• 2011 Teaching

    I wanted to give an update of where you might be able to find Pixar animators, directors and story artists teaching….

    At The California College of Art in Oakland, they are lucky enough to have a director, Mark Andrews teaching the story class. Whoever is in that class should consider themselves lucky having Mark. He is one of the best teachers. I will be coming back next semester to teach performance based animation. There are many other Pixar artists at CCA such as Brett Parker (animator) Don Crum (2d animator) Doug Sheppick (stop mo animator). Josh Cooley (story) was recently teaching story.

    The Academy of Art in San Francisco, where myself and many former spline doctors taught saw the return of the same type of classes we taught there for about 10 years. Some of my former students, KC Royer, Kevin Chesnos, Stephen Wong, and Mark Harris are now teaching 3 tiers of classes there. Other animators teaching in the program are Terry Song and Jamie Landes.

    Animation Mentor obviously has many Pixar artists teaching with their very succesful program.

    On the Masterclass front, Matt Luhn and I expect to teach a few next year. We will keep you posted. Thank you for the continued support and we look forward to some interesting events on Spline Doctors in 2011. (new doctors, podcasts, 2 new animation challenges and more posts!) Again, thank you.


  • Great Acting Reference

    A fellow animator sent this out and its just too good not to share.

    It is 14 actors creating 14 different moments. There is so much great stuff in here to look at. As someone who is looking at it from an animators perspective, you can, at the very least, understand how a performance can be so clear without dialogue. What is that character feeling. What is interesting about the scene? All the same things we ask ourselves about our own work. Please post more great examples in the comments section…


    Fourteen Actors Acting

  • Appeal

    If you were ever wondering what the definition of appeal is, especially in character design and animation, Tangled is the answer… I saw the film this weekend at Pixar and have to say it is one the best Disney films in many years. I can see Glen Keane’s influence all over the film. I also saw alot of a former Pixar colleague, John Kahrs, influence. Mostly in the way the characters acted. There was alot of restraint in the acting which is refreshing. Some of the more comedic bits also felt physical and had weight. Hats off to all the amazing artists at Disney for such a great job on the film! It is so nice to see a film of that quality. I was blown away by the quality of the rigging, animation lighting etc. My daughter did not make a peep during the whole film… Dont’ miss it… Disney is back… We missed you…


  • Mouth-a-mation

    The mouth is one of the most expressive areas of the face. We first look to the eyes to convey attitude in the face but the mouth should complement the eyes and work with the rest of the pose. If you just look at the nightly news, no two people really speak the same. Mouth shapes should be unique to the character you are working on. You are striving for many different things in the mouth

    Squash and Stretch: Its important to have the shapes squash and stretch in a natural way. I’m not talking about Bluth type squash and stretch. In cg, that level does not work as well. You want to feel it, not see it. You also need to know how to incorporate different parts of the face to make it look fleshy.

    Arcs: Making sure the proper arcs are in place is so important. Pay close attention to the corners of the mouth when polishing dialogue. You really want those corners to move in and out in a natural way.  Chattery mouth shapres are not fun to look at.

    Design : Obviously designing good shapes is hard. You are looking for asymmetry, simple to complex shapes, straights to curves… You don’t want the mouth looking like a football. Yes, some mouth shapes may look that way, but the key is to have read-ability and appeal. Look at real life… Man people have very interesting shapes in the mouth. It adds so much character.

    Simplicity: One of the most common student mistkes is to put too many mouth shapes into dialogue. If you just look at the way your mouth articulates shapes, you will see alot of shapes are combined.

    Teeth: Know when to favor upper or lower teeth. Obviously they play a huge part in the design and acting of the character. Tom Wilkonson talks more with is bottom teeth showing, someone like Joe Pesci talks with his top teeth and Tom Crusie seems to have both teeth talking.

    Again, all this comes from observation and just looking at great examples. Hope this helps a little.


  • Lee Unkrich Interview

    Terry Gross recently interviewed Lee Unkrich and Michael Arndt for fresh air. Why wait for me to interview them?