Sunday, August 1, 2010

Animation Isolation Day 4: Is it only day 4?

I thought it was day 5 or day 6. Seriously. I might be losing my shit already. I confirmed it was only day 4 by looking at my last post which was apparently yesterday.

I haven't left the apartment since I went grocery shopping on day 1. I'm actually a little bit scared to meet my neighbors since I live in surburban Cologne and contrary to popular belief, not everyone in Germany speaks English. But far more awkward than that, I am subletting, which I'm not sure of the legality of here. Regardless, I will have to grocery shop again tomorrow since all I have now is stale cereal, some salad and the 3 crates of K├Âlsch Waldemar left in his kitchen to tempt me (I am keeping track so I replace what I drink but I think I'm just going to buy him a nice bottle of Scotch instead. Unless I drink all three crates; then it might need to be something more).

So... yesterday's work session turned out to be one of those days where victory is marked by actually getting a damn file open (why do you exist again, Maya Binary format? Other then to piss me off when changing versions?) But by the end of the evening, I had all my Gobelins work opened and usable. I also watched the first part of a tutorial on face rigging and got some good groundwork done on the face rig for my TF2 Demo Girl (anyone remember her?). I've all but given up on the TF2 part but I like the model enough that I might as well animate her doing something. But because of the weird way the original TF2 models were set up, I spent an extra few hours digging around trying to set up her eyes with projection maps instead of spheres, like a proper eye setup. Before I went to bed at 2am, her eyes and jaw were working perfectly.

Day 5: It's 5, right? Maybe I should start dating these because I know I'm going to lose track and have to count day # versus the date of my posting.

Today I worked on an acting piece, which was an assignment from Louis Clichy, a former Gobelins student who worked at Pixar and is now off to direct, if I remember right. Anyway, for those of you who weren't in my class, we had to do an acting piece revolving around a severed head, in celebration of Bastille Day in France. Mine... well, I'll show it eventually. Sometimes an artist does a piece of work that changes everything; that no one ever looks at him or her quite the same after they've seen the work (and I mean this in a bad way). That might be my head animation. But I am convinced it will be awesome.

I made good progress, considering it's close to 30 seconds of animation but it's going to need a few more days because... well, it's 30 seconds of animation. After 11 years of this, you'd think I know better than to bite off more than I can chew but unfortunately, the best idea usually isn't the easiest and I'm still an idealist at heart.

I also did a 22 minute, weight free workout that I'd been doing regularly back in Seattle, to make sure my muscles and joints continue to work when I do leave this place. I need to start jogging while I'm here though.

Also, I found on this cool idea for animation exercises:

It's like a virtual mechanic bull but a surfboard, which makes for a great exercise in balancing. It struck a chord with me since the game that I first got hired as an animator for, was a surfing game (Kelly Slater Pro Surfer). As an aside, I got a "special thanks" credit instead of "animator" or "additional animation" because I had transferred up to the Spider-Man team and been off the Slater team for a year when KSPS shipped. But the game still shipped with some of my tube-trick animations. I also got to meet Kelly Slater while working on that game; he was super cool and I gave him a Krispy Creme donut one morning.

Where was I? Yeah, animation exercises. SO I might do something with the surf-o-matic but that goes on the long, impossibly long list of animations to do this month. See, I was brainstorming the whole time I was in Gobelins, keeping the last page of my sketchbook free for animation ideas.

Wanna see the list?

Well, I don't have a scanner so you can't but I'll type it here, mainly so I can see at the end of the month what I wound up actually doing. I knew when I wrote it that this was more than a month's worth of work so don't jump on my back when the list is incomplete in 30 days:

-Finish swing animation-DONE
-Head animation-IN PROGRESS
-Beard-a-mation (not CG; my "artsy" project. This might be appropriate for a hangover day)
-10 different character walks (Hahahahahahaha! Ten!?!!)
-The four speeds of a horse (I thought of this in Iceland with their unique breed of horses; my animator friend Ian seems to be doing the same thing)
-One quadruped walk (more realistic, given my workload)
-2 character acting piece; staging/composition exercise in leading the viewer's eye (inspired by Kyle Balda's analysis of a scene Milt Kahl did from "The Jungle Book" with Sher Khan and Kaa)
-Soccer ball keep up (since scrapped this idea since it seems that it's one of the standard Animation Mentor assignments)
-Something 2d animation (I do have my old 4x5" Wacom graphire with me)
-Bouncing balls (quick spacing exercise; low priority since I wouldn't put this on a reel)
-Some acting piece for the TF2 Demo Girl (but I would need to find a good female monologue, preferably with a French accent. Hell, maybe IN French?)
-Re-cut my three year old demo reel with new material from Alan Wake and Monday Night Combat (too bad the other two games I worked on in the last three years still haven't shipped :/) plus new material from the animation Isolation.
-Setup the blog for Gobelins peer review: (not to be mistaken for beer review). We had a lot of talent in that class of 45, even before the bulldozers of talent that were our teachers. I promised to set up a blog for us to share and critique each others animations, since there really aren't so many places you can do that online, especially to get reviews from people you know. So that's coming for sure; maybe once I finish the "head" piece.

While on the train from Cologne to Amsterdam last week I also got a really good idea for a short film, but I'm going to sit on that for a bit. Too much on my plate already. I also need to go outside at some point.

"So Ryan: why are you blogging instead of animating right now?" The simple answer lies in that aforementioned three crates of beer in my kitchen. About midnight, I realized I was too drunk to animate anymore. I've been working all day and got a lot down so I think it's fair enough. Not to mention that it's Sunday.

I wonder if I'm too drunk to process the rest of that rigging video?

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