Sunday, December 19, 2010


Blocking 2:


His leg poses were reading too human-like so now he lands hands first; more of a tigery fashion.

Changed the other poses accordingly to accommodate the arc he creates in the air. Added a breakdown before and after the land. Kind of does a gallop to settle.

Added anticipation before the jump.

More neutral starting position for more reaction in the spine when he spots the bird (still pondering about this).

Still lots to clean up. But I've already learned so much about workflow and the importance of showing your work at it's blueprint stages. I showed a friend of mine 9 poses and I had to go back and drastically change 6/9 which totally changed my entire shot. So on that front... woohoo!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Time has wings.

Continuing the adventures at Animation Mentor, these past 3 months just flew by in an instant. Overall the difficulty is rising, in part because I'm choosing to do harder assignments. My mentor even ended up stating in my overall assessment that I overextended myself :) But he quickly followed up with "... but I don't hold it against you."

One thing I've noticed that I've been lacking is follow-through. Whenever I hit an obstacle my motivation meter depletes exponentially. This is something I've been working on all term and I'm glad to report that there is progress. At the end of the day, here is what my Class 2 ended with :

It turned out okay but I'm not 100% satisfied with my performance this term. And since we have a good amount of days off on this break, I've decided to buck up and go for another test. This time with some goals in mind:

1. "One shot, one thought" (thanks Brian!)
2. Do first pass blocking with a minimal amount of poses.
3. Try IK Spine (and in this case IK hands).
4. Experiment with creature-like behavior.
5. Cartoony - break the rig like crazy. Defy physics (just a little)
6. 100 Frame limit.

Plan: Stewfasa is stalking a bird as it's flying around the area. He notices it turning around, springs from atop his ledge and swipes him out of the air - landing on the ground in nothing less than an awesome fashion.

Here goes pass 1:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Test Tweakage

Messing around with that test a little bit. I touched on the timing and the arcs a tad, toned down the legs rotation of the 2nd revolution on the 2nd bar, and started on the end spin. Here's the update:

Friday, September 24, 2010

On-Break Test

A friend from the 11secondclub sent me a link to an Animator's site by the name of KC Roeyer. On it was this neat little gymnastics test he did with a cylinder that had a pivot point in the center. I thought I'd give it a shot! I ended up not planning it's bones out well (I'm not sure how KC had it done) but it was quite a chore to get it spinning in the air correctly. Hopefully there's a shortcut out there to make animating flips easier! In the meantime here is my attempt:

It's cool how after posting it up I want to fix so many things haha. Maybe tomorrow. I tried doing this all the way through without looking back at the original as reference. If interested you can see KC Roeyer's test here:

KC Roeyer's Gymnastics Test

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What a Friggin' RIIIIDE

This Friday marks the official end of Class 1 at Animation Mentor and it's quite a bittersweet end. These past 3 months have very much flown right by me supporting the phrase, "Time flies when you're having fun". And it's been a whole lot of FUN for sure. I've met some of the most interesting people who come from the most interesting places / backgrounds ... then we all got together and formed a study group haha. I knew I would appreciate the school but after going through this term... I am enjoying the hell out of it. It was a bit more work than I had imagined but I really didn't mind. I also noticed how empty I left this blog for awhile but I didn't think a bouncing ball would be too exciting to post :)

Here's the progress reel for the term (starting with most recent):

A big big thanks to my mentor David Weatherly from Dreamworks for the attentive feedback and gratuitous links. It truly was a pleasure.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Don't fear the 3D Smear

One animation piece that blew my mind came from a student at Animation Mentor in 2008 by the name of Henry Sanchez. I remember hearing Eric Goldberg talking about a smear in CG - but this was the first time I saw it in action. And it was done well! Up until watching the Summer 2008 showcase, I had a pretty rigid viewpoint of how CG Animation looked. Sharp, clean, and clear. So when I was watching this... it opened a third eye for me when looking at CG Animation.

I'm glad I saw this very early on when I was considering to pursue animation. Everytime I look at this piece I remember to think above and beyond. Once you get grounded (a far road ahead for me) in the fundamentals, take some chances. There's so much to this artform to learn and as the next week brings our first assignment... I can't wait to soak it all in.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What the hell is happening?

When I look back on life, I feel like I've always been more good than bad. My intentions were never purely evil no matter what I did. I'm not a genius, or an important name, or a very learned individual. I'm sort of a regular Joe... who happens to be named Tony. And I've always believed in the good in people. But every time I look out at what's happening in just these United States - that belief gets smashed time and time again.

