Friday, February 28, 2014

Raymond Chandler Hates the Oscars

"The head of a large studio once said privately that in his candid opinion the motion picture business was 25 per cent honest business and the other 75 per cent pure conniving. He didn't say anything about art, although he may have heard of it. But that is the real point, isn't it?—whether these annual Awards, regardless of the grotesque ritual which accompanies them, really represent anything at all of artistic importance to the motion picture medium, anything clear and honest that remains after the lights are dimmed, the minks are put away, and the aspirin is swallowed? I don't think they do. I think they are just theater and not even good theater. As for the personal prestige that goes with winning an Oscar, it may with luck last long enough for your agent to get your contract rewritten and your price jacked up another notch. But over the years and in the hearts of men of good will? I hardly think so."
The Oscars are this weekend.  I stopped watching the ceremony years ago as the results are completely irrelevant to me.  I would never say I hate the Oscars, as that would require more energy than I'm willing to devote to them.

The above quote is from a long piece by Raymond Chandler that appeared in The Atlantic in 1948 and you can read it in its entirety here.  Chandler was the creator of the private eye Philip Marlowe in the novels The Big Sleep and Farewell My Lovely, both of which have been turned into movies several times.  He was also a screenwriter who contributed to Double Indemnity and Strangers on a Train.  Chandler had an inside view of the Oscars and he hated them.  In this age of Twitter, I don't know how many people will bother to read his entire article, but it is a good counterpoint to all the hype that will wash over us in the next few days.

SUPERMOINE HOLYPOP (le gardien du secret)

Tax Deductions Guide for Freelancers and the Self-Employed

Rhythm & Hues: Life After Pi and Voodoo

Here is the documentary to Life After Pi. It shows what Rhythm & Hues had to go through during the time Life of Pi was getting an Oscar. I had the great pleasure of working there to start my career and continued for a few years, even while Life of Pi was in production. It was an amazing studio and as you can see from the video, the people were amazing and really cared about each other and the studio. A piece of me will always be there and I have created some amazing experiences and friends from my time there. So have a watch and be reminded of some of the great from the studio and also some of the troubling times for the VFX industry.

Also they posted a great video showing off their proprietary software Voodoo. MAN do I miss this pipeline and software. It was thee best tool-set I have had the pleasure of using yet and I miss it everyday. So much hard-work and talent went into it and it shows in their work over the last 25yrs.

Click on Image below.

Hope you all enjoy and spread the word!

Life After Pi is only a piece of the full feature length documentary that is to follow about the VFX can follow the progress over at

Bucks graduate Jaffar Ali lands paid internship with Vizrt

One of our recent animation alumni, Jaffar Ali, has just been selected for a paid internship at one of our newest industry partners, Vizrt.  Vizrt is a large broadcast company who manufacture virtual reality solutions for broadcasters, both nationally and internationally (they have 40 or so offices around the globe). Their newsroom virtual reality work fills our screens every night: ITV News, BBC, Sky, CNN,  and Sky Sports. We asked Jaffar to talk about his new internship and how he landed the position.

Bucks: Congratulations on your paid internship with Vizrt - Tell us about it!

Jaffar:  I am really excited to be starting my internship with Vizrt. They are an ingenious company that create real - time graphics for television broadcasting. Their main Office is in Norway, but I shall be working in their UK offices in Ealing Studios, Ealing, London.

Architectural visualisation by Jaffar Ali

Bucks: How did you make it happen?

Jaffar:  I received an email from Dave Creighton about a paid apprentice opportunity at Vizrt. At that time I was not aware of them and what they did. But after some research into the company, I saw this as being an interesting and creative field to go into.

Dave Creighton by Monika Dzikowicz
My details were sent to Maja, the operations manager at Vizrt. I was given a task to complete prior to the interview, and if successful I would be called for an interview. I was lucky enough to attend the interview and also to be a successful candidate.  

Hitman guns by Jaffar Ali
Bucks: What sort of project will you be working on?

Jaffar: Vizrt have a variety of products which they provide to their clients, such as the BBC, SkyNews and Al-Jazeera. Some of them are used to create augmented reality virtual studios, sports analysis, weather, maps and also general animated graphics.

