Category Archives: Animation

World Zombination team releases free bipedal character rig for Maya

Before I became a JavaScript engineer, I did freelance animation—and though I’m not in that game any longer, I’m always impressed to see the latest developments in rigging and character setup tools. Proletariat just blogged about the flexible biped rig they created for their upcoming title World Zombination, a “faction-based strategy game” scheduled for release later this year. And if an inside look at a game studio’s rigging workflow wasn’t enough, they actually released that character rig for free in the blog post! If you’re into character rigging, Maya animation, or just interesting workflow case studies, check it out.

Form vs. Force

A. Film‘s Hans Perk posted today about animating forms vs. forces, a transcription of a 1937 Don Graham class looking at Bill Tytla’s animation style. Animating forms is the easiest approach when coming from traditional drawing, but even a series of well-rendered images lacks impact unless the force behind the movements is animated. Tytla was one of the first to animate starting from the force of an action, not the form it took. Interesting read—and if you like it, post a comment at A. Film L.A. so that Hans Perk knows people appreciate the work he does to post these!

Data…moshing?

Motionographer has a long post about what they term datamoshing—essentially, using compression artifacts intentionally for visual effect. It’s been a hot topic lately, with Kanye West and others releasing compression-heavy music videos, and many people are billing datamoshing as The Next Big Thing. With that in mind, also of note is a post from David O’Reilly entitled Datamoshing is so over! that argues that the technique is neither a new technique, nor is it appropriate in the music videos that have popularized it:

The only criticism for the recent, popularized versions of the effect is that it’s being stuck on to a normal performance, when the music or content doesn’t remotely call for it. I don’t believe any form of cinema should be about cherry picking new effects, aesthetics should always serve the content.

Sita Sings the Blues

Sita Sings the Blues is an 82 minute short film written, produced and animated by Nina Paley. With a Jazz vocal soundtrack and more film festival nods than you can shake a stick at, the film is an extremely impressive achievement and says a lot about how much modern production software can allow one person to realize a vision on their own without going through the traditional channels.

With the exception of less than a single scene, Nina Paley wrote, directed, and animated the entire film herself. She weaves together different narratives and styles to tell “the greatest breakup story ever told.” Parallel episodes from the animator’s own breakup story and the Indian epic The Ramayana are interspersed with musical numbers and discourse on the epic, the different threads each distinguished by their own specific and coherent art style. I am not actually a huge fan of the art of the film, but I am amazed at what Paley has accomplished and how well it all hangs together.

Mark Mayerson, Michael Sporn and others have noted that Sita is now available online in its entirety. A wide-scale DVD release is hampered by copyright issues involving the music—the songs are public domain, but syncing the animation to them apparently infringes upon a still-valid copyright on the composition itself, so watch it while you can. The film is also to be made available for download at higher resolutions in early March.

Coraline

I saw Coraline three weeks ago today in its full 3D-projection incarnation, and I have to admit I was impressed. It was not exactly the strongest story I’ve encountered in a film over the past year, but the art was fantastic and I’m a sucker for well done stop-motion. As for 3D projection, I’m still unconvinced: its flashy and immersive, but tiring for the eyes.

There’s been a lot of recent posts about Coraline in blogs I read; I took this opportunity to put them all together in one place. Drawn has a bunch of links to the blogs of artists who worked on the film, and Parka Blog adds a few more images and links to that list. Via both of those sites, LAIKA artist Chris Turnham has started a blog specifically dedicated to concept art for the film.

Video no longer available

A while earlier Drawn had put up a link to a series of videos from the “Art of Coraline” panel at Nucleus Gallery in Alhambra. Part One embedded above.

Coraline Maquettes and an interview with artist Damon Bard are available on the Character Design blog and Jon Klassen (who worked on set and prop design for the film) has put up a number of additional production drawings on his website. Drawn briefly discusses Weiden + Kennedy’s marketing campaign for the film. And finally, Mark Mayerson weighs in (fairly critically) on the film:

There is fantastic work in this film, but it’s built on a weak dramatic foundation. With a stronger script, this film would have been an instant classic. Instead, it’s just eye candy.

I’m not going to disagree, which is a shame given how much amazing art and animation is on display in the film! However, Steve Hulett at The Animation Guild blog does point out that the weaknesses of the film haven’t prevented it from moving up to #2 at the box office last weekend and raking in over $53 million so far.