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leigh
06-07-2005, 05:49 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/cgtalk/meettheartists/jason_schleifer/header.jpg

Jason Schleifer
Character Animator
PDI/Dreamworks

Jason produced his first animated film for his social studies class in junior high school. It wasn't anything exciting to look at, but the simple fact that he was able to make a clay character walk halfway across the screen before melting into an unrecognizable pile of goop made his heart pound.

Since that time Jason has worked at Alias as a product specialist for the 3D animation software Maya, spent four and a half years at Weta Digital in New Zealand as a character rigger and animator on The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, taught two Alias Master Classes about Character Rigging (now available on DVD), co-taught a siggraph course on rigging for animation, is a mentor at AnimationMentor.com, and is currently working as a Character Animator at PDI/Dreamworks where he just finished up on their latest film, Madagascar.
In his copious spare time, Jason enjoys running around with his wife and two dogs, working on his short film, "Jonh and His Dog", and blogging about various topics which buzz around in his head.

Related links:
http://jonhandhisdog.com

http://www.cgnetworks.com/cgtalk/meettheartists/jason_schleifer/schleifer_1.jpg

http://www.cgnetworks.com/cgtalk/meettheartists/jason_schleifer/schleifer_2.jpg

http://www.cgnetworks.com/cgtalk/meettheartists/jason_schleifer/schleifer_3.jpg

http://www.cgnetworks.com/cgtalk/meettheartists/jason_schleifer/schleifer_6.jpg

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Rumr
06-07-2005, 06:23 AM
Sup Jason, Very nice works. congrats on all the success.
Thanks for taking the time to take part in something like this. I know I learn from it.

q-1. What education background do you have?
q-2. What are somethings that can get stressful in a 3d modeling, texturing and animation lifestyle of works?
q-3. Can you describe what a good cg artist would be made of from your point of view?
q-4. What great choices did you make to get to were you are today?

Once again thanks.

-Vormav-
06-07-2005, 06:31 AM
Whoa. Sounds like you really get around, Jason. ;)

Anyway, might as well commence with the onslaught of questions:

1. Were you originally from New Zealand (the profile mentions some studios based in the US)? I know that Weta's policy is to initially look for local applicants, rather than to try and pull people from abroad. So how much of a struggle was it for you to get that job?
A lot of people would consider their dream job to be working at Pixar, but I've always had my eyes on Weta. The projects they handle are amazing, and New Zealand is just beautiful. On the otherhand, when I hear of people that worked at Weta, it always seems like they only worked their for a few years before moving on. Not to pry too much, but is there any particular reason why you left (work beginning to get tedious, perhaps)?

2. Of all of the different aspects to 3d, character rigging is probably what I have the least amount of experience with. So I'm curious, but how long does the typical character rig take for you to construct? Along those same lines, what would you say has been the most difficult or complex rig that you've taken on, if you can think of one? Certainly they all present their own unique challenges.

3. What kind of dogs do you have? :D

techdivine
06-07-2005, 06:34 AM
Hi Jason

Its just a fantastic felling to be able to talk 2 someone with such credits as LOTR- the one the only..so Thnx to CGnetworks first 4 this oppurtunity.

I am from Mumbai - INDIA and just one among the other zillion LOTR fans.:applause: I have started 2 learn in this field abt a year now and 'm learning and improving (hopefully) every single day.
Its just very much inspiring 2 b a part of such a platform and it will be 4 ever CG 4 Life. This is just a query if you could share few things from ur work experiences in CG which would help a lot of us to grow further.
Nothing more 4 now.

sphere
06-07-2005, 06:42 AM
Hi Jason,

I really admire alot of the work you've done and you can be proud that you've made it to where alot of us want to be. Live it up!

- Did you always want to focus on and move into character animation/rigging or did you delve into other related areas when you were young to find what you really enjoyed most or what you were good at?

- What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from your experience as an animator?

- When animating for film or any big production (e.g. LOTR), do you have alot of creative freedom and room to experiment or are you on very strict deadlines to get things out in time.

- Where do you see yourself in 10 years? (clue: it's very reflective)

Cheers :D

kaveh_michael
06-07-2005, 06:51 AM
Mr. Jason Shhh-Life-er!

Hi, I have a lot of questions about animation which are mostly basic stuff so I hope I wouldn't bore you :)

...On walks,

1. How do you go about creating a unique walk cycle for a given charatcer? a walk that defines a certain personality, What are the questions that you ask yourself before and during animating?

2. Do you think the weight of a character should stay consistent in all walks cycles througout the movie, for instance, if in one scene he is happy, in another he is sad, should the animator make him lighter when happy or heavier when sad?

3. When creating a cycle, do you start with the hips? and work out from there, Layering? or do you make poses for Up, Down, Pass, etc. and then work the walk that way?


...On developing character,

4. How do you get into the characters head? what are the things you study and ask before animating? What is your thought process from the begining to the point where you can exactly visualize the scene in your head?

5. How do you inspire yourself to come up with the most original idea for acting? (because usualy it's really difficult to come up with something thats not cliche)

...On snappy-animation-style,

6. What is the secret to making snappy animation look believable, specialy in areas like weight and balance?

7. Please share with us some of the important things you learned about snappy style while animating Madagascar :)

...other questions,

8. What would be some piece of advice you could give to a student interested in learning the art of animation?

9. Who's your all-time favorite animated character?...why?

10. What are some of the BIG mistakes that beginners make when learning animation?

11. What was some of the important stuff you learned from animating Gollum?

11 1/2. (just skip this one if you think it's a personal question and you dont feel like answering) Are you happy animating at PDI/Dreamworks? do you ever want to go to Pixar? or Sony or maybe starting your own animation studio?


Thanks A LOT for taking the time and answering questions here, we know how busy you are with work, AnimationMentor and searching for that perfect tablet pc ;) So we really appriciate this.

-Kaveh

Jiokah
06-07-2005, 06:52 AM
Hey!

I have a quick question:

In LOTR, when the witch king dies, how did you get his head to crumple in like that? I was very impressed with that part and would love to hear how it was done.

Thanks!

THECLYKE
06-07-2005, 06:55 AM
Do You Ever Get Frusterated When You Animate? If So How Many Hairs Did You Pull Out While doing so....just Kiding .....How Did You Get Yours seqeunces To Look So Good And Work In The Movies When You Had A Crazy Deadline?

pogonip
06-07-2005, 06:57 AM
Man....killer resume ... im jeleous...

MuseSyndrome
06-07-2005, 07:09 AM
Hey Jason,

- What were some major obstables you had overcome to get where you are now?

- How was New Zealand for you?

- Tell us an amusing CG-related story!:D

nelsig
06-07-2005, 07:10 AM
Hi Jason,

When I heard you were leaving WETA to go to PDI/DREAMWORKS, I thought you would work on some realistic animations for visual effects ...

As you worked in both production pipeline which kind of job do you prefer? Cartoon or VFX ?

Is a Madagaskar cartoon character as complex as a character like Golum (as a rigging point of view) ?

For somebody searching a job in CG what do you think is most important ? The demoReel or the competences (a huge amount of software and a very expensive diploma in a considered art school :eek:) ?

What's next now Jason ? Are you staying at PDI/DREAMWORKS or will you travel again around the world ?

Thanks

Nico

arona
06-07-2005, 07:31 AM
i just cant wait till you answer Jason ... :bounce:

aliasali
06-07-2005, 07:33 AM
Greatt!! feels like ur a BIG artist! that gollum really attracts people!!:D
i think Rumr has some good questions,will read ur answers...
would u show us some exclusive images of ur workshop or models,or anything cool,which hasnt been showned?!:D
thanx...

Pufferfish
06-07-2005, 07:39 AM
Hi Jason,

I'm gona annoy you with some questions that most likely have been asked from you billion times already :)

1. How did it felt to see LOTR movies first time on big screen? (must have been rewarding:) )

2. Do you have any ultimate goal/s in your career? ..if so, have you achieved it/them yet? OR are you just riding along with the waves, waiting bigger and better ones? :)

3. What would be the one beer to rule them all?

cheers :)


- Jari

sNaP
06-07-2005, 07:44 AM
Hey Jason!

1. Just want to see what you experience with AnimationMentor.com has been like so far?

I'm starting in a couple weeks, and I can't wait to get going. Hope to see you around the campus! :)

Romero
06-07-2005, 07:45 AM
Hi Jason, man your one of my favorite animators of all time, my questions are.

1) After working on LOTR which is highly regarded as one of the best special effects movies of all time, and now just finishing off an excellent feature animation film, my question is what have you found to be the most challenging aspect of your job in both or either experiences you have been apart of ?

2) Who are some of your favorite character animators or artists and why?

3) What was your main influence in getting into the business and who do you owe alot of thanks to, if any?

4) Coke or Pepsi ?

Thanks for your time and continue making mind bogling animations, your demo reel is truly inspiring, and when are you coming to Canada so we can drink beers and I can ask you about another billion questions?

Adriano-Zanetti
06-07-2005, 07:58 AM
Hey Jason, big up and respect for the thing you do, inspiring for simply every last one of us all. You (and the guyss and gals you worked with) set the standard reference of quality so high, it gets only better and better everyday. At this point, we're not talking about being skilled, even talented feels a bit thin here, you gotta be gifted, givin life to those empty shapes the way you do is divine Art.
Haven't got a chance yet to see Madagascar, not out yet around here, but I'm not taking any risk here to assume it's awesome and probably owes you, just like the other prods you worked on, lots of credits for looking so damn good.

I don't have a specific question... more like a hundred... so I won't pop em all out now, I'll wait to see Madagascar first, luckely the thread will still be open and I'll shoot about a thousand questions then ;)

Congrats again and thanks for the thing you do!

pe@ce

Adriano

jason-slab
06-07-2005, 07:59 AM
this should be fun!

hi jason:wavey:

whats next for u? are u staying at Dreamworks?

and *grrrrr why'd u steal ma name punk?¿

cya
|jason

ynvamsi
06-07-2005, 08:05 AM
Hi Jason,

very good work from you, happy to see you on Cg Talk. I am a big fan of LOTR.

1) could you explain your rigging process briefly?

thanX for this opportunity.

hhssuu
06-07-2005, 08:31 AM
Hi Jason, i must tell you, gollum fully freaked me out the first time i saw him, it must be the most living charater i've seen on film. Super big respects to you man, i can't wait to see Madagascar.

I think you might have already mentioned in a interview already, but here it is again:

1) what kinds of techniues was involved in gollums facial setup (apart from the eml interface, is the structure underneath bones, spines, morphs or mix), and what roles did you split with Bay Raitt and Tom Kluyskens.

2) what would you think is the most felxible method for a facial setup for individuals at home? (If answering this question reduces sales for your DVD then don't answer :))

Thanks for giving your few time for this.

Neeno
06-07-2005, 08:42 AM
i'd just like to say your are one of the greatest animators of all time no Questions asked..

this oppurtunity is too good to miss..

1.) having such a difficult task to animate a character that is also being played physically by a real person using mocap how well did you handle such a difficult task and how did you approach it?

2.) What other creatures in lord of the rings did you animate also? just wanna replay the movies a few times and admire and learn from reference.

3.) Madagascar being a short film for a CG produced film... its shorter then usual other films like Shrek and Sharks tale etc.. Did you concentrate alot more, on it being a shorter time frame, did you have a shorter time frame to complete your work? or was it still like 2 to 3 years in the making?

4.) what software do you use and have knowledge of and if you were to create software for something specific what would it be?? and what would it do.??

Thankyou for taking out this time to answer all our questions.. cheers

Kris-S
06-07-2005, 09:19 AM
Hey Jason.. just like to say a big HI from Welly. I would like to thank you for being part of the team that opened a few good opportunitys for a whole bunch of kiwi arist here, because of the efforts from LOTR and it's huge success cg job offers have become more abundant. I was a cg graduate the year Return of The King was released and was thinking .. well now that is finnished what next?.. contracts finnised etc ( I finished my course about a month before the movie was released ) ... but now more and more studios are poping up even sony are opening a studio here in welly now, weta workshop are now working on an animated t.v. series jane and the dragon and I have heard rumours of another cg t.v. series called "the goon" in the works A few of my friends are now working at Weta ( on kong and Jane and the Dragon ) ..and I myself got an animation gig at a games company called sidhe interactive. .. so really this is a big ups to you all who worked hard to make LOTR a success and Wellywood to emerge ... cheers



Kris

RayenD
06-07-2005, 09:27 AM
Hey Jason!

Do you ever feel burned out?

FabioMSilva
06-07-2005, 09:35 AM
Hi Jason, i find your work a very strong inspiration source.

What's your dog name?

varunbondwal
06-07-2005, 10:10 AM
hello Jason.
What I want to know is that can a complex character like Gollum or Olephant be completely made on a single home pc. If yes, which graphics card and how much ram would you recommend?

kamsvag
06-07-2005, 10:12 AM
As an animator with your experience, do you get to give input to how the scene you've been assigned to work on should look (in terms of framing 'n camera movement), or are the scene pretty much nailed from the leika reel?

Do you as an character animator in a production like Madagascar also animate the camera-moves in the scenes you've been given or does someone else do this?

When given a scene to animate, do you get a scene

How much influence does one have as an animator at a larger studio? From what I've understood it's a rather firm hiriarchy in larger studios, or is this an missunderstanding?

I'd also like to congrat you for the excellent movie Madagascar. It's solid and fun.

Cheers!

mattmos
06-07-2005, 10:18 AM
Hey Jason,
just a quickie, how on earth do you find time to do Animation Mentor, blog like a madman and Q+A here while still knocking out kick arse work at Dreamworks and working on a short film and spending time with your family? You're an inspiration dude, and I wish I could time manage like you!

One last q, coming from a more technical background do you find people trying to fit you back into that role? On Mad did you have to consciously resist fiddling with the rigs or did you do it anyway and pass it on back?
Matt

elvis75k
06-07-2005, 10:31 AM
Dear Jason: I'm from Italy and here, you know is not a buisness to work as an animator or a modeler or whatever cgi.. I feel bad and sometime i think to come to America and make some changes to my life. Anyway is hard to decide to take off.. and i'm shure that something will change one day soon..
I like your works.. no particular question about your experience 'cos i've read alot from your forum/blog/plog. Just one: How many hours you go to sleep and what you eat? (common italianish questions). Thanks for reading and forgive my english..

-elvis

DUCKORABB
06-07-2005, 10:57 AM
Hi!

I have question, about synchronization of character with real scene. What kind method we use for this amazing effect? All scene with Gollum is made using mocap? And what technology was used for balance light between real scene and 3d object? If it's possible, would you send on board, screenshot from 3d soft with character, like Gollum or Balrog in wireframe mode, with bones and rigg system?

P. S. Sorry for my terrible english.

Best Regards

DCKBB

xenoid
06-07-2005, 11:14 AM
Woah! Cannot miss this chance of asking qns to my most admired Character guy! :bounce:

1. How did you started off working in the 3D industry? Like did you already have some foundation, or you started dabbling in it only when you're in it? Either case, how did you proceed from there till where you are now?

2. How did you manage ur time so well handling SO MANY things at a time?? :thumbsup:

Xen

josecarlospoeiras
06-07-2005, 11:30 AM
Hy Jason,

Is great to have you here in CGTalk Q&A, congrats to cgtalk team.
I have just a few questions:

1. What you would like to see in a Character Animator Portfolio?

2. You are "the man of the rigs", what is your secret, keep it simple?

3. In the future, what is your next challenge?


Thanks Jason,
keep your fine work, bye.

Joblh
06-07-2005, 01:02 PM
Hi Jason,

first time i know someone from the Q&A session :D (seen you on the extended edition)
my first question is, how many verticies has Gollum? and my second;
which time did you like more, the time from being a noob to a pro, or the time from being a pro to now?

i really admire your work, LOTR/Gollum drove me to do CG :D

ArYeS
06-07-2005, 01:02 PM
Hy, I really wasn't expecting you in this selection, but I'm very surprised, because you are my animation idol :)

1. Why did you choosed Animation, not modelling or other?
2. How old was you when you started animating?

Dutchman
06-07-2005, 01:09 PM
Hi there Jason! :) ,

First of all: it's great to see you here in the 'Meet the Artist'-forum! :) I haven't thát much questions, because I know allot of the questions I cóuld ask, would already be answered, or do not have to be answered by you ;)

He you go:
1) Do you have any advise for young people (like 16/17/18 years old) who are trying to find a holiday job (local) in computer graphics / animation? I'm desperately looking for sómewhere to do the simple things of (rotoscoping or so?!), instead of crawling trough a big apple-garden and looking for bad leaves ;) ... Where would you try the best to find such a place, in your eyes?
2) Do you think that it would be good possible to find a prof-job in the Computer-Graphics sector, without education? I'm planning to do 'Industrial Design' (instead of animation or so), but maybe I'd in the future like to switch to the computer-graphics/film sector? What kind of education did you yourself have had, and did you think that were 'usefull years'?
3) What do you think to be the 'art of rigging', and what makes it so cool to do for you? I (and many others) see rigging as one of the 'not-cool-parts' of the process...! And what's the thing that makes a rig a góód rig? Could you maybe post a print-screen of a rig (of you ;) ) that would be a very good one, in your opinion...?

Thanks for the time, you master :twisted: , I hope to get anwers & Good luck at your further projects! :)

Greetz, Gijs

[edit: I edited some of the questions, as some of them where a bit dull ;) ]

kmest
06-07-2005, 02:28 PM
hi jason..well i'm registerd to your website and i've alwayes asked everything i needed to know and you've answered kindly..and i remember the night which return of the king won 12 oscares and you came and said "we won alllll":)......so.. i'm reza farsad there ..remember???

i have a new question which i prefer to ask here...

1-in the "Return of the king"extende edition on the 3d parts,they showed all the caracters with muscles..well it's expected to see golum or trolls in that form but when i saw Balrouge,i was somehow shocked and i asked myself:does it realy need muscles???i saw the movie again and i think it realy doesnt need muscles cause nothing is seen(and in many movies i saw things like this)...so is it because of the rigging prosses??doing a smiple muslce/influence job instead of "weight painting" all the model???and when the weight paint comes to hand parts,it's somehow hard to do..so an influence object can make it more easier and faster..right???

2-which kind of caracter animates you like to do most??realstick movments (like gollum) or funny cartoony(like your blue baloon dog:bounce: which i like alot)

3-for LOTR and MADAGASKAR caracter setups,did you always do an ultra super setup which there can be no limitations and wrong behaviores during the animate,or was there sometimes some problems wich you couldnt understand why:shrug:(like knees doing a stupid movement....) and the animator had to animate that part(for that special move only)Frame by Frame???(just a fun Q)

4-when talking about gollum with many artists,they mostly talk about some revolutionary ultra hi tec. softwares and hardwares behind him..is it true???i mean was there something more advanced about the technlogy behinde gollum than other cg caracters made by other big companies or was it more the artistic tallents behind it which made it so belivable??
i think i konw the answer but i want them to hear it from you...

5-and when can we see John and his dog??any dead line you put for yourself???

neofg
06-07-2005, 02:30 PM
Have a good day mr.Jason!
Say that your work is what the 99% of people on cgtalk envying,is superfluous...:drool:
My first obvious question was if u Can recommend me at Weta or Dreamworks...but...Ok, Don't answer to this... :surprised
Now, my favourite (read obsession) work on 3d I ever seen is Gollum, and I think that it's not a news... What I (read we) search when I model, shade, rig and animate something in CG is to obtain the effect to make say:"Mmmmh....Nice photo". In films all is made with a lot of peoples, and money,and it look perfect. So, in the night that I spend at computer, I fight with myself for make ever better than me, and it's a long,eternal fight, because I'm lonely.:sad: Particularly in a reality like Italy where this work is not so simply to make, and i want to finish something to send at WETA,ILM etc... for realize the dream of my life.
Ok, the answer...
What is the secret of your work? For example...(Something was answered in a post, before) what are the technical information about Gollum? (his muscles are modelled one by one,I read somewhere) How was they animated? Are there blend shapes for every muscles? If I work on a personal project(that's what I do, but It's a too much long work...a short about Hiroshima http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?t=207895 (http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?t=207895 ))and http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?t=201501 ) what is the best way for rig a model by myself if my time said that I Can't model 300 muscles for a short animation?
If u have tips about Gollum's skin shader or if u heard something about how they light the model in the scenes write it to me,please... It's so difficult to obtain professional results...
It was funny if professional special effect houses publish her's models in a low resolution for make as know secrets of works made by best peoples in cg...
Ah, another little little question: Why who work professionally in CG change often place of work,and company?
Ok, I truly finished...Sorry 4 my bad english...and for my shaking keyboard...
Thanks for your answer and for your ART....precioussss

Good work!

Nemoid
06-07-2005, 02:50 PM
Hi Jason first off congrats for your incredible work, and all WETA digital work done in LOTR, BTW. some question here.

1) We all know that Weta used also the great app Zbrush in the Maya pipeline. my question is was it used for detailing purposes via displacement and normal maps applied to objects or also as a maquette creator to biuld better meshes in Maya as if they were real 3D digitalized ones ? did this worked out well?
i remember to have read that some creature was done in that way . can u explain a bit ?

2) i'm also wondering if you guys or you in particular made studies about human or creature/animal realistic movements when walking and acting. if so did you used some references from reality?

3) as an animator, do you think it will be possible to obtain completely believable cg human beings ?

4) can you publish for us an example of a creture rigging, with an explaination of hierarchical controls both for TDs and final animators?

5) can u explain and publish for us some example of human motion captures and explain methods on how to adapt for example andy serkis movements and proportions to gollum ones ? since i know he's acting for King Kong motion capture too, i think some adaptation is always necessary.

6) what aspect of the acting of a creature u think is more important to obtain a stunning work as you did?

7) what kind of exercises you advice to a newbie in animation to enhance his skills for realistic and expressive animation?

ok i made a huge list !
thanx in advance for the replies!

globex
06-07-2005, 03:16 PM
Hi Jason,

Im currently a high-school student wanting to become an animator. What are companies like Dreamworks/Disney/Pixar looking for as far as educational background? Should I get a bachelor's degree is general arts first? masters? What are some of the best schools that you would recommend?

3DDave
06-07-2005, 03:25 PM
Hi Jason

Where do you feel the animation tools/workflow is moving too in the future in regards to technology and software applications?

madmanmagic
06-07-2005, 03:25 PM
One question.

Why isn't there one multi-disc - 'HOW TO BUILD A KILLER RIG' dvd?

The be all/end all to making the perfect rig. You could produce it yourself and sell it on your site!!!

You'd make millions, well you'd make money -- plenty.

I have found I have to work off of your 2 Alias DVDs and Gnomons Kinematics and Rigging 101.com to get all my rigging schooling, but I still yearn for a comprehensive DVD.

What say you?

Still learning in NJ.
Thanks
Dan

fbone
06-07-2005, 03:43 PM
hi jason. i dont even know where to start because am as green in 3d animations as they get. am just starting and like i said i dnt knw whr to strt........ push me along.

am interested on doing animation as a course. which online schls do u check as the best

b4 u completed your first animation how long did it take you?

thanks and cheers

Laeng
06-07-2005, 03:57 PM
First of all
Thank you!
You´re not only an amazing artist, you are also a great teacher, and you´re realy pushing the cg community forward. I read a lot of your articles, and watched the DVD. You suceed in transporting a clear image of the why´s and how´s.

There are a lot of good tools coming up for Character setup and CG in general, some of them automate nearly the whole setup process.
What I would like to know is

1) To wich degree do u use those existing tools, and how much of your pipeline do you build up on your own. What do you favor? Speed or control.

2) I suppose, that with a setup like Gollum, you won´t start immediatly at the software, but will do kind of a concept for your work first. If you do, what are your most important decision steps and criteria for your work, and how big is the amount of preproduction to production.

3) Suppose you are sitting in a bar or a restaurant, do you sometimes watch people and think about facial muscles?

FloydBishop
06-07-2005, 03:59 PM
Here are my questions, in no particular order:



How do you pronounce your last name?
What shots are you responsible for in "Madagascar"?
What was the hardest adjustment for you from full time rigger to full time animator?

rhino23
06-07-2005, 05:01 PM
I, like everyone else here, am amazed at everything you have accomplished and with your skill level. On top of that you still have time to help out around AM and on here and have time to do your own stuff and hang with your wife and dogs. My question as an AM student, someone learning flame* at work and at night, and trying to learn other cg related stuff at home, as well as a newly-wed is... how do you do it? What's the trick to managing your time so well? I have so many things that I want to learn, experiment with, and try, yet there are only so many hours in a day, and unfortunately one has to sleep at some point. How do you do it?

Slurry
06-07-2005, 05:05 PM
Hi Jason,

I was looking through your website blog/plog/jog/eggnog/bullfrog for Jonh and His Dog.
Last year, I finished production of my first animated short film and I was wondering what the benefit was to this pipeline you are creating.
It seems like an excessive amount of pre-prod work just to build the pipeline.

Also, in regards to character animation, do you remember the point in your career when the lightbulb went on in your head and you said to yourself, "A-ha! I get it!".
That point where how to properly use the principles of animation made sense.

So to simplify:

Question1 : What's the deal with creating a pipeline?

Question2 : When was your 'Eureka Moment' for character animation.

Thanks,

Art

ps - really lookng forward to your film.

mikefeil
06-07-2005, 05:12 PM
Hi, Jason. First off, you have been an inspiration to me since I started doing cg a few years ago. That first little interview you did with cgnetworks (back when it was called 3dfestival) about the cg industry and your general background was really fantastic, it also gave me alot of direction. I also frequent your blog as much as I can (always seems to give me a laugh). Anyway down to the questions.





What is the most influential idea, philisohpy, quote etc you have learnt in your character animation career, and how has it impacted on your work?
When animating characters for "Madagascar" and for "Lord of the rings" etc how did you crawl into the characters mind, and basically let the characters drive the performance?
I will be starting Animation Mentor this fall, what do you think I should be doing to prepare myself till then.
Do you think in order to become a 'great' of animation, you need to be born with some sought of special ninja talent, or can anyone become one with hard work and persistence.
And now seriously, how much coffee do you drink a day, on average? As I know your a big coffee fan.



See you at am this fall.

SDIT
06-07-2005, 05:13 PM
hey jason!