My role as an apprentice would be to learn and be able to use the products. Also, I will be assisting the system specialist with onsite installations of their systems. During my first week at Vizrt, I will be on a 5 day course learning Viz Artist. This is the software used to create all graphics and models. However, external softwares such as; 3DS Max and Maya can be used to create models and then be exported into the Viz Artist.

Beach House Interior - some of Jaffar's work at Bucks
Bucks: How did Bucks prepare you for the role?

Jaffar: The Animation, Games & Interactive Media course at Bucks taught me a range of creative skills.  Personally, I feel that focusing on doing mainly modeling projects at Bucks has helped me because I will be able to create the 3D models and scenes which can be used for virtual studios and 3D assets at Vizrt.

Bucks: What advice would you give to a student at Bucks to make the most of the course?

Jaffar: Keep working hard at trying to achieve the best outcomes in your projects. This can be done by looking closely at what is happening in the industries you wish to get into and trying to achieve the same results.

(Editor's Note: For more impressive work done by our students and recent graduates here at Bucks, check out Ben Gray's Moonbeam, and the architectural visualisations of Sabah Masood. Also take a look at the work of Andy Thomas here, see our latest commercial project for Rocketseed, our short film done for a global aid agency, and take a look at the excellent work of designer Monika Dzikowicz, architectural visualisation specialist Krsytof Michalski, Alex Whitfield and the 3D artwork of Mike Swan.)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

PoseBook by Stephen Silver


Life After Pi - the sad end of Rhythm and Hues

This excellent 30 minute documentary, directed and edited by Rhythm & Hues employee Scott Leberecht, explores the sad end of Rythm and Hues, one of the world's finest visual effects houses, pioneers in photo realistic character animation. The film explores how R&H strove to be the best in the world, but also what was the financial cost of that search for excellence.

The chief villain of the film is the film subsidies coming from countries like Canada and the UK, where the Government offers tax rebates to create financial incentives for work to be done at home, stimulating domestic creative industries. What this leads to, of course, is a competitive auction for visual effects work, with artists acting as "pixel gypsies", following the studios to far-away cities in search of work, as changing tax subsidies send work to different countries.

On the positive side,  the film shows how even in the commercial world of visual effects, there is still space for creatively-driven studios to pursue artistic excellence for its own sake. After all, R&H pioneered stunning visual effects animation for 25 years, raising the bar for everyone else.


(Editor's Note: For more on R&H and the visual effects industry, see our post on the end of Rhythm and Hues, why we went green in support of digital artists, and what can be done to get better recognition for visual effects artists everywhere .)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014



JOBS IN CALI: Technical Animator, ILM - San Francisco, CA

Job TitleTechnical Animator
CompanyIndustrial Light & Magic
LocationLetterman Digital Arts Center
CitySan Francisco
Job Description

    Technical Animators work within our animation department. They are responsible for animating complex and technically challenging shots in Maya using a diverse skill set (modeling, rigging, FX, etc). Responsible for designing and creating the motion of computer graphics characters within a shot while overseeing the animation of a sequence of shots on a specific production.

  • Expected to solve complex animation tasks with rigging and modeling solutions.
  • Comprehend and execute direction from Lead Animator or Animation Supervisor. 
  • Work closely with modeling and rigging departments to integrate clean and organized animation solutions back into the pipeline.
  • Participates as a team member in determining various aesthetic solutions; provides feedback to other members of the production by attending dailies on a regular basis.
  • Expected to train and mentor new Animators as well as provide technical assistance to the show supervisors before and during the production. Help other Animators with technical issues and solve problems. 
  • Maintain or exceed a consistent level of productivity while meeting deadlines and producing high quality work.
  • Animate hero to background creatures, vehicles and props in Maya as well as some previs dynamics and particles.
  • Able to handle huge shots with many assets/creatures.

  • At least 4 years of work experience as a Maya Technical Animator or Generalist in digital animation, visual effects, games or commercials. 
  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent in Computer Science, Computer Visualization, or Computer Animation is a plus.
  • Proficient with keyframe and mocap animation for creatures, vehicles, and props.
  • Proper understanding of all the animation principles.
  • Sufficient knowledge of Maya rigging and modeling techniques.
  • Sufficient knowledge of Maya dynamics and particle techniques.
  • Able to design and implement functional solutions.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Good communication skills.
  • Positive attitude and a team player.
  • Passion for the work.
  • Expertise with Maya.
  • Proficiency with Linux.
  • Experience with Python scripting for Maya is a plus.

