Week 3 ... Another video blog?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 1 comments
Hey all,

Week 3 at AM in Psychology of Body Mechanics and as part of a new trend (if two entries makes a trend), I present my video entry for the week. This week I explain my blocking shot of a backflip while showing the shot I submitted and I also demonstrate how I analyzed one of the reference videos I used.

Hope this provides everyone with a little more insight into the process of how we are working on our assignments week to week.


Video update from yours truly

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 1 comments
Hey everyone,

So it is already week 2 of my second term at Animation Mentor. This week I decided to make a video update for you guys and I am also posting my progress reel that shows all my work from last term.

Thanks for stopping by!

Whoa! 3D animation and a Mr. Limpy goes for a stroll - Week 11

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 1 comments
Week 11, we are in the home stretch, with only this animation and a pose, we will have completed our work for class 1. Now, to cut down on confusion with my next post, we did still have another week of class, but you will see the fruits of week 12's labors soon enough.

The animation this week finishes off our personality walk and adds a new twist. For the first time this term we are animating "in 3D." In other words, rather than a side view like all other assignments, this time we show our character walking with the camera providing roughly a 3/4s view.

And a quick message: Kids. Eat your vegetables, floss your teeth, and DON"T PROCRASTINATE.

This is my revised version of the final walk (you wouldn't want to see the walk I turned in. Did I mention waiting until the last minute?)

So here is Mr. Limpy

And this week's pose - balance.

Here is my pose entitled "Don't look down"

Long time, no walk - Week 10

Ok. I've been remiss in posting updates. I'm sorry for that. These last several weeks were incredibly busy. So without further delay, here is my work for Week 10.

First we have our animation assignment. Simply put, in contrast the the vanilla walk cycles from the last two weeks, we were tasked to come up with a walk that showed personality. For me, this meant agonizing over what to do most of the week. Kids don't try that at home - just commit and start working on something. Also, shoot video reference of yourself or someone so you can figure out the walk. These are HARD!

For week 10 we have the blocking for the walk, which to remind everyone, means that we are only hitting key poses in the animation and basic timing.

Mr. Limpy

And for this week's pose we needed to show exhaustion. Turns out I am pretty familiar with that pose in real life.

Who knew walking was so hard?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 0 comments
It is now week 10, which means we only have 3 more weeks before this term ends.

I am posting my work for Week 8 and 9 now, partly because I got lazy and partly because week 8 & 9 were both dedicated to animating a basic (vanilla walk). The first video shows the blocking of the animation, which means we only put in the most important poses but have yet to work on the walk on the in-between frames. The second video shows the final walk after everything is complete. These walk cycles are really challenging.

We also had two pose assignments: week 8 was strength and week 9 was concern.

For the next two weeks we are going to be animating a walk that shows personality.

Here are the poses:

Week 8, blocking for walk:

Week 9, final walk:

Going Nuts

Sunday, May 15, 2011 0 comments
Another challenging assignment this week. We had to come up with a scene and then animate Tailor (the ball with a tail) performing at least 3 bounces. This builds on previous lessons, particularly overlapping action.

Here is an HD version rendered in RenderMan. First w/o motion blur, then with motion blur - then repeats.

Overlapping Action with a multi-link pendulum

Monday, May 9, 2011 0 comments
Week 6 is now complete and here is my final animation for our assignment. In this assignment the focus was overlapping action. Most of the animation was done by a selective breaking of joints and then copying the curves and offsetting them for each segment. After that I manually changed some of the offsets to better approximate the final parts of the settle.


The wait is over. Week 5 final assignment for your viewing pleasure

Thursday, May 5, 2011 0 comments
A few comments on last week's assignments. The assignments consisted of animating a ball going through an obstacle course while factoring in anticipation and squash and stretch. The second part had us showing Stu being devastated.

