Thursday, September 22, 2011

Animating Backwards

Animating a complex metamorphosis effect in clay can be an epic task. Try animating it backwards and reversing it in post production. Start with your final sculpture and animate it transforming into a blob or simple shape. Then export your frames in reverse or flip your animation in editing. This method will give you greater control over the final appearance of the character, and will go a whole lot faster than forming a detailed character one frame at a time.  Lots more details in the above tutorial.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Experimental Animation

This semester I will be teaching experimental animation at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. While researching examples of found-object animation I came upon this collection of creative projects.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hallmark Announces Stop Motion Special "Jingle All the Way"

Okay, I'm plugging this because I'm on the animation crew...

In the tradition of TV’s best-loved animated Christmas classics, Hallmark Channel announces the World Premiere of “Jingle All the Way,” a Hallmark Channel Original Animated Special, starring one of Hallmark’s most lovable characters, Jingle the Husky Pup™, which premieres exclusively on the network, Friday, November 25 (8 p.m. ET/PT, 7C).

In “Jingle All the Way,” a spirited Husky puppy looking for a home at a Christmas tree farm instantly bonds with a young boy visiting with his parents. As the boy rides away, unable to keep him, the pup escapes and embarks on a snowy journey to find his friend again. Guided by a wise cardinal and the sound of jingling bells, he eventually receives the help he needs from a big man in a red suit just in time for Christmas morning.

The animated special offers the first-ever opportunity for viewers to activate the Jingle Interactive Storybook and Story Buddy™ while watching original program content based on the book.

“Jingle All the Way” is a Bent Image Lab Production. Chad Harris, Jodi Schade, Diana Stuart, Shawn McClaren and Ray Di Carlo are Executive Producers. Tsui Ling Toomer is Producer. Chel White directs from a teleplay by Allan Neuwirth.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Stop Motion Tutorial: Lip Sync

Animating a dialogue scene in CG has the advantage of being able to refine the smallest of details until the very end. But with stop motion and clay animation, A desired change in the timing of the lip sync can call for a complete reshoot. How can you avoid those reshoots and fully prepare for well-timed lip sync? Here is an in-depth look at preparing for and shooting lip sync for a clay animation character. I've includes methods of reading tracks, principles of working with dialogue, and techniques of stop motion and clay animation.

Side Note: This week I started work at Bent Image Lab in Portland Oregon on a stop motion project. It's one of those hush-hush projects so I can't get into details or share pictures. It is, however, already proving to be an epic learning experience as I step back into a stop motion studio after being away for fifteen years. So I will at least be able to pass on learned techniques in future tutorials.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The 2011 Montreal Stop-Motion Film Festival

This was just handed to me:

Hot on the heels of the hugely successful second edition of the Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival, we are officially opening the Call for Entries for 2011.

To enter your film in the festival,
download a submission form, fill it out, and send it in, along with your film.

Deadline for film submissions is: September 26, 2011.

Please refer to the entries section on our website for answers to any questions you might have concerning eligibility, dates, accepted formats, and new rules.

This year, the professional segment has been updated with a new category for films-commercials less than 1 minute in running time and we will have more guest appearance during this week-end long event that promises to be super cool!

The festival will be held in Montreal, from the 21st to the 23rd of October 2011.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How to Stretch an Ear

A skilled CG modeler and rigger could create a character that can stretch an ear to arms length, but I know I can't. There are some animation tricks that just work better in clay animation, and this sort of squash and stretch is one of them. After completing the short Make a Face, I created this tutorial to explore the effect.

The second short, Make a Friend, went online last week. From that one, what would you like to see examined in a video tutorial?

Clay Animation Quick Start Guide

I am also a guest writer on the 11-Second Club blog. Here is my entry on getting started in clay animation.

Welcome to the X Sheet

Hi, I’m Michael, and this is my reel.

When I’m teaching an animation class, that is generally how I start the first day. The reel is not to show off, but to answer the question “does this guy know how to do something I would like to do?” While there are already some great blogs out there to present you with examples of fine stop motion animation, my goal is to present video tutorials that explore the methods and principles of how this animation can be created on a minimal budget.

I also give my class a quick review of my career: After graduating from San Francisco State University with a degree in film, animation emphasis, I worked at a stop motion animation studio called Matthews Productions for five years. We made shows for PBS, ABC, and the Disney Channel. The daily quota of footage was pretty high, but it was a great opportunity to develop a bold animation style under considerable creative freedom. This job was followed by eight years at Pixar. Smaller quota, less creative freedom, but I learned a lot working for masters of animation. After that I worked in freelance, games, mocap (Imagemovers Digital), teaching, and video production.

Then last year I thought it would be interesting to apply what I have learned while working in CG to stop motion animation. I started with a couple entries in the 11-Second club. I then started in on a series of shorts for Copic Markers. Now I find that there is an audience for video tutorials on the subject, so as I work through these projects, I will make detailed videos about the production process.

I hope you will consider this blog to be not just a site to view these videos, but also to interact with the stop motion and clay animation community. Post links to your work in comments. Ask questions. Answer questions. Request subjects for future tutorials. Share your recipe for microwaved baked potato and beans (who has time to cook while working on animation?).