-when do you think you will restart work on your short film?

mau.

jschleifer
06-07-2005, 05:14 PM
Holy moly!

thanks folks! Wow.. I log on thinking that there's going to be, like, maybe 2 or 3 questions and BAM! 3 pages! oy vey! I'll do my best to catch up & answer as much as possible!

I look forward to spending the next week wearing out my fingers typing away! heh :)

oh, in case you couldn't find it.. here's a link to my demo reel, so you can see some shots moving! it doesn't have anything from Madagascar in it, 'cuz mad's not out on dvd yet.. but you can at least see some stuff from LOTR. :)

** REEL TEMPORARILY DISABLED DUE TO BANDWIDTH LIMITS **

Okay, now on to the questions!

Rumr:Thanks very much! I feel really lucky to be in the position I'm in & to have had such sucess. My wife likes to say "the sun shines out of my butt", which I think means that I'm just a really lucky person.. heh :) either that, or it's warm back there.. <shrug>

q-1. What education background do you have?
a. my "official" education is from the University of California, Santa Barbara where I graduated with a degree in Art Studio. What that really means is that I spent a lot of time in the art department taking courses like life drawing, painting, sculpture, performance, etc.. and then spent even more time sitting in front of the computer in the art lab learning photoshop, director, pagemaker, and various 3d animation software. However, at the time i went to school, most teacher's didn't know very much about 3d animation software, so I was extremely fortunate to get a chance to go to the Alias\Wavefront offices in Santa Barbara and take courses in Wavefront software and Alias software from the developers themselves. My animation education comes from a lot of books and self-study. I've only taken two animation courses in my life.. one was a history of animation course while in Santa Barbara from Dana Driskell. The other was a 3 day seminar from Richard Williams, which was AWESOME. Other than that, I've learned everything through trial and error, and from watching others and getting good critiques.

q-2. What are somethings that can get stressful in a 3d modeling, texturing and animation lifestyle of works?
a. There are different levels of stress. The first stress is whether or not you can actually do the work which is assigned to you. With every shot I get my first fear is that I've been faking it all along, and that people will soon find out that I'm a total hack, that I can't animate at all, and they'll go "what were we thinking???" and kick my butt to the street. Then there's the stress of showing your first pass of the work to your co-workers. Will it make sense? Will they understand what I'm trying to do? Will the blocking read? Then, you stress about the timeline you have to get the shot done in. A lot of money is being spent based on certain assumptions about your ability to get work done in a certain period of time. So there's always stress knowing that you HAVE to finish by a certain date.. no matter what. Then there's the stress of showing the work to an audience and seeing if THEY like what you've done. The other big stress with a lifestile like this is knowing when to put the work asside and focus on your family. Sometimes it's important to realize that work is only that.. work, and family is more important. Family should ALWAYS come first. But because we all love the industry and what we do.. sometimes it's hard to juggle the love of family and the love of work. That can get stressfull. Then there's always the stress about where to sit in the caffeteria. Do you sit with the animators? the riggers? the new people? aaagghh!!

q-3. Can you describe what a good cg artist would be made of from your point of view?
a. A good cg artist is someone who is able to focus on their art with extreme passion, but also knows a lot about the world outside the cg world. they should have a good idea about how to approach solving a problem, even if they don't know how to solve it immediately. What that means is, CG is always evolving. The solution which worked for something yesterday, may not work tomorrow. The technology changes, bugs appear in the software, the bar is continually raised. A good CG artist will be able to approach problems from different directions, and be able to try various things in order to come to a solution. My favorite CG artists like to share ideas and grow and come up with new things, and don't hide techniques and solutions because they're "afraid" of letting others know their secrets. They haev a well rounded knowledge of art AND technology, and get excited by learning new things. They're always striving and pushing and working towards something fun.. but they can also go out and talk about things non-cg related.

q-4. What great choices did you make to get to were you are today?
a- I made so many choices throughout my career, and had so many lucky things happen, it's hard to say which choices in particular put me where I am. The main thing I've done, however, is always been honest with myself as to what I want. I take an active role in determining where my career path will lay. For example, when I went to work at Weta, I knew that I wanted to be an animator and not just a rigger. So I worked towards that goal by using my spare time to animate the rigs i was building. This allowed me to build better rigs (good for the company), learn more about animation (good for me), and proved to the company that I cared about the film and how it was doing (good for me and for the company). I'm a firm believer in actively persuing what you want, as long as it doesn't hurt others. If you want to get to a certain position, find out what it is you need to do and go for it. Just thinking about it won't make it happen. The only way to get there is to take the first step.
Vormav:
Cheers! Yeah, I've been pretty lucky to be able to travel quite a bit. I think it's important to get out and see other cultures if you can.. nothing teaches you better than learning from others who don't have the same background you do!

q1. Were you originally from New Zealand (the profile mentions some studios based in the US)? I know that Weta's policy is to initially look for local applicants, rather than to try and pull people from abroad. So how much of a struggle was it for you to get that job?
a. I'm from california, originally (actually, I grew up about 5 miles from where I work now! yikes!). Weta definitely looks for local talent first.. partly because they want to grow the industry in new zealand, and partly because in order to get a work visa for an overseas applicant, they have to prove that nobody else in NZ can do the work that the particular applicant can. I was very lucky (again!) in that I worked for the software company which made the 3d animation software that Weta was using (Maya). They needed someone with specific Maya expertise, who could also communicate their needs with Alias|Wavefront. I had their exact requirements.. someone who knew his way around the software, had worked with developers and other production companies (part of my job at Alias was to go around and work with companies like Disney, DreamQuest, Square, etc and help solve problems they were having with Maya), and I also had a desire to work in production. So for me it was relatively easy. Right place, right time! :)

q2, A lot of people would consider their dream job to be working at Pixar, but I've always had my eyes on Weta. The projects they handle are amazing, and New Zealand is just beautiful. On the otherhand, when I hear of people that worked at Weta, it always seems like they only worked their for a few years before moving on. Not to pry too much, but is there any particular reason why you left (work beginning to get tedious, perhaps)?
a. Weta does indeed get amazing projects, and you can learn a TON there. New Zealand is one of the most special places in the world. I love it there, and certainly look forward to moving back sometime in the future! The main reason I left was that I had been there for 4 and a half years, and I missed my family. I also wanted to expand into cartoony style animation, and see where that would take me. Most people sign contracts at Weta for 1 to 3 years, and at the end of those contracts if Weta doesn't have enough work for people, they do indeed end up leaving. It's a sad fact of the industry that a lot of jobs are short-term contract based.


q3. Of all of the different aspects to 3d, character rigging is probably what I have the least amount of experience with. So I'm curious, but how long does the typical character rig take for you to construct? Along those same lines, what would you say has been the most difficult or complex rig that you've taken on, if you can think of one? Certainly they all present their own unique challenges.
It's difficult to put a timeline on creating a rig. At Weta I focused on creating the animation rigs (not the skinning rigs.. another group did that). The first "humanoid" rigs I created certainly took quite a while to get right, as there was a lot of feedback, and I wanted to put a number of features in to make things easier on the animators.. ik/fk snapping without any popping, a stretchy back rig, orientation compensation, etc. I was developing the techniques while trying to create the rig, so some things took longer than others. In addition, while creating the first rigs I was creating a system for generating rigs which would make rigging faster on future creatures. Basically, I created a mel script "macro" system.. almost an object-oriented approach to rigging. I would have a script for arms, a script for legs, a script for backs, for fingers, for heads.. etc. Then I'd have a global script for Aragorn, Gollum, Frodo, Sam, etc. Those global scripts would call the individual "macro" scripts, and generate the rigs on the fly. So if there was a change to the foot rig, all I had to do was modify the foot script, then re-run the global scripts and it would update all the rigs in a matter of seconds. So the first rig took months.. each subsiquent rig took seconds. :)

The most difficult rig I built was the Watcher in the Water rig.. that one was tough because there were 12 arms on him, some of which had to be hero foreground arms, some background. Every animator wanted a different way to animate.. some wanted FK arms, some IK. Some wanted half IK, half FK. Some wanted 5 IK controls, others wanted 10. It totally depended on the shot. So I had to develop a system which would let the animator choose the type of control they wanted, per tentacle! It was simply a mel script that they could call up which would show them the tenticle they wanted and the style of rig it had, then they could change it from, for example, a 5 control IK tentacle, to a 3 control FK tentacle. That took quite a bit of time.. but it was totally necessary, since each tentacle had to do something specific.

4. What kind of dogs do you have?
a. haha! ah.. an easy question! :) I've got 2 dogs.. a Border Collie, and a Lab x Border Collie x Golden Retriever. They're bot from New Zealand, and are awesome (if a bit psycho).

techdivine:
Thanks very much!! The main thing I have to share is that it's important to follow your dreams but keep them balanced with the rest of reality! Know that you should work really hard.. but also play really hard. Focus with severe intensity.. but also relax. Work overtime.. but take time off. Watch everything around you. Never for a moment assume that you know the only way to do something, or that you're the best. There's always something you can learn from someone!

Okay, I've gotta get to work.. I'll be back later to answer more questions!

thanks again everyone! :)

-jason

steveblake
06-07-2005, 05:20 PM
Hello Jason, I have a couple..

- When reviewing a shot with others, how much do you think it is the animators responsibility to argue the case for a certain direction that they feel the character is going in? I suppose I'm talking about shot 'ownership'. Is it theirs, their leads or supervisors, the directors?

following on...

- How much do you allow yourself to really run with a new idea that's popped into your head before it's time to get approval? I mean, do you prefer to thumb,block or animate it through to a 'reviewable' level or just wait to get up and explain or act it out in front of the director?

Just wanted to add how great it is that you're willing to give so much time over to the community!

Great stuff :)

jschleifer
06-07-2005, 05:47 PM
Sphere:
Thanks so much! I feel extremely proud and lucky lucky lucky! :)

q. Did you always want to focus on and move into character animation/rigging or did you delve into other related areas when you were young to find what you really enjoyed most or what you were good at?

I always wanted to focus on animation, as I feel like that's where my "natural" inclination always takes me. You know how you can be doing something, and it just "feels" right? Like when you go snowboarding, you're either goofy or regular.. one of those stances will just feel more.. natural? That's how it is with animation and rigging.. I can certainly force myself to model something, or force myself to light a shot.. I've done so, and I can wrangle things to look the way I want.. but the animation and rigging side of things just seem to.. I don't know.. flow. It excites me. I get thrilled by little things like wrist flips and weight shifts.. by the movement of hips, by the difference between leading with an elbow or leading with a hand. It just .... drew me to it.

q. What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from your experience as an animator?
I've learned a few things in the years I've been animating. The first is to observe. I get such joy watching people DO things.. how a tired person will wipe their eyes.. how teens flirt with eachother.. how people in love who have spent a lot of time together perform these dances while doing simple things.. like making coffee.. one gets the cups, while the other pours the water, while the other gets the milk, while the other pulls the spoons.. it's all so fascinating! So I've learned to watch things, and observe. I've also learned how to pour my heart and soul into my work, but not be destroyed when it has to change and someone critiques it. It's so important to be able to separate a critique of your work from a critique of YOU.


q. When animating for film or any big production (e.g. LOTR), do you have alot of creative freedom and room to experiment or are you on very strict deadlines to get things out in time.
Yes and yes! :) You can be extremely creative and experiment.. as long as it's on budget and does what the director wants. So you learn to be creative within those limitations.

q. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? (clue: it's very reflective)
I'd like to be an animation director either at my own studio, or working for someone I respect. I love animating and I love working with motion, so if I could continue with that.. why, I'd be a happy happy camper! :)


kaveh_michael
Holy Magoley! What an awesome birage of questions! :) I'll do my best to answer them!


...On walks,

1. How do you go about creating a unique walk cycle for a given charatcer? a walk that defines a certain personality, What are the questions that you ask yourself before and during animating?

I try and focus on various aspects of the character.. their age, weight, gender, state of mind, things like that. A happy old person is going to move very differently than a happy child. Once I have a good idea of who the character is, then I'll try the walk myself.. I do it over and over and over and over (and over) until I have a good sense of what it is theyr'e doing physically.. not just "okay, my leg is here, then here", but what it is that's driving the legs and arms to do the things they're doing. Is the character bouncy and excited? If so, then that's why their arms flop around. Are they angry? Tense? That's why their arms hardly move. If you can understand the emotional base behind the motion, it makes it easier to stay in that state when animating instead of going into animation auto-pilot and start adding more overlap and followthrough than necessary. When animating it, I'll keep asking myself if it feels right .. I'll watch it backwards and forwards, flip it from left to right (if your animation player allows you to do that) & make sure that the attitude and emotion are getting through. Quite often I'll have to keep myself IN that emotion in order to do it.. after doing some shots with gollum I'd go home and have to force my face and back to relax, in order to get out of the emotion! :)

2. Do you think the weight of a character should stay consistent in all walks cycles througout the movie, for instance, if in one scene he is happy, in another he is sad, should the animator make him lighter when happy or heavier when sad?

Sure, if it works! I think playing with gravity is a great way to exaggerate emotion.. we certainly feel lighter when we're happy!

3. When creating a cycle, do you start with the hips? and work out from there, Layering? or do you make poses for Up, Down, Pass, etc. and then work the walk that way?

I try not to animate too much in cycles, as I'd rather animate the walk or run throughout the shot.. but if I am doing cycles, then I start by making key poses.. first the contact poses, then the passing pose, then I break it down further, doing that all on stepped curves. Once I have the basic attitudes, then I go and work on the hips and body first, going to spline or clamped curves. Once the body's working, then I'll do the head.. then the arms.. then the legs. (unless the arms are just swinging, then I'll do the legs before the arms). The reason I do the body first is because that's the major body part which is moving. It's motion affects the motion of everything else! If you have a pop there.. you'er going to have a pop everywhere. Any change to the body is a major change to the rest of the character.. so it's important to get that done before the rest of it. :)
...On developing character,

4. How do you get into the characters head? what are the things you study and ask before animating? What is your thought process from the begining to the point where you can exactly visualize the scene in your head?

Awesome question! It's sometimes very difficult to get inside the character's head. Sometimes it helps to watch other shots around yours that you or other people have done. I like to watch a sequence over and over again so I know exactly what the character is going through in my particular shots. I think an important skill for any animator to have is to be able to empathise.. if you can have empathy for your character, it's much easier to be able to get inside their head. WHY are they angry? Why are they happy? You can even do the method acting thing if it helps.. think about a situation which made you have a similar emotion.. experience it again.. force your body to experience it, and once YOU can get to that place, it's easier to learn to translate that from your body, through your mouse hand, onto the screen. I try and spend as much time in the beginning doing that as possible, so once the foundation is there I can relax a bit and just work on the animating, knowing that the emotional foundation is correct.

5. How do you inspire yourself to come up with the most original idea for acting? (because usualy it's really difficult to come up with something thats not cliche)

That's so hard, because part of animating is observing.. and part of observing is remembering.. so if you remember things you've observed many times, it's really easy to approach a problem with a solution you've seen before. However, those solutions aren't always the best! So I like to write down the first solution I have, and then explore other options. Don't throw it away imediately.. just put it aside. Try other things.. see ifthey work.. write them down as well. Then, sometimes you'll come up with a better idea.. sometimes you won't. But at least you'll have tried a few things and you'll have a reason for taking a certain position, as opposed to just picking the first thing that pops into your head.

Another good trick is to use secondary action to break up a cliche'd idea.. for example, if a character is in "love" and is doing the swoony eyes thing, try doing something different with their hands that you wouldn't expect.. twisting a piece of grass, scratching their arm a different way, etc. Something which breaks up the action and makes it less cliche, but gives the character an interesting personality.

okay! I'll answer the rest of yours a bit later.. gotta work work work! :)

cheers! :)
-jason

MikeRhone
06-07-2005, 06:18 PM
Hi Jason.

As soon as I saw your name on the frontpage, I knew you'de have pages of superfans posting... So right to it:

In this industry, so many people develop or learn little tricks that they never share with others. I call them 'one trick ponies'. You have always done the opposite. Every rigger out there knows the "Schleifer" rig, the fast animation DVD's, your master classes etc. Do you keep any ideas to yourself, or do you open your doors as soon as you develop a new trick? (Your auto-shoulder, stretchy spine, various MEL scripts etc.)

During your time at Alias, how hard was it to get your own ideas pushed into software releases? I ask this because it took many Maya releases to get jsOrientJoint or equivilant into the program. I would argue that its the most essential rigging tool out there. (In my early rigging days I remember trying to orient LRA's by hand... YUCK) Are you still in close contact with the developers at Alias? And on that note, do you have a top-secret email address for someone at Alias so I can make software requests of my own!?!

And finally, at which studio/position do you feel you learnt the most from your peers/co-workers?

Thanks again for all the rigging tricks, mels, and crit on the forums...!

Mike R

Rass
06-07-2005, 06:55 PM
Hello Jason,

First sorry for my english.

Only I can says.. you're my idol. Fantastic work!!
When be me big, I want to be like you, but I think... i can't hehehe, all is other world. I can't make a question to you because my english is very poor :/. Only says to you my appreciation of your work and your effort, which has given his fruit.

Have a nice day :)
Cheers
Manu.

jschleifer
06-07-2005, 07:21 PM
Kaven -- continued
...On snappy-animation-style,

6. What is the secret to making snappy animation look believable, specialy in areas like weight and balance?

The true secret is having very strong key poses. You have to have a strong, solid, pose which the audience can read instantly, then if you snap to another pose, you need to make sure that when you move, you don't do so in a linear way, drive the character to those pose and create what's called a "smear" pose, where you stretch the body and distort it so it has a nice flow and directional shape towards (or away from) the previous pose. That doesn't mean you put lots of motion blur on it, but you actually stretch the arms & head.. push the body into a shape which looks silly on the one frame, but helps draw the eye where you want it to and shoves the force of the motion where it needs to be. Then, when you reach the new pose, leave a few things to overlap more slowly and settle into place. For example, you can snap into a pose with the body and head, but let the arms come in 1 or 2 frames later. One of my fav ways to do this is snap the head somewhere & if the character is wearing a hat, have the hat overshoot, pop off the head, then slowly come and settle.

7. Please share with us some of the important things you learned about snappy style while animating Madagascar :)
I learned to push and push things.. and to try something new! To throw in little tricks and twirls in the middle of moves to help break up the action. I re-inforced ideas of strong posing blocking. I also learned a bit more about how to break up snappy motion.. when to go snappy and when to go a bit more fluid. It's important to have a reason to be snappy, you shouldn't just do it because snap is fun.. but because there's a reason behind it.
...other questions,

8. What would be some piece of advice you could give to a student interested in learning the art of animation?

I would suggest reading and observing as much as possible. Film yourself doing things and watch the movies frame by frame. Draw, draw, draw, draw, draw. Try and get an idea of what causes things to move.. what causes them to stop.. how do they react when they stop? Then get the Illusion of Life and read it.. and The animator's Survival Kit. Then get a cheap animation package, start with a bouncing ball, and go from there. :) (http://www.animationmentor.com is a great place to go if you want to learn from the best!)

9. Who's your all-time favorite animated character?...why?

That is so tough.. so hard to answer! I'd say... ugh. Hmm. I love Tarzan.. Woody.. The Beast from Beauty and the Beast.. Daffy Duck.. Julian.. Gollum.. the cat in The Cat came Back.. Merlin..
too many to count. :)

10. What are some of the BIG mistakes that beginners make when learning animation?

They try and bite off more than they can chew. I've seen many people (including myself) just starting in animation try and animate a drunk character learning how to conduct themselves in church while running and firing machine guns and wooing their latest flame. And they still don't know how to do a bouncing ball. it's important to learn the basics FIRST. You must have things like spacing and timing and weight and composition in your blood before you try and get all complicated.. make sure you understand why you need good arcs and squash and stretch before you just throw it in there. You wouldn't try and fight a black belt in karate before learning how to throw a punch!

11. What was some of the important stuff you learned from animating Gollum?

I learned a ton about trying to create realistic motion.. how to break up poses and timing to make things feel more natural. I also had some amazing animation directors and supervisors who really taught me a ton. Randy Cook, Richie Baneham, and Adam Valdez were AWESOME, and would really work with you to help you come up with better ideas, and more interesting solutions. Also, watching some of the phenominal animators like Mike Stevens, Atsushi Sato, Melanie Cordan, Stephen Hornby, and others.. how they would approach things really helped me learn a lot more about working with Gollum.

11 1/2. (just skip this one if you think it's a personal question and you dont feel like answering) Are you happy animating at PDI/Dreamworks? do you ever want to go to Pixar? or Sony or maybe starting your own animation studio?

I'm having a blast working at PDI.. I feel like I've really gotten a chance to try different types of shots w/out having to "prove" myself at the studio first. I've learned more here than anywhere, and my animation has improved 100x! I also love the work they do at Pixar & Sony, and would be honored to go to either studio. Same with BlueSky! Starting my own studio would be a great dream.. I'd love to do it as well if I could find someone else to handle the financing & just let me create great movies! :) For now, however, I'm very happy in my current role & would like to see what else PDI/Dreamworks has further down the track.


whew!! thanks man! :)

Jiokah

q. In LOTR, when the witch king dies, how did you get his head to crumple in like that? I was very impressed with that part and would love to hear how it was done.

That technique was achieved simply by keyframing the verts of the model! I first animated the body shuddering and shaking like I wanted, then I selected the verticies and pushed and pulled them as I needed, setting keyframes for them to move the way I wanted. It was important to make their compression happen just before a big move, as it would then look like the crumpling caused his convulsions. Then Chris George (the td on the shot) put in some animated displacements, and did a number of other tricks with particles and lighting to make it look more interesting. That was actually the last sequence of shots I did on the Lord of the Rings! :)

Headless
06-07-2005, 07:28 PM
Hi Jason. I have actually met you before, in passing, two years ago at the Animex festival in the UK. You gave an awesome talk and it'd be great to see you back there one year.

I'd like to know how you feel about the process of working with an actor like Andy Sirkis to develop the motion and personality of a character, compared to working on something like Madagascar, where I presume you develop the motion of your characters more by yourself (at least for your own shots)? Which of those two processes have you enjoyed the most, and do you ever see a time when actors might be employed in an Andy Sirkis, Ahmed Best, or Alan Tudyk type capacity, for a full length CG feature like Madagascar or The Incredibles (i.e, having actors on-board simply to act out scenes and help develop the characters)? Not to say that I don't think animators can hack it on their own. :)

Another quick one: What's your favorite piece of animation (2D of 3D), or visual effects work, ever?

Cheers. :)

albertbarrera
06-07-2005, 08:05 PM
Your fingers must really be hurtin' by now! Love the work you do. Keep it up and good luck in all future endeavors! If you ever need a screenwriter drop me a line!http://www.cgtalk.com/images/icons/icon10.gif

albertbarrera@sbcglobal.net

EricLyman
06-07-2005, 08:33 PM
Hi Jason, thanks for taking the time to do this Q&A session, it's invaluable to aspiring animators such as myself.

I am wondering if you can share any tips on how a recent college grad might break in to the animation for film industry. Tips such as what to focus on the most, what type of studios to try first, if said grads should first try lesser studios and work up from there, etc. etc... I would also be extremely interested to hear about your 'first feature film ever' experiences. THANKS!

jschleifer
06-07-2005, 08:56 PM
THE CLYKE
Do You Ever Get Frusterated When You Animate? If So How Many Hairs Did You Pull Out While doing so....just Kiding .....

Haha :) all - the - time!! it's easy to get frustrated.. you spend lots of time working on stuff, and sometimes it's just soo difficult to get to work right, it can be extremely frustrating. sometimes you'll be working on a shot and the audio will change.. and the direction changes.. or the shot gets cut. There are two things I do to keep myself from going nutso and bring an AK47 to work:

1) I always remember that this is the DIRECTOR's movie. It's their vision. Not mine. I can do stuff to help them.. but in the end, it's their call, no matter what. That's why they're the director! So if I need to re-animate my shot to work in their picture.. then so be it, that's what I gotta do. As long as I know I'm doing the best I can to make the best movie possible, I can deal with the frustrating shot cuts and changes. :)

2) I try and make it easy for the director--and myself-- by knowing where I'm going before I start getting into the nitty gritty of a shot. I block shots out in a way that's easy to manipulate if necessary.. using stepped curves and keying the ENTIRE character to get across ideas before spending time getting the weight and timing right. I want to be sure the director knows what he's getting & I've tried out all my various ideas & picked the best one BEFORE starting to animate. If you plan your shots properly.. you'll be able to make changes quickly and painlessly, and thus, keep most of your hair. :)

How Did You Get Yours seqeunces To Look So Good And Work In The Movies When You Had A Crazy Deadline?

That's all part of getting experience. Like I mentioned before.. block and plan your shots so you know what you're going to do. The only way to get your work done on time and at a high quality is to know where to spend the energy and when. It makes no sense spending 2 hours animating fingers, if you haven't had your ideas approved by the director! that could be 2 hours wasted! So block the shots first. Then once the blocking is approved, do a first pass where you work out timing and spacing. Then once that first pass is approved, then go in and do another pass on fingers and toes and overlap and facial and stuff like that. Then get THAT approved. Then go in and sweeten everything. That will save you time and heartache! :)

pogonip
Heh. :) Thanks! I feel pretty durn lucky and fortunate!

More to come...

mayakid14
06-07-2005, 09:13 PM
WHOA !! I feel sorry for JASON now that I See how many questions he has to answer....

BUT Unfortunately For Jason I got another question for him to answer...
sorry but maybe this question has already been answered but :

Jason, What software do you use?

simple enough?

cg219
06-07-2005, 09:46 PM
Hey Jason, Great work so far in your career. I just have a few questions.

1. Does Dreamworks have internships for High School Students?

2. Is College necessary to get into the industry?

3. What/who did you actually animate in LOTR?

4. What software do they use at Dreamworks and Weta Digital?

5. How long did you have to wait after applying to Weta and Dreamworks to get a call back?

6. What made you want to be a Character Animator or get into 3d as a whole?

7. Can you check out my website(www.artbycg.com (http://www.artbycg.com/)) and tell me what I could work on to make it better :)?

8. Do any of you have a messenger tag that I can get to chat with you? You can PM me that if you dont want EVERYone to know it. Or you can add me.

Thanks in advance for answering my questions and keep up the good work. :thumbsup:

jschleifer
06-07-2005, 09:48 PM
blitzze
- What were some major obstables you had overcome to get where you are now?

