Saturday, 19 December 2009

AM full Progress Reel so far

Here's a quick post with my full progress reel so far. I updated my hopscotch shot a little, but am going to leave my other class 2 shots till later. My mentor said that as I improve, I'll look at them in a different way and it will be much easier to see what needs doing, and bring them up to the next level. So that makes sense.

Looking forward to next term, although I think it's going to be a challenge - hope I'm up to it!

AM Demo reel classes 1 and 2 from Sarah Knight on Vimeo.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Walt Disney 2D animation - back in style

So, I promised you lots of posts all at once ... ahem. Here's the second! It's a little film review, my first ever, so I hope you enjoy it and that I don't get too carried away with purple prose. Feel free to stop reading at any point, I'll never know! :p

On Sunday I was lucky enough to attend a special preview screening of the new Disney 2D animation The Princess and the Frog. I very much enjoyed it - absolutely worth the early morning Sunday start.

The story starts off in typical Disney fashion with a fairy-tale, but then suddenly twists off in a new direction, which keeps things fresh - you're not entirely sure where the story will end up. It's set in New Orleans in the 1920s and there are some stunning backdrops that set the scene beautifully, with some catchy jazz music to further enhance the setting.

There are numerous references to past Disney films which are fun to spot, and a few modern updates to Disney's worldview. There's a strong female lead who is getting on with life, pursuing her goals, and not waiting for her prince to arrive. When a prince does roll into town, she ignores him. There's also a more modern take on wishes - the message being you can still wish upon a star kids, but don't expect your dreams to come true unless you work for them too. Nothing comes easy - it's not enough to be a good person and find a star to wish on like in Pinocchio's day - nowadays you've got to back it up with hard graft. The moral messages were sometimes laid on a little thick, (I prefer to be shown these things rather than hear them spouting from the characters' mouths), but I can forgive a little overcooked sentimentality, as there were also plenty of laughs and entertainment along the way, with some brilliant comic characters.

The animation was great. There is a huge variety in characters - from people (at both ends of the animation spectrum - realistic and charicatures), to animals (hulking alligators to tiny fireflies), to malevolent skulking shadows. All of them move in a natural and appealing way. There was some fantastic exaggeration, (I'm already looking forward to the DVD so I can frame through some of this stuff!) the frogs jumping demonstrated some beautiful arcs ... in fact I could pretty much sit here and list the 12 principles of animation and tick them all off for you. However, I'll refrain and let you discover them for yourself. I also really enjoyed the more stylized graphical 2D animation (not sure if that's the correct term) that was used in some of the dream sequences. It broke things up a bit and added some more texture.

OK, so the film wasn't perfect - there were a few incongruous moments, and the odd bit of slightly less than perfect draughtsmanship. However, all in all, The Princess and the Frog feels like a great way for Disney to re-enter the world of 2D animation. The group of animators I went with all enjoyed it, and judging by the well-behaved audience at the screening I went to, where children outnumbered adults by roughly 3 to 1, it's a film to entertain the whole family.
Disney is back, doing what it does best - solid story, gorgeous visuals, great animation and keeping hordes of kids (young and ... grown-up) spellbound.

It's out in the UK in February - go and see it!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Animation Mentor progress

Sorry for the loooong absence. Keeping a blog updated is harder than it looks ;)
Or rather, writing about things I think people might be interested in is harder than it looks. However, all of a sudden there are a couple of things I want to blog about, so you're getting lots of posts all at once!

So firstly, my animation progress. AM continues to be a fantastic place to learn all of this - I'm not sure where the last term went! Would have liked to be a bit more active in checking out other people's work etc. - hopefully I'll start to get a bit more organized with my time for next term.

Here's the current state of my 3 assignments for this term. Not 100% happy with these shots, but am close to the point where I'm not sure what else to do with them to get them where I want them to be. The dance in particular feels a bit lacklustre, and still can't get the turn on the hopscotch working how I want. I've still got one more critique to come from my brilliant mentor Leigh Rens though, so maybe I'll be able to improve on them a bit more in the last week.

