Sunday, January 29, 2006

High above the clouds

Technologically advance is an astounding thing nowadays. After watching Chicken Little in 3D with great CL-glasses on my glasses I jumped aboard the Lufthansa LH 458 today - the world's first airline that brings internet to their guests. You basically pay 10$ per hour and I did get a coupon for 30 min off and 50% of the price so it is really cheap for me.

Right now we are somewhere above the northpole - but though I was looking thoroughly I couldn't see the Polar Express. I guess, Tom has one day off...

Anyway, isn't it great to go online when you are on your way to San Francisco? I can check my emails, my new critique (Doug finally likes the idea) and even download the new lecture. Man, that is awesome.

So, this blog entry is kind of unique I guess. It was written high above the clouds and also uploaded there. I really like this airline...

Hugz from da clouds,

- Alex

AM02 - week 03 - Assignment

It is 5am... the sun is almost coming up again. Though I should be tired I am not... maybe the idea of flying to San Francisco keeps me awake. I don't know.

Today I had to make a tough decision: either follow Doug's mentoring suggestion to animate "Ballie stepping into a bucket - which has to stand on the ground" or creating a totally new story three weeks into this term already which Doug never heard of... Since I couldn't come up with any idea of Ballie turning around and stepping into a bucket which wouldn't look silly or not unbelievable I decided to create a complete new story once again - the forth time this week.

Well, and now it is finished... and I don't feel too happy. Actually I think that the other ideas would have been much stronger and more funny - which is why I still integrated them into the movie file. I understand Doug's criticism about those stories and he is right about it - but I tried to concentrate on the body mechanics and didn't want to tell a whole feature film in 8 seconds.

Well, the new idea is clear and simple - yet - maybe even boring. I shouldn't use the cycling in the air and I didn't but I think that even the new story would have been better if the vase crashes to the floor and Ballie jumps away like a maniac.

Anyway... I was trapped and there was barely a way out. Hopefully Doug likes the new story at least. I couldn't talk about it earlier and I felt really uncomfortable going against his suggestion. The animation had to be done really quickly and is somewhere between a blocking stage and some refinement. There is still a lot missing but those four stories took their tribute... so, sorry for such a crappy animation...

But you better just check that yourself. You can find the animation here - it is 10MB big.

Everyone, now it is time for me to go to bed. My plane will leave Munich at around 4pm tomorrow and then it will be one week of pure San Francisco visiting... I look forward to that and all the people I am going to see there.

God bless you,

- Alex

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

AM - one week of almost getting nowhere...

Hi all,

for everyone who is interested in my workflow...I just wanted to show two versions of ideas that I won't be taking in the end (one from yesterday)... so, they are very, very rough and I couldn't finish them since I'm working on something more KISS still... I was very tired and did this test after work... it is bad, I know... but just for you to see that everything is a process involving a lot of work... sometimes I just show the results and not the many failures =) so, here it is:


- Alex

Monday, January 23, 2006

AM02 - week 03 - public review process

Hi all,

Doug's the fastest mentor in AM, I suppose. He critiqued my work superfast and told me that he didn't like the overall story elements since Ballie must have seen the Bug he was stepping on in the old version. Since I'm travelling to San Francisco next week I have to finish the second phase of blocking and the refinement process this week already... phew.

So, I roughed my new idea into the computer to show Doug what I was going for - and here is the process. I hope he will make it in time and give me greenlight or direction where I should be heading to.

Feel free to send me your thoughts about this new roughed in blocking. The poses overall are awfull and off balance and I'm going to change that as soon as Doug agrees with the story line.

Here we go (please click on the picture, 3.5MB):

Be brave and click the picture, young hero!
Till later,

- Alex

Sunday, January 22, 2006

AM02 - week 02 - Assignment

Tachchen auch...

Hi everyone and welcome to the end of week 02!

I'm glad you joined me once again on my trip to animation land. This week we had to start blocking in our shots. Since I submitted two ideas Doug narrowed this down to one decision: skip the ball animation I suggested and go for the 180 degree turn. So, I worked on that and did some thorough planning.

Guys, AM is true... I did plan more as I did work on the computer in the end. Because I had a good idea of what I wanted to do in the computer in the end I just needed around 3 hours to put everything in... I mean, just three hours... that is nothing. I know that Rick'O'Conner does animate a whole shot in 3 hours (a senior ILM animator who totally rocks) but for me 3 hours is blazingly fast. I wish I could animate like that at animoto and get such results...

Speaking of, this is just roughed in and it is just blocking. But following the rules KISS (keep it simple, stupid) and "show early show often" I wanted to show Doug this version before I go on and start to refine things. I think there is a lot of work to do on it still but you will get the idea I'm sure. So, here is the movie - it is just 5MB big... just click on the picture to load it =)

yes, click on the picture right away =)

Well, I'd love to know what you think about it, so shoot me an email if you feel like it.

Now, onto AM features. The AM feature of the week is the new lecture/assignment site. It features various changing videos every week for the lecture and the assignment, as well as the keypoints we have to stick to each week. Also we have some kind of a definition list to animation terms there, so if you feel helpless if someone is saying KISS all the time you can go there and check what it means...