Well, there was that horrible bout of hemorrhoids back in '92... :) j/k! I think the biggest obstacle was just learning to assert myself when necessary and learning to accept criticism of my work as just that.. criticism of the work and not myself. You have to have faith that you can do what it is you're trying to do.. even when it seems like you can't! That's pretty tough, especially when you have to show your work daily to your peers and it feels like you're falling behind. Quite honestly, I can't remember any particular episode where things were so tough that I felt like the world was falling apart. I tend to approach life from a very positive viewpiont.. everything that I experience, I try and learn from. Thus, even if something really sucks donky butt (as things can), I try and focus on what I can learn from it.. and pretty soon I won't remember the painful bit as quite so painful!

- How was New Zealand for you?

New Zealand was AWESOME! I LOVE it there.. it's such a beautiful country and the people are so amazing. Some of my best friends in the world live there. Love it love it love it love it! :)

- Tell us an amusing CG-related story!:D

Lesse.. when I was working on Film 3, there was a few weeks where Randy Cook and Richie Baneham were both out of the office, & I was trying to cover their roles (Randy is the animation director, and richie was animation supervisor). During that time, Andy Serkis was doing motion capture down in the studio. I was asked by our producer to go down and help direct him for the shots. Having never done that before, I was sutibly worried that I wouldn't be able to do it right, but when asked to do something like that.. you go ahead and do it anyway! So I went down to the mocap stage and met all the people working there. Andy was suited up and ready to start, and began working on his shots. Luckily, both Fran and Phillipa were there, so they did all the real directing.. I just sort of made comments here and there about what would read, and what wouldn't in terms of his body positioning. but they were the ones doing the real direction. At the end of the day, there was a bit of time left, so they asked if I wanted Andy to do some quick acting examples of Gollum doing various things which we could use as reference. So I said "sure!" and asked him to crawl around.. climb over things.. run.. do all the things that we could use as reference to animate him better, basically. So he's crawling around.. and running.. and climbing up.. and down.. and crawling.. and sweating.. and the whole time I'm just thinking "wow.. this is great reference! just great!" And andy's getting more and more tired.. finally, Lisa elbows me in the ribs and whispers "cut.. you're supposed to say cut.." and I'm like "what?" and she elbows me again and goes "say cut! you're directing this!" and I'm like "oh! right! CUT!!!" and Andy just collapses.

oops!

Great reference tho! :)

JamesBPM
06-07-2005, 10:41 PM
lol...Now that was a fantastic little story... very much fun :)

jschleifer
06-07-2005, 11:01 PM
Nelsig
When I heard you were leaving WETA to go to PDI/DREAMWORKS, I thought you would work on some realistic animations for visual effects ..

Nah, that's one of the reasons I wanted to come to PDI/Dreamworks.. I wanted to work on cartoony stuff, and that's definitely the style I saw in Madagascar! It was the perfect vehicle to try and get as cartoony as possible!

As you worked in both production pipeline which kind of job do you prefer? Cartoon or VFX ?

There are things I like about both types of production.. Cartoony stuff you get to just go crazy and try things because they're funny. With VFX you have that added challenge of matching the live action world which the director creates. However, right now I'm really loving the cartoony land I've been enhabiting lately. There's nothing that I enjoy more than making people laugh in dailies.. and Madagascar was an awesome opportunity to do that!


For somebody searching a job in CG what do you think is most important ? The demoReel or the competences (a huge amount of software and a very expensive diploma in a considered art school :eek:) ?

I think the most important thing, if you don't have contacts in the firm, is your demo reel. It's the first thing that the employer will look at.. if your reel is great, then it doesn't really matter where you went to school. Once they like your reel, they'll then look to see what software you know. If you know the software they use.. then bonus! If not, then it's a little bit tougher sell.. but if your real really kicks serious butt, then they'll give you a shot if they have the room!

What's next now Jason ? Are you staying at PDI/DREAMWORKS or will you travel again around the world ?

For now I'm staying at PDI/Dreamworks to work on the next film here. After that, who knows? I'd love to continue learning and pushing, and I like the idea of moving further along here. PDI's treating me really well, and I'm happy to be here. :)

Madlight_1888
would u show us some exclusive images of ur workshop or models,or anything cool,which hasnt been showned?!:D

Unfortunately, I can't show anything which hasn't already been approved by the companies I work for.. part of the whole NDA thing. :)

Pufferfish
1. How did it felt to see LOTR movies first time on big screen? (must have been rewarding:) )

It was AWESOME!! The first time seeing your work with an audience is so amazing.. especially since the movies were so good. It was really inspiring to get an idea of what the movies were going to be.. and it kind of renewed our faith in how just damn good they were. It's so easy to get insulated in your own little world when working on shots. I mean, you stare at teh same 100 frames of film for a week, and you begin to obsess about little things.. but the you see what it's all coming together with, and it's like.. "WOOOO!!" :)

2. Do you have any ultimate goal/s in your career? ..if so, have you achieved it/them yet? OR are you just riding along with the waves, waiting bigger and better ones? :)

Kind of a combination of both. My goal ultimately at this point is to keep learning and eventually be an animation director if possible. But for now, I'm really happy where I am, and I just keep picking up opportunities as they become available. Like I said earlier.. it's important to focus on what you want, and work towards it (w/out burning bridges on the way there!) :)

3. What would be the one beer to rule them all?
Tui, mayte!
SNAP
1. Just want to see what you experience with AnimationMentor.com has been like so far?

It's a blast!! It's been really exciting seeing how much the students are learning, in so short a time. It's also been a great learning experience from my end to get more confident in giving concise direction. So instead of going "oh.. hmm.. well, maybe if you put the ball here..." now I'm saying things like "if you put the ball here, then over here, you'll get a better arc which will help sell the shot". The amount of enthusiasm that everyone has just makes me go... WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! :)

CoolDuck
06-07-2005, 11:18 PM
Hi Jason, just wanna let u know that I'm quite a fan of yours. :P You have really done superb work with LOTR, and I've learned a lot from your Fast Animation Rigs. It's really cool to have someone like you talk with us! Thank you for your time.

A few questions if you have time...

- Can you give us any tips regarding rigging a quadruped, that can also stand on 2 feet. Like a bear.

- What do u not like about your work?

Greetings Benny

keitaro
06-07-2005, 11:35 PM
What is the personal computer configuration you are now using to work in your project? In detail if you can?

Edit: I know you change and you move and you use various systems, but which is the one you use more often and for what?

eevilmouse
06-08-2005, 12:11 AM
Ok for those of us trying to break in to the animation business, what do you think the best advice you would have.. I know demo reel is a big one, but how would be the best way to do it.. IE create this Awesome reel, and send it to god and everyone, or call people, or only submit to places that are hireling.. How did you, and how would you go about getting into the business?

Kevin Porter

harmonic01
06-08-2005, 12:25 AM
Hello Jason. Thanks so much for taking time to answer questions. You're definitely and inspiration and I’m jealous of my friend Franky who's taking an AM class and being assigned to you. :)


And now for some questions.


1) Could you talk a bit about the facial rigs and controls you had on Madagascar characters? Are they morpher (or Blendshape) based? Is it anything like Jason Osipa's rigs in Stop Staring book?


2) I totally love Penguins and king Julien from Madagascar, can you tell us if you animated any shots with them and if so which once? :)


3) If there was anything you wish you had more time to do, and maybe change or adjust on Madagascar, what would it be and why?

Thanks allot :)

XYZRGB
06-08-2005, 12:55 AM
I've also learned how to pour my heart and soul into my work, but not be destroyed when it has to change and someone critiques it. It's so important to be able to separate a critique of your work from a critique of YOU.-jason



( Thanks :) . I need to print this and glue it to my screen. )

Gemini82
06-08-2005, 12:59 AM
Hello Jason, quick question

1) What do you think about the critics review of Madagasgar? Do you agree with them on some points?

flamingbs
06-08-2005, 01:04 AM
Hi Jason,

Hoping to be a director someday (though at 15, I'm a long way off), I was wondering how much you interact with the director during the course of production? I'm especially curious to know if you were directly critiqued by Peter Jackson during LOTR, and if so, was he as nice as he seems on camera, or did he seem stressed? Thanks for answering all of our questions, I'm excited to be able to talk to someone in the business.

-Ben Smith

jschleifer
06-08-2005, 01:09 AM
Romero
1) After working on LOTR which is highly regarded as one of the best special effects movies of all time, and now just finishing off an excellent feature animation film, my question is what have you found to be the most challenging aspect of your job in both or either experiences you have been apart of ?

Good question! The most challenging aspect of my job is trying to craft a believable performance out of an "inanimate" object. Our roles as animators is to try and convince the audience to believe that a bunch of pixels on screen have life & are full of emotion. It's so difficult to make something breathe, and by that I don't mean making the chest moving up and down, I mean making the audience think that the character would die if they DIDN'T inhale and exhale.. making them empathize with the characters.. it's not an easy thing to do! So that is extremely difficult, and is something I'm still learning more and more about every day.

another challenging aspect of the job is dealing with politics within a studio. In any high pressure situation, people's personalities and desires are going to come out, and sometimes some people have political desires which can cause you pain.. for example, if someone wants to climb the career ladder, your position may be in the way of theirs. That can be extremely frustrating, as not everyone cares about who they step on along the way. You have to learn to just let those people cary on doing what they do, and hope that someday their karma will catch up with them.


2) Who are some of your favorite character animators or artists and why?

Wow.. so many so many! Brad Bird, Glen Keane.. any of the mentors on AnimationMentor.com.. there are some students out there at various schools I've been to who are AMAZING.. the 9 old men.. richard williams.. gah, I can't name everyone, I'll go crazy! :) As for artists, there are a ton of those, as well.. generally, I really love people who put passion into their art, and take the time to study and learn the basics so they can exaggerate FROM someplace.

3) What was your main influence in getting into the business and who do you owe alot of thanks to, if any?

The old warner bro's cartoons were a huge influence.. Tex Avery, Disney, Bob Clampett. I used to spend saturday mornings watching everything.. yes, even the Smurfs. :)

I owe everything to my parents, of course.. they believed in me enough to let me switch majors from Communications (social sciences) to Art Studio, even though it was going to take me an extra year to graduate. I owe heaps to Victoria Vesna, who got me the internship at Alias|Wavefront, where Gary Monheit first hired me to help learn Maya. I owe enormous amounts to Carol Flax, my art professor at the time who kept me sane through everything I was going through. Huge thanks to Dave Fisher, who let me travel around and support Maya even though I was the new guy at Alias|Wavefront.. Corban Gossett, Bubba Lombardi, and Adrian Graham who gave a new guy a chance to work with them on productions internally.. Mike Wilson, the boss who gave me my first "Animator" title.. Mark Sylvester, the head of Wavefront Santa Barbara who taught me how to demo.. Kyle Odermatt from Disney, who remembered my name and indroduced me as an "animator" to other animators when I was nuthin.. Dan Deleeuw who did the same & believed enough to give me an opportunity to come down to DreamQuest every week to learn more about production.. Charlie McClellan and Jon Shiels who first hired me at Weta, and Randy Cook who moved me over to the animation department.

And many many more.. :)

4) Coke or Pepsi ?

COFFEE!! :)

Chris Bacon
06-08-2005, 01:23 AM
Hi Jason.....First is great of you to be answering these questions.....your work has been a inspiration to alot of people.....

just a few quick questions if that ok.....

1) Did you always want to be an animator

2) What was the best piece of advice you were given...

3) What chalenges did you face when you started animating for a studio for the first time..

4) Im aware you used Maya for animating Gollum...did you use the graph editor alot...


thanks so much...Its SOOOO cool that your doing this dude.......:thumbsup:

jschleifer
06-08-2005, 01:52 AM
Adriano_Zanetti
Wow.. thanks for the kind words! On behalf of everyone who worked on the Lord of the Rings & Madagascar, thank you! Both films are what they are because of way more than what I ever put into them.. the thanks belongs to everyone.. so thank you thank you thank you. :)

Jason|Slab whats next for u? are u staying at Dreamworks?

Yep, I'm here at least for the next production (shrek 3), and then after that we'll see how it goes! Can't make any guesses yet.. but if I can stay here and progress further in my career, than that would rock! :)

and *grrrrr why'd u steal ma name punk?¿

'cuz it was oh, so easy. :)
ynvamsi 1) could you explain your rigging process briefly?

Sure! I dont' do much rigging anymore, I focus mostly on animation these days (woo! :), but the rigging I did on the Lord of the Rings was focused on rigging for Animation. My general thought process is to make things as simple as possible for the animators. As an animator myself, I don't like to have to think about which control does what.. I want to just be able to grab the rig and move it where I want, and not get out of the "flow" of things.

I also don't put limits on my animation rigs.. stretchy backs, arms, legs, necks, etc. I want to leave it up to the animator to keep everything on-model. You never know what they'll have to do to get a shot to work, so my goal is to make it as painless for them as possible. I also want to allow them to not have to counter-animate.. so I add in controls to make sure the head can stay put while the shoulder and neck move.. etc.

I also like to build the rigs in an object-oriented mode, as I mentioned in an earlier post.. so if I have an arm I like, I can easily apply that same arm to any other rig I create simply by calling it from the mel script.

My goals are: ease of use.. portability.. convenient.. and fast fast fast!!

hhssuuThanks hhssuu! most of your props gotta go to Randy, Peter, Fran, Phillipa, Andy, Bay Raitt, the creature team, lighting, comp, and all the other animators, tho.. there were 18 of us animating, and another 6 or 7 or so dealing with the Mocap. Gollum wouldn't be anything he was w/out any of those folks!

1) what kinds of techniues was involved in gollums facial setup (apart from the eml interface, is the structure underneath bones, spines, morphs or mix), and what roles did you split with Bay Raitt and Tom Kluyskens.

Gollum's face was all sculpts.. blendShapes sculpted mostly by Bay Raitt himself (I think 99.9 % of 'em), and a whole crazy series of expressions to help control things and make them easier for the animators to work with.

Bay Raitt was definitely the head of the team, he developed the technique, sculpted things, and was in control of things. I wrote the facial animation interface, and made sure that we could get the animation data out and on to the creature system. Tom Kluyskens took over for me when I moved to the animation department & cleaned up my messy code & made things work a bit neater. :)

2) what would you think is the most felxible method for a facial setup for individuals at home? (If answering this question reduces sales for your DVD then don't answer :))
I really like Jason Osipa's technique in his book Stop Staring! Not only is it a neat way to animate.. but he does a great job describing why he does things the way he does them. Good stuff!!

whew! more to come! :)

eh
06-08-2005, 01:59 AM
Hi jason im a big fan (twirling a peice of grass) not only of your art but of such perseverance and dedication to a career which most of us struggle with day to day and I just want to thank you for taking the time always to critique all of our works. I've seen you post on a regular and I realy appreciate all youve done for this community, Its wonderful to see someone with such compasions. Thank you..

-If you didnt have cg and all you had was the lump of plastercine would your heart still pound when you saw the accumaltion of quickly recorded frames play back on an old cam corder?

-do you find you study mythology? phsycology? the real drive behind the character and the story or is it just about the emotion?

-what is the meaning of life?

-How many questions can you answer before you regret agreeing to this?

jschleifer
06-08-2005, 02:18 AM
Neeno
i'd just like to say your are one of the greatest animators of all time no Questions asked..

Pah! Hardly! haha :) thanks, for the kind sentiments, but there are tons tons tons tons tons of better animators than me! WAAAY more! I'd list 'em, but my fingers are already hurting.. needless to say, I'm just lucky to be where I am, and I'm learning more every day.


1.) having such a difficult task to animate a character that is also being played physically by a real person using mocap how well did you handle such a difficult task and how did you approach it?

The difficult part about that was keeping everyone happy when they were doing it. Obviously the animators wanted to do all of it.. and Andy Serkis wanted to do all of it.. and the mocap editors wanted to do all of it.. but Gollum wasn't a character that could be done with any one technique alone. We had to use the best technique for any given situation.. this included:


Using Andy's reference from his work on set
Animating straight ahead with no reference
Using the mocap with only minor tweaks
using the mocap but modifying it extensively
Each shot was different, so each shot took different techniques. If it was a crazy action shot, then we'd animate it.. if it was a far away motion shot, depending on the type of motion we'd use mocap or animate it. If Andy was interacting with the actors, we'd use his reference as much as we could. If it was a close up acting shot, we'd start with the mocap (or video reference) and then tweak from there as necessary.


2.) What other creatures in lord of the rings did you animate also? just wanna replay the movies a few times and admire and learn from reference.

Besides some Gollum shots, I animated the Witch King's death scene, two shots of the Watcher in the Water, a few Shelob shots, a number of shots where orcs got trampled by horses, a guy falling out of a tower, Saruman's death, and the Balrog's whip (woo!) :) There may have been others, but I can't remember them all now.. it was so long ago!


3.) Madagascar being a short film for a CG produced film... its shorter then usual other films like Shrek and Sharks tale etc.. Did you concentrate alot more, on it being a shorter time frame, did you have a shorter time frame to complete your work? or was it still like 2 to 3 years in the making?

Mad actually went for quite a while, but it was a smaller team to start with. I believe it was 2+ years in the making.. probably longer including script writing, rigging, building the models, etc. The production and animation time was pretty short, but there wasn't much crunch time until the very end. And that was pretty minimal.. PDI/Dreamworks are really good about making sure we work normal hours and get home on weekends to be with family. Which is really nice. :)


4.) what software do you use and have knowledge of and if you were to create software for something specific what would it be?? and what would it do.??

At home for animation I use Maya, but at work we use inhouse software called EMO. If I were to create software for something specific? Hmm.. that's a toughie.. I'd write one which would extend the amount of hours in a day & allow me to spend more time with the family and less time on the computer. :)

Seriously, tho.. I'd love some animation software which would allow me to move even further away from having to think about the technology behind the animation, and focus on the art and the performance. I'd love to never have to think "ik or fk?" "what should this be parented to?" "Oh, I want to re-time this... do I save now or after..?" "where's my texture?" "how come I'm getting a weird pop here?" "why doesn't it go faster???" Real time lighting, hair, clothing, etc... now that'd be nice. :)
cheers! :)

fsanimate
06-08-2005, 02:30 AM
Say you are handed a 120 frame shot with dialog and the whole character in frame that you have to animate. Generally, how many work days would it take you to get a shot like that finalized.

Do you have a frames per hour or day completion rate that you strive for?

Brian Nichols

sin3d
06-08-2005, 03:27 AM
Hi Jason, 2 simple questions...
How's life in Dreamworks compared to in WETA?
What do u do in your spare time?

Thankssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss:thumbsup:
Sin

BarryRIT
06-08-2005, 04:00 AM
Hey Jason, thanks for doing this! I first want to send you a big thanks for all the information you have shared. Back when I was a wide eyed animation student I was able to catch your Character Setup master class at the San Antonio Siggraph a few years back. The rig you showed really blew me away. It helped me put together a decent enough animation reel to land my first job in the industry, so a big big thanks!!!

Anyways, on to the questions...

1. I was curious about the stability of being an animator at a big
studio. I have heard that most of those jobs are contracts on a
project to project basis. Is this true? Its it hard to get a secure/staff
position at a big feature studio?

2. Do you have a personal favorite scene or sequence you have worked on?
whether it be from LOTR or Madagascar or something else?

3. What kind of freedom do you get from the directors with your shots?

4. What do you guys doing inbetween projects? How do they keep you busy? Or are they able to schedule it so you can jump right into the next feature film?

5. I am on the verge of accepting a new job in the bay area (menlo park to be exact),
and will be moving out there in about a month or so. Know any good restaurants? http://cgtalk.com/images/smilies/grin.gif

Thanks!

tuovni
06-08-2005, 06:20 AM
Hi, my name is Augusto, I´m from Uruguay, so that, forgive my english, is pretty bad, first I want to congratulate you, your work is incredible, I´m very exited waiting to watch Madagascar. Let me tell you that I´m a character animator, in a animation studio and individual, so that I´ve been making rigs for a long time, but just in 3D studio max and lightwave, and I´ve never done a rig which don´t have a problems with the geometry. I see the gollum and I don´t find any answer.
I´d like to know if exist a sftware that you can say, there is the best place you can work, and there is no anyone soft which have something like that.
¿Which is the appropiated tool to work with characters?
¿exists any technique in the modelin or rigging just to avoid this problems?

Thank you very much,
Augusto.

PD www.animalada.com (http://www.animalada.com) here is where I work...

keep doin exellent things like you´ve been doing...

Rye
06-08-2005, 06:35 AM
Hey Jason

Don't actually have any questions, just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to answer everyone else's, its been inspiring to read.

Alfons
06-08-2005, 07:50 AM
Hi, I think it's great that you teach and take an active role in the "animation community".

Q1 How do you go about solving rig problems and what are the first things you do when you are faced with a rig construction that you newer have done before?(besides trial and error, do you read books, search the internet, call your contacts at Alias or do you just think until you come up with a solutions that works)

Q2 What's your approach to naming conventions? specially the joints?

Thanks for your time
Karl Fredberg

Neeno
06-08-2005, 09:32 AM
thanks for your reply jason.. really cool man.. kep up the good work dude! ..

Fus|on
06-08-2005, 09:37 AM
yo, Jason

Sorry if these questions have already been asked.

1) I was just wondering what your general working hours are? how much does it differ when crunch time comes,

2) Are your current working hours any different to when you worked in WETA.

3) when do you think its the time to say "too much", how do you avoid having "over burn" specially with you being in such leading roles in companys such as WETA and PDI.

4) Do you still study and use reference from books? like Illusion of life etc? if so what books are you fav that you learnt from or still use as reference like just to recap stuff.

5) Random question, whats your fav coffee?

Thanks alot and sorry for the lamo questions, I'm trying to keep them as simple as possible for your fingures and wrists. :)

keep up the good work and best wishs for your future !

freshNfunky
06-08-2005, 10:45 AM
I have seen your rigging for animators from siggraph was a nice tutorial and to me the only one who was really useful instead of many amateur rigging tutorials you can find them everywhere in the net and just get mad about that those tutorials don't tell you anything you don't know.

none the less the animation work done with the gollum is uncomparable
and i have never seen some expressions in animation that becam so lifely than gollum.

currently gollum forms a great benchmark for my own animations and one for what is already possible.
i have especially great interest in realistic animation like this. this is also fuelled by the Idea, that many animations, even in feature films, don't really respect the behaviour of physics. Sometimes i see knights in animation, swinging swords or axes as the'd be 200gramms instead of maybe 5 kilograms e.g. just such misbehaviours of mass inertia makes an animation very unbeleavable. i think that there is the most headroom in VFX and which is still unexplored.

at the moment i am still developing my skills as much as possible in this direction making realistig animation - maybe getting the chanche once animating at a feature film like LotR *sigh* ...maybe....

although i have also some questions, but i think dear jason, you already have a lot of work to do with the other questions:

anyhow my question is:
how did you guys made the gollum in LotR II let interact him with the whater.
I myself think that this work is incredibly hard to solve when not using realflow (which is even harder to tweak such useful results within a affordable time). i know the actor was wearing a blue suite where you keyed him out, but i don't think with the keying it is done.

i have no idea how you did it *headscratch* :shrug:

anyhow, keep the fire burning.

hopper2k
06-08-2005, 12:27 PM
Hey Jason,

Do you ever shock yourself by the quality of your animation? Like, when you look back at the shots you did on LotR and Madagascar, do you tend to think "Man, how did I do all that!?", because sometimes I look at some animated shots I have done in the past, of course they were all a challenge for me, and I think to myself how was I able to pull that off. For animated pieces I do for myself, I try to do something more challenging and complicated than the previous animation to push myself and my animation skills. I'm just wondering if this is something normal! But if this is true for you, any shots in particular you would like to comment on?
It's ok if you don't answer this question, but thanks for your time you have taken out for reading and answering alot of these questions!

Greasley
06-08-2005, 12:40 PM
Jason,
First thanks for letting us question every aspect of your career and giving up your time to answer.
My question is: you were working on LOTR for so long, did you like the story to begin with, did it grow on you, or has it put you off it completely? This leads me onto a more general question that in your career you must have worked on projects that you didnt like the idea of. In those situations do you still get enjoyment out of the process even though the end result might not be to your own taste or did the work lose its appeal then?

Cheers:thumbsup:

stewartjones
06-08-2005, 12:46 PM
Jason! Do you ever think you are over-worked, oh, and find any of your students at Animation Mentor really annoying!?!?! HAHA! :D

mnp
06-08-2005, 01:27 PM
Hi Jason,

Just a couple of Q's from me:

1. Did you consider staying at Weta and working on Jane and the Dragon?

2. Being a New Zealander myself LOTR is everywhere and (naturally) I know a fair amount of people who worked on it - they were (almost) all awe struck by the experience, How did working on the films affect you? do you have any fond memories about NZ?

3. On Madagascar did you work with the 4 legged animals? if so, were there any major challenges that you didnt encounter while working with bipeds?

sinbad
06-08-2005, 01:28 PM
Hey Jason, thanks for taking the time on this. I for one will be printing this out for my AM folder in case I get you as my mentor. Good luck with the rest of the questions!

paul

kaveh_michael
06-08-2005, 02:27 PM
Thanks a lot for the detailed answers Jason, REALLY really helpful :) I printed them out and been reading them since yesterday.

By the way, seems like Shhh-Life!-er? has exceeded monthly* bandwidth! and it's only Jun 8th, you should do something about it becasue we can't wait till July for it to come back on ;)

thanks again,

-Kaveh


* Edit: you're right art, it's the daily bandwidth. but I have a feeling that it's gonna keep exceeding the limit everyday this week, just a feeling thou :)

Slurry
06-08-2005, 02:34 PM
Hi Kaveh,

It looks like he exceeded his DAILY bandwidth. 10 Gigs a day...popular guy, eh?
:D

Art

CoolDuck
06-08-2005, 02:37 PM
Yup thanks for all your answers, really helpful!
You should write a book Jason! :D

Nemoid
06-08-2005, 04:00 PM
Yup thanks for all your answers, really helpful!
You should write a book Jason! :D

so true !
also some series of DVD could be great

anzibon
06-08-2005, 04:03 PM
Hi Jason,


first of all, thanks for putting me on the road I'm on with animation. it's working out swell! I saw a couple of your seminars at Siggraph in San Antonio and it really showed me the light. I had no idea about gimbal, rot orders, foot setup etc. personally, i'm astounded you aren't an animation director already and i'm sure it's just a matter of time.


