Sep01
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: 3D AnimationAnimation

The base rig acts as the first layer of our multi-layered rigging approach. This is by far the most important layer, and it consists of three main components:

1. Joints and bones

2. Skinning

3. Exported version

Nothing flashy, exciting, or particularly complicated lives in the base rig. However, get something wrong at this stage, and all subsequent layers will inherit the problems, sort of a domino effect.

At its core of the rig is the skeletal system that is used to drive the creature’s fleshsurface deformations. Correct placement of joints and bones is what matters here. Using our research and development, as well as anatomical studies, should allow for optimum placements to allow the best articulation to be achieved. Changes to the skeletal structure at a later point cause a lot of repercussions, not only to the other layers, but to the components that make up this layer also.

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Aug28
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooks

What is the mood you want to create for your piece? Is it night or day? Are we in a happy place or a scary place? What is the atmosphere, the weight of the air, the temperature of the space? As soon as the film fades up from black and begins, an impression, emotion, feeling, or dramatic effect is created by the texture, color, lighting, and design elements of the location.

Texture

Everything in a location has a texture—the hard surface of a desk; the smoothness of a flower petal; the coarseness of a brick street. Texture is the fabric, material, fiber, grain, pattern, flexibility, or stiffness that gives a tactile surface quality to the objects in the world. The amount of texture defines the level of detail and reality in a scene. The more texture and detail present, the closer to reality the scene becomes for the viewer.

In The Animator and the Seat, there is a relatively low level of texture. This supports the boredom of the cubicle and desire of the animator to leave the space. The lack of texture also means there is a lower level of reality present which supports the believability of the unusual occurrences that take place in the space.

On the other hand, Respire, Mon Ami, is filled with semi-realistic, heavily textured locations. The reality of these spaces magnifies the weak grasp the boy has on his own sense of what is real.

High texture and detail give a sense of realism. Respire, Mon Ami, Chris Nabholz, Ringling College of Art and Design

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Aug26
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooks

As this book is not focused just on background design but rather on background design aimed toward storytelling, I thought it would be best to take this section and, just as we studied our layout grids to better set up our environments, take the time to set up the building blocks of visual storytelling to start understanding how to better connect these layouts with narratives. In doing so, I hope you get a better sense of purpose in terms of the layouts presented previously and have a sense of confidence when applying them within your work.

Before we jump into the subject of storytelling with layouts, however, let’s go over some of the fundamentals of visual (or for that matter, all forms of) storytelling. To do so, I’m going to make some assumptions about you and say that, at some point in your life, you’ve experienced (either through reading, watching on TV/film, or through the evolving narrative of a game) at least one story. There are many different types of stories—some scary, some funny, some tragic—yet all of them have a similar purpose and structure, which makes them understandable and relatable to their audience. Therefore, a lot of the following will definitely be familiar to you, even if you don’t know these concepts by name.

First of all, it is important to know that all storytelling derives from conflict, which is a specific issue or concern that provokes the entire action of a story to take place. Basically, it’s a motivation that causes your main character to react to the world and either set things right within his/her world, or change his surroundings and his/her status quo. In superhero stories, for example, those conflicts are usually expressed physically (bad guy shows up, does something bad, hero hears about said bad thing, hero engages bad guy to stop bad thing). These are called external conflicts. There is also a different type of conflict that is called an internal conflict, which is more of a personal, philosophical concept, and it could motivate your character beyond the physical issue presented in the story (usually it’s traumatic or concerns a situation the character either has trouble overcoming or uses his/her new role in society to try to remedy).

Well, I can hear you chiming in from the back, looking all frustrated, saying “Okay—we were doing well, just learning about layouts and horizon lines and all that crazy stuff and then you got all English Lit on us! What gives?!” Allow me to explain:

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Aug20
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneralInspiration

This is a drawing of a male skeleton, with the muscles overlaid on one side. Study the sizes of the bones in relation to one another, and then notice how the muscles fit over and attach to them. When parts of the skeleton are moved, this has an effect on the shape and form of the muscles relating to that area. This can be seen in the drawing of the arm muscles as the arm bends at the elbow; the bicep contracts and bulges as it pulls the lower arm up, but the tricep located on the back of the arm is stretched and so appears flatter. This is essentially how all the muscles of the body work, they contract or stretch, and as each muscle deforms one way, there is another muscle deforming in opposition to maintain balance and physical stability. It’s an amazing system, well worth taking lots of time to study.

RIGHT The body split into a skeletal half and a muscular half.

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Aug18
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooksInterviews

What is a storyboard? Author, Mark Simon, explains that it is the “visual blueprint of the director’s vision that the entire crew uses to be able to work towards that one singular vision.” Check out this interview where he explains AND shows the art of storyboards.

Check out the book here.

