15 December 2010


I've got a pet rat. She's all spheres and cubes. Easy to find rhythm in a rat, and they have features that make it easy to see how different shapes fit together.

10 December 2010

When good cards go bad

The story is the jacks take the queens away, and this is a moment in the battle when one King loses his Queen, and the other saves his. It's rather oddly shaped, so I cut it in half to see the parts better. I overplayed the curves, but tried to maintain the "playing card" emphasis in shape, design and color. Interaction between all six cards was key, and drove most of my decisions. Just ignore the feet on the King of Spades...

24 November 2010


Roughs of what I sit around doing while others are making me wait. Don't get excited about it, the tangents are still in step.
Two guys juggling sounds pretty simple. After all, it's a repeater, right? Well, kinda. It's constantly throwing and catching, mostly everything is in "figure eights." To break up the pattern a little bit, I modified a vibration formula- you make two patterns of action, and then you interleave them together in different combinations. It's an old trick. Tracking the pins was the challenge. I decided to animate them the old fashioned way too. The cheat would be to use a script or expressions for the rotation. Nothing in nature is going to act that perfectly. The thumbnails for the motion of the pins, if you're into how I got them to move with the spin in Maya.

04 November 2010

Crap from my sketchbook

Quick gestures from life (mostly on the bus in Los Angeles) and watching the girls play lacrosse at the school.

15 October 2010

Visual FX

Some of the kind of thing I've been working on lately- blood splatter, artificial props, wire removal, and other VFX stuff. This is After Effects. Red Giant makes some of the best plug-ins for After Effects on the market, and they are reasonable. Check them out. Probably the most essential are Trapcode and Knoll light factory- they'll make working efficiency skyrocket.

02 October 2010

Work In Progress

Back in Maya again, experimenting with some of the devices and charts I've picked up from some very classic early cartoons. Mostly from the work of Friz Freleng and Tex Avery. Most of these curves are still linear or step. I've still got about 130 or so frames to animate, some things to refine (especially facial), and then cleanup. I've actually found a way to use some of the blur frame 2d idea in Maya (see rat animation below), but I'm not going to use it here. I'm thinking about using a motion blur on some of the fastest movements and see what it looks like. This piece is cartoony without all the squash and stretch. And I should tell you, there is a naked lady... I've been exposed to too much Benny Hill lately.

12 September 2010

Aerials of Los Angeles

Pictures I took of LA

08 September 2010

Aerials of Los Angeles

Finally got a guy I know to take me and a couple of friends up in his helicopter. Scary thing is, I work with these crazies...
Edited about an hour and a half into five minutes or so. You'll see some views of Hollywood and LA mostly- the dried up river bed and some mountains. A lot of it was like looking down at a model, about 900 feet up.

26 August 2010

I needed a way for this rat to zip around looking for whatever before he snatches this piece of cheese from the trap. First instinct is to inbetween it the "regular" way- using exaggerated squash and stretch frames and a couple of other tricks. But you run into problems immediately. There is not enough time for anticipation, the turn takes too long, you can't read the accent before the transition, you don't get the zipping around visual... So Tex Avery back in the day was experimenting with a three drawing run with blur frames, and he had a character who zipped from one pose to the next. This idea was later built upon and evolved- Chuck Jones had his distorted version of transitional inbetweens (probably one of the more famous). So I spent a couple of weeks dissecting Tex Avery's formula- 5 frame virtual hold on the accent with a cushion back, using three blurs (combining the anticipation, the inbetweens, and the follow through).

25 August 2010

Lacrosse Anyone?

Look what life drawing did for me...
Was inspired by a friend's drawing (Amanda Dockery) that exists but isn't finished yet (that I know of). I've been playing around with some of Vilppu's composition classes, so it seemed like a viable project. Of course, it started as a sketch and evolved from several references (mostly women's rugby for the interactive poses).

