Saturday, April 7, 2012

Four Films

It has been a terribly long since my last post, but I'm still alive and kicking!  

Over the past year and a half, I've worked on four awesome films: Hop, Mr. Poppers Penguins, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, and finally, Snow White and the Huntsman:


I have loved every minute of my time here, and have learned quite a bit!  Techanim is a lot like rigging, and there are many aspects of it I've been able to build into my Maya work at home.  

Sadly though, my time here is about to come to an end...but for a good reason.  

In the meantime, to anyone out there who still follows this blog - I am still alive, still rigging (a lot!) and will still be posting rigging tips here.  Things just got a bit nuts in the past year and a half...but I have much to share, and still much to learn.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rhythm and Hues: A New Adventure

It seems as though in the midst of my production induced haze I failed to notice how quickly time was passing, and a lot of things happened. Fall, for instance, and then Thanksgiving is over, and now I need to shop...

But, best of all was that my hard work has paid off, and I will be starting at Rhythm and Hues next Monday as a technical animator, and hopefully, when I learn enough, rigger. I am definitely excited - I have friends who work there and love it, and I get to work on a movie!

Sadly though, I had to leave my current student production with only one month left. The rigging was about as done as it could be minus a few shot corrections, and I had moved into Techanim and Rigging TD anyway, but I am still sad to go. However, I am looking even more forward to seeing what the film will look like when it's finished, since the shots that are already comped are beautiful.

Anyway, new adventure, new place, new friends and experiences - and most of all, learning. I will be working with some brilliant minds who have a lot to teach me about rigging theory, and I will use it to expand my skills even more.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

DAA 267!

Three months left for production, and things are getting crazy!! We're showing a trailer next week, and we have shots rendered and comped, but still - yikes!

I have moved on from Character TD to Cloth TD and Render IO. I love the cloth, but being a render monkey makes me want to pull my eyes out.

Also, I am now teaching Intro to Character Rigging (DAA 267) at Cogswell Polytechnic College. It's a very basic rigging class, covering mostly bipedal anatomy and bipedal rigging techniques. Still, I think I am learning more than my students, and I am having a pretty good time.

For my class, I've been making PDF tutorials, which I will be posting here. They're very, very basic, but I seem to find a lack of comprehensive basic tuts on the web. So, once I find a good file host, I will start to post.

For now, all I can say is that Project X has been a great experience, but boy am I ready for the real thing.

Also, I have to share a great reel I found, for a few reasons:

I see very few solid game rigging demo reels, but this one really takes the cake. It's fast, shows a lot in a little time, and very well done, in my opinion. The deformations on the first model are awesome, and the guts blendshapes are creepily fantastic. Plus, this reel shows examples of stretch, biped/quadruped, dynamics, and solid rigging in a minute fifteen.

Also, while watching this reel I was shocked, surprised, and touched to see that the last model is based off of concept work from Michael Sandborn - an amazing artist and wonderful friend who sadly passed away. It's touching see that his work was taken into the hands of such talented people.

Justin Kirk Rigging Reel from Justin Kirk on Vimeo.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Project X: The Offering Trailer

Hey all,

For those of you who don't know - I am currently working full time (more than that, actually) as lead character rigger on the next Project X, a series of shorts produced by the students of Cogswell Polytechnic College. The film I am working on is the second one being produced and is all NDA, but I can share with you the trailer from the previous film so you can get an idea of the type of work we're doing. Except this time around looks better :p.

Heh, sorry for the size!

Two of my best friends were the character TD and the effects TD. They've since moved on to be techanims at Rhythm and Hues, and most of the people who completed this project last year are currently in the industry. Shows what having a nice senior piece can do for you!

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Little Bit on Contract Work

Lately, I have received a ton of e-mails from people that need help on rigging or want advice.

And this is awesome!

I am so happy that people are reaching out through the internet and using resources, and also that rigging seems to be an expanding art. You guys rock for wanting to learn!

However...I am going to have to lay down some guidelines.

I am more than willing to do work for either students or studios (interested in a resume, contact jess(dot)delacy(at)gmail(dot)com). However, if you are a studio, then I am going to charge you. Rigging contracts are how I make my living, and I can't be giving out free favors to studios. If you're a startup and can prove it...we'll talk ;]

Students - I know how tight your budgets are. Believe me, I do. So here's the deal! If you're a student, there's a 90% chance I will help you for free. I'll help problem solve, fix small problems, answer questions, give advice, give you resources or tutorials, even make tutorials all for free. And the catch is this...

I cannot, cannot do a full rig unless it's something that I have never done before AND OR is something that will greatly increase my knowledge. For instance: I have rigged a quadruped before, but I've never rigged a quadruped with cloth based wings, or something with a lot of plates, like a pangolin. Or, I've not rigged a lot of interesting inanimate objects, such as a slinky, if you catch my drift.

But again, I've rigged a biped before. And I have very, very little free time. If you want a biped rigged, unless there's something crazy about it that I deem it worthy...sorry, but I will charge an hourly rate. Less than I would for studios, but still. I have to eat somehow, and I can't just fill every request I get for free. And jeez am I getting a lot lately :/

Still interested? Shoot me an e-mail!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Animated Films: A Rant

Today I'm going to stray away from the usual rigging posts, and talk rant about something that has been bothering myself and others in this industry for a while. Ready?

Animated is NOT synonymous with "kids' move"

Where to begin...

