Thursday, January 27, 2011

Week 3: Luxo Jr - the short that launched Pixar

Click here to watch "Luxo Jr" from 1986
The Luxo lamp is for 3D what the famous flour sack has been for generations of 2D animators -- a tool for perfecting & demonstrating a mastery of the 12 Principles of Animation. As you watch this famous short, bear in mind the primitive tools the artists were working with at the time.  This is a remarkable first film for what was then a fledgling industry, which has grown into the multi-faceted world of CG movies, shorts, and games we know today.

From Wikipedia:
Luxo Jr. is the first film produced in 1986 by Pixar Animation Studios, following its establishment as an independent film studio. It is a computer-animated short film (two and a half minutes, including credits), demonstrating the kind of things the newly-established company was capable of producing. It was the first Pixar short to release within a Pixar film.  It is the source of the small hopping desk lamp included in Pixar's corporate logo. In a subsequent re-release after Pixar became popular, a pretext was added to the film reading, "In 1986 Pixar produced its first film. This is why we have a hopping lamp in our logo." Download and view other examples of Pixar's shorts and learn more about their production process here:

Assignment 2
Luxo Lamp Animation:
Before jumping from a bouncing ball to a complex humanoid, the Luxo lamp gives us an opportunity to use a simple multi-jointed character to practice using the 12 Principles to create not just weight and timing, but also personality.

It's also a great opportunity to analyze live action reference.
Eadweard Muybridge's classic photo of the long-jumper has many clues we can use to bring life to our animation.

Download the Luxo Rig for 3dsMax here.
Download the Luxo Rig for Maya here.

  • Using video and photographic reference, animate the Luxo lamp doing a simple jump forward in either 3dsMax or Maya (why not try both?) 
  • All the Principles of Animation should be in this assignment, especially nuts-and-bolts tools like Anticipation, Action, Reaction, Weight, Timing, Arcs, and even more esoteric ones like Appeal.
  • Spend your time on the mechanics of the jump. If you have time, you can add a little personality. 
  • Think about how heavy the base of the lamp would be. Show the effort required to move that weight.

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