23 July 2010

Hollywood Screening of "Sleepy Time Pals"

Tonight was the premier for our show "Sleepy Time Pals" at Chaplin Theater- a screening theater deep in the bowels of a place called Raleigh Studios on Melrose in Hollywood. From the corner of Bronson and Melrose, you have this view of the Hollywood sign on Mt. Lee. Across the street, you've got legendary Paramount Pictures. You may have never heard Raleigh Studio (Producer's Studio), but if you know anything about Hollywood, this is one of the oldest studios around. This place was here twelve years or so before Paramount. It's changed names a couple of times, but the Clune building is still there. You've seen sets at Raleigh Studios if you've ever seen "The Closer" on TNT or maybe you watch "Private Practice." Parts of "Ironman" were shot here. Way back when: "Gunsmoke", "What Happened to Baby Jane." The place has atmosphere; it's fantastic. There are about a dozen different stages on the lot. A bunch of offices, equipment rooms, a large silver cow, trailers... there is a lot going on at this little place. Some of the pictures are pictures of pictures from my Blackberry (I left the USB cable on the computer at work and I'm too impatient to wait). I invited friend and designer (animation) Micah Lewis.
This is the sign on the corner of Bronson and Melrose. What's neat about this lot is you can see how the place has grown and evolved. The newest buildings on the lot kind of follow this design- with mirrorized windows. The older parts I think are the most interesting- the Bronson gate (below) has a lot of personality. Through it all, this place has made it's money renting stage space to other studios, which is brilliant. The theater is named for Charlie Chaplin, who was himself something of a living cartoon character. It was a classic theater with the projector house, drapery hanging, the lights, the seats, and the place had a pretty good crowd.
The show was about 20 minutes. I worked on this a little less than a year, but I know it was longer than that in the making. Probably about 30 people or so at one point or another had their hands on it. A lot of work and anxiety and frustration and love goes into something like this. It's time away from your home, family, friends, pets, reality. Production consumes your life, and when you finally get to see your work on the big screen, all rendered with the textures and composited, and you can turn to your friend and say "that's mine...that's mine...this scene was ours..." it finally seems to be worth it. Sleepy Time Pals is a live action 3d composite cartoon designed to get kids in a bedtime routine. There were literally all age groups there to include a population of children, and I was impressed with the audience response. People laughed at the jokes and the gags, answered questions to the viewers, and seemed to enjoy the story (The title is "Softbear has a Secret"). It's really a relief from the animator's perspective when you get the response you were hoping for in the theater. Success. When it's over, its nice to see your name in the credits, but the most rewarding experience for me is seeing the characters on the screen, and being convinced. My first Hollywood screening in animation was an incredible experience. Part of me wishes I could sit down and watch it again- or at least relive this experience, I feel super good about my art right now. I had the opportunity to work with some very dedicated people, we threw our talents together for this project, and it came together very nicely. Awesome job, STP Production Crew.

06 July 2010

The Academy Exhibit

If you're in Los Angeles, and you have some free time, hurry to The Academy building on Wilshire and check out these exhibits.
I personally can't get enough Chuck Jones. 'Nuff said.
Ray Harryhausen is inspiring as an animator- made me start looking at some serious stop motion stuff. Anyone remember the Clash of the Titans on TNT or TBS- old Turner network and all those mythical movies with the old school special effects? THIS is the man.

Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig

Chuck Jones: An Animator’s Life From A to Z-Z-Z-Z

Through August 22 – An exhibition of the work of Oscar winner and master humorist Chuck Jones, representing his short animated films, features and TV specials, including “What’s Opera, Doc?,” “Elmer’s Candid Camera,” “Beep Prepared,” “Duck Amuck” and many others. More

The Fantastical Worlds of Ray Harryhausen

Through August 22 – An exhibition showcasing the work of stop-motion animation and visual effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen (“It Came from beneath the Sea,” “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad,” “Jason and the Argonauts,” “One Million Years B.C.,” “Clash of the Titans”). More

28 June 2010

Rats In Color

Some color for clarity...

25 June 2010

Rat v. Trap

Thinking about some color for this one... now that's it's animated, the motivation for that is almost nil, but some color I think will make the cheese stand out a little better.
To make the action faster, I ended up cutting several drawings from the original (broke my heart after planning the poses) and the timing seems to be about right now.