Today, I was browsing Facebook, and noticed a post a friend of mine had made about the new Dreamworks film How to Train Your Dragon. He said he enjoyed it despite the fact that it was a kids' movie, and it was followed by a slew of comments saying things to the effect of "kids movies suck" as well as "I'm glad I'm not the only one that likes lame movies," etc. I see this every time an animated movie comes out.

Wait, what?

Sure, How To Train Your Dragon is certainly a movie that can be enjoyed by a younger crowd, anywhere from 6 upwards, but that film had some darker and emotionally heavy elements (I'm not going to post spoilers, don't worry.) Also, the demographic that that film, as well as most animated films are targeting, is around 10 - mid 40s. They want kids to want to see the film, forcing their parents to take them, but they also want the parents
to enjoy it. And, they're targeting teens as well. The DnD character? Not something a 6 year old would get. So why is this film, along with many other animated films, dumped into the category of kids' movie?

Is it because Toothless is so adorable? Image Courtesy of IMDB.

Lets reverse this for a second. Say HTTYD had been done live action with CG, and slightly less stylization. It would now be considered an action flick geared towards young men from their teens to mid twenties, as most action films are. Now, lets say Avatar had been all 3D, with a bit more stylization. Automatically, it becomes a kids movie. Don't believe me? Ferngully. There. And jeez, Ferngully had some dark elements to it. So did Watership down. But, for some reason, in this country, animated means kids.

Totally kid appropriate.


So now I'm saying animation and stylization will automatically designate something as geared towards the younger crowd. True in this country, but what about Japan? There, anime is made for all ages, from 3 - 70+, for all types of people. Granted though, there is an aspect of stylization that appeals to each age group. Shows for younger kids are often heavily stylized and cute, while shows for older groups are more "realistic," or as much so as you can get with the style of anime. That said, Japan, as well as a few other countries, does not automatically lump animated into a genre for kids only. And it didn't used to be like that here. So what happened?

There are a few things. Cartoons or heavily stylized characters are less easily sympathized with, so cartoon violence has less of an impact. Look at the roadrunner cartoons, where Wile. E. Coyote is constantly getting blown up, and more. If a show like that existed with people, and was live action, it would be pretty violent, and a lot less entertaining. This cartoon violence, which has been around since the beginning of "cartoony comics," has shaped the way this culture views animated characters. In more realistic comics, such as the superhero graphic novels, etc., the animated shows are toned down a bit. But Dark Knight, a live action movie, was pretty dark, and pretty violent. The Spiderman series, Iron Man, Dark Knight - all of those films, while aimed at a younger demographic, are by no means "kids'" movies. But if they suddenly were animated instead...Bam. Kids movie.


...Something went wrong with the special effects in Avatar.

I'm by no means saying that this is the case for all animated shows. Dora the Explorer is certainly a kids animated show, and Family Guy is an adult animated show. The Suite Life of Zack and Cody is a kids live action show, and Friends is an adult live action show. Spongebob is a show that many kids enjoy, but also many adults secretly enjoy, because there are a lot of adult elements. Granted, Spongebob has been marketed to the younger crowd, but what about older shows - Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, even the Simpsons? These are all good examples of more adult shows, that have a young view base because parents (sadly) think that since they're cartoons, they're fine. How bad could a cartoon be?

The industry is trying to break out of this stereotype, but sadly, it's these ignorant parents that have caused a lot of this drawback. I'll use Pan's Labrynth as an example for this one: before Pan's Labrynth, which is primarily a live action movie, came to America, it was marketed here as a kids movie. "It's about a Faun, and a little girl, and fairy tales, and there's CG in it" was the attitude. When it was released here it was rated R, because it is a pretty violent and depressing movie. Yet when I saw it in theaters, parents had kids as young as three in there, and then promptly stormed out to complain to the theater after the scene where a guy gets his face beat in with a bottle. "This has animation! How can you expect parents to know that this film is so violent!" And it continues. 9 didn't do too well at the box office, despite the fact that it was a visually stunning movie with fantastic art direction (but a severe story and pacing problem) but also because, again, despite the PG-13 rating, people were bringing their 3 year old kids to this animated film.

Totally kid friendly.

But if a live action movie came out about a post apocalyptic world destroyed by a machine, and the only object left were puppets created by the soul of a man who mostly die horrible deaths by getting their souls sucked out anyway, I doubt we'd see many kids in the theater.

There's also a certain "guilt" factor that many adults seem to have. There are a lot of people from their teens and up who won't see an animated movie on their own for fear of being made fun of. This is true for more than movies - there are special versions of Harry Potter printed with a plain cover so people won't be embarrassed reading it in public. However, adults talk more about going to see live action movies that are considered kid ageish - Harry Potter, Twilight, etc. than they do about going to see something like Kung Fu Panda or WallE. Even a movie like Up, where the first 15 minutes were something out of a drama as opposed to a typical animated movie, was shunned for being a kids film. And it goes on. The surprising number of people who go see Hot Tub Time Machine but won't touch How to Train Your Dragon is appalling to say the least.

In the future, I really hope things change. I'm happy that the industry, for the most part, is not catering entirely to kids, and that they are trying to lure the older crowd in more and more. I hope that the trend continues until people wise up a bit.

Bottom line: give animation a break. Animated doesn't always mean kids, live action shouldn't always mean adults. Sheesh people.

/End of Rant.

Sunday, March 28, 2010