Saturday, December 17, 2011

POSE 2 POSING... to SPLINE (an insight)

Holidays are here!
     Make sure you check out the Prep and Landing short that just came out last week. Those characters are very great and it's a very nice and sweet 20 minute short. The story telling is really has got cranked up a notch at Disney! And it only gets better with new AMAZING shorts and their new film due out next year: Wreck it Ralph.

     Some other updates I want to mention: I want to bring some attention to my buddy Andrew Chesworth, who is an amazing animator. He does 3D animation with me at Disney but he was brought up on 2D animation. He recently won a contest for a small piece he made. His stuff can be checked out at  ANDREW CHESWORTH

     Another artist that I'm vey exited to mention is Brittney Lee. Most might know her work already but that still does not take away from how great and unique her work really is and it's always worth mentioning again and again. I recently ran into her at work and was able to get my hands on one of her prints/painting. If you ever get the opportunity please take advantage of it. I liked this painting especially  since I've spent the last 5 years in SF.

Brittney Lee
     Animating at Disney has taught me a lot. Most importantly, the amount of information and detail pose to pose animating can have. I was always turned off to pose to pose animation because it got messy fast when you went to stepped to spline. You could not tell what was happening and it was hard to pick out what control was making what pops. But having warmed up to pose to pose for the last 3 months here at Disney, I have got a technique that I want to share and hopefully it can help you out when you are animating pose to pose.
    Before I got from stepped to spline, I always lay another set of KEYS on everything before the value change in the graph editor/timeline. I know that was confusing, let me clarify: In STEPPED, your timeline looks like this with your keys: l       l        l         l         l         l....

what I do before going to SPLINE is:  l          ll          ll         ll         ll        ll....

Why? I do this so that when I switch to spline EVERYTHING STAYS THE SAME. And then I can go and animate one control/avar at a time while everything else stays on 'stepped'. This way I can animate the root (or what ever else I want) without ANY distractions and everything else just pops or stays still while I polish what needs to be polished.

This has helped me out a lot, I still keep my layering method for polishing and I get the benefits of pose to posing.

I don't know if this is something every does and im a little behind or this is new and could start helping some people. I hope it helps you and who ever else is having trouble when transitioning out of stepped. I hope all of you guys have fun over these winter holidays and have a lot of fun, The New Year is a few weeks away!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Mouse

The Mouse is everywhere... 

-All I have to say is that... big things are on the horizon...

      Disney has some crazy cool things in store in the next few years and it is a VERY VERY exciting time to be here. Riding on the heels of Tangled are some very emotional filled movies that I can't wait for all of you to see. Disney Animation Studios is packed with talent in every hall way and over every desk and with the over sight of Lasseter and Ed, the studio has many bright days in front of it. I can't speak of most of it but just take my word for it since im behind the scenes. :)

      Being here at Disney is very rewarding because they give you opportunities to draw and grow as an artist. I have been oil painting and life drawing more than I have in a while. Here are some things I've done..

Figure Drawing.. quick 2 minuts stuff

Oil Painting, one hour

So what I want to touch upon today is something very simple but very hard to control:

      -Ever have a hard time with an assignment? Know whats wrong with it but just need time? When people take a look do you feel the need to jump in there and point out the flaws so they know you're not a dumbass and can see the mistakes you have made?

       Then how about you DON'T show people!!!!! Get your work to the point where the excuses stop and your work can speak on its own. Bc THEN, when people grade that, their notes touch upon much more valuable information. This recently happened to me. I wasn't raised on MAYA because where I was at, they used house made software and it was very well good. Now I have to use maya and I have to learn it while I try to do my best on my shots that are given to me. In the beginning I used to show early and often, like how one is suppose to, but I noticed some of the notes I was getting from my peers and mentors were notes coming from my inexperience with Maya.. but I didn't say anything because no one likes excuses :) So I started staying late and only showing my work when it was the furthest I could push my animation in the time given and where it wasn't evident that my inexperience with MAYA was a factor. Then I started getting notes that mattered and they really helped me out.

Theres a Beast.. and it's called MAYA

       So thats a little example of something im going through right now. None the less I am having a blast. I know I know I've been getting emails of people asking me the same question so I'll answer. You can not really compare PIXAR and DISNEY's animation houses. they are two different machines. One house in my opinion, is more Spline conscious and the other is more Pose Conscious. What do I mean? Well one studio focuses a lot more on the graph editor while the other one is heavily heavily influence by 2D style of animation :) and both of them are very very powerful. It's like trying to compare super powers, you can't! Each house has it's own strengths.

So that's it for now, I have to cut it short this time (no epicly long Post this time, but I will try to post again soon!!!) keep on animating and see you at CTN because it's right down the street :)

-Daniel Gonzales

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sometimes Disney happens...

Currently I just started working at Disney Animation studios. there is a lot of work on my plate and I apologize in advance for the lack of post for the next 2 months. I will revive this blog soon, but not for now, expect very very short posts in the near future. I'll fill you in on what I'm doing here really soon.

Keep on making art and you'll hear from me soon!

-Daniel Gonzales

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Animating a Shot: Part 4 (End)

A still from a my Dialogue Piece

      It's funny how different you can feel in a span of ten minutes. Before your work is done you are begging, "No more, let it be done... take it away.. take IT AWAY" ..but ten minutes later when you realize you are done, you discover a craving for more; Another idea, another project, the sole possibilities of what might be your next art piece, is too much to bare. You'll find yourself nose first in your sketchbook roughing out and brainstorming your next big idea..

     So here is my finished piece of animation. I do like it but I hate it as well. 3 weeks it took me to complete it and I'm pretty proud that I kept myself to a constant pace of work. I always learn more form completing a piece than I have things to boast about it. IT's always possible to FINISH, just set your mind to it. the more you follow through and finish, the easier it becomes.

-I wont fill in the characters unless I have to, it's a personal choice. I like seeing the lines. I personally like rough animation and pencil test more than I do finished "tied down' drawings of animation.

