Monday, November 16, 2009


Still from my acting for animators piece, which i hate with the firey passion of a thousand suns.


Sandwiches, actually. For my acting for animators project.

So... first thing (aside from Bri's body to her character, head not yet complete) I've modeled in a long while. Certainly not the first thing i've textured in the last little bit, but hey... you gotta start again somewhere, eh?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lax updates...

It's been a long while since I've updated my blog! Not for lack of production, I assure you. Rather, simply for lack of uploadables. Lots of .dgc files that are only 100-500 frames long and the like, mostly 2D stuff. I did finish off my demo reel this morning at Monty, but it's so huge and uncompressed at the moment that I couldn't get youtube to nom on it. When I'm back at Monty I'll re-export it with a compatible codec so you all can see what I'm up to.

Three studios was a big mistake. enough said.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back in 2D!

yep, we're back in 2D ladies and gents!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Against all odds...

Despite being locked out of the render farm, losing my M and T drives (even Monty IT couldn't save it, we had to go corporate on its rear), and having a rig completely explode on me...


Nice try, world. But once again... epic pwn.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


OK, we are officially a-go!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Almost a Farm Fail

Wow... so the renderfarm totally just about crapped out on me. Talk about terrifying!

I was trying trying trying to log onto the renderfarm page from the SCAD SFDM page and it kept giving me a page load error message. My file was in, though, so after an hour I gave up and resigned myself to only being able to render out the 20 or so frames my comp would be able to manage before class tomorrow.

I just tried one last time and FINALLY! I'm in!

So now we wait.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rig fail


Now is a tumultuous time of troubleshooting (and, apparently, alliteration). I hate this portion of production because it's so counterproductive; you don't ever achieve anything, you barely have anything to show for your hours and hours of tinkering. Modeling, animating, texturing and lighting all have visible resolutions, you can see progress. But the troubleshooting/fix stage is barely visible because its all behind the scenes.

So that 4-7 hours I spent fixing my rig? Invisible. The hours of light and texture tweaking I'm about do embark upon? Barely visible. The endless days of render tests and surface scatter correction? Hardly noticeable.

Thus... I trudge. Oy.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What happens when fur tests go horribly wrong...

note to self: always remember to link attribute scale to global control

Monday, August 10, 2009

dare I say... background complete?

I don't believe in the word 'final' when it comes to my work, but for the moment I'm pretty content in stating that my background is (for now) complete. The textures are minimal but work with the style, the lighting results turn in very well, I've got volume and depth and to an extent mood (however mood will be enhanced each shot according to what is required). now I have to embellish the scenes specific to the requirements of each shot by adding stuff like ground litter in the wider shots and grass in the yards so its not a concrete wasteland. basically create imperfections in the scenes to bring realism to the piece.

Next step is to bend my groundplane on a lattice after freezing all my geometry and centralizing my pivots so I get that steep world dropoff I'm going for. Then i'll quickly block in a far background to be blurred out in composite and start on my bus model. once that is complete I'll do the UV/texturing on that and go back and rework the truck to be sure its all settled before dropping that into my compositing cue and start doing background test renders tomorrow at Monty through the renderfarm.

I'm gonna crack open my rig files and work on textures there too. Ideally I want to do a dual character pass (one pass per character) and try furring the squirrel, but I'll do that last and only AFTER i finish his animation. I'm so frustrated with him because of the convoluted way his provided character sets make 'easy keying' almost impossible. I basically have to strip his old character sets and create a whole new one, ghost the keys of the current blocking model, and start all over again. oy. so daunting. to be honest, besides continuing to tweak Bloke I haven't been doing any animation at all, only modeling, texturing, lighting, and environment.

I also want to try SSS on bloke to see how that looks. i want to play with light on the second shot (closeup) to really make his tight shots pop.

lots to do and not much time to do it in. YES! what a rush! :P

Friday, August 7, 2009

'set' updates

updated render of my 'set'... still under construction, one more detailed model to integrate (model is almost complete, will be done tomorrow) before I finalize all my textures. I decided to stay 100% procedural, so we'll see how far I can push what Maya can give me. I've never used mia materials before and figure that starting now (with a deadline in plain sight) isn't a great idea. So I'll stick to what I know for the moment and learn mia stuff on my own time.

and now, epic bed. for I have a rigging class to teach tomorrow. oh, if only my professor actually knew how to teach us...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mmm, renders!

f1: squirrel character has a broken texture map, will be fixed in rig file. blinn reflectivity on referenced building is at default reflectivity, will be fixed in source file.

f2: not textured, simple procedural shaders for test render, will be fixed in source file.

Shots 2 & 3

Incomplete, obviously not textured/lit/modeled completely. Here's my blocking 2.5 for scenes 1 & 2. I'll continue to tweak and improve over the next 4-5 weeks, these are by no means final. And of course there's still lots of scene work to go (the squirrel is completely in stepped, for example). So take this worth its weight as a pre-anim rather than a final.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Following a slump in which I slacked miserably and did not give close to my usual 110% I am once again in the saddle! Epic animations ensue. More importantly, I'm putting a hold on modeling since that was what was distracting me from Animating. So I have a slew of unfinished buildings chilling in my Construction folder calling my name.