Initially I posed Stu hunched over sitting on the ground, head buried in his hands. This pose looked pretty good, but I didn't like the silhouette with him wrapped so tightly. His huge head made that even more of an issue. So mid-week, I went in a completely different direction. I chose to push this new pose and knew that it probably would be too much, but I wanted to see how the pose would read and get feedback on something out of my comfort zone.

Next, the obstacle course. This was the most difficult assignment so far by several orders of magnitude. Most of my peers expressed similar sentiments. I had a working rough version up by Monday, but as I began to refine and adjust the animation it became a huge undertaking. In the end, after about 60-80 hours of work day and night, I finally completed the assignment Sunday morning before it was due at noon PST.

So here they are. By the way, the note Stu is reading that devastated him, informed him that his head is entirely too large :)

Almost there

Saturday, April 23, 2011 0 comments
This is most likely going to be my final version of the two bouncing balls assignment for this week.

I got some great feedback including a review of my animation with a mentor this morning.

Here it is, let me know what you think.

The final stretch of week 4

Friday, April 22, 2011 0 comments
I am now just polishing my animation assignment for this week. Two different bouncing balls with different weights. Basketball and bowling ball.

Let me know what you think!

Two are better than one

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 1 comments
This week's assignment is to show two balls bouncing that have different weights.

Here is my first rough version.

Comments are welcome.

I have discovered a new Law of Physics

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 2 comments
All balls, regardless of composition, bounce the same height!

This week we are to animate two different balls of similar size but of different weight (i.e. basketball and bowling ball) to demonstrate how weight is conveyed to an audience.

I decided to go out and get some different balls to do my own reference shots this week. I found two balls of similar size but very different weight. First, a tennis ball; lightweight and large bounce. Second, a lacrosse ball; heavier and ... large bounce. In fact, they bounce almost the identical height. My animation will be pretty easy ;)

So, if anybody needs to identical bounces with different weight balls, then there is your solution!

PS I have now confirmed West's 1st Law of bouncing balls. I found an old rubber ball that is about the same size as the other two. It's weight was also different than the other two. And...wait for it...they all bounce the exact same height and pattern.

Any universities or academic societies wishing me to come speak, please contact me for my rates.

Bouncing back

Monday, April 18, 2011 0 comments
Sorry for the lack of updates last week. Our assignment to animate a bouncing ball (soccer or basketball) as well as create a new pose for Stu that showed excitement, took a lot more time than I anticipated.

Since I am sure everyone has been holding their breath waiting to see the results (and who wouldn't?), here is my final animation and pose that I turned in yesterday.

First revision of Stu looking excited

Friday, April 15, 2011 0 comments
Please leave feedback here or internally at AM.

Thank you all for taking a look!

It's time to be a poser!

Thursday, April 14, 2011 0 comments
Ok gang. These are my sketches for this week's assignment to create a pose that shows excitement.

Please leave me comments on which of these (or maybe a combination of some) read as excitement for you. Any comments on the sketches themselves are welcome as well.

PS AM folks all of this is up on my Public Review so feel free to comment either place.

Whoa ... where has the week gone?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 1 comments
Somehow, it is already Wednesday and I am just coming up to breathe. Last week's assignment went well and I got my critique. My mentor offered some really good suggestions and it was no surprise that my sketches need some work.

This week the new pose is to show excitement. This should be fun on a character with no face! I have been practicing sketching every day and I am playing with several different pose ideas (examples to come later).

The second assignment is our first animation! The quintessential bouncing ball that is part of any animator's foundation.

I used a video reference of a basketball bouncing off of YouTube (gotta love YouTube). Most of yesterday's animation work was analyzing and planning my bounce sequence. I am probably being way too meticulous as I measured and timed every keyframe (height of bounces and hits) and matched those to frame numbers.

Here is my first pass at the animation so it still needs work.

Animated short worth checking out

Monday, April 11, 2011 1 comments
This is a 9 minute short in 2D that I found mesmerizing. From YouTube:

Official animated movie of Tim Minchin's 9-minute beat poem Storm.