     -A few explanations of my choices in this animation piece. 

     Why a sunset background? The mood wouldn't be the same with a bright sunny day. The audience would be questioning the setting if I staged it at 4 in the morning, 'Why are they out there that early?' I chose sunset because it is the END of a day. It's when you have to call it quits and accept that theres no more daylight. similar to how my character is accepting that, "It's not for me." He too is accepting his fate.
      When making small decisions such as background and setting, The amount of attention you give each choice can only improve and add depth to your art. It was a conscious choice of mine to keep all shots of my Main character clear and just leave sky in the background. He has his mind made up, he is thinking clearly and knows exactly what he wants. So I chose to represent that with a clear background of the sky.    
     On the other hand I chose to crowd my secondary character's composition as much as I could with out making it obvious. I added power lines in the first shot and a expensive car in the background. Not only do they crowd the composition and made it 'busy' but the power lines added a diagonal that I enjoyed. With the secondary characters next shot I crowded him yet again in the composition. A little bit more to show some progression. I am mainly crowding him to contrast the main character's composition. The secondary character's mood is a bit more sour, aggravated and indifferent. I think a crowded composition with a few diagonals represent that just fine in comparison to the main characters shots.

(diagonals, straights and other visual story telling vocabulary are all real elements that animators, directors, and other artist use when making an art piece. If you didn't know, go out and educate yourself on it. It'll change your perspective on film dramatically)

      I added one subtle thing I'd like to point out. I had established in the opening shots that my main character was Screen Left and my secondary character was Screen Right. But in one shot I switched the main characters orientation in relationship to the screen. I put him on screen right. 'Whats the big fukn deal DANNY!!!!!??' you ask. Well this is an example of emphasizing a point within your shot.
      In the beginning I listened to this dialogue and tried to figure out where was the POINT, where was the Umph and climax of the line of dialogue. It had to be "It's not for me." That part of the dialogue seemed to me to carry the most weight. So without doing a cliche' gesture and over the top acting to point out and say,"Hey everybody look at this, its the most important part!" like how most people tend to do, I took step back and asked how else can I emphasize this part. While taking a story telling class with Mark Andrews back in college I remember one thing story boarders tend to do to emphasize a point in the scene, it was to mess up a pattern or a 'Normality' that has been established. So decided to break up my screen direction. It didn't bring attention to itself or disrupt the flow of the animation piece so it was a success to say the least. It's not a big deal BUT, it does add that layer of complexity to the pice and keeps it from looking bland.

     So I will turning this in for this months contest at If you'd like to participate and vote be my guest. We'll see how it goes. I do not believe it will win on the count of how limited my animation is, people tend to like the cartoony stuff and appealing acting. If I could do this again I would not change it, I felt this line of dialogue called for a limited acing role and performance that in some cases might be more powerful than overacting. What will I work on next? I don't know... actually I do know. But I wont finish it till June or July of next year. 

I hope you enjoyed and found these 4 post helpful or at least insightful. Don't stop sending me work, I always love critiquing and giving advise back to you guys through email. I liked it so much I'm doing it professionally now. I just started at Animation Mentor as a mentor. But you could still send me your work for me to critique here for free :) like how I believe all information should be.

-Daniel Gonzales

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Animating a Shot: Part 3


     Happy first day of fall! So I'm just about over the hump of the hardest part of completing an animation piece. Yes yes, I had the beard going, blood shot eyes, the zombie stare, the anti-social anti-food anti-TIME feelings flowing freely in my mind. I was in the Zone. It doesn't look pretty from the outside (ask my girlfriend haha) but on the inside, it's wonderful, my mind was 100% on creative mode.

     If you think physical/acting animation is alone the toughest part of the whole process, you haven't animated dialogue yet. Not harder but it's almost the same level of difficulty as acting and physicality. I believe it takes the most amount of attention and concentration. Your background music, podcasts and side conversations must be put on hold when you are listening and drawing mouth shapes for dialogue. So in tradition of the first person story telling style of the last 2 posts, here I go:

     I know mentally this is the most draining part of the process. So as I prepare my desk by setting up 2 mirrors and an extra pillow on the seat of my chair, I'm mentally thinking of all the mouth shapes one see's through out the day. The funny thing I noticed is that YOU DON'T SEE mouth shapes. You kind of interpret the shape when it flashes by. And in a sentence you only see the Major sounds take shape in the mouth.

e.g: "Fuck"
-You will see the 'F' shape very clearly and is mainly the only shape you have to nail when generally animating the word. The rest is just jaw and a general 'UGH' mouth shape.

     So I'm going over all I know mentally before I start. When I start animating, I initially want to exaggerate EVERY LITTLE SYLLABLE. But a quick trick where you put your hand under your jaw, and say the line of dialogue and take note how many times your hand dips. The points when it dips/or opens wide, are the points to exaggerate the jaw opening. This keeps me from animating my characters mouth opening on every syllable. So I first draw in the key poses when the jaw opens in my animation. I time those poses out to match the dialogue perfectly. Then I move on to other major mouth shapes such as the M's B's F's P's V's. I make those shapes very clear so that they can be read at a moments glance.

      While animating the mouth you always have to be aware of a very important thing. That the mouth is connected to the face. If you are just animating the mouth and not moving the head, nose, or jaw; your mouth would look like it is floating on the surface of the face. So all it takes is a small stretch of the nose, or a blink on a hard accent, or countless other tricks to make your mouth feel connected to your face. Also (to those 2D animators out there) always check the distance from the top lip to the nose and bottom lip to the chin and try to stay consistant. Many times I found my mouth drifting closer and closer to my characters chin with out my knowledge.. Lots of erasing... lots of finger cramps..

