Saturday, 25 December 2010

BreakDowns, how important are they?

Hey folks, today i want to talk about something that may help you a lot in your future work ,especially if you're into VFX and Film Industry. The subject is Breakdowns.

For those who don't know Breakdown is the process of reverse engineering a VFX made by someone or some Animation Studio. Why would anyone care about the other's works? Well because that's the only way to be better. Every science and art evolves by stepping on something already invented and then heading above that. So, that's why Breakdowns are very helpful.

For an exercise try finding a breakdown that already exist, like "Making of Citroen C4 Runner" i found on the After learning how this was made try to think of ways to use this in one of your future project or how to improve the ready one you have in front of you. Taking ideas (!IMPORTANT! not stealing it ,cause plagiarism is considered a serious crime and it's unethical) and reusing them or evolving them can improve your skillset big time.

Watch Making-of movies, do a bit of research on the equipment being used to produce a visual effect , try imitating it as best as you can using the equipment you have. Try reproducing effects made in real footage using your favorite 3D package. These Things will surely make your work stand out.

There are many good books that will help you much to learn how the VFX industry works today and will give you great ideas to experiment with. One of the books i've read through and it was very interesting and helpful is Special Effects: The History and Technique. I believe that this book is a must-have for everyone interested in Special Effects Industry, Professionally or not. I will post some interesting books in the future as well but this book is a good and entertaining start for every VFX Artist.

If i'll be able to find my notes from one of the lectures we had From "Double Negative" Animation Studio I'll make sure to post it for you.

So Find breakdowns on Youtube or other sources that you like and learn from them then reuse what is already invented in your own way. That will take you one step closer to becoming a CG Guru. Good luck.

Scriptwriting Intro

Hey folks, i know we all wanna be really good animators, making realistic models, movement and renders and post these stuff in the galleries so that people can admire our work. Right? I'm sure that somewhere deep inside everyone would like this. But do you know which is the ingredient mostly missing from animators? The script.

As i said before and i'm keep emphasizing that animation is Art. So, we are artists! The goal of art is to say a story by using animation , still picture or even some abstract Drawings and designs. Without a story an animation won't work as good as it should. So for everything you start working on, try to get the habit of creating at least a 100 word script. Just throw some ideas on a paper ,but this will help you A LOT when you start doing you concept art, moodboard, storyboard or the animation itself.

In one of the previous posts i emphasized the importance of creating sketches and drawings before starting modeling or animating. Well the script is going to be your best friend for helping doing that because you will already have the axis around which you will create your concept art and eventually your models and animation.

This thinking should be applied to all kinds of animation, not only 3D. It might be 2D animation, stop motion movie or anything else, but a script should always be your first step for creating your concept.

Some people prefer doing the Concept art before writing the script and i believe that this is also logical because by drawing your sketches you can come up with unique style and atmosphere which will create a story by itself. So if that's the way you want to work that's absolutely ok and no one will judge you. And afterall you don't have to stick with only one way of doing things, be open minded. Create a project by writing the script first and then create the next one by sketching it out before composing a script.

Just remember that Scripts are very important and will definately upgrade your concepts and make your animations stand out from the crowd if you start using them. I will post many articles and tips on scriptwriting that i kept in my notebooks by great professionals in the industry so keep checking out my blog. That's it folks for now and keep practicing writing your scripts.


Picture taken from ""

Generalize then specialize

There are two different kinds of people I usually meet in Animation societies. The ones who want to learn everything on Animation (modelling,rigging,animating,texturing,rendering etc) and the other ones who want to specialize and enjoying working on only one aspect of animation ( usually Modelling for obvious reasons). Neither of those are bad but the best thing to do on my opinion, judging by the research i made and based on the lectures from Animation Studios we had till now is to first learn all aspects of animation without concentrating on one of them , so that you have a general knowledge of Animation techniques and then when you'll be familiar enough with that start specializing in what you like or what you think will give you a better career in the industry.