No physical updates otherwise, unless you want some playblasts of shot 2... yeah, didn't think so. XD

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Best screencap EVER

So I was working on my animation tweaks and was checking things from a non-cam angle to see how awkward they were and was working in perspective cam with this view.

imagine my giddy excitement when I realized that the peanut he was throwing was perfectly captured on keyframe 59 at this angle.

I hate graph tweaking.

Dear god, do I despise it. Every time I DON'T have to animate in 3D I think "wow, I'd love to be a 3d animator instead of a traditional!"... then I actually have to animate with graphs and I realize that I would rather skin my eyeballs with a toothpick than try and animate in Maya.

I love love LOVE modeling. I love rigging. I love scripting and texturing and lighting and all that wonderful, tasty stuff that makes life worth living. but if there's one thing I'm learning every day I'm forced to do it its that I REALLY hate animating in 3D. REALLY DO.

So SCAD, give me my Character TD major. I am in dire need of it. 'Cause it's traditional animation and 3D TD for me, baby.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I'd like to apologize for not keeping on top of this blog. Between the house and roommates, the dogs, and my partner I had more than enough reasons to avoid spending time on my work and updating here. I'll admit I've been distracted and feel guilty for not giving my usual 110% towards my classes right now, but recent events have regrettably left me with a great deal of free time that I need to fill to keep myself sane and you can bet that it'll now be spent on Maya.

anyway, here's my peace offering. it's a static rigged completed truck model with articulated motion, auto-rolling wheels (wheels rotate in the direction the truck is traveling so the animator doesn't have to deal with it), axle compression (shock compression), and cargo jiggle. it will appear in my scenes for approximately 3 seconds but I'm damn proud of it.

Now I start on the car(s) and knock that out as well as going after blocking 2 with a vengeance. I have to hit this hard. I need the distraction right now.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Screenshots and stills

Here's the house model I've been picking at. Not too much invested, a few hours at best. of course not textured nor lit just yet.

aaand here's a screenshot of the truck model I'm working on. only about 1 hour into this.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Oh, Maya...

How I love it when your license fails in the middle of my workflow.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Scripting and macros in MEL

Mmmm, scripting. I wrote a standard volume-preservation back stretch script (simple but a good first project) completely by trial and error. the first few times i had syntax errors like forgetting the semicolon at the end of a line or adding a space between an underscore and a word but it works great and shall be part of my rig.

Monty was retarded-ly closed for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th... thus prohibiting any kind of academic advancement. LAME. couple that with being closed on Sundays and I'm honestly not sure how they expect us to actually DO our work. bloody hell, y'all.

I'm going to go over to York hall after class today and sign up to become a tutor for Digital Form, Space, and Lighting, Animation 1 & 2, Survey of Computer Arts and Advanced Survey of Computer Arts, and Rigging. The requirement is an A in the class and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above... so basically I could tutor any of the classes I've taken except art history, that blasphemous pox upon my otherwise-perfect 4.0.
so if anybody out there wants a tutor for anything (Maya especially) pick me! You get excellent help and I get paid by the school at no cost to you. :)

*scurries off to learn macros*

Sunday, June 28, 2009

More Production Stuff

Here's some images for you. My first 2 shots (stills, animatic, PVZ blocking) and the new overview with backdrop and some additional scene fills. Added the characters for 2 shots and the truck as well as the third cam. Since there isn't any character stuff in the third shot yet I have omitted it. BORING! :P


Saturday, June 27, 2009

I'm Baaack!

And it feels darn good to be back in the saddle! 2.5 hours of work right there. I love hitting that groove, baby. BAM!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Maya? On MY computer!?

Thats right! I got maya. my friend didn't need it any more. So right now I'm unpacking SCAD's generous free download of Windows XP 64 bit so I can run a clean monty-compatible system before i do the maya install. i'm also going to pop over to Best Buy in a few hours and pick up a new mouse, as my current one (while awesome for internet browsing) doesn't have a reliable or compatible scroll wheel. since i'm running the two screens i can't use my wacom, it horribly distorts the strokes. it's dedicated to the right screen right now, and since i run maya on the left screen with all the menus on the right and it would be a huge pain to swap mice between screens i'm going with the new mouse. besides, i'm just gonna get the cheapest m-soft mouse... it wont be that big of a deal. XD

I had one of those crazy flash of inspiration deals when i was chilling in bed this morning. er, well... chilling is NOT the operative word. OK, being lightly toasted by the sun is more like it. i am now a golden brown and crispy, I swear. urg.
essentially i was contemplating my character designs. i can't very well do the characters like i did in my flash, they're not design-y enough. but I have to be muay careful to stay away from anything resembling ratatouille lest i be accused of copying, which limits me a bit. i'm going to play around with their designs on paper and see what i get. i like the chubbier look for the dad rat, i think i'll start there and see where it goes.

But anywho, once the XP ISO is done unpacking itself i'll burn it to disk and re-platform my system. then its on to the maya install and i'll be able to get to work!

wish me luck! :)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Where do we go from here?

"Alright," you ask heavily, sighing, "so I've gone through all this trouble to keep up with your blog... what the heck is happening to it now that the class is over?"

the simple answer? LOTS. this project is in fact NOT over. it has just begun.

This entire process was so inspiring and fulfilling (despite my personal teeth-gnashings with the quality of my animation) that I have taken the next step; my 4 minute Flash piece is going to become my Junior Film.

