Pixar 'Cars 3'

I found a fantastic piece about how Pixar made 'Cars 3'.  It talks about their challenges and successes during the creation of the feature film.

1033027-20160128cars3artreview16-1280.jpg

Read the article here on Animation World Network.

Thoughts by,
Sian

'Coke Habit'

Dress Code, a New York production company, decided to make an animation showing the withdrawal symptoms you can get when you stop drinking coke.  It was based on the true story of one of the studio directors who became far too addicted.  He realised it needed to stop but discovered side-effects to the withdrawal that he was not expecting.

Hopefully no-one has had this feeling quite to that effect but I'm sure we can all sympathise.  When deadlines are approaching coffee and sugar can easily become your best friend, then there's the struggle to get back to your normal routine a few days later!

Thought by,
Sian

Fidget Spinners

Well we're not ashamed to say that fidget spinners seemed to take over the office for a little while.  It's always good to have a bit of fun, although it did split opinions in the office into the haves and the have nots!

One designer (Jonathon Odom) saw a way to convert a fidget spinner into something to use for animation.  It takes advantage of the old method of animating using a zoetrope.  He printed a strip of paper with different stages of a cat running, 3D printed a cleverly designed fidget spinner and put the two together.

Here is the result:

It's a great use for the gadget!

Thoughts by,
Sian

My Life as a Cougette

A film I am struggling to find in a local cinema is 'Ma vie de Courgette', released as 'My Life as a Courgette' in the UK.  It's a stopmotion film by Swiss director Claude Barras.

A child (nicknamed Courgette) becomes an orphan after the sudden death of his alcoholic mother.  He's then taken to an orphanage where other children try to get him to talk about his past.  After a while he feels more comfortable and is surrounded by friends, who he then realises have become his new family.

The film was started 7 years ago so it was a long time in the making - however if you know anything about stop-motion you'll realise it's very time consuming!

I may have to find a dvd copy instead!

Thoughts by,
Sian

 

 

Totoro Theme Park

(Image: 'My Neighbor Totoro' Studio Ghibli)

(Image: 'My Neighbor Totoro' Studio Ghibli)

Studio Ghibli is such a huge name in animation.  Everyone has heard of them, even if you're not an animation nut you've probably still heard of a couple of their most popular films.

They've recently announced that they're hoping to open a theme park in Japan in 2020.  It will be based on one of their most popular films 'My Neighbor Totoro', which was released in 1988.

Ghibli fans can't wait to visit the park.  Hopefully they'll be able to ride a Cat Bus just like in the film!

Thoughts by,
Sian

 

 

Steven Universe

(image from http://images.zap2it.com

(image from http://images.zap2it.com

An animation has just popped up on my radar called 'Steven Universe'.  I've only just came across it but apparently it has been becoming very popular overseas in America.  It's first episode was aired November 2013 so I'm clearly very behind with the times!

It's the story of a group of magical beings who have made it their mission to guard the universe.  Steven is one of the youngest in the group and usually comes up with wacky ideas to save the day.

I found an article on The Verge with an interview with Rebecca Sugar, the shows creator. 

https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/1/15657682/steven-universe-rebecca-sugar-cartoon-network-animation-interview

Now I best go watch some episodes then!

Thoughts by,
Sian

Back from the Dead

Many stars of the past are being brought back to the big screen using advanced vfx techniques.  This was seen most recently in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story".  Peter Cushing reprised his role as Grand Moff Tarkin, which he first played in 1977.  This wasn't easy to do considering he dies in 1994! 

(Image: Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox)

(Image: Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox)

Visual effects has always had a big part in film but usually with more obvious effects such as explosions, space travel or even dinosaurs.  The possibilities with this technology are now close to endless as companies like Lola VFX continue to perfect their art.

Read about it in more detail on this article by New York Post:

http://nypost.com/2016/12/17/rogue-one-proves-stars-dont-have-to-be-alive-to-still-be-on-the-screen/

Thoughts by,
Sian

 

Peter Sallis

Everyone here at Carse and Waterman were deeply upset to hear that Peter Sallis passed away earlier this week.  He died aged 96 so at least we know he lead a long, full life.

He will always be remembered by us as the voice of cheese-loving Wallace in Aardmans great stopmotion animation 'Wallace and Gromit'.

(Image from the BBC)

(Image by the BBC)

We can't think of anyone else who would have been a better fit for the role.

Thoughts by,
Sian

Digital Facelift

In the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" film there were shots when Johnny Depp needed to look much younger.  He needed to go from his real age of 53 down to around 25.  This wasn't going to be possible using make-up so the directors needed to find another way.

This is where vfx techniques come into practice.  Special effects are no longer limited to explosions and monsters.  Lola VFX was the company behind this transformation.  It took 15 of their artists a year to complete the 20 - 25 altered shots of Depp.

(Image - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales)

Thoughts by,
Sian

Cartoon Characters Wearing Gloves

Have you ever questioned why cartoon characters, particularly of the past, wore gloves?

This video by Vox.com goes into the history behind it all.  Well worth a watch!

Thoughts by,
Sian

Apple

I've continued testing brushes in the new Affinity painting software and created this apple!

apple_affinity.png

Art by,
Ash

Orange

I've been practising shading using our new Wacom Cintiq.

Art by,
Ash

iMe Goku

Here in the studio we’ve been putting our drawing skills to the test.

Regularly the team has “Draw Offs” in which we’re giving 30 seconds to draw a character just from memory. One of our first draw offs, was Goku from Dragon Ball.

