Alex York's Art & Animation Blog: 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Bird Man Dance - Final Semester Animation Project

It's been a fantastic first semester up at the Capilano University Commercial Animation program. Our final animation drawing project was a group dance anijam where each person drew a clip of an original character design "dancing." Granted, emphasis wasn't on syncing to music at all. Instead, the emphasis was on showing appealing movement with the basic animation principles which we learned this semester.

In order for our animation to be an anijam which could play continuously, we were each given the last drawing of another students animation in order to take that character and make it morph or transform into our own, and in this way. For the soundtrack, we were to each make a "homemade" sound effect to accompany the transformation. A friend of mine made the lovely bird sound or shriek which you will hear. Finally, we were to select a short four second clip of music from an archive on the animation server network to play in the background of the dance.

My character was a man dressed in a bird costume with bare feet. He's based off of a man I once saw dancing in a strange and fun festival. He must of been some kind of intense drama major as it was chilly outside, but he wore nothing on his feet. He danced and jumped around awkwardly with his lanky limbs and the long bird beak attached to his head. He had a very focused, intense look in his eyes. It was strange, to say the least. I'm glad I can immortalize him in this animation. I'm sure he will come again someday.

As you can see, the animation is longer than the music, but, again, the point was to create quality, appealing movement using arcs and the principles of animation, not syncing to music. I hope you enjoy! I'll post some figure drawings and the like later in the week.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dialogue, part 2

Our latest assignment involved recording ourselves speaking an original five to six second line of dialogue and then animating a character speaking/acting the part with lip sync. I recorded my own dialogue, with deep, heartfelt sincerity I might add. All in all, I feel good about how the motion looks, but once I got to adding the mouths and the detail, I'm afraid the lip sync got lost. I like it, though, even it will just have historical relevance for me later.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dead Right or Crazy

This is my first dialogue practice. I used a James Stewart line from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939).

Pink Panther Walk/Run

This was another of our recent assignments. We had to make the Pink Panther walk, turn a corner, walk into the distance, turn 270 degrees and then run off screen. Obviously, I did not put as much detail in the animation of the blob monster as the panther was the focus, overall, I felt good about this bit.

October Life Drawing Selections

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Crazy Time Castle

Just a sketch I inked and watercolored from my sketchbook.

Also, I looped the Chihiro walk cycle a few times, so it can be more easily viewed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Character Walks

After getting down the core elements and principles of animation, we've begun the process of learning character animation itself starting with one of the most simple and mechanical things one can do: walk.

There are just a few basic keys to most any walk: stride, squash, cross-over, step. With these simple keys, one can lay the foundation for a good character walk. With these in mind after a few simple structural tests, we were to take an established character from tv or film animation, break it down to its core structure, and then animate that in a walk. We were to do both a walk cycle and a perspective walk.

Being a great admirer of Japanese animation, and of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, in particular, I chose to use two of the Ghibli characters. For the walk cycle, I chose Chihiro, and for the perspective walk, I chose Totoro.

Chihiro walk cycle

I feel mostly good about how these came out. For Chihiro, in between our assignments, I'd like to go back, tighten all of the drawings up to bring her closer to model, and adjust a few things. Looking back at it, her head goes through an extreme low and then high. I'd like to possibly change up the poses to give her a little more hang-time at the bottom of that head arc. Also, a classmate mentioned that her head turn is a little mechanical, almost creepy. I can see where he means that. (He was talking about when her head snaps back toward the camera.) So, essentially, that's going from the beginning to the end of the cycle, so it may just be a matter of fixing the hook-up drawing (final drawing of the walk-cycle) to make that transition smoother and less robotic. Overall, though, I like the smoothness I achieved, and it gave me both confidence and humility to see what's it like to move even a pared down Miyazaki character.

Totoro perspective walk

Totoro's perspective walk was a lot of fun to do after Chihiro's walk. Truth be told, I'm not sure that I really technically got the structure in his legs correct, but from the model sheets I was working with, this seemed a good approximation. He's sort of like a big teddy bear, or like Winnie the Pooh, but with a much larger rib-cage. He's a fat character, but he's also very strong. I may go back and add some drawings to give him some more hangtime/rest on the downs, which will translate into a greater feeling of power and strength in his walk. Also, I think I'll get him to walk off the screen with his mouth open. It'll be fun!

I greatly enjoyed the walks, and I look forward to doing more.