Cartoon Forum wants your idea for a TV Series - submit by 25 April 2014

Cartoon Forum is an event that every animator should be aware of. It is a forum for pitching ideas for animated TV series, and it takes place this year in France. Cartoon Forum describes itself as the place "where projects come to life", and this year it is being held from 23-26 September in Toulouse - in Midi-Pyrénées. But don't be put off - you don't have to speak French! The Forum is bilingual and English is the main language spoken.

Cartoon Forum is the place to pitch your idea for a TV series. If you've got an idea for the next Wombles, or Teletubbies, or Magic Roundabout - this is the place to do it.
Cartoon Forum is the TV cousin of Cartoon Movie, the March pitch-fest in Lyon where film-makers and animators get to pitch ideas for feature films to assorted co-producers, distributors, broadcasters, financiers and sales agents.

The big difference between the two is that, at Cartoon Movie, you can pitch in concept, meaning that you are basically selling an idea. You don't need a script - or even any animation (though it helps). At Cartoon Forum, you must be in development, which means you will need at the very least some polished animation and a "bible" to show what your project will look like.

So, with that in mind, what can you submit? The answer is: A TV series, a TV special, or a "transmedia project" in development.

Why submit? What is it all for? It all depends on what you need. You might want co-producers, to help you access national development funds, and help to get the project made. You might be looking for financiers, so-called "business angels" who will give you seed capital and take an equity stake in the project. You might want to interest broadcasters (like the BBC) so you have a potential platform to get your series out to an audience. In general, you are seeking to create excitement, generate interest, and get people behind your idea.

If your project gets selected, you get to pitch it to around 800 animation professionals at Cartoon Forum.

Here's how to submit your project:
Contact Details:
Tel: +32 2 242 93 43

Good luck! The deadline for submission is 25 April 2013. You have 2 months to come up with the next Peppa Pig.


(Editor's Note: for more on Cartoon Movie, see our posts here and also here. )

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Working Conditions for Board Artists

"It would be good to have audio, designs and b.g.'s BEFORE we start a board."

"Somebody who's never done the work has created the schedule.  [Storyboard]  artists never have input on the time that's realistic. Writers should use a stop watch when writing their scripts. They write (overlong) 16 page scripts for 11 minute segments."
The Animation Guild in Los Angeles recently had a meeting about the conditions facing storyboard artists and published several comments on its blog.  As there was discussion in Canada recently about studios asking storyboard artists to cut animatics (for no additional pay), I thought it was interesting that even in a union situation, board artists are being squeezed for time, handed scripts that are unquestionably too long and being asked to work overtime for free.

Skeleton Dance

The best way to learn is to copy a master!

Jesse Baumgartner revisits the 1929 classic short titled The Skeleton Dance, which was originally directed by Walt Disney. The CG rigs are the stock set in the Source Filmmaker(SFM) toolkit, a free animation tool from Valve. Synced up the original with the new version over at this link if you want to see a comparison.

365 - One Year, One Film, One Second a Day Trailer

Maya Lighting & Rendering 1: Previewing Lights, How to Choose Light Colors

I have known Jeremy for years and he has always been 
a great teacher when it comes to lighting.  
This is for my students trying to light their shots for their reels.

JOBS IN CALI: Flash Animator - Nickelodeon - Burbank, CA

Title: Flash Animator 
Req ID: 6561
Location: Burbank, CA 

Work with the Animation Supervisor in the development of the animation style.
Work with storyboards, story reels, recorded dialogue, set layout, and direction to animate key scenes in the early stages of episodic production.
Animate character tests/scenes.

 Basic Qualifications: Degree or certificate in CG/classical animation, film, or related field, or 2-3 years of production animation experience. Strong understanding of traditional animation principles. Must have experience using Flash CS3 Must be able to work within a fast paced environment Must have a demo reel that demonstrates an application of the principles of animation, and exceptional performance and acting skills. Ability to work collaboratively.

PLEASE NOTE: As this is an artistic position, a design test may be required.

 HOW TO APPLY: You MUST submit a portfolio in order to be considered for artistic positions! Please be sure to upload your resume and website link in the online application process. Please include the website link on your resume. You MUST upload the portfolio release form to your application. To download the form, please go to:

Long Winter Studios Releases Argus

Long Winter has released another rig to it's collect, Argus! Seems like a great contrast to the rest of the cast and as always the Rig is high quality. I'm messing around with it now and well worth a look into it.

