Stop Staring!

I’m just going to offer a mini-review right now, but in a nutshell this is the book I’ve been wanting to read for almost 10 years.

I studied film and photography back at Rye-High in the 80’s, and before that roadied bands and did lighting for gigs in the Windsor area. Between that was my stint at Disney World where I spent more time hanging out in the lighting and sound booths than anywhere else. So, animation is not much more than an advanced hobby. Most sadly missing is some practical theory of facial construction and lip-sync direction. You can see one of my earlier cartoons and understand clearly what I’m taking about.

So when I found some ‘used’ copies of Jason Osipa’s Stop Staring on for $25 I jumped at the chance, also picking up a ‘used’ copy of PIXARs Jeremy Birn Digital Lighting and Rendering (emphasis on used: they are apparently new).

Stop Staring is the book I needed many years ago. He spends the first few chapters going over some pretty serious theory, explaining how do dope out speech patterns, and suprisingly toss the traditional phoneom practice used by cel animators for generations. As a huge fan of the muppets, which you can clearly see in my work, I’m a strong believe in keeping things simple. I just didn’t know how close I was to being on the right track.

Near the end though he delves deep into Maya-centric application and instruction and that’s where I get lost. Until then, it was clear Lightwave was capable of dealing with the ‘blend shapes’ that Jason kindly referred to as (Lightwave) ‘morph targets’ at least once. But it’s during the critical cage-mesh section where it all falls apart for me. At least now I can clearly see where the Lightwave workflow grinds to a halt. All the tools are there to a point, but there is absolutely nothing in Lightwave that can do cage manipulation like Maya or Max can.

Still, my next big project involves a tonne of close-up character animation, and as Jason himself says at the conclusion of his book, I have more practical knowledge of correct facial technique now than before I started going through the book.

Radiohead Animation Contest: I’m In

Many of you who follow my posts on Facebook know I’m a big fan of bands like Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead for their progressive stance on artist rights, new-media distribution, and DRM-free music.

You also know I’m a closet animator and take on projects for No Particular Reason, or just for fun.

So thanks to Toronto-based actor and video producer Richard Pierre for sending me this link to Aniboom’s latest contest.

I’m looking to get together with illustrators or artist to go over a concept, and take it to a treatment … and start animating as soon as possible. Deadline is April 2008! Comment here or email me at my dolish dot com address today.

If you have a favourite RadioHead track let me know though I’m partial to “Nude” and “Reckoner”.

My Facebook Ad was REJECTED. Awesome!!!

As you may know, I run a weekend/summer gig shooting & editing wedding videos. It’s an great way to vent off some under-appreciated creative juices, and brides just love my work.

Lately, I’ve generated a tonne of business with Facebook Ads. Like almost $10,000 so far just with little Pay Per Click ads targeted to “Ontario Women who are Engaged”. The .05+ cent PPC cost is really reasonable, like in the order of forty bucks so far total, so why not. I enjoy tweaking existing ads that are working, dropping under-achievers, and playing the marketing game much like my friends in the Direct Marketing (infomercial) business.

So imagine my surprise when my latest ad was rejected with a rather terse email. It seems the styleguide nazis that did not show up for work at MySpace are well caffeinated at FB – I was using too many capitals!

What was rejected? The body of the ad referred to “…Wedding Shows…”.

I actually support their decision, even though it borders on incorrect, because it keeps ads in check and looking good. In fact, a link on the rejection email pointed out common grammatical errors (grammar? on the web?) which is awesome. Some of the sample no-no’s were pretty funny, although we all know they are pretty much de rigueure on the web for sure. The ad on the right is a funny example of another ad that might be rejected for being “misleading”.

So, good work FB for maintaining a degree of integrity with the Ad Space initiative. And keep sending me Ontario Engaged Females!

Scotland Idol

Two of my three kids Bryce and Melissa were caught in a silly loop imaging what would happen in a yodeling Scottish goat made it’s way onto American Idol.

They sketched and coloured in what they thought the goat would look like, and we worked together with Photoshop, Combustion and Vegas to assemble this 45 second nugget from the imagination of an 8 and 10 year old.

Colin’s Bear and Oshawa’s UOIT/Durham College Animation Offerings

As you may know I live in Oshawa, Ontario and was thinking about brushing up on my animation skillset. Mainly, taking another shot at Maya.

It turns out UOIT and Durham College offer an animation program, focusing on Game Development I think. Anyway there are two videos on youtube that caught my eye.

Colin’s Bear
is just stunningly hilarious. This 15 second animation gets funnier the more times you watch it. If you are even marginally on the cusp of the animation industry you will get all the jokes he managed to pack in here. Brilliant.

The Durham College Animation Program listing on youtube is remarkable for one fact: there is NO animation at all on the reel! Nothing. Nada. Just that incredibly annoying two-camera interview technique where someone isn’t looking into the camera.

Poking around the UOIT website I found something good though. There’s a program called Summer Shorts for kids aged 13 and up featuring video game design, Maya, writing, PR, public speaking … 13 years old?!? Not only will I try to get my 10 year old son enrolled, but I will try to audit as well! OK maybe not, but it’s an “incredibly creative workshop” series that really stands out.

Latest Sketches

I’ve got to admit, the work of illustrator Irwin Madrid really got me thinking about my skillset and use of Photoshop. So while waiting for my latest version of my RBC HD project to render I got to doodling.

Erwin sent me a message indicating that he is only using Photoshop, so I played with the brushes and settings on my Wacom to get some very interesting results. And it was fast to make these sketches, I’ll be adding more quickly.

Some of my favourite Facebook is … not

I always thought the restriction imposed with the Rick is… brings out the best in me, and others. As a father I know kids come up with the most creative solutions to restrictions, and having that stupid Facebook “is…” was one of the best.

I say was, because today FB lifted this restriction, and I’ve been laughing ever since.

What are some of your favourite new status’. I’m sure people won’t mind being imortalized, but you can replace the names if you like with “x”.

Jane Luk wants candy…!
Ted Onyszczak is going to kep using is for a while. He doesn’t adjust quickly to paradigm shifts.
Chris Barnes has been… damn it’s hard to come up with a status that doesn’t include is.

Kerry Griffin IS damnit, he really IS.

Andrew Currie is — wait, I don’t have to work around “is” anymore? This is awesome!!!1!

Rick Dolishny can’t believe he doesn’t have to start his status with “is”. He’s so excited he’s going to poke himself again!!!