So much for now, ttyl and God bless you all,

- Alex

Monday, January 16, 2006

AM02 - week 01 - Assignment

Hi everyone,

I'm still exploring this new insanely cool AM website... man, it got huge and we have soo many new awesome features. Next to that I finally got started with my work and I seem to have overcome the artist's blocking... so, it seems like things are moving finally, now I just have to turn that into animation =)

I currently hear some music from a fellow animentee called mc chris. Chris, if you read this, pretty neat stuff. Oh, before I talk about my this week's assignment just another thing: I finally booked my flight to San Francisco in just two weeks!!! This is oh so cool, I can't believe it! Man, I will visit many great people over there and if I'm lucky I can stay at the house of the courses chair.

Well, the new AM feature of the week I want to talk about is: our new orientation videos. To explain the new features of the website AM has created over 30 minutes of videos explaining how it works. Bobby is showing all buttons and shortcuts and stuff and believe me, it is awesome. I mean, it is not complicated but it has hundreds of cool features. So many, that you have to show it in different videos.

Well, I will talk about new features from now on as often as I find time for it. About my new assignment. We could choose between different assignments and I offered two things to my mentor: a heel kick (believe me, no KISS - keep it simple, stupid - story) and a turnaround 180°. The incredible fast mentor Doug Dooley did his critique yesterday (yack!) already and explained me, why he like the 180° version better which is totally fine with me, I like it too.

He then changed my - step into a gum - into something like a bucket and I'm currently discussing with him whether to choose a flower to step on. But enough said, for this week this is my planning.

Rick'o'Conner was giving this week's lecture and was discussing on how he handles a shot. This wasn't only one of the most fun lectures I've seen so far but full of cool stuff, too. So adopted a lot of his work method into my workflow and my planning, check it out:

I still have to change the second part since Ballie won't step into a gum anymore but I will do that once I've discussed this with Doug. For now I think that the planning is pretty solid and the animation will be fun, I am sure.

So, enough for this week's assignment, I have to plan a flight to San Francisco, yehaa!

- Alex

Thursday, January 12, 2006

AM02 - week 01 - AM has gone incredible...

Hi everyone,

I'm very, very sorry for NOT having written anything during the whole holiday season. I was busy like crazy doing an After Effects job for a company in Stuttgart and I also visited many friends in good ol' Hamburg. But for all those curious fellas out there I have tons of things to tell because soo much has happened. I don't know where to start and I will definitely tell it over the weeks.

First of all: AM has gone V2! What does that mean? It means that the best has become the perfect. They created a totally new website system in HTML taking 9 month of suggestions from mentors and students into account. What they created is the most incredible online school system I can think of. Chats, better video quality, orientation guides, direct buddy list, sort by mentor, integrated forum... it would and will take some time until I can write all that down into my blog.

Anyhow, AM02 has started and it also has been reworked completely. What does that mean? Well, students from higher semesters said that there was a big gap between AM01 and 02 and it was difficult for most people to follow. Now they changed the syllabus and it looks great. We are the lucky first ones to be part of the new syllabus. I will start with a Ballie and his heel kicking a ball... you will see a lot about this the coming days and weeks here.

Now for the big news: I have a new mentor and he is called: DOUG DOOLEY! This guy is freaking awesome. He worked on Ice Age (Blue Sky) and went over to Pixar for Monster's Inc., Finding Nemo, Incredibles and Cars... I guess right now he works on Ratatouille... but I'm not sure. This awesome animator is not only MR.BODYMECHANICS himself (he is mainly assigned to heavy body mechanic shots at Pixar) but also an incredible teacher. He loves teaching and thinks a lot before he goes online.

He is said to be a tough grader which is good for us. Being patted on the back all the time doesn't help me at all - though I sometimes NEED that. His grades are A for extra-terrestrial work that just kicks butt, B for production quality, C for work on it, D for you need more time and E for no way.... don't want to talk about F...

The Q&A with Doug tonight at 5am (German time) was incredible and he told us many important things already.

One last thing: I was accepted as one of five first XSVs for the Siggraph ever. XSV stands for ex student volunteer and you have to apply for it as well as being promoted by others (thanks Mk, Sacha and Mr. Keppler). Now things are coming along. I had to find 5 tertiary reviewers to help me with the review process and I'm honoured with an incredible team:

Michelle Meeker (Pixar, PDI, Weta, EA), Shawn Kelly (ILM), Tony Longson (CalState LA), J├╝rgen Richter (Amblimation, Munich Animation, animoto) and Anthony Wong (Disney, Pixar).

If everything works out I'm going to visit some of them this coming February in San Francisco. This heavily depends on how much work we will have to do each week for the 'secret' job I am currently working on. I hope they let me go for one week though I love every minute working here =)

Anyhow, so much for now. Animoto, AM, Siggraph and the trip to San Francisco... there is a lot to talk and blog about and I hope to see you here often. I try to update as much as I can. Spread the word and lure some people here. I hope that I can transfer the excitement of AM to this blog and answer many unasked questions that are out there.

God bless you all,

- Alex