Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Art of Storyboarding

Pixar Snubbed at the Annies

In some sad news, Pixar was completely snubbed at the Annie Awards last night in favor of Kung Fu Panda. The Best Reviewed Movie of the year was snubbed last night, the movie which won every major Best Animated Film (if not Best Picture) nomination was snubbed last night.

Who knows, maybe since Pixar had won so consistently since Nemo, the ASIFA members just felt they should snub a film which many call the best animated feature of the decade, or ever… Or maybe, DreamWorks (a gold sponsor for the awards) got lots of people to cash in the minimal $75 dollar fee to pay their way to win…

Well, there’s always the (way more important) Oscars coming up…

Congratulations to all of the winners though, because it’s not like they didn’t deserve any awards either

But to end on a good note, John Lasseter was awarded the Winsor McCay Award last night, so Pixar didn’t go completely empty handed.

WALL•E, Andrew and co., you’re all winners in our eyes!

Thanks to to Upcoming Pixar for the post.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Working Title: Capston Initiated!

FYI: My newest endeavor into insanity has begun: Working Title: Capstone has began.

This project is a 3 semester long, CG short animation. Yes, there will be stereoscopic, yes there will be HD, yes there will be surround sound, and yes it will be legendary.

In the following weeks we will bring you updates, and welcome feedback from those of you inclined to offer thought outside of the normal rhetoric.

Stay tuned shortly for the story synopsis and Concept art. We will keep this blog primarily for production updates and spare everyone the details of the extensive research we are doing into current CG technologies!

So hold on to your knickers, kick back grab a beer, this is going to be one hell of an experience!

SIGGRAPH Night Life!

It is finally starting! Yes, the SIGGRAPH Night Life is kicking off another semester this Thursday, January 29, 2009 in ET 306. Formerly known as Critique Night, Night Life will include an internal critique first, then we will introduce an animation or movie that we will be showing for the night. Sometimes we will show two movies. It all depends!

Just make sure you come every Thursday night with work to have critiqued and projects to work on during the movies. This is a chance to network with your peers, get constructive feedback on your work in progress, watch movies, have fun, and stay on track with your projects!

Date: Every Thursday Night
Time: 6pm
Location: Et 306

Saturday, January 24, 2009

You Know You're a Graphic Designer When

This is the most accurate list I have ever read! And one that I can relate 100% or more to. It has also made me realize how much of a loser I really am! I have not included the entire list, but rather ones that most everyone can understand or get a laugh out of. The link back to my blog that this was taken from can be found here and the original article link can be found here. Enjoy!

1. Your friends and family won’t watch movies or TV with you because you make too many comments about the poor lighting or bad composition.

2. You are pro-Facebook because 95% of the MySpace pages burn your retinas.

3. You refuse to purchase products that have poorly designed packaging.

4. You buy dog food based on the bag’s use of color and typography.

5. You critique every piece of design you see without realizing it (ex: “That is a horrible Photoshop mask!” or “I wouldn’t use that color scheme. A softer blue would do just nicely.”)

6. You’re in the sun and you look around for a Drop Shadow to sit under.

7. Seeing someone use Lens Flare and Comic Sans adversely affects your blood-pressure.

8. You maintain a grid system for your refrigerator magnets.

9. You’re up ‘til 5 am because you came up with the best idea ever while brushing your teeth.

10. You can name more than 200 fonts in under five minutes.

11. When you know what “kerning” is and you really, really like it.

12. You use words about fonts you dislike that other normal people reserve for fascist dictators and serial killers.

13. If you could go back in time you wouldn’t go back to see the rise and fall of civilizations, you’d go back in time to destroy the creators of Comic Sans and Papyrus.

14. Looking at a restaurant menu make you go “hmmm, ITC Baskerville italic” rather than “mmmm, lunch!”

15. Cmd+Z is the first thing that goes through your mind if you break something.

16. You can understand everything on this list and relate to almost all of it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A New Blog In Town

Yes, there is a new blog hitting cyberspace and it's the new, hip, and cool thing to do now. It is called Ask The Blog and is a very new and innovative idea. Go check it out for yourself and give it a try! Here is the breakdown of what it is about taken straight from the site:

Email any question to asktheblog@yahoo.com, with this format:

Name
Location
Question

And it could be featured as the "Question of the Week!" How cool would that be, right? Yeah, really cool!

