By: admin                Categories: AnimationGamesGeneral

This is an excerpt from Tyler Weaver’s Comics for Film, Games, and Animation. In Comics for Film, Games, and Animation, Tyler Weaver teaches you how to integrate comic storytelling into your own transmedia work by exploring their past, present, and future.

The Future of Storytelling

We have a limitless supply of technology at our fingertips. With each technological innovation comes a transitional period, which we’re experiencing at this writing, a transition from mass, homogenized media with one-way communication to a democratized, independent, engagement media economy. But, no matter the technology we have, great storytelling must reign supreme. It doesn’t matter if you create something that utilizes all forms of media. Format can never trump story.

Photo by State Library of Victoria Collections

We live in a hyper-connected world. In every single person carrying a Blackberry or iPhone, a Kindle or iPad, you have a person just looking to be immersed in a story. It’s our job to give them what they don’t even know they want—and by doing so, usher in a new age of storytelling.

The thing of it is, we’ve already seen an age like this. History has a funny way of being a cyclical phenomenon with newer, shinier toys.

You Must Remember This . . .

— A story is a narrative construction in which ideas and themes are communicated in entertaining, persuasive, or educational ways.
— We tell stories to entertain, to persuade, to educate, and to understand.
— All great stories are about telling truths are fostering understanding of themes.
— The five elements of story are Character, Conflict, Risk, Place, and Theme.
— Plot should flow organically from all of these.
— Format can never trump story.

Shattering the Black Box

In his seminal book on transmedia and the collision of old and new media, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, Henry Jenkins, former Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT, talks of the “Black Box Fallacy.” He describes the argument of those in favor of “The Black Box” as: “All media content is going to flow through a single black box into our living rooms . . . figure out which black box will reign supreme, then everyone can make reasonable investments for the future.”1

Yeah. Right.

We have XBoxes. Playstations. Television. Comic Books. Graphic Novels. Feature Films. Short Films. Web serials. Smart phones. Tablets. And yes, some people still read books. (Ahem). The list of media forms at our fingertips is endless—and it’s going to keep growing.

Jenkins also states that “Part of what makes the black box concept a fallacy is that it reduces media change to technological change and strips aside the cultural levels . . .”2

And indeed, we are witnessing not only the technological changes listed above and in numerous other sources, but a significant cultural shift— forwards, with technology and connectivity, and backwards, with a return to a more collective creativity and consumption habits. We are creating stories for a generation, the Millennials (and their eventual progeny), for whom a world without Internet is akin to the days before electricity. It’s a world where people can play out an epic battle for humanity with others all over the world, or download the latest television episode to their phone. Everyone is connected; rather, everyone is hyper-connected. People want their media when they want it, where they want it. To have any sort of relevance and resonance, we have to be both great storytellers with a formidable command of media, and, as Woody Allen said, “fifteen minutes ahead.”

People of my generation are kind of used to this “when you want it where you want it” consumption (or, to appropriate a term I love from Lawrence Lessig’s Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy, “absorption”). We had GI Joe, Transformers, all of that; a cartoon series, a movie, and those awesome action figures. But then again, a cordless home telephone was a remarkable technological innovation where I grew up. It was training wheels for riding the bike of 21st-century media.

But today? That level of fragmentation has exponentially grown. Today’s new generation? Those Internet-babies? They’re conditioned for fragmentation. Twitter. Facebook.  A comic.  A message board to discuss the comic. The latest video game trailer on IGN. The digital comic of the show they just downloaded that tells the story between the episode they’re watching and the episode they’ll download next. And then tweeting about it. As Frank Rose, author of The Art of Immersion: How The Digital Generation is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories said in an interview with me, they’re truly “the people formerly known as the audience.”3


1. Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (New York: New York University Press, 2006), pp. 14–15.

2. Ibid., 15.

3. Tyler Weaver, Digging Deep: An Interview with Frank Rose, Mastering Film. Available online at: http://masteringfilm.com/digging-deep-an-interview-with-frank-rose/.

Excerpt from Comics for Film, Games, and Animation: Using Comics to Construct Your Transmedia Storyworld by Tyler Weaver.  © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved. Comics for Film, Games, and Animation can be purchased Amazon.com, BN.com, and wherever fine books can be found.

