Saturday, January 25, 2014

Be Friends with Failure - we all need this reminder now and then

Dear everybody: 

Despite a lifetime of conquering challenge after challenge and reaching many of my goals, I finally had to face something that was holding me back: Fear of Failure.  It only dawned on me a couple of years ago that there is no possibility to succeed without failure. Failure is a prerequisite for success. Gymnasts train with pits of foam under the bars because they fall over and over again.  Learning the tricks means falling down a lot.

But as artists we like the tricks but not many of us like the falling part. It's annoying and it's embarrassing to fail again and again. But that's just your ego talking. It's not actually painful unless you attribute meaning to it that just isn't there. 

How many of us have had a crappy day at work with a looming deadline and thought something like, 

I will never figure this out

Now imagine the person sitting next to you saying that to you:

"You will never figure this out."

What would you call that type of person? A jerk? At the very least --a real a**hole and not someone you would trust to work with artists at a studio. That person would need a smack upside the head and a desk far away from humans.  If that voice is your own inner monologue, you need to silence it, now

2012 was my year to follow this motto: EMBRACE FAILURE. I came to grips with the idea that there's always progress being made even when it doesn't show up on the screen....yet. That was my other discovery. Adding 'yet' to defeatist statements gives them power and intent. ("I don't understand rigging..yet". See?)

In the gym we work 'to failure' meaning you lift a weight heavy enough that after a few reps you can't lift any more. Failure makes your muscles stronger. Progress takes months but it is guaranteed if you never give up.

At your desk it's the same thing - your brain responds to each new challenge by building new neural pathways. Every new task works out your brain and makes you a bit smarter, even though it takes a while to see it. Learning unfamiliar things feels like failure sometimes but really, painful as the process is, it's growth all the same.

On the long road to success, failure is not only an option, it is a requirement. Make peace with it. 

Here - this cartoon says it best:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

WEEK 3: Game Dev 2 DESN2017 Assignment 1: Run Cycle Due !

After you hand in your assignments it's time to get started on the next one: Jumps.

This is the ideal assignment to use live action reference. Remember that once an object has left the ground it will move at a pretty constant forward speed, however its upward trajectory will slow-in and slow out of the high point. As you run out of the kinetic energy that allowed you to leave the ground, you will slow to the top of a nice smooth arc and gravity will start pulling you back down again - 
Bam -- parabola!

Always think about the 'Why' - why is your character jumping? It helps make the action believable. 

Eadweard Muybridge's classic photo of the long-jumper has many clues we can use to bring life to our animation.

There's a ton of great information on jumps in Richard Williams' The Animator's Survival Kit from 212-216 and on anticipation from 273-284. Buy this book! It takes several readings to get it to sink in.

Assignment 2: Leap over an Object

Value: 20%

* Late submissions will receive ZERO marks.


Animated the character leaping over an object (it can be invisible). It should be consistent with the personality and emotion of the previous animation (run cycle). Secondary animations a broad range of movements and timing are encouraged to add life to the character. Ideally the jump should link smoothly to and from the run.


A) Thumbnails of key poses – minimum 6 key poses
B) Video file of 3D leap animation


DESN2017_A2_YOURNAME_thumbnails (.jpg file) (.mov file)

EX -

DESN2017_A2_BIEBERJUSTIN_thumbnails.jpg (last name first, please!)


Please compress all images and videos to keep them small using the following guidelines:


Quicktimes, 560 pixels by 316 pixels, H.264 codec, max 10MB. You can use a variety of tools such as Handbrake, Adobe Media Encoder, Quicktime Pro and more to format your videos. I use the 11-second club guidelines for all submissions:


JPGs between 500-1200 pixels along longest edge, 72-300 dpi/ppi, max 5MB. You can use a variety of tools such as Photoshop, Gimp, and online programs to compress files.

WEEK 3: Asset Dev 2 DESN1086 Milestone 1: Character Concept Due Next Week

How are your character designs going?
I know this is a stretch for some of you but it's a good skill to develop.

If you're looking for reference this place has a huge collection:

Don't let this happen, though.
(sorry I can't find the artist's name! I love this cartoon so much.)

WEEK 3: Game Project Dev 4 DESN3012 First Milestone Due Today

Your first assignment is due today at the start of class. We'll have a one-on-one critique to discuss the outcome and make a plan for your next milestone.

Remember that your project must be approved by me before proceeding. Please dig right into the planning process as soon as you can.

Here's the level of what's coming out of animation programs of just 8 months:

Spend some time looking at demo reels from around the world on Vimeo. You need to reach that target and that requires focus. Let animation be your focus & forget about all else for this class and dig into the details. Plan, test, and build your scene in layers and along the way seek feedback - it's what your tuition pays for :)

Milestone 2:  ex 5-10 second piece of animation
Value: 20%
* Late submissions will receive ZERO marks.
Playbasts are fine. No rendering required.
3012_ (mp4, m4v, etc)

Please read the post about file formats here.