1. what would be your best peice of advice for someone who is moving from comercials only, (spending two weeks or less on most jobs, two or three days per shot) into film animation. i'll be on a pro rig for the first time and really concentrating on animation. yikes.

2. how do you keep your performances fresh and energetic and in character when a production goes for so long? does your attitudes and approach tend to change over the life of a project?

3. have you ever animated characters that are not human/biped? how do you handle the challenge of personalizing a character with more than 6 legs?

4. you're a real inspiration to a lot of animators. how does it feel to know that you're starting to show up in peoples list of favorite animators. i.e. Chuck Jones, Frank Thomas, Tex Avery, Jason Schleifer. (this may be an exagerated example, but in case you didn't know... it is happening) it's probably a natural biproduct of your generous attitude toward budding animators.


thanks again,
~B
Brian Ward

jschleifer
06-08-2005, 04:48 PM
woah!!!

okay, got up this morning and found out my daily bandwidth had been exceeded.. I've got a daily bandwith of 10 GIGS.. holy mother of.. wow!

urm.. it should all be back up again tomorrow.. heh :) and.. er.. let's see if I can move my demo reel somewhere else for hosting, 'cuz I've got a feeling that that's the thing which is causing it to go kaputz! :)

more answers to yer questions coming throughout the day! :)

Romero
06-08-2005, 05:13 PM
Hi Jason, just wanted to thank you for the in-depth answers. Man your fingers must be sporting blisters by now, anyhow good luck with your future projects, and animationmentors, I am happy to see that you are one of the wizards on board. Cheers!

jschleifer
06-08-2005, 06:00 PM
RayenD
Do you ever feel burned out?

Certainly, everyone does! The body can only take so much punnishment before the brain goes "okay, off ya go! *snip*!". I think a big problem with the industry is that people are so passionate about their work.. they care so much about what they do, that they forget that they need a BREAK every once in a while. I think the fact that most people in the US only get 2 weeks of vacation a year is CRAZY!! Think about that.. 2 weeks? out of 52 weeks in a year? That's an insane percentage of time that you're working v.s. focusing on things that are REALLY important.. your family, your health, friends, loved ones.. trying to figure out how to fit a break into your schedule should not be something to stress over. I think people need to really learn how to relax.. slow down.. take a vacation! It's important to work hard and be passionate.. but it's just as important to go sit on the edge of a lake somewhere and just do NOTHING for a week. Then go visit family you haven't seen in a while. connect with friends. watch movies. sleep. just be yourself!
Kris.s32
Cheers kris! but you gotta thank peter and richard and everyone else for that.. it's so awesome that the industry is starting to really take off in NZ, and that more kiwis can get involved. I love NZ.. and I'd love to be able to go back someday and animate there doing feature animated films. It looks like the more the industry grows, with it's unique brand of kiwi "aw, yeah" attitude, the better! :)

The Solid Snake
Hi Jason, i find your work a very strong inspiration source.
What's your dog name?

wow.. thanks very much! :) actually I have two dogs.. Bean and Milo.

akhenaten
What I want to know is that can a complex character like Gollum or Olephant be completely made on a single home pc. If yes, which graphics card and how much ram would you recommend?

Haha :) well.. sure.. maybe, if you had the skill and ability to do it! There's a lot which goes into making a "gollum" or "mumakill" creature.. first, you need to have an incredibly detailed model, then you need a skinning system which contains muscles and can handle dynamic jiggling, then you need a really insanely detailed level of texture maps and shaders, and a rendering system that won't bog down and die when you try and render with all the sub-surface scattering and displacement maps, and you need a dynamics system to handle the cloth and rigid dynamics systems, and a hair system to do the hair.. so yeah.. MAYBE you could do it on one machine.. as long as you don't plan on using that machine for anything else for a while while it's simulating everything.

as for which graphics card and how much ram? get the best graphics card you can and as much ram as you can afford. :)
kamsvag
As an animator with your experience, do you get to give input to how the scene you've been assigned to work on should look (in terms of framing 'n camera movement), or are the scene pretty much nailed from the leika reel?

well, we can comment on things, but in generall when the shot gets handed over from the layout department it's already determined what the camera is doing. But they're pretty open to working back and forth with us on things if need be.

Do you as an character animator in a production like Madagascar also animate the camera-moves in the scenes you've been given or does someone else do this?

The way the departments are set up, the director and story team put together a storyboard which gets edited together into a reel. Then the director sits down with the layout department and they re-work things into a cohesive layout and shot list.. what shots will be called.. where the camera is giong to be.. what camera motion there will be.. etc. They nail that down and do rough staging of the characters as for their placement. Then we get it and we animate to the rough camera and such. Then while we're working out the block and the shot itself, layout will go back in and make final adjustments and tweaks if necessary.
So the animators really don't touch the camera unless we need something super-specific.. and then we might do a rough pass on something, but then layout will take it and finish it off. :)


How much influence does one have as an animator at a larger studio? From what I've understood it's a rather firm hiriarchy in larger studios, or is this an missunderstanding?

You don't have very much influence in terms of changing things around.. that's the job of the director and producers and story artists and such. But you can make comments and suggestions, and depending on the directors they can listen if they like. It's set up in a hierarchy in order to make sure work can get done on time.. imagine if you were animating a shot and a modeler kept emailing you saying "You know what? instead of putting the hand there, you should put it over here.. and your timing is off.. and you should do this and that". You can listen to his advice if you want, but it's really up to the director to determine what you should and shouldn't be doing, because it's they're job to get the movie done. So the hierarchy can be frustrating.. but it's necessary in order to get projects this huge done on time and on budget.

I'd also like to congrat you for the excellent movie Madagascar. It's solid and fun.

Thanks very much! it was a blast to work on, for all of us involved!
mattmos

just a quickie, how on earth do you find time to do Animation Mentor, blog like a madman and Q+A here while still knocking out kick arse work at Dreamworks and working on a short film and spending time with your family? You're an inspiration dude, and I wish I could time manage like you!

Heya matt! I dunno.. I tend to ramble a lot, and when I render out my shots I'll check things out and see what's going on in the world.. blog a little.. type a little.. etc. Unfortunately, Jonh and His Dog is pretty much on hold for a while.. it'll come back later, but right now with work and AnimationMentor and Family and TiVo.. there's no time to do that right now. :) I'm petitioning the government for 2 extra hours in the day. I think we can all agree that they'd be handy! :)


One last q, coming from a more technical background do you find people trying to fit you back into that role? On Mad did you have to consciously resist fiddling with the rigs or did you do it anyway and pass it on back?

that was one of the main reasons I came to PDI/Dreamworks.. here we use in-house software, so I don't know how to even create a rig let alone make changes to the ones they use! My background is helpful in knowing how to communicate what I want.. and I'll definitely let them know if something isn't working the way I expect, but I physically can't do any rigging because I just don't know how to do it with the system here. So I'm able to focus completely on animation, which is just AWESOME. :)
Elvis75k
I like your works.. no particular question about your experience 'cos i've read alot from your forum/blog/plog. Just one: How many hours you go to sleep and what you eat? (common italianish questions). Thanks for reading and forgive my english..

Haha :) thanks elvis! Lesse.. I sleep about 6 hours a night, 7 if I can get it.. and I try and eat healthy. Lots of coffee (yum!), but I try and have a bit of meat and veggies every day.. noodles are yummy.. I love indian food, asian food, and pizza! and pasta. And meatballs. And hamburgers. And french fries. and brussel sprouts....

hmm. basically I eat everything except dessicated coconut (the little flakes) and marshmellows. blech!

kujo79
06-08-2005, 06:19 PM
Hey Jay,

First off let me tell you how great of you it is to actually get back to every question asked. I find it very noble of you to be able to reach to everyone. I can only imagine how busy it must be....well maybe a little less now after wrapping madagascar. Still it is well appreciated.

I dont have much to ask just a small comment. I think you are an inspiration to alot of us. I myself met you last year at Siggraph and was amazed at how humble you were. Not to over say it but you are somewhat of a icon to some of us (me...heheh).

I guess since I'm here, a small question for you would be if you think the transition from games to film is possible. I do agree that the boundary is getting thinner everyday, but by working in the games business as we speak I do see a slight difference, especially on the acting side. Im a huge fan of acting in animation. So I'm wondering if companies such as dreamworks look at game animators as a flaw or an asset.

Thanks a million again.....

Joe

PS. If you see a small animator at Dream called Emilio....slap him for me.

jschleifer
06-08-2005, 07:10 PM
DCKBB
I have question, about synchronization of character with real scene. What kind method we use for this amazing effect? All scene with Gollum is made using mocap? And what technology was used for balance light between real scene and 3d object? If it's possible, would you send on board, screenshot from 3d soft with character, like Gollum or Balrog in wireframe mode, with bones and rigg system?

I mentioned in an earlier answer that we used a whole bunch of different techniques for gollum.. mocap, keyframe animation, video reference, and every combination of the three you can think of. Not one technique was used exclusively. I didn't spend much time working with the lighting team, but from what I understand they wrote a great sub-surface scattering skin shader which would simulate the way light would bounce around inside the skin and give a realistic translucency to the skin. As for how to balance the light with a 3d object and the scene around them, they were given lighting cues in the shots (usually a white plastic sphere, and a metalic reflective sphere), and would match to that using their artistic ability with lighting. Sometimes they would cheat things as necessary.. but there wasn't an automatic solution based on the plates. They'd have to make it look right using their own artistic skills. :) I'd love to show a screenshot of the characters from the software, but I don't have any access to any of those shots, and unless they were approved by Newline and Weta, I wouldn't be able to show them.. sorry!! :)

Xen
1. How did you started off working in the 3D industry? Like did you already have some foundation, or you started dabbling in it only when you're in it? Either case, how did you proceed from there till where you are now?

I started in the 3d industry back when I was in university. We were learning Photoshop and Director, and the mac lab had a copy of Infini-D. I gave it a shot and did a really crappy animation of a bee (it's soo bad.. sooooo bad!), but I really liked how easy it was to manipulate objects and move them around. I knew that 3d was where things were heading with animation, and kept pressing my instructor (Victoria Vesna) to do more 3d related projects. She was working on an art project which required 3d human models to be built, so I got sent to Wavefront to learn their 3d animation packages there. that was a GREAT opportunity to learn from the people who wrote the software themselves! Then when I came back, we only had 2 machines which could run the software.. one was used as the web server, so I asked if I could be the web-master for the art department, knowing that it would give me unlimited access to the machines. They agreed, and I got a job as webmaster for the art studio department. Then, when I wasn't working on the web pages, I would work with the software and learn as much as possible. Pretty soon, Alias|Wavefront needed someone as an intern to test Maya as it was getting built.. I got hired on (thanks gary!), and things progressed like crazy from there! :)
2. How did you manage ur time so well handling SO MANY things at a time?? :thumbsup:

oh, I'm an alien. :)

I dunno.. really ,I just type fast and work hard and sleep hard I guess!! :)


whew! okay, that's the end of page 2! more to come.. more to come..

btw, the website is up again! (yay!!) :)

studiomaxer3d
06-08-2005, 07:26 PM
Hi Jason,

Would you like webspace with unlimited bandwidth? I can hook you up. Send me a message if you need it. My partner and I (joshone) have a server hooked up to a big fat juicy internet pipe. Its mostly his server.. i just take advantage of it.

email
jcneri@massrender.com (jcneri@massrender.com)

and a question for you.
What is the first book you would recommend for an aspiring animator? I use XSI should I be using Maya?

chadmv
06-08-2005, 07:34 PM
Hi Jason,
When I read that you went to UCSB, I got really excited since I'm graduating from UCSB this Saturday! In fact, I'm taking my last final in half an hour :)

Anyways, I was just wondering, if you could start over on your path in CG, what would you do differently?

-Chad

InKraBid
06-08-2005, 08:04 PM
hi!
I'm a Norwegian CG and 2D artist currently working at an animation studio in Bergen, working mainly on MAX..

I wonder a couple things:

Have you ever worked in MAX, and if so, what did you think of the prog? Anything I should REALLY look into, specially thinking about skinning and IK\FK bones structures ?

Have you ever worked with games? If so, any insights, things I should look out for?

With Gollum and other 'real' chars, do you really skin the whole multi-million-poly mesh, or do you have a simpler mesh that is smoothed out after skinning?

Do you know any good tutorials (or websites) for learning scripts for beginners, alternatively; how did you start learning scripting yourself?

And how much math do you have to know to be a good scripter? I ask cause I had to take my last mathexam 3 times to pass.. nuff said.

One more; How many bones were inside Gollum? And how many of those were for muscles? I'm just curious about this, if you have the exact number, dont go counting them :)

And finally, If you like, you can check out my website at http://www.artwanted.com/inkrabid and look at something other than the replywindow :)

OK, thanks for taking the time, and may your life always be exciting and challenging :)

joshone
06-08-2005, 08:05 PM
nevermind......

Miezis
06-08-2005, 08:22 PM
wow, dude! you rock! and your answers are also fun [aaaaaaand educational] to read!

my questions:
1. do you ever get a "blank page" [or in your case - "non moving scene :) "] creativity stop, meaning you don't know where to start and what to do? if you do - what would be the cure? :banghead:

2. where in your opinion will this whole hollywood FX thing will go in future?

jschleifer
06-08-2005, 10:47 PM
Some great questions here, by the way folks!!

been really busy at work today.. but don't worry, more answers are coming soon!

wooot! :)

sarNz
06-08-2005, 11:03 PM
Hey Jason, you did great work in your movies. Just a couple of questions...

1. Do you keep all of your old work? I often times throw mine away, and i dont know why. Some people told me it was a good thing because i wouldnt copy old mistakes so i usually dont pay much attention to it. I'd like to see some of your really old work if you still have it, since seeing all your amazing stuff gets me kinda discouraged :D. Inspired, but discouraged!

2. What did you listen to while working on the shots for LOTR? I often listen to the soundtrack and it helps me relax and concentrate on what im doing.

criminal
06-08-2005, 11:12 PM
are u planning for some new DVDs or not. it would be great to see some new ones!
and by tha way LOTR was great. speacially your work. it was awesome

batavia
06-08-2005, 11:23 PM
Hi; your creation are amazing, and seeing Gollum alive on the screen makes me appreciate of your hard work and mad skills!
I have 2 questions (or more like 10 in 2):
1) How do you deal with frustrations as you were learning as a beginner? When you were a beginner, did you always persevere and stay on ambitious projects until you finish them (learning the basics as you go along)? Or did you usually do more of the basics first (such as making balls bounce, etc) and then, with what you know of these basics, put them together on a big project?

2) Do you have any memorable stories to share on your encounter with actors & directors in the making of LOTR? Specifically, how was Andy Serkis and Peter Jackson?

Thank you for your time and keep up the awesome work!

elhaz
06-08-2005, 11:57 PM
A lot of my questions have already been asked & answered, thanks, but i'll just throw in a few short ones.

1.Madagascar was a fun entertaining movie, can you tell about which parts you worked on? So I can look for it maybe. (personal fav was the penguins gang...:twisted: )

2.I say you are a true pro in the 'western' animation industry:thumbsup: , but what's your take on Japaense animation movies, if you have seen some? Just a commonly discussed question among my fellow animation classmates, the west vs east thing.

3.If you only get a choice of one, and only one animation to watch it again, which one would you pick?

:)

jschleifer
06-09-2005, 12:13 AM
zepstrip 1. What you would like to see in a Character Animator Portfolio?

It's important to have a solid understanding of weight, timing, spacing, and acting. Basically, you want to show that you know how to make something live and think. If you can get a box to appear to have feelings.. to emote.. then you've got a reel which people are going to watch. These days it's not good enough to just show something moving around on screen. You've got to show that you have the ability to make good animation choices (not cliche), good composition and staging (remember, you're animating TO the CAMERA), you understand weight and timing and spacing (the character moves correctly without any pops or weird slow motion underwater timing). If you have that, recruiters shouldn't care if it's in 2d, 3d, stop motion, or flash.. the important thing is the acting.

2. You are "the man of the rigs", what is your secret, keep it simple?

Heh. :) thanks.. I don't think I'm the "man of the rigs", but I appreciate the comment! My secret when I was rigging was to keep things simple for the animator, and not try and do their job for them. Nothing frustrates an animator more than having something move when they don't want it to.. or not being able to move something when the DO want to. Keep your rigs simple, keep them straightforward, get rid of unecessary controls which cause an animator to fight the rig, and don't second-guess what it is they're trying to do. Work WITH the animators.. find out what it is they need, how they'd like it to work, and go from there. I've found the best riggers are animators as well, since they know how they want things to be able to move.

3. In the future, what is your next challenge?

Adding more hours to the day. :) No, my next challenge.. mmm.. probably just more learning about animation and becoming a stronger animator. I really love it, and every day I'm learning more and more. So my goal is to eventually know EVERYTHING!! MUHAHAHAHAA!! just kidding. :) my goal is to be happy and to do things which I enjoy doing.. the challenge is getting paid for it.. I think animators should be able to be sponsored. Hell, I'd wear a shirt with a logo on it if it meant I could afford a new kitchen. :)

Job
first time i know someone from the Q&A session :D (seen you on the extended edition)
my first question is, how many verticies has Gollum?

cool! the dvd stuff was fun.. especially showing how we animated Gollum! As for your question.. I have no idea how many verticies Gollum had. I'm sure someone from the modeling department would be able to tell ya, but as for me.. nope. I just moved around his arms.. didn't count the verts.

which time did you like more, the time from being a noob to a pro, or the time from being a pro to now?

Tough to say.. the excitement of discovering things is awesome. I loved discovering spacing.. and timing.. and arcs.. and watching huge leaps in my animation progress. Plus meeting artists and stuff was so exciting! Now, I get excited by the fact that I'm able to work on tougher and tougher shots, and I'm STILL learning every day! But I also get to do forums like this, and travel around, and see new people and things like that.. so I think I'll have to say that I'm likin the whole thing. :) Remember, wherever you go, there you are!
ArYeS
Hy, I really wasn't expecting you in this selection, but I'm very surprised, because you are my animation idol :)

Holy crap! wow.. thanks! :) that doesn't mean I have to sing or anything, does it?? cheers!! :)

1. Why did you choosed Animation, not modelling or other?

I have always loved animation. always always always always always. it's just in my blood.. it's something that feels right to me. I've tried modelling.. but.. it just doesn't feel right. Animation is what I naturally want to do.. when I hear someone talking keyframes, my blood goes all "woooo!", and if I see motion that looks cool.. well, I start drooling and then people get the nets and I get hauled away.

Plus, I could never work in a job where I had to wear shoes EVERY DAY!

2. How old was you when you started animating?

Well, my first filmed animation was in junior high school, but that was a big piece of crap. :) my first animation I got paid for was in university, and that was when I was doing 2d animation for a children's CD-ROM called Kid Phonics. I animated a bunch of characters that would move around when kids clicked on them. Fun stuff, especially for my first gig! I think I got paid 13,000 bucks for that.. 6 months of work or something. THAT was a crazy time with no sleep.. school all day, then studying, then working all night for about 6 months. ugh!

Milho
06-09-2005, 12:17 AM
Hi Jason,

It's an honor that you named your dog like me, but you forgot the 'h'

Damn someone did the beer question :argh:

When do you think Jonh and his Dog will be finished.

I asked you once for the Animation where Gollum rips of Gandalf's head (mentioned in Andy Serkis ((GREAT)) book) but I think now you won't be possible to show it :cry:

Another question, I think I remember you mentioned Japan one time (WE FROM THE NSA KNOW EVERYTHING :deal: ), why were you there? How is it, just asking cause I want to go there soon.

Where do you think are the limits of MoCap. Do you think if the technique get better (at least for natural motion) animators will have problems to get jobs?

How are your drawing skills now? What would you say is a good way to learn drawing for animation? E.g. focus on perspective first and then move on to drawing from life etc.?!

Ever considered/did classical animation?

Knowing that you know both sides, technical and artistic how would you judge the importance for both skills in 3D-Animation.
Do you have benifits from knowing scripting, besides transforming a pc into a coffeemachine?
http://www.de.tomshardware.com/praxis/20050524/index.html

What is your job at animationmentor? And what can you tell us about the project, how do you like the idea?

Thank you for sharing the knowledge with the small people! The community appreciates that!

reddynamite
06-09-2005, 12:24 AM
Hey Jason,

First off, I heard you did the shot at the end of Madagascar with the Lemiur (sp?) Cat doing the 'robot'- friggin' great work. I took my 2 daughters (4 and 2 ) to see it and they dug it quite a lot.

Anyway, my main question is a 2 part Maya-related one:

1) When you receive a shot for the first time, when you start animating, do you block out poses first, and then do additional passes to smooth it out until you get to something that you're happy with?

2) Even if your answer to my first question was no, how do you block out timed poses in Maya and make them stick? I know that I'm not using the type of animation curve that I should be, because as of now, in this short film that I'm working on, I'm trying to do this (ie, a pose on frame 1, one on frame 10, one on frame 15, etc..) Maya interpolates the inbetween frames on those making it look down right freaky, and completely undesired. What do I need to do to successfully block these poses out so that they hold at their respective frames?

Thanks in advance dude! Doh!....one more thing..for those who post on JAHD.com, when can we see some updates? It's not like you're busy or anything ;)

Cheers, Noah

Julez4001
06-09-2005, 12:24 AM
Jason - could you explain in simple terms your rigs in maya and how they function in terms of using low poly charcters and high. Do you prefer using wrap deformers or not?
Polygon Smooth or Subdivisions ?

Which state of the rig is hardest for the swapping of the characters?
is it bestto put all your deformers on the low rig and pray to god that it works for the high res guy? Are you rigs destroyed when the charcter is modified and have a gang load of new blenshapes to added to it or do you a "kool" process to safeguard your rigs and the possible animation you already put on them.



I am babbling but I just would like to know a smooth, SIMPLE and reliable process of character rigging/animating that YOU constantly use from project to project in Maya.

sphere
06-09-2005, 01:33 AM
Hi Jason, I was just reading back through some of your answers and something sparked a thought for me.

I read that you find making something breathe and believable is something you find challenging and something that you learn more about every day.

I was just thinking that the average audience that goes to see an animated feature would find the animations and characters believable (in that suspended belief kind of way) and even I (knowing how things are done) drift into that state. I can see that vfx has taken huge leaps and bounds in the last few decades. Some of the fx in film that we used to believe, just don't look real anymore because our eyes have been shown something more realistic than what we used to know.

Do you think that animation in film can get much better than it is now? Do you think we may just be blind to how real it can get? That maybe one in 20 years we'll look back on todays animated features and think 'Pffft... that weight shift on that character is so not real'. How and where do you see it going?


Thanks Jason!

jschleifer
06-09-2005, 01:53 AM
Dutchman
1) Do you have any advise for young people (like 16/17/18 years old) who are trying to find a holiday job (local) in computer graphics / animation? I'm desperately looking for sómewhere to do the simple things of (rotoscoping or so?!), instead of crawling trough a big apple-garden and looking for bad leaves ... Where would you try the best to find such a place, in your eyes?

Sure! if you're located somewhere that there's a company doing fx work or computer graphics work of any kind, give the HR department a call and see if you can get in there as an intern! I've heard of a number of people who got their start as a tape-loader in an fx studio. Sometimes people start as runners (running around fetching things), or working the front desk.. whatever. Basically you just want to get in and get to know people, 'cuz once you know the people in the company, then it's much easier to move on up!

2) Do you think that it would be good possible to find a prof-job in the Computer-Graphics sector, without education? I'm planning to do 'Industrial Design' (instead of animation or so), but maybe I'd in the future like to switch to the computer-graphics/film sector? What kind of education did you yourself have had, and did you think that were 'usefull years'?

Most people in the FX industry come from varried backgrounds.. it's their different backgrounds which make their work so interesting! You can do anything.. industrial design can easily lead to being in FX, you just need to chase after that dream! My education was based on art studio (painting, drawing, etc), but it was the contacts I made which got me my first "in" into Alias|Wavefront.. and from there I just kept learning. :) Education doesn't end after university.. it keeps going throughout your whole career.

3) What do you think to be the 'art of rigging', and what makes it so cool to do for you? I (and many others) see rigging as one of the 'not-cool-parts' of the process...! And what's the thing that makes a rig a góód rig? Could you maybe post a print-screen of a rig (of you ;) ) that would be a very good one, in your opinion...?

The thing that I enjoyed about rigging was that I was figuring out how to solve problems which would help me animate better. If I didn't figure out how to do a fk/ik rig, then I would have trouble animating.. so I'd better figure out how to rig it right! And once I animated with the first one, then I'd get more idea.. and solve more problems (and sometimes cause them! :). that's what I enjoyed about rigging.. the problem solving. Plus, sometimes it's fun to just sit and type instead of move things around. I don't have a rig available right now to show, but I'll look around and see if I can find one. :)
kmest
hi jason..well i'm registerd to your website and i've alwayes asked everything i needed to know and you've answered kindly..and i remember the night which return of the king won 12 oscares and you came and said "we won alllll":)......so.. i'm reza farsad there ..remember???

Heya reza! yep, I remember! that was such a happy day.. heh :)


1-in the "Return of the king"extende edition on the 3d parts,they showed all the caracters with muscles..well it's expected to see golum or trolls in that form but when i saw Balrouge,i was somehow shocked and i asked myself:does it realy need muscles???i saw the movie again and i think it realy doesnt need muscles cause nothing is seen(and in many movies i saw things like this)...so is it because of the rigging prosses??doing a smiple muslce/influence job instead of "weight painting" all the model???and when the weight paint comes to hand parts,it's somehow hard to do..so an influence object can make it more easier and faster..right???

I wasn't that involved in the skinning part of the process, but I believe the answer is two-part. First, was because we had the pipeline working for the creatures to be done with muscles. We knew that we could get the Balrog working with muscles, and it's just what we went for . Also, we weren't quite sure what the final look was going to be at that point.. we just had to get the body moving around. Second, the skinning we got from the muscles was extremely good. It's not just used to simulate reality (although that's certainly what it was designed for), but it's also just a good way to move around the characters and keep their volume. You have to realize also, that our muscle system was different that using influence objects in Maya.. it was a full plugin which handled the muscles and the skinning, so it wasn't a matter of adding influences and weight-painting them to get things right.


