Saturday, June 20, 2015

Animation Tests and Rejection advice.

 Hi , 

Thank you for sending us your information, meeting with us and perform the test. 
We enjoyed reviewing your portfolio and appreciate what you have accomplished in your career.

Upon consideration, we do not think you are a fit for our 3D Animator position at this time. 

We will keep your portfolio in our database for future projects, if you are ok with this. 
And please do not hesitate in contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Best Regards,

Sometimes opportunities find you. An animation studio might be in need of help and contact you from a posting you answered years ago. They might have come across your online portfolio and spotted something that is in the same style that they are working on. You might have recently sent a link to your portfolio, they respond and love your work.

Whatever the case, when contacted by a studio, they might ask you to do a test using a character they created to see how well you can animate it. Another studio really love your reel and then requests a test where they want you to create a 30 second piece using elements that they will provide.

The first studio's request is fair, because they want to see how you can animate their character without a lot of direction. The other studio test is a lot more work. If they loved your reel so much, why do they want you to do an entire 30 second commercial as a test? 

When a test is involved, it should benefit both parties and not take a lot of time to accomplish. Here's a test I did using Studio Max, a program I haven't worked with in a long, long time. I was given a rig, downloaded the 30 day version of Studio Max 2016, read the instructions: Animate guy on phone. I loaded up the sound file and off I went.

I wasn't given any advice or guidance how the rig was put together and so, the first half of the day was spent figuring out where everything was. Clicking on the face of the character opened up an area where I found the lip sync and face controls. I did a few tests for myself to see how to animate and move the character. The next part of the day was dealt with listening to the soundtrack and figuring out how to move this character based on his voice.

Its a good idea to mimic and memorize the way the character's speaks. It allows you to take on the persona you are trying to animate and discover the best way to have the character act. This guy sounds like bored teenager who thinks the person on the phone is so stupid and wasting his time. And so, that attitude is in my head as I am blocking out the actions

If this next part sounds a little odd, its because I have had to remove the video which I am referring to...

Its rough and a little too quick in the beginning, but its a start. I notice some extra noises just before he hangs up the phone. I adjust the timing of motions and work on facial expressions...

Again, sorry you can't see what I'm talking about...

And now for something completely different. I had a little idea which I started to work on as a test. I had a rough idea of the action and as I continued with it, I began to add more and more poses. Here's what I came up with which has too many things going on and the joke gets lost. This is where I should have thumbnailed out my idea more and stuck with simplifying the poses. So here's the first test along with the leaner version below...

After viewing this a few times, something was not right. I told an actor friend the idea and he suggested that I get right to the point by having the Caveman pick up the rock, slams it into his face and smile because he has invented the first...

I think I came up with this idea after I got the rejection letter to keep my mind off of it. Looking for a job in Animation, takes a lot of work and determination. Its easy to get down when you can't seem to get the job that you have applied to either online or through a connection.

When a client contacts you, asking your availability and your rate, you need to ask them how long they think the job will be. You also have to give them your rate, but that you are open to negotiation. You need to be a professional and not under bid or over bid your services.

The worst is when they thank you for your info and say they will get back to you and then... Nothing. No text, no email, no phone call...Nothing. At this point, a simple "sorry, we can use you this time, " is better than complete silence. As if the conservation never occurred.

You now are on the tightrope between being a professional or a desperate psycho.
Its ok to give them some time to get back to you, but then you only have one time to contact them to find out if you are still in the running for the job. If you call them and have to leave a message, try calling them back later when they answer their phone. Once you leave that phone message, you can't call them back again. Why? You are entering the psycho zone. If you don't hear anything back, chances are they aren't interested or the job went away. Just don't bug them anymore, its over. If you do, you are now a desperate psycho and chances are you won't be called again if you bug them too much.

Got any Animation job search stories? Want some?

Leave a comment, Follow this blog, Send feedback if any of this helps you. 
Thanks, Jimr

Friday, June 12, 2015

Stop Motion Animation

I was first introduced to animation thru stop motion when I was told that there were 24 frames in one second of film. I wasn't clear on that concept when I set up a small clay character to test this fact. I had thought that each sound was a separate move and so, everytime I moved the character, I clicked the camera 24 times.

