Aug26
2011

By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneralInspirationSIGGRAPH

As an animation editor, I’m always fascinated by the artistic development and cross-over between animation, stop-motion and contemporary art installations. Wander through the SIGGRAPH Art Gallery Events or check out any museum space and you’ll see the intersections between animation, information, interactive art and technology. 

Reflecting these trends for alternative stop motion techniques, we are publishing Tom Gasek’s Frame by Frame Stop Motion  in October. This title highlights some really incredible stop-motion techniques and unique approaches to animation.  The short film MÖBIUS by ENESS is not exactly an animated short, per say, but it does feature some incredible time lapse and frame by frame techniques.

An award winning art & design practice, based in Melbourne Australia, ENESS creates public art installations that marry varying disciplines from fine art to architecture, interactive technology and sport. They recently transformed Melbourne’s Federation Square with twenty-one neon-green triangles.

MÖBIUS is described as “a sculpture that can be configured into many cyclical patterns and behave as though it is eating itself, whilst sinking into the ground. The result is an optical illusion and a time-lapse of people interacting with the sculpture and moving through Melbourne’s landmark location throughout the day. ” MÖBIUS was animated over two weeks.  Armed with two wide-angle lenses, frame by frame magic and scores of volunteers, The MÖBIUS team moved 21 art installation pieces across the square.  Each shot took 3 hours to accomplish, accounting for only 3 to 4 secs of film.  Be sure to check out the “Making-Of” video as well.  It’s fascinating to see how this was accomplished.  Enjoy!

Mobius Short 

MÖBIUS from ENESS on Vimeo.

Making of Mobius

Making of MÖBIUS from ENESS on Vimeo.

 Posted by Katy, Associate Acquisitions Editor, Animation and 3D.  Interested in writing for Focal Press, reviewing a proposal or just chatting about all things animation?  Visit Katy’s Linked-In page.

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Aug25
2011

By: admin                Categories: 3D Animation

By Roland Hess

From the hallowed halls of Disney came twelve principles of animation that have shaped contemporary and traditional animation techniques and workflows. Tradigital Blender bridges the gap between the twelve principles of animation and your own digital work in Blender. Here we discuss three of the twelve principles – Squash & Stretch, Anticipation, and Staging.

Tradigital-Blender-Fig-1-1--Junot-strikes-a-pose-med

Fig. 1.1

Squash and Stretch
In real life, when you jump from your porch and land on the ground, your knees and spine bend to absorb the impact. They only bend at the joints though, obviously. The bones themselves don’t compress or flex in any noticeable fashion. If they did, it would be… bad. Likewise, if you were to slice your hand quickly through the air (kiya!), your hand would stay the same shape, no matter how fast you did it. In the world of animation, this is not the case. Depending on how stylized your animation will be, and how drastic the motions involved, actually squashing and stretching the otherwise rigid structures of the body can add life to the final result.

In Fig. 1.2, you can see Junot flying (or falling). Both the extended arm and the body itself have been stretched a bit. The effect isn’t drastic, and in this case, you might not have even noticed due to the foreshortening introduced by the camera angle. But it’s in there, and if used for a brief moment in the middle of a fast action, it would add life to the animation, helping to emphasize her high forward velocity.

Tradigital-Blender-Fig-1-2-Junot-stretching-as-she-flies-med

Fig. 1.2

Let’s meet one more character: Smith. Smith is the same basic puppet as Meyer and Junot, but he has been given cartoon-like proportions. A character like Smith can endure a lot more squash and stretch during animation than his more realistically proportioned siblings. Fig. 1.3 shows Smith landing from a leap, with and without squash and stretch.

Tradigital-Blender-Fig-1-3a-Smith-just-fell-of-teh-roof-dont-worry-hes-okay-med

Fig. 1.3

The rules are this: the faster the action, the more squash and stretch you need. The more realistic the character, the less you should use. So, a character like Smith who is bouncing around the room like Daffy Duck will
most likely exhibit some extreme squash and stretch. If Junot and Meyer were sitting on a park bench playing a game of chess, they would have almost none.

Anticipation
In Fig. 1.4, Meyer is about to throw a devastating punch. What’s that you say? He isn’t? Clearly, Meyer does not look like someone who is about to strike. Myths about Bruce Lee being able to deliver a devastating blow from mere inches away without any kind of wind up aside, when one person—and thus, a character—does something, one almost always anticipates the action. The larger or more forceful the final action, the correspondingly big the anticipation must be to make it feel right.