Hopefully I'll be able to raise the level of my animation next term, and start producing shots that I'm proud of.

Anyway, hope you enjoy seeing what I've been up to! ;)

p.s. Vimeo seems to have done something odd with the video at the end which wasn't in the original quicktime. Apologies for that.

AM Class 2 shots from Sarah Knight on Vimeo.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Hopscotch shot

I am going to try to post a little more reguarly this term than I did last term, however things have already got off to a busy start!

Had a brilliant Animation Mentor meet-up with other UK students in London last weekend, which was great fun. Good to catch up with friends I'd met before, as well as chat to some new people. We went and saw Pixar's new film Up, which I highly recommend. The visuals were stunning, and as always, a very good story with plenty of emotion. A tear may well have actually trickled out from beneath my enormous 3D glasses ... and plenty of laughs as well. Think I might have to go and see it again!
Was good to catch up with everyone and compare notes on Q&A session times, Mentors and shots, and generally talk animation without boring people!

After a day of fun, it was back to work again on my shot. We were allowed to choose from a list of things, and having never seen another hopscotch shot, and because I thought it would be fun, I decided to do that. To plan the shot, I had to film video reference, so the neighbours had the opportunity of seeing me bouncing round the garden on no less than 3 occasions! After feedback from my new mentor (Leigh Rens - seems like a great guy, and a good teacher so far) I was able to get going on blocking out my shot, which you can see in the first part of the video below. Then this week I've been working on tweaking the blocking, and then moving into spline, which is the 2nd part of the video below. As you can see, everything is now a bit floaty and swimmy and "CG" in the worst possible way, so my next job is to go in and try to pull back the snappiness that was in my blocking, and improve the weight and timing.

However, I thought you might like to see where I'm up to. I'll upload the finished shot once it's all polished up nice.

hopscotch shot progress from Sarah Knight on Vimeo.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

AM Term 1 complete

So, term 1 at Animation Mentor has come to a bewilderingly fast end. I seriously have NO idea where the last 3 months of my life went, but somehow I have a reel of animation to show for it!
I had a fantastic time, have learnt so much, and made some great new friends. Looking forward to Term 2, but am also happy to have a bit of a breather this week.
Apologies for the lack of posts, I will endeavour to do better. It was all a bit chaotic, but I'll try to keep things a bit more organized in future and hopefully post a bit more.

Here's my reel, it was thrown together at the last minute, so is a bit rough and ready, but it shows you what I've been up to for the last 3 months!

Animation Mentor Class 01 reel from Sarah Knight on Vimeo.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

AM Week 5

Oooof this week has been hard work!
Assignment - animate a ball going round an obstacle course and do a "devastated" pose. The animation principle we're concentrating on this week is "Squash and Stretch".
Got some poses up for review early in the week, but really struggled with the animation side of things. It looked awful for so long that it wasn't worth putting up for my fellow students to critique, but I slogged away at it and got it up for comment yesterday. As always, had some very helpful feedback and then have worked hard on it for most of today (Sunday) and am reasonably happy with what I'm submitting.
Animating has made me realise both how long a second actually is - you can fit a surprising amount into it - but also how short 5 seconds is! That was the time limit this week, and it really was difficult to stick to.

I have re-done the ending in the bowl, over and over and over, trying to get the timing right, then take some frames back from it so I could make other bits longer. Animated that part frame by frame, again and again, but in the end I think it's come out ok. Not too sure about the very end, but it'll do.

This week has been a lot of work, and has meant I've missed out on fun - managed to escape for a couple of hours to go to a party but had to leave early, and then missed my friend's gig that I wanted to go to. Oh well, I guess sacrifices have to be made! And it'll probably only get worse. Am hoping that this isn't the start of increasingly difficult assignments ... but I suspect it may be. I'll let you know!