Here is a video of the dialogue (90% finalized)

     If dialogue was the biggest mental drainer, then finishing up and 'inking' of a piece is physically draining. As i finished up doing my dialogue I was OVER my piece. I wanted it does, I wanted to be done, I was ready to start on something new. It's a very trying time. I took two days off my work. Went outside and got some sun, I went to Santa Cruz and visited my brother, caused some trouble and just messed around. I was not eager to start the process of drawing wrinkles in clothing over and over again for 150 frames straight. I was not eager to draw an oval of a head 500 times and keep it consistent, I was not eager to sit 10 hours at a time and kill my hand tracing and erasing and tracing over and over again...
      But I went online, read a book (King Lear), watched a movie (The INSIDER) and went on a campaign to inspire myself again. And that's all it took, at eleven at night after watching a movie with my lady, the surge and energy of inspiration hit me and I immediately took advantage of it because i know in the morning the inspiration it would be gone. 'Aren't you coming to bed?" she would ask, "No, I feel like [I gotta work] work, I have to get it out of me."

     When I animate and I'm nearly done, I POLISH as I INK. which means as I am outlining my animation with black, I take notes on what can be pushed or tweaked. But I don't always fix them as I come across the mistakes for fear of ruining the momentum I have at the time. If I was to stop to solve the problem I have found, it drains the clock and it also drains my motivation. One hour and finishing a scene of 5 seconds? or spending an hour fixing 4 frames (5 percent of a second)? What makes you feel like your being more productive?

SO here is me while I am finishing up, hopefully I have time to really polish the hell out of it. It's the last push so I'm going hard: more hours, harder concentration, and keeping constant pace.  I do still see mistakes in my animation but I'll try to finish first then go back and fix them.

How I feel right now: tired, motivated, and a urge to push until I break which comes from insperation

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Animating a Shot: Part 2

 100Th Hubble
Universe showing off it's still the best at creating beauty

     So it's easy to DO the work in your head. Like right now.. Bam! just created a master piece. (in my mind).
     But to actually start on your work is a very crucial step that most artists never get to. Last post I talked about 'planning' your shot and making it specific conceptually. But now it's all about planning your work technically and executing your animation. Last post I talked about the very very first stages of starting an animation piece, here I will continue that post..

     I had just finished story boarding my shot so I know what camera angles I want. The next day I sit down at my computer and think about my acting. I do rough poses and draw them into my storyboards. Then I play them to see if they 'feel' right in the time given. 'FEEL' right referes to, does it feel aesthetically correct, is the timing rushed rushed? Do I read the acting as a viewer? Is the tempo of overall movement complimentary to the tempo of the dialogue.. All these things have to come into play.
      Think about it, if the tempo of my movements in my animation are beat for beat that of my dialogue, then on each word or accent I will have movement. First off, that is not natural and it will be too distracting. So After an our or two of getting the beats and acting right, I came up with this (you might call this BLOCKING):

     The timing is pretty close to what I had originally proposed with my initial storyboards. The cuts work, the characters are not over acting, every choice I made checks back to the very specific background story I had came up with. This part of the process did not take that long, but I still stop working for the day because I know the NEXT step is the most difficult....

     "My project is 24 frames per second but for every frame I make I duplicate it so that it comes off as 12 frames per second. But when there is a movement or an action I will not duplicate and animate all 24 frames per second thus giving me more control over my timing and the ability to make the action read better."

    I'm thinking this to myself as I get out of bed... I 'm recalling how Disney animators use to animate during the golden age of animation. Mostly on 12's, but on 24's when the action was complex. If you do not know you're multiples of 12's, 2's, 6's and sometimes even 3's, you are going to be animating blind when it comes to planning out movements and timing. Math plays a SMALL role in animation but a crucial time saver if you use it correctly.
     For example. In my first shot I want my character to lift up it's head. I do not want it to happen in one frame as it is right now in my story boards but in a normal like manner, but not too slow that it feels mechanical. So I think in my head, "one second is too long for a head lift, so maybe half a second.. (I try lifting up my head at the speed I want) It took a little less than half a second to lift up my head. So that means when animating my head lift it should be 3-4 Frames. Why 3-4 frames? 4 frames is 1/3 of a second. It's not quite half, which would be 6 frames (because 6 is half of 12.) 12 frames being one whole second. four frames would be pretty damn close to the timing I am looking for.

If that was confusing, that should be a red flag.

       (This is the part of the process where all new animators rush too and they skip all the prior steps I have done.)

My Order of Operations:
Movement, Stills, Facial, Mouth Dialogue, Specifics (clothes, hands, hair etc)

      So I animated. I animated all day. The first things I animated were the movements. Movements are the most eye catching elements in animation and they have to be timed out right so that they do not catch your eye at unwanted moments after your dialogue is done. (I DO NOT start animating dialogue yet) So once I get the physicality and acting believable then I would move on to dialogue.
     When I animate I will usually draw out the first and last pose, (lets look at the first head lift again) I will draw the down position of the head and the final up position. Then do in-betweens. BUT LET ME TELL YOU ONE THING, I actually tried to takle this with straight ahead animation but I re-did it many times (5 times). Because when you do straight ahead you do not have constraints and limits. So each time I would play what I had just animated, It would over animated. I had way too much of an anticipation, or I had an overshoot I didn't even need, or worst, I threw in an arc that was totally unnecessary. I was getting very frustrated, because it all looked good but it wasn't the FEELING of acting I had in my story boards. I asked my self what did my storyboards have that this animation does not. It had simplicity. The story board JUST had a simple head raise, not some fancy dance move of a head raise. I stood up in front of the mirror and did the head raise, I was right, not a lot happens during the head lift. So after an hour and 37 minutes I animated the correct head lift in 9 minutes.

     Remember to not be satisfied with you're work UNTIL YOU GET WHAT YOU DESIRE. That said, there is another side to that piece of advice. While I was doing the part, "you never, cross the finish line.." I had other ideas come up as I was animating... a lot of ideas matter of fact. I had thought of many more acting choices that my character could be doing on that line instead of a head shake. So I animated them to see if they were better than my current idea. They looked good, but again, in the whole big picture, it didn't feel or compliment the whole project very well. But I still had ideas and I kept animating them out. If you have time, always explore other solutions. At first I did not realize they were not working because they didn't flow with my animation piece as a whole, I thought they didn't work because of my animation ability, and I re did it and re did it soo many times I almost threw my pencil at my cat. Everything gets better when you walk away from your computer and come back later :) 10 minutes later or an hour later, it all does the same good... My original idea ended up being the best solution, so after 4 hours.. I finished animating the right solution in 1 and a 1/2 hours.