So, you ask, how does my question get picked? Simple. Be creative. Ask questions that you wouldn't normally hear! I'll assure you that the answer that follows will be nothing less than amusing.

Try it now!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Career Advice From A Pixar Animator

Carlos Baena joined Pixar in 2002 and has been an animator on a half-dozen Pixar features and shorts, most recently Ratatouille, and he's on the crew of Toy Story 3. Before Pixar, he was an animator at ILM, where, among other things, he worked on several of the computer-animated characters of Stars Wars: Episode II--Attack of the Clones.

Those of you who are animators or aspiring animators may be asking yourself: How do I get that job? Carlos recently offered his answers to that question, and the question of how to thrive in an animation job once you have it. A few samples:

* Be professional at work. Don't be stuck up, and don't have an attitude/ego or no one will wanna work with you again. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.
* Help your peers. They'll help you when you need them.
* Make your environment fun. Simply have fun with what you do...and try not to look at it as a job. I know it's hard...especially with deadlines. I've been there. But try to find the fun aspects of what we do as it'll make the journey a lot more fun and less stressful.
* At one point, be ready to call your shot done. We can polish things to death...but some places/productions will need you to move on.

This is not bad advice for others who are non-animators as well! Thanks to The Pixar Touch for this article.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yashimo Playblast

So, I have been animating now for 3 days on and off and then completely scrapped the feet and started over yesterday. The feet were just slowing me down, and they really didn't help the mood of the character, or the short at all. So I deleted them. Now Yashimo hovers/ flys. (Much easier) ;)

Below is a playblast of the animation. I am pretty happy with it all things considered and am rendering as we speak. If the sound comes together nicely, I should be successful.

Stay posted for the final render!

video

Friday, January 16, 2009

D'Jall Heer?!

For those who don't know/care SIGGRAPH IUPUI is having it's annual Spring Callout this Thursday at the Lecture Hall, room 101 6:00 PM. Come watch in entertainment as we share the amazingness that is SIGGRAPH! Highlights of the evening-

- A special presentation about the state of the graphics industry and just how hard it is to get a job these days.

- An overview of SIGGRAPH events past, present and future and how you can get involved.

- Road trips? How you can join the SIGGRAPH team during this year's conferences in New Orleans and Asia.

- Student Exhibition Q & A. Just remember that there are such things as stupid questions so think before you ask.

- We'll be picking the winner of the SIGGRAPH Student Exhibition Animation contest to be used as promotional material.

We've got a full night planned so skip class/work/babysitting duty and come on down to see what we've got in store for the new year!



We sure did, Businessman. We sure did...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Guerrilla CG Project

The GuerrillaCG Project is a free non for profit organization that hopes to make it easier to learn high-end computer graphics. They are building a team of volunteers to create videos, that describe in an easy and understandable manner, the fundamental concepts of computer graphics. Because core concepts rarely change with time, these videos have the potential to teach for many years into the future and help thousands of people all over the world.


This is a great resource for beginners like us.

Enjoy!

http://www.guerillacg.com/

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Steroscopic is Coming! 2009

The latest issue of 3D World (issue 113) looks at the forthcoming growth of stereoscopic 3D gaming and the opportunities it could create for 3D artists. Although the focus in recent times has been on stereoscopic cinema, a new generation of more affordable technology, combined with efforts to support games consoles, could see stereo 3D make inroads into the home.

We'd like to know where you think the future of stereoscopic 3D lies, and where you think 3D artists should be focusing their attention. Cast your vote in our poll and see the results in 3D World issue 114.

QUESTION
In which market sector will stereoscopic technology really make its mark in 2009?

