Monday, November 14, 2011

Bradford Animation Festival - Friday

After the professional films I went along to see a talk from Mainframe. Mainframe is a company specialising in motion graphics, animation and visual effects. The managing director of Manchester, Chris Hardcastle showed the different projects that they had worked on over the years and went through some of the process they did to create them. What I found was really useful about this talk was that they had their producer there from their London firm, Emma Phillips. She highlighted many important aspects within the industry about producing work for clients.
  • Always manage expectations - produce storyboards, briefs, animatics to show what you intend to produce.
  • Under promise but over deliver.
  • Schedule - make sure you know what you are doing and when.
  • Create a project development document - breakdown what needs doing, create a check list and a to-do list.
  • Research the legalities to work going on air - there may be some strange implication that could happen which would stop your work from being shown.
Needless to say I was really excited for the talk by Andy Schmidt. Getting to hear about the work that went on to create Cars 2 and the pipline they use at Pixar was really helpful and inspiring. With Cars 2 they had rules of relatability, they had to tell a compelling story to keep viewers on the edge of their seat create appealing and memorable characters; and they also had to put them into a believable world. The believable world would always influence the way in which the character would move and behave.

The pipeline that they follow at Pixar is:

Development - Story - Art - Model - Layout - Animation - VFX - Light - Render

Development - All about research. Research the environments, it's about the believability. Try to make it as perfectly accurate as you can.

Story - Storyboard artists will come in and draw up the shots. It used to be done on paper, however now it is drawn onto a tablet and shown via a computer. After this they would then break down the script into shots and create the animatics.

Art - Gather the inspiration for the character and develop from there. It's all refinement, work on the characters and get feedback and improve on it. All characters go through sculpting, this is to see how it will look like in 3D before the modelling stage. Sculpting ill always see if the character can maintain its original idea, can it hold expressions for example.

Sets - Take Cars 2 for example. As they already had most of the characters from the previous movie, they decided to do 'Car-ification'. This was where elements of cars would be injected into the designs of the environment such as buildings.

Modelling - From the sculpts of the character, this then would be made into a CG model and a rig would be put in place after. The riggers and animators work together and a basic animation is produced for the characters. This ensures that everything works proper, that it can function and maintain its appeal at the same time.

Layout - Character placement, staging etc.

Animation - They would follow the 12 principles of animation as set by Disney. A point worth remembering was Andy said that the characters need to feel like their material - truth to materials. They should move, feel and weigh like that material; otherwise it can pull you away from the believability of it all. You should also study the mechanics of your character, find real reference and imitate it but add the style of the character to it. Exaggerate and enhance, find reference but push it.

VFX - Basically all the effects in the movie get added at this stage from dust to explosions.

Light - Lighting and shading gets added, without this there will be no depth added, no reflections, no emphasis on anything. The lighting sets the mood for the scene so is vital that it is correct.

Render - The final stage. It can sometimes take about 12 hours to render if its data heavy.

I managed to get a quick word with Andy afterwards and his main advice to push forward in this career path would be to just work. Work a lot and work hard. It makes sense, the more work you do, the more likely you are to improve and learn from your mistakes. You will also gather more experience and knowledge in the field.

Do what you love and what you are proud of.

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