Argus from Long Winter Studios on Vimeo.

So head on over and check him out!

PS  Stay tuned for an interview I did with Long Winter Creator Andrew Conroy where he covers emotion in the brows and eyes with Argus.

How do animators work with sound designers? Six rules for success

A sound designer hard at work at Bucks
One of our students' tasks in their first year of studies is to work together with a sound design student, collaborating together on an assessed project. But why collaborate? Why should our animators not do their own sound design? The answer, of course, is that when you join forces with other students who are experts in their fields, you tend to get a better result than you would achieve alone.

One of the very best things about studying at Bucks is the first-rate facilities that we have in the Gateway building, bringing together students of different disciplines to create excellent work. The tricky bit, however, is finding a way to work together successfully. But then, this is good practice for a career in digital media - almost all of our students' projects will be collaborations of one kind or another. Finding a way to get the best work out of yourself and your colleagues forms a major part of building a long and successful career.

Gateway - our media hub, opened in 2010
So how, in practice, does an animator get the best out of such a collaboration? And what does an animator need from a sound designer? Below are six rules for a successful collaboration.

Rule No 1 - Figure out what you need
What sound work is needed for your film? Do you need sound effects? Voice narration? Music? If music, does it need to be an original composition (lots of work) or some library music (much less work). If there is voice narration, you will need to find an actor, and record their voice(s). You don't have access to the sound studios, but the sound design students do, so they can help you there. Start off by making a list of what you will need.

Rule No 2 - Figure out what you want the sound designer to do
Your sound designer's first question will be "what do you want me to do?" The best way to answer this is to show him/her your rough animatic, cut to (ideally) the correct length. The animatic will show exactly what will happen in the film, and what sound work will be needed.  It need not be finished animation, but it should show what you have in mind. Agree up front the scope of the sound work and what you are looking for.

Rule No 3 - Add in some rough sound yourself
One good way to help the sound designer is to rough some audio in yourself (you will have to do this in Premiere). Free sound effects can be found online at and other websites. You might pick some music that you like (even if it is not what you intend to use in the final edit), and drop that in to your animatic. The more work you sketch in, the easier it is for a sound designer to take what you have done and improve on it. And the more specific you are, the more likely it is that the sound designer will understand the brief and give you what you need.

Home of the Bucks Media Collaborations Page
Rule No 4 - Find the Bucks Media Collaborations Page 
The Bucks Media Collaborations Page is a great place to start looking for for a sound designer. Or indeed any artist at Bucks. In fact, you can find just about anyone you need - actors, dancers, musicians, camera operators - all the disciplines at Bucks are represented here. For a full description of how it works, see this post.

What if no-one at the Bucks Media Collaborations Page responds to your request? If you're not having any luck, send me an email and I will contact one of the lecturers in sound design. There are always ways and means of finding someone to help out.

Rule No 5 - Leave plenty of time for the sound designer to do their work
Remember that the sound designer will need you to have completed your work in good time so that they can do theirs. If you are used to finishing your animation late on Sunday night for a Monday morning hand-in, think again. Find out in advance how much time the sound designer will need to complete the job, and then make sure you hand over your finished movie file in time. No-one likes a rush job.

Rule No 6 - Don't panic when things go wrong
Whenever you collaborate with other individuals, things tend to go wrong. Typical problems include misunderstandings about the scope of the work, failure to deliver work on time, confusion about deadlines, and general miscommunication.

Good advice from Douglas Adams
When these things happen (and they will) rest assured you are not the first person to experience this.  All group projects experience problems. Part of the purpose of the exercise is to get our students used to the idea of working in groups - preparing you for reality of workplace collaborations. The only way to overcome these difficulties is with patience, good humour, clear direction, and lots of cups of tea.

(Editor's note: for more on collaborations, see this post. For more on the Bucks Media Collaborations Page, see this article. And to find out more about how to work successfully on group projects, check out this piece. )

Monday, February 24, 2014


I love hearing from you! 

Whether it's simple encouragement or detailed information on a particular film, 
your comments remind me that the posts are really reaching my audience.

so - let me know what you think - thank you!