I doubt this is going to reach anyone, but I'm gonna rant anyway just for cathartic purposes. There are three major problems that the Earth faces:

1. Global Warming. It boggles my mind that this is still in debate. Over the past decade the Summers got hotter and hotter hitting new records each year. What better proof than to walk outside and get burned by the evidence. We've lost over half of the world's ice caps and will soon be at a point of no return. With them gone, there won't be any stopping of the gradual rise in temperature and we'll slowly be cooking the planet. Oil companies are rooting for this to expand their offshore drilling territory. Russia is breaking apart the North Pole to extend their reach for the oil down under. We all know how awesome offshore drilling can be.

2. The Oil Spill. It's pretty obvious that this whole system is jacked up. What many don't know is that the cause of the oil spill was the result of three consecutive screw-ups in a row. For one, they knew their equipment wasn't up to sound - yet they went ahead. Secondly, when someone spotted part of the seal showing up on deck, the BP Manager commanded them to continue. After the seal had broken, they called in Halliburton to plug it up. This plugging process takes three plugs to seal shut. Before the third one was in place, the BP Management had the crew proceed with the drilling. That was the moment the rig blew up. The response was slow, there were no emergency programs running, everything a mess. BP had an HD Camera down there but didn't even show the footage until 3 weeks into the spill. They gave everyone a crappy video feed instead. Energy companies cannot regulate themselves. Which brings us to:

3. Gas Land. Many people hear "natural gas" and believe it to be the answer for our energy woes. It comes from the U.S. so less dependency on foreign oil, it's "cleaner", and more immediate. Except for the fact that it isn't clean at all. More than 30 states now have an immense amount of natural gas extraction happening. This process is called Hydraulic Fracturing. Hydraulic Fracturing uses over 500 toxic chemicals (something like 596) with a mix of millions of gallons of water per well to retrieve all of the natural gas in a particular area. The chemicals are seeping into the water supply and now tap water in homes everywhere are contaminated.

This was posted over a year ago on youtube, which means that with the time it took for someone to notice and then for someone to actually do reporting on it... it's been around for quite some time. This same lady was featured in a documentary called GasLand. Now over half of the United States is facing these problems. New York is in a battle to fend off Hydraulic Fracturing to save their unfiltered water shed. Contamination there means the entire city's water supply would be instantly poisonous.

I've always wanted to get into animation to tell fun and uplifting stories. I always thought I'd be going around and picking these fun stories from my own life. But at the moment I can't help but think of my brother taking a drink of water from his house in Texas - a state rifled with Hydraulic Fracturing wells.

A lot of people I know are in California and when I bring these issues up, 95% of the answers go something like this:

Well if it isn't happening in California then I don't care.

The world is being affected. If you're living then it affects you. It's sad that news isn't news and that politics is money. It's sad that people who aren't directly and immediately impacted by the situation aren't even sympathetic to what's going on. We're facing a global long term crisis, an immediate oil spill crisis, and OUR SINKS ARE PRONE TO EXPLOSIONS. What the hell is going on?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

From the Ground Up

Good ol' Ball. Back to the basics.

Now I need to reformat my laptop in prep for schoolio! Yahoo~

Friday, June 25, 2010

Spline Spline no friend of mine

Well I've about run out of time to continue doing this ball kick piece and in all honesty the drive of finishing it has almost faded away. I've been catching myself falling into a pattern of starting with something simple, over complicating it, speedily racing to the finish line, and then falling short at the very end.

I've been critiquing a ton of stuff at the 11secondclub, but I always have to remind myself that I too am just a newbie. 7-ish weeks of Maya does not make a great animator. I guess I'm just a little disappointed with this latest piece as it was going so well until I hit the spline button (or autoTangent).

Finished Blocking:

Half-way done Spline:

It turned out okay so far but it just wasn't what I was after - the punch of it is definitely gone at least that's how I feel when I see it. My relationship with maya is still pretty rocky. But as always I've learned a ton from this (first time using parent / constrain). I might need to stop getting ahead of myself though.

Well Animation Mentor starts this Monday and I'm extremely pumped for it. Toy Story with the family this weekend as well. Good times ahead :)

Friday, June 18, 2010

The ol' Toss the ball and then kick it very hard

Found decent time to practice animating today. Here's 2nd blocking pass - only halfway through the piece. I feel like it's almost animated already - am I blocking wrong :/ It feels more natural, but that just might be a cover for "I'm new and don't know a thing".

