"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009, Welcome 2010 !

In a few hours, 2010 will be here...whew....another set of 365 days passes by !

Regardless of how 2009 turned out to be for you, its my hope that 2010 will be much much better in all aspects for you !

And it will be if you believe in yourself and do the best you can in whatever you do ! Remember it doesnt matter how you fare in comparison with some one else, but what really matters is how you fare yourself with what you were yesterday and what you are today !

Wishing you a truly fulfilling 2010 ahead !


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Importance Of Staging 'aka' Composition !

Recently I saw a movie - The Reader. This is a brilliant movie in many many aspects, be it the story, the performances(Kate Winslet bagged an Oscar for her superb performance) by almost everyone who came into focus in any frame, production design, the look and feel of the entire movie and the amazing work done from a Director's point of view in terms of Camera Angles and directing the viewer's eyes to the place which actually matters - Staging or Composition. I really recommend watching this movie.

Now this post is not about the movie per se, but to talk about how important Staging/Composition is in film-making(be it live-action, animated or a blend of both) with examples taken from the movie - The Reader. I have chosen 3 frames which stood out for me as to how powerful Staging can be to impact/heightened the story and the scene in particular and make the viewer see what has to be seen. Now this not to say, rest of the movie has bad staging, but for me these Framing were the cream so as to speak ! Watch the movie and see what else stands out for you !

So lets get started -

Frame - 1

To break it down in terms of shapes and lines -

In the above picture, from the Staging itself you can instantly understand who is leading the scene here or where the Director wants you to focus on.

Any frame can be framed in a million ways. This one works beautifully but so can many others. The key is to choose what will work best in any given situation.

Notice the green lines, how the objects, the characters in the scene are placed or are shot in such a way that naturally your focus will go on the circle where the action is taking place. Now the characters can be moved around as desired, but the background(props, objects) in this case doesnt have the flexibility to be moved around at will because of the scale of the set.

Again there can be a million different designs of how a classroom can be, but here this one seems perfect because the people behind the camera were able to squeeze out all the juice required. If the set was different, definitely the framing would have been different too.

Too many choices in any aspect can be good or bad. For films this is the really difficult part as there are no set way or rules to do it this way or that. There are so many different permutations and combinations possible and considering an equal no. of contrast in the audience, to have something which will please all is definitely not possible but if you can please majority of them you have done your work !

Frame - 2

To break it down in terms of shapes and lines -

Another fantastic example of a good framing. See how the stairs on either side, the character on the left side and the two characters on the right side converge in terms of geometric shapes to the people in the circle. Also notice the triangle which gets formed due to the placement of the characters in the scene.

There is another triangle on top of the circle thanks to the stairs on each side.

So two opposite triangle, both pointing to where it matters most. Awesome stuff !

Frame - 3

To break it down in terms of lines and shapes -

I simply love this one ! See how everything is framed to direct you to the circle. Also notice how the characters are place. See how the objects in the set also converge to the circle. You change one placement and the entire scene attains a fresh new composition. What if the girl was placed in the same row as the boy who is sitting on the table? What if the camera was placed somewhere else, say it was the left side from the character in the circle or it was on top, in the middle between the characters and focusing on the circle? It would look a whole different than it is now !

The magic of Staging and Composition !

Gesture Drawing : 29/12/09

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Weekly Movie Recommendations : 26th December 2009 - 1st January 2010

Blue Velvet(1986)

Genre - Drama/Mystery

Directed By - David Lynch

Cast - Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper

What's It About - After finding a severed human ear in a field, a young man soon discovers a sinister underworld lying just beneath his idyllic suburban home town.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Must Read : Carlos Baena On Feedback

"Everybody needs feedback, and it's a heck of a lot cheaper than paying a trainer."
- Doug Lowenstein

In any field feedback is the easiest and the fastest way to grow. If you stay isolated in your own cocoon you have no idea what you are missing.

This goes specially in Animation where its(should be?) mandatory to get and give feedback as Animation is all about team work and bouncing off ideas can have a powerful impact(both positive and negative) on our work. Now the key here is not everyone can take or give feedback in the way it should be. In my personal experience I had many bitter experiences where in when I gave feedback, they thanked me by sending me infuriating mails asking how can I criticise their work, that I have no right to my opinions, I am in no way superior to give feedback...blah blah blah.

And then when I asked for feedback, it was as if they had some personal grudge against me and this was their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get back at me with vengeance. They pointed all the mistakes in all aspects of my life but just leaving a small bit of it...that was in the context of my work I showed them !!!