You heard right. It is my intention to lengthen this piece to a 5 minute short (not including credits) and entirely self-produce it as a 3D piece in addition to my full-time classes. My goal is to complete the project by January '10, however I am flexible and would prefer a later polished finished product to an on-time shoddy one. I am communicating with various professors to try and make this work. I fully intend to graduate from SCAD with 3 short films to show for my time. So this summer I begin work on Different Perspectives.

I will continue to update the blog as I progress with the piece. I'll try and put up just as much as I did for this project; backgrounds, process pieces, camera movements, character models and rigs, motion tests... anything relevant. I like to keep you all in the know because i think its incredibly important and educational to see how a person works. it often helps you improve your own process and if nothing else is also really, really cool to look at!

throughout this process i would really appreciate any/all input you could offer. because i am producing this outside of class it is one of the only ways I will be able to improve my work with external input.

I'm also going to be putting up a website this summer. i've never done any web design past the CMPA flash site project, so... if anybody has tips or tricks with that either I'd be SUPER interested in hearing from you! im actually kind of intimidated by it, to be honest. i've never been a webmaster before, lol!

so there's the skinny. this blog will be updated periodically (probably not as much as during the class because progress will be much slower what with working 'against' 3 classes). You're all awesome, thanks for sticking with me! :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thanks, guys! (et al)

Just wanted to say to everybody in my ANIM342 class:


I've had lots of fun reading your blogs (those of you that updated, at least) and having a glimpse at your process. I wish we had more opportunities to interact in the class so I could have gotten to know you all better.
Special thanks to any/everybody that commented on my posts at some point. Your input was always helpful and/or supportive. I hope I was able to offer you some helpful or supportive tips along the way as well.


EDIT: oops, I did my 'final post' too early, lol. here's the rest for you:

Yes, if I had the option to re-do this project I would have approached it very differently. I would slide my entire schedule up about a week (so start right at the start of the quarter), rely more on puppetry, and probably have had a different story altogether. I did not realize during conception the type of animation best suited for Flash. Now I know better and would never attempt frame-by-frame again on this software. that isn't to say it can't be done and done well, it just isn't an easy fit. I was thinking Flash could be used like ToonBoom or Flipbook... I was very much incorrect about that.
I also wish I'd had the opportunity to interact more with my peers, digitally or otherwise. I felt pretty much alone throughout the creative process, which is such a shame since we're all creative people and could probably have helped each other out during the planning stages.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Youtube Uploaded!

Completed Film

Its done. The sound design was SO CLOSE! like, completely by coincidence it was almost perfect. the last clip was ever so slightly short, but i actually kind of like it. i apparently dont know how to edit audio files in after effects and premiere has such a grainy export it wasn't worth dropping in there. so i may fine-tune the sound design later and re-import it as a single audio file, but for now this'll do just fine by me. :)

Once youtube has it processed expect to see it here! YAY!

Just needs some sound...

ITS DONE. MY LORD. I did proxies at home for what I had and switched computers, the teacher's Cintiq machine doesn't have gunky ram and is able to process/proxy the full composition.

EDIT: HAHA, wow! that was great timing! right as I typed "is able to process/proxy" i got a ram overflow error.

methinks murphy has a good sense of humor. i'll get right back to you.

EDIT AGAIN: OK, I'm tackling it the hard way. one way or another, this WILL be done tonight (lol). hopefully its smooth sailing!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Progress A La Mode

Woo! we has progress! I've finished all the scenes but one. after effects is buggy (as usual) and is easily the worst part of the process at this point, but whatever.

I used caffeine tonight, which has turned into quite an adventure. i dont drink soda or coffee or anything with caffeine in it, so just a third of a mountain dew has me totally bonked out of my brain. its pretty crazy. couple that with having House playing in the background on Hulu and its been a nicely paranoid evening, lol.

one more scene... one more scene... ONE MORE SCENE! there is a light at the end of the tunnel! once I'm done with this last scene I'll attempt to render it out and keep this copy, but so long as i am still in full possession of all my faculties I'm going to try and re-do the two closeup scenes that bug me so dang much. we'll have to see, though. i do think they absolutely ruin the film in terms of 'hey look, this is the quality of my work that I'd like to show potential future employers' but i'm not willing to jeopardize my personal health just for them. i slept for 5 hours during the day after I got home from class, at least until my roommate came home and was fussing about. oy. so I'm running pretty much entirely on slim jims, mountain dew, and adrenaline.

on the upside, though, i haven't worn my retainer this much since I first got it! pretty kickin!

After 14 hours I guess something had to go

Yeah, so this whole "14-15 hours at monty" thing was going really well until after effects decided to be a complete buttsink and give me all sorts of RAM errors. My files are fine, the computers at monty just suck serious nut. I mean c'mon. They know that students will be using programs like Zbrush or Mudbox on the cintiq machines... at least give us more than the requisite 2 gigs of ram. What are we paying for? mopped floors? seriously now. beef this crap up. I want to be able to render out a freakin' 2D file without errors, people.

I'm cranky but got so much done, I'm glad I stuck it out. After class I shall take a well-deserved nap. If I could, y'know, NOT have a failure for a computer I would post the closing credits but... obviously thats too much to ask from a SCAD computer.

oh, and I added a scene. lol. i love making myself miserable.

EDIT: really? am I really going to have to take this whole shebang to my friends house? Because apparently these pieces of crap they call computers can't even handle a single composition. My images are not huge. They're .swfs, for goodness sake. wow. talk about crap.
ironically, my dell laptop (which I would never recommend to anybody, FYI) can process and proxy a composition.

wow, HP. just wow. way to fail.