Duchamp, animating within a painting? hmmm.. think about it..
      So this is where I am at now in my animation process. Here is a video showing what animation I have done so far. The things I have not mentioned about my process are things I take for granted. I should be telling you:
      I ALWAYS check that my drawings are somewhat consistant, that my forms hold the same volume in each drawing and if I'm in doubt, use guidelines on the face to help out with the construction of the character.  I tend to draw past the edges of the camera to make sure my pose and proportions are right. I try my hardest not to hold frames. and if I do they are only to show timing bookmarks and not to be left in my animation for the final product. Try cycling 6 drawings before you EVER hold a frame.                      
     I also write notes to my self on the page. Timing quirks I come across, notes on the eyebrows I did not want to waste time animating right now (remember I'm only doing physicality, even though I have a big urge to start animating the face and mouth I have to keep myself from doing so.)
Sometimes the notes have nothing to do with animation. I write down things I think of for futre projects or write down ideas that inspire me. You might also just see things I wrote down because I want to wikipedia them later!

And before you ask, I do listen to music and podcast while I animate. but when I do dialogue I do not have anything else playing.  What podcast? Today was the podcast "Things You Should Know".

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Animating a Shot: Part 1

Once you start something, you have to commit. Like Ajax here preparing to fall on his sword.

       Animating a shot can be just as challenging as starting a painting, turning on your camera, sitting at a piano, or even picking up a pencil as you are looking at you blank pagel...

..because after you grab your tool... then what.. where do you start? HOW do you start?

      So instead of telling you a few pointers I will take you along how I go about starting a piece, in this case animation. But the same amount of thought and detail of my procedure can be put to any art form. Since I had mentioned the 11 Second Club last week, I will be using the dialogue segment they provided for this months contest. The clip is roughly 12 seconds long. I will have about 4 posts of my progress and problems I encounter and finish by the end of September. So lets get started then shall we?

So Get Your Dialogue... 
      How many of you out there do this: You get your dialogue or assignment and your ass giddy as Richard Simmons on a treadmill, you think about what you are going to do, you toss out the first 3 ideas because that's what you where TOLD to do, then you ask EVERYONE what they think about your fourth idea, you take ALL the good ideas you heard and mush it into one super idea, then start working!
Only to find out that half way through you lose all motivation and drive to complete the assignment you have now lost interest in...

      Sound familiar? I bet it does, especially to you animators. Painters and others are mostly by themselves any way but animators, as natural collaborators constantly go to each other. And they usually fuck themselves over. So before I go into how I go about starting a piece I want to just say, that I am not saying by any means MY WAY is the right and only way. There are millions of ways to come up with good pieces of animation but this is a way I find highly successful. Take it for what it is and hopefully it helps you out.

      -I went to the website and downloaded the dialogue. ( I read in the description and it said it refers to football since football season is about to start and they wanted to be festive about it. (First unintended obstacle I encounter: I read an interpretation of the dialogue, and now have to try to stay un-biased when I hear it.) So now I'm thinking of footballs and helmets and stadiums... this is a bad start already. The line of dialogue reads:

"There is no end zone. You never cross the goal line, spike the football, and do your touchdown dance.. Never. It's not for me."

       So I start cussing out loud because the line has NOTHING to do with actual football but now I'm stuck visualizing 50 yard lines, players and locker rooms. The line is a metaphor. For what? I don't have a clue, I do not know any context or a hint of what the hell I'm dealing with. I sit down and think for 5 minutes. What first comes to mind? Stupid ideas, like always. So I get up and forget about it. I have to! And I don't plan on revisiting it till tomorrow because what I'm doing is setting myself up to listen to it again with a clean un-biased plate. I let my girlfriend listen to it, she doesn't say anything because she is use to the routine and lets me be.


      As the day goes on, I'm in the middle of washing dishes and NPR plays in the back ground, I think about my line of dialogue. It sounds like the man talking is giving advice.. He is using 'you' in the first part of the sentence. Who is he talking to? Better yet, who is he??? These questions plague my brain through out the day..  maybe he is giving advice to a guy who is about to get married?

      I am content with my conclusion that he is giving advice to some one else. So the next day I sit down and start to write down on my 'X-sheet' (for the non animators, this means that I am starting to map out what words and sounds land on which frames of the animation. In other words, a tedious process) But as I finish and walk away, I'm thinking about the dialogue in my head.. WHY DOES HE SAY "IT"S NOT FOR ME?" I try to forget about it and go along with my day. What I am doing here is trying to let as much time go by so my ideas 'marinate' in my head. The longer they stay in my head with out me acting upon it, the more chance I can think of something critically about the ideas and solve potential problems..

.."it's not for me"...
       Without these few words the line would be a straight forward advice sentence. Some guy would be sitting next to another guy, slaps him on the shoulder, and basically says there is no happy ending. That's that :) but these last four words.. (it's not for me) hint of something deeper, some subtext of: been there done that. What situation could you be in to say something like that? A specific one. I fall asleep staring at the ceiling and say screw it, I'll just do a cinematic close up of a mans face and make him deliver the line. Forget trying to think of a context and a setting. I'm losing time over this planning shit... I nod off to sleep.. (First Mistake, settling for something sub-par)

      I go the whole next day with no new ideas and here comes night time so I sit down ready to animate. I haven't tested my idea yet.. but I already know it's crap. That's why it's been ten minutes and I'm just staring at my screen. (by the way I animate using a 2D program called TVPAINT.. it's cool) I need to bounce my idea off someone. Someone I trust. Not just any thinking piece of meat out there, I need someone who knows what they are talking about. When you go to idiots for advice you get just that, idiotic advice. So don't ask them. I look across the room at my girlfriend and say, ok im ready.