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By: John Gaudiosi                Categories: AnimationGamesGeneralInspiration

Epic Games’ Gears of War franchise is one of Microsoft’s top franchises. The developer is working on a fourth game, Gears of War Judgment, which ships March 19, 2013. The prequel follows the story of Kilo Squad, which brings back fan favorites Cole and Baird and introduces Garron and Sofia. In addition to a more action-packed campaign mode, the new Gears introduces OverRun to multiplayer. Jay Hosfelt, lead animator at Epic Games, talks about what drives him in this exclusive interview.

Can you talk about what drives you creatively at your job?

Nothing drives me more than being around the creative minds who surround me at Epic. I’m constantly inspired by the work of others and I know the work coming out of my department needs to be equally inspiring. I also love the constant progress our programmers are making to the engine tools. Every now and then a feature gets added that opens up an entirely new approach for us. It’s very exciting.

What’s a typical day like in your life as a game developer?

The days are so varied. There are some days where I can come in, have a coffee, read through my email and dig into some animation work. Some days are spent having fantastic discussions about what make our game’s characters tick, or discussing a new gameplay mechanic. Some days are spent fixing issues that were called out during a playtest. It never gets boring.

How did you work together with your team to overcome challenges during the game development process?

Since making a game requires trial and error and iteration, it’s really important to get great communication cycles. Embrace feedback and even though it may sting egos, it’s always important to get over that because everyone is working toward the shared goal of making a great game.

Can you talk about how advances in technology and the tools you use have influenced what you’ve been able to accomplish with this new game?

We’ve always been limited by things like memory budgets, and time budgets. Having tools that allow us to quickly retarget character animations to different characters, or add additive layers to make unique animations have been instrumental in our last few games. For Gears of War 3, using real-time IK, retargeting and animation layers allowed us to use a relatively low amount of animation for a large chunk of our characters. Going forward, we are looking to give animators more flexibility as to how animations blend in-game and increase iteration speeds.

What are you most proud of when it comes to the animation in your new game?

With each iteration of a Gears of War game, we want to push the character performances further and further. With our most recent title, Gears of War: Judgment, we pushed our cinematic process to have more pre-visualization, so we knew up front what angles we’d be shooting our actors from. So while we recorded the actor’s motion during the motion capture sessions, we also had a camera crew getting footage of our actor’s facial performances. The acting decisions from the actors were a great resource to our animators who key-framed the facial performances.

What advice would you give to aspiring animators interested in getting into the videogame business?

Keep animating, push yourself and don’t give up. Find other animators to get feedback from and make good contacts. Study the work of other animators. Take any job you can get that allows you to get your foot in the door.

John Gaudiosi head shot
John Gaudiosi
has spent the past 20 years covering the $75 billion videogame industry for top international print, online and television outlets like The Washington Post, Wired, Playboy, AOL, Yahoo!, Entertainment Weekly, USA Today Weekend, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters, Forbes, NBC, CBS and Geek Magazine. He specializes in the converge of games and Hollywood. He currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife and dogs and can be reached at JGaudiosi@aol.com.

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By: admin                Categories: General

This is an excerpt from Dream Worlds: Production Design for Animation by Hans Bacher. In this excerpt, Hans draws a comparison between film and animation in terms of camera rules– different shots, perspectives, and the number of characters that can be used in your animation. As you begin to read, you will see the amount of thought that can go into just one scene!

In live-action movies, it is the cameraman who decides about the camera position and the picture size, and of course following the ideas of the director. In animation it is the layout artist who plans the use of the camera. He executes what has been planned in rough sketches in a workbook meeting. This stage is visually the most important moment of the movie, because at this point the storyboard is being translated into film language. Usually a storyboard in animation is not visually interesting. Its job is only to tell the story. The breakdown into different shots, perspectives, the choice of the number of characters in one scene, the exact location following a floor plan, the direction of the light, props, effects – all of this is decided in the workbook meeting. It is easy to imagine that only one sequence can be worked out in a several hours-long meeting, with all major department heads in attendance.