Cool Cars 2 Poster

Sunday, April 10, 2011 1 comments
Awesome retro poster for Cars 2.

This image comes from a post at 2719 Hyperion.

And I'm done!

Saturday, April 9, 2011 2 comments
Here is the final pose and the sketch that I am turning in for my week 2 assignment.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to give me great feedback and support. This is a huge improvement over my first versions early on. Here is the first pose for comparison.

Nearing final version of the Stu slouch

Friday, April 8, 2011 3 comments
I made a couple of adjustments so that his shoulders match the slouch (thanks Roy!). I'm dropping out all background elements to keep it as simple as possible.

Let me know what you think. I am about ready to freeze any further work to prevent me from dabbling to the point I start to screw things up (thanks Jeff).

Stu slouching version 3

Thursday, April 7, 2011 3 comments
In the time since I posted the alternate version of Stu slouching on couch, I have tried to read up more on line of action and also using the silhouette to check how well the pose reads. With that in mind I offer a new version that I would really appreciate feedback on. This is the pose I want to turn in for my assignment and would like to tighten things up as much as I can within reason.

One other note, after our Q&A this week I decided to revert back to only the default light for this shot, which is why it looks darker. I might play around with some techniques to change, but the shot and pose are what counts. (Click images for larger versions)

And for comparison here is the previous shot:

The laptop goes flying

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 4 comments
I started wondering how I might make Stu's pose on the couch into something more dynamic so I just through this together for fun and to keep practicing using Stu's rig and getting faster and more comfortable with how to get him into the pose I want (IK/FK).

"Cars 2" viral ad campaign has started

Check out this article on "Cars 2" first viral ad:

You can go directly to the ad on YouTube by going to

UPDATE: At 57 secs into the video the link that is revealed is where you are redirected to a cool video with new footage from "Cars 2."

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Stu slouching alternate pose

Monday, April 4, 2011 9 comments
I took some of the feedback and altered Stu's pose slightly. His right hand is now closer to his side and is in a relaxed fist (which I noticed is how I do that when sitting). His legs have changed with the left leg more outstretched and the right at more of angle. Finally I lengthened his neck slightly.

Thanks for all the suggestions and feedback. Let me know how this one works.

PS I changed the color of the couch so I can quickly keep track of which version is which. So you can call this the blue version and the other the red version.

Side view of Stu slouching (by request)

A lot of you wanted to see the pose from a different angle. Here is a side view.

A comparison sketch

So this is probably more of an attempt to regain a shred of dignity after posting my fast sketches. The sketch I did here (ignore the random images around it) was done just last month. This is by no means a great sketch, but it is more of what I want my pose sketches to look like, but I am not sure if this kind of sketch would be good for our assignments. I guess the difference is that this sketch took my probably 10-15 mins. The other ones in the previous post where less than a minute.

I got some great critical feedback from my fellow AM students, and I would love to see more. I think part of my issue is I am not sure what drawings or styles are best for thumbnails or these pose sketches yet. I did get some good suggestions, including to sketch people exercising or children playing. I'll continue to practice sketching and as the week progresses I will continue to practice posing Stu as well. So I am not sure yet what my final pose and sketches will be that I turn in this week. But I do know that the feedback is great and this is good practice for me to get used to putting my stuff out there whether it is good or bad.

Sketches that go with the pose (WIP - first attempt at fast sketching)

My sketches are truly a work of art (for a 2 year old). These are my attempts at fast sketching. Got lots of room for improvement.

PS Sorry for the blurry image - I was at the coffee shop and just snapped a quick shot with my phone.

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My first attempt at a pose (WIP)

Sunday, April 3, 2011 7 comments
This is based on a couple of sketches I did this weekend. Let me know what you think.