Wolf Girl for Disney

One Billion Views!

One Billion Views!

Well, not really but I found this in my email box this morning.  
We are about to turn over 1 million views on this blog for this year. 
That is cray cray yo!

The Foundry is looking for submissions for its 2014 Showreel

Technology developer  The Foundry is looking for submissions for its 2014 Showreel, and will be accepting submissions until March 17 via the company’s online submission form. The Foundry’s 2013 showreel has over 55,500 views and has been shown at events all over the world, from Foundry events in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, India and Australia to its MARI 2.0 & NUKE 8 online event broadcast live across the globe.

The 2014 Showreel will premiere at NAB Show 2014 in early April.

The company is looking for a wide range of material, including: Film, Commercials, Television, Animation, Motion graphics, Games, Product design, Shortform.

Check out The Foundry’s 2013 showreel, below:

Joel Harlow - 5-Hour LIVE ONLINE Makeup Effects Class

Learn Makeup from an Oscar Winner LIVE!

Celebrate the Oscars THIS MONDAY, 2/24 from 12pm-5pm PST!

Join us for a special 5-Hour LIVE ONLINE Makeup Effects Class with Academy Award and Emmy winning artist Joel Harlow (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, INCEPTION, THE LONE RANGER).
Joel will be demonstrating 2 DISTINCT MAKEUP APPLICATIONS, focusing on accessible, "out-of-the-kit" techniques that will allow you to create Makeup Characters without the need for expensive and hard-to-find materials.
1) "Out of the Kit" ALIEN MAKEUP - Using color, shadow and paint effects to create an other-worldly character.
2) "Out of the Kit" DISGUISE MAKEUP - Using color, shadow, hair and simple prosthetics to transform a person into someone else.
Click HERE for complete sign up details!

Hope to see you on Monday,

Matt Winston
Co-Founder Stan Winston School

JOBS IN CALI: Storyboard Artist - Bad Seeds - Nickelodeon, Burbank, CA

Storyboard Artist - Bad Seeds
Nickelodeon, Viacom
Burbank, CA, United States

Tells the story visually, in storyboard form.

Meet with creative supervisors to discuss objectives of storyboard; what is desired or to be achieved. Create storyboards by implementing storytelling objectives.
Follow instructions of creative supervisors.
Address any problems with creative supervisors; ask necessary questions.
Communicate progress of work to creative supervisors and to appropriate production staff.
Ensure quality and style of show is consistently achieved in storyboard work.
Follow proper document management requirements (i.e., file naming and storage) according to the production’s guidelines.
Meet all deadlines as determined by Line Producer or Production Manager.
Attend and contribute to relevant meetings and pitches as needed.
Maybe be required to pitch Storyboards.
Ensure all storyboard notes are added.
Assist with special projects.

Basic Qualifications: Looking for a good draftsman, with strong storytelling skill. Proficient in Photoshop. Must demonstrate proficiency in style of show. Strong staging and composition skills. Strong drawing and mechanical skills. Knowledge of or willingness to learn applicable design software and hardware. Strong time-management skills. Work well under pressure. Ability to multitask a plus. Desired Qualifications: Preschool knowledge a plus. Relevant drawing experience necessary. BA/BS preferred. Minimum of 1 year storyboard experience and/or training on a similar show; or equivalent combination of education and experience.

 PLEASE NOTE: Will require a test.

 HOW TO APPLY: You MUST submit a portfolio in order to be considered for artistic positions! Please be sure to upload your resume and website link in the online application process. Please include the website link on your resume. You MUST upload the portfolio release form to your application. To download the form, please go to:

Macskafogó 2 - A sátán macskája / Catcher - Cat City 2 (2007) - Pencil Tests

Layout, animation & clean-up scenes
by me, Diána Pach, Péter Bíró, Tibor Bélay, Lajos Csákovics & others

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Line Archive 2013

Monday, December 23 - The Princess and the Frog Pencil Tests: Eric Goldberg's Louis Scenes______________________________________________________________________________________WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20 - Joe Oh Character Animation Reel
______________________________________________________________________________________SUNDAY, JUNE 30 - Beauty and the Beast (1991) Pencil Tests
______________________________________________________________________________________SUNDAY, JUNE 30 - Wreck-It Ralph (2012) Production Art
______________________________________________________________________________________SUNDAY, JANUARY 20 - ParaNorman (2012) Concept Art
______________________________________________________________________________________TUESDAY, JANUARY 01, 2013 (Livlily's 2nd Birthday) - FRANK AND OLLIE (1995), Documentary

JOBS IN CALI: Senior Animator - Industrial Light & Magic, San Francisco, CA

Job TitleSenior Animator
CompanyIndustrial Light & Magic
LocationLetterman Digital Arts Center
CitySan Francisco
Job Description

    The Animator creates high quality motion of computer graphics creatures and objects within a shot, using a variety of animation software programs, and working under the general supervision of Senior Level and Animation Supervisors.

