Saturday, May 28, 2005

Andrew Gordon in Dallas

Friday night was another example of the growing animation culture here in Dallas, TX. Upon special invite from an unnamed local sponsor (we have our suspicions as to who...) Andrew Gordon, animator from Pixar, came by and gave a 2 hour presentation. The talk was organized by a local CG animation user group called "A Bunch of Short Guys". About 200 folks showed up to see Andrew give a talk about his approach to getting into a character's heart and head for a performance. It wasn't your usual "fundamentals" speech, but had some interesting bits that you don't often see covered in other animation informational materials. I most appreciated his thoughts on the very early work of getting into a character. My quick synopsis of this topic would be...

- study and understand all the motion mechanics of creatures like your character (he showed examples of fish video for Nemo)
- Spend time animating to match/emulate those motion mechanics on your character rig in order to integrate that understanding into your thinking. Build up your animation muscles to deal with that motion type.
- Start pushing the animated side of things, seeing where to exaggerate, push, condense and approach the realities of the motion from an animator's point of view. How to get the idea across in a clean, communicative manner that is leasing to see and projects your character. In other words, define the universe of style and motion for the character (and perhaps the whole film).
- Start working in unique personality traits into the motion, begin crafting those solutions that bring your character to life as a breathing, thinking, feeling "person" whom we can care about.

Anyhow, all good stuff that you don't see talked about everywhere and a great reminder of the importance of taking your time to get in deep. His notes on patterns was interesting. It's a term I'd not heard, but the principle was basic and solid from the core. From my understanding patterns can be summed up as the cumulative whole of your character's motion arcs & paths. The gyst being that you can use the idea of patterns of motion paths and arcs to "design" your motion to keep it interesting and pleasing to watch. Neat stuff. (and if I got that wrong, if any of you whiz kids over at Pixar wanna set the record straight, that'd be MOST appreciated. :o)

I think the entire DNA animation department was there and there were a good number of ReelFXanimators present as well. I'm sure there were other pro animators from the many game shops on hand, although I don't know any of them by face. I just like to see the community here expand. It'd be great to see Dallas (and Texas in general) become a flourishing alternative to living and working in uber-expensive California. Money goes further here and experienced talent is making its way here as artists mature and have families, etc. DNA's working their second film with others in the mix, ReelFX is moving into national commercial work as well as owned video properties and they have a feature in early development, Janimation is starting to make strides forward, plus there's Id Software (Doom franchise) among other game shops. In July Bobby Beck (formerly of Pixar, now of Animation Mentor) will be giving an all day master class here in Dallas.
Yeah, good to see the scene here start to blossom a bit.

2 comments:

Richard Hopper said...

Yeah, it's good the scene is blossoming in Texas. I'd like to see it bloom more here in San Antonio, but anywhere close to home is good for me. Are "A Bunch of Short Guys" organizing the Bobby Beck thing too? Any more information on that? I'd LOVE to attend if I could.

dfeer345tyh said...

Here Richard:
http://www.abunchofshortguys.com/index.php