By: admin                Categories: General

Happy New Years from Focal Press’ Animation team. 2011 has been a great year, with some awesome books and videos by amazingly talented traditional and 3D animators. We continue to be stunned by the magnificent animations that our authors and customers develop. I hope all of our books have enhanced these creative endevors and look forward to seeing what goodies you all have in store for 2012.

Shout out to Condor Digital Media for putting our sentiments into a very cool animation. Happy New Years!

Condor’s 2012 wishes from Condor Digital Media on Vimeo.

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By: admin                Categories: AnimationGeneralInspiration

Originally done by Smoothe (now Assembly Studios), Snowglobe is a beautifully composed 3D animation following a year in the life of a Christmas Tree. I love the concept of this animated short with the changing snow globe environments. I wish it went one step farther and showed the Christmas tree fully decorated. However, it is still an enchanting piece. Happy Holidays from Focal!

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!

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By: admin                Categories: 3D Animation

Kenny Roy, Focal Press co-author of How to Cheat in Maya 2012 has given us a 23-minute holiday treat to share with you all.  Find below one of his VideoMail videos which are videos in which he specifically addresses reader questions from his community forum off of  In this videomail, Kenny demonstrates the way to rig and animate a sword coming out of a sheath, from a community question asked in the forums.  The concept of the rig is simple enough to understand and apply to other objects as well.  Enjoy!

Kenny Roy is an animator, studio owner,  and mentor who is passionate about animation and performance. He has a wonderful training website that is just chock full of video tutorials and demonstrations as well as full-length lectures, full of tips and tricks to make you a better animator. For more information, please visit Kenny’s webpage or like his facebook profile page.

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By: Cedric                Categories: General

Today’s animation inspiration Between Bears comes from Eran Hilleli – the 2010 winner of the Vimeo Festival + Awards best animation category.  The entry is Eran’s graduation film at Bezalel Academy of Art & Design. 

Between Bears is composed of a slick combination of 2D and 3D art using Maya.  The artist confesses to a vague story line, however being left to my own devices to conjure up motivation and back story for our pack of “beers” added to the intrigue of this well crafted animation.  Take  a peek and share your interpretation of the pack’s trek.

Vimeo has recently opened submissions for the 2012 Vimeo Festival + Awards. The October festival and awards celebrate online video and the talented artists who have managed to give the word “viral” a whole new set of connotations in the digital world. Awards will be given in 13 categories including Animation, Music Video, Motion Graphics, and Documentary, among others. There is a $5,000 grant for category winners and one $25,000 grand prize.

Each category has a unique set of rules. I’ll highlight the animation category for our loyal Focalites but please explore Vimeo for more details on Animation and other categories.

A story told by giving life to inanimate objects or character designs using computer technology or frame by frame animation.

Judging Considerations:
We are looking for animation that deploys a high level of technical, conceptual, and aesthetic innovation in order to enchant the viewer with a strong, engaging story.

Maximum length: 20 minutes
Your submission must be an original animated short video that illustrates the art of animated storytelling. Submissions may include the following styles of animation: 3D, 2D, mixed media, or any form of stop motion.

Here is Vimeo’s official call for submissions. Best wishes!

Posted by Cedric, Marketing Manager, Animation, Gaming, and Web.

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By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneralInspiration

There is, perhaps, nothing better than giving a gift that allows someone to further their passion. That’s why we offer so many outstanding titles in photography, filmmaking, animation, games, music, audio engineering, broadcast technology, web design and theatre.  So whatever you celebrate this holiday season, be sure to give the gift of passion.  Visit the Focal Press Holiday page to view our full catalogue of great gift giving titles.

Get in the holiday spirit and enter for a chance to win an Amazon® Kindle Fire™ or Amazon® Kindle™! Complete the form at the bottom of  the Focal Press holiday giveaway webpage to be entered in the giveaway.

Tweet about this promotion and you will be entered for a SECOND CHANCE to win a Kindle Fire, where only the people that check this box will be eligible to win. (simply click the Tweet button of the giveaway to do so).

A winner will be chosen at random on December 31st.

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By: Lauren                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneral

Hello Focal-ites,

The nominees for the 39th Annual Annie Awards have been announced! Focal Press would like to extend our congratulations to the nominees.  For a full list of all the nominees, go here.

The Annie Awards are particularly special for Focal this year, as our very own Zahra Dowlatabadi has joined the Annie’s team as a producer.  Zahra is the co-author of Producing Animation, 2nd edition, along with co-author Catherine Winder and editor Tracey Miller-Zarneke.  Congratulations, Zahra!

To see other material from this talented trio, be sure to hit up their website

Posted by Lauren, editorial project manager at Focal Press. Follow me on Twitter @focalauren

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By: admin                Categories: AnimationGeneralInspiration

We have yet to really feature a mainstream animated short, having chosen to mostly feature to student work, independent and alternative animation in our Focal Friday Animated Short posts.  Well, Focal readers, I’ve come across Scrat’s Continental Crack-Up Part-2, a short from Blue Sky Studios that captured my attention.   The short features Scrat, an amusing, doggedly determined squirrel always in search of an elusive nut who has appeared in the Ice Age films.  This character is hardly central to the plot of the Ice Age films but offers a refreshing and fun interlude that is now expected in these films.  Ice Age 4 is to be released next summer by Blue Sky studios. 