Now I am not saying that I am a "Yoda" in giving or taking feedback, but the examples I gave were at the two extreme opposite ends of a spectrum and clearly their reaction was not warranted at all.

Now I can go on and on, but it seems prudent to direct you to read what Carlos Baena(Animator, Pixar and Co-founder Animation Mentor) has to say about giving and receiving feedback.

Though everything in that article makes a lot of sense, there is one line which I think every Animator should have it posted somewhere where they can see it all the time :

"It's important to know that getting feedback is about improving a shot, and not judging the animators skills."


Monday, December 21, 2009

Gesture Drawing : 21/12/09

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Short Film : Alma

Alma from Rodrigo Blaas on Vimeo.

Weekly Movie Recommendations : 19th December 2009 - 25th December 2009


Genre - Biography/Drama/History

Directed By - Gus Van Sant

Cast - Sean Penn/Emile Hirsch

What's It About - The story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California's first openly gay elected official.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gesture Drawing : 18/12/09

This one is more of object than gestures, but nevertheless an exercise in drawing.

Gestures -

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mindblowing : Iron Man 2 Trailer

Does this look awesome or does it look awesome ??!!

I would happily leave the discretion to any discerning viewer !

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gesture Drawing : 16/12/09

Stunning Short Film : French Roast

I am a bit late to holler this one out as I have come across this one been mentioned on so many blogs/animation sites already. But in case you still happened to miss this one, this is a beautifully done short film by Fabrice Joubert a former Animator but currently wearing the hat of an Animation Director.

This short works splendidly on many different levels be it Animation, look and feel of Characters, Staging, Lighting and so on.

And it has also been nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Shorts category !

Watch the film !

Check out the production blog !


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Gesture Drawing : 15/12/09

Monday, December 14, 2009

New Animation and Podcast Site On The Block

If you have been following my blog, you will know that I am a huge sucker for Podcast in the field of Animation(besides other areas like Music, Health, Educational and so on).

In terms of Podcast for Animation the only two which comes to mind(and the only two that exists in my knowledge!) is Animation Podcast and Spline Cast. The good news is there is one more now !

To quote from the site -

Who are we?

Well, we’re four professional animators currently working in the animation industry. Having been inspired by Animation related podcasting ourselves, we sought out a chance to help give back to the same community that informs, inspires, and entertains us. Speaking of Animation was created to deliver even more engaging content. Come along with us as we interview our friends and fellow artists about their craft and thoughts on animation.

Now these professional animators are from DreamWorks Animation Studio and they would be speaking to super talented people within their studio(not only Animators), people who are not in the lime light or very well known but nonetheeless they play a huge role in entertaining us thru the work they do to make those movies.

For me these Podcast are a huge source of information and inspiration as after hearing their experiences and journey, we realize that in our continuous struggle to grow in our creative pursuits, we are not alone and that everyone goes thru this at some point or the another. If they can do it, so can we !

Also my huge respects to these four guys doing this and also to the people who would be interviewed in the Podcast. These things takes time and to take out time from their as it is grueling and busy schedule is a very noble thing to do and simply shows their community spirit and their passion to share their knowledge !

So head straight to this site without any detour !


Starting A New Habit - Gesture Drawing !

I used to do gesture drawing on and off, but unfortunately it never really transcended to a habit. But now I really want to nail this down as an everyday habit like I brush my teeth/take a bath/eat breakfast and so on.

It will be my endeavor to post at-least 10 drawings everyday. These drawings will not be a mark of my draftsmanship but rather my effort to understand human anatomy, line of action and how just the body language in a few very rough lines can convey so much. All this is to help me in my Animation in terms of posing, as poses are without doubt the foundation of any and every good animation. Once you have the main key/storytelling/golden poses working for you, then its all about building on top of that.

So here my poses for today -

Any suggestions on how to improvise in this direction is very much appreciated.



Sunday, December 13, 2009

Weekly Movie Recommendations : 12th December 2009 - 18th December 2009

Rocky III(1982)

Genre - Action/Drama/Sport

Directed By - Sylvester Stallone

Cast - Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers

What's It About - When Rocky is defeated by a brutal challenger, Apollo Creed offers to retrain him in order to regain his fighting spirit.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Weekly Movie Recommendations : 5th December 2009 - 11th December 2009

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Genre - Comedy/Crime

Directed By - Robert Zemeckis

Cast - Bob Hoskins, Joanna Cassidy

What's It About - A toon hating detective is a cartoon rabbit's only hope to prove his innocence when he is accused of murder.