Note: Chihiro and Totoro are characters of Studio Ghibli. I do not own any rights to the characters or their likenesses for reproduction. These projects were done purely for educational, non-commercial purposes, and, thus, have no bearing on the Ghibli market.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Animation Drawing So Far - Capilano

Our first animation project was just a kind of free-for-all where we each animated a few seconds of a box transforming and morphing into stuff and then returning to the box to have a class "anijam" or animation jam. It was a fun way to start the program off and showcase the personalities of each person. Above is my contribution.

After the anijam, we started to go into the core mechanics of animation and learned about contact, squash, last point of contact, volume consistency, drag, and more. We did some basic bouncing ball exercises and then moved into working with the floursack.

The floursack assignment was mainly to show understanding of keys, timing, jumping, squash/stretch, and drag.

Next, we started to elaborate on the floursack, giving it arms, legs, and a head. We started to work with a more fully formed body (very much like Stitch) and began focusing on overlapping action. I think the understanding of overlapping action for me didn't really hit until I watched a video of Glen Keane lecturing at Calarts. As he was doing a brief animation demonstration for the class, he told them (I paraphrase) to think of animation as having a handful of cards and though you might want to just throw them all down at once, the trick is to use them one at a time. This helped me tremendously as I began to finally grasp what overlapping was all about.

Thus, the Stitch assignment was to show an understanding of the core principles of animation and to show Stitch rise from lying on his back, get hit on the head, get dizzy, and then fall back to the ground, showcasing overlapping action and drag in the fall and reactionary bounce. All the while, we were to keep the volumes on model as best as we could. We could use keys and time it our, or we could in-between after keys. So, I did a slight mix. I feel good about how it came out.

Then, came the walks... (to be continued)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Capilano Animation, the first Month!

Greetings, friends! It has been entirely too long. Between moving to a big city, a new country, and starting an intense full time classical animation program, I've not had much time to dilly-dally (code for "blog"). Instead, I've been becoming accustomed to the soul-vacuuming rain of Vancouver and started to develop lung, back, and eye problems due to being continuously bent over a desk working on drawings ten inches from my face. Basically, I'm in love.

There is so much to tell, so much to talk about. In fact, there's so much that it is in fact TOO much to blog about. As well as I happen to be murderously refusing myself sleep at the moment to pump out a blogpost lest the months between iterations become years.

The Commercial Animation program at Capilano has been really good so far. It focuses on deeply understanding the core technical aspects of classical animation and integrating this understanding with solid and continuing advances in drawing. What I put on this blog for the next approximately two years will be primarily from work at Capilano. As such, this will include assignments and tests. I want to use these to show my friends and family my development as an artist and animator. Also, I want to make these available for the time being in the online space to allow future and other present animation students the chance to get even more perspective on animation education in the world. Your comments, feedback, and critique are always welcome.

With that, I'm posting some of my life drawings from class to this post. I hope you enjoy them. Soon I will post some of my actual animation tests and assignments.

Artwork and images Copyright 2011 Alex York.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pixar Story/Animation Masterclass

Last weekend I had the great joy of attending a story/animation masterclass taught by Matthew Luhn and Andrew Gordon, both of Pixar, in Austin, TX. The masterclass was arranged and facilitated by Vanarts, a media arts school in Vancouver, and spanned all of Friday and Saturday. It was a lot like having a week of college courses smashed into two very full days.

The speakers and school asked us not to record or disseminate the particular content of the lectures, so I shall honor their request and not go into much detail, but I will give a review of my impression of the whole as for anyone considering attending future classes.

Both speakers went from basics/principles to specific recommendations. While much of the information could be found in other animation/storyboarding books and resources, having it explained in context by artists from Pixar was a big help. I have this tendency to see people like them as these kinds of "gods of animation" sitting on Mount Olympus out in California, hardly even real people. But, seeing them and hearing them talk in person gives a real sense of the ability of one to achieve that level of mastery of the form. And, as they harped, it's not genius that makes great art, it's hard work.

I would highly recommend the session to anyone serious and focused on working in the animation industry (I'm serious, but not working yet). It was rather highly priced at $500 per a seat, but, it was sold out, as are the other two sessions in New York and Montreal, I believe, meaning that the demand does statistically justify the current price. Though every person got a cool T-shirt, bag and workbook, I feel like it would have been just a little bit better and a little more well-rounded with just a few more benefits. Like, if there had been a little Pixar swag for everyone (they did hand some out as door prizes prizes) and if parking had been free. Just those two (really, just like a Pixar sticker or pencil for every person) would have made the session every slightly more... joyful in tone.

Regardless, it was a great learning experience. I'm glad I went, and I feel the fire of animation and storytelling burning stronger deep within me.

Check out the official masterclass site for more information.