In the meantime, enjoy my animation (or what you can see of it - kind of hard to make out, and it seems to skip half of it the 1st time you press play, but will play it properly if you do it again):

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Proud Animation Mentor Student

I'm so proud to be an Animation Mentor student in fact, that I now have a badge :D

Animation School


Haven't quite managed to work out how this might be displayed in my profile at all times, but I'm sure I'll get there sooner or later. It'll do here for now.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

AM Weeks 3 & 4

Time is going really fast! I guess in my head I was thinking I would be doing blog posts every week, but maybe that won't be happening. I'll try to post pretty regularly though, and keep you caught up on anything. "You" being my exclusive and loyal audience of about 3 people!

Animation Mentor is still brilliant! Week 3 the assignment was a bouncing ball the weight of a football and an "excited" pose. Only the die-hard animators among you will have any interest in the bouncing ball, so I won't bother posting that! Here's my excited pose though:

My mentor's feedback was basically that I had executed it pretty well, a fairly solid pose ... but that 80% of people will have done a variant on the fists in the air pose! And to stand out as an animator, I need to start thinking outside the box a bit more. So I've taken that on board, and here is my revised pose (with a slightly nicer background!):

So that was a useful lesson to learn early on I think. I need to take risks and go for things that may be outside the 'safe zone' but at the same time will much more interesting and genuine.

Week 4 has been to do a heavy and light bouncing ball which again, I won't bother to upload here. It's gone OK I think - just waiting for last minute feedback from people before I submit it as my assignment.

Had a pretty awesome live Q&A webinar the other day with school co-founder Shawn Kelly as well as Scott Benza and Rick O'Connor who all work at ILM and worked on Transformers 2. It was happening at 8pm in California which is 4am here. Did I get up at that ridiculously early hour? Hell Yeah! Was it worth it? Abso-bloody-lutely! Really cool to hear all their stories and get a real insight into what it's like to work in the industry and have the opportunity to ask any questions you want. It's this kind of thing that makes me really glad I chose Animation Mentor - where else would you get the opportunity to have a chat with these people? And in my pyjamas too! Awesome!!!

Also excited by the developments with Mass Animation's Live Music. I discovered I now have my own entry in IMDB as Sarah Knight IV (animator). Being described as an animator on IMDB is a pretty awesome feeling and just reinforces what I'm working towards and makes me more enthusiastic and determined to get good at this than ever.

So yeah, a pretty excellent 2 weeks! Looking forward to doing more complex assignments and having more opportunity to add a bit of character to my animation. This week it's a little bouncing ball pinging around an obstacle course.

Thanks for reading, I'll update again soon! :)

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Mass Animation announcement

Just wanted to do a quick post to say that the New York Times has written about Mass Animation and that according to them, it will appear in front of Planet 51! Which is pretty cool - it's a film I've heard of!
And also, just that the New York Times, writing about something I've worked on?! The world has gone mad.

Very, very excited. I keep getting excited about animated things these days ... I hope my heart can take it.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

AM Week 2

So, Week 2! It's been a pretty cool week. I'm reluctantly starting to accept the fact that I'm actually hoping to launch a career as a Creative Person, or Artist. Not something I've really thought of myself as before. Animator? Hell yes! Artist? Oooh er. Creative person? Me?!?! (Side note: did you know that a question mark followed by an exclamation mark which I just used twice, is called an interrobang?! Isn't that just the most awesome word?! Look I just used 2 interrobangs in 2 sentences in a row! They're brillant! Anyway, back to my animation adventures...)

