Saturday, November 16, 2013

LOL Reindeer

Hats off to those who manage to chronicle the production of their own animated short, cuz that's what I intended to do on this blog and, well, I didn't.  But here it is the end result anyway, just in time for Christmas.

So the story is that several years ago my daughters Rachel and Alana asked me to video them singing Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer together.  I had a feeling the recording would have a future use, so I had them sing it a second time.  Since then I had been trying to come up with a side animation project that would mix animation mediums and techniques, and the Rudolph recording came to mind.  The idea was to try my hand at different forms of animation, including hand-drawn, cutouts, and AfterEffects, while still ending up with a video others might actually want to watch.  The end result is something of an animated Christmas card.

A goal of the project was to get through production without spending much money.  This resulted in the creative use of existing props and materials as well as hardware and software that may not have been the ideal choice.  For example, I colored the hand-drawn frames in Photoshop even though something like ToonBoom would probably have been better.  And certainly a DSLR would be the best camera for stop motion, but the best I could do was an HD camcorder.  I patched in a standard-def signal into the computer in order to use Dragonframe while shooting, but captured the frames to an SD card to edit later in AfterEffects.

This took fourteen months to make, but there were stretches of time I didn't have the opportunity to work on it so it's hard to say how long it actually took.  It mainly involved being creative with available time.  I did most of the CG animation while commuting to work on Bart and buses.  Unemployment provided chunks of time, though I could still get in some work in the evenings while working full-time.  I can see spending months more polishing and redoing parts, but it's almost Christmas, and it's time to move on.

And since I don't have a lot of experience in modeling and rigging CG characters, I want to give a special thank you to the 11-Second Club team that created the rig used for the main singer, as well as the creators of "Andy," the rig I used for the elves.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Rudolph WIP: Animating Cookie Dough

Have started in on the stop motion bits for the Rudolph Music Video.  This is using a ball-and-socket armature from a kit, a foam/cotton batting body with doll clothes, and clay.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Friday, May 3, 2013

Rudolph WIP: Like Monopoly

I'm trying different mediums in the Rudolph music video, and this is my first try at animating 2-D characters in After Effects.  The technique is based entirely on this tutorial by Dan Stever.  I drew the separate body parts, scanned them, "cut them out" in PhotoShop, and imported them into After Effects.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rudolph WIP: Yippy!

Animation gets underway with this clip a girl jumping through Christmas presents.  It will be finished in crayon to look like a child's drawing.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Something for Christmas

This is an animation project I'm working on this year, hopefully finishing in time for Christmas.  I took a recording of my kids singing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and am making an animated music video out of it.  All segments are in progress, be it blocking, pencil test, pop-through, or layout.  The idea is to utilized many different animation mediums including CG, stop motion/clay animation, After Effects, hand drawn, and cutouts.

I'm seeing if I can do this on a budget of next to nothing, utilizing what I have on hand from previous projects.  For example, the lightbox I am using for hand-drawn animation is an old Light-Brite with a plastic picture frame glued on the top and a peg board taped on.  It's actually working.  I suspect others have to work like this, so perhaps I will be able to pass on some tips and tricks as I go along.

My plan is to post individual shots as I move forward with them, and providing what I hope will be some useful insights into how they were created.  I would appreciate any feedback, critiques and better ideas at any stage.

Let's see if this can really get done by Christmas.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Startup Guide

Getting back to basics this time. This tutorial gets you started with the right camera, software, and tools. But from the very beginning you can go further than just making things move around by exploring the principles of timing in animation.