Best of Aardman

Like the stuff that you've seen from Aardman? Well, I found out that you can see a bunch of their stuff on AtomFilms. There's a collection there called the Best of Aardman and features a lot of the stuff they've made. I think there are around 45 right now (The number may change if more are added or some are taken away from some reason.). Here's the description of it given on the site:

From the Oscar-winning creators of Wallace & Gromit, Creature Comforts and the Angry Kid series, here's a library of top shelf Aardman classics.
So, if you want to sit back and watch some good animation, go check it out.

AtomFilms: The Best of Aardman


Finished Sculpt, The Hole Preplanning

Today I pretty much finished the sculpt. I decided to use some beads I had for the eyes instead of baking some. I'll have to get some pictures up later. I'm also beginning planning for the animatic for The Hole. I started it before, but I realized that I wasn't being very organized so I'm going to redo it, starting in a more organized manner. I'll have to force myself to do it sometime since redoing stuff isn't very much fun.


The Power of Film

Film is a powerful thing. It can do many things to the human mind, changing it, persuading it, and causing it bring up different emotions. Film can preserve the past, it can protect the present for the future. It can show things that have actually happened or can be used to display an illusion. It can tell a story or display a scene. It can paint a picture. Film can cause a person to hate, to love, to be saddened, to laugh, to dream. It can inspire and cause change in one’s life. Film is powerful. People say that a single image can speak a thousand words. Film, being played back at at least 24 frames (or images) per second, must then tell millions of them. It can fill in the empty gaps that text cannot describe. Film can persuade, it can deceive, it can entertain. It can change the future. Film truly can do many things. The people of this earth spend countless hours a year on film, both in money and in time. Some are addicted to it. It becomes part of society, part of a people’s culture. It can be re-watched and become a routine, a tradition. It can bring back memories that have long been forgotten, whether good or bad. It can be made through the artificial eye of a camera, capturing the world around us or through the imaginary camera on a computer. It has evolved through the ages. Film is a powerful thing.

Note that I use the term “Film” as a broad description of pretty much anything that would be described as a moving picture.

Why do I bring this up, this topic of film being powerful? Well, clay animation is film. What you are creating has the potential to be powerful. It can do any of the things I listed above (for the most part). The trick is to figure out how to do it and how to do it effectively. If you do this, your animation will be able to affect people and make a difference. I just want you to think about that the next time you start thinking about a plot line or do a simple animation. You have the choice to make your film effective and powerful, it may take a little more effort on your part, but it still is possible. Are you up for the challenge? Even though your creation might not be the most powerful thing in the world, earning itself an Oscar or anything like that, it still has some bit of power because it still is film. If I ever do go into any film related occupation, this is going to be one of the reasons why, not counting all the other cool stuff that goes along with it. Now, if you need a way to increase the quality of your animation, one of the simple ways to learn how to is to study the film of the past and why it was powerful.

Why did propaganda films cause so much influence during the World Wars? Why did this movie have the highest box office? What causes you to enjoy or dislike a movie? Does the commercial you see on T.V. entice you? Why? Does the comedian make you laugh? Why? Why does a scene in a movie make you or someone else cry? Did you love the plot or find it boring?

These are only a number of the questions you can ask yourself. The next time you do watch something, try asking yourself one and maybe, just maybe, you will start learning how to make film more powerful.


New Sculpt

I'd show you a picture of the new sculpt I've been working on recently, but I can't since I seemed to have forgotten my camera cord to upload the images to the computer. I've been working on it yesterday and today and it's almost finished. Just have to put the eyes in, but I need to get them baked, which I can't do here. I'll give more info later.

Videos: Claymation Documentary

Here's a neat documentary I found while browsing around You Tube one day. I never knew such a thing existed. It was done a while back(1978 to be exact) in the early days of Will Vinton Productions. The whole thing is a little under 20 minutes or so. If you have time, watch it now, if not, come back later.


Just Saying Hi

Just wanted to say "Hi" and what has been up recently. I haven't been able to really do anything, simply because I don't have the internet/computer open for what ever I want to do whenever I want(I'm in the dorming situation now). It makes it hard to do research and upload things and such. Anyways, towards the beginning of the week, I was really bored so I did a short animation which I'll name just that, "Bored". It's just a mish-mash of stuff really and nothing that great. Who knows when I'll get it uploaded however. It may take a few weeks before I have the chance to do that. I may start to work on "The Hole" animatic now since just today a computer came that I'll be able to use. It'll be something good for me to do with the free time that I do have. Hopefully I won't start getting loaded with homework now that the first week is over though.