The assignment this week was to go out and sketch people in the street and then choose your favourite pose to create in Maya. I was a little hesitant about going out and drawing people. Staring at strangers isn't something I feel comfortable with, nor is drawing in public where people might come and Look At What I'm Doing. However, once I got going, I really started to enjoy myself and have decided that I need to keep sketching (advice that I keep hearing) whether out in the street, or while I'm watching TV just to practise drawing. So that when I move onto the more complicated stuff, I'll be able to really communicate what I'm trying to do, with a few drawings. And people can look at them, and know what I'm saying, without a running dialogue from me "Oh, and that's supposed to be his arm. And yeah, she's actually meant to be riding a bike. Oh, and here, they're hugging, not trying to kill each other". That's the idea anyway! And actually, I'm rather enjoying this drawing malarkey.

I found posing Stu the model harder than I thought I would. To begin with, I just could NOT get his arms to go where I wanted them to. At all. Just ridiculously useless. And I started to panic slightly as classmates had already posted some cool poses, and here was I with one arm bent double behind his back with his elbow coming through his chest, and the other one still stuck out at right angles to his body. And I thought "I must just not be cut out for this. Maybe I can still animate. Maybe there's a market out there for animators who specialize in characters with no arms. Yeah, I don't need to give up on my dream. I just need to stick to animating musical instruments ... or ... or ... double amputees ... "
However, with a little perseverance, and another watch of the "how to" video, I managed to get the hang of it. So I may yet become a fully-fledged animator, able to pose arms and everything!

Got some great feedback from my fellow students, and have submitted the above pose as my final piece of work. Looking forward to my mentor's critique.

Next week we actually get to do something that moves! It's your classic bouncing ball, but at least it's animation! I'm excited.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

AM Week 1

So apart from uploading my work for you folks to see, I've also decided to start a journal of my time at Animation Mentor here - apologies to those who aren't interested. You can just skip these parts - they're easy to spot, as they're the ones with all the writing and no video window ;p

Week 1 at Animation Mentor has been very, very cool. As good as I hoped it would be, and better. The website is a work of wonder in itself with SO much information in the form of videos, forums etc. And everyone has been really welcoming and friendly. It seems like a really great community, and I'm so excited to be part of it! After months of pondering, and then deciding, and then applying, then waiting, it's great to finally be there, and able to log into the site and have access to all this amazing stuff.

My mentor, Elliott Roberts seems like a nice guy, and has experienced VFX, Features, and is now working for a gaming company so he's got experience across the board which is great. Our first assignment was very easy - just upload a picture to your profile and fill in a bit about yourself. So having done that (and constantly remembering other 'favourite' films or interests that I wish I'd put and resisting the temptation to update my profile every 5 minutes) I've spent most of the week working my way through the Orientation videos which have been useful for finding my way around the site. There are still a load of other videos that I need to get round to watching - will try to get through those this week while the workload is still light.

Have tried to "put myself out there" as they encourage us to do, so despite being quite shy at that kind of thing, I've been round and about leaving comments and messaging people and trying to really get into it. And so far, it's been a lot of fun and not scary at all :)
(Although for the moment I'm still shying away from video journaling)

Anyway, just thought I'd give a brief update on how the week has gone. Watch this space if you're interested in my Animation Mentor adventures and if you're not ... don't!

Bye for now!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Mass Animation trailer

I am really excited to see the Mass Animation trailer out. It's so cool to be able to see everything lit and rendered, and I couldn't believe that my shot made it into the trailer!
Apparently they have a distributor now, which they'll announce at SIGGRAPH in August. The film should be out this Autumn so hopefully my work will be coming to a cinema near you soon!
In the meantime, Animation Mentor starts in just 3 days, so plenty to keep me busy while I'm waiting for the premiere ;)

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

House textures

Back to the Escape course while I wait for Animation Mentor to start up.
This tutorial involved mapping textures to a model of the front of a house. Very simple, and once again, just following instructions, but I'm really pleased with the finished result. I'll have to attempt my own projects once I know more about how to create these things, rather than use ready made files. (And buy a copy of Photoshop?!)

Tutorial, model, textures etc. provided by Escape Studios

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Animation Mentor here I come!

