Thursday, 25 March 2010

Class 3 finished!

So I have now completed a term of Advanced Body Mechanics! I honestly, do not know where the last 9 months have gone. I'm halfway through Animation Mentor already - how did that happen?!

This term has been fantastic. I have learnt so much and am really starting to feel like I'm finding a workflow that suits me. The more I learn about animation, the more I realize there is still to learn ... but the more enthusiastic I get about continuing with my education! The couple of days with Pixar reminded me of what being an animator means - you need to understand acting, story-telling, cinematography, physics, anatomy, movement - and life in general. Which I find incredibly exciting - there's always going to be new things that I can learn, and apply, to improve myself as an animator. I bought a load of books and am trying to learn as much as I can about all this stuff to help me in Class 4 - acting! I'm really looking forward to it. Which is just as well, as the break between these 2 terms is only a weekend! However, I'm raring to go, and can't wait till Monday!

Here's all the work from Class 3 - I'm definitely starting to see an improvement in my work, which is so encouraging. Still a loooong, looooong way to go, but it's nice to see I've made a few small steps.

There's still a certain amount of jitteryness on the first two shots, and I plan on cleaning them up later, but have run out of time for the moment.

Progress reel from AM Class 3 from Sarah Knight on Vimeo.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Weightlifting - polishing

Here's the next stage of my weightlifting shot. Haven't had as much time to work on it as usual, what with the 2 incredible Pixar days. However, have spent the majority of today working on it, and think it's nearly there. Been smoothing out some of the movements, and trying to add more weight.

Weightlifting - polishing from Sarah Knight on Vimeo.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

When Pixar came to town

I just spent the last couple of days voluntarily shut away from sunlight in a dark, incredibly hot room, at the brink of dehydration with a large group of other sweaty, mostly male people. And paid a fair bit of money for the privilege.

It was worth every penny and I loved every minute.

Why? Because I was attending the Pixar animation and story masterclass, and it was awesome! You know, awesome is a word that has become overused, however, these last couple of days were truly "awe-inspiring" so I feel justified in using it here!

Taught by Animator Andrew Gordon and Story Artist Matthew Luhn, they got through a huge amount of very informative material and by the end I felt like my head was going to explode with all the incredible information I'd crammed in!

Obviously, for them to work at Pixar you know that these guys are among the best in the business. But being a great artist doesn't necessarily mean that you're a good teacher. However, they really are. Both of them had a wealth of examples to back up every single point that they made, which really helped in driving home the information and demonstrated how these concepts are applied in the real world. They were also entertaining speakers, as well as very patient with answering the endless questions that poured from a slightly star-struck audience. And as a massive Pixar fan (as most animators are I think), I was in geek heaven!

Being an aspiring animator, I was unsure what the story-focused second day would really have to offer me. The answer turned out to be "a hell of a lot"! Naturally, Matthew Luhn knows how to tell a good story, but what surprised me was that actually he showed me that I can create stories too - we all can. He did a series of interactive exercises with us, that demonstrated that with just a few simple tools, we are all story tellers. And we can all create characters, and situations, and even gags, out of nothing, in just a few minutes. It really opened up my mind to exploring the endless possibilities and utilizing my own creativity. And all the cinematography stuff he covered is going to come in handy as I move onto my acting shots in the next couple of terms at AM. So I got a bonus day of amazing information and inspiration that I was not expecting!

They specifically requested that we don't post any of the notes online, which is fair enough, so unfortunately I can't share any of it with you here. However, Andrew Gordon has posted a huge amount of information on his blog, as well as some very interesting podcasts, so head over there if you haven't already.

I'm sure a lot of the information that they both covered is available either online, or in books, but having it presented in this way by people from Pixar was really incredible. It was like being in an enormous, live, behind the scenes DVD feature, but with specific information tailored to you, and your interests and that lasts for 2 days! And being live, you get to control it to a certain extent by being able to ask questions and have them answered - right there. It was truly inspirational and has completely reinforced my desire to be an animator, and made me want to work at Pixar even more badly!

I know that a similar masterclass was held last year in London (this one was organized by Escape Studios, so subscribe to their newsletter for any future events) and I've read that Andrew Gordon has taught this class all over the world. So if it comes to a city near you at any time in the future I would highly recommend it!

Oh, and they said that Pixar are hiring right now. So if you think you've got what it takes, send in your reel!

Me? I'm not planning on giving up the day job just yet, and need to get my head out of the Pixar clouds and back to my weightlifting shot ...

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Weightlifting - refinement

Here's the next pass on my weightlifting shot. Tried to address notes given to me about making the weight "weightier" so have taken more time from the beginning to slow things down a bit on the lifts. How is the deep breath looking? Is it reading? Still not sure whether it's working or not. Does the weight look heavy enough?

Let me know how you think it's looking, thanks!

Weightlifting refinement from Sarah Knight on Vimeo.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Weightlifting splined

Here's the next pass at my weightlifting shot - trimmed the beginning to allow more time for everything else.

I realize I've had to that on all 3 shots this term. I've put in what I think are nice little bits of character, and then had to radically chop them down to allow enough time for the main action.
Maybe soon my planning will improve so I won't waste time on things that are going to get cut!

Let me know how you think it's looking. The video itself should be looking a lot better as I finally got round to altering the playbast resolution to match Vimeo.

Weightlifting blocking plus from Sarah Knight on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


In case you didn't guess from the title, this week I have started a weightlifting shot. To be honest, I wasn't entirely enthusiastic about this. I got completely carried away by the Winter Olympics, and was thinking about doing some kind of ice related sport as my final body mechanics shot this term. However, in the end I decided to go for something I thought I should do, rather than for what I felt I wanted to do. The first two shots I did were both propelling the body along, so I thought it would be good practice to do a more stationary shot. And everyone loves a good weight test don't they?! I was also attracted to the challenge of making something look really heavy.

And actually, once I started to really analyze the video reference for this, I got really into it! I have no idea why anybody would want to engage in this sport, as it looks painful and dangerous, but once you really go into what they do, it's fascinating! The key to it seems to be to get some momentum going on the weights to launch them upwards, and then get the full body beneath it to power it upwards.

Really interesting body mechanics vs. physics.

So here's my first blocking pass. I'm pretty pleased with it, but feel that it's lacking character and any real oomph. I think I'm starting to get the hang of blocking things out, and continuing with my shot to a certain stage. However, the polishing stage is still a real issue for me, and also, I tend to err on the repressed side of caution. I feel that everything I animate is just a little dull. And the motion might all be correct for the most part, but there's no wow factor to it. So I think I need to start trying to exaggerate things a little more.

...That sentence illustrates the problem exactly. I end a sentence about exaggeration with the words "a little more". Aaaaaargh! I need to get out of that mindset! I'm going to exaggerate things! By a lot! That's what makes it exaggerated!

So anyway, let me know what you think of it so far. Thanks for dropping by, I appreciate you reading my woffle :)

Weightlifting animation blocking from Sarah Knight on Vimeo.