Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Through The Pixl Glass

My awesome friend Brandon Foster has started a blog that will discuss the making of video games. I am extremely honored to have been one of his first guests.

Please check out his blog -- it'll definitely be a great one to watch!

Through the Pixl Glass

Woot!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Interview with Animation Mentor!

I feel a warm bubble in my chest when I think about Animation Mentor. The school literally changed my life and pushed me deeper into the wonderful world of animation and of animatORS than I ever could have achieved on my own.

So when they asked me to film an interview for one of their newsletters, I was extremely excited to have the chance to "give back."

The interview went very smoothly -- their film crew are total professionals! The final footage was split into two films. The first covers going through school as a new parent. The second covers the shot I did that was used for the AM Student Showcase (a HUGE honor I had been dreaming of since before attending AM!!)

Thank you SOOOO much to Bobby, Shawn, Carlos, the wonderful Animation Mentor film and editing crew, and Dana's rockin' mowhawk for EVERYTHING!!

Part 1:


Part 2:


[Please forgive the lisp... I was killing off the tail end of a lung infection when this was filmed]

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Bay Area's Racoons Have Become Noticeably More Theivius.



Post E3, I am now allowed to name drop Sly Cooper. We work together :)

Sanzaru is developing the next installment of the Sly Cooper franchise, and I am extremely lucky to be animating Sly himself! Here is a little demo of the game. Despite cleverly crafted and eloquently phrased criticisms such as:

WHAT THE HELL SUCKER PUNCH IS THE ONLY COMPANY THAT CAN MAKE A GOOD SLY GAME UUUUUURRRRRGGGGGG!


...Sanzaru truly is a top level company with three of the best assets a game studio can have: a desire to prove itself capable of reigniting a beloved franchise, the excitement of a young studio, and a refrigerator stalked with free soda.

Okay the third one is give or take :)

More on Mr. Theivius soon!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Colin's Borg

video

I had created this animation for Star Trek Online as a tribute to Colin's Bear. Sadly, despite expressed permission from Colin Sanders, the creator of the original animation, the dance was never put into the game. It was fun to make, though!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Coming Up Next...!



One of the best things about life is its unpredictability. Everyone likes getting unexpected packages in the mail. In fact, J.J. Abrams gave a great speech regarding the idea that a mystery is more exciting than its resolution. I would go a step further: I would say that a mystery is often second best to reflection. When I was hired by Sega (then called Secret Level), I remember the overwhelming excitement I had for the "unknown." I knew what the project was that I'd be working on, but I didn't know what to expect of it. That was extremely intriguing. During production, I had an amazing time, but I don't think I realized I was having so much fun until now, two years later, when I reflect back upon it.

I was recently hired by Sanzaru Games. I will be starting in about a week. The interesting thing is, at the same time that I am once again experiencing the excitement of the unknown, I am already feeling the pangs of missing Cryptic. The animation team I've worked with here has been the best group of friends I've made at any job I've ever had, and I know I'll miss them terribly.

I guess the point is: Life seems to balance unknowns and nostalgia pretty well. I am sure that the day I walk out of Cryptic for the last time will be very sad for me.

But I don't think I'll be able to resist a Breakfast Club-style fist-to-the-air. The mystery behind the curtain ahead is a SUPER exciting one!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Careful What You Claim as "Yours"! Part 2

I mentioned in a previous post that another animator had claimed my work as their own.

Today's lesson: Why I am Thankful I Did Not Out This Person, Nor Seek Retribution.

I would like to, first of all, point out that I never once used this person's name, gender, or from which project they claimed my work. I was contacted privately by several people wanting to know who this person was, and to each one of them I said the same thing: This was not about harming a reputation, or about revenge, it was simply about acknowledging that it is wrong to steal the hard work of others.

After sending several unanswered emails to this animator, I finally called them in order to request that they remove my work from their reel. By the end of the conversation, seeing that they simply were not going to do so, I said I would not press any sort of charges, and that I could not force them to remove my work, but that they should remove it for the sake of their own reputation. I thought it was over at that point.

Nothing doing.

I can't give details with regards to the method they used to attempt to take out their "revenge" upon me, as I don't know what is or what isn't considered confidential information. Suffice it to say, they attempted to get me into trouble with the company I am currently at. Thankfully, I have worked hard to maintain a good reputation, and their attempt fell flat. The point I want to make is this: Be a good soul, treat others with respect, and in the face of turmoil show dignity -- these are the things that will prevent cases such as mine from going any further than a pathetic attempt at retribution.

