What I tell myself everyday.

To all the people watching, I can never ever thank you enough for the kindness to me, I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask is one thing, and this is.. I'm asking this particularily of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism - for the record it's my least favorite quality, it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen." - Conan 'O'Brien

December 14, 2009

Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules for Writing a Short Story, with a Bonus Rule

From SyncroLux :

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

October 18, 2009

Starting Point By Hayao Miyazaki

I am reading this book and I have to say that this probably the most important animation book out there for me. Even above Illusion of Life.

Unlike most how-to animation books that focus on breaking down about theme and story structure, character's motivation, this is a book that talks about the philosophy of animation and thought process through articles and interviews of Hayao Miyazaki collected over a 17 year period.

Below is a few notes from a review by Mayer Masterson on the book.

"Having said all this, if someone were to ask me what the most important thing is when creating a new animated work, my answer would be that you first have to know what you want to say with it. In other words, you have to have a theme. Surprisingly, perhaps, people sometimes overlook this basic fact of filmmaking and overemphasize technique instead. There are innumerable examples of people making films with a very high level of technique, but only a very fuzzy idea of what they really want to say. And after watching their films, viewers are usually completely befuddled. Yet when people who know what they want to say make films with a low level of technique, we still greatly appreciate the films because there is really something to them."

"I like the expression "lost possibilities." To be born means being compelled to choose an era, a place, and a life. To exist here, now, means to lose the possibility of being countless other potential selves. For example, I might have been the captain of a pirate ship, sailing with a lovely princess by my side. It means giving up this universe, giving up other potential selves. There are selves which are lost possibilities, and selves that could have been, and this is not limited just to us but to the people around us and even to Japan itself.Yet once born,there is no turning back. And I think that's exactly why the fantasy worlds of cartoon movies so strongly represent our hopes and yearnings. They illustrate a world of lost possibilities for us. And in this sense I think that the animation we see today often lacks the vitality of older cartoon movies. Economic constraints in production are often said to be the main reason, but it seems to me that something spiritual is also missing. It would be stupid to turn my back on the times in which we live and act arrogrant about it all, but I always find myself thinking that the old cartoon movies were indeed more interesting and exciting that we have today."

"I think there is is no way we can live and "not cause difficulties for others," as the saying exhorts us. I have come to think that even when we are overflowing with love and goodness, the world of human beings is one in which we cast our shadows onto each other, giving each other troubles as we grow and live.The question then becomes, what it is hope? And the conclusion I'd have to venture is that hope involves working and struggling along with people who are important to you. In fact, I've gotten to the point where I think this is what it means to be alive."

October 15, 2009

The Anatomy of Determination

Very interesting article about the anatomy of Determination. And its relationship with Ambition, Willpower, Talent to succeed.

"We learned quickly that the most important predictor of success is determination.....But while it certainly helps to be smart, it's not the deciding factor. There are plenty of people as smart as Bill Gates who achieve nothing."

"I can't think of any field in which determination is overrated, but the relative importance of determination and talent probably do vary somewhat. Talent probably matters more in types of work that are purer, in the sense that one is solving mostly a single type of problem instead of many different types. I suspect determination would not take you as far in math as it would in, say, organized crime."

"The simplest form of determination is sheer willfulness. When you want something, you must have it, no matter what."

"Being strong-willed is not enough, however. You also have to be hard on yourself. Someone who was strong-willed but self-indulgent would not be called determined. Determination implies your willfulness is balanced by discipline."

"That word balance is a significant one. The more willful you are, the more disciplined you have to be. The stronger your will, the less anyone will be able to argue with you except yourself. And someone has to argue with you, because everyone has base impulses, and if you have more will than discipline you'll just give into them and end up on a local maximum like drug addiction."

"If this is true it has interesting implications, because discipline can be cultivated, and in fact does tend to vary quite a lot in the course of an individual's life. If determination is effectively the product of will and discipline, then you can become more determined by being more disciplined."

"In fact the dangers of indiscipline increase with temptation. Which means, interestingly, that determination tends to erode itself. If you're sufficiently determined to achieve great things, this will probably increase the number of temptations around you. Unless you become proportionally more disciplined, willfulness will then get the upper hand, and your achievement will revert to the mean."