After shooting this test, I had thought that my little clay man would wave to the camera and then walk off screen. At the time, a second seemed like a very short amount of time and I hoped that I had shot enough of the test to be able to see it. Back in the day, you had to wait about 3 to 5 days before you could get the developed Super 8mm back from the lab.

I threaded the projector and flipped it on to see my little clay man standing there and then
he moved and a second later moved again. My animated man was not as fluid in motion as I had imagined, instead he moved like a clock, changing his position every second. It was then I realized it was possible to move the character every other frame and that a second had suddenly become a longer period of time than I had thought.

Flash forward to the High School years, I've made more super 8 films, and even a subscriber to Super 8 Filmmaker magazine. I also look for books about Animation, trying to learn anything I can since I'm in Florida with two friends who are doing the same thing. We all to go see some movie called "Star Wars", one reviewer called it "The Wizard of Oz in Outer Space." That Summer in 1977, 3 inspired High School filmmakers run through the parking lot acting like Tie Fighters, life suddenly changed.

Today’s Star Wars Animated Gif of the day award goes to: Millennium Falcon Shift to Lightspeed

Lightspeed forward to today, I am teaching a group of High School students three different types of animation in 7 weeks. Beginning with Stop Motion, I have discovered that the best way to introduce the whole concept of animating is to begin with Pixelation. This is allows shy and awkward students to get to know each other by working as a group while creating stop motion frame by frame. 

I once tried the same process, but allowed everyone to get into the act. What happens is that when a whole group is moving at one time, its hard to focus and can turn into a mass of motion. Everyone is moving constantly while attempting to give their own performance visually and its fun to watch. The process does get everyone interested, moving and reacting to one another. The beginning is an example of what I'm talking about...

To eliminate the crowded animation, I limited it down to 4 people; 2 people enter, followed by two more people. The first 4 people play for a while and after, say 5 seconds or 120 frames, you have 4 new people assume the previous poses and whatever the previous costume the person has on like a silly hat, sunglasses, etc. 

We are using DragonFrame software which allows us to see the previous frame as an Onion skin effect. The 4 new people get into position and then you can have them continue animating from the new start position. I did this with 2 more groups of 4. The people who are waiting and watching can also help the performers by switching out props or moving other objects in the scene.

I always start off the project by showing how long it takes to A to B. I also like sliding instead of walking. I walk all the time, but in stop motion I can glide in without moving my legs. I explain how to ride a broom by jumping up we the picture it shot, this does take some practice since there is a delay when the camera takes a frame. Also you have to do this one frame at a time, because shooting on two's will look great on the first frame, but you body will be down on the second one. Here's an example of the group of 4 animation approach as well as. Which one do you like better?  

StopMotionFilms2015 from Toondini on Vimeo.

One of many great things, about this software is that you can check what you have shot at anytime. And when everyone has gotten a chance to perform in front of the camera, you can instantly view what you have just shot. I would have loved to have had this when I was in High School.

Everyone now gets the idea how long is takes to animate themselves around in front of the camera and are ready for more. And so, we head inside the animation studio under the hot lights of two animation sets. Note to self: turn on the air conditioner before filming begins, otherwise you will soon have a very "hot" set.

A simple set with a roll of white seamless and a sheet of foam core placed on the tabletop for clay use. Two lights are set up and everything was place there before the student showed up saving us time. Here's one of the stop motion projects created by a group of 4 student with no previous stop motion experience...

To the Gordon Ramsey animation critics out there, who might see this as poorly animated, I say WAIT! What you are watching is an idea unfolding roughly before your tiny critical chef eyes. This animation is crude, but I'm sure your first Soufflé wasn't as tasty as this animated

My point is, the appeal is in how the idea is revealed. The idea to presented here and it doesn't have to be precisely animated to do this. And without any prior animating experience, I think they did a great job.

Still editing and adding to this blog, if you have any comment, suggestions or can't see a video or photo, please let me know. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

From the Animation Garage!

This is a test video to show you inside the inner workings of the garage studio, where I am animating the next episode of Watchcat. Please let me know if you can see it or not.

If you have a similiar set up or studio space of your own, please share a video with us and
impress us all with where you make your animation art. Send comments, subscribe, follow, read, enjoy!