THE BRAINSTORM (warning. this is an unedited rant)
      So we stand up in the middle of the room, I tell her my idea, she says that's lazy and we start to talk about ideas. back and fourth.

     -What if he's like Clint Eastwood? -No first off ,what is he doing? -Maybe he's a coach and is about to quit! -No I see him outdoors. -Out doors doing what? -Walking. -NO DOING WHAT? where is he walking to? -His car as he's talking to a young football player? -Why? -Bc the kid needs advice! -Why is he walking with the coach? Is he his son? Are they going out for ice cream, or did he just catch coach as he was walking home? This is going to affect the acting
-Maybe he's not giving advice...
     WTFfasdsafdsfdsg?? We were getting somewhere! -No think about it. Why, if he's giving advice to some other person, then go around and make it about himself by saying "It's not for me."?
 -ok you are right.. -maybe the kid is asking him to do something. Like come continue coaching for us?? -can we make him talk with a cigar? -What?? -Yes a cigarette or something. I see him cool like Clint Eastwood saying, yup been there done that... not for me. -I saw him more modest, old and fat. -No he has to be cool! -Maybe he's WAS cool and a hot shot, that's why they are coming and asking him to coach again. -Who are they? -The kid. -No it can't be a kid now. Listen to the dialogue, he doesn't even sound like he's talking to a kid.- Fine another old guy. Does he know the guy or is it a stranger? -He knows him, nobody gives meaningfull advice to strangers :) -So they are in a field? doing what? -Maybe the guy came to his house. His house has a field next to it. -ok ok. so man at home. guy comes to visit.    
-Make him wear a suit!!!! -YEA!!! Contrast! one guy is in everyday work clothes and dirty, other one is out of his element he doesn't belong in the field.
     -So regroup. this guy is asking the other guy to come join coaching the college team again, our 'clint eastwood guy' is saying no, he likes exactly what he is doing, he doesn't want to go BACK. It's not for him. -What is clint doing when they are talking, NO CIGAR bc if he was athletic he wouldn't be smoking. -Working on his field as they talk? -Isn't that rude? -Maybe but he's making a point that he doesn't want to go with suit guy so he doesn't even look up from his work.-Hmm. I see him just standing there talking but is about to walk away form suit guy to go back to work. Lets listen to it again.

-ok standing up it is.

      So after this LONG brainstorming session, I decide to work on what camera angles will best represent my idea and context. I was happy that we came up with something SPECIFIC and not generic for my actors and story. Now I need specific camera shots. When you have something specific you can make specific choices in regard to acting and camera angles.
     The context that we came up with reminded me of a Clint Eastwood movie called 'Unforgiven.' It has a scene similar to mine where one young cowboy is asking a washed up cowboy to join him, but the old cowboy declines the younger cowboys offer. I go to the movie and study the directors camera choices in that scene. I do this because I want a sense of cinematic story telling to my piece. A lot of the times you get 'one camera shots' of animation exercises and it looks sort of.. bland. Animators do not change camera angles a lot bc they like to see the ANIMATION carry the art piece. but me, not being an animator but an artist, think it's very foolish to leave the camera out of the equation. the camera is a powerful tool to use, if you know anything about Alfred Hitchcock you know what I'm talking about.

      So after an hour I came up with this. I drew and timed out my shots in story board form.  just to represent the shots I want. I think it works and my go to person (my girlfriend) agreed as well :) So here it is. My next step would be to start animating. That will be another post. I know this one is already terribly long.

Remember not to go with your first intentions if you have not already thought out your idea inside and out. Planning and inventing a context will set the foundation for creativity and specific spontaneity in your animation. THINK, brainstorm, and THINK some more, research your idea. Then start to animate.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

11 second club


Here is a quick post about a community that holds an animation contest every month.
They are called the '11 second club' and they provide a sound bite that is roughly 11 seconds
in length at the beginning of the month. And tons of animators from all around and from all different levels make animations in 2D or 3D! If you are ever out of exercises or things to do, the 11 second club is always a good place to go to motivate yourself or test yourself if you are an animator.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Un-Finished work: What to do with it?

Mozart- un-finished symphony

-Franz Kafka had unfinished writings published after his death,
-Mark Twain made THREE versions of the mysterious stranger..
never finished one of them..
-If John von Neumann never would of wrote that incomplete "First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC" ---Computers would not exist as we know them to be today.    
-Geoffrey Chaucer never completed "The Canterbury Tales to the extensive length that he originally intended..
-Michelangelo left a lot of sculptures and paintings only partially finished to inspire others!
-JR Tolkien made 12 volumes of the History of Middle Earth, huge parts unfinished and in draft
-Edmund Spencer wanted to make 'Faerie Queene' 12 books long. He only made it to 6, and it's the longest epic poem in the English language. 

Un-finished work is no less better than most finished work.

     If you started a walk cycle, worked on it for two weeks, stopped, let 5 months go by.. do you go back and finish it? Would your time be better used if you would just start a NEW walk cycle instead of trying to fix the problems of the old? Wouldn't it be better to take what you learned from the experience of that un-finished walk cycle and pu tit towards a whole new assignment? Here is some work I did waaaay back in sophomore year of college. I cringe when I see it, but I find it healthy having this anthology of files that show a lot of finished and unfinished work. You end up seeing your progress. So if you are asking me, DO NOT go back and touch up every old piece of animation...

So here I'm sharing one of MY old unfinished piece I did in a span of 2 weeks. Hope you can make sense of it :)

Do not feel like you are wasting time by leaving your work unfinished, you ARE STILL LEARNING as long as you are animating. But FINISH your work when it counts. Nobody likes a quitter.