"I think there probably are people whose willfulness is crushed down by excessive discipline, and who would achieve more if they weren't so hard on themselves. One reason the young sometimes succeed where the old fail is that they don't realize how incompetent they are. This lets them do a kind of deficit spending. When they first start working on something, they overrate their achievements. But that gives them confidence to keep working, and their performance improves. Whereas someone clearer-eyed would see their initial incompetence for what it was, and perhaps be discouraged from continuing." I think you definitely need a certain amount of hard headedness and warped sense of reality to succeed. Since young I was too concerned with other people's opinion as a gauge of my self worth)

"There's one other major component of determination: ambition. If willfulness and discipline are what get you to your destination, ambition is how you choose it."

"Ambitious people are rare, so if everyone is mixed together randomly, as they tend to be early in people's lives, then the ambitious ones won't have many ambitious peers. When you take people like this and put them together with other ambitious people, they bloom like dying plants given water. Probably most ambitious people are starved for the sort of encouragement they'd get from ambitious peers, whatever their age."

"Achievements also tend to increase your ambition. With each step you gain confidence to stretch further next time."

"So here in sum is how determination seems to work: it consists of willfulness balanced with discipline, aimed by ambition. And fortunately at least two of these three qualities can be cultivated. You may be able to increase your strength of will somewhat; you can definitely learn self-discipline; and almost everyone is practically malnourished when it comes to ambition."

"Note too that determination and talent are not the whole story. There's a third factor in achievement: how much you like the work. If you really love working on something, you don't need determination to drive you; it's what you'd do anyway. But most types of work have aspects one doesn't like, because most types of work consist of doing things for other people, and it's very unlikely that the tasks imposed by their needs will happen to align exactly with what you want to do."

Indeed, if you want to create the most wealth, the way to do it is to focus more on their needs than your interests, and make up the difference with determination.

"For example, willfulness clearly has two subcomponents, stubbornness and energy. The first alone yields someone who's stubbornly inert. The second alone yields someone flighty. As willful people get older or otherwise lose their energy, they tend to become merely stubborn."

October 7, 2009

'Ponyo' and lessons in storytelling

Afterward as we walked the few blocks back home, Luke and I recounting our favorite moments in the film, he said, "It's interesting that there weren't any real bad guys in the movie."
There are characters and circumstances which provide a temporary oppositional dynamic:

* Fujimoto (voiced in English by Liam Neeson), Ponyo's father, who seeks out Ponyo after she disappears, uses his wave spirits to 'steal' her back from Ssuke (voiced in English by Noah Lyndsey Cyrus), and stands in opposition to Ponyo's desire to become a human.

* Toki (voiced in English by Lily Tomlin), a cantankerous resident of the senior citizen's center where Ssuke's mother Lisa (voiced by Tina Fey) works.

* The maritime job of Ssuke's father and Lisa's husband Koichi (voiced in English by Matt Damon) which separates Koichi from his family.

* A huge storm that puts Ssuke and Lisa's lives in danger on a perilous car trip home, turns Ssuke's house on a cliff into an island, and represents the front edge of an "imbalance" that threatens the very order of nature.

These narrative elements basically pass the antagonist baton to generate a sense of tension, but none of them is a classic "bad guy". And yet, the story works beautifully.

Which got me wondering: What other 'traditional' movie-narrative elements are not present in Ponyo. Here is a partial list:

* A specific Nemesis character

* Hardly any conflict between characters -- apart from one funny 'argument' between Lisa and Koichi played out using Morse code signals from electric lamps and one confrontation between Fujimoto and Ponyo

* Action that builds to a big Final Struggle: Since there's no Nemesis character, there is no classic 'battle' between Protagonist and Antagonist. Rather everything builds to a 'test' - of sorts - where Ssoke has to answer a question: Where Granmammare (voiced in English by Cate Blanchett) asks Ssoke if he can love Ponyo as a fish as well as a human. He answers yes, Ponyo becomes a human, and balance is restored to nature - just like that. Moreover the biggest action in the movie -- the huge storm -- occurs well before the story's climax which also runs counter to 'traditional' models of screenplay paradigms.Ponder that for a moment: If someone came up to you with a script they had written and they said, "The story doesn't have a Nemesis, there's hardly any conflict, and the Final Struggle is carried out not through action but in dialogue," you -- and I as well -- would almost certainly be concerned about what we were being asked to read.But, as I've noted, Ponyo works as a story.

