Tuesday, November 22, 2005

New walk cycle

Sometimes the easiest things seem difficult... popping knees for example. Not that a walk cycle or popping knees are easy in itself but there are some handy tricks the dumbest animator should know about: animation ghosting for instance... or if you want a grease pencil on your monitor...

But working this crazy I forgot about this while animating the walk... and that is why it sucks! So, today I read about animation ghosting, hit my forehead, hit it again... and worked 15 minutes to fix the worst popping...

Now you are right when you say that his legs aren't straight (totally) anymore and that would be another thing to address... but for now, check out this much smoother and more beautiful walk cycle... still there is much to be done though.

walk cycle animation 500kb

You know the good thing about animation is that you never stop learning... I think I will learn on walk cycles even when I'm 85 and still animating... so much about my lack of ability this week... I work hard on getting better and I hope to present better work each week...

For those of you who are interested I also uploaded some sketches I did with my new wacom. They show my thought process of this weeks assignment and are still in developement... just to let you know how I work =)

At least I still have faith =),

- Alex

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Week 09 - Animation Mentor

Hiyaa! Kazaam!

Hi everyone,

I am at full training! No time for talking! Great animation ninja style to fight! So, here is my latest assignment. Hiyaa! Check... it ... out! Boom. I do not like it though... still much needs to be done. Animoto is full of work and AM assignments get bigger... so, check this out. New strong pose:

And this, new "concerned" pose:

And finally, the masterblow, this: http://am.alexmlehmann.de/am01w09/w09_full.mov (12mb, download fully first)... the knees are still popping and I have some issues regarding arcs... feel free to rail against me and my lack of ability... I will humbly accept your beating...

Now, onto the training... I need to get better!!!! Ahhhhhhhhahhhh! Hiyaaa!

God bless you all,

- Alex

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bug amuck!

Ahhh! I could scream. Do you know the feeling when you are excited about an idea and run around like "Isn't that beautiful?" or "Take a look at this!"... and everyone you show it to just shrugs his shoulders and says "Yeah, it's alright..."? Or even worse: "Nah, I don't get it"... that is the tough part about being in a creative field. You sometimes get carried away with your own ideas hiding them in the closets and once you show it people aren't that nuts about what you did the way you are... (see the old pic one blog-entry below)

This recently happened to my strong pose assignment. I was thinking like crazy of a creative way to show strength without showing heavy lifting or buldging muscles... and I came up with the Mr. Incredible pulls of his water tap without wanting... and know what? 30% liked the idea and 70% said it misses the point of a strong pose. Now the downside: they are absolutely right! This has nothing to do with a "strong" pose... but more with a "strong" gag in a pose... Ben said that and really nailed it. This bugged me all day and I really had to concentrate at work not to re-do the pose right away. Coming home I sat down at the PC without eating until this has been changed...

And there I was again with my problem: how to show strength without adjusting the muscles or lifting heavy weights? I looked at body builders and their pose is dull because it just works through showing their muscles and skin... I finally (in my "anger") found a way that I think works out quite well. You could call it "tough" or "angry" also but I think there barely is one pose that just shows one thing. So, after working it in the PC here it is. Let me know what you think and whether this works. I'm really happy that it doesn't use any props at all... but if this is better you have to decide. If not, let me know. Feel free to ruin my day!!! I want to know it! So, no holding back there!

Oh, one sidenote. I finally ordered a Wacom tablet which is arriving tomorrow and I'm really excited about it... we'll see what's happening with my drawing abilities...

God bless you all,

- Alex

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Week 08 - full version Animation Mentor

Hi all,

I just uploaded my final version of the assignment for this week. There is a pose assignment ("strong") and an animation (both in 2D and 3D) and th revision of last week. Well, you won't see all too much difference between the revised and the new version. Both Michelle and Ethan liked it but wanted it to be a littlebit quicker at leaving the ground and landing... I did that and now the jump feels a littlebit more dynamic.

Next there was this pose assignment about a strong character. Bulging muscles or lifting weights are surely and easy way to show this but I thought about a normal situation in which you need strength (or not =). I hope one gets the gag in the end.

The animation hasn't changed since the last post but I added a 2D version of the walk. First of all: it is of model and that isn't good but hey, I'm not a drawing artist (yet?). Second there is this huge mistake in frame 3 and 15 that slides the pushing leg back... I think I'm going to change that soon but I had so much to work on this week that I barely made my assignments in time. Well, anyway, feel free to comment on anything you like.

Oh, there is an ongoing discussion about using personal notes on AM where you could say something about one week's assignment. I think that this would add even more to this wonderful community. This is why I added a little test-PN this week on my new server. It is kind of weird to see my own face talking and I get nervous not to forget anything in a short period of time... but maybe you like the idea as well. If more and more people start doing this it may be integrated in the web-system of AM soon (see my own personal video week 08 here, still in testing phase) and watch the assignment video week 08 here (16MB, loads completely first before showing up on screen).