To further prove my point. Here is some unfinished work by John Lennon released in 1996, even recorded with a hand held mic, it still is a wonderful timeless piece.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Animating: Simple Presentation 101

Sooo sorry for not keeping this blog up to date. Here is an email of a quick critique that I did. Very simple and just touches on basic things. hope you enjoy, and thanks for every one who sends me work, and I also apologize to every one that I do not get back to you soon enough! I was too busy watching "Fistful of Dollars" for the first time and "Bad Boys" ("83) with Sean Penn. If you haven't watched them, well now you have homework..

August 2011-
OK. long overdue EMAIL!. I'll get right to business.
Nice to see a semi finished thing instead of just an assignment exercise.  I'll go through a few things. Starting with the TITLE. Center it or at least favor it to the center instead of aiming for the upper thirds. Why leave the open space? I expect something to show up there.. like your name or something, so I would just lose it..

Issue number one, your character's hand is in his pocket. No it's not just a issue, it is THE ISSUE of the whole piece. having his hands already in his pockets would be fine.. he wasn't about to USE HIS HANDS to get money out from his pocket. By having his hand in his pocket from the get go, we never get to SEE the action of reaching INTO his pocket for money. Your piece as it is right now, just looks like your character is looking off to the side because of a stomach ache but then gets happy bc gambling is the ANSWER. then a coin appears from god and so on and so on.. I never noticed he was reaching into his pocket... You must show the action ANY ACTION as clearly as possible. So it might work out better if you started the short with the character in a different pose with his hands outside of his pockets. That way you can animate and SHOW the action of reaching into the pocket.

(you're character design: Why are his pockets in his shirt?? any way, not important but c'mon your killing me.. )

Held frames- (Is fine, but it really hurts the animation if you are holding frames while an action is happening) another way it can hurt is...

Second 6: You bring up the coin to worship or whatever, but it happens so fast. Draw more in-betweens for this action. Before this action you hold frames and after this action you hold frames... It is very jarring to the eye to all of a sudden have to follow and register these frames that pass bye so fast after you set the tone of having so many held frames before and after... So thats another way held frames can hurt you. 

Second 15: When your character finally pulls the lever, it doesn't "give" as much as it should. It is not believable that he would lose his balance when the lever only budged (slowly) a very short distance. BUT not to take away from your pretty well executed flail with the arms. kudo's for pulling that off. 

Second 20: He reacts to the results of the spin. But in YOUR animation he doesn't REACT. reaction is when you see something happen, or hear something, and then as a result you react. Your character "reacts" at just about the SAME time as the Sound. It comes off as the character already knew he was going to lose and then ends up just getting mad on his own instead of reacting and getting mad. Solution? Just delay the reaction. will help out a lot. 

And another note with your timing, the ending gag. Hold off on the gag for at least one or 2 more seconds. It happens to soon and it just hurts you for too many reasons. One reason could be logical, another could be a technically etc etc. LOGICALLY.. the character would come back for his money, he did not walk far enough away to not of heard all that money fall. Technically: bc the Character had just acted and stormed off. You do not let that action set in before you bombard us with the gag. Like i said before, these things are NOT MAJOR things you do wrong, but they don't help out your short that you are doing them. 

Try to stay away form held frames, draw your frames and in-betweens and that'll force you to develop and think more about the drawings that people over look: the non-action drawings. If you want to test yourself, do a 'waiting' assignment with NO held frames.  

As for some animation assignments you asked.. 1 is hard 2 is medium and 3 is easier

head turn.. NOT A REACTION, just a movement. (just show upper body)3
a fist slam 2
waiting 1
get up from a chair. 2
animate a smile 3
animate a person waving 3
animate a walk 1
animate a blink 3
animate a PIANO falling on a person 2
Animate a sneeze. 1
animate drinking a cup of water 1
animate a stomp 2

This should help you out for now. These are simple but I guarantee no one will do them 100 percent right

Good luck with everything!!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

INTERNSHIP SEASON: When does it start?

"It starts in the spring Danny, thats when we all send our demo reels to-"

You do not want to be trying to finish up your ONLY animation assignment during the spring season, two weeks before you are to send it off to a studio. (and p.s. If you're only going to have ONE animation piece on your demo reel.. then IT BETTER BE FRIKN PHENOMENAL.)

     Internship season starts now. Summer is over. Everyone is done partying and is now going into work mode.  That gives you 7 months to do some animation exercises or pieces. If you are not a noob you know that 7 months is hardly time to even do two finished assignments.  If you ARE a noob, 7 months goes by faster than you might think.
     But time only goes by fast because you do not notice the small things that end up taking a great chunk of your daily life. If you are SERIOUS about providing yourself the best shot you can, you need to buckle down and exclude all the non-necessary things that take time away from your work. For example.

Enemy # 1: Food
-"You want to go grab some sushi real fast? we'll get to go and come right back, plus you need a break"
     NO. You don't need a break. If you are hungry, you have some bread in the fridge and water from the tap eat that.. You will not die! (do at least take your vitamins though!) If you take breaks to go grab food, think about it.. you spend 10 minutes driving to the store. Then you have to wait for the order, drive 10 minutes back. By this time you already lost about half an hour and you haven't even began to relax. (Do not eat OVER your work, your fingers get messy and sticky and nobody likes a sticky keyboard or a greasy Syntique) All said and done, you lose an hour of work for a "quick break"
     Solution? Stock your fridge up with non-perishable food. I hate to say it, but microwavable food might be in your best interest if you are on a budget. BUT I would recommend an apple, or a packet of ham with a loaf of bread. quick sandwiches are the way to go :)

Enemy #2: Friends
- (Your in the zone) *knock knock "Hey man! It's just me, Dirk and Brock. We brought UNO and some beers. AND GUESS WHAT! haha We have the N64. Can you say MARIO CART?!"
      -How can you say no? HOW?? You can't, so unless your friends are helping you out or have to study as well, THEY DO NOT EXSIST. Hang out once in a while so you can stay sane, but protect you routine of work, protect yourself when you are in the zone. Unplug the internet so you can't get on Facebook. Do what you have to do.
     It is very hard to study or work while other people are working because sooner or later, some one will take a break.. come over and look over your shoulder, ask you something and then you guys get into a conversation and are tangenting! Before you know it you are showing each other youtube videos or fighting over what was worst: Captain America or Green Lantern. So working with people is very dangerous situation but it can be more rewarding than working by yourself. Surround yourself with the right people is all I have to say.