Cinema: Blockbuster movies like Monster vs Aliens will be where the technology really shines

Games: More accessible equipment for home gaming will bring stereo displays to the masses

Both: Stereoscopic 3D is gaining ground in both markets. It will simply become taken for granted

Neither: Stereoscopic 3D is overhyped. Traditional display formats will still rule the roost in 2009


Cast your Vote!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

15 Key Elements All Top Websites Have

1. Good Visual Design

First things first… Visual design. I don’t know about you, but if I go to a web site that is not visually pleasing, it is a quick turn off.

That’s not to say that every top website needs an incredible visual design — but if a site looks like it hasn’t been updated since 1994, it’s just not going to be associated with other great websites.

A clean and simple design is usually all you need. Bells and whistles are nice, but I’m one who tends to go with the “less is more” theory. You don’t want your design to be over crowded. You just want it to look good so it can stand out from your competitor(s) in the minds of your potential clients.

First impressions are key. Although good design alone will not keep someone on your site — an eye-catching design will, at the very least, grab their attention long enough to take a look around.

2. Thoughtful User Interface

Along with good design comes a good user interface. The user interface is the foundation of any good functional web site. When designing a site, you’ll need to take into consideration your average user. Who is going to be visiting your web site — who is your ideal customer? Are they tech-savy? Are they computer illiterate?

It’s helpful to create an image of your ideal visitor and have them in mind when planning out the design for your site. Be sure you offer everything on your site that they would want to find before buying from you or becoming a subscriber.

You’ll want to be sure that your navigation is easy to spot and consistent throughout the entire web site. Make it obvious where the user should click both in terms of your primary navigation, as well as for links within your content areas.


3. Primary Navigation Above The Fold

Part of having an easy to navigate web site is ensuring that the primary means of navigation — links to the key areas of your site — are kept above the fold. With today’s large computer monitors and growing screen resolutions “above the fold” is generally considered to be within the top 500-600 pixels of your site design.

Elements to include here are your logo (which should link back to your home page), as well as links to the main sections of your site. If you can link to sub-pages here that is great, but in most cases that will over-clutter your design.

For example put “Home | About | Services | FAQ | Contact” in a very easy to find location at the top of your site. You can place sub-links such as About-Bio / About-Resume somewhere else, such as in your sidebar or as sub-links under the main page title of that section, etc.

Consistency is key here — be sure to place both your primary and sub-navigational links in the same spot throughout the various pages of your web site.

4. Repeat Navigation In The Footer

If you use images (or even flash) for your main navigation, it’s especially important to offer a duplicate set of navigation links in your footer. Even if you use text links at the top, the duplication is still helpful. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to find the content they are looking for on your site.

Often times the footer will link to additional information — such as Terms of Service — as well. Things that should be easy to find, but not necessarily something you want taking up real estate on the primary navigation area of the site.

5. Meaningful Content

You know the saying… “Content is King” — you might have a pretty web site which will catch someone’s eye, but if the content is no good, you can be willing to bet that they aren’t going to stick around.

When writing the copy for your web site, it’s important to provide helpful, knowledgeable information about your company, products, services, etc. If you’re running a blog, informative articles related to your area of expertise are incredibly helpful as well.

While it’s important to sell yourself or your company, you also don’t want to oversell, either. Particularly in a blog setting — people reading a blog don’t want to hear all about “me me me” — they want to know how you can help them.

6. A Solid About Page

Among the top 10 most popular pages of my own site (after the home page, blog, 3 specific blog posts and my portfolio) is the About page. I have more clicks to my about page than to my services or portfolio pages, if you can believe that!

It’s simply because people are curious. They want to know who is behind a company or a blog. I was personally quite shy about including a photo on my own bio page, but finally did it a few months ago. It’s amazing what the sense of curiosity does — I myself am always clicking on about pages too, trying to find out more about the designer or writer, etc.

Include information on your background and how it pertains to your own business and expertise, etc. The about page gives potential clients a little bit more information about you and can often help create a more personal bond. If they are reading your writing and know a bit more about you, they’ll have a better sense of connection and better be able to relate to you on another level.

More often than not, a potential client will select the company with a “real” person behind it, rather than the faceless organization that refuses to get even a little bit personal.