God bless you all,

- Alex

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Week 08 - Animation Mentor - Walks

Phew... walks? I mean, isn't that one of the most nasty things to animate at all? I think it is so difficult because we as humans are able to tell a persons name just by her/his walk from a far distance even. Body language is nearly as well developed among people as reading once face. We recognize even the slightest mistake in a walk and think that this looks weird or wrong. This is why I encourage you to tell me what could be changed about this one: you are an expert already =) by walking for more than 10 years over this planet. - children under the age of 10 should be acompanied by an eligible adult -

Anyway, check this one out. It is just blocked out which is why it looks a littlebit jiggy but finishing is next week so... anyway, it is just 263kb and comes right out of my new(!) virtual 5GB-server! Yehaa, enjoy.

God bless you all,

- Alex

WEEK 08 ANIMTEST (263kb, yes, click here... it is working, did I thank Lindsay already?)

Monday, November 07, 2005


Isn't that a wonderful community where you post your stuff, someone drops by, sees you're having issues and helps you to stand up again? I don't know why Lindsay dropped by and what made her take the time of writing (heck, most of my friends don't take the time to comment ;) ... but... I'm more than thankful! She was absolutely right about her suggestions and all IE-users should be able to read my blog without having issues anymore. Lindsay, wherever you are right now: thank you.

Oh, about your blog... man, 20 that is still soo young. Being 27 I feel like an old owl already... but 20 - life is just starting =) I hope you'll always meet friendly people from somewhere around the world trying to help you when you're in need - may it be virtual or in real life.

God is great. I love my life.

- Alex

Display issues on Internet Explorer

Hi all,

I seem to experience some display issues on IE with my blog and can't figure out why. If you read this with FireFox or an RSS-reader things might look correctly but IE is making problems. Please open this once in IE and send me an email whether you can see the sidebar next to the text (it seems to be shown below the threads). I'm working on this and I'm really sorry for this happening... hope I can fix this really quickly,

- Alex

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Week 07 - Animation Mentor

Hi everyone,

How is life? My one is wonderful. One of my dearest friends has finally found work again after being unemployed for two months, projects in company turn out nicely and I'm still able to study at this incredible online school... so, I'm more than thankful. Let me us this space to introduce you to two friends and coworkers both of incredible talent: Greg Manwaring (http://manwaring.blogspot.com/), has been working for Disney and Amblin amongst others on Lion King, Pocahontas, Iron Giant etc.

Second there is Boris Hiestand (http://borishiestand.blogspot.com/ still a young one but with remarkable animation talent). I recommend both blogs since Greg posts tricks of a trade once in a while (how cool is that?) and Boris shows some of his artwork. I'm sure to meet this guy at different companies all around the world and wait for some animations to be shown on his blog.

To conclude this list let me also introduce Bodil Heinemeier (http://bodilbangheinemeier.blogspot.com/ an incredible young woman with extraordinary talent). Man, I wish I could show you her box of drawings next to her desk. It is full of beautiful drawings varying strongly in their content: space marines, indian women, old people, young kids, fantasy stuff... she really is talented and I'm lucky to have a fairy drawing of her on my wall at home.

There are more people to show you in the next days... so stay curious =)

Anyway, let's talk about this weeks assignment. It was our job to create a jump animation with a one legged ball within 120 frames only. This really helped me to stick with the assignment only. So, I think about going more KISS (keep it simple, stupid!) the next weeks. Here is my planning:

And here is my animation (13MB) - this is exactly the version I upload to AM this week which explains the written explanations in the movie, hopefully. http://am.alexmlehmann.com/w07_an03.mov

Feel free to post some comments. I hereby greet Ndy, Thomas, Franzi, Laila and Kay especially for dropping by, I know you sometimes do =)

God bless you,

- Alex

p.s. If you haven't done yet, go and watch "Corpse bride" and especially listen to the wonderful score of Danny Elfman. You can listen for free to the whole soundtrack at http://www.mp3.com/albums/20061669/summary.html just click on STREAM IT and there you'll go. I recommend especially minutes 0-2, 6-9, 20-24, 27-30 and 40-47. The rest ist good as well but I love this theme (did I ever mention that I just love little musical clocks?)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Official eyes&ears award press release

Well, I think it is kind of funny to see Disney put out a press release about work you have done (indirectly) for them, so I wanted to share this with you. Unfortunately it is in German but maybe you'll understand it anyway.

The commercial was all about brother bear characters (the mooses) that are talking about easter. They had easter egss all around their antlers. And they featured their original German voice cast which was hilariously funny for Germans (they had a wonderful swedish-faked accent here full of bad German grammar). I was responsible for creating the 3D animated eggs in their antlers and had a wonderful time doing this.

I was working with the toonshader so that the animation blended in more seemlessly and I also worked on twos so you don't see any difference between 3D and 2D in the animation. It worked pretty well but I think seeing it today I would spot hundreds of mistakes in there. Anyway, here is the press release:

Later =),

- Alex

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Week 07 - early feedback welcome

Hi all,

this is an early test on this weeks assignment which features 120 frames of an one-legged character jumping... feel free to send me some comments and ideas about it =)

- Alex