2-which kind of caracter animates you like to do most??realstick movments (like gollum) or funny cartoony(like your blue baloon dog which i like alot)

Right now I'm loving doing cartoony motion.. I think realistic motion can be quite a bit of fun, but there's something just so freeing about being able to try things simply because they're funny. I really like doing big scrambly runs and things, so I'm having a blast working on stuff like Madagascar. If I had to choose between the two.. I'd probably choose doing cartoony stuff. Because of the sound fx. :)

3-for LOTR and MADAGASKAR caracter setups,did you always do an ultra super setup which there can be no limitations and wrong behaviores during the animate,or was there sometimes some problems wich you couldnt understand why:shrug:(like knees doing a stupid movement....) and the animator had to animate that part(for that special move only)Frame by Frame???(just a fun Q)

I didn't do any of the rigging for Madagascar, that was done by the super-incredible creature TD team here at PDI. for LOTR, I tried to get the animation rigs to be as fullproof as possible. Every once in a while we'd do a special rig for something, but in generall it was one rig for every shot. One really really crazy rig. And if the knees were doing something weird.. then yah, the animator would have to tweak it frame by frame (which really isn't so bad!).

4-when talking about gollum with many artists,they mostly talk about some revolutionary ultra hi tec. softwares and hardwares behind him..is it true???i mean was there something more advanced about the technlogy behinde gollum than other cg caracters made by other big companies or was it more the artistic tallents behind it which made it so belivable??
i think i konw the answer but i want them to hear it from you...

I think that it was a whole bunch of things which came together at the right time.. a brilliant director asking for the right things.. a great actor to lead the character.. a group of artists who worked really hard to develop a skinning system which worked and a lighting model that looked beautiful.. joe (the cg sup) who had a great eye.. the compositing teams that worked their butts off.. the paint 'n roto teams who did just amazing jobs.. bay raitt who just made a wicked facial system.. and randy who headed up a great animation team. I think plenty of other companies could have done what we did.. we just were able to have the right combo of people at the right time. The dream team. :)

5-and when can we see John and his dog??any dead line you put for yourself???

Unfortunately Jonh and His Dog is on hold right now.. I don't have an office to work in at home, and I just don't have very much time! It's gestating slowly in my head, and I'm re-working the boards. At some point I'll be able to push forward and make it start to happen, but it probably won't be for a year or so (d'oh!)
okay, time to head home and do some AnimationMentor.com work! more to come tomorrow folks! keep those questions coming! they're awesome! :)

Lord3d2
06-09-2005, 02:44 AM
Any word on The Hobbit and an extended extended Lord of the rings set?

Terkonn
06-09-2005, 02:52 AM
In one of your earlier replys you noted that you went to art school to learn things such as drawing, sculpting and acting. How old were you when you became serious in art and how much talent did you have in each art field when you started school? Also, how old were you when you started doing art and animation? I really appreciate you coming here to cgtalk for questions. I think I speak for all when I say you are one of the most respected cg artists ever.

seven6ty
06-09-2005, 03:08 AM
Hey Jason. Just wanted to say I'm a big fan of your work! I'm working over at Rhythm and Hues right now on the new Narnia movie and Richie is the animation supervisor here as well! Nothing like those funny Irish accents, eh???

I was just wondering how involved you were with those LOTR rigs, like I actually got the animation rigs for the balrog and the nazgul, did you do much of the work on those? I especially liked the red neck warning control and spine controls (which gave me an idea for spine controls in a rig of my own, thanks!) on the nazgul. Did you have to coordinate your work on these rigs with several other people, or were you more on your own or what?

Also, how hard has it been for you to make decisions with your career as far as what company and what project you want to work on? My first day here I was also given a job offer by Sony on either Superman and Spiderman, and it was a real nail biter having two great opportunities like that at the exact same time. Have you felt tied down in any way and like you would have loved to have just upped and transfered to another company or project?

And lastly, you've said you attended UCSB, do you have any intentions of furthering your education, or are you already too caught up in everything that you've got going on to be able to consider going back? Even at this point, I'm continually in awe of some of the insane geniuses that work at these types of places. NASA plasma physicists, members of the mars rover mission, other nasa brains and so on. Anyways, tangental ramble, but yeah. Do you still feel like you've got to catch up to the other people around you at PDI all the time?

Thanks!

ashutoshnaik
06-09-2005, 04:21 AM
Hi Jason,
Need not say u r the Lord of this industry http://cgtalk.com/images/smilies/smile.gif
You have pretty much answered all th questions i can think of..
Was wondering if you have written any books ??
If not, you will have to write 2 books now ...one on Animation and Rigging and other on Lord of Animation and Rigging (you) ..the question is when ???

ShadowM8
06-09-2005, 07:37 AM
Hi Jason,
First of I would like to tank you for taking the time and sharing some of your experience with everyone here at CGTalk.
The question I have is related to character rigging. I'm a student at VFS working on a modeling reel, however I've discovered during my studies that I really enjoy character rigging and I would not mind a job in that area of CG. However one of the concerns I have is how should I present my rigging skills and abilities in my portfolio. It is something that can be made into a separate demo reel of itself? What features are employers looking at to be included in the rig when they are reviewing demo reels?
If you could share some of your thoughts on this matter I would greatly appreciate it, thank you.

3dd3
06-09-2005, 10:19 AM
Hello!
I'm very happy that I can ask qeustions?:)))))))

1) Can, let's say, Maya 99 kill animators cuz it have some advanced techs where computer could do anything? Or more realistic interpretation - is this prospective to be an animator in the world today?

2) What's your opinion about mocap? (as an animator)!

3) Do U go to the job daily? :)))))))))))))))))

remcv8
06-09-2005, 01:41 PM
If anyone has ever asked, and they have, my all time favorite CG character is Gollum. Me, my wife, and my son will break down every few months and have a LOTR marathon at home. The blending of CG with real world in LOTR is the best ever. You, being part of it, are worshiped in my home...Hee...Hee:thumbsup:

pwallin
06-09-2005, 02:34 PM
You said you had used Infini-D in the past. That is one of my favorite 3D-apps (even using advanced ones) since it has a simple workfolw, but great results for that price.

I doubt that anyone (well, maybe except spending insanely long time) could do your Maya stuff with Infini-D...even you! So what do you think of a statement "it's not a software, it's an artist" ?

And again...if Maya did not had "Mel-script", how would you compensate that?

Pasi

jtoon
06-09-2005, 02:41 PM
Heya my mentor!!
man, I'm little sad becouse in the next trimester we gonna change our mentor... d'oh! :sad:

well...I have a couple of questions for ya...

Whow many AM mentors did you knew before forming part of the classes? And which of all of them is the one that more has impressed you?

Which it is your animation movie favorite of always? And your favorite character?

Thank you very much for all your help in the course, Jason!! See ya!! :thumbsup:

Cheers!

Julio.

Wilson-3d
06-09-2005, 03:12 PM
Hi Jason.
Thanks for taking time to answer so many questions. I have really been enjoying them.
I have some more questions about your animation process in the computer.

I read your answer earlier about setting up a cycle and would love to hear more about your process and flow.

When you are setting your initial keys for blocking and timing (stepped curves) how much of the body are you posing? I know not to mess with the fingers and face at this point but do you go ahead and get the feet just right and anticipate follow through of the wrists for instance or just really look at the silhouette of the body, arms, legs, and head?
I always go back and forth trying to figure out if I want to mess with - for example - the head in the down position as the body moves up in a step and having it go back when the step is coming down. Do you get into this much detail at this phase?

Do you keep all your keys lined up at this phase (stepped curves) so you can move them around all at once to tweak the timing? If so at what point do you begin to offset the keys? I always seem to have to go back in and tweak some timing issues after I have offset the keys for say the shoulders, elbows and wrists and it takes longer.

At what point do you go in and start to look at the arcs in your animation? While it is still stepped or once it is linear?

I know a lot of this comes down to what works best for each person. I have been developing my own workflow and would love to hear some details about your process.

Thanks a lot!

Chris

a3000
06-09-2005, 03:20 PM
Hi Jason,
Thank you for your open mind attitude in the CG world...

So, my questions:

1) The storyboard to anim process is still obscure for me !!!
Behind the scene videos, shows some animatics as the first step in production.
But what is the reel meaning of this animatic work ?


a)The animatic, is a "screen" version of the paper storyboard.
Low version props and stickman help the director to make decisions (camera move, angle ,...).
Then the staff take this animatic as a guide and start from scratch the anim ?

or

b)The animatic, is what you call first pass anim.
Then you tweak, step by step to achieve the final result ?

Maybe you can talk a little bit about this specific part of anim.



2) In the past anim features films (read 2d) were really difficult and took many years to make, and it was an event.
Now every three month a 3d movie hit the ground.
What do you think about this oversaturation of Cgi projects ?
I guess you're going to say...we need good story to tell...blablabla...
But Ice age, Shrek1, Finding Nemo are sharing the same story:
Some antinomic characters start a loooong travel together and discover friendship at the end...well, just before the end in fact...

By the way I just started a stopmotion short in my basement and I'm looking for rigger with metal skills...
If you have time ;)


All the best,
a3000

pwallin
06-09-2005, 04:12 PM
After these years. How did you managed to have a love life, or did you?

How it was possible to be a sick (fever..and worse) and still manage to be on "deadline"?

What is your weakness as a rigger/animator?

How many 3D apps you feel you have a same (at least roughly) level to understand them as you have with Maya?

Which 3D app is so hard/weird that you couldn't grasp it even to this day?

Pasi

Salaadin
06-09-2005, 05:34 PM
First off I would like to congratulate you for your challenging yet amazing and inspiring achievements well done Jason …

Here is my question:



1- I love cartoony style animations and modeling because there are no boundaries as to what you can do ,creativity is always there , When animating for example something running and suddenly stops and picks a heavy thing. do you make the poses for each action then add the in-betweens and breakdowns ? or do you have a different way ?
2- do you recomend any books or dvds for animation? i already have the animation survival kit ..!
3-me and my friends are opening a multimedia company and im responsible for the 3d animation department . do you have any advice as far as animation ?


thanks for taking the time to answer our questions

Tom N.
06-09-2005, 09:29 PM
Jason I had to change my underpants after seeing your name on the front page. This is pretty exciting. So many great answers have been given so far, I just have a couple short Q's:

1) Can we see the bumble bee animation you mentioned?? Do you still have your old stuff? It would be great to be able to see the first works of such a pro.

2) Is your wife/family understanding of your work? This sounds nerdy but I'm still in school and have dated girls who don't believe that this stuff actually takes up ALL of my spare time and that its never really done until its due or taken away from you and it can get frustrating. I ask this in hopes that perhaps there ARE people out there who are able to understand this haha.

3) Between working at dreamworks, AM, a blog and family, how many hours of sleep do you get on average per night? (incase you don't remember, sleep is that thing where you close your eyes and rest and stuff - I forget it sometimes too)

4) What scenes did you get to work on in Madagascar? (*EDIT* I see you've already answered this 12 times haha)


-Tom N.

jschleifer
06-09-2005, 09:32 PM
neofg
What is the secret of your work? For example...(Something was answered in a post, before) what are the technical information about Gollum? (his muscles are modelled one by one,I read somewhere) How was they animated? Are there blend shapes for every muscles?

The secret of my work? Not sure what you mean.. I mean, besides just working really hard and using reference. I think a lot of artists forget to use reference in what they do.. it's sometimes the most inspiring thing! If you're trying to get a move to look right, or the lighting to look right, or a rig to work right.. how do you know where to go with it unless you have a target first? Look at reference of how muscles move and how arms move and how light refracts.. that will give you a target, and just keep tweaking your work until you hit that target. Once you can hit a certain target sucessfully, then you can expand and go further and extrapolate and go nuts. :)

The muscles on gollum were made with a great plugin written by Richard Addison Wood, a developer at Weta. His plugin allowed the creature td's to model the muscles and attach them to bones. Those muscles and bones would then deform the skin using his plugin.. similar to influence objects, but with more control and interesting movement. The muscles would try and keep volume, so in general you didn't have to do blendshapes on them (if you moved the ends of the muscle, it would deform correctly), however you could create blenshapes if you wanted (for muscles tensing, for example.)

If I work on a personal project(that's what I do, but It's a too much long work...a short about Hiroshima http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?t=207895 (showthread.php?t=207895%20%29)and http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?t=201501 (showthread.php?t=201501) ) what is the best way for rig a model by myself if my time said that I Can't model 300 muscles for a short animation?

fun looking project! I mean.. not fun about hiroshima, but the results of what you are getting look cool. :) The best way to rig the model yourself depends on the result you're trying to get. If you want it to look as realistic as possible, I'd recommend getting on of the DVD's that Alias has available on building muscles and using them. Check out the one by Paul thuriot http://www.alias.com/glb/eng/products-services/learning_tool_details.jsp?itemId=1200005 I haven't seen it myself, but it looks pretty good!

If u have tips about Gollum's skin shader or if u heard something about how they light the model in the scenes write it to me,please...

Unfortunately, I can't tell ya exactly how they did it for a few reasons.. one is that I've got NO idea how they do it. They were using renderman to render, and I've never written a renderman shader in my life. :) Two, even if I knew the code.. I couldn't say anything because I signed an NDA not to disclose any techniques unless pre-approved by the laywers.. so unfortunately, I can say nothing! heh :)

Why who work professionally in CG change often place of work,and company?

One of the great things about the industry is that you can move around and work on projects you're excited about . People will quite frequently leave one company to work at another temporarily if there's a project they like.. this is especially true in the visual fx side of things. I'm a big believer in moving around and trying different things.. we only live one life, might as well make the most of it! :)

Ok, I truly finished...Sorry 4 my bad english...and for my shaking keyboard...
Thanks for your answer and for your ART....precioussss

no worries! thanks very much for the questions! :)

Nemoid
Hi Jason first off congrats for your incredible work, and all WETA digital work done in LOTR, BTW. some question here.

cheers! :)

1) We all know that Weta used also the great app Zbrush in the Maya pipeline. my question is was it used for detailing purposes via displacement and normal maps applied to objects or also as a maquette creator to biuld better meshes in Maya as if they were real 3D digitalized ones ? did this worked out well?
i remember to have read that some creature was done in that way . can u explain a bit ?

I believe bay has talked about that before.. I'm not sure exactly how it worked, but I think the idea was that they would detail the models in Zbrush after modeling them in Maya. Then they would export the detailed maps as a normal map, and apply that during rendering time to get crazy amounts of detail. I don't think they built new meshes to use from Zbrush.. but I'm not positive. They could very well have been. If anyone from weta reads this and knows the answer, let us know! :)

2) i'm also wondering if you guys or you in particular made studies about human or creature/animal realistic movements when walking and acting. if so did you used some references from reality?

Definitely! It's super important when animating creatures that come from life to use reference.. sometimes we'd make it up as we went along, sometimes we'd film ourselves, and sometimes we'd look at live action reference (like elephants). Mostly it was a lot of acting ourselves and watching others do things to get it to look right.

3) as an animator, do you think it will be possible to obtain completely believable cg human beings ?

Sure, there's no reason not to think it's possible. I think that it's already been done with visual FX in many cases.. look at what ESC did with the Matrix series! tons of totally believable CG humans. I think that's the key there.. believable vs. realistic. We can make a realistic looking human, but is it believable? And does believable mean realistic? Look at the Incredibles.. those characters were totally believable.. within their world. I found them incredibly (heh) easy to empathise with.. that doesn't mean they were realistic tho. I think realism is a lesser goal to achieve than believability.

4) can you publish for us an example of a creture rigging, with an explaination of hierarchical controls both for TDs and final animators?

I don't have one on me now, I'll see if I can dig one up and show images later in the week! :)

5) can u explain and publish for us some example of human motion captures and explain methods on how to adapt for example andy serkis movements and proportions to gollum ones ? since i know he's acting for King Kong motion capture too, i think some adaptation is always necessary.

Sorry, I don't have access to any of the motion capture data for Andy to publish. if you look at movies of the two of them, however, you'll see that there definitely had to be some adaptation. Brad Clark can probably talk a bit about that (I know he frequents the forms here).. I didn't spend much time working with the mocap data myself.

6) what aspect of the acting of a creature u think is more important to obtain a stunning work as you did?

I think what worked really well for Gollum is stuff that many of the better animators at weta were doing, like Mike Stevens, atsushi sato, steven hornby, melanie cordan, and others.. they were spending lots of time working with the eyes and the face to make sure that the emotion read correctly. I think it's incredibly important to get the emotion to read.. to get the feeling to come through. I was asked recently what the best way is to do that, do you do reference yourself, or film others, or what? and I think it's kind of best to think about it the way real actors do.. kind of using "method" acting. If you're "method" acting, you dont "act" sad or happy.. you ARE sad or happy.. and because you ARE the thing instead of ACTING the thing.. the emotion comes through. It's the same with Gollum.. the animators had to learn to BE the emotion that he was.. and learn to get that emotion out through frame by frame acting, instead of just going "oh, he's sad, so I'll turn down the eyebrows".. does that make sense?

7) what kind of exercises you advice to a newbie in animation to enhance his skills for realistic and expressive animation?

Film yourself acting! Just like what I was saying before.. learn the difference between telling an emotion and being and emotion.. and film yourself doing it. Once you can do that, and you can forget the muscles needed and the moves needed to get an emotion across, then you'll really be getting the feeling across & advancing your skills! But in order to do this, you HAVE to know the basics. It's too difficult to animate a character believably if you don't understand the basic concepts of spacing, timing, weight, arcs, etc.. So the first thing to do is learn the basics & get those down & in your blood. Then, once you automatically have those things ingraned, you'll be able to advance to the next levels.

lukx
06-09-2005, 10:34 PM
Jason :bowdown:

I wanted to ask about one thing. I've heard that in Pixar one animator is doing 2 minutes of animation during whole year of producion. Tell me how much time your animations last in final product. And how fast you're able to animate (minutes a week, a day ;)). It's really kind of you that you find time to answer all our questions. This is amazing that we're able to speak with many famous persons here. Hope that someday I could tell my grandchildren "I asked question a Jason Schleifer person who worked on LOTR and he answered it" :thumbsup:

RayenD
06-10-2005, 12:46 AM
I think a big problem with the industry is that people are so passionate about their work..

Thanks for the reply Jason.. I wonder what keeps me going now at 1:30 am, and I am not even doing some sort of personal stuff, only regular client work ;) hehe.. must be this passion you are talking about.

Are you going to be a AM mentor still in the fall?

hhssuu
06-10-2005, 12:56 AM
Wow jason everyone must love you, you are probably one of the most hard working answerer/helper. So talented and so loveable, you should go fro cg presedent or something :buttrock: you rock.

Redspective
06-10-2005, 01:50 AM
Hey Jason,

Congrats to all of your success both at Weta and now at PDI/Dreamworks. I guess the only thing left now is to finish "Jonh and his dog, " Enter it into the Academy Awards, get up on that stage and graciously accept a little award called "Best Animated Short."

Anyways I have 2 rather simple questions...
1. Have you bumped into S K or G yet at PDI/Dreamworks? A friend of mine who used to work at Dreamworks mentioned that Spielberg is easy going and so I figure, since I'm sure you're probably a fan of his work, have had that chance to speak to the "Man" himself.

2. Did you use the Demo Reel on your website to apply for your current position at PDI?

Cheers!

P.S. Any chance you'd consider coming up to Canada... more specifically Vancouver for work? I admit we're still catching up to the big studios in Cali but I'm sure we'll be there soon enough!

Varsha
06-10-2005, 02:17 AM
Hi Jason,

It is a great sensation to see you here at the forums. I was just watching Alias's rigging bundle taught by you and it was very interesting.

1. Will there be any other, totally different way of animating a character in the future, technically?


2. If I am a self learner, and I learnt everything just by watching the tutorial DVDs and stuff, (for ex: Rigging bundle) and I have my own style of rigging or animating a character, without having any experiences worked for any studios, and let us say, and if I get a job in a studio because of my excellent reel, will I be able to work like the other rigger or animator, or I'll seem to be unique?

3. Do you wish to animate any characters of your dream? and have you ever felt like, they could have done it more differently, it would have been better if they made it look much more better or anythin like that when you watched some famous movies in which you didn't work?

4. lol What is the secret of your smartness? Just wondering... your sense of humor?

jschleifer
06-10-2005, 02:23 AM
globex Im currently a high-school student wanting to become an animator. What are companies like Dreamworks/Disney/Pixar looking for as far as educational background? Should I get a bachelor's degree is general arts first? masters? What are some of the best schools that you would recommend?

The main thing that studios look at for animators is the ability to animate.. heh :) I know it sounds trivial.. but it's true. They really want people who have the ability to emote and get across true emotion and believable motion. As for education, it's not as important but a university degree or degree for an art university of some sort is certainly helpful. Mainly because it shows the ability to do complete something difficult. It's not important to just be able to animate well, but you have to be able to meet deadlines, and be easy to work with. Usually, someone who has graduated from a university of sorts has had to meet deadlines (school work) with intense pressures. A masters degree is definitely not necessary. I would recommend AnimationMentor.com, of course! As for the other schools, I know art center is good, cal arts, sheriden, there are a number of AMAZING schools in europe (supinfocom is AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME) There are tons of others.. I believe AWN has a great list on their website: http://schools.awn.com/
3DDave Where do you feel the animation tools/workflow is moving too in the future in regards to technology and software applications?

Good question, 3dDave! It's tough to say.. I'd like to say that they're moving in a direction where the artists will no longer have to think about the application they're using.. the tools will begin to work around the artist's desired workflow, instead of the artist having to learn the tools. A pencil takes all of 1 second to learn how to use.. but amazing art can be created with it. It'd be great to see software programs and interfaces be as intuitive as a pencil (maybe with 1 more buton). I think developers will try and get a better idea of how artists want to work, and why they work the way they do. I still think animating in cg is way more difficult than it needs to be. It doesn't let the ideas flow.. manipulating characters and worknig out ideas can be SO much easier than it currently is.

madmanmagic
One question.
Why isn't there one multi-disc - 'HOW TO BUILD A KILLER RIG' dvd?
The be all/end all to making the perfect rig. You could produce it yourself and sell it on your site!!!
You'd make millions, well you'd make money -- plenty.
I have found I have to work off of your 2 Alias DVDs and Gnomons Kinematics and Rigging 101.com to get all my rigging schooling, but I still yearn for a comprehensive DVD.
What say you?

I say, "Hey you gooses, you names is 'banjo'!"

sorry, what were you asking again? Oh yeah! I think the reason that theere's no comprehensive DVD that's the be-all end-all of rigging is that there is no way to know 100% what you're going to have to do. Requirements for rigs are always changing.. software is always changing.. techniques are always improving. I think it's more important to learn why you do certain things than how to make a perfect arm. What if you need to do something different, and all you know is how to make 1 arm rig? You'd be stuck! it's better to approach rigging in terms of coming up with convenient solutions to solve temporary problems. The solutions may change.. the problems may change.. but the fact that you're figuring things out.. thats' the real solution!

Give a man to fish, he can eat for a day, but set a man on fire and you never have to give him anything again. :)
fbone
hi jason. i dont even know where to start because am as green in 3d animations as they get. am just starting and like i said i dnt knw whr to strt........ push me along.
am interested on doing animation as a course. which online schls do u check as the best

Check out the awn site I mentioned above.. that's a good one! and AnimationMentor.com is, of course, the best. :) Just ask any of the students here if they're learning anything..

b4 u completed your first animation how long did it take you?
Hmm.. er.. that's a tough question. I think my first animation was nothing very exciting.. just moving things around and clickin the camera. The first animation I was totally satisfied with? I'll let ya know when it happens. :)

Laeng
Thank you!
You´re not only an amazing artist, you are also a great teacher, and you´re realy pushing the cg community forward. I read a lot of your articles, and watched the DVD. You suceed in transporting a clear image of the why´s and how´s.

Thanks laeng! I'm just doing the same that was done for me when I first joined the cg community.. I remember when the cgchar list was on email, and I was asking stupid questions about how to move things, what software to use, and how to get the root password back on 'cuz I had accidentally deleted it.

There are a lot of good tools coming up for Character setup and CG in general, some of them automate nearly the whole setup process.
What I would like to know is

1) To wich degree do u use those existing tools, and how much of your pipeline do you build up on your own. What do you favor? Speed or control.

I prefer to build the tools and rigs myself, for a couple of reasons. First, I'm very picky. When it comes to animating and moving things around I want it done exactly the way I want. I get very frustrated if I use a rigging tool which doesn't set things up correctly.. for example, if rotation orders are off, if it's slow, if it's clunky, if it doesn't allow me to manipulate the character the way I want. Aggh! I'd rather just do it myself. Second, if something breaks, I want to know how to fix it. If I'm using someone else's rig, I won't know where to go to fix things. Third, I want it as fast as possible. I can make my rigs fast by stripping things out that I know I won't need. This is especially true when it's just me animating, and I'm not building rigs for 50 other people. So I build my own rigs, but I do it in a method that allows me to do it quickly, by having a pipeline like I mentioned earlier (object oriented).

2) I suppose, that with a setup like Gollum, you won´t start immediatly at the software, but will do kind of a concept for your work first. If you do, what are your most important decision steps and criteria for your work, and how big is the amount of preproduction to production.

For setting up the animation rig for gollum, I definitely spent a lot of time working out ideas in my head and on paper, and going over them with Adam Valdez (the animation supervisor on film 1) and Randy Cook. Then I'd do little tests in the computer.. just build an arm.. just a back.. etc, just working out those ideas before committing them to mel scripts. The idea when doing this stuff is just to get the rigs working the way I want.. not to figure out the most efficient way to do them. Just get the arm working right.. the leg working right.. etc. Once I've got the controls the way I want them, then I'd try and make them more efficient.. get rid of expressions that aren't necessary.. look at where I can do direct connections instead of constraints.. etc. Then once I've got them efficient, then I'll re-build them with mel scripts.

3) Suppose you are sitting in a bar or a restaurant, do you sometimes watch people and think about facial muscles?