Wide Shot

Long Shot

Medium Shot


Side View Profile Shots

Usually it is the job of the production designer to come up with sketches of the best choice of camera angle in these meetings. That’s why it is so important to know everything about them, when to use them and why. It is not accidental to have a low positioned camera for an upshot.

You want to emphasize a threatening situation, or during a dialogue sequence explain the relation between characters. Dialogue scenes in particular need very careful planning. To make them interesting you cut from close ups to medium- or wideshots, use over-the-shoulder or POV (point of view) positions. It gets more and more complicated the more characters are involved. You can confuse the audience completely when you jump around uncontrollably with your camera. The location and the relation of every single character to each other has to be followed by the movement of the camera.

I explain jump-cuts in the book Dream Worlds. They can be a disaster and completely destroy a sequence. It is dangerous to lose control over a logical development of a sequence like that, and a confused audience will not be able to follow the story.

Excerpt from Dream Worlds: Production Design for Animation by Hans Bacher © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved. Dream Worlds can be purchased Amazon.com, BN.com, and wherever fine books can be found.

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By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksGames

Sergio Paez and Anson Jew have published Professional Storyboarding: Rules of Thumb with Focal Press.  The two seasoned storyboard artist want to teach young animators and game artists how to break into the field of visual storytelling and more importantly – how to survive in it!  Sergio took a few minutes out to tell you all about their new book.  Enjoy!

Professional Storyboarding: Rules of Thumb is available now at Amazon, BN, and wherever fine books are sold!

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By: admin                Categories: Animation

The following is an excerpt from Chris Georgenes’ Pushing Pixels. Pushing Pixels is the real-world guide to developing dynamic and fun digital content – whether a game, app, or animation – from conception to deployment. Here, Chris, a renowned Flash expert, provides you a detailed tutorial of Adobe Photoshop Touch.

Adobe Photoshop Touch is a feature-rich app that is a must-have if you are a designer with a mobile tablet. There are so many different ways to work within Photoshop Touch it practically justifies its own book. Let’s start with a simple project involving a concept sketch of a character for a client project. Using the Brush tool and on a single layer, I quickly sketched the initial design.

You can control the Brush size as well as its hardness, flow and opacity with the use of sliders. Access these options by tapping the Brush button underneath the Brush tool icon. Tap/drag on the dark gray horizontal area below Size and above Hardness to change their values. Flow and Opacity have a different slider design but work the same way. Unfortunately it can be an exercise in patience trying to dial in a brush size value of, say, 2. A more precise way to change size values would be good here.

With my character roughed out, it’s time to add a little color. I prefer to take advantage of Photoshop Touch’s layer support and keep my colors separate from the line drawing. In the lower right corner, tap the ‘+’ button and then tap on Empty Layer from the popup menu.

Tap the Color button to launch the color mixer. Tap anywhere inside the color gradient to pick a color. You can switch to using sliders to mix your colors based on hue, saturation and brightness. The third icon launches the Swatches panel where you can manage your saved colors.

With color added, it’s time to send this to the client for feedback. Tap the arrow icon in the upper left corner to prompt the Save popup menu. Tap on Save to save the file and return to the start screen.

With the launch of Adobe Touch Apps came the launch of the Adobe Creative Cloud, a cloudbased service from Adobe where you can share your work with others. Files created in any of the Adobe Touch Apps can be synced to the Creative Cloud and further edited using Adobe desktop applications.

Tap the Creative Cloud icon in the menu bar. From the drop-down menu you will be given the option to Upload selected files to the Creative Cloud or Launch the Creative Cloud website. Since I already have a Creative Cloud account, I just need to select Upload to the Creative Cloud.

Tap on the thumbnail of the file you want to upload to the Creative Cloud. You can tap to select multiple files to batch upload as well but as you can see here, I had only one file at the time as I had recently installed the app. Once the file is synced to the Creative Cloud, I can then access it from my laptop or desktop and continue editing it in a different program. The other option is to stay within the mobile platform and continue editing the image in another app.

Adobe Ideas is a vector-based drawing app and perfect for sketching ideas or, in this example, tracing a bitmap sketch using vectors. The native format for Photoshop Touch is the .psdx format which can be opened with Photoshop CS5 with the required plugin (https://creative.adobe.com/downloads). You can also save to JPEG or PNG format which is the only option if you want to edit in a different app. To save to these formats, tap the Export button and then tap Save to Camera Roll.