Week One: My leap into a new world is off to a great start

In 15 minutes, week one will officially come to a close (12PM PST). Turning back to look at my life just one year ago, I was miserable. I had a "great" career some would say. I was one of three executives running a software company that was growing so fast that investors paid a lot of attention to us. And we had business pouring in faster than we could handle. But my life changed and here I am a student in 3D character animation. I made the right choice.

Week one was pretty fun, we didn't have any real assignments, but we had our first Q&A time with our mentor and I got to meet my other 15 classmates. AM gave the first class students a scavenger hunt, with some unknown prize, that turned out to be pretty fun. It really made sure you had explored all the site has to offer (which is a lot).

At this point I want to note that I will not be sharing a lot of details or any of the material covered in the lectures. This is part of our student agreement and a way to protect AM's intellectual property. I am completely onboard with that, so my postings will offer you glimpses into what I produced and my impressions of my own progress and experiences.

This week gave me an opportunity to explore some of the things we will be doing with Maya and I got to play with my first rigged character. That was harder than I expected, but after trying 2 or 3 poses over a couple of days, I feel a little more confident, but not quick. A lot of it has to do with knowing how to control something in IK and something in FK without being able to switch back and forth.

It is fun. And I am more excited to get into the next lesson in just a little while.

My next entry will cover the dilemma I faced after I was accepted about whether or not to take Maya Springboard (a semester long class on intro to Maya) or start in class 1. I chose to start in class 1.

CNN article on 'Mars Needs Moms' box office failure

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 2 comments
Interesting article about how the animated movie 'Mars Needs Moms' has flopped. Some conjectures about mo-cap and bad story being some of the prime reasons.

I find myself still trying to figure out how mo-cap is going to figure into animation in the future (and what animators will be doing or how much they will be needed). I'm not overly concerned, but I am curious what people think.

Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section.

CNN's Article:
'Mars Needs' Help

Basic MEL script I use to set up my scenes/workspace

In order to save time I created a script to handle some of the things I always change with any scene I create or ones that I open if they are missing this stuff.

The script first sets the animation play time and end time to 120 frames (instead of the default 24 and 48) and then creates an extra camera (ShotCam) that I use to frame my scene for render or playblasts. This lets me play around in perspective view and have a second window up on my other monitor with the ShotCam view with everything hidden except the character or scene elements (that is not in this script).

So nothing fancy but in case it might be useful to someone here it is:

//Basic Scene Setup. This will set your playtime and end time to 120 frames. It also creates a ShotCam with the translate settings below. Alter the values to suit your preferences. (Created by West Decker)

playbackOptions -e -min 1 -max 120;

camera -centerOfInterest 5 -focalLength 35 -lensSqueezeRatio 1 -cameraScale 1 -horizontalFilmAperture 1.4173 -horizontalFilmOffset 0 -verticalFilmAperture 0.9449 -verticalFilmOffset 0 -filmFit Fill -overscan 1 -motionBlur 0 -shutterAngle 144 -nearClipPlane 0.1 -farClipPlane 10000 -orthographic 0 -orthographicWidth 30 -panZoomEnabled 0 -horizontalPan 0 -verticalPan 0 -zoom 1; objectMoveCommand; cameraMakeNode 1 "";
rename "camera1" "ShotCam";
setAttr "ShotCam.translateX" 23;
setAttr "ShotCam.translateY" 28;
setAttr "ShotCam.translateZ" 56;
setAttr "ShotCam.rotateX" -15;
setAttr "ShotCam.rotateY" 20;

It has begun!

Wow. There is so much going on, I don't know where to start. So I will just say it is great. I'll follow up with some separate posts on some specific things as the week goes on.

Check out my bouncing ball (not dirty)

Sunday, March 27, 2011 1 comments
So for all of you out there who have been "practicing" and "studying" before class starts tomorrow (in 15hrs) and showing off your bouncing ball animations and walk cycles, well get ready to be blown away!!!