Let's take a look at what Ponyo does have in the way of narrative elements:

* Engaging lead characters with clear goals: Ssuke wants to find and care for Ponyo. Ponyo wants to go back to Ssuke and become a human.

* Emotional connection for viewers: A father (Fujimoto) concerned about the well-being of his daughter; a boy (Ssuke) who finds a new friend (Ponyo); a fish-girl (Ponyo) who desperately wants to become a human; a mother (Lisa) concerned about her son (Ssuke); a son (Ssuke) in search of his mother (Lisa); old people who wish to become young again. In sum on this score, Ponyo is a deeply personal movie.

* Mythology: The world of Ponyo is a hyper-reality infused with rich, meaningful mythic elements -- the sea as Creator and Destructor, the Great Flood, the child as Seeker, wizardry, and so on.

* Nature: The movie revels in the outdoors, both aquatic and dry land, each (and especially the sea) visualized in rich details.

* Depth: The story is an intimate one - the friendship of Ssuke and Ponyo - but also one of great depth, taking the theme of their 'friendship' and expanding on that to explore the relationship between humanity and Earth, most vitally our 'friendship' with the sea.

And there's this: "Quiet moments." Anne Thompson has a great column about Miyazaki here in which Pixar visionary John Lasseter offers his thoughts (on video) re the great Japanese animator, writer, and director - and one of the reasons Lasseter admires Miyazaki so much is, "He celebrates quiet moments":

August 15, 2009

Intellectual Curiosity

Intellectual Curiosity - A desire to learn more about a person, or a thing, or a way of life.

Again from Animonday about comparing the Animation Block Party and the 47th Ann Arbor Film Festival.

"just about every entry was bogged down with the trappings of pop culture, animation self-referencing, and light-weight themes and ideas. None offered much (or any) insight into important issues, the state of world, the human condition, or even simple human relationships."

"Despite endless possibilities, many animation artists would rather contemplate how to use any story set-up as an excuse to create an epic fight scene. Among the most technically polished pieces in the ABP show was a seemingly endless film that featured a pint-sized character rambling on and on in a post-game locker room. The attractive design work and subtle character animation were not enough to generate interest in the tedious film. Can you imagine a live action equivalent, with great lighting, art direction and cinematography but no story, just a guy rambling on and on? If you're doing a narrative film, it’s not enough to have good animation or high production values. A narrative film requires structure and interesting characters working through something the audience can relate to."

"A personal film has the opportunity to explore areas that a big budget theatrical animation or an animated TV series couldn't touch. But, many personal films are love letters to those very institutions, repeating themes and scenes and jokes we’ve seen before, with the effect of diminishing returns."

"It’s ironic that animators are the first to defend the potential of their medium and are also the least likely to exploit it. What does it say about us that we are more concerned with getting a cheap laugh or recreating a fight scene from “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” than we are about really saying something?"

"What some of these student animators are choosing to express does not give me hope that they have the needed intellectual curiosity to create work that will surprise the older generations like mine and inspire the generations after them."

Creative Currency.

From Animondays a article about creative currency.

"To develop a pitch is to develop your voice as a writer and an artist. Even being strung along by an insincere development executive (no, they are not all insincere) doesn't change the fact that you created something that you may take with you to greener pastures."

"I share this story because I think it's evidence that pitching is only a waste of time when you choose to pin all your hopes on one idea or on one particular opportunity or executive."

"I have come to believe that development executives will always let you down; not that they intend to but there's just no way they could ever be as excited about your project as you are. And in turn, most creators they strike deals with probably disappoint the executives since it's got to be tough to live up to what an exec might imagine your project to be before it's made.In the end, it's up to you to make sure that pitching isn't a waste of time. All your efforts travel with you and build up your creative currency over time. "

August 14, 2009

What's at stake is nothing less then life and death.

In the making of my animated short, I felt that there was something lacking in the emotional investment that the audience needs to make. That statement above pointed out in neon bold letters the problem I think I had.

The one below struck me.

"Remember the goal we are after? We want to give the audience an emotionally satisfying experience."

It was a section from a book "Directing The Story" - by Francis Glebas.

Most of it is something that is common sense about but often something that you do not give serious thought. Its a really good book to get your hands on.

Some useful notes about it.

- "The most important thing about making a movie is that it must be about something big, important and significant. Otherwise why should we care. "

It has to say something important about the particular subject matter. i.e friendship, love.