Oh, and more stills...

Almost 3 minutes of footage...

OK, so for my trillionth update tonight I'm just letting everybody know that i finished the matte painting for the closing credits, 3 scenes, an additional background I realized would be useful, and the global 1 and 2 compositions in after effects (scene comps). So at this point I have a total of 2 minutes 40 seconds of animation... and considering that I've spent only 8-10 late nights this quarter on this project this project that's pretty ace. I should have been counting, obviously, but my estimate is that this project comes in under 125 hours. maybe. it may squeak over, but not by much. Which is totally cool and makes me feel good about myself.

In the end there are things I really, REALLY want to change. both the daddy closeups make me cringe because they're so horrible. but at this point I dont have that luxury. I may be slowly conquering my fear of flash tonight, but dash it all I still don't enjoy its company much. at least i've been able to force my frame-by-frame on it fairly well. ah, compromise.

but i digress, as i often tend to do at 5 am. I think I'm gonna go for an all-nighter 'till class and see if I can take a nap in the stop motion room betwixt scenes. I aim to finish all the animation/scene work tonight and just work on sound tuesday night, which will be easy. i can even do the credits tonight, which is pretty cool. i wont post it here since blogger eats framerates like nobody's business.

my biggest regret right now is that i didn't bring my toothbrush. urgh. whoever sits next to me this morning may not enjoy my morning breath.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

More backgrounds

More backgrounds. Since I omitted the fly-thru I felt that continuity was impacted a bit. Although everybody I've shown the semi-final to has had no problem following the story, I'd like to keep it fool-proof. I added these two scenes (out and in, day/night) just to keep that continuity going. after I do these added scenes (super easy... one cloth and one I could technically use symbols for) I'll only have 5 left. one is symbol and only about 50 frames (if that), one is a fall-to-hit which is mostly flashing colors and blurs, one is a closeup character animation, one is a character overview action, and one is the completion of the scene I'm currently trucking on. So for all intents and purposes, ladies and gentlemen of the internets... I AM ALMOST DONE!

Stills: Completed Scenes

Here are stills from SOME of my completed scenes. Other scenes are closeups (animatics at this point, although they'll go in my final to save time I'll redo them later for reel purposes) and others are so similar that they dont merit their own stills. either way, enjoy.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Backgrounds, passage of time, and a most excellent full moon

Here are some of the 'time passed' backgrounds. They're the night answer to the pre-existing scenes. A few color filters and a bit of hue/saturation tweaking and we're ready to go!

i've finished 2 scenes today, starting on the third. I plan on knocking that out pretty quickly. I'm gonna go back into maya and re-layout the fall scene, since i can't very well get that working without some visualization help. nothing like digital 3d storyboards to make things work, eh?
I plan on tackling the 'up to the shelf' scene yet this evening before I head home, and possibly redoing the hideous animatic-esque closeup scenes because they are an embarrassment to my skills as an animator OR character sketcher. *shudder*

but I digress. as usual, enjoy.

I wont lie...

my head is not in the game. My frustrations with Flash not being ToonBoom or FlipBook are currently winning the battle with my enthusiasm for this project. I'm also warring time with my 3D short, which is much more rewarding because it ends up looking how I want it, not like some jumpy jumble of lines that was supposed to be frame-by-frame.

I learned my lesson. Flash and I were never close and have a strained and tense relationship. The first few dates were fine, but now that the honeymoon is over we're most definitely facing a rather rapid and messy divorce. Expect to read about it in the papers.

Lordy, for the first time ever at SCAD I just wish a project would finish itself.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


*vid should be here, but apparently 1.5 hours isn't long enough for it to bloody well work*

here is the basic opening title sequence for my short. so far the first 8 scenes (all finished) encompass exactly 1:30, and considering that's only 1/3 of the way through the story you can start to see why I'm getting antsy about getting this all done. luckily most of the latter scenes are all repeated backgrounds, just the character animation changes. i've been trying to work more with symbols, but because i still dont understand them its extremely difficult.

I am in the process of completely finishing up what I do have. All my scenes are being comped and proxied in After Effects so that I don't have to worry about doing them all right at the end and not giving the sound design enough time to mature. i've set up my files so that i can basically drag and drop the final flash comps into the global file and have a cohesive scene flow. so its just animating (plus 4 backgrounds) to go from here! Other then the fly-thru that I dropped due to complexity (not regretting that choice at all, lemmie tell you) this is true to my original vision. i can literally just animate and drop in AE from here on out. after that its all sound design and final edits, which shouldn't take long as I have no dialogue and already selected the soundtrack. the biggest challenge will be doing all the non-track effects (like thumps, scritches, wind, environmental echoes) and compiling the appropriate credit list. since I called upon my fellow rat owners to send me pictures of their fattest rats in return for his/her name in credits (and got a great response!) I have a lot of credit to place where it's due. :)

Hokay! So if Blogger ever loads this darn title sequence I'll post it for ya!

