• AnimBot – Spline Cast with Alan Camilo

    During my 20 years at Pixar, one of the things besides the great stories and great animation were the great tools for animation. Menv, now called Presto is the proprietary software that is used at Pixar and it has some powerful tools. One of the most being the spline editor.  Now being on the outside I harken back to the days of using that software but have found a set of tools that feels a lot like some of the tools we had at Pixar. They are called AnimBot created by Alan Camilo. Alan is a feature animator and programmer. He found the same issue with the tools he was working with, so he created tools, then the more advanced AnimBot. I had the opportunity to sit down (via video conference) and talk to him about his new set of tools that comes out January 7th! I think the entire animation community should give him thanks because the existing tools that Maya has to offer have not really changed for animation in a long time. This is true especially for studios that don’t have programmers working on custom tool sets for Maya like Disney and Sony. Alan is making tools that not only work, but are intuitive and the list will keep going. I hope to help him get the word out about his tools that fit so nicely inside of Maya. I know as an animator, I can’t wait to get on the box and Animate!.   DOWNLOAD them here:


    Interview below


    Keep Animating!

  • Story and Character

    I had the great pleasure of doing a little documentary/teaching video with Nate Stanton and Lynda.com

    For the piece we came up with a simple concept so we could take it through and develop it a bit. This is

    obviously not a film we are working on, but more of an idea to look at the process we might go through.

    Check it out. Its a free Doc on Lynda.com.


  • 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.


  • Some Cool Links…

    I wanted to post an addendum to the Ricky Nierva Spline Cast. Ricky was talking about some inspirational art that he got from Bill Pressing. The artist is Ludwig Hohlwein. German poster artist, died in 1949. Here are some links:



    Some other cool sites that have been floating around:


    Here is a great site with some free downloads on animation education. Jason is a great animator at Dreamworks who really does a great job putting together these webinars… Click on the Ramp ups. I wish I had this when I was going to school. I could have saved alot of money.


  • Presto up on Itunes

    Not that Spline Doctors is a place to pimp anything but animation education, I did wat to say that Presto is available on Itunes. Here is a link. Please address any questions about this short in the comments section and myself or Travis or Mark will try to answer them.


    Stay tuned for the Doug Sweetland Spline Cast…