- "Show the audience why your characters are absolutely driven to do what they do"

- "Characters drive stories, like characters who go after a goal and face obstacles, make decisions, then take actions of life changing consequences."

- "It has to speak to something that we can relate to". Does not have to be a big story. But got to be big issues. e.g family, honor, law, crime, freedom, guilt. etc...

- "Something has to be at stake" e.g Have to show what the consequence is if the mission fail."

There is a paragraph about the hero's journey, about creating obstacles which is already covered in many other books. So I wont get into it.

But in summary

- We watch movies to feel good. Meet that need in your audience
- Make sure your story is about something that matters
- Aim at providing an emotionally satisfying experience for your audience but works at a structural level
- The secret of storytelling is story-delaying. There is a whole repertoire of story-delaying tactics based on the control of info of who gets to know what, when and how to tease your audience by making them wait.

July 6, 2009

Story Development in Animated Features

"How much time is typically devoted to the story making/boarding/animatic phase of a movie? How well can you tell if the film will work when it’s in animatic form? . . . do stories come out weakly because they didn’t have enough time to keep tightening them, or because you can’t get a good enough idea of the final product from just the boards?"

The entire process is actually a series of overlapping processes, and while the goal may seem to be to satisfactorily complete one phase before moving on, that never happens.

Inevitably, more story and character changes ensue during the animation process, when the folks in charge figure out the real heart and soul of the film, so that much of the animatic is revised or thrown out as scenes and sequences are reboarded, redesigned, reanimated. The story department is usually still hard at work on a film up right up until shortly before animation finishes.

So how well can you tell if the film will work from the animatic? I’m not sure the animatic is the thing anyone should be judging. The typical animatic, despite how detailed these things have become in just the last ten years, still lacks any acting. In CG features, they’re far less expressive than the storyboards. And the animatic production values (lighting, cloth, effects, score, etc., etc.) are crude at best. So animatics can be deceptive.

July 5, 2009

Super_Villains__The_4_Major_Food_Groups and Why We Deserve Better Villains — And How To Get Them


Cant agree more.. Awesome article.

From io9.com


Villains do not need no reason. They are because they are evil. Explaining villains are lame-o.

How villains lose their shit: 1) They get redeemed. Like Sylar, supposedly. Or, I suspect, like Ben on Lost, who's already becoming a much more sympathetic character. (Although he still has the immoral psycho edge, as when he's willing to kill everyone on the freighter to get revenge on Keamy.) The ultimate example of a redeemed villain who loses his mystique is Darth Vader, whose redemption at the end of Return Of The Jedi presaged his whoah-TMI over-explanation in the prequels, which brings us to...

2) Too much information. Even Doctor Who's archetypal nasty, the Master, isn't immune. He went around killing and wreaking havoc for 30 years without any explanation other than "he's a sick fuck." But "he's a sick fuck" wasn't enough for writer Russell T. Davies, who had to give the Master an origin story that explained how he became evil. It was the weakest point of an otherwise great story. Sometimes, knowing why the villain is a psycho isn't the point. The best part of TDK's Joker is the fact that he keeps telling different origin stories, all of them completely fishy

3) They become analogs of real-life nasties. It's just way too easy to make your villain just like Bill Gates, or Dick Cheney, or Hillary Clinton, or Ahmadinejad or whoever. (I almost wrote "Hillary Klingon," which I would pay to see.) In a few rare cases, it can make villains creepier — as in the plethora of Margaret Thatcher monsters coming out of England in the 1980s — but most of the time, it's just a cheap shortcut.

4) We see too much of their world. James Callis, who plays Gaius Baltar, said recently that he thought bleak space-opera Battlestar Galactica made a mistake by letting us inside the Cylons' Baseships and showing us their internecine bickering and weird internal decor sense. We stopped thinking of them as the implacable masterminds of human genocide, and started thinking of them more as The Real World: Baseship.

5) Too many defeats. This is one of the things that went wrong with the Borg. (The other one being the ridiculous "Borg Queen" which I think comes under the heading of "seeing too much of their world.") When we first meet the Borg, they're so unbeatable, Captain Picard basically has to beg Q to get the Enterprise away from them. And then the good guys defeat the Borg once, against tremendous odds. After that, every victory gets easier and easier, until finally Captain Janeway is reducing the entire Borg collective to rubble with a few well-placed kicks.