Yet another background for your consideration

More backgrounds, woo.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Updates from the Nocturnal Realm

Ah yes, the morning. Its around that time that I usually journey to Montgomery to begin my glorious work time. fortunately today i came around 7 and am considering calling it an early night (around 3) because my eyeballs hurt from looking at computer screens all day.
I moved to the cintiq lab after I finished painting weights on my character, touching up the rig on a wheelie chair and finishing my animation as such, and modeling an iPod and headphones for a wind-down from maya. my character rig is practically complete save for the right hip painting and some weirdness with the drivers in the right hand (probably happened when i mirrored the weights, oops).

so now I'm back in FlashLand.

I'll be completely honest with you all... i totally slept through 2 alarms this morning. i had my phone set to go off and i actually do think i consciously turned it off, but obviously that didn't work too well. i slept thru my other alarm. when i finally woke up around noon it was counting up... 5 hours since it should have been turned off. XD
the weird part was that i didn't stay too terribly late at monty. i left around 4, so for all intents and purposes it was a normal sunday. i guess rigging is more intensive than flash? eh, who knows.

I am so ready to be done with anything not maya. not because i dont love 2D, but because Flash and i still haven't learned much about each other, so every step is arduous and more learning than fun. with maya i know enough of the program to make problem solving fun and interesting. i hope one day to feel the same way about flash, but until then... *slog slog slog*

my goal is to finish 3 more scenes tonight. or finish animating 1 scene and complete 2 backgrounds, whichever ends up happening. the best laid plans of mice and men...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Oh look, a clip!

Ohmygosh! Wow, it's progress! *lol*

mmkay, so I'm not really happy with it but lets face it, at this point we'll have to take what we can and just keep slugging along. so have fun with this one. :)

EDIT: for some reason playback is pretty jagged, I assure you that the .swf does NOT do that jerky thing. quicktime fail!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Too Close for Comfort

I'm in that in-between stage of work where I'm not quite comfortable with how much time I have left but I know its still totally possible to finish on time. Its not how much work I have, but rather how painful the work is. Inbetweening is classic hell for a character animator, at least in my experience.

That isn't to say that I'm not having fun. The scenes I have left are pretty limited or simple when it comes to animation, and most of the blanket scene(s) can be done with symbols instead of fbf, which will be a nice change. its also a lot slower moving, which means i can do more animating on twos if i want and save a chunk of time.

and now, ladies and gents... i return to my chill music and my re-do of the long pan. I think this'll be the teaser I post, since its the longest consecutive scene so far.

peace, y'all!!

EDIT: haha, just kidding... I completely forgot that i had to do 2 tone shadows for the long pan, which basically doubles my finishing time. and since I would enjoy at least a few hours sleep between work time and class this morning I think i'll punch out and call it an evening. So until later, I'm afraid you'll just have to sit tight until I complete the scene. :)
(slightly unrelated, I had an amazing work day today... my first caffeinated experience at Monty this year by choice, and boy i can see why it could be addictive!)

Monday, May 4, 2009

More Backgrounds

Not quite finished, but finished enough for me to animate on. i'll go back and pad out the remaining 'blank' spots in the room later when I have time (and if I dont get to it thats OK too, since it looks more empty than bad).

speaking of animation, at some point I have to suck it up and go back to do the whole long pan scene. I may tackle that today/tomorrow and just knock it out since I have some pretty big irks about it since the file crash. I think I will take the opportunity to revise the intended path, though. and change some of the timing. *nod*

Its all good!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Backgrounds Ahoy

Been workin' the backgrounds recently, as well as animating scene by scene. its frustrating to work with a program that makes it extremely hard to animate frame-by-frame with much continuity. ah, well.

have fun with these teasers. :)

Well, I zonked out at 2:38am on backgrounds. I did too much running today to justify an all-nighter, I just realized. Plus I have to do so much tomorrow I think putting in 4 hours of sleep is a good idea. Ergo, I shall be unable to post the epic under-table shot I'm currently in the midst of conquering. *sadface*

Still, it can't be said that I didn't try!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Not sure exactly what I'm updating about, really. I'm pretty much in the same boat as before: trudging along with the works. my scene 2 is less inspired for some reason, I think I'll just wrap it up best I can and move the heck on.

Peace out!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Scene still

For your viewing pleasure, here's a still from the first scene. All thats left to do in this scene is some touch-up inbetweening for the rougher transitions and a final color key, otherwise we're one down and 25 to go!

whaddya all think? i hope this is a taste of just how intense I like my backgrounds to be. thats why they're taking all this dang time. But I'm totally digging the intersection of a sketchier animation style to the fairly polished backgrounds. woo.

enjoy, and thanks in advance for any critique!

Overcoming Obstacles

Despite saving every few keyframes, Flash decided 45 minutes ago that it would no longer save my file. Apparently it was in use by another program that did not exist. I could not save it under another name nor in another directory, the temp file, or an external hard drive.
that file contained my completed first scene and the rough animation for my second. this is not the first time flash crashed on me. the first time it was "still responding", although was taking up 45% of the computers' operating power for no reason. it was unresponsive. luckily i only lost a few frames of progress and the original file remained intact.

when it stopped allowing me to save i was able to copy-paste the frames from the open scene into a new file and save it firmly in 4 different places, but i lost the entire first scene.

the entire file disappeared. it no longer exists and there is no record of it in my M space or the temp drive, which i was working off of. this was following a typical system crash which also wiped out internet use for the duration.

i have now lost cumulatively over 20 hours of work and effort in this project. Congratulations, Murphy. You almost had me. Now watch while I kick your ass.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


OK, guys... that time has come! I started the frame-by-frame animation on the long pan (only finished background so far) and it is amazing to get back into '2D' animation. I did the blocking and am now going back in to do inbetweens. its all rough, uncolored, un-lined animation at this point, although I do kind of like the style so I may continue with it. The shapes are easy to work with and flow well, I guess I cant ask for an easier character unless I want to go with an oldschool flour sack, haha!

anywho, there's really no content so far except to be all like "ohmygosh, i get to animate again!!"