16 June 2010

Rats Are Cool

Just a quick idea for a rat eyeing a piece of cheese. Six, maybe seven seconds when it's through.
Animation of a rat batting a piece of cheese from a trap. Trap and cheese omitted for clarity. Work in Progress... some parts work, and others are kind of sticky. Rats are fun- they are easy to draw and classically smart. It's understandable why they make good cartoons.
Then there's the video (complete with timing issues)-

03 June 2010

Pick Axe Drawings

Video of the drawings below. 24fps. The timing is off, it needs extremes and some inbetweens, but everything is there and it works. There are some things I would change for a character animation, but the spacing and mechanics for this movement are about where I think they should be, and there is plenty of room for overlap.

Sequential Drawing

These are lifedrawings with a model using a pick axe. (There are a few things you should never do naked- like exercise, use powertools, swing an axe...) Anyway, start at the back of your drawing pad, and work forward. I scanned mine in and spread them out. Terrific study in weight, and if you have enough control of your drawings, you can find some pretty good arcs too.

28 April 2010

Not Just Another Walk Cycle

Character walk work-in-progress of a rotund man walking toward the camera, adjusting his pants. Right now I'm modifying a chart for a walk on 16's (legs and body) and I'll chart the arms and hands a little differently. Overall, I'm pleased. The silhouettes are easy to read and the arcs support the action.

24 April 2010

ToonRex Rig Test

Maybe this one got away from me... this had some nice camera effects on it. Had to limit what I could up load so it lost a lot, but you get the idea.

19 March 2010

Aunt Stephanie

My family makes calendars every year so we can remember birthdays and stuff like that. Somehow this picture of my aunt circulated around the family, and ended up in this year's calendar. I almost died when I saw it. I'm sure we were never meant to see it. Anyway, decided to caricature it.

13 March 2010

Butterfly Flying

I used the wing flutter plans (posted below somewhere) to animate this butterfly in flight. This is actually a rough from my short (from a different camera, but it's the same animation). Used the alpha for the out placard of my demo reel. It put together nicely, only took a few hours from start to finish, and the best part was I had a good idea how to make it work before I sat down.

12 March 2010

Cats and Rabbits

They aren't that pretty, but it beats watching the scripts in the output window scroll as I wait for my Maya files to load.

12 February 2010

Life Drawing Cartoons

Just Messing around waiting for Maya files to load

09 February 2010

New Placards

Using my butterfly test as part of the placard for my demo reel. The top is with a straight alpha and no motion blur. The bottom has a motion blur of 0.75 (rendered that way before composite).

06 February 2010

Butterfly wing test - Rough

It needs some inbetweens and some tweaking, but so far, so good.

26 January 2010

Butterfly Wing Flutter Plans

Went crazy looking for a good way to animate this butterfly flying. Left plenty of room for overlap, broke a few joints, picked out strong poses and an interesting breakdown. I condensed it down to a classic run on 6's- where drawings 1 and 7 are close. I put the body on a different chart than the wings, just for some variation.

23 January 2010

Planning my poses

Just planning some of my key poses for this little animation I'm putting together. My plans have changed a little bit over the past few days and I'm trying to organize my thoughts.

22 January 2010

Eric Goldberg Talks About Ken Harris

I found this video digging around You Tube. I've ripped off so many charts from Ken Harris- he's my favorite animator of all time. The Animator' s Survival Kit is a Ken Harris/Art Babbitt animation chart goldmine. Animators spread rumors about where to get notes, who has the notes, who wrote stuff down. Because it is valuable information. There are legends of reams of Art Babbitt notes floating around- I'm telling you, read the Animator's Survival Kit. It will save a lot of time, the charts apply to everything, and it's already been proven to work. Memorize some basic charts, draw well, and read all the notes you can. Start with Dick Williams and then go straight to Stanchfield.

Some Ken Harris art- I like looking at this kind of thing. And here is a picture of the master. Pretty intense expression...

06 January 2010

Additions to DinoRig

I didn't want the teeth to look very menacing since I consider this little guy to be a baby. The tongue is a little loud, but everything works. Setting up a GUI for the blendshapes and tongue control and it's off to the races.