Tomorrow! Join a panel of industry professionals on December 7th at 4 PM PST for a free webinar on demo reels. The panel will cover what studios are looking for and what you should do to prepare your reel after you graduate. It will be streamed live, MC'd by Lana Bachynski from Tea Time Animation. The panel consists of animators from Pixar, ILM, and Tippett, and they are Will Groebe, Miko Coedel, Tom Gibbons, Michal Makarewicz, Jim Brown, Jean-Denis Haas, and Hans G. Brekke. The webinar will be streamed at http://www.reelfeedback.com/reel-talk/ and if you have any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org and they will cover it in the webinar!
I haven't played any actual video games in a long time partly due to having a pretty old computer, lack of consoles, and mainly lack of time. I have been amusing myself with flash games in attempts to pass the time. During this week off from having to go to the computer labs to work on projects I picked up StarCraft II: Heart of the Swam and I was ridiculously excited while playing. While I'm not a big RTS game player, I do love the plot in Warcraft's and StarCraft's campaign mode. I've played Wings of Liberty and was looking forward to this next expansion but had completely forgotten that it has been released already. My favorite unit of Zerg are the Spiders. I just find them hilarious in that they can move and attack while burrowed underground. Burrowing means invisibility and I've evaded annihilation before with games between friends just by having a couple spiders run around while burrowed so no one could find me and end the game. Unfortunately the original spiders are no longer in StarCraft II but the system in campaign mode was really interesting. As with the loss of the Queen of Blades, the Swarm has all scattered and so Kerrigan has no strong Zergs under her command. Through missions the player finds other hives and integrates them back into the Swarm. However, it doesn't just end here. The specialty of the Zergs is that they can integrate the abilities of other species into themselves so on our journeys there is an Evolution Pit where not only can units obtain not only new abilities but after completing evolution missions, the unit can evolve with new traits!
I love cinematics. They're all fancy and flashy with actual high res textures, real shaders, actual lighting, and beautiful renders and composites. At the same time they make me kind of sad, particularly when cinematics are used as trailers, as they make me think the actual game will look as beautiful as the cinematic and then when actually playing the game I become somewhat disappointed. However, what was even more horrifying here in StarCraft II were the dialogue cutscenes. They use the really low res ingame textures and flat shaders so everything looked really blurry and pixelated. The eyebrows were particularly funny in that they are drawn onto the face but because of the lack of resolution they were even worse and all blurred. Lack of lighting made me sad. Since there's no lighting, there wouldn't be any eye specular highlights but that could have been solved with a cheat by painting it in. Without the specular highlight in the eye, the faces just looked really dead to me and as if there were no emotion to any of the dialogue. I even saw parts of the mesh, such as Kerrigan's hair/tentacle things, clipping.
I was disappointed with Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades. When a character gets a transformative powerup I want a new look! When Kerrigan went to receive the primal Zerg power to transform back into the Queen of Blades I was expecting some new fancy powerful look but instead she just looked the same as previous. I do love the design of the Queen of Blades, though. Particularly the silhouette created with the large bone wing protrusions. What I felt was off putting though was the color scheme. In game, her body is this weird bright mauve color and her face is a bright yellow green color which is just completely strange. They are complimentary colors but it is just this weird stark contrast between the head and the body that doesn't work. It looks like the head and body are two separate entities and disjointed. I feel like the yellow green needed to be brought down past the neckline into the chest and back and some of the mauve needed to be highlighted on Kerrigan's face to integrate the color scheme together. Even stranger was why she was that color in game. In the cinematic cutscenes, Kerrigan's tended to lean more towards the purples. The mauve was desaturated and not as red, and her face was towards the purple tones. Partly it may be due to the lighting but Kerrigan's face was definitely not yellow green.
It's always exciting to see a name that you recognize in the credits of something and I happen to know someone who worked on this game. I found Lana Bachynski under the interns! She got an internship at Blizzard a year back, I believe, as an animator and got to animate some dances for the Zergs and some other animation cycles.