I got my login details for Animation Mentor! I am so excited! It's getting closer and closer... really can't wait till the 29th when it starts properly.
It's hard to describe just how excited I am (especially to non-animators) but a frog on a pogo stick comes close...

Monday, 25 May 2009


I've been trying to improve my drawing skills, as lots of people say this is a good foundation for any animation. Did some sketches in the garden yesterday, and then today I decided to just copy an animation straight from Disney.
Here's a puppy run cycle, originally by Frank Thomas, which I've done my best to copy. I slowed it down a bit to show it more clearly. I think the spacing (or drawing?!) is a bit off in the middle, but in general I'm quite pleased with it. My favourite part is the ears!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Happy Birthday!

I've done another 2D animation to wish 2 very good friends of mine Happy Birthday. Hope you both enjoy your birthdays, and that you're not yet too old for silly animations of guitar-playing guineas!

Guinea pig happy birthday from Sarah Knight on Vimeo.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Happy Birthday sis!

Here is a special birthday animation to wish my big sister a very happy 30th birthday!

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Vimeo test

Just testing out whether my videos would work better from Vimeo. Here's the little girl skipping again, only BIGGER!!! (I hope).
Vimeo seems to have made the weight fall twice, so it slightly ruins it, but interesting to see how it looks on my blog page.

Skippety skip from Sarah Knight on Vimeo.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

2D scribbles - skippety, skip

I downloaded some cool open source 2D animation software:
and have been playing around with it. The idea is that I'll be able to do storyboards, animatics, and general planning and timing with it, to help with the 3D stuff. I think I've barely touched on the possibilities, but just stuck to what I could work out.
However, I wouldn't rule out random silly animations like this one.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Waking lamp

I wanted to do something slightly more creative with the lamp, rather than just following the tutorial, so I added a short sequence to the beginning of the jumping lamp to try to add a bit of character.

Model, rig and jumping tutorial by Escape Studios

Sunday, 5 April 2009

The rest of the shots for Massanimation

Here are the rest of the shots I animated for Massanimation.

Models, rigs and music courtesy of Massanimation and ReelFX.

The winning shot - don't blink:

Thursday, 26 March 2009

A couple of Massanimation shots

Here are my Facebook Massanimation shots that didn't make the final cut. Yes, they are very short.

Models, rigs and music courtesy of Massanimation and ReelFX.

This a shot of the Daddy cello jumping down off the shelf to go and sort out the rock guitar:

This is a shot of the Daddy cello going to sort out the rock guitar and the Mummy cello jumping down to sort out the Daddy cello. Probably my favourite shot that I did.

And now it is not letting me upload any more videos . Will try to upload the rest soon.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

A Pixaresque Lamp

Here's a lamp animation that I did at the weekend which I'm really pleased with. The model was made by Escape studios who do the online course that I follow, but everything else was me. (Following their instructions though, of course! No originality or creativity on my part whatsoever.) I just keep looking at it and going "It looks like a real light! An actual shining light!"

This is approximately my 50 millionth try to get this film up - finally, it has appeared! Quality's not great, but you get the idea. It's a jumping lamp.

Model and tutorial by Escape Studios.

The Legendary Rustic Scene

It's my Rustic Scene! Finally you get to see its rustic wonder, in all its zooming out reveal glory, with your own eyes! You need imagine no more.

This was the very first CG animation I did. After spending hours creating the fruit, the bowl, the walls, the barrel and the concrete floor and then lighting it, it was pretty cool to see it all come together. It's a little blurry here, but you get the general rustic idea.

Chair model, textures and instructions by Escape Studios.

The beginning of a beautiful journey

Hello, and welcome to my first ever blog post!
As I'm constantly talking about, and trying to describe my animations to you, I decided that maybe it would be a good idea to put them in a place where you could actually see them. I may make it public later but for now I thought I'd just share it with you guys.

I hope you enjoy it, please let me know what you think of my work!

Sarah x