Animation Mentor Adventure

Chad Swanson’s Journey at becoming a Character Animator!

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  • Madagascar 2!

    Posted by chad3d on November 17, 2008

    I went and saw Madagascar 2 on 11-09-08. It was simply genius and the story and characters were way better than they were in the first movie.  It grossed more in its opening weekend than Wall-E did in its opening weekend. I have to say bravo Dreamworks and keep up the great work!


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    Monopoly, I get to be the autodesk! You can be the hat…

    Posted by chad3d on October 29, 2008

    I am sure you have heard, if not here’s the info. I think it was on the 20th Autodesk bought out Softimage XSI from Avid.  Yea I was a bit surprised when Alias gave up the leading 3d software package to a company that hasn’t had much improvement on 3DS Max since I used it back in high school. Great package for video games I suppose but still. However, I had no choice to support the merger since Maya is my favorite animation program.

    “Healthy competition is always better for customers than monopolies- and right now we have a veritable monopoly in the CG animation software business. Autodesk owns 3D Studio Max, Maya, Motion Builder, Mudbox and now Softimage XSi and it’s ancillary technologies. What’s left out there for commercially available professional level Cg production software? Um.. not much. Yes, there’s Z-Brush, Silo, Modo, etc., but those aren’t backbone systems, they’re specific-use tools.  Basically the applications under the Autodesk name represent well north of 90% of the primary programs used in the CG business.”

    With this in mind Autodesk will eventually have to downsize the amount of products it has out there in order to support the improvement demands of the every rapidly growing computer CG industry. In doing so either letting some packages slip behind or eliminating them. Maya being the leader in CG software available to the public in CG software will doubtfully get the boot or lack of attention as it is bringing in the most money.

    Just a heads up for something to look at down the road.  What will become of all the worlds CG development under one giant roof? Guess its good Major movie studios have their own propriatary software.

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    Bring Spike Home article and Week4!

    Posted by chad3d on October 21, 2008

    Wow,  it’s week 4 at animation mentor already. What a great ride this has been so far and it just zooms by! The October newsletter is finally out and it has my short story and drawing in it from the bring spike home contest and I won!  So far we have learned a lot about the foundations of character animation and it keeps on going. I have met some great people that are in my class and others that are upper class men.

    Animation mentor has come out with a study report on character animators and statistics on the job and the industry. Very interesting stuff. One thing they mention in there that hurts American jobs as animators is outsourcing. It’s hard for companies to compete with places like India or China who are willing to do the work for a fraction of the price. Guess we will just have to show them how much better quality American animators can be! On the political side of things, Senator Obama plans to set up a bill that raises taxes on companies that outsource  and give tax breaks to companies that keep there work in the states. Sounds good to me! So if Obama does become president that might affect some of the studies outcomes in the booklet.

    Well I am off to animate some more, I think this image says it best!

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    Learn how to draw?

    Posted by chad3d on October 11, 2008

    I came across this little funny and thought it was worrth posting as it made me laugh.

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    Week One at Animation Mentor

    Posted by chad3d on October 5, 2008

    Wow.. I don’t even know where to begin. This week has been amazing! Literally the BEST WEEK OF MY LIFE!

    To start it off I won the Animation Mentor “Bring Spike Home” contest. It was a 600-1000 word short story accompanied with two pages of Illustrations. You had to take Spike (The school mascot) who was lost in the jungle looking for animation relics back to the school. Very fun little writing exercise! The prize was a FREE TERM of school!! Learning animation for free sounds good to me 🙂

    Then I get on my online campus and get to meet a great group of people not only in my class but all over the school. On top of all those people with the same interests and love for animation. I got to meet my first mentor who is “Steve Cunningham” who works for Dreamworks, my dream studio! (no pun intended)

    Then on friday the wonderful character designer ( Caroline ) I have had the pleasure of meeting here in town that does freelance work. Brings her husband Frank in to meet me. He is a director that does live action, 2d, and 3d films. It has been a great pleasure learning from Caroline and was a lot of information to cram in the 2 hour lunch I had with them. Frank had lots of wonderful in site! They where also nice enough to give me a animation table all set up with a animation disc, pegboard, and lightbox they had laying around the house! As well as some extra pencils and a ream of animation paper! Then I got home and UPS had delivered the books I had ordered “Art of The Incredibles” and “The art of Ratatouille” both are really great and wonderful for seeing the process of developing a character and story.  Friday was like Christmas!