Now why i'm saying that? Because in the Animation industry there are both small studios and large studios. The small studios prefer generalists, that means people with some knowledge of different parts of animation , because they cannot afford to have many specialists for each section. On the other hand the big Animation studios prefer Specialist so that the quality of their work is much better. I believe that this is self-explanotary.

In a lecture from "Double Negative" Animation Studio (Which worked on movies like Inception, Iron man, Sorcerer's Apprentice) the lead animator emphasized the need for specialists in certain areas of animation in studios like Double Negative. I will talk about the method they are using to hire people in one of my next posts. So keep these stuff in mind folks and keep visiting my blog for more interesting info...

Thursday, 23 December 2010

3D animation Intro

Ok, time for 3D talk now.

3D Software Packages

First of all i want to discuss the 3d software packages available out there.I was using maya when i started and a bit of 3ds max,when i started my course we were studying 3d on XSI. At first i was really pissed off because i was sure that we'll be using Maya ,since it's almost industry standard Animation Package Used in Film Industry. 3Ds Max is considered very good for mechanical ,architectural and Video-game design, but we were using XSI and i was frustrated at the beginning. But after time i realized something that i believe every animator has to realize: "It's Not All About The Software". As i said in my earlier post Animation Is ART and 3D animation, regardless of the fact that it's considered more technical, is not excluded.

Since it's art you shouldn't worry too much about the software you're using. The principles of animation are always the same and the more different software you know the more opportunities you'll have to find jobs on the profession. Also, many companies are using their own plugins and software for the workflows, so being able to move from one software to another easily is a huge advantage.

When you're working on animation think generally, not software-specifically. That way you won't get stuck with a single software all the time. Have you ever researched the market to look for jobs on 3D animation? What i found out not a long time ago is that there are many companies working on XSI and XSI riggers are always wanted. So, why we have to underestimate ourselves? If you think software-freely you will see the power that gives you.
After Learning (and of course i'm still learning and always will be) the most popular Packages i find all the packages useful in each case and sometimes combining them together in one workflow. My buddy uses 3ds max for modeling and Maya or XSI for animation and rigging and it works for him pretty well. So try them all, learn them all and set your mind free.

Start Small And Always Mind The Topology

Don't try to create a 1-thousand parted Droid right-away. Like in every art and every science you have to start small. Learn the basic interface, get comfortable moving around the space, change your hotkeys if you want, learn how to move,scale,rotate objects and all the options that exist for those tools. It's really important to know as more as possible about the basic tools but many people consider those tools very simple. They are not hard to learn and manipulate but keep in mind that there are different options and ways to do basic movement,scaling and rotating. I'll make a whole guide on that subject in my next posts.

When you'll get familiar with the interface and basic navigation and movement of objects start with simple things. I'll include some nice basic tutorials that we were doing at the beginning of the course which may look very simple but they will help you a lot if you start developing your skills from there.

Apart from making the models look the way you want, you always have to keep your mind on topology. Right topology is what makes a good professional when it comes from modelling. Topology is something (not the only thing of course) that creates the gap between an amateur and a professional animator. Topology makes your models look much nicer, rigger's work much easier and gives a lot more chance to find a job :D. So keep these things in mind folks and i'll continue on the topic of 3D with some basic but important tutorials.

2D Animation Equipment And Reading List

Ok folks, so let's get started with 2D animation.First things first, i'll discuss the equipment that you'll need to do basic animation.
  1. First of all ,you'll need a lightbox. The Lightbox is your workspace when you're doing 2D animation. It might often be a bit expensive but it will make your work flow much easier and the quality of your drawings will be much better.
  2. Also you may need animation paper which is sometimes tricky to find but it makes your life much easier as well.
  3. Animation Pencils Are Optional but they are much easier to erase when using animation paper
  4. A lot of practice.
So after you get the basic equipment you're ready to go.But what about the reading you have to do?
  1. The first must-have book i would suggest getting is the The Animator's Survival Kit. It's cheap and you will be glad you have it. This book is treasure for every Animator and can even help 3d Animators as well.

