Saturday, December 25, 2010

Yik in "Best Candy Store Ever!"

Watch My Film HERE!

I recently graduated from Vancouver Film School's 3D Digital Character Animation program. It was a 6 month intensive program where I learned Maya from scratch and created my own short. We were responsible for concept development, modelling, rigging, animation, lighting and final renders for our films. I come from a 2D background and thought it would be a great opportunity to experiment with combining 2D with 3D and see what my imagination could conceive. It has been the biggest career challenge I've faced to date, but well worth the struggles.

For more of my art and animation check out:

Random Doodles:

Thanks so much for taking the time and interest to visit my site.

Yik and his Candy Store are Born!

Candy Store Props Page

Yik's original design.
This is a page from my original storyboards. I tend to scribble out my ideas and refine them later. I used these storyboards to create my first animatics, the redid my animatics in flash to get a sense of timing, posing and story. (Click on any image to enlarge).

Prop pages from my sketchbook.
The original layout concept for the Interior of Yik's Candy store.

Playing with poses.

I started painting a lot of monsters during this process. The great thing about monsters is you can make your own rules and create whatever kind of world you like. Your only limitation is your imagination.

3D Evolution of Yik

This was one of the original versions of Yik. What you draw in 2D may have trouble evolving to 3D. The secret is not to get too attached to the original output. It probably won't be the best you'll ever create.
This is what he looked like when I started doing the first round of Blend Shapes (creating the eye blinks, lip and cheek movements). Basically you move the little dots and it deforms the geometry.
Speaking of Blend Shapes, that was a fun time in my life. It was major crunch time and I finally got my buffer head attached to my character in the scene, however, every time I'd move any part of the face, the head geo would move up off the skeleton slightly. Rigging made me realize that I'll be a really great mother if I ever get the opportunity. No matter how much of a little a-hole Yik was being, somehow I still loved him to death.

What I must have done accidentally is move the buffer head. Big no no. In the end Greg Berridge helped create a really great solution. We duplicated the yellow buffer head which you see as the red head. We still used the yellow buffer head as a parent to the facial blends. We used the red head to counteract the movement of the head off the skeleton. It sounds complicated but it works.

In the end, because of time constraints, I didn't use any of my blend shapes unfortunately. One of the big realities I often struggled with was the fact that I had to remind myself that I was learning Maya for the first time and attempting to have a finished product to screen at our graduation. Having worked as a Clean Up Artist on several TV series, I take great pride in being a meticulous perfectionist with the animation I hand off to Directors. And of course in Maya when you fix one problem more problems reveal themselves, like blinks crashing into eyeballs that weren't crashing before, fun stuff like that. In the end I had to bite the bullet and ask, do I want great blend shapes or do I want to finish my film.

I gave myself a deadline to have Yik modelled the way I wanted him so I could move on to rigging (inserting and attaching his skeleton to his geometry). The day before deadline I saw the film "Les Metiers: Le Boulanger", fell in love with the designs and wondered if my character would be better as a blob.... Spent and evening creating Mik & Gik, then decided Yik was still the right monster for the job.

Check out the render time on this scene. Fastest renders of in the West. (Click Image to Enlarge)

Weekly Lists: They keep me organized and sane. At the end of 2nd Term I made a new list of everything I needed to accomplish in the next 13 days. Easiest two weeks of my life.

Term 3

When term 3 started it was quickly evident that I wouldn't have 2 months to animate, I may only have 2 to 3 weeks to animate if I was lucky. My new challenge was to keep the essence of the film and cut it down from 02:20 to 1 minute. The rigging process took much longer than I anticipated, but once I got Yik moving I started having a ton of fun making him dance, experimenting with him in a 2D environment, and having epic battles with David DeLeon's Lion.
Animatic reviews were absolutely one of my favourite parts of the process. We'd put our films up on the big screen and our instructors would draw over our characters to help strengthen our poses. They, along with our classmates, would also give feedback on our story and progress. It was such a great team environment, and it was ridiculous how much you'd learn in your 15 minute presentation.
My first 2D/3D test with fire.
It was a little embarrassing but Yik totally kicked Leon's butt....for fun of course. (and PS. stay tuned for animated shorts in the future featuring Yik and Leon in some epic battles).

Yik imagining what he would do with those gummy worms.

Monday, December 13, 2010

To Other Filmmakers Out There....

People often ask me about my time at Vancouver Film School, and I have to say it was one of the best and most challenging opportunities of my career. It far exceeded my expectations, and I learned more than you would think is humanly possible. Each individual in the class came from diverse backgrounds.... we had artists, engineers, lighters, modellers, etc sitting among us so our after hours learning from our classmates was just as vital to our success than the knowledge we gained from our instructors.

What I would encourage out of any student filmmaker to is be proud of all the little victories. What we accomplished in school is just a tiny little spark of the potential we have as animators and filmmakers. Go out and make more films. Work on building your craft and keep learning. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Have confidence in your art. Don’t be afraid to fail. The world needs your uniqueness, so go there and have fun experimenting. It could turn out to be an epic fail, however the innovation could snowball into creativity that far surpasses any expectations you had of yourself.