Thursday, September 15, 2011

WEEK 3: Acting for Animators with guest instructor Ed Sahely

This week we have a wonderful opportunity to study improv and acting with award-winning instructor, Ed Sahely.

Ed spent seven years with The Second City and his cast received a Dora Mavor Moore Award for their work on the Toronto Mainstage. Television credits include ROBOCOP: THE SERIES, GETTING ALONG FAMOUSLY, SUE THOMAS: FBI, ROAD TO AVONLEA, TRADERS, DUE SOUTH, RED GREEN, DOC, MONK, DAN FOR MAYOR, SKINS. Ed co-created improvised with the group Not To Be Repeated where they improvised a new Canadian play every night. It was later developed into the half hour television series THIS SITCOM IS NOT TO BE REPEATED for CTV and The Comedy Channel.As well as directing plays and acting in film, television, radio and theatre, Ed continues to teach 'Improv for Actors' to the first-year theatre students at George Brown College and Sheridan/UTM and continues to teach Improv at the Second City Training Centre.

See you in 515 (fingers crossed!)  Please continue to bring drawing materials and cameras & tripods (if you have them) every week as we'll be working in groups and continuing our study of human locomotion.

WEEK 2: Animation Direction 1

This week we'll have a look at what you've designed so far for characters and a premise for your virtual indie game. We'll discuss what's working and suggest ways to improve on the concept before it gets too detailed.

Moving from story into storyboarding, we'll dive into our next topic:
Composition and staging for story sketching.

Story sketching is a rougher, preliminary part of the storyboarding process where ideas become pictures on their way to the big screen.

Please bring drawing materials to class every week as we'll soon be in a computer-free room.
a story sketch uses composition to give the subject a strong mood

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Animation Direction 1: Assignment 1

Here's the full description of the 1st assignment. Please let me know if you have any questions.

ADIR1136 Assignment 1: Concept Design 
% of final grade: 20%
Assigned: Thursday, Sept 8th
Due: Sunday, October 2nd

Please submit all work via FTP
SAVE your work uncompressed (PSDs recommended)

SEND me only JPGs
Please keep file sizes under 2MB


Create a concept pack for a virtual independent game complete with design sketches for the character and environment, a story outline, and one storyboarded sequence. The sequence should be planned around the walk, run, and jump cycles to be animated in the second half of the course. It should show how the character will interact with the environment. Drawings need not be clean but they should be clear, dynamic, and detailed.

Keep your ideas simple. The graphic style should be very easy to sketch so all your ideas can be presented within the allotted time. Consider that you will be modeling and rigging the character when you design it. 

(1) Character design: your character should be a robot or insect.  Keep the joints simple and mechanical so they require less time in skinning. Draw your character from several different angles and in a few key poses. 

(2) Environment: Design a simple location where your character would live in your virtual game. Show the scale of the character to his environment.

(3) Story: 1 page. This should be a simple premise, followed by some escalating complications and a final resolution. You may describe other characters you wish to be in the story.  By reading your story synopsis we should get a sense of what it would be like to play the game as the character.  What kind of game is it? What is the tone? Who is the hero? What are his goals? What obstacles must he overcome? How is it resolved? Add any drawings you wish to explain or augment the concept of your game.

(4) Storyboard sequence: Keep it brief -- 6 panels is sufficient. Pick any section of the story you like and show the action graphically in clear, greyscale boards. Use text to further describe the action.  This should center around the action that you'll be animating in the weeks ahead: the walk/run/jump cycles.


Exemplary - Highly polished concept pack showing a unified style and an inventive premise. Designs for  character and environment show deep exploration of design challenges presented by the original story.

Excellent - Detailed, visually interesting and well-organized presentation describing a clear and consistent design style well-suited to a creative premise.

Acceptable - Simple collection of required sketches showing key design features and a solid premise.

Not Acceptable - Sparsely detailed and/or incomplete collection with an unclear concept.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

WEEK 2: Character Acting 1

Walking, yes indeed..

Starting with a bit of review from last year, we will quickly dig into much more detail in our study of bipedal human locomotion.  You'll be creating the first of your motion studies for use next term as reference for your 3D walks.  We'll work from video to analyze the inner workings of a walking character. Sequential studies are difficult but invaluable, and excellent portfolio material.

We'll go over basic mechanics and then delve into the details - conveying personality through posture, stride length, timing, and attitude.  We'll also study some foot and lower leg anatomy to give our character drawings strength and stability.

Click here to download an example of realistic walk reference. 

A metronome is very handy for animating walks and many other actions. There are tons of free metronomes online and free metronome apps.
Click here for a handy chart comparing metronome beats to frames per second.

You'll need 3 things for all our motion study classes: drawing materials, cameras/tripods if you have them, and some energy for acting. :o)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Submitting Work Via FTP

All assignments for my classes should be submitted digitally via FTP. You'll need to install a free FTP program like Filezilla or FireFTP. If you're unfamiliar with using FTP programs, please ask for help.

I'll email you the login info and we'll go over it in class.

Our directory is publicFTP/Tara and the subfolder for your course.

Inside the course folder:

(1) Please create one folder with your first initial, last name.
(ex: tdonovan)

(2) Inside your folder make a subfolder for each of your assignments.
(ex: assignment 1, assignment 2)

(3) Inside each subfolder, put your named files.
(ex:, tdonovan_hydrant_uvs.png)

Feel free to leave me a note as a NOTEPAD, TXT file. Word Files are too slow to launch. Please send me an email if you need to remind me of something about your files.

Please be careful with the files in this shared directory. If you accidentally delete someone else's file please let them and me know asap so it can be restored. Always have backups saved in more than one secure location (ex, a portable hard drive and on a backed-up computer.)

WEEK 2: Texturing & Shading 1

I'll be your model for this week

We'll pick up where we left off last week and start editing the UV's for a simple low-res game model: the exciting "No Parking" sign.  By now you should have had some practice with simple UV mapping and unwrapping. If not, please catch up using the  resources I mentioned in the last post for this class.

We'll unwrap the three sections of this sign together in class. I'll show you how to render a UV snapshot you can paint up in Photoshop any way you like.  We'll keep things simple with some photo textures from the internet... for now! But don't get stuck there. We're moving into Photoshop to doctor up our texture map and apply it to our models.

TEXT2010 Assignment 1

1st Assignment: 5% Click here for the Rubric for this assignment
Due: Sunday, Sept 26
Sign, UV'd and textured: 3DSMax file, UVW template, and Diffuse map.
SAVE your work uncompressed (PSDs recommended)
SEND me only PNG's.
Maximum resolution: 2048x2048
File naming convention example:

We have another agenda today -- studying entropy!
Texturing is all about showing the effects of time, use, and weather. Weather permitting, we'll go into the wild to start collecting photo reference of urban decay.

TEXT2010 Assignment 2

2nd Assignment: 10%  Click here for the Rubric for this assignment
Due: Sunday, Sept 26th
Create reference library for examples of entropy in the city. Submit at least 12. Try to show a wide variety of ideas. Include notes if you are so inclined. This library is for YOU to use when texturing your city, so make it what you need.
SAVE your images at any resolution.
SEND me your images only as NON-interlaced PNGs.
Maximum file size: 2 MB
Largest measurement: 2048
File naming convention example:

Next week we'll have a look at our reference photos and add a few different kinds of texture maps to our low-res sign model.  Next we'll dive in to another, more complex, high-res model.

Any questions, please let me know!