In the Save to Camera Roll popup, tap the down arrow to choose between JPEG and PNG formats.

Select your preferred format by tapping on either JPEG or PNG formats. I have selected JPEG format because I’m going to be using this image as reference only and I’m not concerned about compressing it and sacrificing a little quality.

Tap OK when you’ve selected your choice of format. The image will be saved to the Camera Roll on the iPad and accessed via the Photos app.

Excerpt from Pushing Pixels: Secret Weapons for the Modern Flash Animator by Chris Georgenes.  © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved. Pushing Pixels can be purchased Amazon.com, BN.com, and wherever fine books can be found.

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By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneralInspiration

Francis Glebas, former Disney animator and director recently hosted a contest to celebrate the launch of his new book with Focal Press – The Animator’s Eye – which teaches animators how to add life to their animation with the use of timing, layout, design, color, and sound.

You can review the full contest details here but in short Francis challenged animators to create a storyboard sequence bringing a sack of flour to life, design a mad scientist lab, or create a series of poses of his new characters Iggy and Scary Bunny bringing an idea to life. Francis has selected the winner and noted two honorable mentions. He also took the time to provide a critique of the winner, the honorable mentions, and a few of the more interesting entries. Francis even went as far as drawing over the winning entry to demonstrate his feedback. Hope you enjoy reviewing these great entries.

Winning Entry:

Animation Page by Andrew Sharp (Challenge 1)
(click image to enlarge)

Francis Glebas (FG): These are great animation drawings with a really clear fun idea. The drawings are full of expression and life. The action reads well because of the clearly defined silhouettes. The characters are drawn solidly with great stretch and squash.

There are two things I would to make these read clear and make it more dramatic. First I would add panels so not everything is happening at once. The audience can only process one idea at a time. For example, start with them both looking at the book. Then Iggy sees the switch. Pay attention to Iggy’s hand pointing at the switch. It hangs out there a long time.

Secondly, I would break up the action using close ups and inserts. For example, in a wide shot: They both look at the book. In Closeup: Iggy’s bored and sees the switch. I’d also cut to a closeup to see sack when it comes to life. Maybe you could have an upshot of Iggy and Bunny from the sacks POV.

Francis’ drawing critique demonstrating suggested changes
(click image to enlarge)

Honorable Mention
: Untitled by Christopher Scott (Challenge 1)
(click image to enlarge)

The drawings are very clear, fun and dramatic. There’s lots of depth in the images. I’m a little confused at the end. I understand that the sack falls in love and the evil Iggy wanted to create a monster. Then the sack attacks him but with hearts. Is he attacking him with love?

Honorable Mention: Iggy’s Messy Mad Science Lab by George Fleites (Challenge 1)
(click image to enlarge)

FG: Very inventive. I like the faces hidden in the images. The middle and top image would benefit from applying the design principles of dominance and contrast. Most of the items are similar size. Making one item dominant would help to make a more powerful statement and show your audience where to look. Also use your shadows to make a statement. This could add more drama to your images.

Francis also took the time to provide some feedback on 8 other entries that proved interesting for one reason or another.

Entries of note with comments from Francis Glebas
1. Untitled (Challenge 3)
(click image to enlarge)

FG: Very clear effective storyboard. You don’t need the text because you’ve shown that in the drawings. (except for Iggy telling Bunny what’s in the book) You could break this up and make it more interesting by cutting to occasional closeups of each of them. For example when Iggy looks at the book and when Bunny staggers back.

2. Untitled (Challenge 1)
(click image to enlarge)

FG: These images seem to be more like a beat board they tell the whole story but not the exact continuity. The drawings are very clear. One thing that could help a lot is adding a perspective plane for the ground. This would anchor your characters in space.

This one is very funny. I like the thinking that went into this project- that’s it’s a metaphor for the exploitation of animators. However, I’m wondering if this is your viewpoint, why do you want to get into this industry? Or are you looking to become a producer?

