Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

(click on the picture for a link to another website reporting about Cloudy)

Yeah, I know, I didn't blog for a looong time. Believe me, moving to LA and getting up to speed here at Sony took my every minute. So, where do I start? Well, first of all... Sony is amazing. What a great place to work at. It's full of amazingly talented people and a wonderful environment to be an artist.

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs turned out to have a great great and hilarious script - and two incredibly talented directors. The kind that knows exactly what they want and give (most of the time) clear instructions.

Here is a first picture of the movie - in my humble opinion not the best one to show the quality of the movie and of the characters. You should see it in motion... but hey, you might have a different opinion.

Anyway, I wanted to wish to all of you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year. See you all in 2009!


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Animation Mentor getting more expensive...

Hey guys,

I just read the following article on the AM page. If you want to be part of AM then do it now and save about $1000! I can't recommend this program enough. If you register for it you can even drop my name as a reference with my email...

So, if you need one more reason to sign up for animation mentor, then watch their student summer showcase...

Anyway, better do it now, than being sorry later =)


"Want to help your friends and family save some green? Let them in our little secret.

Tuition prices for Animation Mentor’s new curriculum will be going up for new students starting next year. But if they’ve been thinking about joining the program, they can still get this year’s rates, if they act now!

If they apply and are accepted for Winter Term 2009, and pay a $500 deposit before 12 PM Pacific Standard Time on Oct. 31, 2008, they can get our brand new curriculum at old curriculum prices. That's a savings of $1,075 for our entire 18-month program. This offer is only applicable to Winter Term 2009 which starts on Jan. 5, 2009. Payment information will be sent upon acceptance into the program.

Please spread the word!! Thank you!

The Animation Mentor Staff"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No country for old men...

As I mentioned before, some AM alumni are currently cooking up a little shortfilm, just for kicks. I had to be done early with my part of it and here it is. I might have time to do one more revision at the end August, to get rid of some intersections with the floor, double check the arcs etc... but in general I had little time to animate on this. In total I would say it was about 2-3 days (next to work)... hard to gauge since it was always at night and on the weekends.

Our story (which is just part of a "bigger" story) is about an old man that tries to cross a street but gets hit by a ball over and over again... finally the man gets really angry and wants to hit the ball... then this is what happens which "concludes" our part of the shortfilm. I'm lucky to work with really talented people in my shortfilm group: Alexiss Memmot (now at BlueSky), Alex Zemke, David Andrade, and Alejandro Chavero Sousa... so it's going to be a lot of fun seeing it all come together...

720p no motion blur
NTSC no motion blur

720p with motion blur

NTSC with motion blur

Happy animating, Lx

Have fun,


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cloudy with a chance for animators

Hi all,

I can finally talk about this, and man, was it hard not to tell anyone. I just got hired as a full-time animator on "Cloudy with a chance of meatballs" for Sony Imageworks, starting this October right after finishing my contract with Microsoft!

In case you don't know too much about this American children's book, check it out here. I received the offer on Tuesday and Sara and I decided to go to Los Angeles - Culver City, here we come!

This is just exciting. The animation supervisor/lead on this show is Peter Nash who has worked at Pixar, BlueSky, and at Sony. He has worked on some of my all-time favorite movies like Monster's Inc. and Surf's Up.

Finally, production on Animation Mentor's first alumni project has started and this is a very early preview of the shot I'm working on...

Happy animating... I'm off to celebrate now!


Monday, June 30, 2008

Microsoft and responsibility...

Hi all,

Long time no blog, I guess, but here I am again. Well, what is new in animation land over here in Seattle/Redmond? First of all, the job is a looot of fun. At first I was sceptical whether I could enjoy working in game animation since I've only done commercial and feature work before that. But let me tell you, since we are a small team and I'm completely in charge of animation I really do enjoy every single minute of it. I basically define how we approach things, and I get to try out different versions of the same animation. Are trees really cheerful and bouncy or are they realistic and tight? The cool thing is that I get to animate both versions which really helps to broaden my animation skills.

I do miss acting but this really strengthens my basics. I've done so many bouncing balls lately and played around with overlap and squash and stretch, that this experience will help me a lot in later works. Not only that, I learn a lot about company policies, too, and how to work in a team of only 7 people. This is stuff you can't find in books and have to experience first hand. Microsoft is a great company with tons of opportunities and even though I look forward to animate acting shots sooner or later again I'm really happy about being given this amazing opportunity.

Game animation has tons of restrictions (even the amount of bones is limited!) and I have to work within those means and still get a great performance out of the characters. What a challenge! I will make the most of it and learn as much as I can. I hope I can show some of the work I'm doing at the end of this year...

Next thing, AM is doing a shortfilm project for alumni (organized by students) and I'm stoked about being part of the team. I will most likely miss Siggraph this year but working on the shortfilm will balance that out, I hope. And finally, if you haven't seen Wall-E and Kung Fu Panda yet, please do. Both of them are very enjoyable and Wall-E is a class of its own.

Happy animating, everyone,


Monday, March 10, 2008

Moving to Redmond - Job at Microsoft's Boku project

Hi all,

I have exciting news. Today I received confirmation that I will be working on Microsoft's XBOX360/PC project "Boku". The project is still somewhat secret but here are two pictures you can find on other people's blogs.