Just for kicks, here's the EXTREMELY ROUGH first pass of the long pan scene. the animation 'flashes' after the first half because i haven't gone in and done the rough inbetweening yet. this is not the final animation, dont worry. the greyed out background helps me see the character, it won't be like that when the movie is finished.
so this is what the next 35 days will be for me. animation! *dance dance dance*

Backgrounds, Backgrounds, Backgrounds!!

Argh! So many backgrounds!!
Now I know why so many people choose to do minimalist scenes; every scene in my piece has to be cluttered in some way. thats a lot of background time. really there's no file setup involved since I'm not doing cutout; all my time is in rendering backgrounds and frame-by-framing the final animation.

luckily I got all the tutorials done over last weekend so I'm homefree with that. Now its all this project from here on out in this class. Coupled with the rigging class and I have a decent workload. Not that I'm complaining (I missed not having 12 hours of work a day), but after a few weeks of relative downtime its a bit of a chore getting back into the swing of things.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Ugh... backgrounds. so many to do, so little time to do 'em! these high-res texture based backgrounds are killer 'cause you have to recreate everything from a flat matte and shade it to create the object.

here's what i have so far for the big pan. its still extremely empty, obviously, and I'm working for the most part from the top down. its sad 'cause all the rat environments have to be cluttered 'cause he's a packrat. d'oy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

dancing me's!


Troubles in Ratland...

Well, the good news is that i've finally gotten the hang of rat faces. the bad news is that the body isn't so solid. the worse news is that i'm having difficulties making flash do what i want it to.

at the moment my flash handicap is much more significant that i had originally thought. as a result i'm going to do a heavy styalization piece instead of a realistic one. backgrounds high res images, foregrounds practically b/w. i have to start background painting immediately if i want to have any hope of getting it done in time.

i think i'll head over to monty for a few hours to knock some of this out. i have a MAJOR case of put-it-off blues right now. it can't be healthy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Character Turnarounds: Mr. & Mrs. Rat

the heinously still-unnamed Mr. Rat's character sheet is for all intents and purposes complete. i dont think color is exceptionally important ATM so I'll deal with that later. I actually did this sheet in vectors but it looked too 'put together' for the animation style i'll be doing the characters in.

EDIT: Added Mrs. Rat! (dang, they need names)

Monday, April 13, 2009

New Character Sketches

Still working on nailing down this character from all angles. here's some studies i did. sadly, no reference (done in class) but nonetheless rather cuddly and adorable.

More Updates

Well, here's to updating!

I'm not quite sure what the purpose of this update is intended to be, so I'll just toss some general stuff up. To be honest I didn't get much of a chance to work on this project over the weekend due to a combination of filming and fundrasing. My week included lots of prosthetics, sword fighting, drag queens, and pizza. it was that awesome. The only time i could spend on homework was sunday, when i instead took care of the 5 loads of laundry that had been steadily threatening to consume both my laundry baskets AND a small portion of my bed and caught up on the 19+ hours of sleep I'd been missing. Turns out I only got 10 hours that night, but whatever. Its better than the usual 5.

unfortunately, 4 of the 5 models i've been using for my ratty reference have to go into the vet today. they're looking so sad about it, too. They know what it means when the travel cage comes out. Hopefully all will be better soon. Still, a vet visit for all 5 is a pretty penny and quite a chunk of time. A healthy model is a happy model!

Project-wise, I've fallen behind my personal comfort level. I don't have any completely final backgrounds and since i had my heart broken by my animatic i haven't been back to polish the storyboards. but hey, judging by some (read: most) of the other blogs i'm still ahead of the game by median standards.

well, peace out yo. I'm off to learn the symbol switch button. :)

(Oho, forgot the jolly fat businessman I promised!)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Updates and Such

Well, its been a pretty productive few days! I'm currently planning and beginning to execute 2 shorts simultaneously. as fun as that sounds, its just as challenging. So balancing the work for both (one in flash, one in 3d) is tricky.

But since last class I started doing the final backgrounds for my scenes. i'm doing cutout backgrounds integrated into a single composition like the Halu games, my source of inspiration. it pulls it away from my original theme a bit, but it also affords some leeway when it comes to animating the characters in terms of the style.

I'm having trouble with rotoscoping the flythru using static objects. i may just export the maya file as a toon shader and use that raw if I can, it would save me about 3 days of work, haha!

Just starting on the walk cycle animation for the tutorial today. I'm gonna try and do a jolly fat businessman! what glee.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Baha! I LOVE IT!

Best new flash. Epic.

Rotoscoping, Muybridge style!

Bwaha! Rotoscoping is SUPER FUN! I really love it. I can see so much possibility for some really tweaked-out experimental animation with this method.

Anywho, I'm going to do some reference video of the rats and rotoscope it for the second half of the project. not only will it be impossibly awesomely fun but it'll also help me get more of the motion down on rat-style.

Clearly I should start drinking caffeine in the mornings. Otherwise extreme randomness like this happens. D'oy!

