Tuesday, July 30, 2013

AnimSquad, the grand finale

 I finished up my last class of AnimSquad just last week. While the first 7 weeks were a complete struggle and I don't have much to show for it, I'd say the last 5 made up for it. I was beat down and struggled through that first shot. Looking back on it, I should have not done that shot. Two characters are hard enough, let alone a sad, subtle shot. I should have also factored in how I haven't polished a shot or taken something to this level of finish in ages. All those excuses/factors combined to a frustrating two months, followed by one of my biggest breakthroughs in years.

I did a rambling post last time about what I saw as my main breakthrough of some stuff about timing. I finally don't have shitty even timing all over the place. Another was a long buildup of learning about acting and finally doing a shot with a character I understood. It was perfect because I knew the audio was Rafi from The League, which is one of my favorite characters from a show I really like. But, I didn't know the shot in context. It was from some ad I found for an upcoming season that I only ripped the audio from and haven't been able to find since. There's actually another clip in there about Smurfs that I'd love to animate but will very much become strange having two shots about smurfs on my reel but not knowing much about/really liking the Smurfs, haha.

That said, the following weeks after presenting my blocking plus pass, I progressed pretty much how I always hoped I would in the class. Some notes, a few revisions on a section or two, but nothing terribly major.

My parting notes seemed mostly about just continuing with where I'm at. Making more tests, and not getting lazy with them. It's daunting yet exciting. I've now set the bar higher for what my work should look like. It sucks because now I basically have to make a new reel starting with this shot, but it's great to be over that last hump. I hope to conquer many more hills on my journey to being a great animator. So with no more John-esque rambling, here is where my Apple shot ended up:

46ApplesTall from John Fielding on Vimeo.

My next shot will be from another of my favorite shows, Arrested Development. From here on out, I will only be doing shots from shows/characters that I know/love. It sounds obvious, but I at least just didn't DO that for up until now basically. The Don Quixote shot I did a while back was the first time I set out to animate a character I felt more comfortable with, the lost in his own world kinda naive fool hardy character. I'm sure that says a lot about who I am, but let's be real. With the state of the industry and the level of talent available to studios, animators are more and more like actors, where I assume they'll be hiring me based on who I am/what I'm good at, than just the fact that I can animate. I hear so often about people being 'cast' on characters or shots because it is something they are good at, I might as well explore those things in my personal work and have that to show to the studios. With a reel of shots that express me more than just my animation skills but who I am and what I enjoy, they're more likely to get an artist they want, and I am more likely to be chosen by a company that will fit my interests and that's the most important thing. I'm sure there will be plenty of times of being cast on a shot you don't like, but I'm not at the level yet that I can just do whatever character, so I need to do these shots of characters that I do know, so I can start to really grasp the finer details of animating and acting and all this mess I've gotten myself into, haha.

So...that ramble aside, here is the next shot I plan to do:

After that, I plan on working on this guy. It's far less developed. This is just some quick 2 hours of blocking to get my shot in front of Nathan before class ended. Because of how rough the blocking is, I put my reference in the corners to explain my ideas. Nathan said that's how some people actually submit blocking sometimes at Disney. Apparently I can take good reference so that helped, but is definitely not something I thought I could do so well. I might be able to now partly due to how I'm choosing characters I understand and can get into a bit. One interesting thing to note about this shot is that, when I did the blocking for this, I had to shift the timing of everything from my reference so it would look right-ish. I found for most things it was advancing it all 6 frames before where I actually wanted it to happen. This was touched on in the summer class I took at Gobelins. One of the instructors talked about a 'compensated x-sheet'. That was about how where your eye perceives change in shape when in blocking is different from where that change/pose should happen when things are on 1's. It's difficult to really get into the nuance of it all and I hope to learn more, but for the time being, I mostly shifted my animation 6 frames early after timing it out where I know it needs to land for this super rough pass of blocking. When I finally get down to animating this, I should probably start from scratch to be honest. Some of the posing here isn't great and only at most half-thought out (because again, I did it in 2 hours), and the poses aren't where I want them to be. Well, they are because of held frames, but the keys in Maya aren't and it's definitely something I have to learn through about blocking, especially in stepped. As much as I prefer blocking in spline, I seem to have figured some stuff out with blocking in stepped when bringing it down to 3's and 4's before approval and splining.

All that said, here's some bad, rough blocking with decent video reference for the shot I plan on doing after the previous one. What I'm excited about this one for is handling a possibly difficult dialogue, switching focus from one person to the next in controlled ways, and the fact that it's another line from Rafi (that's miraculously also not horrifically vulgar), and has some really dumb faulty logic:


  1. AH! These are so great!!! The reference in the corners is hilarious. Great process stuff.

  2. Hey Pandalope, I found your blog off a basic search for animsquad. I am thinking of going and doing a workshop with them but have no prior experience other than playing with maya. Would you recommend this school for learning animation? how was your experience there?

  3. Hey man. Thanks for giving my work a look! AnimSquad is a really strong course to take, I'm signed up for another class in the fall, and two of my classmates from the first ever AnimSquad course, are already in their second course. I would shoot a message to Marlon, info@animsquad.com. They have 3 levels of classes, but I'm not as familiar with the beginner course. I do know that it's probably the strongest course out there since it's only current Disney leads and you'll be learning the Disney 'style' of animation. At other schools, you don't necessarily know where your teacher will be coming from, and where they come from will change the things they look at in a shot. That's nothing to discredit them or other schools, it's just to say, with AnimSquad, you KNOW what to expect and the style of learning you'll receive.