Tradigital-Blender-Fig-1-4---Are-You-Gonna-Do-Something-or-just-stand-there-and-bleed-med

Fig. 1.4

Anticipation helps to bring balance to your animation, not in the sense of left-to-right or in making sure that the character’s weight makes sense over its points of support, but balance in time. What comes after necessitates that something comes before. We don’t think about it in those terms when we go about our daily lives, but that is only because our bodies are so good about planning ahead for us. Almost constantly, our bodies are one step ahead of us, preparing themselves for the next thing that they already know we are going to do. What happens when our bodies don’t plan properly and that anticipation doesn’t happen? We turn around and walk into the door (or flying ball, or car) we didn’t see and a whole different branch of physics takes over. Additionally, anticipation can be used to grab and direct the viewer’s attention. Not only does it provide the proper physics, but it also shouts “Look what I’m about to do!” (Fig. 1.5).

Tradigital-Blender-Fig-1-5---Meyer-Now-Actually-Ready-to-Heave-ho

Fig. 1.5

Admittedly, that’s a drastic anticipatory pose. It is pushed to the point that his body is breaking up, and you almost can’t read it. I’m not even going to show you the fully skinned version. There is lots of pinching and nastiness. However, this type of extreme anticipation pose wouldn’t show for more than a couple of frames, and the human eye isn’t fast enough to note it in detail. Coupled with some motion blur, it will give an impression of extreme motion, great force and life, just before impact.

Staging
My preferred term for this is “Composition” because I think more photographically (Get the shot!) than theatrically (Places everyone!), but it amounts to the same thing. Where is everything on “stage?” How does it actually look in the camera? Where is the viewer going to be focused? Cinematographers have developed an entire language for directing the viewer’s attention to different elements on the screen, and we get to borrow heavily from them. While we can use all of their tricks—lighting, color, focus, contrast, etc.—the basics will have to come first.

Fig. 1.6 shows Junot feeling sad. Well, it does if you can find her. Nothing about this composition favors the subject or theme. The eye is directed far away from her by the lighting, which is too bright and cheery to begin with. She is too small in the frame compared to her surroundings, and the proportions of the piece are all off.

Tradigital-Blender-Fig-1-6-Citizen-Kane-This-is-Not---Composition-Matters-med

Fig. 1.6

However, if we take the exact same objects, compose the shot differently, and apply a different lighting scheme, we get something like Fig. 1.7 that is much more suggestive, and certainly more in keeping with the subject matter. There is no question what the focus of the shot is supposed to be and the visual lines of the light and the ground itself point us to Junot. Not every shot must be a stylistic masterpiece, but you at least need to make sure that your staging isn’t fighting against your animation. Your animation will lose…

Tradigital-Blender-Fig-1-7-Much-Better-med

Fig. 1.7

Check back for principles 4-12 in future posts.

Excerpted from Tradigital Blender, by Roland Hess. © 2011, Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

Roland Hess

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Aug04
2011

By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksGamesGeneralInspirationSIGGRAPH

Image Credit: PoYang http://www.flickr.com/people/poyang/ Used with Permission

With SIGGRAPH 2011 starting in t-minus 3 days, we have our passports in hand, our newly published titles printed and our famed charm packed and ready to go for another great SIGGRAPH show. We are debating packing our Bruins jerseys–too soon for the Stanley Cup jokes? We kid, we kid.

It’s a great joy to see our readers in person, get your honest opinions about our content, and learn more about you. It’s also great to see friends from past SIGGRAPH shows, and meet potential authors or partners.  The networking parties, fruity cocktails, and Electronic Theatre screenings are really just something we have to suffer through to attend the show.  Come visit us at booth #747!  Be sure to say hello, don’t be shy!

In addition to meeting Focal editors and marketers,  you’ll have the opportunity to meet and network with some of our incredibly talented authors.   You never know who you will meet with their nose in a book at our booth!

Follow Focal  on Twitter  for real time updates from the show and be sure to check out our book signing on Wednesday August 10th at 10am PST at Focal Booth #747 with co-authors Catherine Winder (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Spawn, Aeon Flux) and Zahra Dowlatabadi, award-winning animation producer. They will be signing the hot-off-the presses second edition of Producing Animation.

Travel safe and we hope to see you at the show!

Posted by Katy, Associate Acquisitions Editor, Animation and 3D. Interested in writing for Focal Press, reviewing a proposal or just chatting about all things animation? Visit Katy’s Linked-In page.

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