  • Responsible for the successful animation of a series of shots on a specific project.
  • Participates as a team member in determining various aesthetic solutions; provides feedback to other members of the production by attending dailies on a regular basis.
  • Maintains or exceeds a consistent level of productivity while meeting deadlines and producing high quality work.
  • Expected to mentor entry level Animators and must be able to assist them with their shots.
  • Performs other tasks related to the creation of computer-generated animation.

  • Bachelor's Degree or equivalent in Traditional Animation and 3 years experience, or at least 5 years of experience working in cel, stopmotion or computer animation.
  • 2+ years as an entry level Animator in conjunction with recommendations for advancement by the Animation Supervisors and Department Manager.
  • Expert knowledge of traditional animation principles, acting, film production and compositional design.
  • Ability to take on a delegated task with a minimum of supervision.
  • Knowledge of Unix and shell scripting; expert knowledge of Maya, proprietary and other software programs.
  • Good organization and communication skills.

Wanted: Student Reps: Reward - £100

Fancy being a student representative? Now is your chance! The election is organised by the Bucks Students' Union, and nominations to be a student rep closes on 6 March at noon. The actual voting takes place from March 10-14. And student reps get to enjoy more than just the fruits of democracy - a £100 reward is available. To collect your £100, you have to attend a training day, attend two Programme Committee Meetings (PCMs), fill out a couple of evaluation forms, and also give and receive feedback for your class. Overall you will be expected to dedicate around 10 hours across the course of the year.

You can find more information here:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Student Showcase - Pippa Stark

Pippa Stark isn't even a student yet at Bucks but she is already working on her animation portfolio. She plans on joining us in October 2014, and has already started to do short pieces of character animation. Above is a very simple film she has completed using buttons, filmed in a stop-motion format. There is nothing complex about the execution, but it is charming, has character, and tells a little story - exactly what good animation is all about.

We look forward to welcoming her at Bucks in October!


(Editor's Note: For more impressive work done by our students and recent graduates here at Bucks, check out Ben Gray's Moonbeam, and the architectural visualisations of Sabah Masood. Also take a look at the work of Andy Thomas here, see our latest commercial project for Rocketseed, our short film done for a global aid agency, and take a look at the excellent work of designer Monika Dzikowicz, architectural visualisation specialist Krsytof Michalski, Alex Whitfield and the 3D artwork of Mike Swan.)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Pub Dog


The very center of this was never completely revealed 
but this 99% completed B/G was too gorgeous not to share...

Oscar Winning Modeler Adam Dewhirst on modeling and visual effects

Golden Compass
Last night, on 20 February, Oscar-winning modeler Adam Dewhirst gave a free webinar, hosted by the London-based visual effects academy Escape Studios, about his work as a CG modeler. Adam has worked on many VFX films including  The Golden Compass, for which he won his Academy Award.

Among the subjects Adam discussed were:

How 3D artists manage to deliver 13 different characters in a mere 3 days?
How to transfer UV's or use multiple UV tiles within a production
How VFX studios really work - reusing models to keep pipelines consistent
Creating accurate doubles from lidar scan data
Methods for transferring new topology to existing models and rigs.

Adam talked about his work at Cinesite and Frame Store on digital doubles, and about how at big VFX houses the polygon topology of production models tends to get re-used, to create efficient cost-effective pipelines. Big studios can't afford to build a bunch of bespoke models for each show, so they tend to re-use assets to keep costs as low as possible.

For example, in the models below, all three of them are essentially clones of the same digi double. Adam was even able to create a blendshape and blend from one to the other - because they have the exact same underlying poly count.