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Aug13
2014

By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooks

Pixilation is one of the most popular techniques for anyone who wants to jump right into animation with little or no experience. Having a camera is about all that is necessary to begin this process. Naturally, there are more possibilities if you have a well thought-out idea, a computer, capture software, and a tripod, but capturing images on a compact disc in the camera and the ability to sequence those pictures into a movie is all it really takes to shoot a pixilated film. Even an experienced stop-motion animator can pare down his or her equipment to a single camera and create an interesting film. Having some knowledge of how to take advantage of this technique makes a huge difference in the final outcome. The early trick film artists, like Melies, knew how to utilize the unique qualities of single-frame manipulation. We explore some of these “tricks” and advantages of pixilation in this chapter, and it is not just the equipment that we explore but the ideas and execution of your next pixilated film.

What exactly is pixilation? Remember that Grant Monroe, who worked with Norman McLaren on Neighbours, coined this term. Monroe and McLaren used the human body as the animated subject. Unlike model animation, pixilation, the animation of humans, requires no intensive model building, armature building, or even character designing. Everyday objects like kitchen appliances, cars, books, or any premade physical form can be moved or animated frame by frame, and this would also be considered pixilation, which is a subdivision of stop motion. Animating humans appears to be the most frequently used subject of pixilated films. As you can imagine, the variations are limitless. (more…)

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Aug11
2014

By: admin                Categories: Games

We are are at one of the  premier gaming conferences – GDC EUROPE! It is our favorite time of year!  We are excited to meet and spend time with Focal fans old and new.  This year, we are co-exhibiting with CRC Press – Come by our BOOTH #162 and check out all of the new releases, receive 20% discount (25% discount on select titles!), enter for a chance to win free prizes, and say “hello!” to the team.

This year, we have teamed up with AtGames and are giving away a load of free prizes, including:

- 1 Sega Mega Drive Classic Game Console

- Atari Flashback 4 Classic Game Console

- 5 copies of MXGP on PS3 and 360

- 5 copies of MotoGP on PS4, PS3 and Xbox 360

We hope to see you soon!

Here are some of the books you will see at the conference:

Can’t attend? Well you see have a chance to win some free loot. Sign up for our newsletter, and we will select one person to win a free book of their choice. Also, feel free to take advantage of our 20% discount! Use discount code FOC20 when ordered directly through www.focalpress.com.

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Aug06
2014

By: admin                Categories: 3D AnimationAnimationGeneralSIGGRAPH

We are are at one of the  biggest computer graphics events – SIGGRAPH! The  team here at Focal Press is hard at work on last minute preparations.  It is our favorite time of year!  We are excited to meet and spend time with Focal fans old and new.  This year, we are co-exhibiting with CRC Press – Come by our BOOTH #1213 and check out all of the new releases, receive 20% discount on our books, enter for a chance to win free books, and say “hello!” to the team.

This year, we are giving away a 1-year license of Toon Boom Harmony software at our booth… in honor of our new book coming out, Animate to Harmony. Don’t miss out!

We hope to see you soon!

Here are some of the books you will see at the conference:

Can’t attend? Well you see have a chance to win some free loot. Sign up for our newsletter, and we will select one person to win a free book of their choice.

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Aug04
2014

By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksGamesGeneral

At Focal Press, we believe that learning, improving your skills, and enhancing your careers is often a team effort. We are dedicated to helping animators of all skill levels take their next professional step.

As part of this commitment, we are have made a selection of our books freely available to view during the month of August. Simply click on the book you would like to read – then click on the “View inside this book” button on the book’s page and become a master in your field today!

Here are some of our titles that are free-to-view:

For a full list of our full-to-view books, check out our catalogue!

Loved the book and want to read more? Receive 20% off your order of the print version with discount code FTV14 when ordering directly through www.focalpress.com. Valid until September 15th.

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Jul30
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: BooksGamesGeneral

Remember: most video game agents don’t rep writers; they rep development studios, and “we’re approached every week by studios” looking for representation, says Minton. “We’ve frequently had publishers call us up and say, ‘Hey, we just had this studio come in and pitch us. They have most of their stuff together, they’re just not quite in sync. [But] if they had an agency like you who would help them, they could be rock stars.”

On infrequent occasions, video game agents may represent a particularly high-profile writer, but this is rare—although not for writers’ lack of trying. Many agents are approached by writers with ideas for story-based games, and agents have to discourage them from pitching. First of all, most writers fail to understand that video games aren’t about story, they’re about gameplay. And unless the writer has invented a new technology—or has the technological know-how to engineer a groundbreaking technique—a simple story-based idea isn’t usually sellable. If you’re Christopher Nolan or J.J. Abrams, you can get some meetings, but unless you have a name that’s a marketable brand, you’re probably not getting through the door.

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