In a matter of mere minutes (about 60 of them) I too animated my first bouncing ball.  Ha! And some people (*cough* Adam) implied I might not have been doing any real studying.  Well here is the proof:

Second version with initial spin added:

As you can see a bouncing ball!  So I can now say to my fellows that while I played around with Maya's nCloth this weekend, it in no way interfered with my ability to animate said ball.

DISCLAIMER - Actual animation was created using Maya nCloth and dynamics and at no time did I actual animate the ball in the "traditional" sense.  I cheated :)

Pixar approach: "suck to nonsuck"

Friday, March 25, 2011 0 comments
A good quick read on Pixar's approach to making great movies. I really like the idea of letting things suck and then improve vs. trying to get it perfect from the beginning. In my experience the latter approach means I never get very far or get stuck. Participating in NaNoWriMo (write a novel in a month contest) really brought this lesson home for me. No doubt, I will need to remind myself of this during my studies at AM.

Here's the link: Fast Company article on Pixar

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Check out the New AM badge on my blog

Thursday, March 24, 2011 2 comments
From Animation Mentor Fan to Animation Mentor Student!

Oh crap I think I forgot to...

study for the last month :)

This week my status at AM turned from Applicant to Student.  That means I am now officially in limbo in terms of access to certain AM website features like the forums and my Inbox.  My fellow classmates seem to be unaffected, so it probably means I have already been kicked out of school.  AM tech support did reassure me that all is normal.

AM is good about continuing to build the excitement and anticipation.  They posted a new welcome video and now our schedules show our mentors and our weekly QA times.  My new mentor is Scott Lemmer who has a long list of accomplishments.

Only 3d 20h 36m to go before class starts!

Excitement and panic

Sunday, March 20, 2011 0 comments
This morning while cruising our internal AM forums I ran across the blog of someone (Chase - blog link below) in the Winter term journaling his Class 1 lessons. On the one hand I am really excited to see what we will be doing week to week and on the other hand I am suddenly kicking into an emergency cram session with a healthy dose of panic fueling my motivation. I didn't realize we would start with human characters so quickly. Mostly it looks like posing early on and not animating. The animation exercises relate to different situations with balls moving. I also see that each week he sketches out the animation timing which looks really useful. It seems simple now that I saw his sketches, but I was reminded of the acceleration due to gravity (check Wikipedia if you want a refresh). Timing just became a little easier for me. Ironically I worked on a 2d animation of a ball rolling down a ramp yesterday and was just guessing - this would have helped.

Chase's blog is

Back to my emergency studying.

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Home stretch

Saturday, March 19, 2011 0 comments
With only 9 days to go before the Spring semester starts the excitement and a healthy amount of anxiety surrounds March 28th at noon PST when the virtual doors open for school.

Recently I spent more time on the Skype group that fellow soon-to-be-students hang out on. For future classes I highly recommend creating a group like that. I've gotten to know quite a few people, and hearing their stories about what led them to AM makes the whole thing more real. People have varied backgrounds and I've been learning some interesting things and the people are great.

Yesterday was the weekly AM coffee talk/Q&A. This week one of the engineers at AM named Kevin described how engineers at studios work to help create the tools to support the production pipelines at studios. I found it interesting, but perhaps because of my background in engineering, I wished that we had animator from a studio describing the same workflow from their perspective to balance things out. He told a lot of stories about past jobs and I could tell he really loved what he does. He's working on some top secret projects at AM that we will see in a couple of semesters but no word on what they might be.

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Get the inside scoop on digital animation history and future

Tuesday, March 15, 2011 2 comments
One of my fellow AM peeps posted a great link to a video of a talk with some of the digital animation pioneers from Pixar.  It is an investment of about 2 hours of your time and well worth it.  In some ways, it reminds me of reading The Illusion of Life (link below), as you get a chance to hear from the people who have invented and pioneered 3D animation.  They'll be in the history books of animation, no doubt.