-"Damn I know I have to walk my dog..." why do you have a dog when you are in COLLEGE?
-"Family is coming to visit me all the way from Guam.." Well, No site seeing for them! Give them 20 bucks for the subway and a map. They'll be fine.
-"I really should wash the dishes" your fault for not eating of paper plates in the first place.

*-"My grandmom lives 20 minutes away and she wants me to visit.. She said I could use her computer.. sounds like a good idea!"
     haha This one is tricky. On one hand this situation might get you away from distractions at home, like friends or shark week, etc. but on the other hand, do you really think your grandmom will accept you to be 24/7 on the computer and not give her any attention??? If she wanted that she'd just stare at your picture instead of inviting you.
Stay focused and avoid family, they suck the time away from you like leeches...

There are many enemies and obstacles you will come across. Common ones are the internet and TV. But it is up to you to finish your work! It is also your job to stay motivated. It's not suppose to stay with you magically, you must know how to trigger it and stay inspired as you work. Just please remember, if you do anything OTHER than work, please find what is the fastest way possible to do it and stay alive. Or conclude if you REALLY must do it. 

In 7 months, you should be able to finish AT LEAST two pieces of work. If you are ambitious and smart, you might be able to pull of more. Just remember Internship season starts now. Not in January. Do not spend 2 months rigging or planning you short. START NOW. period. If you don't finish the work you wanted to, you have no one to blame but yourself.. Unless there's like a World War or a Zombie Apocalypse.... 

-Daniel Gonzales

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Drawing in Public: Europe

      So I'm back from Europe. I was busy soaking up the sights, people and parties, BUT, I did manage to squeeze in some drawing time. Mostly I drew at airports and train stations and along at a few parks. The subject: people
      Drawing people is a bit tricky, bc once they find out you are drawing them, they stiffen up, or try to get in a better "artificial pose". Or they.. (my favorite) they grab their shit and leave. There's an art to pretending you are not drawing some one. It on par with training to become a ninja...

Here are a few drawings from my sketch book. Nothing grand, just figure drawings from europe. As you might observe, people on the the other side of the globe sit and wait just like we do in America.. fascinating...

At the Airport, Flights are DELAYED... I used a blue animation drafting pencil.. WHY? because it just happened to be the one my hand grabbed from my pocket. I don't think when sketching.. I just sketch.
On a Subway tram, I knew that SHE knew I was drawing her.. 

I wonder what people did at the Airport before the Iphone was invented...

So here is an example when I ADD a little ME to the drawing. The guy with his dog moved around way too much while he was reading his book, and you would think an old lady would hold still for more than 2 seconds! So I said FML and gave up drawing people for a minute. I let my mind wander  and I ended up drawing some weird Hippie Space Age stuff on the top of the page. (FYI the 'special' brownies in Amsterdam are called 'SPACE AGE BROWNIES' lol)  And for the lady, I drew her looking through a door with some fire on the other side.. Reflective of my feelings? Perhaps..  ..Sue me.

I like draw 'till the whole page is filled. They tend to come out like this, with no up or down orientation. Very annoying to who ever looks through my sketch books. I like to fill the whole page bc I am forced to vary the size of my figures

When I see an interesting face I try to capture it fast instead of wasting time on the body or clothes.  

It's ok to be messy when you sketch. As long as you capture the pose and the person, that is what counts

I like this small section because I have a very detailed face next to a very simplified drawing. both show a type of personality and are clearly different people. Like I mentioned earlier, it doesn't matter HOW you draw you figures, as long as you get the specifics of WHAT MAKES THEM UNIQUE   ...LOL sorry but I had to..

Pencil over Blue Drafting Pencil.. not as fancy as it sounds...

On thing I like doing is drawing the environments I am in and then Filling them with people. People you can find ANYWHERE. but places.. there can be only place for every place. You can not have two places of the same place.. (if that even makes sense..) This is another airport.

Another collage of drawings. The background is the street map of berlin. The page looked dull with a white background so I spiced it up a bit. There was nothing interesting on the train I was on, so I took the map out of my pocket and made some magic.

This would be the city of Ghent.  I didn't get a chance to draw, my brother wanted to keep moving. But this drawing captured the edge of a canal. I think drawing places is worth your time bc it makes you work on perspective and proportions.  

people dancing..

This one.. When we missed our train. (that's why I wrote, "I hate fuk'n trains.." in the bottom right corner) So at 3 A.M. I drew this train station. No matter how complicated your view is before your eyes, always try to capture as much as you can on the page. Draw every pipe, every line, every bench, no matter how far or irrelevant it is. I didn't get to finish bc our train came. So after one painstaking hour this is all I could sketch down. There were tons of beams and wires in this station but I tried any way. Don't always go for the easy landscapes and the easy environments, CHALLENGE YOURSELF!!!

I sat in a park and drew a Museum...

More people posing and climbing a statue. The lady in the bottom right is on a bicycle taking a picture..,just in case you were wondering.

At another park in Europe... or outside my apartment in California.. hmm. now I got you wondering... goes to show that people no matter how different we perceive ourselves to be from one another, we are more a like than we would like to admit.  

Looking outside my Hostel window out onto an Amsterdam street. Yes that a canal in there too, hence the boat. 

A lot of live music over there in Germany, and what did they play? BOB MARLEY :) 

He gave an hour long show for some coins, turned out he plays at the local bar and just decides to play in the plaza once in a while.