6) Too many victories. This is why I'm somewhat startled that the movie version of the Joker has so much power: he's a dillweed in the comics. The comic-book Joker is a victim of his own success. Where do you go after you've killed Robin and destroyed Batgirl in the same year? Away, that's where. The Joker should have been retired in the comics after "A Death In The Family" and "The Killing Joke," and in fact he did disappear for a year or two. But it was too tempting to keep bringing him back, and he's stuck being a has-been villain who can never top his best (worst) year, which was 20 years ago now. I've read hundreds of Joker comics published since 1988, and none has left much of an impression.7) The villain that's a reflection of the hero. This is really where Iron Man and Incredible Hulk fail. (Someone emailed us about this a few months ago, and I'm afraid I can't remember who now.) You have a guy in super-powered metal armor? Who should he fight, if not another guy in super-powered metal armor that's a knock-off of his own? A big green guy? Let's create another big green guy from his blood and make them fight. A unified theory of villainy: We need good villains, for the health of our society. Good villains make great stories. A truly chilling villain makes the hero seem more important because the stakes are important, and the hero's actions matter.

June 5, 2009

Up Color Script.

This is the color script of UP by Lou Romano. Very cool work. It is used to conceptualize the atmosphere, mood, tone for the entire movie via colors before doing it in 3D. Very useful way of working and awesome work.

May 16, 2009

Shatner Kirk vs Pine Kirk.

"One thing I liked about the original Captain Kirk was that he was the best captain in Starfleet, not becuase he'd been anointed as a young man, but because he was just the best. It was a singularly old-school idea of heroism: He came up through the ranks, he passed the same tests as everybody else, and he just happened to turn out the best."

Damn straight. None of these new emo spoiled annoying rebel shit.

the light bulb that came on..... finally.

i always had this nagging feeling about joseph campbell's hero's journey. It is a compelling concept that I thought of using for my short.I can understand its significance but it is repetitive in a majority of movies in recent times ....... Cookie cutter. Below is the jeez of it.

It confuses personal growth with solving problems.

"Sometimes in order to defeat a great evil, you have to learn an important personal lesson and grow as a person. But often, you don't. Oftentimes, defeating a great evil just requires fighting like hell and doing what has to be done, and there's no time to meet the goddess or touch your magic wand or any of that stuff. Campbell's monomyth is unrealistic and spreads the idea that war is therapy."

This caused me so much angst trying to find a cause or some kinda of journey that the damn hero have to take during the writing pharse. but then I realised sometimes you just got to bring-it-on.

Below again. Why is one hero so special anyway?

The hero doesn't just get the "call to adventure" because everyone's getting it. He gets it because he's the most important person alive, with the most special skillz or the biggest brain. Everybody who's not him sucks and should go away. It plays into people's fantasies that they're secretly amazing, without having to work for it. But for those of us who aren't Ender Wiggin or Luke Skywalker, it's just pointless.


April 16, 2009

cinematography notes



"“A motion picture doesn’t have to look
absolutely realistic,” Nykvist says. “It can be
beautiful and realistic at the same time. I am
not interested in beautiful photography. I am
interested in telling stories about human
beings, how they act and why they act that

“The truth always lies in
the character’s eyes,”
Nykvist says. “It is very
important to light so the
audience can see what’s
behind each character’s eyes. That’s how the audience
gets to know them as human beings. It opens up their

Sven Nykvist





books and dvds to buy or borrow.
vison of light http://www.amazon.com/Visions-Light-Cinematography-N%C3%A9stor-Almendros/dp/630583685X

the cutting edge http://www.amazon.com/Cutting-Edge-Magic-Movie-Editing/dp/B0009PVZEG/ref=pd_sim_d_1

cinematic style http://www.amazon.com/Cinematographer-Style-Roger-Deakins/dp/B00197POY0/ref=pd_sim_d_5

painting with light http://www.amazon.com/Painting-Light-John-Alton/dp/0520089499/ref=pd_sim_d_6

cinematic storytelling http://www.amazon.com/Cinematic-Storytelling-Powerful-Conventions-Filmmaker/dp/193290705X/ref=pd_sim_d_4

March 28, 2009

quotes from james cameron.

"But the beauty of movies is that they don't have to be logical. They just have to have plausibility. If there's a visceral, cinematic thing happening that the audience likes, they don't care if it goes against what's likely."