I'm kind of a "mid-ager" (vs. "old-timer") in the the computer tech world and spent a good deal of my career at Apple and SGI seeing the technology first hand being used by some great artists.  And that seems to be the general point of the panel of speakers.  The technology is not why 3D films from Pixar and others are so popular.  The artists and story tellers make the movie great.  Technology is just another tool.

I jotted down a couple of notes while watching it for those who are interested:

  • Tell stories
  • Observe - see what is happening in life.  Don't get stuck only observing other animators' work.
  • 2d animation is not dead
  • Real is bad - believability is what engages audience - hyper real.  If a scene looks too realistic then the hyper real characters seem really out of place.  People want to see the hyper real of our imaginations
  • Passion.  This is one of my personal mantras - passion is key to success. Next is people.  Great companies are built on those two principles.  With great people who are passionate about a common goal the sky is the limit - just ask Apple and Pixar.
  • Technology is just a tool and not the reason animation resonates with people.  Good animation fades into the background and people stop noticing that they are watching a 3d animated movie, for instance.
  • Great communication helps tell/ animate a story.  If you can communicate your ideas through your animation you'll likely be a better animator
  • Practice drawing, sculpting, etc.  Don't just stick with computer based work all the time.  Get out and touch things. SEE things.
  • Animation skills - observation, timing, story telling - not software make an animator.  These skills will always be in demand.
  • People are key to a great movie (see above)
  • Make mistakes - don't get stuck by not trying (waiting to get something perfect) - be like a shark - always be moving (sharks die if they don't have water flowing through their gills (which is the analogy I think they were making)
  • It is the story that makes the movie.  They kept hounding on the fact that other studios time and time again blame their failures on lack of the latest tech and not on their bad story telling.  Lots of Pixar copycats think it is their 3d technology that makes them successful.  It is the story.
  • Don't just watch or copy other animation/animators - go out and observe.  Use your own experience and observations to build your animations - just like original animators.  Watch movies, actors in plays, friends and family, etc.
  • Animators (people) will never be replaced by tech.   

Definitely worth a watch.  Below you will see a link/ad pointing to Amazon for the Illusion of Life.  If you are so compelled and would like to order the book, please use this link.  It gives me a minuscule referral fee which will go to support my animation addiction :)

Coffee talks

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 0 comments
Each Friday Animation Mentor students-to-be can participate in an online chat/video session hosted by the always amazing Victoria from AM.  These are great opportunities to ask questions about what to expect or how to get everything in order to be ready to start school.

Last Friday a current student in class 2 talked to us for about an hour and shared his experiences and gave us some advice on how to be successful.

Here are some of his tips (a brief note: his tips seem spot on and a good reminder of lessons I have learned in my previous life in the tech world.  You get out what you put in.):

  • Don't over complicate your work.  Focus on the basics. Trying to make things look cool or trying to do really sophisticated animations will backfire.  Stick to the assignment.  When in doubt ask your mentor.
  • Reach out to other students and make friends.  The more people you meet the better your support group and the more people you can tap for feedback
  • Upload your work in progress for peer feedback early in the week (Tues.).  This gives you a chance for people to catch things that you need to address before you have gone too far along.  Gives you time to correct.
  • Put your work up in the critique forums.  The more feedback the better.
  • Alumni tutors are available to offer additional help.
  • Saturday make up sessions can be a good way to catch up if you missed something or to reinforce the lesson.
  • Take advantage of all the extra resources available from day one.

Not animation related but pretty damn cool

Thursday, March 3, 2011 0 comments
Yesterday, while announcing the iPad 2, Apple showed a video that truly made me proud to have worked at Apple for 10 years.

In a video called "iPad Year One" Apple highlighted how the iPad is being used in a variety of ways, but the most powerful story showed it's use in helping children with Autism.  One blogger at the event remarked, "Man this is actually really emotional ... Damn you Apple for making everyone here cry about the iPad."

Please take a minute to read this article by the mom of boy with Autism featured in the video.