Sketch by,
Adam

'Mega City'

Here's a charming CGI advert for pet food company James Wellbeloved, created by advertising agency AMV BBDO.  A young boy busks on a street corner in a busy town.  He goes there rain or shine for what seems like an eternity in hopes of saving a lot of money.  Once home you can see a poster of what the man is dreaming of and what is giving him the drive to keep going.  Although there is a slight twist at the end!

Thoughts by,
Sian

Skin Shading

In my previous posts, I detailed how lighting can impact the artistic direction of a character. For that setup I used a greyscale model to focus on lighting, today I'm going to show one of, if not the most difficult aspect of computer rendering - skin.

While computer animation has improved drastically over the last 25 years, human skin is a demanding challenge that has yet to be mastered. We are exceptionally good at noticing minute problems with faces. We see faces everyday, and our brains are excellent at facial recognition. Here is our previous greyscale render.

Now lets add our texture. This is our colour information, and was captured along with the model scan. If all we do is add the colour to our model it looks a lot better than greyscale, but looks like bad VFX. The skin looks chalky and flat.

The way we fix this is by using Sub Surface Scattering. SSS is the principle of light penetrating a surface and scattering around below the surface before returning to the surface. Human skin looks the way it does because of the complex internal structure. Skin has three main components, the top layer or Epidermis, the middle layer or Dermis and finally the deep layer or Hypodermics. These layers along with blood vessels, fat, muscles and tendons all produce the final look of skin.

Larger studios will model the skin as closely as possible to get the closest result to human skin, including the creation of veins, tendons and muscles. However that level of complexity is a lot for us to go over now, so we'll stick to the basics and approximate each layer.

blogLighting020.png

We digitally create textures for each of those layers, and combine them together into a SubSurface shader. Combining these results, and adjusting parameters we can produce this result. It is much softer and smoother, and feels a lot more like human skin.

Thoughts by,
Rich

Yooka Laylee

PlayTonic (a small video games company based in UK) have recently finished making their crowd-funded game 'Yooka Laylee'. Originally the team set the funding goal to 175k this stretched to 2.1 million.

Sketch by,
Adam

Captain Underpants

The Captain Underpants movie trailer was released recently.  The film looks well animated and exciting to watch. 

Sketch by,
Adam

Adding More Light

Previously we looked at the impact a single light source can have on our subject. What happens if we add a second light source?

Here our model is lit using two lights, placed the same as they were in our first example. While one of these lights on their own produced nice results, together they produce an unflattering result. Both lights cancel each other our, resulting in a thin shadow running down the center of our models face. There is no shadow information, and our model looks flat. Moving lights closer towards the back of our character produces the opposite result.


Now our model is mostly in shadow, with only the edges lit. This is rarely used in film, but is used when we want to imply a character is shadowy or untrustworthy. It can also be used when a director doesn't want to reveal who a character is until later in the film.

Next we have placed one of our lights at a 3/4 angle to our characters face, and the other light roughly opposite our key light. This gives us nice long shadows across the face, but the second light lifts up the shadowed side of the face. This is less dramatic then our single light source, but still more Low-key than high-key. With the smaller light source producing strong shadows, this lighting would still fit in with film noir while illuminating more of our model.

The next lighting setup has two small lighting sources placed in the same side of the face. This produces unflattering contradictory results. We now have two shadows in the same direction, and doesnt look appealing.

Here the top light source has been made larger. This softens its shadow, producing a softer look with only one noticeable shadow. This result looks much nicer and less distracting.

Now lets take a look the most common lighting setup, three point lighting. This is a very common lighting approach as it creates a nice result that can be used in almost any scenario, has flattering results and doesn't implicitly imply a mood.

First lets start with our Key light. I'm going to demonstrate short lighting. This is where the primary light is used to light the short side of the face, or the side of the face closest to our light. 

blogLighting014.png


Next we add a light from the broadside of our character, 90 degrees from our Key light. This fill light is usually larger, and softer with a lower intensity. This helps bring up the broadside of the face and lift it out of the shadows, reducing the drama and contrast.

Finally we add a kick light 180 degrees from our Key light. This light helps separate our character from the background and add more depth back to our model. This is Short lighting, and is one of the most common setups for portrait and character lighting. The other common setup is broad lighting, where the key light is primarily from the other side of the characters face. Here is an example of broad lighting.

Short lighting helps to make the face look skinnier. With film, it also implies the character is looking towards our scene or action, where as broad lighting implies the opposite. Broad lighting can be used to add drama, or make male characters look bolder, or more masculine.

As you can see a good amount of thought is placed into lighting, particularly lighting for animation, where every light has to be created and placed. The number of lights and placement have a drastic impact on the outcome, but so does light colour. Here are various examples of the short lighting setup with various colours, ranging from warm and cold lighting toward vivid red and blue contrasted lighting.

Thoughts by,
Rich

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy is releasing a month from now, the wait is nearly over!

Sketch by,
Adam

‘The Memory Thief’

(Image from http://deadline.com

(Image from http://deadline.com

Fox Animation recently acquired 'The Memory Thief', a film based on the book written by Bryce Moore.  They are hoping to add it to their collection of family feature films.

The story is about a 12 year old boy who develops the ability to going into peoples minds and steal their memories.  He decides to use his new found talent to try and save his parents marriage.  Of course he soon finds that it's not as easy as he was expecting.

It will be created as a live-action / animation hybrid.  This is always something we love to see.

Production is very much in it's early days but the story idea sounds like a lot of fun.

Thoughts by,
Sian