3. Mad scientist lab (Challenge 2)
(click image to enlarge)

These are very nice lab designs. There is an interesting distortion of perspective that gives them an expressionistic quality. I would push the distortions further. And why not distort the shapes to have some fun with them. For layouts you also want to think about providing a clear stage for the animation to take place.

4. The Space Flour Sacks (Challenge 1)
(click image to enlarge)

FG: This is a fun idea. I like the visuals. However you give away the gag. Why not let the two sacks arrive thinking it’s a deserted planet. When they get there they look outside and it’s empty. They come out looking around cautiously and then slowly they find themselves surrounded by other flour sacks.

5. Sack 2 life (Challenge 1)
(click image to enlarge)

I really like this idea. Some of the drawings could be pushed to make them read clearer. For example, in panel 2 when the sack get the idea the expression could be more exaggerated. In panel three it looks like he’s pumping, instead show him carrying it. It would be funny before panel 6 to see the sack deflate. Then he cries. The rest is very clear and fun.

6. Mad lab (Challenge 2)
(click image to enlarge)

These are very fun bold graphic designs. Interesting unique shapes. Really suggests a mad lab.

7. To heck with this (Challenge 3)
(click image to enlarge)

Great expressive drawings with a cool looking style. The silhouettes read great. It would be stronger if we knew why Iggy threw away the book that Bunny is obviously so proud of.

8. Iggy experiment (Challenge 1)
(click image to enlarge)

These are very clear panels with really great expressions. I’d watch where you put the floor plane. Right now it lines up the the edge of the panels drawing attention to the panel edge.

Congrats to everyone for providing all of these great entries! Stay tuned for more Animation/Character Mentor contests from Focal Press’ awesome animation authors.

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By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksGamesGeneral

Chris Georgenes has shared a series of videos from a webinar he hosted on animating in Adobe Flash. Chris recently published How to Cheat in Adobe Flash CS6. The latest installment in this popular series will provide practical solutions and step by step tutorials for anyone working on creative projects in Adobe Flash CS6 – whether mobile applications, games, animated shorts, or full length features. Today we are the final installment – file size & optimization. Check out the previous installments here: Part 1: Character Design, Part 2: Walk Cycles & Keyframing, and Part 3: Walk Cycles & Motion Tweening.

Chris Georgenes

Chris Georgenes spent a very long time as a freelance designer & animator specializing in Adobe Flash. Before that he worked for a small software company producing animated television shows for networks such as ABC and Cartoon Network. A few years ago Chris started designing games for Acclaim, Playdom and for a very brief stint, Disney Interactive. Today Chris is enjoying a creative director position for the highly successful mobile app GSN Casino, the Game Show Network’s latest digital offering. Chris still writes books, makes select public appearances, drinks coffee and continues a 35+ year career behind a set of drums.

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By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationBooksInspirationInterviews

The following is an excerpt from Digital Art Masters: Volume 4. In Digital Art Masters, you will meet some of the finest 2D and 3D artists working in the industry today and discover how they create some of the most innovative digital art in the world. In this excerpt, Andrei Kashkin walks you through his creation of his own personal work, Lonely Driver.

Lonely Driver was a personal project that became a great challenge for me, because I was using some of the programs and techniques for the very first time. The idea of creating a highly detailed image of a car on a road had been in my mind for a long time, but I just wasn’t sure how to make the concept look good … After watching a movie where the main character was rushing down the highway in rainy weather, I finally felt inspired; I could feel the loneliness of the character at the time, and I understood at that moment that I wanted to create the same feelings in my own artwork.

I really enjoyed making experiments for this project, and in total I spent about two months of my free time on it. To kick the project off, I started by searching for references on the internet. It was important to find not only photos of the desert, which I wanted to use in order to underline the feelings of emptiness and loneliness, but also to find images of a certain style. In the end, I decided to go with a different kind of scene – American grassland with an old 1980s gas station, with the 1970 Dodge Challenger car parked in front of it (Fig.01a – b).

Fig 1a

Fig 1b


I started by modeling the basic objects in low quality, in order to gauge the necessary composition early on. Almost all of the objects in the scene were made from primitives that were converted into editable polygons and then edited. Once objects displayed the correct geometrical form and looked natural, I applied chamfers along their corners and either altered the vertices manually or by way of the Noise modifier. The car, as the center of the composition, was modeled in high detail (Fig.02).