Because of this, he was able to clone blend shapes as well, opening up the possibility of re-using complex, expensive and hard-to-build facial blend shapes and re-using them on other characters. This kind of efficiency saves time, money, and the headache of having to re-do individual models from scratch.

He also worked with some free lidar scans sourced on the web (try Googling "free lidar scan" and see what comes up), showing how existing base model topology can be quickly applied to a lidar scan in order to create a new model which can be slotted into the existing production pipeline.

Lidar, by the way, is a remote sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analyzing the reflected light. It is used to make high resolution maps, very useful for the VFX industry. However, the resulting surface topology may not always be suitable for production purposes.

Incomplete lidar scan on the left. Production base model on the right
Adam used the soft modification tool to move the vertices around to do a rough new model, keeping the correct edge flow already established in the existing base model.

Adam was able, in a short space of time (the whole tutorial lasted just an hour including Q&A), to create a fairly accurate copy of the lidar scan using the base mesh topology, meaning that the new model can be safely plugged in to the existing digital pipeline.

So do you create 13 characters in 3 days? The answer is - to re-use characters between shows. Adam brought with him some standard digital doubles created by Framestore and Cinesite for their productions. Using the same basic standard digital double he was able to create an entire cast of characters in a very short time, partly by using the Transfer Attributes tool in Maya.

Short cuts like this are how leading visual effects houses compete at the top level around the world. To test it yourself, Google Free Scan Mesh and try the technique out yourself.

Shoeshine has many puppies
In fact, this kind of re-use of assets is something we did a lot of at Cinesite on shows like Underdog, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and Marmaduke. The basic underlying topology of all the dogs was the same on all three pictures, allowing extensive re-use of base models and blend shapes.

In effect, all the dogs on Marmaduke were the grandchildren of Shoeshine, the original beagle we modeled for Underdog. The facial blend shapes were copied from one animal to another, though this did not prevent us having to make extensive adjustments to the individual blend shapes and the combination shapes - which we used to create a huge variety of facial expressions. The adjustments had to be made carefully by hand, matching to live action reference, and took a fair bit of time.

At the end of the tutorial Adam took a series of questions from the online audience.  One of the questions was:

Q: Lots of students train on 3D Studio Max? Should they learn Maya?

Adam said that the important thing is to learn how to do CG modeling at a professional level, since the tools and techniques tend to be more or less the same - whatever software package the modeler is using. However, Adam said he has never been asked to use 3D Studio Max on a production during his ten years in the industry. His advice was - learn Maya!
Standard issue in Soho


(Editor's note: for more about 3D modeling, see our interview with Cinesite's Royston Wilcox on what it takes to find work in Soho. Also read our interview with Bucks graduate Mike Swan, and our interview with Bucks undergraduate Sabah Massod, who is already doing professional freelance work at Pinewood Studios.)

Disney's THE WISE LITTLE HEN - part 2

The Student Market at Bucks - a free chance to make some extra cash!

Sign up now for the Student Market! This is a chance for students to get a free market stall and sell some stuff! Supported by Enterprise at Bucks, the stalls will be set up in Wycombe and you can sell pretty much anything you fancy. Apart from being fun, it's a chance to earn some money, build business skills, learn sales strategies, and polish your CV.

For more information, email uzma_rasool@hotmail.couk, or Below is a full copy of their flyer.

As ever, we encourage our students to get involved with events at Bucks that are designed to give you general business skills as well as subject-specific training. A high street stall may not lead directly to a career in animation, but you will learn useful skills along the way and you might even have some fun as well.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Disney's THE WISE LITTLE HEN (1934)

1934 was early in the game 
but Disney's artistry was in full flower 
as they geared up for SNOW WHITE. 
One word comes to mind with these backgrounds, 
especially the pan B/Gs - 

The chicks refused to budge!

Isn't this a wonderful stage for Donald? Very theatrical!


Oscar Winning Modeler Adam Dewhirst is giving a free webinar tonight at 6pm

Escape Studios are hosting a free webinar with Oscar winning modeler Adam Dewhirst tonight at 6pm. Sign up now and hear Adam reveal the secrets of 3D Modeling, and what it takes to find work at a top London visual effects house like Escape Studios.

To find out more, follow this link:

I have worked with Adam myself and can personally vouch for his credentials. He is an excellent digital artist, a serious pro. Anyone interested in making a living as a CG modeler should sign up for this webinar. And it's free!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014