Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Hansel and Gretel" Story Beats

We've recently lost a few comrades at work so I've been asked to help out with storyboards for our pre-vis animatics. An excuse to draw is always good, but since I haven't been drawing everyday, it's a bit intimidating, esp. with all the kick-ass concept artists we have here! *cough* Dela Longfish *cough*

Anyway, in the flavor of storyboards, I pulled up some (yet again) old work from school. The following story beats were done in conjunction with the Layout Apprenticeship in my previous post.

The idea behind these beat boards was to outline the entire story using only 10-15 drawings. At a glance we could check the pacing and make sure we're hitting all the plot points that we need to.

This is the final version.

Here's an alternate version.

Lastly, a side-by-side, in case you want to see the differences.


I'll throw the actual boards up in a later post.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Hardware Render Buffer

So you want to create a new reel and can't decide if you should just playblast a bunch of clips together or give your anims the full treatment of lights and render. You want to playblast because they're a lot easier and quicker, but you also want to render because everything looks so nice fully lit.

Well, what if there was happy medium--something in between? There is!


It's the best of both worlds. With the HRB, it's like playblasting with the added advantage of motion blur and anti-aliasing. Althought, it's actually slightly more work than playblasting, it's definitely a lot quicker than setting up lights and doing full renders.

Here's what you do:

Here are my settings. Use what you like.

Scale as you wish:

View the sequence with the Fcheck.

If you like what you see, import the images into Quicktime Pro and export an uncompressed clip. Then when all of your clips are exported, throw them into Premier to toss around as you like.

All of my previous reels have only been playblasts (HRB for future ones). My reasoning is that while it definitely is nice to have full renders, the time it takes me to set up lights and render, I rather use that time to polish my animation even further. Plus, if I just finished editing together a reel and realize that I need to fix yet another anim hitch, I'm more likely to make that fix if all I needed to do after is to re-playblast. And although I don't want to speak for everyone, I'm pretty certain that the animators that are looking at your work will be judging it by your characters' motion and performance, and not by their rim lights and cast shadows.

For future reels, I think I'll be using the HRB, unless of course I have a shot that have already been lit from a cinematic sequence.

While doing these "suped-up playblasts", these are my additional prefs:
  • All heads up displays should be turned off--just to keep things clean.
  • I actually like having the grid visible as a ground plane. I feel it grounds the character, and in a way, helps with weight because you can anticipate where the foot (for example) is supposed to hit. Without, it's like hitting an invisible wall that you're not ready for. This might be just me, but I find it a bit awkward without a ground plane. It's like the character's floating in space.
  • If there's camera movement, the grid acts as points of reference in the environment. This way, you get a better sense of how much the character is moving relative to it's environment and not the screen.I've seen animation tests from film studios and they are all rendered with some sort of a ground plane with a checkerboard texture.
  • Finally, I prefer the motion-blur to be subtle. I think it's one of those things that should be felt and not seen.
Here's a final tip--echo all commands in the script editor while setting up the parameters for the render settings and make it a shelve button. It'll save you time if you have 20+ clips to render.

Now remember as always, this is purely my preference--I have friends who like to render their reels, and I have to admit, it looks quite nice. But I'm stubborn:)--I'll still say that what extra time I have, I'd prefer to use it to nicen' up the actual animation instead.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Lay-offs are never fun. I have lots of talented friends from all disciplines that are currently looking for work. If anyone has openings at your studio, could you please let me know so I could give them the heads up? You could either post it as a comment or shoot me an email. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ninja Gaiden 2


Guess what I'm doing after work today...

...picking up a copy of Ninja Gaiden 2, the sequel to one of my favorite action games of all time! Of all the beat'em-up games on my Favorites list, Ninja Gaiden is probably at the top. It's an "old-school" type of game--light on story, but heavy on mechanics--one that will definitely put your reflexes to the test.

  • Some of the slickest and most satisfying combos I have ever seen. You really have to experience them with the controller in hand to fully appreciate them.

  • Super responsive character control.

  • Very satisfying combat system--one that rewards quick reflexes and precision timing, as well as the ability to balance offense with defense. This is probably the main reason why this game rises above the others in terms of combat. Like watching a good fight in the UFC, there is a constant back and forth between you and the enemy.
  • Great incorporation of acrobatics within combat--fluid and useful--not just for show.
  • Probably the best implementation I've seen of a "heavy" weapon. This is how all heavy weapons in a game should feel--not overly slow, yet still manages to show power and weight.
  • Great example of how multiple-hit attacks (per single button press) should be--very fast and responsive, very satisfying.
  • Finally, lots of weapons and upgrades--all complete with brutal, flashy combos.

And remember, these are just my opinions--definitely take into account the fact that I love this specific genre when it comes to games:)

Happy slicin'!