Attempt at Blogger-style tables

Well, Professor Delao said it would work... here's hopin'! :)


Sound Effect



Soundtrack start [:The Kiss]

Camera pan to waking RAT, RAT yawns (slow back truck)



RAT greets family, slt rt pan






CU on RAT (smiles)



LS on family, push to BABY RAT/RAT


Soundtrack 2 start, drips, feet on pipes

Long downward pan, follow RAT



Push/fly follow RAT, OTS follow up/push thru fly


Soundtrack 3 start, ambiance

LS (static) RAT [climbing to floor]



LS pan right RAT [crossing floor]



C-LS/spy RAT [from under couch]



OTS w/FOCUS CHANGE pan up [sees target]



HOLD static W/E view for RAT climb


Soundtrack 4 start

LS RAT [reaching for target]



Tight/LS [slips]



B/E view fly follow [fall]


:soundtrack cut:




Slow fade in, eye view RAT


Soundtrack 5 start (fade in)

C-LS/spy RAT [from under couch]



LS pan left RAT [crossing floor]



LS(static) RAT [struggling up]



LS fRAT (foreground) FOCUS CHANGE t/window


* :soundtrack fade out:

EXT window, in to fRAT [looks worried]



ECU/RAT [passes] (slow fade out)


Soundtrack 6 start

Slow fade in, slow pull from target



Fade out




Sunday, April 5, 2009

Frustration, AKA beating on Macs

So the M:\ drive has been a complete waste of everyone's time recently and appears to have a personal glutton for making my life a living pit of death.
Today (because *shock and horror* the M space was down and because macs are too retarded to have a temp drive) I was forced to work off the desktop to do my polished animatic. Well, 3 hours later and I'm thinking of calling it an afternoon and heading off to dinner.
I save my file and quit photoshop, happy with the progress I'd made and what I'd accomplished. My buddy showed up so we could eat together and as I logged off I was hit with the sickening realization of what I'd just done.
I hadn't moved the file from the desktop to any other folder and the desktop is not a D:\ accessable drive. It was gone.

Excuse my french, but CRAP.

So I will not be doing a final animatic for this project. forget it. it is not required and I see no reason to re-expend an additional 3 hours of my life doing something that is not neccessary. My luck and murphy gave me a sound beating.
For the first time in my life I took out my anger physically and there is now a very sorry trashcan lying on its side at Dyson. I have lost many things in my dealings with computers, but none of it equal to three hours of my intense labor.

Hope your day is better than mine.

Monday, March 30, 2009

First Taste

A first taste of flash... bittersweet to be sure. I much prefer animating with keyframes to animating with the graph. I had IMMENSE trouble with graph editing in Maya, and it would appear that Flash is no different. I have this hypothesis that I'm not-so-secretly completely graph-illiterate. I mean c'mon, it doesn't correlate to anything! Just numbers! Sheesh. Frame-by-frame is totally more my style.

I digress. As requested, ye olde flash animation:

Enjoy my failure! :P

For those of you seeking the premise...

Oy! You! Yes, you! The person trying to find my premise!

Its a few entries down, don't be afraid to scroll. If you want more info click on "Older Posts", there's a few tidbits all the way back there.

Although, as per some excellent advice by a fellow classmate I'm going to re-do my premise. I had forgotten that I'd posted a rather loose version, I have since tightened it up (script, storyboard etc) and totally spazzed out by not posting the more final version! D'oh!

The scene opens with Rat, a father and devoted family man to Momma Rat and Baby Rat, rising from a good nights sleep. He yawns as a silhouette, backlit by sunbeams streaming in from a hole nibbled in the wall. as his focus clears he sees his family and smiles.
A long shot of momma and baby rat pulls back as Rat enters the frame from the left, walking up to his family and smiling fondly at them. He prepares himself mentally for another day at his job, gathering odds and ends to collect in true packrat fashion. The family's collection is already immense; their home is cluttered with miscellaneous objects like pocket watches, old slippers, and doorknobs. As Rat and his son share an emotional bonding moment, Baby shivers slightly. Rat knows exactly what he's looking for that day... a blanket for his family!
Rat heads off to work, his character is further introduced/enforced by a long pan following him down the recesses of the wall from his home to the pipe he uses to get into the house. Along the pan we see many of the things he has collected; a pair of hole-y sneakers, some jewelry, old cups, shoelaces, a belt, an umbrella, some baseballs, a few keys, and many other objects. Rat climbs through or behind these objects in most cases.
At the end of the pan the camera switches to a fly-behind (rotoscoped from 3D) of Rat running along the pipe to the hole in the wall past which he finds all the glorious loot. the OTS shot continues until his head clears the hole in the wall for a cut to the long shot of the room establishing the hole's position therein.
Rat climbs down and there's a series of static or quazi-static shots of Rat running along the floor. A focus change OTS shot shows Rat finding what he's looking for... a blanket on the tip top of a bookcase. Worms-eye view camera/local cam switch for his climb to the top of an adjoining bookcase, the only way he can get to the blanket.
As Rat reaches out over the precipice to grab the blanket he realizes it is just outside his reach. curling his tail around the wood of the bookshelf for stability he tries again, extending as far as he can. CU shot as he grabs hold of the blanket... and starts to fall.
Clean cut to a first-person perspective fall-to-hit shot (think Kung Fu Panda, Po) and the screen goes black.
'Blinking' camera work (again first-person) as Rat clears his vision. as the camera chages to a fuller shot we can see that his back legs don't look quite right. the blanket has fallen around him, making almost a nest. Rat struggles, bleary-eyed, to assess his situation. He is clearly suffering to some extent.
Perspective shot as Rat looks towards the hole in the wall, the way home. The room seems to stretch before him.
The camera follows him as he starts dragging the blanket back, slowly. For the most part all we see is the blanket, Rat is basically covered by it. Process is extremely slow and sad. we follow Rat as he gives his all to get this blanket back to his family. When we get to the hole-in-wall shot (from the room side, not from the wall side) we see him struggle up the wall against the weight of the blanket. cut to the wall-side hole-in-wall, light beams streaming in (now the afternoon). Rat's sihlouette appears in the hole, struggling with the blanket. Camera pushes in slightly as he struggles to drag the blanket a little further into the hole.
CU shot of Rat as he clings to the hole, barely holding his focus. He closes his eyes, accepting what he feels is inevitable. As the shot fades he slides from the hole into the room, falling unconcious to the floor.
Back in the 'den', Momma rat can tell something is wrong. the daylight has faded and Rat is usually home by now. She holds baby rat tighter and looks to the door, waiting for her partner to return. baby rat looks peaceful, unaware that he wont be seeing his father again.
juping back to Rat, we have an ECU on his upper body/face. he is clearly skewed, he has fallen for the last time. he breathes heavily a few times before closing his eyes and setting his jaw in preparation.
A slow fade in to the pipe scene from the wall side shows us the blanket, hanging in the hole. Rat managed to bring it all the way back for his family, despite the pain and without the use of his back legs. he sacrificed himself for the health of his son. Fade out to black and final credits.