Fig 2

Bushes were created using Onyx Tree Storm. I made some different types of bushes, changing the parameters of the standard presets. I also created the dried-up stalks of the grass here, too, and for the grass arrangement I used the Adv Painter Script with different options for rotate, inclination and scale. Some kinds of grass were also modeled manually and multiplied using the Scatter function (Compound object). To place the grass in the cracks of the asphalt, I drew splines on the displacement structure; these splines were then scattered (Fig.03). The lawn in the distance was exported from Vue and multiplied with the Adv Painter script.

Fig 3


I used a VRay Physical Camera with 35 FOV. Upon its integration into the scene I tried to use the principles of classic photography to capture my image, in order to achieve a dramatic shot with good composition (Fig.04).

Fig 4


For me, the lighting setup was a very important part of the creation process of this work. With well-established lighting it is possible to achieve tremendous results. I used the sky’s HDR, which was made in Vue (Fig.05a – b); it worked well as the intensity of illumination and its color depended on a sky texture. I therefore got rid of any wrong adjustment sources of illumination and the rendered picture looks natural as a result. I wanted the sun to be behind the clouds, close to the horizon line in order that the scene received illumination with soft shadows; all parameters were set in the Atmosphere Editor. When I achieved some nice results, I rendered the sky in an HDR fi le. I also used additional light sources: a VRay Light plane in the building and a VRay Light dome for the whole scene (this way it was possible to supervise the brightness of the scene at invariable brightness levels of the sky).

Fig 5a

Fig 5b

Shaders & Textures

For the texture creation I used photos from the internet and dirt masks from the Total Textures collections. The majority of the materials were made as VRayMtl shaders with diffuse, bump and reflection maps. Sometimes for the bump maps I used noise and smoke maps or a combination in a mixed map. You can see some examples in Fig.06a – c. It was necessary to give special attention to the wet asphalt, as there were two types used in the scene (Fig.07). As a basis I took materials from vraymaterials.de, but they did need to be altered in order for me to achieve the necessary results. Cracks on the road were made by displacing textures with cracks. Plants were textured with procedural materials (in the diffuse maps there was a noise map with different colors of grass), but because each type of grass had a separate material, it created a realistic-looking result.

Fig 6a

Fig 6b

Fig 6c

Fig 7


The weather was of great importance in terms of capturing the mood of the image. You can see the fog and the rain which were made using particle flow (Fig.08); a drip system was bound with gravitation and wind force. For the splash deflector I used the UOmniFlect deflector containing the objects in the scene (because of the miscalculation of collisions I needed lots of system resources and a lot of time, and therefore the objects that were low poly, along with the small objects, including the grass, were not involved) (Fig.09). The rain consisted of about 6000 droplets, which were rendered as spheres with motion blur. The fog was also made with particle flow with wind force, and was rendered with the AfterBurn plugin. The scene was rendered in separate layers (this way was faster, plus it was possible to regulate the color parameters individually).

Fig 8

Fig 9

Rendering & Post-Production

The scene was rendered using V-Ray, without GI in order to reduce the render time and PC resources. Standard options were used; I only changed anti-aliasing on Catmull-Rom and in the adaptive subdivision window image sampler, and I changed the value of Clr tresh to 0,0.

Post-processing work would have been easy in any program; for this image I used Photoshop. I changed the brightness/contrast, color balance and saturation for each layer, and then merged it with different opacity and blending parameters (Fig.10a – c).

Fig 10a

Fig 10b

Fig 10c


The searching of references is a very important stage for me in which I define the details and solve how the final image will look. Without sketches, I start work from rough modeling through to the details, and then I pass to the lighting setup and finally the shading. In the course of creating a work I experiment, using different programs and working methods to achieve good results and get lots of experience. High scene detailing allows you to concentrate on the idea and the mood, and not detract from the quality of the work.

Excerpt from Digital Art Masters: Volume 4 by 3dtotal.Com © 2009 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved. Digital Art Masters can be purchased Amazon.com,BN.com, and wherever fine books can be found.

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