This is Boku as it was shown a while ago

Project Lead Matthew MacLaurin demonstrating Boku with the old interface

Starting this April I will be in charge of the whole animation and character creation for the project - from the characters, to any object, even up to the menus. It will be a wonderful challenge and I am extremely excited to work with an extremely professional team on Boku. We all share the same vision and know that Boku really is something unique out there - I can't wait to show the people out there what we are doing later this year.

I'll be working in building number 99, part of a 1 billion $ complex Microsoft is building on the other side of the highway - and believe me, it's beautiful. Here you can find some info and pictures about it (link). Let's say it is a playground for grown-ups.

Well, so much for now, now I have tons of things to do and take care of.

Have a great week,


Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap day update

February 29th, 2008... what? February 29th? How cool is that? An extra day where I can animate! For free! Life is good... well, I just wanted to give you a short heads up on what's going on in my job life. I'm animating a 20 second shot for Walsh Family Media and it is coming along well - with three characters acting you have to make sure to hit the acting and direct the viewer's eye, and that takes some time to master. I feel comfortable with the rigs now even though I have to write all scripts myself to use them (selection lists, I love you!)...

Other than that I was offered to animate a test for one of my favorite game companies (can't tell =) and I am super excited about that. I love their games and I know that they are on of the companies that push what's been possible in game animation until now - how much I would love to be part of that. So, I will give it my best.

Anyway, have a great extra day! Enjoy it, God bless,


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Demoreel 2008 finally online

Hi everyone,

Yes, I finally uploaded the new and updated demoreel. You can find it on my personal website: www.alexmlehmann.com. Feel free to use the comment area to post what you think about it. What's good, what's not? I will constantly work on it to get it better but for now I feel this is ready to send out. Next thing is to finish up on the short film - make some tweaks, render it out nicely, add some water... and maybe even send it out to festivals around the planet. We will see. Once again, thank you for reading my blog, checking out my new reel, and letting me know what you think about it!



Friday, January 25, 2008

Fun Animation Exercises

Like the spline doctors suggested I started doing simple animation tests like this 15 minute one:

(click the image to watch)

Animation is ongoing learning and I know that I will do bouncing balls, overlaps, and training exercises all my life. It's amazing how much you can learn from such a simple animation test... so, read the spline doctor post and do the same =)


Thursday, January 03, 2008

I finished my study at AnimationMentor.com

Hi everyone,

I know that I am not very good at keeping this blog alive but the idea of letting people know how "AM" works and why you should consider getting into it is still the same. So I thought I'd let you know that I just finished AnimationMentor.com and will go to my graduation in 6 days (San Francisco). I am really excited to see some of my fellow classmates after all that time, again.

Finally I also updated my demoreel on my main website. Feel free to check it out and send me some comments about it. I will sit down in the coming days and weeks to refine the shots and polish the reel, hopefully.

(please click on the image to follow the link to my website)

So, what did I do in the last two terms? I was working on a short film, the final project for our AM study. I started out with working on a blocking and making the story "work" in a layout (thanks to my mentor Elliot M. Bour), then took a break to move over to the US and get married to my beloved wife (I love you!). After that I continued AM with the fabulous mentor Brett Parker who helped me beyond my hopes to turn this into a movie. And while I am still working on it (rendering, some animation, adding water etc.) you can watch a preview here:

(please click on the image to see the preview)

If this is interesting to you I also uploaded my old, really bad blocking which I had to cut and edit after the break once I had some fresh eyes on it. You can watch that here - but beware, it is really long and not really good. I only upload it for you to see how much I had to change to make the movie work. The music is from the fabulous game series "Monkey Island" composed by the incredibly talented "Michael Land" and was only used for layout reasons.

(click on image)

Well, now about AnimationMentor.com. This has been the educational experience of my life. I can't praise this school highly enough. If you consider going into animation there is NO better place to be. If you are international or from the US, even if you live in San Francisco, I'd recommend to check out AM and give it a try. This school has an amazing spirit going on and compared to many other schools actually IS quite cheap, meaning affordable.

Like with all things, even AM.com depends on what you make out of it... if you don't invest time on the forums, or check out and critique other's peoples work then you won't get the whole AM experience. But if you do I just KNOW that you will become a better animator in the end.

AM is a full animation course - a true university so to say. There is no need to study AM and something else. Actually, it's sad that AM hasn't been out there when I started out. I would have saved tons of money and time on not studying at a normal university, like I did. So, if your parents resist the idea of paying for online schooling, if you work full time like I did, if you have a wife and kids, or if there is anything that keeps you from starting AM, but animation is your passion and you want to become an animator, then talk to your parents/family, find the time, invest the money, because in the end you will be highly rewarded with the knowledge that you can animate and bring dead things to life.

To sum it up: Thanks from the bottom of my heart to the whole AM crew, especially Bobby, Carlos and Shawn. This has been an incredible experience and I was truly blessed by your school!

I might post some pics of the graduation next week, once I am back. Meanwhile I am starting to apply for jobs over here in the US which is very exciting. It's a completely new ball game and I have no idea where I might end up.

God bless and happy new year 2008 to all of you,