7. Contact Information

Contact can turn off a prospective client more than not being able to find a way to contact you. If they’re interested in your services, and can’t find a simple contact page with a way to get in touch and hire you they’re going to end up going over to the competition.

Ideally you’ll want to give more than one method of contact. At the very least an email address and contact form. To make you more “real” though you should try to include a phone number (and if possible a mailing address) as well. I know many freelancers work from a home office - as do I. A quick solution is to get a separate phone line for business calls, as well as either a PO Box or other mailing service address.

Keep in mind that these are tax deductible expenses and makes you look that much more professional than someone who only includes an email address. To other home business owners in the same boat, it might not make a difference. But if you work with any larger or corporate clients, they’ll see a public phone number and address as an added sign of stability and that could play a small part in them choosing you over someone else.

8. Search

If you have a large web site or blog, having a search field is incredibly helpful, as well. There’s nothing like wading through hundreds of pages to find specific content without a search feature. If a potential customer can’t find something easily on your site, but Joe Designer over there does… odds are they are going to go with Joe whose content is easy to search through.

You can often use a Google Search on your site, or if you have WordPress (or another blogging platform or CMS / Content Management System) this will be fairly easy to accomplish. It’s not quite as easy to set this up with a static html site, but there are still services out there that will let you incorporate a functional search box onto your site.

9. Sign-Up / Subscribe

If your web site offers content on a consistent basis — such as with a blog — you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for people to sign up for updates.

This is something else that’s extremely easy to add if you have a WordPress blog. By default they’ll provide you with a feed address. But if you want to step it up a notch, you’ll want to sign up for a free account with FeedBurner. Better yet, you might consider using the FeedBurner FeedSmith plugin that will help re-direct all feeds through your FeedBurner account for easy tracking of your subscribers.

If you don’t have a blog, but still want to offer subscriptions to an email newsletter, for example, there are many companies that will let you setup and manage a mailing list. They will provide you code for your site to enable your web site visitors to sign up for updates using their email address. (FeedBurner allows you to collect email addresses too, btw). In some ways this is better than an RSS subscription because you are able to collect email addresses of potential prospects. While you can keep track of subscription numbers and other generic statistics, RSS subscribers get your updates via feed reader and have no need to provide an email address.

10. Sitemap

There are two kinds of sitemaps - one for humans and one for the search engines. An html (or php, etc.) sitemap meant for visitors to your site can be an invaluable tool for finding just what they are looking for.

Creating a sitemap - a structured list of all pages of a web site - is especially useful if you are unable to add a search feature to your site. A link to the sitemap is another item that is helpful to place down in the footer of your site, as well. A good sitemap will list out every page of your site in a hierarchial format - clearly showing the relationship of pages in terms of primary pages with sub-pages and sub-sub-pages, etc.

11. Separate Design from Content

Long gone are the days of using html tables for layout and design. The best developed sites use a combination of XHTML and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), which create a separation of design vs content.

With use of
tags you can create containers for various areas of text and images on your page. Without a corresponding CSS file you’ll see just the basics - text - which is what the search engines want to see, too.

By linking to an external CSS file in order to separate your content from the design, it leaves your html page with mostly nothing but actual relevant text in your source code. The separate CSS file is what specifies the fonts, colors, background images, etc. for your site design.

What’s great about this is you can update just one CSS file and have the change made site-wide (no longer having to go into each and every html page of a static site, to change your main link color from blue to green, for example).

With this separation of content from design, the search engines no longer have to wade through all of the excess code to find out if your content is relevant, either. And with separate files, the content can load quicker, too - always a good thing in the mind of visitors to your site.

12. Valid XHTML / CSS

It’s not just enough to develop your site using XHTML and CSS, though. It has to be accurate code. Two invaluable tools for checking your source code are offered by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C):

* W3C Markup Validation Service
* W3C CSS Validation Service

There are many reasons to write valid code… With valid code, you are a few steps closer to ensuring your site will look good across the different web browsers (see number 13 below) and will help you with the search engines, too. If your site is built to current web standards, the search engines can easily wade through your content.