Javan Ivey

Javan Ivey is an animator and director that has done some pretty interesting stuff. You can see some of the stuff he's done on his site (link below). Here's a quote from the site of a description of him and his work.

Javan Ivey uses multiple animation techniques as tools to create visually engaging films in new and unusual ways. Using stop motion, traditional drawn and digital techniques, all tools become equal, and the importance becomes stressed in how they are used to effectively convey ideas. There is an effort to present concepts of simple beauty and different points of view in a subtle and tangible way. This is executed with an experimental sensibility, like that of David Daniels, Daniel Greaves and Norman McLaren. Javan strives to present his viewers with something they haven't seen before, while still retaining a sense of story.

Aesthetically, He maintains a hand-made quality to the majority of his work. Where possible, he involves processes that allow him to physically manipulate the medium in order to lend the final product a sense of tangibility. Hand-cut paper elements are a recurring example of this. Even digitally, every effort is made to ground the work in the physical world with texture, lighting or content.

His work reflects an understanding of the technical processes of animation, and reveals an almost obsessive attention to detail and function. Always curious about how things work, he tries to find interesting ways of integrating and creating the illusion of movement. Javan is most happy solving the simplest of problems with the most complex of creative engineering solutions in order to further the idea of animation as an art form.

Here's the link. I've specifically linked to the page where his demo reel is.

Javan Ivey's Website


Brick Films Wiki

When checking out the Brickfilms site not too long ago, I found a nice little Wiki/encyclopedia there. Although Lego stop motion isn't exactly clay animation, it still uses much of the same techniques and software. On the Wiki, I found that there were many links to tutorials ranging from how to make objects fly to basic cinematography. It's a very good place to learn a few tricks of the trade and it's almost a shame that it's labeled as part of Brickfilms because many who have no interest in trying to animate Legos skip out on some good information. If you're one of those people who have never checked it out because of that reason, or simply haven't heard or stumbled apon it, go have a look at it today. The link is below.

Brickfilms Wiki/Encyclopedia


Camera Mapped Test for The Hole

I don't usually like posting too much in one day, but I'm going to anyways since this is related to the last post. I was actually working on it while writing the last one and had to let it render and upload later. Anyways, this is a test for something that I may try for "The Hole". Basically, it gives me the opportunity to do a more extreme camera move in the world of animation where you would normally have to use a motion control rig. In this test, I used a miniature(didn't have enough clay sitting around to make a large one) version of the character, set it on a table, and took a picture. Then on the computer, I edited the picture so that the background would be flat and so that there would be a hole in the table. After that was done, I went though the process of camera mapping it. Normally I would not try this for an animation, but in this case it is more easily done because of the simple shapes of the set and character(everything has to roughly be modeled in CG, complicated stuff would take forever). After doing it once, I have an idea of how I could probably make it better, but won't share all the details now(those will either come much later on the blog or in a short book on the making of "The Hole"). Here's the video. Keep in mind that it is a test, so it wasn't done to my best ability.

Back to School

Well, I'm going to have to go back to school this coming Monday. That means a considerable cut down in posts again. I'm going to be in a dorming situation so we'll how easily it will be for me to get posts and stuff done. There may be issues with the internet policy so that I won't be able to go onto various sites like You Tube. If that is the case. I'll have to do a lot of my research and writing when I am at home and have the posts post automatically. I may be able to do some simple animations there, like the ones I've been doing recently, but it will be harder to get the videos uploaded. Hopefully I'll figure something out. I'll try to have at least 2 posts a week if at all possible.

What have I been doing in the past couple days? Well, I've been messing around with some CG stuff called camera mapping. I've made some ads with it and now I'm trying to figure out if I'll be able to some how implement it into "The Hole" so that I can have one nice and smooth camera move. It might look odd in the end, but It might end up looking cool. Who knows. Here are the videos of the ads:

I accidentally wrote out the text in the last video wrong. It should read "Lead Wire and Brass Tube". Want to check out the DVD? Click here.