I am looking forward to the last expansion of the game, Legacy of the Void. The ending of Heart of the Swarm leads right up into the next plot with a greater evil lurking in the darkness that must be destroyed. Additionally, it will be the Protoss chapter and the Protoss are my favorite race to play as, particularly due to the carrier unit.
A giant thank you to Tea Time Animation, particularly Lana Bachynski, Brandon Nason, Cody Lyon, and Frank Frelier, for hosting an awesome evening at the Walt Disney Family Museum with special guests from Reel Feedback and Women in Animation. It is an awesome event that not only brings together various departments of AAU from 3D, 2D, stop motion, to illustration and visual development. I even saw some VFX people there that were outside of the 3D animation but still wore the green flags that denotes them as such. Here is to hoping that this becomes an event that will be reoccurring, gather more support, and become even bigger and better! The night was split into two main parts. First there was mixing and mingling while at the same time Reel Feedback was taking reels to critique and a model was posing for us to design our own "Tea Time Disney Princess". The second half of the night had a keynote panel with Women in Animation, featuring Marji Bordner, Bonita DeCarlo, Angelique Reish, and Liza Ryus.
I wish there was more mixing and mingling and I had done more mixing and mingling, particularly with professionals. It didn't quite feel like there was a lot as Reel Feedback were off doing their critiques and WiA were around their tablet getting people to sign up for their new San Francisco chapter. Maybe there were more professionals around that I just missed. I also unfortunately missed a lot of the mixing and mingling as I had decided to spend some time drawing the model. It didn't feel like I was drawing for very long, as I had just a set of thumbnails, but before I knew it we were getting called to go down to the theater for the keynote panel. I wish that I had a reel to get critiques on, especially since Reel Feedback were critiquing a range of portfolios that night and not just animation like last time when I went to the event held at the Animation Collaborative. Unfortunately the one that I had just made was lost when my things got stolen and I hadn't made a backup of it yet nor had time to make a new one. I didn't know who she was beforehand and I was unfortunately unable to catch up to her to talk and ask some questions after the panel, but Angelique Reish is a lighting lead at Pixar. As probably the only texture artist and lighter hiding amongst all the animators and illustrators I would have loved to spend some time to ask her about a few topics in lighting and rendering.
The model, dressing up as Alice from Alice in Wonderland, was amazing and hopefully after drawing a few more designs and thumbnails I'll have a fabulous Tea Time Princess to post. The panel with WiA was amazing and inspiring even though I'm not a woman. Many great questions were asked, such as "What's the worst/ funniest mistake you made as a rookie during your first production/job?", "Do you have a mentor? And if so how did you go about establishing that relationship?", and "what advice would you give to the students". The responses were filled with wisdom such as "everyone makes mistakes, you just have to fix it and keep working", "mentors come naturally as the relationship is created as you establish connections with those around you", and "keep on working hard; don't give up, it'll all be worth it; don't let anyone else tell you that you can't do it".
Here is a great exercise in learning how to draw anything! I learned this while at Tea Time, courtesy of Lana Bachynski. The exercise is simple with only five steps and each only takes three to five minutes. A fun way to time each step would be to play a song and however long that song lasts is how much time you have. Pick something that you want to learn how to draw.
1. Just draw. Don't look up what it looks like; draw what you think it looks like either from what you know or guessing.
2. Now go find an image and trace over it. Tracing helps you learn the details, structure, and proportions of what you are trying to draw.
3. Next draw your item based off of the image that you looked up to trace. While doing so you will be thinking about things such as basic shapes and form.
4. Draw it again but this time in a different pose or perspective. This helps you understand the physical structure and form of what you are trying to draw.
5. Now that you have a basic understanding, take everything that you learned and draw your item without looking at any pictures or previous drawings.
You're done here but another great extra step that you can add in is to do 10 small thumbnails where you play with stylization of drawing your item. Push the shapes, poses, proportions, weight, and so on!
This is the toucan that I did while at Tea Time!