Not to mention it just shows that you know what you are doing. Yes, many clients don’t know the difference, but a few do - and specifically request standards compliant code. If you can offer this but your competitor can’t - that gives you an extra edge.

And besides this, other web developers are likely to check out the source code of a site to see what’s under the hood… both out of sheer curiosity, and just because they can!

13. Cross Browser Compatibility

Although you might live and breathe inside Firefox, your client may not. There’s a good chance your client is using Internet Explorer. Unfortunately there’s an even better chance they’re using Internet Explorer 6 (please don’t get me started on this issue - lets just say I know I’m not the only web developer who wishes this browser will simply GO AWAY!)

It’s imporant that your own web site and the site(s) you create for customers display well in as many of the mainstream web browsers as possible. If you can make them compatible across platforms too, that’s ideal. Most end users are on a PC so this is probably the most important platform to target. However many people in the creative fields are on a Mac, so if this is your audience they are important to pay attention to as well.

Unfortunately most people aren’t lucky enough to have both a PC and a Mac (not to mention Linux, etc.) but with the help of a site called Browser Shots you can enter a URL - select from a variety of web browsers across different platforms - and have them create screenshots for you. Very helpful if you’re on a PC running Vista for example, where you no longer have access to an old copy of IE6.

14. Web Optimized Images

When designing for the web, it’s important that you save all your images in a compressed format. Not too much that your images become pixelated, but as much as possible while retaining quality.

If you’re accustomed to doing print work, you know that 300dpi is the standard. Not the case with web sites, though. When designing for the screen you’ll want to save your images at 72dpi which will make for a much smaller file size (aka quicker download time for your web visitors).

Programs like Adobe Photoshop have a “Save for Web” feature that will automatically convert your image to 72dpi if you forgot, as well as give you a variety of compression settings when saving your imges. For web this will likely be either png, jpg or gif depending on the particular usage.

15. Statistics, Tracking and Analytics

Although this element is behind the scenes and not one you’re likely to know about as the web visitor — as a web site owner it is crucial, if not down-right addictive!

There are many services that offer tracking of web site statistics which include information such as:

* How many hits does my site receive?
* How many of these are from unique visitors?
* How are people finding my web site?
* What search terms are they finding me under?
* What web sites link to me?
* What are the most popular pages on my site?
* Who is my average visitor (platform / browser / screen resolution)?

It’s actually quite amazing what kind of information you can keep track of with a good analytics program. Perhaps the most popular site for this is Google Analytics which offer a very robust (and free) tracking solution.

If you want to monitor your web site’s performance and figure out how you can improve your site, having a good stats package is key!


Original article here.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Sneak Peak of Up

Pete Docter hosts this preview of Up that aired during Disney Channel’s Totally New Year. It includes the trailer, new clips and concept art.

Top 10 Ways You Know You Live With An Animator

  1. The Illusion of Life” is on your bookshelf. There is a yellow glow around it and you hear angels sing every time it’s opened.
  2. A trip to the toy store isn’t for the kids.
  3. When you hear the word arc, you know it has nothing to do with Noah.
  4. They strongly believe (and you must agree) Wall-E should be nominated and win an Oscar for Best Film. In fact, the academy shouldn’t even waste there time nominating any other films, why bother?
  5. When She Loved Me” by Sarah Mclachlan makes them cry.
  6. Lasseter, Stanton and Bird have become the guy friends who won’t leave.
  7. You have some sort of Star Wars paraphernalia in your house.
  8. There is often a video camera set up in your bedroom, but it isn’t for kinky reasons.
  9. They have convinced you that the pot of gold at the end of every rainbow is a myth. It’s actually Pixar.
  10. All the love and passion they express for their craft, is nothing compared to all the love and passion they express for you.
Link discovered by Anirudh Bhalotia and produced by Jacquie Gouveia!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Disney Pixar Comics!

I stumbled across this and thought that many of you may be interested in collecting these when they release. The Incredibles comics will be released March 25, 2009 and will feature 4 collectible covers spelling out "INCREDIBLES" when connected. How sweet is that!? Below, you can see the four covers put together.


Make sure to get your own copies, and, if I haven't bought them, share!