Animator: Andreas Francis

I posted something (the Wallace & Gromit tribute video) of Andreas Francis a while back, and afterwards, I did a little more research and found out more about him and his work. He seems to be a good animator and might even work at Aardman (not sure if it was an internship or work) based on some of the stuff I've read and see. To see some of his animations and still images, which I suggest you do, you can either visit his Deviant Art page or his You Tube page.

Andreas Francis - Deviant Art
Andreas Francis - You Tube


Video: Throwing Ball Claymation

Here's another animation I did today. It's not quite to my satisfaction, but good enough. I may edit the wire out later, if I'm bored sometime, but not now. It's pretty crazy, I've done 7 animations in the past 2 weeks, that's 4 more than I completed in all of last year.

Video: Random Clay Animation

Here's the animation I did. It's pretty random, although you'll probably notice elements from some of the other "blob" animations I've done recently. Since it's just a test, I'm not bothering with editing out the wires.

My Work Flow

With me making all these videos right now, I thought I'd share a little about my work flow and how I do them, from animation to getting them on the internet.

1. If I have a topic in mind, I'll first try to time out the different actions and transfer the seconds to frames per second on a piece of paper. During this time I also try to figure out how the object will move.

2. Next I animate the clay using my Sony S60 camera(Using this camera for the time being). When animating, I try to keep my mind on different principles like easing in and out, but sometimes I forget. I shoot in just 1 megapixel since they are just tests and I don't want to use up too much room on the computer.

3. Once I'm done animating, I upload all the pictures onto my computer into a folder with it's own name.

4. I then open up Blender 3D, and using the sequence editor, I import all the frames as an image sequence. I then set up the export settings, making the output Avi with no compression. I also set the frame rate to 24 fps. Once everything is ready, I render the video.

5. After it's rendered, I open up Virtualdub and bring the video into that. This is for my post process stage. Here, I adjust contrast, saturation, levels, flicker, ect. I also adjust my video so that it looks like it was shot in wide screen format(I think it looks more proffessional, I'll post later on how to do it). If I need to, I'll also lower the frame rate here to make it play better. After all is finished, I save the video again, but this time I put "_edited" after the name. This way I'll keep an unedited version and an edited one for future use.

6. The last step is simple, I just upload it to the internet via Google Video's uploader and I embed it where ever I choose.

Another video is coming later today, animated something right when I woke up.


Video: Water Magic Trick

Here's another animation I did today. I didn't do too good on it however. The arms of the guy kept giving me too much trouble, and I wasn't able to portray it how I imagined. At the start, he's supposed to be rubbing his hands. I guess you do good on some, bad on others, that's what practice is for.

I also went on You Tube today and found a bunch of videos for future blog posts. I'll have to write them up sometime though.


Making of Nightmare Before Christmas

If you've ever seen The Nightmare Before Christmas, you may be a little bit interested in how it was made. Even if you haven't, you still may be interested in how it was made. It is "an animated musical 1993 film produced and written by Tim Burton, directed by Henry Selick and scored by Danny Elfman. The film was based on Burton's characters and original story." If you want to read more on the story, click here to go to the Wikipedia page on it. To see a little of how the movie was made, just look below.


Video: Secondary Colored Worms

Here's another claymation I did today. I did it mainly for fun, no real practicing of timing or anything here. It seemed to have more camera shake in this one, I think the tripod is propped up too high or something. I'd probably be doing another animation tonight if I could, but I don't have any real lighting. I've been using the natural light and it seems to be working pretty good. School starts in about a week, I need to try to get as many done as possible before then, while I'm on a roll. It was inspired partially by this, although his was much more well done.

Plumber's Epoxy Putty

Well, I guess I have less to worry about epoxy putty that I did before. I don't know why I never noticed Taiwan having it before, maybe it was because I didn't look, but now I know that there is a pretty decent supply of plumber's epoxy putty here. I've seen it a bigger chain hardware store(like The Home Depot in the States) and at the local hardware store here.