Apple, 3rd party developers, and most importantly the amazing people who dedicate themselves to helping children are remarkable in how they use technology to help people.  It is a powerful reminder for me about what is important and why technology should not be about what product has more RAM or adding the latest "must have item" on a spec sheet.  Technology should make our lives better.  With animation, I hope I will discover a way to put that lesson into similar practice.

If you want to do something to help children with Autism I encourage you to consider donating to one of the many organizations doing really wonderful work with these kids.

Here is a foundation that I happen to know that I hope you take a moment to look at: The Horse Boy Foundation.  They work with kids and their families using horses as part of their therapy.  Amazing stuff.

Less than 30 days to go

Sunday, February 27, 2011 0 comments
I am getting more excited and a little nervous now that AM will start in less than a month. On Friday, I got my official enrollment notification. I now have access to more of the student AM website which includes a bunch of orientation videos and links to student discounts on software other services.

It is really start to feel more real. I am going to shift my time back to doing at least 4 hours every day 5x a week. I'll be focusing on working through "How to Cheat at Maya 2010" and probably rework through the Digital Tutors course on Introduction to Maya 2011. I just want to focus on getting faster and more familiar with using Maya. I also want to really focus on getting used to always working everyday even when I am not feeling into it, so I can reestablish some discipline.

The rest of my time will be spent continuing to work on my drawing and anatomy studies in both 2D and in ZBrush (3D sculpting).

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AM friends

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 0 comments
AM is getting closer and I am starting to meet people in the Spring 2011 group (that is the term I will be starting AM).

Met some great people so far. Last night, I joined a Skype group for our class. It is cool how many people there are from around the world. Chatted with someone from England and another from Russia.

BTW - check out my friend Adam's AM blog:

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Monday, February 21, 2011 0 comments
I've been practicing basic drawing exercises such as 1, 2, and 3 pt perspective and endlessly practicing drawing freehand ellipses, circles, and straight lines. I am really enjoying getting a chance (and having a good excuse) to draw again.

One interesting and actually fun thing I have been doing is switching to left-hand drawing (I'm right-handed).

My goal is to get comfortable enough drawing that I can more easily sketch out characters and plan animation.  If you want an awesome book on drawing for animation, make sure you check out Simplified Drawing for Planning Animation by Wayne Gilbert.  It is not long but it is packed with great stuff.  I ordered my copy from his website:

While I wait for AM to start

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 0 comments
I am cramming for Animation Mentor by working on 3D projects every day to get comfortable using Maya (despite having used it off and on for over 8 years). When I am not trying to tackle Maya, I am usually playing guitar, spending time learning to draw, and right now diving into digital sculpture with ZBrush. I am finding ZBrush to be an amazing program that is really fun and powerful. ZBrush is basically a 3D digital sculpting package. If you search for ZBrush images on the web, you will be amazed at the detail and realism of the characters people create. For me, this is a great opportunity to expand my creative outlets and also learn human anatomy through sculpture and drawing. I am pretty sure that understanding the human form and the details of the muscles and structure of the body will make me a better character animator.

Here is a turntable movie of a human skull that I made out of a single polysphere  in ZBrush. This is the first part of tutorial I am doing from Scott Spencer’s book, ZBrush Character Creation: Advanced Digital Sculpting.  Each part of the lesson I am working on will add more form (muscles, skin, etc.) to finally create a male bust. This skull is the base layer.

Click here to watch video in a larger size or play the video inline below

Character Animation, here I come!

Monday, February 14, 2011 0 comments
Its time for me to join the wonderful world of blogging. Check back frequently to follow my experiences as I learn 3D character animation from Animation Mentor (AM).

For people curious about Animation Mentor, this is my stab at sharing the excitement and the day to day "grind" as I work my way through AM.  Hopefully, you readers considering the program can get as excited as I have been reading other students great blogs.

For those of you who want to keep tabs on all of the cool stuff I am working on, check back regularly to see examples of my animation assignments during the coming 18+ months.

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