It does not end there though! Cars comics will be released simultaneously and will feature two covers both feature Lightning McQueen before the events of the original Cars. A small price to pay for a collectible and a wealth of inspiration.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Spread The Word!

Hey you! Yes, you, right there, sitting in your computer chair all cozy and whatnot! Why don't you be a doll and help us help you? It's very simple, really.

Copy and paste the link of this URL and spread it all over the internet! Tell you friends, family, and anyone else who is interested in computer graphics and SIGGRAPH to check this blog as if it were a food supply in a famine!

All the cool kids are doing it!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Career Advice

Carlos Baena was recently asked a very common question that he thought to share his answer with everyone. This applys to quite a few of us in school or about to graduate, or even if you are graduated already. Take a peek!


Adam, an animation student from Full Sail asked me this recently:
It's only about 6 months until I graduate and get thrown into the world and have to begin the search for a job. I was just wondering if maybe you could give me any tips on getting my first job as a character animator. Maybe some do's and don'ts.
So I told him I would turn it into a post for everyone else since a lot of people have similar career concerns. Now, this is just from my personal experience in commercials and Feature Film environments after I graduated. These are mostly things to be aware and to think about:

  • Once you graduate, continue working on your animation education. Just because you graduated, doesn't mean the learning ends there. Quite the contrary. You may get rejected when applying to jobs because your skills still aren't there...so my main advice is to continue learning the craft.
  • Don't apply to the main studios and expect to get an answer (good or bad) right away. Some people are lucky they get in right away. A couple co-workers at Pixar got hired because their talent showed potential even with their lack of computer animation training. But this is rare, and you could be waiting a really long time. Instead apply where you want to apply, but also apply to other smaller places. Chances are, you may have to start from small and then keep aiming higher. I know of some students who passed on great studios who made them offers just because they didn't get a call from Pixar. This in my opinion is a big mistake because they could be learning elsewhere and not waste their time waiting for a call that may not even happen.
  • Be respectful and professional with the recruiters. I don't think it'd help if you keep calling them to see the status of your reel. Chances are, if they need you they'll contact you. Focus back in your work to make it better...and re-apply in the future.
  • Enjoy the journey no matter which places you are at. Just because you are not working at your dream places doesn't mean you can't have a great time. A lot of what we do, is the people we work with.
  • Once you are in the industry and in your new job, be ready to work in a team...no matter where.
  • Be confident in your work...however, don't refuse feedback. Sometimes, we look at our work so many hours, we start to lose the essence of it, and we can't see some major things going on in the shot right away. So having fresh eyes will always help.
  • On getting feedback: Be open to ideas, suggestions and feedback constantly. Don't get feedback from 20 people...or else you could be pulled in 20 different directions in your shot. However, maybe get feedback from 3-5 people whose work and/or experience you respect, and show them your work. If the majority comment on the same issues, then you know something in there needs to be fixed.
  • On giving feedback: give feedback that's constructive. A simple "what the hell is that" or "the animation is off" won't help anybody. Try to help whoever is showing you their work in which areas they can improve. Also let them know which areas are working. It's nice to hear we are doing at least one thing right.
  • Learn from your peers, regardless of their experience or age. Someone can bring something to the table, whether they have 20 years animation experience or if they are fresh off School.
  • Be professional at work. Don't be stuck up, and don't have an attitude/ego or no one will wanna work with you again. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.
  • Help your peers. They'll help you when you need them.
  • Make your environment fun. Simply have fun with what you do...and try not to look at it as a job. I know it's hard...especially with deadlines. I've been there. But try to find the fun aspects of what we do as it'll make the journey a lot more fun and less stressful.
  • You'll work with all sorts of different people. Some may be more difficult to work with than others. However...leave the personal things aside, and find a way to work on things because ultimate you want the final product to not suffer.
  • Keep your animation habits healthy. Meaning...stay organized in your workflow and keep things simple. That'll make it easier once you get changes from directors/supervisors.
  • At one point, be ready to call your shot done. We can polish things to death...but some places/productions will need you to move on.

I hope this helps.


Carlos.