    I tell you what if animation mentor keeps getting better I think I might implode of joy! It feels great to have all this positive energy flowing through my body! I can’t wait to do more. I have had my life touched by AM already and my journey has just begun!

    Thanks Bobby,Shawn and Carlos for making this school and not giving up. Thanks to everyone at AM for making it the place it is and worth getting excited over. As well as Frank and Caroline for being a great face to face inspiration and motivator.

    My new Toys

    My new Toys

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    Igor a animation masterpiece!

    Posted by chad3d on September 22, 2008

    I got to go see Igor this weekend and boy was I suprised! I thought the animated film looked good but not being from a big name studio I figured it would be a par, sub-par animated film at best. When I got to know a little about the film my expectations grew. Then when I actually saw the movie not only where my expectations met, they where surpassed greatly!

    The film was Produced by a independant company called Exodus, that started up in 2001. The animation for the film was done by Sparks Animation Studios in Paris, France. Put together by directer Tony Leondis (sounds like he should have been in 300, hehe!) and writer Chris McKenna it was simply creative and brilliant. The character design was unique and quarky. Some if not most of the characters had a insect feel to them in the way they where designed and animated. The most noticeable was the King of Malaria who was obviously a cockroach! Cockroaches are nasty, filthy little creatures…. fit the feel of the kings attitude wonderfully. Cudos on putting that combo together! Aside from Sparks keeping the great feel of animation consistant throughout the movie, The color and lighting was great.

    Writer Chris Mckenna had some great ideas by putting a total flip on the whole evil scientist thing.

    “Story…must be considered the heart of the business.” He continued,”Good animators can make a good story a knockout. There is not much that the best animators can do with bad stories.”         -Walt Disney

    So I give you a round of appluase Mr. McKenna! This has got to be My favorite 3D animated film aside from Over the Hedge. I give it a 9 out of 10 and look forward to Exodus to keep up the flow of grade “A” animations!

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    12 Principles of Animation!

    Posted by chad3d on September 17, 2008

    Master Shi-Fu showed me the dragon scroll. Now I’m a kung fu panda! Well not really however I do have a nifty printout to hang at my desk that I can look at and make sure I have applied all 12 principles when I’m animating. Oh and Igor comes out this Friday defiantly gotta go check that out.

    (Hey you animators your welcome to download the dragon scroll and print it out for yourselves too!)

    Dragon Scroll

    Dragon Scroll

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    Character Concept Update

    Posted by chad3d on September 14, 2008

    Today I got done modeling “Tiffany” out of clay. She is the new character concept I have been working on to fit into a short film. Here are a few pics of the non-painted finished product of the armature and final concept drawings. I still don’t know how these stop motion guys do this over and over again! Lots of respect foo sho! Now its off to draw out some facial expressions and then model her in Maya.

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    Animation Mentor Orientation

    Posted by chad3d on September 11, 2008

    Today I got to log onto the campus for the first time! yay, its official im a AM student! Anyhow after I calmed down and got through clicking on everything and reading it all I got to sit down and have orientation. Was pretty cool and its great to be able to watch things, not just listen or read them. Got my webcam up and working so im ready for Q&A’s and I can’t wait to get blasted in my first Ecritque so I can improve ^^.

    Look forward to meeting all the new students and ones already in class.

    Don’t hesitate Animate! (corny but I like it lol)

    Chad “3D” Swanson

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    Cintiq Workflow

    Posted by chad3d on September 1, 2008

    Got a Cintiq and Maya 2008 this week! I started by setting up the cintiq. Was quite the task it turns out. I had to Take a shelf out of my desk to get the monitor to be able to reach is full potential of leaning and rotating. Turns out my desk wasn’t big enough. So I had to take a shelf out to solve that problem. Since then I have been useing it as my sketch book. It’s great! Has sped up my workflow 10x for sure. Its nice being able to go right back and fix little mistakes or repair a image with a new idea.

    Now I’m creating a character, if time permits i hope to have it modeled and rigged before school starts in a month.

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