"I don't think anything resembling The Terminator is really going to happen. There certainly aren't going to be genocidal wars waged by machines a few generations from now. The stories function more on a symbolic level, and that's why people key into them. They're about us fighting our own tendency toward dehumanization. When a cop has no compassion, when a shrink has no empathy, they've become machines in human form. Technology is changing the whole fabric of social interaction. We're absorbing our machines in a symbiotic way, evolving to become one with our own devices, and that's going to continue indefinitely."


March 9, 2009

Maya 3D Space - Global, Object, Local

3D positions and transformations exist within coordinate systems called spaces.

World space - the coordinate system for the entire scene. Its origin is at the center of the scene (0,0,0). The grid you see in view windows shows the world space axes.

Object space - the coordinate system from an object’s point of view. Each Object have its own object space. The origin of object space is at the object’s pivot point, and its axes are rotated with the object.

* If you freeze the transformation of the object, the axes will align back to world space but the origin remains at pivot point of the object.

Local space - similar to object space, however it uses the origin and axes of the object’s parent node in the hierarchy of objects. This is useful when you haven’t transformed the object itself, but it is part of a group that is transformed.

You can choose to move the objects in its local, world or object axis. If the object is not parented, the local axes orientation will be that of the world.

rigging tutorials

Simple Rigging Tutorials.


start at the bottom, and work your way up.

March 8, 2009

Pre-rigging Check Lists.

From An Essential Introduction to Maya Character Rigging by Cheryl Cabrera.

Before rigging a character, a couple of things to check before proceeding with the rigging. This will save a lot of time and reduce mental stress later.

Check that you do not have double spaces and weird modelling artifacts in your model.
- Do NOT smooth the model which will slow down the rigging and skinning process.
- Make sure the model is facing front in the front view. And in the center of world space.
- Make sure all the geometry are labelled.
- Make sure the size of the character is not too small. At least 20 units tall.
- Make Sure transformation is frozen.
- DO NOT parent geometry pieces to other geometry pieces unless you have done so to create blend shapes for the face.
- Research and plot out the skeletal structure of your character. e.g how many fingers does the character have. Does the model have a neck, if so how long is it etc....
- Think about each appendage as an individual joint chain. So seperate chain for each leg, arm, finger, head, torso. You can also add chains for articles of clothing or props.
- Place the geometry on a seperate layer so that you wont select the geo by mistake.

Maya Joint Tool for Idiots.

Animation -> Skeleton -> Joint Tool

Creating Joints are literally creating a parent and child Hierarchy. The more joints you create, the more parent-child relationship there is in the hierarchy.

When you move or rotate or scale the joint, its child, and subsequent children will be affect by it.

The Joints have their own local axis. It is determined by the position of its child. If it does not have a child, the local axis will align with world space. If a joint has a child, by default its X axis points towards the child.

*Important* The bones between 2 joints are just visual connections. They do not really exist in the scene. You cannot add weights or parent objects to bones. Only to joints.

The size of the joints and bones can be changed in the tool settings of the Joint Tool. Adjusting the size will not affect how the joints work. This is not to be confused with actual scaling of the Hierarchy.

You can also use Display -> Animation -> Joint Size to change the size of the joints.

*Note* Scaling or rotating the hierarchy WILL affect how the joints work. If a joint is rotated or scaled, you MUST freeze transformations on the joints to reset the values. For joints, Translate values will not freeze. There will always be a value so that Maya knows where that joint in world space in relation to its parent joint. So do not freak out.

Joint Should be placed in the Orthographic Views as it can only be place on a grid.

maya rigging joints simplified.

In order to animate a modelled character in maya, there are 3 process to do before we can start animating.

1.) Create BlendShapes. (Different facial expressions as well as any different geometry deformation during animation).

2.) Create a Skeletal Rig. ( The bones and controls to animate the character)

3.) Bind the Rig and BlendShapes to the model. (aka Skinning, assigning vertices of your geometry to the skeleton)

A skeletal Rig in Maya is predominationly built using joints. (Animation -> Skeleton -> Joint Tool)

Each appendage is its its own joint hierarchy. And they will be controled seperately. So separate chains have to created for Hands, Arms, Legs, Foot, Spine etc... These are then parented together into one big hierarchy.

The skeletal Rig should be believable and and functional. As in reality, the position of the joint is important to have the character move in a believable manner.