Recently, I decided to give in and try out some of the epoxy from the hardware store nearby. It seemed to be cheaper than the stuff as it was about twice the size and only cost around 40 NT(roughly $1.30) more. The final price was 130 NT(roughly $4.30). Upon arriving home, I decided to check out the putty and give it a test. At first look, things weren't too good. When I opened it, it appeared to be a really gooey putty substance, but it still came in two parts so that was good. I then mixed it together and put it on a piece of wire. It didn't heat up(from the chemical reaction) like I was used to, so I was a little worried that it wasn't working correctly. It also was taking a little while longer than I was used to to harden. The instructions said that there was a 5 minute working time and 30 minute time to harden however, so I left and came back later, and to my delight, it had hardened. I guess I can make puppets here, if I so choose, without any problems(hopefully I won't run out of Van Aken, if I do, I'll have to get local stuff). Here are some pictures of the test.

By they way on the subject of being in a country right next to China, check out the Olypmics on You Tube. The opening ceremony on TV was pretty cool. The video below is just an ad or something.


Nick Park & Aardman Documentary

I found this on Youtube by mistake, and seeing that it was a documentary about Nick Park and Aardman, I had to watch it. It's a pretty interesting documentary, some of the stuff in it was old to me(I've read too many books and articles/watched too many clips I guess), but there still was quite a bit of fresh stuff. It was just a way to learn a little bit more about Nick Park and behind his success and Walace and Gromit. I suggest you watch if if you have the time. It comes in 5 parts, each is about 10 minutes long. I'll embed the first video, but I'll link to the rest. Embedding too many videos on one post makes the page lag a little when loading. Enjoy!

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5


Animation Practice: Punching Bag

Did another practice animation, this time of a blue man punching a bag. It was done at 24fps and on the Sony S60 again. I think it turned out pretty good besides a few camera shakes and the bottom of the punching bag wobbling a little. I had to delete a few frames from the punch because I took too many again. I guess I need to learn that you don't need many frames to make something happen fast. I'll probably do another animation sometime soon. Here it is:

Another Animation Test

I was gone for a few days so there wasn't much posting going on, but now that I'm back, here's some more. This morning I did another short animation test. Now, I'm really trying to practice timing and different animation techniques like easing in and out. I think that these things really do help as this looks a lot better than some of the not-so-good stuff I was pulling out a couple years ago. It's still not the best, but it's a start. This time I shot a clip of a blue man clapping, again on the Sony S60, but this time at 24fps. What's nice about not worrying about camera quality and features of the character is that you can really concentrate on animation and timing. I'll have to come up with a few more exercises for myself to really get this stuff down, it'll be good practice for "The Hole" too. Speaking of "The Hole", I bought myself a board to use as the set while I was away. I'm hoping that it won't be too narrow, but if it is, I'll just get another one. Next for that will be to paint it and to build a base for it. Still got to finish that animatic though. Here's the video:

The clap part is a little slow, but I think I realized that I was doing that during the actual animation process. Next time, I'll try to make sure to stay with the number of frames planned.

I edited the video by taking some frames out of the clap section as Ryan suggested and it looks better. Here's the result:


Anim8 Stop Motion

Here's a stop motion animation social community called Anim8 Stop Motion. On the site it gives this description of what it's about:

In our opinion stop motion is a way in which to explore and push your imagination to the limits. It doesn’t matter if you use clay, puppets, toys or what ever objects affection you can conjure up to animate. Stop Motion is a great way to tell a story or to just have some fun be you young, old, professional or amateur.

With Anim8 Stop Motion we wanted to create a place where everyone interested in this timeless art could come learn, aspire, showcase and meet other like-minded people. More than anything else we just wanted you to have some good old-fashioned fun.

With this in mind we hope you all enjoy the site and can’t wait to see what you and your imagination can create.

Best wishes

The Anim8 Team

That pretty much sums it up, if you would like to view it or join, just click the link below.

Anim8 Stop Motion


Stop Motion Magic

Stop Motion Magic is a Social Networking site created by Marc Spess (the owner of Animate Clay and creator of Zombie Pirates) and was created to bring different animators together and to just share and help each other learn more about the art. On his About Us page, he says:

Hey, I'm Marc Spess. There's a chance you heard of me - as I also run AnimateClay.com for about eight years now. StopMotionMagic.com is a site I decided to created to be the ultimate place for stop motion animators to network and share their art. So what you see here today is the final site which took months of planning - money and hard work.
If you want to check it out and join, check out the link below. I'm on the site under the user name of kramerklaymation so feel free to add me as a friend if you do join. Have fun!

Stop Motion Magic