So sorry for not being around to post something in so long, but I'm back now, so expect some awesomeness on this blog soon. Remember to draw draw draw. You don't need to put aside 3 hours to draw. All you need is 30 seconds. Just do it.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Traveling and Art


      So sorry for not being able to post recently. Things have been busy here at the studio in so many ways. Cars 2 is about to come out, I've seen it and the kids should love it. On top of that I have been getting ready to go travelling abroad. I leave this Monday the 27th of June! Where am I going? Belgium, Germany and Amsterdam. So if you are in the area be sure to send me an email, I would not mind meeting up!

      So I want to talk about drawing materials briefly.. And since I'm travelling, more specifically materials on the go. Sure you can make art out of anything and make a drawing with any sort of thing that makes a mark.. but should you? I'll say no, not all the time. Just like a soccer player can not be the best player they can be while playing with a mango shaped ball, neither can an artist release their full potential with with the wrong materials..

First off-  The Sketchbook/ Pad of Paper
Find the size that's write for you.

     -You want to work on details and become free to draw without the edge of the paper restraining you? Go for the big sketchbook. (my preference)
    -You want to draw people discreetly and work on catching quick gestures and in the moment expressions, go for the small note book

    -You just want to put your self through drawing boot-camp and not treat every drawing like it's precious and just focus on form and skill? Go for the cheap newsprint like drawing pads that have like 300 pages in them and get your self some permanent markers!

     The kind of sketch book you choose will greatly effect the way you draw. Imagine you buy a leather bound notebook and you are just learning to draw. You might feel like you have to make every drawing worth it and it has to be the best.. this kind of thinking is bad, you'll find yourself too timid to even draw in it. How will you EVER improve your skills when you expect yourself to make good drawing right away? As a rule never treat your drawings as gems. I say, the first GOOD drawing you draw, have your mom, or sibling draw over it or rip it up. You have to learn to treat your good drawings like nothing and think of your self as being capable of drawing EVERY drawing that good. And make that your goal to be able to draw EVERY drawing that good when ever you make a pencil touch a paper...
     If you are in architecture, how are you suppose to draw the grandness of the building on a 3x5" sketch book????? No way you can draw the masonry or the details around the windows! You would be much better off with an 11x14" sketchbook...

So enough about sketchbooks, you get the point.

-The Pencil
Lets start with the basics. If you do not know the hierarchy of pencils.. LEARN THEM..

    In school you usually use an HB pencil or a 2B pencil. which are pretty common. Ideally you want to use a dark (they are referred to as soft) pencil to draw and sketch quickly. Especially for figure drawing you might want to even go up to a 6B pencil. It's harder to erase and it'll force you to live with your mistakes and see them, learn from them. Very good at learning how to make your lines correct the first time you put them on the paper.
   Now and then I'll come across someone trying to draw a full on landscape with a 2H pencil. Your making life hard when it doesn't have to. Keep the light (referred to as Hard) pencils for details and tinier feats. When going out, my combination of pencils are 6B, 2B, HB, and H
(Eraser to use: White eraser)

Here I used a many different types of pencils to achieve the desired shading the drawing required

This was the finished piece, my favourite sub picture would have to be the lower left.
-Wax Pencils
    I almost forgot about these. Wax pencils are usually thicker and you have to peel to expose the tip after it gets dull. I like these a lot. Use them for quick drawings and figure drawing! There are also wood-less pencils that just plain look cool :)

-The Charcoal Stick
    Perfect for life drawing and figure drawing. Charcoal is messy and fun. You can not take charcoal and be serious with it. Most likely you will see artist do fast 30 sec. or 15 sec. model studies with charcoal. Charcoal allows you to manipulate lines and clearly see your mistakes. And the only way to fix mistakes with charcoal? Is to not do them in the first place! Over time you will see your lines loosen up and you will see your hand eye coordination greatly improve. Most likely you'll see me using huge Biggie pad of newsprint paper that doesn't cost much. Huge means like a 2 foot pad. You need a huge pad so you can learn how to use your WHOLE arm when you draw, and not just your wrist. Very good thing to learn for painters.  (Eraser to use: kneaded Eraser)

A very fast one minute contour drawing of a flower
     Charcoal CAN be used for great detailed art pieces. There are no rules. I am just saying what you can do with these materials to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Still Life of hanging clothes with charcoal

Just because you don't have the right colours of charcoal doesn't mean you still can't do what you want...

-Color Pencils
   If you use any color pencils, use Prisma Color. Think: go hard or go home, they might be expensive but they are worth it. Prisma Color will get you the most vibrant richest colors out of any brand. Have fun with color pencils! I always carry a few just to inject some life into my drawings once in a while. Because page after page of black and white drawings just doesn't do it for after a while.

    There are 2 kinds of markers I usually use. There are the grey gradient story boarding kind, these are always good to have for any sketch artist. Good for practising tones and light studies.

    And then there are the Crayola markers and Sharpies. if you make a mistake, make something out of it. work with it. do not waste paper! Go with the flow, CREATE! Do what you need to do to save the drawing. Markers teach problem solving. You will find yourself saying, "Shit Danny! I drew that line in the wrong spot, what do i do with this line?" make it into a cloud? FIGURE IT OUT.  I love markers. make sure you use them with paper you do not care about. You will go through a lot.

-The Ball Point Pen and Ink Pen
    I have grown fond of these. It's a nice mix in-between a marker and a pencil. You have to learn how to do things right the first time or learn how to solve the problems you create. I've learned to be patient and learn how to shade with them and draw pencil like drawings with them. I figured out that they are very good for blind drawing and counter drawings. I like the lines the create and the aesthetic quality they give to the drawings. Try them out.

   Do not act like crayons are for kids. Do not act like it wasn't THE CRAYON that inspired you to start exploring your creative eye at the age of 3... try letting loose with them and see what happens!

     So on my trip you can expect me to have some of these materials, and to be sketching on my train rides around Germany. I'll be sure to post pictures of the sketches :) I will be gone for two weeks and will be back the 15th of July! Still keep those emails coming, I do enjoy seeing all your work and reviewing them!

Go out and draw. and watch cars2.. at least for the Brave teaser in front of it...
-Daniel Gonzales