Gotta watch Toy Story 3 this weekend! (And Disney's Tangled looks really awesome too)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Kick in the Ball and Rushing Waterfalls

I've been delving into the works at as a means of self-study and came across someone's reel with a guy kicking a soccer ball. I've always thought this was a great exercise and after picking his piece apart I thought I'd try my own.

This is blocking for the body and feet:

I've yet to finish the end but I'm still deciding what I want him to do before I go any further. I was going to just animate the torso / legs but maybe I'll go all out and add the rest of the body parts. I was also thinking about trying locators and constraints to have him hold the ball and drop it in place for the kick.

In the meantime I think I needa cool off for a day or two. It's great fun though.

On a completely different note, I recently went to Yosemite with some of the family including niece and sister of my sister in law. It was my first time there and I was expecting a long walk basically. We were going on one of the shortest trails there so I figured a 5-ish mile hike would be cake.

Calm and cool on the bridge. That's my sister and niece.

Brother and his wife.

So on we go until we notice that the path is wet. My niece gets scared and wants to turn back. So sister in law walks back down with her while the rest of us press onward.

At this point I'm thinking, "WOW this is awesome!" We're getting sprinkled by the mist of the waterfall and it's like we're in an action movie. The winds were picking up and it was just the right amount of dangerous to get your heart pumpin'. As I snapped this picture a Russian man tapped me on my shoulder, pointed to my camera and said, "IT VEEL DIE, TURAAHST ME". The camera is weatherproof so I wasn't worried, I didn't want to argue against a cliff so I just said okay. I'm never going to forget this very short conversation though haha. About 10 minutes later, under the cover of a small overhead cliff, I took this picture:

Completely drenched! At this point we went back to get my sister in law and the niece. Next time we'll be more prepared. In all honesty that climb up those steps was RIDICULOUSLY dangerous and scary. Especially going down the puddled steps, yikes. But it was still fun.

Speaking of which, since I wasn't prepared I was wet until we got home about 4 hours later. It was the most comfortable car drive ever!!! :( On top of that I thought that inside the camera bag was still dry... turns out it was completely soaked and the camera had been sitting in there moisting it up. I was worried so I dried it out a bit and took a test picture. I now use this as my desktop wallpaper.

I had a blast and I hope to continue the trend of actually going out and living life a bit more.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Walking before I crawl.

First attempt at a complete walk cycle. It's a lot tougher than it seems! Well known problem that sticks out in CG are the knee pops. It's weird that 2D drawings / stop motion doesn't really lend itself as much to the issue. I spent about as much time on the knees as I did the rest of the animation - and its still noticeable!

Although... the knees were quite jarring without tweaking it. I wonder if professional rigs just have a button to fix this :)

On another note I spent 11 hours yesterday putting hardwood floors in at my uncle's house and through doing it I have discovered a very important fact:

I am not made to do construction work of any kind.

It just made me want to pursue this animation stuff harder and faster. No more construction work! Ironically four people boarded my cousin's room and he didn't even bother to show up and help. And to Steven Tran I say: What the hell?

Lastly, if you're an animation geek and haven't listened in on any animation podcasts yet - you are missing out! Interviews range from layout artists to directors to animators to producers from all mediums.

Spline doctors, Animation Podcast, Speaking of animation... just to name a few. Time to start walk #2!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A New Adventure

Welp, the past half year has been a doozy. It's funny to come back and see the last post I wrote - how excited I was about a newly purchased FZ50. And right after I got it, I ended up selling it. But past is past and now we're here.

Only 18 months ago I was just starting to mess around with film-making and animation. And only 2 months ago I decided I was going to pursue this thing! I just got accepted to Animation Mentor's Summer 2010 Term a few weeks ago and I'm truly excited about starting this crazed adventure. I know they use Maya at the school so I tried my hand at a test piece in order to familiarize myself with the program.

Here's a playblast of my very first CG piece - ever! (never got to the polish phase though)

* Edit: Gotta give credit to Shikkin and the choreographer "shota NOPPO".
Here is a link to the referenced video I used: *

Before this I never touched an "IK" control before. And my friend Gimbal Lock visited me every 20 frames. In retrospect this dance piece was extremely ambitious as a first test. All the twisting and rolling created a lot of problems, but I'm slowly starting to understand the workflow. I hope I don't get a lot of flak for switching to CG. Animation is animation after all... right?

Right guys? ...