  2. The second book in my list would be Basics Animation 03: Drawing for Animation. Surely worth having and can improve your drawing skills for animation a lot.And since the animation is mostly about drawing skills that's a great help.
  3. The third and the last book i would suggest for now is Character Animation: 2D Skills for Better 3D which is essential for both 2d and 3d animators and helped me a lot on my Computer Animation Course.
For now the reading list i would suggest are these three books, but in future i will have post especially for mentioning good books for you guys. So, if you have your equipment and books (or at least the things you consider important from that post) the next article will be the first steps in 2d animation, Very basic but important to grasp. Keep Practicing Folks!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

2D animation Intro

Hey again folks.I just want to introduce you to the world of 2D animation. Most of the people i meet nowadays are interested in 3d animation rather than 2d animation. And there's nothing weird about that since the 3d animation today is really impressive and the packages out there are making it much more easy.Global illumination makes rendering look really sweet, and the idea of creating a character of your own design and creating animation using him/her/it sounds awesome.Still from the research i made through some freelance job websites on animation i can surely say that 2d animators are required much more than 3d animators for now. Despite the huge raise of 3d animators in the last couple of years now the 2d animation starts taking it's space again. So if you're looking for making good money for living i would suggest you to do some research on jobs available out there first and the money each animation style gives you and then considering which animation technique you will choose.

2D animation can be much more fun that it seems using the 2d animation software available out there. Many people don't know that now you can even rig a character and move it just like in 3d animation package but in 2d Software using your model sheet.I will discuss all these techniques in future posts, but you have to start small.I would suggest (and that's what we were doing in the beginning in the Uni) start drawing by hand, on paper , frame by frame some animations. I will create posts with step by step instructions on where to start and also i will talk about the basic principles of 2d animation which will surely raise your skillset for 3d animation as well. So that's it guys. Next, i will post my first 2d Animation tutorial so you can get your feet wet.


Image Taked From "" Website

Drawing is Essential

The first thing i wanna warn you about guys is that it's impossible to be an animator without good drawing skills. Many people ,especially the ones trying to dig into 3d animation, consider themselves good animator by simply knowing a 3d package very well. But that's not the case. All kinds of animation (3d animation included) is ART.And regardless of where you will use your skills, a good drawing hand will be your best tool to achieve your goals.And no matter which Computer animation course you are in, a good drawing hand will be essential for your success and better grades.

Knowing a 3d package like Maya,Softimage, 3ds max etc. is hard but not enough. What a good drawing can do is make your life a LOT easier. Imagine how much time can it take to create Something like the image u see on the right made by Meats Meins Named The Last Of The Leaves.Now, imagine that you build all that without any reference ,just by mixing 3d shapes together and now you or your Boss (which is most of the times the worse case :D) don't like it!!! Waste of time? Maybe not always but surely not what you wanted to achiev
e right? So that's one of the cases where a reference drawing would come in handy and save you a bunch of time.

Apart from the fact that your project may end up as something else than ex
pected , the reference images can make the modeling process or even the animation
and rigging process much faster, easier and effective. There are many tutorials out there about using reference images in your animation package to build a model upon that. But modeling is not the only process where these magic images can help you. Expressions, posture, gestures and many more things should be drawn first and then rigged or animated.

And lastly, the design of a character using hand drawing ,photoshop or any other way of drawing you prefer is much more fun and creative. A lot of times my first idea w
as changed many times till i could come up with something i liked.

So, reference images, photos,moodboards,model sheets,concept art and all those sorts of things will help you become much better and professional animator.Don't Underestimate Them!!!


Image used "The Last Of The Leaves" Copyrighted under Meats Meins in 2005