Depends on how drunk I am. :) but I usually watch people all the time.. I can't stop! I watch their body language probably more than their faces.. looking at their weight shifts.. teh way they hold things.. the way they interact with eachother.. stuff like that. Sometimes it's embarrasing, because I stare so much! I just tell them it's for work. :)

Floyd Bishop
Heya floyd! good to see ya! :)
How do you pronounce your last name?

It's pronounced "Shh life er". It's german.. for knife sharpener, or jewel polisher. something like that, anyway.

What shots are you responsible for in "Madagascar"?


here is a quick list of some of the shots I'm more proud of.. (not a full list of all the shots I worked on):




When alex went running down the beach to try and swim back to NY & gloria grabbed him & then melman came running out with the "bush" on his head and said "nature!! it's all over me, get it off!"
a bunch of shots when maurice & julian meet the zoosters, from when julian does his little laugh "haha!" to when he goes "all hail, the new york giants!"
a few of the shots when maurice is 'splaining to the zoosters that alex is a predator & julian goes "what's a little bite on the buttocks among friends?"
the end when julian & maurice are in the tree & julian goes "I did it! I did it! give me some love!" and swings maurice around, then they do the robot.
22 hand animated fossa getting smacked around in the climax (that's 22 hand animated fossa in one shot.. oy vey)
gloria dancin in the credits (that was SUCH a fun shot to do!)
a few shots in grand central station when marty goes "it's the man!" 'till the animal control cop gets pushed out into the ring & gets frightened & then runs back into the wall of people.
some shots in the beginning when marty goes "stand over here, walk over there, eat some grass, walk back over there.." and then the one where alex tap-dances onthe wall and goes on about breaking out of the routine .. ad lib.. boom boom boom
I did a bunch of others, but I can't remember 'em right now.

What was the hardest adjustment for you from full time rigger to full time animator?

The toughest thing about animating and not rigging is that I don't have the ability to change a rig if I don't like the way it works. I also don't have the ability to waste time trying out different technical tricks and such which I could do in Maya.. I actually have to ANIMATE all day <gasp>. Although, every once and a while I get the urge to type, so I write perl scripts to satisfy that craving..

ahh... vi..



rhino23I, like everyone else here, am amazed at everything you have accomplished and with your skill level. On top of that you still have time to help out around AM and on here and have time to do your own stuff and hang with your wife and dogs. My question as an AM student, someone learning flame* at work and at night, and trying to learn other cg related stuff at home, as well as a newly-wed is... how do you do it? What's the trick to managing your time so well? I have so many things that I want to learn, experiment with, and try, yet there are only so many hours in a day, and unfortunately one has to sleep at some point. How do you do it?
Hey Rhino23! thanks very much! I feel really lucky to be able to do the thing's I'm able to do.. I don't know how I do all of it, really. I think part of it is learning to work smarter, not harder. If you manage your time on your shots by knowing what to animate and when.. not wasting time doing fingers and tightening things until you have the arms and body working right, working on 2 shots at once while you're rendering.. stuff like that is really helpful.

also, I take healthy doses of speed every morning.

KIDDING!!! :)
Slurry
Thank's for the simplified questions! :)

Question1 : What's the deal with creating a pipeline?

you sound like sinefeld! Just what is the deal with those pipelines, anyway? Is he actually laying a pipe? Is there oil in that there computer? I just don't get it!

I absolutely hate hate hate hate hate hate (wait.. hate's a really strong word).. dislike haing to do stuff over again. If I am going to build a character, I don't want to have to keep building the same arm over and over again just to make minor changes, or to apply that arm to other characters. If i'm going to do a special fx pass on a shot in shake that I'm going to be applying to all sorts of shots.. I don't want to have to open shake every time I want to apply that effect. If I'm giong to set off a render 10 or 20 times a day, I don't want to haev to think about where the images are going, what resolution they're going to be, what flags are set in the render.. all I want to do is say "render scene 57 shot 4", and have it work automatically. That's what pipelines are good for.. automating repetitive tasks and setting up a set of guidelines for making your life easier. They can be a real pain in the butt to get done.. and if my idea was to ONLY do one short film, then it'd be faster to just animate the film. But I'd like to set up a system where I can work on multiple shorts.. and have the system flow and work for me, instead of me work for it.

Question2 : When was your 'Eureka Moment' for character animation.

I have them all the time! Every time I try something new.. if it works I go AHA!!! if it doesn't, I go AHAA!! (then I get a cup of coffee and try and figure out a way to GET it to work). Animation is constant learning.. I honestly can't remember my AHA.. but I certainly remember my first UGH!!! That was my crappy bee animation in Infini-D. I'll try and find it to show it to you guys. oy. that was arse!

ps - really lookng forward to your film.

haha :) thanks! me too.. hope I finish it someday.. <grin>

jschleifer
06-10-2005, 03:07 AM
holy cow, it's thursday, and I've only finished page 3!

crazy man, craaaaazy!

keep 'em comin folks, I'll get through 'em all!

kunal
06-10-2005, 04:20 AM
Hi Jason:)

Didn't know what to ask for cuz u've already told too much. Its plain and simple if we work hard and honestly i guess. Thanks a ton for such an exposure:bounce:

Still I managed to dig a question, " After all that art background he has..........I wonder if Jason Schliefer still loves to draw...or couldn't draw due to his schedule."

Thanks:thumbsup:

Rick Flowers
06-10-2005, 05:51 AM
Hi Jason,
I admire your work.

I know that when you initially began your practice as a CG artist there were not near as many schools and official paid academic resources for learning the art. With that in mind, if you were thrown around in time suddenly at a younger age and today you were where you were when you began your journey... Given you could pass yourself the wisdom you currently have:
Would you take up classes/courses of the aforementioned like (of the modern CG world), or would you take up the seemingly more abstract road that you have actually taken these past several years?

If you could please shed your thoughts on the true value of academic (3d, cg, animation, etc) education that is available today, and do you think you would be better off today (in your skill, portfolio, and overall career), if you had such a resource earlier in your life.

Speculate please! More than just the ever common wise advice of "work your heart out with passion". =)

Thanks so much.

-dc-
06-10-2005, 06:42 AM
Hi Jason,

It's unbelievable that you actually have the time to answer all these friggin' questions...what with having a job and family and such ;) insane!

Since this is a public forum, I'd like to ask something that may be valuable for other readers.

Companies like PDI/DreamWorks, Pixar, and R&H use proprietary tools for rigging and animation, relying heavily on internal software support. I would say Sony is a hybrid, relying heavily on Maya in combination with proprietary tools, but at the end of the day, it's still Maya...

So I'm curious, now that you've worked in both types of enviornments, one that relies heavily on Maya and one that is completely proprietary, which do you prefer and why? Don't think of this as a "why do you like ____ software" question - I'm more interested in a comparitive analysis from your point of view. I realize this may be hard to answer given that you may not be able to talk directly about the advantages of some of the tools you currently use, but maybe you could give it a shot.

Of course, now that you're a full-time animator, life must be a breeze since you don't have to deal with rigging anymore - so maybe my question is moot! ;p

neofg
06-10-2005, 08:15 AM
neofg

I Can't no write u to say "THANKS FOR YOUR ANSWERS". It's a priviledge that an artist spend his time for give us suggestions.
Thanks and good art forever...

andre22uk
06-10-2005, 08:43 AM
Hey Jason,

Hows it going? No idea how you fit it all in, work, rest and play...

I was wondering if you ever had a mentor when you were studying? I heard some other people that have had mentors helping them learn, but were you that fortunate?

regards
Drew

ninjadodo
06-10-2005, 10:10 AM
I've been doing a good bit of animation and it seems the main thing I need to work on is weight. So I was wondering, what would be your key tips for figuring out how to better apply weight to characters in motion?

Also I don't know if this is the time and place but maybe you could have a quick look at my reel and tell me what you think?

http://ninjadodo.com/reel/c_moleman.avi (DivX)
http://ninjadodo.com/reel/c_moleman.mov (Quicktime)

(I tried attaching the files to this post, but I guess they were too big or something, cause it didn't work, so I'll just link)

GrahamHRoss
06-10-2005, 03:39 PM
Hey Jason-

Initally I just wanna say thanks for being so responsive to people's questions here. Thanks for being a nice guy and consuming massive amounts of coffee! Anyways...

Currently I'm attending the Academy of Art out here in San Fran, trying to up my art skills a bit and my character animation skills. I come from a filmmaking/writing/programming background, so I figure it's best I touch up on those things to improve my reel and website. My main question is, I'm starting to get into rigging and I see a lot fo resources out there...books, dvds, websites, ect....can u offer in your opinion the best resources out there for rigging and mel scripting?

Graham

PS - Saw Madagascar and didn't know u had a hand in it. Loved the animation and the characters, especially the giraffee and the Lemur!

jschleifer
06-10-2005, 06:15 PM
mikefeil
Hi, Jason. First off, you have been an inspiration to me since I started doing cg a few years ago. That first little interview you did with cgnetworks (back when it was called 3dfestival) about the cg industry and your general background was really fantastic, it also gave me alot of direction. I also frequent your blog as much as I can (always seems to give me a laugh).
Thanks mike! I love the whole blogging phenomenominom. It's almost like performance art.. in fact, many blogs out there are total performances! With mine, I try and say something about the industry, and something about animation.. but in reality, I'm more just saying something and hoping that people read it for entertainment value. If I can make ya laugh, all the better.. but if I can make ya think.. well.. that frightens me, cuz I'm just tryin to make ya laugh. Oh, and vent. I like to vent.

What is the most influential idea, philisohpy, quote etc you have learnt in your character animation career, and how has it impacted on your work?

ooo.. cool question! The most influential idea and philosophy? Hmm.. well, kind of a couple of things, really.. the main thing I've learned is observation. Just how to watch things, when to watch, and when to stop watching (say you're watching a really great dancer in a club, and she's doing all these crazy moves and you're thinking "wow! look at those hips and how they counter-balance her shoulders, and the way she can move her head first and.. is she leading with her ears??" and then her boyfriend taps you on the shoulder and says "GRUNT" and you think.. now is a good time to stop observing).

But the thing which has helped me the most career-wise is to not get too worked up on things. It's to learn to throw myself into my work, full-force.. lots of passion, lots of energy, lots of excitement, but the not to let it get to me when my shot gets cut, or changed, or dialogue changes, or the shot gets passed off. It's to temper that frustration.. because in the end, the more frustrated you let yourself get, the more frustrated you'll be. It feeds on itself, and you'll spend more time brooding about the change you have to make than just making the change. Kind of zen.. bend the waterway and the stick won't hurt. wait.. that didn't make any sense..

When animating characters for "Madagascar" and for "Lord of the rings" etc how did you crawl into the characters mind, and basically let the characters drive the performance?

Well, first I slammed my head against the monitor a few times.. after that, I seemed to just sorta oooooze in..

heh :) actually, the best way to get into their minds is to understand the character arc. It's really important to know where they are in the course of the film, and also understand what it is they're trying to do within that current section. Try and figure out their background.. where they came from.. where they're going. With some characters it's easier than others. The penguins? They're trying to get out of the zoo to finally be in their natural habitat. With gollum, well... he's.. a bit tougher. A trick that randy cook would tell us to use is to write out their internal dialogue (you know, the words in their brain), and animate to that. It's an interesting way of animating a character, because it really forces you to think about what they're thinking, not just what they're saying.

I will be starting Animation Mentor this fall, what do you think I should be doing to prepare myself till then.

Sleeping.

Nono, congratulations! you're going to have a great time.. it'll be tough, but you'll learn a ton! The best thing to do right now is start sketching every day and start working out time to devote to AM. You'll need pleeeeenty of time.. plenty! Also, start reading the Illusion of Life and Richard william's book. Even if it doesn't make sense yet, it's good to have the stuff percolating in your brain!

Do you think in order to become a 'great' of animation, you need to be born with some sought of special ninja talent, or can anyone become one with hard work and persistence.

I think it certainly helps to have a natural "knack" for animation, but I honestly believe anyone can do it given enough time and hard work. That's true for anything.. like math. My brother is a matt whiz. I'm a math.. not-so-whiz. I can do it (given time, a calculator, and my brother to answer questions), but I'm not naturally talented at it. Even if you haev a natural knack, however, there's still a ton of hard work and persistence involved in learning how to do it, and how to do it well.

And now seriously, how much coffee do you drink a day, on average? As I know your a big coffee fan. I'm actually going down a bit now.. I used to drink.. oh.. all of it. Now, probably 2 to 3 cups.. depending on how tired I am and how crazy I'm feeling. Lots of times I'll only drink half the cup before it gets cold, so I'll have to go get more.. which is always a good excuse to get away from the computer and socialize a little bit.

mm.

coffee.

damnit, now I want more! see what you've done! DARN YOU!!!
SDIT
when do you think you will restart work on your short film?

Heya Mau! Probably when I've got my own workspace at home.. right now, my 'puter is in the living room, which doesn't make for convenient working. :) So as soon as I've got an office, I'll start putting in some hours again. shaweeeeeeeeeet!

steveblake
When reviewing a shot with others, how much do you think it is the animators responsibility to argue the case for a certain direction that they feel the character is going in? I suppose I'm talking about shot 'ownership'. Is it theirs, their leads or supervisors, the directors?

I think it's important for the animator to be aware of the direction, and if they have questions about it, to definitely bring it up with the leads, supervisors, or director, depending on the hierarchy and how the studio works. Some studios are more open to bringing up ideas directly with the directors.. others want things to work their way up. It's really up to you to judge the political climate and make the appropriate decision based on how things work there. I tend to like it better when you can talk directly with a director, because they make the final decision. But then, I'm a fan of not stepping on people's toes. So ask your lead first and see what the procedure is in your company! It's important to respect their wishes, after all.. they are the leads for a reason! :)

How much do you allow yourself to really run with a new idea that's popped into your head before it's time to get approval? I mean, do you prefer to thumb,block or animate it through to a 'reviewable' level or just wait to get up and explain or act it out in front of the director?

That also depends on the director. Some directors can understand an idea and "see" it simply by you acting it out or discribing it. some directors need to see it animated in the shot in rough or first pass form. It also depends on the idea.. sometime you may have an animation idea which you really need to flesh out to show how it can work, and others you can show with two key poses. Personally, I like to show the ideas to the directors as soon as possible.. so I'll try and rough out the animation idea, and maybe even show two ideas. Then, when showing it to the director I'll introduce what I'm showing before they see it, and explain what I'm going for. Let the director into your head! I think it's really important to let them know what they're seeing, why they're seeing it, and where you're at with it so they can give you the appropriate feedback. Many times people won't want to say anything in dailies because either 1) they don't want to be "noticed", or 2) they're not confident in their work, or 3) they just don't like to introduce their work. I say, introduce it! be noticed! help the director give you the direction you need to get the shot finaled! the more you know what they want, and they know what you're doing, the faster you'll get your shot done, and the better it will look. And sometimes, simply having a bit of confidence about your work when showing it to the director will help them have more confidence in you, giving you more freedom to insert your own ideas and try new things, because they'll trust you.

Just wanted to add how great it is that you're willing to give so much time over to the community!

It's a true pleasure to be able to do it! :)

MikeRhone

In this industry, so many people develop or learn little tricks that they never share with others. I call them 'one trick ponies'. You have always done the opposite. Every rigger out there knows the "Schleifer" rig, the fast animation DVD's, your master classes etc. Do you keep any ideas to yourself, or do you open your doors as soon as you develop a new trick? (Your auto-shoulder, stretchy spine, various MEL scripts etc.)

Heya mike! The ideas I keep to myself are the ones which I'm not legally allowed to give to the world. I'm a firm believer that people get better (including myself) by sharing ideas and information. I mean, we all learn through the generosity of others, right? I learn WAY faster by watching somebody else do something.. and watching someone else take something that I've developed and modify it, teaches me things, which in turn I modify and teach to others, which they teach and modify.. etc. It's helps knowledge grow at exponential rates. I don't like to hide information from people. That being said, I can totally understand the need to keep secrets, which is why I will not violate an NDA agreement. There's the whole idea of a competitive edge that companies need to keep in order to make money and protect their bests interests. That's fine and cool, and it works for some people.

I guess i just don't like to think of myself as a "one-trick-pony", and if I start guarding my "tricks" and "techniques" as if I AM "one-trick", then pretty soon I'll BECOME "one-trick". It's the power of mind over matter.. if you believe you have an infinite amount of ability to come up with techniques for solving problems, then you do.

During your time at Alias, how hard was it to get your own ideas pushed into software releases? I ask this because it took many Maya releases to get jsOrientJoint or equivilant into the program. I would argue that its the most essential rigging tool out there. (In my early rigging days I remember trying to orient LRA's by hand... YUCK) Are you still in close contact with the developers at Alias? And on that note, do you have a top-secret email address for someone at Alias so I can make software requests of my own!?!

Hahaha :) Some things were easy to get in, some things were more difficult, and some things never got it either because they were stupid ideas, or there just wasn't money in the schedule or time to do it. Also, the industry is growing.. just as there are new techniques for doing the same things being developed all the time, there are new technologies and tools and tricks that developers have to keep up with and try and develop. They're learning more and more about how artists work, and trying to keep the tools up to date with those methodologies. There are only so many developers (heck, I'll call 'em artists, too.. because they really are), and only so much money, and only so much time to do things. Honestly, Alias is really trying to do best by the animators and riggers and lighters out there. Someday everything will be done exactly the way you want it to be.. and by then, you'll want something totally different. :)

And finally, at which studio/position do you feel you learnt the most from your peers/co-workers?

Oh man, I've learned in EVERY position I've been in.. that's the thing, you should never never feel that you can't learn anything. I mean, sure.. you may find yourself in a place where you feel like you can learn MORE if you go somewhere else, or do something else.. but you should always be striving to learn as much as possible.

Thanks again for all the rigging tricks, mels, and crit on the forums...!

Thank you for the support! :)
Rass
Only I can says.. you're my idol. Fantastic work!!
When be me big, I want to be like you, but I think... i can't hehehe, all is other world. I can't make a question to you because my english is very poor :/. Only says to you my appreciation of your work and your effort, which has given his fruit.

Wow, thanks Manu! I really appreciate your kind words.. thank you very much!

StorytellingTree
06-10-2005, 06:37 PM
Hey Jason, hope ur fingers can still move so u can answer my post :)

First of all, as with any amateur animator, you are a reference to me, your job is just breath-taking, and i am glad that you gave us these oportunity of answering you questions. Congrats Jason, u climbed high :)

Jason, me and four more newbies have been working on an animation short here in Brazil, simple thing but we discovered a lot of thing that we have difficulties. (like english for example). I am here to see if you can help us a bit...

We made a pipeline too, we made the script, the references collection, the storyboard, the characters modelling, and them... oh lord here it comes... the rigging part. We are studing rigs for like 3 or 4 months, i read 2 books (Character Animation by Timothy Albee and Cartoon Character Animation by Jonny Gorden), lots of sites and watched loooots of movies, but we are still having troubles with doing a nice rig, so if u can help us:

1) I read in one of your answers that you don't like to put limits on your charcater, i must say that i am the only one here that agrees with you, but i didnt find a way to prevent bad bandings of the arm and legs. can you give us some tips on that?

2) Even after i read those books and watched those movies i still cant DEFINE IK or FK, i know how they work, i know how to use them but when someone comes to me and ask, "What is the difference beetwen IK and FK?" I just cant answer them, can you please answer that for me?

3) We dont know how to proceed after rigging the character. "Huh?" Well, what i am trying to say is: we do the rig, it is awesome, every character is moving fine and having really nice deformations but, how do we split the animation work beetwen the animators? How is it done by the studios that you worked with? How do you divide the scenes? What do you guys do so there is no difference betwen one scene made by the animator A and another scene made by animator B? How am i able to question the same thing on 4 different questions?

Well i think that these three questions will already help us a lot :) Thanks a lot for you help and for your good will of trying to understand me ! Cya :)

jschleifer
06-10-2005, 06:43 PM
Headless
Hi Jason. I have actually met you before, in passing, two years ago at the Animex festival in the UK. You gave an awesome talk and it'd be great to see you back there one year.

coolio! I'd love to go back one year.. this time, It'd be great to be able to bring my wife so she can see the UK, she's never been to europe.. EVER! :)

I'd like to know how you feel about the process of working with an actor like Andy Sirkis to develop the motion and personality of a character, compared to working on something like Madagascar, where I presume you develop the motion of your characters more by yourself (at least for your own shots)? Which of those two processes have you enjoyed the most, and do you ever see a time when actors might be employed in an Andy Sirkis, Ahmed Best, or Alan Tudyk type capacity, for a full length CG feature like Madagascar or The Incredibles (i.e, having actors on-board simply to act out scenes and help develop the characters)? Not to say that I don't think animators can hack it on their own. :)

I think it's great to get an actor to help embody the character. That was definitely helpful with Gollum, as he's such a complex character. However, i'd like to see more animators step up to those kinds of roles. It's something that some studios are somewhat doing with character leads.. those are animators who are the "lead" on a certain character in the film. They are the ones who know whether or not a character is "acting" correctly. It'd be great to see that idea pushed.. and those leads really owning the character. As for mocap being used in feature films.. honestly, I hope not. Mainly for selfish reasons.. I'd rather learn more about acting through animation then use mocap to do it. In the end, motion capture is simply a tool to be used to do the same thing that we use mice for.. but there's something about the overall frame-by-frame control that you have as an animator which is really.. satisfying. It's like telling a painter that they can simply take a photo of that lady and run it through a paint filter on the computer and it'll look just like her, but like an oil painting! Sure.. you can do that.. but why? Isn't it more interesting for the painter to actually DO every paint stroke? Maybe they paint a stroke a certain way which doesn't make logical sense, but it makes it feel right? Same thing with animation. Yes, you can replicate life and do some amazing things with mocap.. but what if I want that per-frame control? Not because I'm hoarding the work.. but because those frames are actually that important to me.

Another quick one: What's your favorite piece of animation (2D of 3D), or visual effects work, ever?

That's a tough question, because there is so much amazing work out there.. but the one which popped to my mind first was the scene in Toy Story where buzz and woody are under the car, and buzz is trying to convince woody to go after general zurg, and he says "because I know his.. only weakness". I just LOVE the way he opens his mouth and shakes his head before saying "only weakness". Just a brilliant little piece of acting. :)
albertbarrera
Your fingers must really be hurtin' by now! Love the work you do. Keep it up and good luck in all future endeavors! If you ever need a screenwriter drop me a line!images/icons/icon10.gif

haha :) thanks albert!! :)

DJSmackMackey
06-10-2005, 08:23 PM
"but the one which popped to my mind first was the scene in Toy Story where buzz and woody are under the car, and buzz is trying to convince woody to go after general zurg, and he says "because I know his.. only weakness". I just LOVE the way he opens his mouth and shakes his head before saying "only weakness". Just a brilliant little piece of acting."


I know what you mean about this shot! Another great one is in the Incredibles when Mr. Incredible has Mirage in his arms threatening to kill her if he isn't released and says "It'll be easy. like breaking a TOOTH-PICK." Oh man, that animation is so subtle and so brilliant, it gives me chills everytime I see it!

ktxed
06-10-2005, 08:37 PM
Hi Jason (i'm honored :applause: )
I have 2 off-topic questions : Do you listen music when you work (or in the free time).If yes what genre of music? ;) and What's your favorite movie?

Nemoid
06-10-2005, 09:32 PM
I think what worked really well for Gollum is stuff that many of the better animators at weta were doing, like Mike Stevens, atsushi sato, steven hornby, melanie cordan, and others.. they were spending lots of time working with the eyes and the face to make sure that the emotion read correctly. I think it's incredibly important to get the emotion to read.. to get the feeling to come through. I was asked recently what the best way is to do that, do you do reference yourself, or film others, or what? and I think it's kind of best to think about it the way real actors do.. kind of using "method" acting. If you're "method" acting, you dont "act" sad or happy.. you ARE sad or happy.. and because you ARE the thing instead of ACTING the thing.. the emotion comes through. It's the same with Gollum.. the animators had to learn to BE the emotion that he was.. and learn to get that emotion out through frame by frame acting, instead of just going "oh, he's sad, so I'll turn down the eyebrows".. does that make sense?



yep. it makes alot of sense ! sometimes we easily loose this perspective.

we're just overwhelmed by technical problems, and things like that.
i really think emotion is the key. thanx for your gret suggestions and
replies to everyone here. i learned alot reaading them. :thumbsup:

jakiloblanco
06-10-2005, 11:01 PM
Hi Jason!

Umm.. . ok, I posted this in the general discussions forum, and someone suggested that I ask you, since you would more than likely know the answer...

I've just recently learned how to rig and animate in Maya, and looking at all the Animation Mentor work people have been posting online, I thought it would be fun to try and follow. So, I built a model somewhat like your ball and 2 legged character.

Would it be ok for me to do this and put it on my reel, or is it tapping into legal issues??

As I don't have the time or money to go to AM, (mainly time....) I thought this could guide me into learning at a more comfy pace...

Anyways, I hope it's ok, and, well, needless to say your work is mindblowing :D

Thanks~!!!

jschleifer
06-10-2005, 11:16 PM
Mezza550 I am wondering if you can share any tips on how a recent college grad might break in to the animation for film industry. Tips such as what to focus on the most, what type of studios to try first, if said grads should first try lesser studios and work up from there, etc. etc... I would also be extremely interested to hear about your 'first feature film ever' experiences. THANKS!

I'd say if you've got a reel, then submit it everywhere you can.. and keep animating away (or doing whatever it is you're doing.. modeling.. rigging.. etc) while you wait for responses. Put your stuff on cgtalk and cgchar and other sites to get feedback, and try doing whatever it is people tell you to do with the reel (unless it's putting it where the sun don't shine.. ignore those people. they're angry!). Try EVERY studio.. try the best, the worst, the mediocre.. whomever you can get your stuff in front of, do it! It never hurts to get feedback. :) Then, apply for internships.. see if you can intern at a studio just to get started.

My first feature film experience was actually helping out on Mighty Joe Young. While working for Alias, I was traveling down to DreamQuest every week to help them out with their transition to Maya. While doing that, I got an opportunity to animate dirt clods being kicked back from Joe as he ran along the ground. I spent an afternoon working on it, getting them to look right..and then the sequence was taken away from DreamQuest and given to ILM. So my first feature work was never seen. ah well.
mayakid14
Jason, What software do you use?