I had not posted anything with regard to who this person was, or what the work was that was stolen, simply because that's not what I believe in: I am not a vindictive person. However, as I have since learned from others who are learned in the law, had I posted this person's name or work, I could have been in serious trouble for slander (or "libel" is I believe the correct word).

The lesson I want to point out here: if someone wrongs you, do not attempt to publicly scathe them. If they turn out to be a vindictive, aggressive person, they might use anything and everything you say against you.

A clean reputation is so very important in job seeking. I have made many friends in this industry -- and apparently, now, one enemy. I don't want to think of it that way, but a person who would attempt to harm me or my reputation, especially after I've gone out of my way to protect theirs throughout all of this, can certainly not be called a "friend."

Friday, January 28, 2011

January 2011 Reel: Now with 200% more horse power

For a higher res version, click here.

To Download, right-click here and save as.

video

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Confidence Stutters -- featuring a horse named Pete.

Every so often, I feel like every single blip of information I've ever attained regarding animation has dripped out my ears and left me for good. Thankfully, by using specific tricks I've learned through careful study and training (aka, reading the blogs of better animators), I can usually get my brain to turn over and get into what I like to call "Not An Idiot" mode.

One such occasion happened the other day... I came in to work on a horse trot animation. Simple, right? After all, I had just completed a full-tilt-gallop-to-skidding-stop, which seems much harder.

I think that's where I went wrong.

I thought it would be easy. Any time you get into your head that an animation is "gonna be easy," you're doing something wrong. At least if you're me. Others may find that sometimes animation is easy. Some may find it's ALWAYS easy. For me, the only easy animations I've ever done were the ones that turned out bad.

I worked all day on this trot. The further I got along on it, the more my stomach tightened, and the more I felt like that 22 year old kid with no animation pipeline or hope in the world of doing this professionally.

Over-dramatization? Ya, I suppose, but the point is, I remembered how it felt to be afraid that I really didn't know what I was doing. As the day progressed, my work got worse and worse and worse.

I went home that night feeling pretty lousy. After a good pep-talk from Coach Mrs. Howe, I decided to incorporate some of the techniques I've heard from better animators.

One of these was to change up your work flow. It was an article I read recently, and sadly, can't remember the author. The idea was, try a different animation approach, and thinking about approaching it a different way might help SEE it a different way. It's a technique used by stutterers (man, that's an unfortunate word), to get through a word or phrase they're having a hard time with. A name for example. Having trouble saying this guy's name? Think of his brother's name, or the name of the College you went to together, and his name will pop right out.

So I came into work the next day with my brain in "Not An Idiot" mode, and began this different approach.

The failed approach was the same as in the gallop-to-stop animation: animate the spine and head first, then add the legs in there.

So this time, I decided to try a more "character animation" approach. I found a great reference video on BBC Motion Gallery, and began looking at it as I would a human walk. In other words -- where are the passing poses? Where are the contact poses? When do the highs and lows happen.

I drew out a "formula" for the cycle, including the passes, contacts, highs, and lows:



I also named the horse Pete.

After several hours' worth of what turned out to be one of the most hitch-less days of animating, I had something I was very happy with. I came in the next day, polished it up, and here is the end result.

video

I find that when you struggle with a shot, it's not your ability but your confidence that is failing you. When such a stutter occurs, try thinking of your shot a different way.

Trav

Friday, January 21, 2011

Motion Study: Horse Gallop to Stop

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With the Animation Mentor's new Creatures course in mind, I was very excited to do some horse motion studies. I was also very heavily inspired by the beautiful horse work done by Thomas Grummt, who's work I greatly admire.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Careful What You Claim as "Yours"!

Earlier today, it was brought to my attention that my work had been used on another animator's demo reel; work that this animator had absolutely nothing to do with.

While I am not particularly concerned, as I am not using these shots for my own reel, I did want to take a moment to address this issue. Animation is a very difficult field, not only animating, but getting into an animation position. When you steal work from someone else, you risk that animator's credibility. If, for example, I were using these shots, and sent them to a potential employer after this animator did, they may not take the time to consider my work, assuming either that I am a liar, or simply that ONE of us is a liar and it's not worth the headache to determine which. In other words, it's this animator's word against mine, and while I hope that the rest of my reel would reflect ownership of those shots, it is not this animator's right to put me in that situation.

The animation community is a family. If you want proof, go to an Animation Mentor barbecue. Animators love each other, and they protect each other. Stealing work from one of us is like stealing work from all of us -- it will come back to bite you, so be very careful what you call your own.