in Soundtrack) and match everything up in After Effects.  I could have used Final Cut, or Premier, but I knew I was going to do the final edit in AE.  Doing it this way saved us time during the '11th hour' because all I had to do was replace each storyboard frame with a nested animated sequence.

You can see the animatic posted up on Vimeo here.

All done in Photoshop using the 'Animation' pallet, by creating an empty video layer.  The process for any 'cell' animation like this is to create the keyframes first.  Those are the 'extreme' frames, and any other other frame helpful for timing.  Then, you go back and do the 'tweening' - draw the in between frames, between your keyframes.  A lot of apps do the tweening for you, but in order to get the old school feel, we had to do it by hand. 

After I got a few of the scenes drawn out, Kassandra Fry (recent grad from College for Creative Studies) came by to color in the frames - a thankless task that helped me out TREMENDOUSLY.  She really saved our butts on this one - if it wasn't for her help, we never would have gotten this done on time.

So, what she did was create a new blank video layer in the same PSD files in which I drew the frames.  And then she painted using the standard tools in Photoshop - she didn't even have to stay in the lines.  Simple yes, but again, VERY VERY time consuming.  We all had achey backs when it was all over.

First, we had to get the colored frames out of PSD.  There's an export option in the file menu of PSD, so we just used that to kick out individual png files, imported them into AE into timelines based on scene number and bear number, then used the keyframe assistant to sequence everything.  Pretty simple, once you do it a couple times. 

Because I had done the animatic in AE, all I had to do was to bring the frame sequences into my main timeline and voila - we had an animation.  A little bit of color tweaking here, a little audio adjustment there and we were rolling on the export.

That's all there is to it.  Frame animation is actually pretty simple, but just takes a long time to do.  We had a great time doing it, and I hope you watch, rate, fave and share our 'master piece' so we can get to Sesame Street!! (and so Dan can get a blender)


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Monday, May 3, 2010

Behind the Scenes - How you get to Wombats

Watch, Rank, Fave, and Share 'Three Wombats' on Aniboom

I have to admit, I had no idea we were going to make wombats.  It was all Dan's idea.  But, if he hadn't come up with it, we never would have gotten off the ground.

I had heard of the Aniboom / Sesame Street Animation Competition back in March, but honestly was so intimidated by the idea of working for my 'white whale' that I couldn't settle on one story and move forward.  In the midst of weeks of research, Dan Belleville came to me wondering if we were working on any projects he could write music for.  I told him what I was laboring over, and asked if he could come up with some lyrics or something to help us get started.

6 hours later we had wombats.

Wombats were perfect.  They weren't the traditional 'barnyard' animal (I'm reminded of the Simpson's episode where Lisa is showing animal flash cards to Maggie).  They were cute and cuddly, yes, but different enough to make our animation stand out from the hundreds of other submissions.

I started developing the character designs right away and Dan began fiddling with the bassoon (another winning choice!) to see what we could get.  That was around April 14th.  I forwarded the 'script' off to the infamous Oliver Darrow and he said he would be happy to be a part of our little project.  Oliver came over around the 20th to record the track, and we were off and running, with Kassandra Fry (College for Creative Studies grad) working crazy hours at our kitchen table.

We settled on the concept by on the 11th, tracked on the 20th, and uploaded at midnight on the 26th.  All in all, we got everything done in two weeks - an IMPOSSIBLE time frame I wish never to repeat.


Up next:  'The production process.' or 'How to really piss off your friends when your stressed out'

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Baby Wombat (@wombat) #twitdrawing

Special TwitDrawing for a brand new baby! Congrats, @wombat, and thanks for the RT!

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Getting Wombats to Sesame Street, via WXYZ

Earlier this week, I posted an animation up onto Aniboom as a submission to their recent contest.  If you follow me on Twitter (@sknygrydg07) or Facebook I'm sure you've heard about it.

The contest is an animation competition to work for Sesame Street.  The most popular animations receive $5,000 and are reviewed by a panel of judges - including Dr. Horrible himself, Neil Patrick Harris.  The judges then select the grand prize winner, who receives another $5,000 and the opportunity to work on future animations with Sesame Street.

The day after our 'Three Wombats' animation was up, we hit #2 in the ranks!  I was amazed, to say the least.  We spread the word around and my good friend, Stephen Clark at WXYZ Detroit heard about what was going on.  So, we did a little Skype interview, and our story was broadcast on Friday on the 7:00 news.  You can see the story here.

I am so overwhelmed by the showing of support from not only our friends and family, but the community at large.  It's like everyone needs something to get behind these days, the 'underdog' to root for, and this is a good a story as any.  All my life I've wanted to work for Sesame Street, and it looks like now might be my chance.  Thanks to all the people who like Sesame Street, and wombats.

Watch, Rate, Fave and Share our animation submission 'Three Wombats' to the Aniboom Awards for Sesame Street: 

And thank you, for your support!


Coming Up: Ever wonder how animation is made?  Next blog post, behind the scenes of 'Three Wombats' and the team that put it all together - in under 2 weeks!

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Watch Three Wombats animated video on aniboom

Watch, Rate, Fave and Share! Help us get these Wombats to Sesame Street!

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