Tuesday, September 26, 2006

NFB puts 50 animated shorts online

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I watched a lot of Canadian TV, and was exposed here and there to some of the great animated work done through the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). When a DVD was released of some their top animated shorts, I jumped on it. While it's not all character animation, even their experimental stuff intrigues me. Recently I also learned of the release of a DVD cataloging the work of one of their more popular animators, Norman McLaren, and I'll jump on that when I get the dough. And now I find that the NFB has put fifty of their animated short films on their web site! Sweet!!!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Everyone's Hero clips

Just posted a couple Everyone's Hero clips on the animation page. One is from the film, the other is a fun test from pre-production.

And yes, I know this note is redundant considering that I posted the same note to the front page of my site, but that page doesn't have an RSS feed. One of these days that front page will be this blog...or this blog will be the front page...or something...

Everyone's Hero, Part 2...sort of

I'd originally planned to post this part closer on the heels of the first one, and ideally before the film was released. Now that the film has been out for a short stretch, it probably won't mean as much, but here it is in a nutshell...

I'd heard/read several comments prior to the film's release about how the first trailer gave away the plot of the film, and people were less interested in seeing it if they already knew the ending. True, it did reveal a lot about the begininng and end of the film. What it didn't reveal much, though, was the middle...the journey.

You see, if films were about nothing more than beginnings and endings, they'd be dull. A lot of what makes them interesting and appealing is the journey in the middle...the experiences the characters go through on the way from the beginning to the end, and how those experiences change and influence them. While the end of a film is certainly important, it is nothing without the journey. So while we may say we go to a film to see how it ends, I have a hunch we're really going for the journey. It's the journey that gives the ending its power.

Now, while the journey in Everyone's Hero may not be earth-shattering or mind-blowing in its depth and complexity, it most certainly has an impact on the end, and there are some fun things that happen during that journey that make the end more meaningful. So even though you may know how the film ends, I think it's worth seeing for the journey.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Everyone's Hero, Part 1

My involvement with Everyone's Hero has a bit of an odd twist to it. It started when I was working as the lead animator at DPS, which was/is a sub-company of IDT. Somewhere during late 2003/early 2004, we got word that the head of IDT, Howard Jonas, had written a story called Yankee Irving that he wanted to have made into a feature film. At first, all I knew was that the title character was a young boy, and the story had something to do with baseball. Next we heard that Christopher Reeve was going to be directing it, and he even came through the DPS office at one point (I saw his bald forehead as he rolled down the aisle on the other side of my cubicle wall and into the editing suite for a meeting). Before I left DPS in the spring of '04, modeling had begun on a Yankee and the baseball, Screwie, but I still didn't know anything more about the story. After leaving DPS, I freelanced for Reel FX before they hired me full-time in the summer of '04.

Fast-forward to the late fall of 2005. I'm walking past one of the Reel FX conference rooms, and as I glance in, I catch a glimpse of an animatic that's being projected on the wall. My eye latches onto the lower part of the image, where I read "Property of IDT Entertainment." That made me stop and look more closely at the animatic drawings, and I saw that they were of a boy and a baseball. Was this Yankee Irving? I checked with my sup, and sure enough it was. We were bidding to help with animation and lighting on a project that I almost worked on at my previous job. How weird is that!

Not long after that, we started getting the character rigs to play with, and by late January of this year, we had started animating the first shots out of of roughly 20 minutes of footage that we were assigned from the film. A short while later, we got word that the name of the film had changed to Everyone's Hero, and about that same time I had to shift gears as I was starting to take over as animation supervisor for the BOZ video series. In the end, I only animated five shots for the film, and I'm probably only going to post one of those on the animation page of my site once the film comes out. Despite my short time on the project, I'm pretty happy with how my shots turned out, and I'm grateful for the things I learned in the process.

I was going to write more tonight, but I gotta crash. In Part 2, I'll be responding to a comment/complaint I've heard about the film's trailer...

tweenMachine v2.02

Didn't announce 2.01, so I'll cover that and 2.02 in this little update...

For v2.01, which was posted a couple weeks back, the major update was to make the tweenMachine play well with character sets. Now you can easily key character set data with it, using one of two methods. You can create a custom character set group (using a special menu item) that will key the active character set, or you can import your character sets into the tweenMachine.

2.02 just got posted, and adds the ability for those using Maya 7 and higher to toggle the use of Maya's "special" tick color for keys created using the tweenMachine.