We will need to understand how Joints and Local Space work in order to better understand the rigging process.

February 23, 2009

Blend shape notes.

Before anything, freeze the base geo and delete history. make sure its at world space.

blend shapes things to note.

1.) Do not smooth the object before doing the blend shape
2.) Make sure to rename the blend shape geo before applying the blend shape deformer.
3.) Do not delete history on the geometry after the blend shape deformer is applied. But u can do it before.
4.) Do not rotate or scale the blend shapes geo on a object level and never freeze transformation.
5.) Do not delete faces or vertices from the blendshapes.
6.) Do not freeze transformations on blend shapes. You can freeze before the blendshapes are created, however once the target shapes are created, do not freeze transformations on the base or target shapes. If not the base will fly back to the origin when animating.
7.) When defining a blend shape, the base shape must be selected LAST.

February 18, 2009

animation notes for oneself.

1.) key frame the key poses 1st. then the 2nd motions.

2.) try to keep the keyframes for the key movements of different relating joints on the same key frame. (Note down the key frame numbers).

3.) Only after the key poses are established, then work on the 2nd motion.

4.) little pauses in the animation. inbetween keyframes is good.

5.) What the character is thinking at each key pose.

6.) remember, there is follow through in animation. it is not one pose to the next, to the next.

February 5, 2009

film marketing...

doing some research now for some kinda of promotional ideas for the animated film...

for no budget, facebook and youtube seems to be the places to promote the trailers and posters. Plus CG talk and cg websites.

From http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/01/19/090119fa_fact_friend?printable=true

"Modern campaigns have three acts: a year or more before the film débuts, you introduce it with ninety-second teaser trailers and viral Internet “leaks” of gossip or early footage, in preparation for the main trailer, which appears four months before the release; five weeks before the film opens, you start saturating with a “flight” of thirty-second TV spots; and, at the end, you remind with fifteen-second spots, newspaper ads, and billboards. Studios typically spend about ten million dollars on the “basics” (cutting trailers and designing posters, conducting market research, flying the film’s talent to the junket and the première, and the première itself) and thirty million on the media buy. The hope is that a potential viewer will be prodded just enough to make him decide to see what all the fuss is about. It’s the “belt and suspenders and corset and parachute harness” approach."

“We have to yell loud and long enough to perfectly inflate the balloon on the day of release—and yet not so loud that we pop it.”

So even if got no money, the idea of using the 3 act ideas can be applied to the animated short.

Interestingly, there have been many recent Hollywood promotions of the web that haven't initially mentioned the name of the film ("Cloverfield" and the recent efforts behind "Quarantine" come to mind). Doesn't calling attention to the movie to early hurt the chance for the promo to go viral? Could it still work with a slate at the end for the film's website?

I will sound out my stratgey in a later post.

for now some links...





diverging edge loops

often I have to diverge or redirect edge loops by re-organising the topology of a geometry.
this is a really simple one that I just realised after a lot of convoluted clickings.. gr....

step 1
step 2

step 3

Done - orange lines show the change in flow!
edge loop tutorials and theories...
http://www.subdivisionmodeling.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8000 (more advanced theories for edge loops.)


January 31, 2009

subsurface and fake sub surface scattering


Camera Projection tutorials online

simple but good camera tutorial.



general camera projection notes from DannyGuertsen.

1.) make sure maya to Motr is loaded in preferences

2.) select camera

3.) duplicate and rename to renderCam

4.) select camera -> attribute editor -> display film gate (this is based on camera aperture)

5.) lock it.

6.) Render the scene.

7.) Paint on it (Twice the res, uncompressed)

8.) Hypershade -> Create lambert -> map the texture to incadescence -> zero out all the values.

9.) Go to the render node -> 2D textures -> as projection -> filein Node -> load the painted map.

10.) Projection Node -> attribute editor -> projection type -> prespective -> camera projection, link to camera you want .

11.) Projection Node ->Effects -> filter 0.1 (important)

12.) FileinNode -> Effects -> Filter 0.1 (important)

Baking Projection on to Object UV

1.) select objects you want to bake. Rendering -> Lighting/Shading -> AssigntextureBakeSet-> Attribute Editor -> texture bake set 1 -> Color Mode -> Light&Color

2.) filename Prefix -> blahblah (important to name it)

3.) x-res, y-res up to you. Fill texture seams -> 2-6

4.) Create a directional light and set to 0. This switches the default light off. ( so that the bake will be pure color)

5.) Select the objects + the shader with the projection.