So hopefully thats a bit clearer of a piece description. Enjoy! :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Music and such

I've been perusing my extensive soundtrack collection and have gotten really excited about a few different prospects for composers that really hit home for this piece. So far I'm super psyched about Danny Elfman a la "Milk" (light, positive despite minor blends etc) and Nico Muhly (works in "The Reader", dark but full and satisfying). I'm also tinkering with Kerry Muzzey, but his stuff is fairly soft and there's no real positive swell in his work.

Overall I'm still open to suggestion, though. Because there's no dialogue (the entire column on the script document is just "X") the music has to speak volumes for the scenes. I can see it being a confusing piece on mute, which is dangerous territory... but the result WITH the music when I've shown the tests to a couple of my fellow SCAD-y's has been 100% positive.

I finished rough digital scene 1 storyboards and started on 2-3, but I'm not happy with how digital looks (not loose enough). I'm going to go back and re-do all the scenes in pencil and scan in to tone. I laid out the big introductive pan in blocking and mapped out the character path. So the foundations are all there for me to go ahead and do background work for scenes 1-5, since they're flat backgrounds. I'm just scared of digital painting because I haven't done it in so long.

OK, honesty time... I really haven't opened Flash since last class. Its just so scary!! I had it explained to me very briefly, but to be perfectly honest I'm hoping to spend all the time I can in programs I already understand (photoshop, mostly). I could have knocked out the first few tutorials, but since I do need the extra help I opted to do it with the class so I can learn from the ground up exactly how to do this thing.
Also, I'm going to be perfectly frank and say that I'm having trouble with the characters in all their poses. I'm having problems reconciling the 'pudgy' style I'm going for with the movement of a rat. I haven't done pencil tests yet, but i think a lot of this will rely on my life drawing (and lots of it). So we'll see... we'll see.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Script... Check!

I went ahead and finished the script for the film, it's got quite a healthy scene load but luckily multiple environments are re-used and they're mostly matte painting so it should go pretty quickly. I'm worried specifically about a 'fall follow' camera move that I'm... not confident about pulling off effectively. I'm looking to the fall-to-hit camera move in Kung Fu Panda for inspiration. the trick will be to replicate it in Flash. XD

Anywho, I may try to hack out some rough storyboards tonight if the lab clears out a bit, although secretly I think I'm gonna end up laying down the 3D forms as the basis for my big opening matte painted pan. I guesstimate it to be roughly 7 full frames high... it'll be one heck of a jpg!

Peace, y'all. Happy animating!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Inspiration via

OK, so this gentleman (user "dward") from just has awesome all-round aesthetics. Example:

Basically all his characters are pretty freakin' sweet. I won't be animating in that stylized a form of line, but i reckon its pretty dang interesting anywho. (Oh, and for kicks... here's his link:

This gentleman is a bit closer in terms of overall form to what I'm going for, but still not the aesthetic. He kind of harkens back to an artist I know as "Shoomlah" who has always been extremely good at making global shapes work well. An impressive skill to be sure.

Alright, I'll be frank... the rat idea is not unique in hollywood. They tried to do it in Ratatouille (and lets face it, didn't do the best job at actually capturing the ways of the rat) but that doesn't mean that I can't. If we as artists didn't do something that'd already been done there'd be no new art!
The tragic thing about it is that I LOVE all the art from the movie. The sketchy 'Parisique' style is what I'm going for. In the pic above it gets a little too 'cutout' for my tastes, but lets not split hairs. In the end my style is never going to be identical to what I'm hoping to emulate so really being picky is all relative, haha! I'll have to scan in some pictures from the book unless I can find a better archive online, 'cause Google aint got no love for me at the moment.