I use Maya at home.. and EMO at work. EMO is the inhouse animation package at PDI. Oh, and I use vi, or vim to write Mel scripts and perl scripts. So my 3 main packages.. Maya, EMO, and vim. Oh, and final cut pro for editing. and mozilla or firefox for web.
cg219 1. Does Dreamworks have internships for High School Students?
Sort of.. not for high school students, but there are for university students. There's an internship program where you can get Academic internships, summer internships, and engineering internships. You can get more details about it on the website, if you go to http://www.dreamworksanimation.com and click on Jobs, then click on Job Opportunities, and then DreamWorks Internships.

2. Is College necessary to get into the industry?

Nope, not at all! It can be helpful, as I mentioned in an earlier answer, but you certainly don't need it.

3. What/who did you actually animate in LOTR?

Check out my demo reel at:
http://media.cgnetworks.com/demoreel/jschleiferReel.mov

That's most of the shots I animated.. not all of them, but you get a good idea of what I did there. :)

4. What software do they use at Dreamworks and Weta Digital?

For animation, we use in-house software called EMO at PDI/Dreamworks, and at Weta they use Maya.

5. How long did you have to wait after applying to Weta and Dreamworks to get a call back?

Actually, I was pretty lucky on both counts.. the call from Weta was a few weeks after I applied, and then I got the offer pretty quickly after the interview. Also, with PDI I had been in contact with them before going to Weta, so when I decided to think about working at PDI when I was done with weta, I only waited a day or so before getting called back. But again, I was very lucky with that.. most ofthe time it can take a company quite a while to get back to someone. It took Pixar 6 months to get back to me! :)

6. What made you want to be a Character Animator or get into 3d as a whole?

I just loev character animation.. I can't explain it any better than to say that when I'm animating, all feels right with the world. Birds sing.. trees bloom.. farts smell sweeter. It's just what feels right. :)

7. Can you check out my website(www.artbycg.com (http://www.artbycg.com/)) and tell me what I could work on to make it better :)?

Yep! I'm going to go through all the websites and reels at the end and try and give some good feedback on them once I get through all the questions! so stay tuned! :)

8. Do any of you have a messenger tag that I can get to chat with you? You can PM me that if you dont want EVERYone to know it. Or you can add me.

Heh. :) I actually refrain from using IM simply because I find it too addictive. That's the main reason why Im' able to do as much as I am.. I don't do IM or chat. I used to.. and I'd end up spending 3 hours EASILY chatting away.. and there are other things I'd much rather be doing. sorry! :)
Whew! page 4 done! this is getting easier! :)

InvaZimm
06-10-2005, 11:47 PM
Hey Jason,

You're definitely an inspiration, especially to most of the riggers out there, I know I'm one of them. I hope to one day follow in the tracks that have some slight resemblance to yours... well great rigging, but primarily moving from rigging on to animation. I feel that some of my earlier rigging attempts were pretty mediocre, well maybe some worse than that, but after watching your DVDs and some articles, I believe that they've definitely bumped past that position at least 10 fold. Thanks to you and buddy from back at school, the two of you help me carve/pave a great way into this field.

It's great to have a chance to actually chat with ya (well as much as possible thru this, ha), what a great treat:D. Had had a phone conference with Bay about a month or so ago, which was definitely another treat. Your work, personality and devotion to teaching/ helping others in the cg community (as much that is possible without those pesky NDA's getting in the way *shakes fist in the air*, hehe, I know their important) are definitely something to be proud of and a great resource to the rest of us, whether noobs or professionals.

Anyways, enough yacking :), and on to the questions:

q1. Earlier in your career you worked with and for Alias, do you believe that something like would be a smart move for anyone getting into this industry, to do? Which artist (ie. animator, rigger, modeler, etc.) would probably benefit the most?

q2. From the sound of it, you seemed to have been more interseted in the animation side of the industry from early on, Why did you choose to do the rigging aspect before really breaking out there to do animations?

q3. If the animation industry hadn't perked your interests like they did, where and what do you think you'd be doing now?

q4. What was the worst job you feel you ever had (industry or non)?

q5. If you're fingers aren't already to the bone by the time you even get to me, I was wondering if you could take a look over of my current reel http://johnzimmermann.com/gallery.php?p=demo , that would be absolutely fantastic:D. It's a little old, I think, working on maybe a better one soon. But if you can't find the time in that crazy, messed up schedule of yours, it'd be alright too.


Ok, I think that's enough for now. Just want to say that I, like most everyone here, definitely appreciate the time and effort that you take on your work, but also primarily with stuff like this. I commend you, lol. Take it easy and Keep up the great work.

cgtsolomon
06-10-2005, 11:56 PM
Hello Jason,



I appreciate you for sharing your time with us.



I bought your DVDs from Alias and they are awesome. I quickly became a top notch !!! :) rigger and could rig a complex mythological character in a matter of two days.



Based on your teaching, “rigging using a lowres polymesh” was quite easy and fun to see it in action. Though your DVDs helped me a lot in rigging, later I got into problems while skinning my complex but detailed NURBS patches model to the skeletons. I tried skinning the multiresolution NURBS patches by wrap deforming it with a medium resolution polymesh which inturn was smooth bound to the skeleton. It was 25 MB file and Maya crashed. I had Maya 5.0 in a Dual Xeon (2.8 Ghz) 2GB RAM, ATI FIREGL 9600 Graphics card, 500GB harddisk m/c. What is the best way to do skinning? How are characters skinned now a days in Highend VFX houses or what is “THE” “BEST” way for efficient skinning ? How did you guys skinned Gollum? Is it one or more poly/sub-D/NURBS patches or one or the other depending on the shot?



One out of topic question, currently you are my “only” source who can reply:

Everybody talks about Bay Rait and his work. Did he write any tutorial, or have any DVDs? I searched his “Character modeling” PDF in the net, but couldn’t find it. If you could me point to any of his resources or send me his contact that would be great.



BTW the rigged monkey in your DVD is awesome.:bounce:



All the Best for bleeding in the “cutting” edge. Stay there and keep up your goodwork:)



God bless you.



Solomon.

jschleifer
06-11-2005, 01:56 AM
CoolDuck Can you give us any tips regarding rigging a quadruped, that can also stand on 2 feet. Like a
bear.

In terms of animation control or in terms of skinnig? A bear is kind of a unique quadraped, because as far as I know, their rear legs work just like ours do.. meaning, they don't walk on their toes like a dog or cat, but more like humans. In fact, if I were rigging a bear, I'd probably rig it the same way I'd do a biped, except with shorter legs.

Are you intereseted in more of a quad back leg like a dog or cat? The thign to be aware of there is that you need to give the animator the ability to rotate the thigh and angle separately from eachother, but still be able to move the leg forward simply by grabbing the foot (or toe, actually) and moving it. I like to do ik which goes from the knee to the ball of the foot, and then an ikhandle which goes from the thigh to the knee, then parent both ikHandles under a control used for moving the whole foot. That way, you can move the foot and it'll move the whole leg correctly. Then, you can create a control for rotating the ikHandle which goes from the thigh to the knee, giving you the ability to manipulate the thigh with "fk".

I've described it much better elsewhere.. it's kind of a toughie to describe in a quick paragraph w/out showing how it would work.. heh

What do u not like about your work?

I feel like I still need to work a lot more on facial animation.. I'm not as confident there as I am with body motion, so I'd like to work on that quite a bit more. I would also like to learn more about subtle acting and push that further.. and maybe develop more tricks for doing walks. I hate animating walks... I always just sorta fudge my way through 'em, and I should probably get better at them.. but I'll do just about anything in my animation to get away from a simple walk. :)
keitaro
What is the personal computer configuration you are now using to work in your project? In detail if you can?

Right now I'm using a Mac G4 with 1 gig of ram, and a powermac g4 laptop. I'm using Maya for animation and rendering, shake for compositing, and final cut pro for editing. I'm looking at getting a tabletPC for animation, because I like the idea of being able to draw when animating & trying to use a mouse.. we'll see how that goes! (stay tuned to the exciting tabletPC adventures by reading my blog.. http://jonhandhisdog.com/shh-life-er)

Edit: I know you change and you move and you use various systems, but which is the one you use more often and for what?

That's the one I use most often. At work, of course, I use linux and .. er.. HP workstations. I really like using OS-X at home because it's so much like linux.. very easy to program and set up work environments the way I like. :)

eevilmouse
Ok for those of us trying to break in to the animation business, what do you think the best advice you would have.. I know demo reel is a big one, but how would be the best way to do it.. IE create this Awesome reel, and send it to god and everyone, or call people, or only submit to places that are hireling.. How did you, and how would you go about getting into the business?

I think I answered that one above.. let me know if you want more specific info!

harmonic01 1) Could you talk a bit about the facial rigs and controls you had on Madagascar characters? Are they morpher (or Blendshape) based? Is it anything like Jason Osipa's rigs in Stop Staring book?

I'm not sure how much of the stuff is public, so I can't really talk about the controls that we had.. I think there's going to be a course on it at Siggraph, so if you go there (or get the notes) you'll be able to see how the rigs worked. Maybe after that I can talk more about them.. heh :) They were pretty darn flexible, though!

2) I totally love Penguins and king Julien from Madagascar, can you tell us if you animated any shots with them and if so which once? :)

thanks! They were a blast to work with! I did a few shots with the penguins and with julian.. more with julian, though! I think I listed his a few questions earlier, but one of the penguin ones I didn't mention was in the zoo when the skipper goes "To the WILD!" and slaps private. Good fun, those penguins! The best part about them was how snappy we were allowed to make them.. the Directors kept pushing us back more and more to almost blocking, with jsut really strong smear frames between poses.. they were so wacky and fun.. just strange fun creatures, really.

3) If there was anything you wish you had more time to do, and maybe change or adjust on Madagascar, what would it be and why?

In terms of the animation? I'd love to go back and work on some of my earlier shots... I feel like I really started to get the hang of things towards the middle and end of the film, so it'd be awesome to be able to go to my early work and make changes.. but ah well, you can only do so much! :)
Gemini82 1) What do you think about the critics review of Madagasgar? Do you agree with them on some points?

On some points, sure. The story probably isn't as strong as the Incredibles, but I don't think it was ever meant to be. It's a comedy.. you wouldn't compare Airplane to Howard's End. :) I think they are being a bit harsh, but it's good to get critiques, because you never get better without them, right? So I don't mind the fact they're being harsh.. after all, people are still going to see it & it's already done extremely well for itself! As long as people are going and enjoying the film and having a good time (and laughing at my shots!) I'm happy. I'm proud of the work that we did on the film, and I know that I put as much into my work as I could.. so no regrets!
flamingbs

Hoping to be a director someday (though at 15, I'm a long way off), I was wondering how much you interact with the director during the course of production? I'm especially curious to know if you were directly critiqued by Peter Jackson during LOTR, and if so, was he as nice as he seems on camera, or did he seem stressed? Thanks for answering all of our questions, I'm excited to be able to talk to someone in the business.

Cool!! I'm sure you'll make it! Just start making films now so you can get all the crap ones out of the way. It's kind of like drawing and animating and anything artistic, really.. we've all got 10,000 really crappy drawings inside us. The more you draw and the earlier you start, the quicker you get all the crap ones out of the way and the quicker you get to the good stuff. :)

On LOTR we interacted with Peter quite a bit in the first film.. he would actually come by and talk to us at our desks to review our shots. Towards the end of the first film and in the second and third he was extremely busy, and we would only see him at some dailies, and in some specific meetings. When I got the position of Animation Lead at the beginning of film 3, I actually got to go to his house to see an early cut of film 3 (before we started doing anything on it.. just to see what we needed to get done). It was awesome! I walked in.. they had coffee and food.. and he goes "hi jason". and I probably pooped my pants. Peter was really nice tho.. very funny, and very smart. He has a great memory!

For Madagascar, we met with the directors once or twice a day.. they were alwasy in dailies and always coming around to our desks, so we got to know them really well. I love that about working here.. you're with the directors all the time!
Vivec 1) Did you always want to be an animator

As long as I can remember it's what I've thought about doing.. it's not always what I thought I WOULD do, but it's what I've wanted to do. :) I used to think I'd have to go into advertising, because I thought that was the only way to combine art and computers.. silly jason!

2) What was the best piece of advice you were given...

To make life simple. People do make life more difficult for themselves than they need to.. we should all just step back and take a breath. Get rid of debt.. get rid of relationships which stress you out (friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, bosses, whatever). focus on the positive.. keep a happy outlook, and life will follow suit.

3) What chalenges did you face when you started animating for a studio for the first time..

I was SO friggin nervous about showing my work. I didn't think I was good enough, and so every time I showed something I thought I'd get fired. I kept thinking "i'm the new guy.. I'll be first to go", then it was "my work is ass.. I'll be first to go". :) And it was tough getting used to deadlines and meeting crazy insane deadlines.. and learning to deal with changes.. and politics.. and stuff like that. Actually, politics are probably the worst aspect of a job. When I was interning for Alias, I had to actually share a COMPUTER with another intern. I'd work 2 days, he'd work 2 days, and then on the 3rd day one of us would find another computer to work on. He was such a royal arse.. I remember one time my grandmother died, and I flew to new york for the funeral. I was there for a few days, and came back early one morning right before work. I had to go into work because A) I needed the money, and 2) I needed to take my mind off things. So I sit down at the desk (it was on a day when both of us were there), and he comes in an hour later, looks at me (I probably looked like crap. messy hair.. red puffy eyes.. etc) and goes "Dude! You write the worst code in the WORLD! Your work is CRAP! You're such an idiot! You suck!"

And I looked at him and went "Hey, f*ck off. my grandmother just died. get the f*ck out of my face".

See? jason=mad=not very often! :) But he did stuff like that all the time.. even tried to get me fired once. Gah. What an ass. Luckily, that kind of stuff tends to go away after a while and you find fewer and fewer people like that as you move along. One thing I LOVE about PDI is that those types of politics aren't seen here. I can't think of a single animator that wants to stab another one in the back to move up. It's AWESOME!

4) Im aware you used Maya for animating Gollum...did you use the graph editor alot...

I tend to use the graph editor only at the end of a shot.. I like to block things out first by keying in stepped curves, and setting specific keyframes for the positions of where I want things. I don't like to use the graph editor to get values, only to help in transitions and in finessing. there were many shots of gollum where I'd tweak keys in the graph editor only on the very last day I was on a shot!

baandersnatch
06-11-2005, 05:00 AM
I'll get right to it:

I'm gonna be a sophmore this fall at Cal Arts, and for my freshman year we were introduced to cg animation (of course in addition to our 2d animation class). Based on my, and everyone else's experience in the class, here's my two questions:

How do you keep your animation loose in cg? Now, I am very adept at Maya, but i've only really had a years experience in the animation aspect of things, so I'm not asking for tech solutions here. Given the nature of cg (everything is rendered perfect and solid), the ordeal of posing the character and tweaking arcs seems to be very monotonous and frustrating. For example, it seems like if you had to do something frame by frame in cg, it would be exponentially more difficult compared to 2d because if something was off, it would really show up (mostly in the form of stuttering). It seems like the more you drone on and on on a certain piece, the more stale it gets. Sometimes I just want to draw over all of it and hand animate it cause drawing is just so loose and I know I'll get what I want. Does it just take time to get over this? Please say yes.

Dunno if you could help on this one, but I'll ask anyways. How is animating on ones in the comuter different from animating on 2's traditionally? From what I've heard (from Tony Fucile on the Incredibles DVD), animating on the 2's traditional system in the computer just doesn't work, as it makes things look floaty. I guess you could only comment on how you work, so what's your personal keyframe system? Do you just do the key poses and monotonously tweak curves for inbetweens? Or do you key every other frame? Could you get into more detail about what you said above?

Greets from CALARTS!! Respect!
Come to our producer's show at the end of the year, everyone who's cool comes!!

ftaswin
06-11-2005, 05:14 AM
OK, let me try,

Jason, when you got a rigged model for the first time, how long does it take to sink in with the controls an feeling to the character before you start animating it to A shot? I always do it all the time but only recently I realized this process as a part for me to get used to the controls + get the feeling to the character?

1 hour? 1 day? 1 week?

An when you are ready to animate, how long do you spend off the computer to block out your shot (by acting it)? 1 day? More?

And what do you think about taping yourself acting it out and grab that as reference? I personally don't really like that if I don't have to unless I'm animating a really difficult timing/ spacing.

Is it hard not to get personal to people who don't have artistic background to tell you what you need to do with the shot and making artisitic calls? (e.g: producers, producers or maybe assistant producers). This is the time I want to stab someone on the eye and rip their skull in two.


Thanks a lot and keep rocking, Jason. You are trully inspire me. Next time you're in Sydney I'll buy you Lunch.

flamingbs
06-11-2005, 05:41 AM
Thanks for answering! Believe me, I've gotten quite a few crap movies out of the way, and I'm sure I have many more to come. Right now I'm working on a movie with a few friends for the Orange County Fair video competition. The problem is finding enough time to finish... summer should help with that. Anyway, thanks again for answering! I'll be looking for your name in the credits of future Dreamworks movies! http://cgtalk.com/images/smilies/thumbsup.gif

3dd3
06-11-2005, 08:20 AM
Hello Jason, again:) !
Thank U very much that U're spending your precious time on our boring questions, but still hope U feel your power, outstanding & respect about your personality :))))))))))
Thank U very much! Keep animating & highlighing the way to the followers!
(Weekend! Wake up it's a new set of questions :)))))))))))))))))))))))))


1) So just very curious how much time U've spent on the shorts in "Madagascar". I mean time for every one, if U could, please!
Have U always met the deadlines?

2) What music do U like?

3) Will your children be animators? :)))))))))))

Thank U! )))))))))))))))))))))))))))
Good luck!

"

When alex went running down the beach to try and swim back to NY & gloria grabbed him & then melman came running out with the "bush" on his head and said "nature!! it's all over me, get it off!"
a bunch of shots when maurice & julian meet the zoosters, from when julian does his little laugh "haha!" to when he goes "all hail, the new york giants!"
a few of the shots when maurice is 'splaining to the zoosters that alex is a predator & julian goes "what's a little bite on the buttocks among friends?"
the end when julian & maurice are in the tree & julian goes "I did it! I did it! give me some love!" and swings maurice around, then they do the robot.
22 hand animated fossa getting smacked around in the climax (that's 22 hand animated fossa in one shot.. oy vey)
gloria dancin in the credits (that was SUCH a fun shot to do!)
a few shots in grand central station when marty goes "it's the man!" 'till the animal control cop gets pushed out into the ring & gets frightened & then runs back into the wall of people.
some shots in the beginning when marty goes "stand over here, walk over there, eat some grass, walk back over there.." and then the one where alex tap-dances onthe wall and goes on about breaking out of the routine .. ad lib.. boom boom boom
"

3dd3
06-11-2005, 08:25 AM
Hello Jason!
Thank U very much that U're spending your precious time on our boring questions, but still hope U feel your power, outstanding & respect about your personality :))))))))))
Thank U very much! Keep animating & highlighing the way to the followers!
(Weekend! Wake up it's a new set of questions :))))))))))))))))))))))))) :)


1) So just very curious how much time U've spent on the shorts in "Madagascar". For each if U could!:thumbsup:
Have U always met deadlines?
2) What music do U like?
3) Will your childeren be animators? :)))))))))))))0:thumbsup:

Thank U!
Good luck!

3dd3
06-11-2005, 08:29 AM
Ups - I did it twice:scream:

mikefeil
06-11-2005, 09:34 AM
thanx for the answers jasons they were awesome, your posts so far have been sweet :D

jschleifer
06-11-2005, 05:44 PM
da_maxx_82
Hi jason im a big fan (twirling a peice of grass) not only of your art but of such perseverance and dedication to a career which most of us struggle with day to day and I just want to thank you for taking the time always to critique all of our works. I've seen you post on a regular and I realy appreciate all youve done for this community, Its wonderful to see someone with such compasions. Thank you..

Wow, thanks so much! I'm just doing what I feel is right.. it's a real pleasure to know that you guys aren't sick of my rambling yet! actually, more of a shock, really... haha :) But seriously, thank you very much!

If you didnt have cg and all you had was the lump of plastercine would your heart still pound when you saw the accumaltion of quickly recorded frames play back on an old cam corder?

Yep, it certainly would.. heh :) I went to this party a few months ago that was sort of a going away party for my friend Ben Cerveny (it actually took him longer to really "go away" to spain, but that's another story), and an animator (gah! I forgot her name!! crap! sorry!) brought her mac and a camera and this sweeeeet stop motion program called.. urm.. hmm.. what was it called? ah! iStopMotion. She also brought a ton of toys.. like legos, and clay, and all sorts of fun stuff. I saw cassidy curtis (another PDI animator, cube-mate, and all around friggin brilliant guy.. http://www.otherthings.com) playing with the legos making this crazy shape.. so I went over and started playing with legos and pretty soon we were all so focused on the stop-motion animation that as far as i was concerned, the party was pretty much centered around the camera. It was such a blast! The next day I downloaded iStopMotion and brought my camera, mac laptop, and tripod to work and set it up at an empty desk. Throughout the day whenever we were setting off a render, or complicated "playblast" (in quotes, cuz we don't have playblast.. it's called something else, but it's the same thing) we'd run over and do a bit of stop motion. It was so freeing.. just making things move w/out being able to go back and change 'em. whatever you got, you got. and no directors!!

do you find you study mythology? phsycology? the real drive behind the character and the story or is it just about the emotion?

Yep, if it fits the character, you study everything you can. In order to get the emotion, you have to know the base as to where it's coming from. Of course, it all depends on the shot and the amount of time you have to devote to it.. if you've got a lot of time, you can do tons of research.. but many times you have to just start working on the shot as soon as possible, and all you can really do is just go "okay.. he's sad, getting happier, that's the emotion, got it" and try and figure it out as you go along. I think some of the best animators have an inate understanding of internal dialogue and how it relates to psychology.. of course, I only "think" that because I'm not one of those people! It just kinda sounds good. :)

what is the meaning of life?

42.

How many questions can you answer before you regret agreeing to this?

funny.. same answer!

fsanimate
Say you are handed a 120 frame shot with dialog and the whole character in frame that you have to animate. Generally, how many work days would it take you to get a shot like that finalized.

Heya brian! that depends on the type of acting the shot calls for.. I tend to be able to animate manic motion shots much faster than slow, methodical acting shots.. On average, I would say it would take a week to get done. That seems to be the magical number for me shots under 150 frames or so. But then again, I've had shorter shots which take quite a bit longer, simply because they're so tough acting-wise.. the more internal and difficult the acting, the longer the shot will take.

Do you have a frames per hour or day completion rate that you strive for?

We have a quota at work which usually hovers around 5 feet of finaled footage a week, on average. 1 foot of footage is 16 frames.. so 16 times 5.. carry the 2.. about 80 frames per week. But that's just an average. So if you get on a sequence, and you have 5 shots.. and about 5 weeks to finish the shots.. you can have a few weeks where you're blocking and you have no footage finalled, but then on the 3rd week maybe you'll final 1 shot, and get .. like 4 feet or something, and then the 4th week you'll final 2 shots and get 8 feet, and then on the 5th week you final the other 2 shots and get 12 feet. as long as you finish your shots within the time you're given, you should be hitting quota. I usually try and go over quota, mainly because I like to push myself and do as much work as possible. I like the idea of animating many different kinds of shots, so I try and work on two shots at once if I can.

sin3d
How's life in Dreamworks compared to in WETA?

Both companies are very different.. I think I enjoyed both for very different reasons. I learned a TON at weta about animation.. in fact, Richie Baneham was one of my first animation supervisors who actually drew on the screen in front of me and taught me that it's okay to go crazy with dry-erase markers and mark up your monitor! He helped me out quite a bit with head pops and things like that. Randy was always great about getting in the character's head.. and I really enjoyed just shooting the sh*t with him about the industry and history of animation. Just a blast that way.. and there were some amazingly talented people. I really liked the underground feel that weta had in the early days.. just a bunch of people who really wanted to make these films happen and would just do whatever they could to get it done. Need a pipeline? Okay.. let's write one. I'll take this, you take that, here are the specs, now go go go go go!

PDI I've learned morea bout animation than I ever have in my life. It's such a blast working here with the amazingly talented people all around.. great traditional (whatever that means) and cg animators. actually, screw that.. great ANIMATORS. let's drop the difference between "traditional" and "non-traditional". We're all animators making things move around. We all are striving for the same thing. Anyway, it's so awesome to be able to talk to people who animated on lion king and hear the stories.. and watch James Baxter talk about how to do smear frames. I LOVE the fact that the animators are supportive of eachother, and when someone does a nice shot, people go out of their way to pat them on the back and say "nice job!".

What do u do in your spare time?

spare? sorry, I know you're speaking english, but the word just doesn't make sense.. heh :) i sleep, hang with the wife, play with the dogs, and watch tivo!
BarryRIT
Hey Jason, thanks for doing this! I first want to send you a big thanks for all the information you have shared. Back when I was a wide eyed animation student I was able to catch your Character Setup master class at the San Antonio Siggraph a few years back. The rig you showed really blew me away. It helped me put together a decent enough animation reel to land my first job in the industry, so a big big thanks!!!

Cool!!! that's awesome! thank YOU, my friend!

Anyways, on to the questions...

1. I was curious about the stability of being an animator at a big
studio. I have heard that most of those jobs are contracts on a
project to project basis. Is this true? Its it hard to get a secure/staff
position at a big feature studio?

Yeah, I think that's true anywhere in the industry tho.. some people are lucky enough to be able to be there for a while, but it seems most jobs are contract. I'm kind of two ways about it.. i like the fact that you can move to another project if you don't like the one that's coming up.. I think it's important to be able to have that kind of control of your own career. But, I also don't like the fact that sometimes people get laid off at the end of a show after moving their family and setting up their lives in a new city/country/etc.

2. Do you have a personal favorite scene or sequence you have worked on?
whether it be from LOTR or Madagascar or something else?

Hmm.. I think right now I really like the julian stuff I was doing on Madagascar.. he was such a fun character, and I just felt like I understood his motivation (he's crazy), and could really have fun coming up with ways of making him act. But the most fun I had was animating gloria in the end credits.. we were given a week, and they said "here's the music.. you've got 150 frames or so.. go crazy". So I went "really?" and they said "yeah, just make it funny". So I did. THAT was a blast!