Ignore that this short  is an extended trailer for the next installment of Ice Age and focus on the incredible animation featured in the underwater scene and the story line that revolves around the simple tension of a quest unfulfilled.  This short harkens back to the early days of cartoon storytelling and reminds me very much of Warner Bros cartoon shorts with exaggerated action, title credits and it’s simplicity. I found the inclusion of dialogue at the very end quite jarring as a viewer since I became acustomed to a soundtrack of squirelley squeaks and the music as cues.   Enjoy!

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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By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneralInspiration

Let’s see how to use the Timeline animation features to create an animation of a 3D model. In the following exercise, we will create an animation of a spaceship that surfs around a planet orbit completely in Photoshop. I will be using a 3D model that I created in 3D Studio Max and exported as a 3DS file. The background of the animation is a video footage of the earth rotating slowly. Let’s start by creating a new video document and creating the scene background by adding the video layer to the file:

1. Create a new Photoshop document, and choose Presets > Film and Video > NTSC preset.

2. An alert message will appear to tell you that Photoshop will use the Pixel Aspect Ratio Correction to view your video content with the specified
aspect ration in the document preset. You can disable this by deselecting the Pixel Aspect Ration Correction command in the View menu. The
purpose of this correction is to provide a preview of how the video will look like with respect to the final screen output (and standards). For a more accurate preview, you can use the Video Preview option from the File > Export menu, but this works only when an output device is attached to your computer.

3. Choose Layer > Video layers > New Video Layer from. Locate the video footage in this chapter’s folder on the DVD; the video
footage will be placed in a new video layer.

4. To insert the 3D model, choose 3D > New layer from 3D File (or use the Scene Panel). Navigate to the Space_ship.3ds file and select it.

The new Video Document presets

5. Use the 3D Pan tool from the Tools panel to place the model at the bottom left of the screen; this will be the first frame in the animation (Figure 11.9). You can also set the position of the first frame from the top properties bar to be X = 10.6, Y = 21.1, Z = –72. The exact position of the spaceship depends on your view and how you would like it to animate around the earth.

The spaceship scene * For a Larger Image-Click the image*

At this stage, we have the starting point of the animation; in the following steps, we will create keyframes that guide the spaceship to its orbit around Earth and make it vanish into the distance (the Z dimension):

1. Open the Animation panel, select the spaceship layer and expand it.

2. Activate the Time-Vary Stopwatch icon next to the 3D Position property layer by clicking on it; this will create the first keyframe in the animation.

3. Move the Timeline Head to the frame number 15, create a new keyframe manually by clicking the Add or Remove Keyframe icon or move the spaceship as seen in Figure 11.10. You can also edit its position to X = 13.2, Y = –41.2, and Z = –77.

The spaceship animation keyframes

4. Move the Timeline Current Time Indicator to frame 30 in the timeline and move the spaceship to position X = 0, Y = –56.6, and Z = –84.1. 5. In frame 45, move the spaceship to the position X = –4.9, Y = –59.2, and Z = –105. 6. In frame 75, move the spaceship behind the earth to vanish away in the distance by adding the values X = –12, Y = –53.1, and Z = –115.8.

The spaceship animation progress

Now the animation of the spaceship should look similar to the one shown in Space_ship.psd. However, to make the spaceship merge more with the global space environment, we will create a lens flare effect over the whole scene:

1. Create a new layer over the spaceship and video layers.

2. Fill it with black by setting the foreground color to black and choosing Edit > Fill from the top menu and set the fill color to the foreground from the Fill dialog box.

3. Choose Filter > Render > Lens Flare.

4. In the Lens Flare dialog box, use you mouse cursor to move the lens focus point to the right and set its value to 110%. Also, set the style of the lens flare to 50–300 mm Zoom.6. In frame 75, move the spaceship behind the earth to vanish away in the distance by adding the values X = –12, Y = –53.1, and Z = –115.8.

5. In the Layer panel, select the Lens Flare layer. From the Layer Blending Option drop-down list, choose Screen as the blending mode for the layer; this mode makes the Lens Flare transparent and displays the scene under it.

Shortcut: You can fill the layer of the foreground color by pressing Alt + Delete (Opt + Shift + Delete on the Mac).

After finalizing the animation in Photoshop, it is important to set the working area to your animation period; otherwise, the rendering process or export of your animation will include the unwanted parts of the timeline. To set the working area and crop the unwanted space in the timeline, drag the Work Area end bracket to the left to the end of your animation. For example, in the previous animation, drag the bracket to the left to frame number 75.

Rafiq Elmansy is a graphic designer for 10 years with background in traditional art and sculpture. His experience in graphic design includes working in different design projects as well as creative directing. He runs his own design company Pixel Consultations. He is also an Adobe Community Professional, Adobe Certified Expert and the founder and manager of the Adobe user group in Egypt (AUGE). Rafiq is also part of the Adobe Prerelease Program. For further details and the source files that created the 3D Timeline Animation, please visit Rafiq’s website at

Photoshop 3D for Animators is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books can be found.

Excerpted from Photoshop 3D for Animators, by Rafiq Elmansy. © 2011, Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

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