6.) When both are selected, under Lighting/Shader -> Batch bake (mentalRay)

7.) Make sure camera is set to right one and convert and close.

Live projection (no baking)
From 1 camera angle, you can duplicate it and use it from another camera angle. This way you can have a 2nd live projection. By combining these 2 projections via a layered shader, you can have more flexibility.

Then you can use lighting in the scene.

January 9, 2009

my opinion on movies

Personally, movies are a form of escapism and a source of entertainment. And through the years, it makes me appriciate movies that have well rounded characters and developed stories. The really good ones makes me think and reflect on things in the real world. BUt the primary focus is still escapism. There are much better people out there who are totally into the the dramatic and serious subjects in film.

At the end of the day, I want to be able to suspend my disbelief, be entertained and be brought to another world/time/dimension/galaxy far far away. If it is thought provoking, awesome. If it can give a warm fuzzy feeling inside, lagi best. Personal tastes have different views on what constitutes a good movie. And it is hard to pin point. But damn it, I want a happy ending. If I want a sad ending, I just have to look around in reality.

For me, I know that I do not like the following

1.) Horror, gore movies. (I want to laugh and be inspired. Not scared shitless or even worse waste time on "not scary" scary movies.

2.) Period British/American drama and gansta rap movies. (Just different upbring, zzzzzzzz to death).

3.) Mindless violence. (Violence is fine if there is a motivating factor. But violence for just the sake of violence is lazy and lame)

4.) Abstract movies. (aka arty farty movies about nothing or something that no one can understand except the film maker)

5.) Gangsta and gritty detective movies.

Things I like in movies. (reminds of the nokia video cam handphone commerical)

1.) Big explosions and loads of destructions. (I paid $10 for 2 hours of my life. Show me the eye candy)

2.) Realistic, high quality, I cannot tell what is real what isn't visual effects. (not some cheapo TCS visual effects done by students in poser)

3.) Good dialog and humor. (good dialog does not have to mean loads of dialog.

4.) Robots, Monsters,battle planes, martial arts, aliens and super heroes.

5.) Cool non-regurgitated story and non-lame plot that do not drag. ( I have ADD so I like movies that move at a decent pace.)

I do not know if these tastes are reflective of the average movie goer but hese are my own very biased, myopic preferences. of course I do appriciate a well directed, well writtern and well acted movie regardless of the genre. But I am more of the fanboy type of audience rather then the hard core movie affectionatos that knows all the weird quirky movies.

January 4, 2009

The Resident Tourist

The Resident Tourist by Troy Chin. Part 1 and 2

I 1st came across these books when I came back from NZ a few weeks back. Saw it at Ani-PLay in sunshine. It was interesting but I did not buy it. Later end up like most local comics. All cannot make it one.

But I finally got a chance to read part 1 in kino at Taka. Some joker tore the wrappings and left it there. (not me). It was really good. I was pleasantly surprised how good it was.
Just finished and re-read all the books again. And it does get better on a 2nd reading.

His art is decent (still way better then me). But it was his story telling skills that really stood out. There is no judgemental tone in the book nor did it felt dumbed down or exggrated just because its a comic. Its kinda of reminded me of yotsuba in terms of the feel.
For me it really connected with me as the issues that he faced and things he is going through.
Its a autobiographical account of his return back from singapore after working in NYC. There is a really good review of the book at http://textfiend.net/zerohero/?p=636
You can his website and other short stories here
I am waiting eagerly for the 3rd volume and I wish him all the best in his writings.

January 1, 2009

New Year 2009.

2008 have passed by in a relatively quick flash.

It is also one of the more fruitful years in terms of personal developement and opening the mind to different things.

2009 is a brand new year ahead and a lot of things to look forward to.

Key Challenges for the New Year.

1.) Have a healthy lifestyle and lose weight.

2.) Finish the animated short.

3.) Stop buying too many TOYS AND BOOKS.

4.) Write down thoughts and rants here for more creative contemplation.

5.) Have a more balanced lifestyle. More diving and less work.

6.) Expend my horizon and way of thinking.

7.) Less cynisim and more positive spirit.

8.) More tolerant towards idiots and pricks. (actually screw that, pile on the pain on them)

I hope it to be a challenging and satisfying year ahead for everyone.