3. What kind of freedom do you get from the directors with your shots?

It all depends on the directors, the character, and the type of shot. Some shots they say "he just needs to be here.. try and come up with some funny business" and you go off and figure stuff out. Other times it's very specific.. "he must have THIS emotion switching to THIS emotion, moving from this point to that point, and the transition has to happen within THESE frames". So it totally changes. I'd say Tom and Eric were extremely open to accepting ideas and letting us try things with Madagascar.. I always felt like I was working with them instead of for them. A big difference, if you know what I mean.

4. What do you guys doing inbetween projects? How do they keep you busy? Or are they able to schedule it so you can jump right into the next feature film?

I don't know if I'm allowed to say anything about that right now, so I keep my mouth shut and buttoned. :)

5. I am on the verge of accepting a new job in the bay area (menlo park to be exact), and will be moving out there in about a month or so. Know any good restaurants? http://cgtalk.com/images/smilies/grin.gif

congrats on the new job!! woo! :) There's a great sushi place in redwood city.. right on broadway. AWESOME people! good korean bbq in SF.. there are great restaurants everywhere!
augusto.goicoechea
Hi, my name is Augusto, I´m from Uruguay, so that, forgive my english, is pretty bad, first I want to congratulate you, your work is incredible, I´m very exited waiting to watch Madagascar. Let me tell you that I´m a character animator, in a animation studio and individual, so that I´ve been making rigs for a long time, but just in 3D studio max and lightwave, and I´ve never done a rig which don´t have a problems with the geometry. I see the gollum and I don´t find any answer.
I´d like to know if exist a sftware that you can say, there is the best place you can work, and there is no anyone soft which have something like that.
¿Which is the appropiated tool to work with characters?

Heya Augusto! we did a lot of work with Gollum to get the skinning right. As I mentioned in an earlier answer, we had a muscle system which we built from scratch at Weta that handled most of the problems. But even then, it wasn't 100% foolproof.. so sometimes we had to hand-fix problems after the skinning was done. From what I can tell, this is actually a common practice in studios.. after the animation is finished and the character is in lighting, there will be things that need to be fixed in the geometry, and they will be fixed by either deforming the model by hand using blendshapes or something like that, painting the fixes in 2d, or by trying to make minor tweaks to the skinning rig. I'm not sure of the best tool out there right now for skinning, as I've been using propriatary stuff for the past.. 6 years or so. :) What I would look for would be software which can do the following:



Use a muscle or volume deformation system. Something that will allow you to easily skin the mesh to a series of volume keeping deformation shapes so you can re-skin very quickly when the model changes, and the deformations will keep their volume by squashing and stretching.
One which is very fast, so you don't have to wait as long for the sceen to update.
One which allows you to fix the geometry AFTER the deformation takes place by either adding blendhshape targets, or just sculpting fixes directly into the model.
One which allows you to bake out the geometry deformation to fast reading files so your lighters don't have to wait for the deformation system to update each time they change frames.
One which has a dynamics system for sub-surface jiggle of fat and muscle tissue.
¿exists any technique in the modelin or rigging just to avoid this problems?

Make sure your modeling is detailed enough to be able to deform correctly where it needs it, but not so detailed that you don't have control. Make sure the flow of the model's edges make sense for where the deformations are going to happen. Pay attention to where the skeleton joints are placed, making sure that they're pivoting from the most advantageous point, not just in the middle of the geometry, but where they're going to deform the best (sometimes they're better up near one side of the surface). Make sure you have enough time in the budget to allow back and forth between the modelers and riggers so you can work towards the best solution. Many studios will say "model's done!" before the rigger ever touches it.. bad move!

Rye
Don't actually have any questions, just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to answer everyone else's, its been inspiring to read.

Cheers, rye! It's been a lot of fun to answer, and it's great to actually sit back and think about these things.. sometimes you just crank through work so fast you never think about what you're doing and why, you just go go go. It's nice to crystalize the ideas and really ponder things a bit.
AlfonsÅberg Q1 How do you go about solving rig problems and what are the first things you do when you are faced with a rig construction that you newer have done before?(besides trial and error, do you read books, search the internet, call your contacts at Alias or do you just think until you come up with a solutions that works)

The first thing I do is think about the end result that I want. Do I want the rig to stretch? Does it have to move a certain way? How do I want to work with it? I'll write down a series of important things bout the rig and what it has to do "globally". Then I'll think about how I can break the rig up into various parts.. legs, torso, head, neck, tail, etc. Then I'll look at each of those individual sections and try and think about what type of control I want for those things, and how they should move around. I'll come up with some ideas.. write them down, and then talk to other animators and riggers and anyone else who may have an idea to try and get a cohesive first pass goal to reach. All that's done before touching the computer. Once I have the goals, then I'll sit down and build little prototypes of rigs for those separate sections.. a little fake leg structure and see how I can make it move the way I want. I'll make tiny rigs, getting ideas for if they'll allow me the control I need, writing down what I find, seeing if there's anything I've missed along the way. Sometimes something will work great in a side view, but I'll have forgotten to try it rotating in y. I'll make sure I have a good idea of what rotation orders I want on the bones and things. Basically, I'll get each section worked out in how i'll make them move. Then I'll hand off those individual sections to others to try and see if they move the way they'd expect. Then i'll start joining those sections together.. not on the final model, but see how the leg works if there are two legs and a hip.. see if the neck and torso work together.. etc. Just slowly keep building things until I have a working fake rig that does what I want. Then I'll take a pass at simplifying the rig to get all the crap out of it that i don't need. I do all this on the fake rig, because once you start working with the real rig you don't want to have to change things if you don't have to. Once the rig is fast, and has the right control.. THEN I'll start applying it to the real creature, making modifications and fixing things as I go. Note, I do this all with mel scripts at this stage so I can make changes quickly.

Q2 What's your approach to naming conventions? specially the joints?

I try and keep them consistent through out the character. Left joints always start with l_ and right joints always start with r_. torso joints are usually torso_1, torso_2, torso_3, etc. If I'm going to have skinning joints in there as well as control joints, I'll put something like: torso_1_skin, torso_2_skin, torso_3_skin for the skinning ones, and torso_1_ctrl, torso_2_ctrl, for control joints. that way you can list for things like "torso*ctrl" and "*skin" and "l_*".

Chris Bacon
06-11-2005, 05:46 PM
Thas SO COOL you answered my questions Jason...I didnt think you would get round to it thanks man.........Thank guy you worked with sounds like a REAL W++KER......hope I dont run into many people like that when I start my profesional work.....


THANKS again dude....all the best....:buttrock:

Miyagi
06-11-2005, 07:12 PM
Hi Jason!


It is about my dream to have an international experience at any 3D industry at any position, but a fact is that unfortunately at Brazil, 3D resources, hardwares till internet connection are not too democratic yet. All I know about 3D comes from softwares docs, people that gently share their knowledge in the net and by my personal trial and error:wip: :banghead: :wip: :cool: .

Can one success at Industry against Cal Art students-like in such limited resources? Or I’d better keep cooking Chinese food? :)

If positively, Will people accept low res animation in a demo reel? Or is it one-way trash?

I’d like to thank you and all cgTalk team to give us this priceless opportunity to know a little more about the trues and lies of our passion.:thumbsup:


MyMasterAndServant (http://www.cgtalk.com/showthread.php?t=224272&highlight=Rogerio+Masao)

ryusen
06-11-2005, 07:59 PM
Hi Jason, I just went to watch Madagascar and loved it. Congratulation.

I have a couple of questions which due to my laziness to read all the pages, may have been answered before.

1. Could you show an example of a smear frame? Before it, the smear frame itself and after? Maybe a few stills from Madagascar? :D

2. If I'm building a rig for quite realistic looking characters, should I make the rig stretch and squash too?

3. And can you share with me how the facial rigs for Madagascar were built? :D

Thanks a lot Jason, and again congratulation for having animated such a great movie.

Chanchito
06-11-2005, 09:58 PM
Hi

Got a few short questions:

1. When you do character animation, do you ever record yourself acting out your scenes, even when doing cartoony stuff, or do you just resort to a mirror?

2. What is your favourite method of animation: pose to pose or animating one part of the character at a time (layered animation) and are there situations when either method is prefferable over the other to get the best result?

Cheers man!

flippinmental
06-11-2005, 10:12 PM
Hi Jason!

I first want to say I loved your work on LotR I thought it was great! Haven’t seen Madagascar yet because it hasn't been released over here yet, but I’ve been looking forward to it for some time now and can't wait to see it!

1) My first question is that do you think it's weird that you are being paid to do something you love? Because some people seem to get worried about getting into a job where they do something they really like, like drawing, animating etc, because they think been paid to do that will ruin it for them (it unpurified it or something like that) - are the ever times when you just don't feel like animating, do you ever get worried that one day you won't find it fun anymore (because of the pressure of work etc)? If not then what makes it fun every day?

2) Are there any really good learning resources (books, DVD etc) that you would recommend to aspiring animators? I've already got The animators survival guide (which is brilliant!) , and the book - Maya for beginners, is there any books, DVDs that you have found really helpful or that you recommend?

Sorry for adding more questions to your list to answer, but I had to ask!

yolao
06-12-2005, 03:37 AM
Hy Jason

Maybe you are tired of hear this, but man, your work is FANTASTIC AND MARVELOUS!!

someone ask this before...
can a character like gollum be made in a home pc?..your answer was yes....but what i want to know is:

you mention that to make the extraordinary gollum, weta had a muscle system wich you guys built from scratch that handled most of the problems.
well, with all this technical issues of plugins, depelop systems to get this or that the way it should be, and programing a lot...i wonder:

-wich things has to be learned to achieve a character like gollum in a software like maya in a home PC?

-For those (like me) ho dont know anything about writing plugins, depeloping systems, etc...is there out there in the market, plugins as advanced like the one the big studios develop?

THANKS IN ADVANCE, I ADMIRE YOUR WORK A LOT, IT GIVE GREAT
INSPIRATION IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD.

Pardon my english
Yolao

Lalecp
06-12-2005, 04:29 AM
Hi Jason,

Before I start I would like to thank you for taking your time to answer our questions, and that I'm completely star strucken. Your work in Lord of The Rings was amazing, but have yet to watch Madagascar.

My name is Alec I am a 13 year old kid who is very interested in digital art and animation, especially 3D animation. I recently started using Maya and I'm not very experienced with it. So I have some questions for you.

1. Since I am a beginner, what would you suggest "focusing" on in the field of 3D Mod animation? Where would be a good place to start?

2. How did you get into this field of work, and what drove you to success?

3. What are some of your resources (like site and books) you use to check up on procedures. eg. Digital-tutors.com?

4. Anything else you would suggest to a beginner?

Once again I would like to thank you for Answering our questions. And tell you that YOU ROCK!

skull_leader
06-12-2005, 06:27 AM
Hi Jason

1) How many years have you been animating?

2) Since you've become a full time animator in PDI. When you get home, do you find it hard to sit in front of the computer nowadays to practice animations? Or practice animating things with you struggle at work such as facial animations which you mentioned? Or do you find that you've practiced enough at work animating 8 hours a day?

3) What was your interview with Weta like? What was your interview with PDI like? Do they differ much in terms of how they interview people?

Thanks for your time and patience. I really appreciate it!

flyingP
06-12-2005, 09:21 AM
Just curious, apart from Weta, did you get an impression of how the overall industry is developing in NZ ?, another 8 weeks and I'll be back in NZ myself after a twelve year absence so any info would be most appreciated :)

Sagroth
06-12-2005, 10:52 AM
Hi, Jason.

Maybe that's not your primary speciality, but reading your answers I've figured out that you want to have your own studio and make your own projects one day, so I'm really interested in your opinion.

So what do you think about skills of animation/vfx-heavy film director - is it essential for him to know at least basics of all animation/vfx technical stuff? Or should he just leave that 'tricky stuff' for specialized team and spend more time on actual directing craft?

I know that in his early films (btw, what d'you think about them, honestly? :)) Peter Jackson had a lot of work in 'natural' vfx stuff. Do you think that helped him a lot while planning/making LotR trilogy?

And lastly, if you for example want to be an animation film director, what skills are you going to improve for that purpose?

Sheepshooter
06-12-2005, 08:16 PM
OMG
what a honor to speak with you...you are my favorite artist..you can be proud....

first...sorry if i have some grammer/spelling misstakes..english is not my mother tongue.

any way...

Q1: how did you start to work in big projects as LOTR..are ther any other movies we dont know that you animat befor LOTR,
i mean...how WETA or anyone herd about you before?? (is it the right way to ask that Q? =P)


and anothr thing...
did you learn anthomy and the nature of walking and moves by staring at people or as raw academic matrial??
i hope you understand =)


what a great honor... =D
Dan

ARI-PANZER
06-13-2005, 10:27 AM
hi there your show reel is super cool especially like the baloon dog,my question is do you think there is still ways to improve animation,do you think their are new styles techniques to be discovered and any hints on what they could be

String_max
06-13-2005, 10:29 AM
Hey Jason!
Very nice work ..:thumbsup:

tarun_don
06-13-2005, 12:33 PM
Awesome Jason! respect to you.. :)

Leionaaad
06-13-2005, 01:53 PM
Have you ever considered to become a teacher?
Those who know, they are doing it. those who don't know are teaching it.

You do have great knowledge, and lot of experience, I don't question that, not even for a second.
All I am saying is that it seems you really enjoy talking about animation, and you really can keep people focused...Everytime I watch a DVD from Gnomon I am about to fall asleep. I've seen only one DVD with you (Fastrigs, or something), and despite of the fact I am more a modeler, I watched the whole thing...without getting bored!!
Someone should give you the CGpriest rank, or something...
Or CGpope....
Or better...You are creating things...bringing them to life....

jschleifer
06-13-2005, 04:20 PM
Fus|on
1) I was just wondering what your general working hours are? how much does it differ when crunch time comes,

Work hours are pretty good in general (aside from crunch, of course). At PDI/Dreamworks, they really try to make sure you have a life outside of work.. so it's 10 hours a day standard, but that can vary. As long as your'e getting your work done, they're not checking you in and out at the door. :) When crunch comes, it was tougher at Weta, but crunch is crunch no matter where you are. Those types of days can easily be 16 to 20 hour days if you let them.. 6 days a week here. But that has to be pre-approved, and you can't do it if there's nothing for you to work on.

2) Are your current working hours any different to when you worked in WETA.

My work hours were longer at Weta, but I also had a different role there with more responsibility, so I needed longer work hours.

3) when do you think its the time to say "too much", how do you avoid having "over burn" specially with you being in such leading roles in companys such as WETA and PDI.

I'm not in much of a leading role here at PDI, just one of the animators! But I think every person has a different level of what they can do and what they can't. You need to be able to know yourself what feels good, what feels like you can handle for a little while, and what will burn you out, quick. Companies have an invested goal in your health and well-being.. they don't want to burn you out, so if you ARE feeling burned out, you should always tell your supervisor. Most supervisors I know would rather you take a day off to recoup than work you to the bone and kill you.

4) Do you still study and use reference from books? like Illusion of life etc? if so what books are you fav that you learnt from or still use as reference like just to recap stuff.

Oh yeah, all the time! I constantly look at Muybridge's stuff (especially for animal motion), I use "The Artists Complete Guide to Facial Expression" which is AWESOME. Illusion of life, and Richard William's book are also open quite frequently, but probably the first two are the ones I use the most at this point.

5) Random question, whats your fav coffee?

Kona!! KONA!!! kona kona kona!! oh, and a flat white, from new zealand. mmm..

Thanks alot and sorry for the lamo questions, I'm trying to keep them as simple as possible for your fingures and wrists.

I appreciate it! cheers! :)
freshNfunky
anyhow my question is:
how did you guys made the gollum in LotR II let interact him with the whater.
I myself think that this work is incredibly hard to solve when not using realflow (which is even harder to tweak such useful results within a affordable time). i know the actor was wearing a blue suite where you keyed him out, but i don't think with the keying it is done.

That's the magic of the paint & roto department & the compositing department. Those people were amazing. As animators, if we were doing a shot where andy serkis was on set & we had to match Gollum to his motion, we would analyze the shot to try and determine which portions of him were most important to cover with Gollum, and what contacts he had on the ground were most important to replicate. Then we'd animate Gollum, trying to stick to those guidelines (i.e. if andy covered one of the other's actors faces when he was doing a performance, we'd try and do the same with Gollum, so the paint & roto department wouldn't have to re-paint the actors face for those frames). But of course Gollum and Andy were two different sizes, and sometimes the animation had to deviate from andy's performance for various reasons. In those cases, the paint & roto department would just go to town painting over andy with images from the clean pass (they would shoot the shot twice.. once with the actors, once without so we could grab bits of the frame to remove Andy). Then the compositors would add dust hits and water splashes.. etc. They're true magicians!
hopper2k Do you ever shock yourself by the quality of your animation? Like, when you look back at the shots you did on LotR and Madagascar, do you tend to think "Man, how did I do all that!?", because sometimes I look at some animated shots I have done in the past, of course they were all a challenge for me, and I think to myself how was I able to pull that off. For animated pieces I do for myself, I try to do something more challenging and complicated than the previous animation to push myself and my animation skills. I'm just wondering if this is something normal! But if this is true for you, any shots in particular you would like to comment on?

Haha :) yeah, all the time! I look at stuff and go.. wait.. did I just animate that? I couldn't have.. I'm a hack! it's funny, you know while you're animating the shot that you just keep going, and keep layering on more stuff, and you have a methodology to work towards the final product.. but sometimes when you get the final piece of animation, you can look back, and if you've done your job well you can't see the individual bits that made up the shot, it's all just fluid and sweet. I love those moments.. even if they are far and few between! :)
Greasley
My question is: you were working on LOTR for so long, did you like the story to begin with, did it grow on you, or has it put you off it completely? This leads me onto a more general question that in your career you must have worked on projects that you didnt like the idea of. In those situations do you still get enjoyment out of the process even though the end result might not be to your own taste or did the work lose its appeal then?

Actually, I hadn't really read LOTR until I got the job. I read it when I first got to wellington, then re-read it 'cuz I didn't understand it the first time through.. then I got about half way through the second book and thought.. eh.. I'll wait for the movie. I liked bits of it, but there was too much travelling.. and description of travel.. and description of the description of the journey. and people's names were confusing.. borat son of horat father of muscrat begat from greymouth.. oy! The two villians kept getting confusing to me.. one's a big... eye? and the other's a white guy? and their names are the same? and is it a mumakil or an oiliphant? or a mumak? or a elephant on steroids? But now that I've been immersed in the story and the culture of LOTR for so long, I think it'd be fun to go back and read it again.. I'll probably like it much better! :)

But I haven't worked on so many projects, just LOTR and Mad (and Maya.. & internal projects there), so I've never really come across a project that I haven't liked. but I imagine that if I were working on a film or project I wasn't enjoying, I'd do whatever I could to make it better. Even if it were just doing the best animation I possibly could.. that's what I'd do. but then again, I've never been one to keep silent about my opinion, so I'd probably also talk to teh directors if they were open to it & I got a chance & say "hey.. this 20 minute musical number with the dancing gophers? yeah... 20 minutes may be a BIT too much.."
vyntax
Jason! Do you ever think you are over-worked, oh, and find any of your students at Animation Mentor really annoying!?!?! HAHA!

Heya Stu! :) No way man.. I LOVE my students! Even the crazy ones! <grin> I can get overworked a times.. but I try and just take a deep breath and keep going, because I know it's cyclical. It'll calm down. I try not to work on weekends if I can help it, because I need that down time to re-connect with my wife & to relax! When working 2 jobs and renovating a house, you don't often have much time to sit down and pick your nose.. and nose-picking is a very important self-meditation technique!

mnp 1. Did you consider staying at Weta and working on Jane and the Dragon?

Heya! actually, I wasn't aware of Jane and the Dragon while I was working at Weta.. we were totally focused on LOTR at the time, and I don't think it was really going at that point. Also, Jane is being done by a digital arm of Weta Workshop.. so Digi isn't really involved in it as far as I can tell! :)

2. Being a New Zealander myself LOTR is everywhere and (naturally) I know a fair amount of people who worked on it - they were (almost) all awe struck by the experience, How did working on the films affect you? do you have any fond memories about NZ?

I loved it.. and I love NZ! My wife is a kiwi.. yep.. picked 'er up while workin on the films! Actually I wrote an article for vfxworld a while back about the experience.. check it out here:
http://vfxworld.com/?sa=adv&code=1e242f07&atype=articles&id=1968
So yeah.. I love NZ like crazy. I plan on moving back there at some point, depending on the project & depending on what's going on here. hmmm.. maybe I'll commute?

3. On Madagascar did you work with the 4 legged animals? if so, were there any major challenges that you didnt encounter while working with bipeds?

Definitely! I had never animated a quad running.. and my first shots on Mad were of Melman running through the jungle! Oy! At first I found animating them pretty difficult.. just more to think about.. but then I got into it, and now I'm really enjoying them. They present a unique challenge.. especially when it comes to acting and gesturing.. to try and get those beats to work and to control weight shifts is really challenging! But one of the benifits of Mad was that you could go a bit nuts with the characters.. especially Melman. Start making his legs wave around crazy, and you got yerself some comedy gold!

Okay! page 6 is done! Looks like the week is up, but I'm going to keep replying until all the questions are answered.. may take another day or so, but keep checking back!

woo! :)

jschleifer
06-13-2005, 05:17 PM
CoolDuck, Nemoid
There are TONS of books out there.. I may write one in the future, but for now I'd like to focus more on mentoring & learning. but maybe in the future.. sit down.. write a book.. or do another DVD.. yeah, could be a lot of fun!

anzibon

first of all, thanks for putting me on the road I'm on with animation. it's working out swell! I saw a couple of your seminars at Siggraph in San Antonio and it really showed me the light. I had no idea about gimbal, rot orders, foot setup etc. personally, i'm astounded you aren't an animation director already and i'm sure it's just a matter of time.

Haha :) thanks! there's a lot more to being an animation director than knowing about gimbal & feet setup & stuff! I'm happy to sit back and learn as much as possible for now.. it's definitely a goal in the future, but for now, I don't wanna give up my keys!!

1. what would be your best peice of advice for someone who is moving from comercials only, (spending two weeks or less on most jobs, two or three days per shot) into film animation. i'll be on a pro rig for the first time and really concentrating on animation. yikes.

Congrats! I think you'll find that you have more time to work out ideas with the animation.. try and pace yourself at first, don't just go gangbusters like you're used to from commercials. Give yourself a bit of time to work out the shot ideas first.. try different things to see if they work. You won't have a TON of time.. just a bit more than you're probably used to.

2. how do you keep your performances fresh and energetic and in character when a production goes for so long? does your attitudes and approach tend to change over the life of a project?

It definitely changes! I try and get excited about each individual shot as it comes up. There's always something fun and exciting to learn about them.. okay, not ALWAYS.. sometimes you get a "filler" shot where you just have to do it and there's NOTHING you can do to make it interesting, because it's just a small part of a larger thing.. but those shots you can get through rather quickly. It's definitely easier when working on a feature animated film where you've got so many varried characters to work with than it is on a VFX film where you may have only 1 or 2 characters.

3. have you ever animated characters that are not human/biped? how do you handle the challenge of personalizing a character with more than 6 legs?

Yep! all the time. It's actually a bit easier than you think giving a non-humanoid character "human" characteristics so people can associate with it.. think of the old flour-sack animation tests people used to have to do.. make a flour-sack "sad".. or "happy".. or even a bouncing ball test. Can you make a happy bouncing ball? Sure! It's all a matter of thinking about the emotion or what it is you're trying to get across, and think of the physical characteristics of that emotion.. and then try and apply them to the character. Of course, the only character I ever animated with more than 6 legs was Shelob, and her emotion didn't change too much throughout my shots except from "yar!! ATTACK!!" to "ow! ow! ow!" :)

4. you're a real inspiration to a lot of animators. how does it feel to know that you're starting to show up in peoples list of favorite animators. i.e. Chuck Jones, Frank Thomas, Tex Avery, Jason Schleifer. (this may be an exagerated example, but in case you didn't know... it is happening) it's probably a natural biproduct of your generous attitude toward budding animators.

Hah! Honestly, I feel it's a bit rediculous.. those people you listed are living legends who have worked their way up and thuroughly deserve their titles. I feel like I'm still starting out in the industry and have a long way to go before my name should even be spelled with the same alphabetic characters as those folks! All I want to do is to be able to share knowledge and help the industry grow.. I love animation & I love talking about it and sharing it. That being said, I definitly appreciate the sentiment.. I hope that more animators get a chance to be recognized for the work they do. There are some incredibly talented people out there who never get any recognition because they're 1 animator in 20 at some studio.. or they're doing commercials and never get the press.. or they're working in games and the focus of the press is more on the technology.. it's a real shame. I wish more animators were recognized for the incredibly amazing work they all do! Of course, that goes just as much for riggers, lighters, compositors, fx artists... everyone.

kujo79
First off let me tell you how great of you it is to actually get back to every question asked. I find it very noble of you to be able to reach to everyone. I can only imagine how busy it must be....well maybe a little less now after wrapping madagascar. Still it is well appreciated.

Cheers! I really enjoy doing it.. it's a great opportunity to sit back and actually think about things a bit. Plus, it helps me finish my coffee. :)

I dont have much to ask just a small comment. I think you are an inspiration to alot of us. I myself met you last year at Siggraph and was amazed at how humble you were. Not to over say it but you are somewhat of a icon to some of us (me...heheh).

That's very kind.. thank you very much! I love meeting people at siggraph.. its tough, 'cuz I don't often remember names ( I Suuuuuuuck at names. suck suck suck! did I say suck? 'cuz I SUCK!), but I do like getting a chance to shake hands and say hi!

I guess since I'm here, a small question for you would be if you think the transition from games to film is possible. I do agree that the boundary is getting thinner everyday, but by working in the games business as we speak I do see a slight difference, especially on the acting side. Im a huge fan of acting in animation. So I'm wondering if companies such as dreamworks look at game animators as a flaw or an asset.

Oh yeah, I think it's definitely possible! Personally, I don't care if an animator comes from games, commercials, another film company, or their basement.. if they have good animation on their reel & are good to work with, I'd be willing to work with 'em! Any sort of professional work in your history is good.. it shows you can work to a deadline & get things done on time and budget!

PS. If you see a small animator at Dream called Emilio....slap him for me.

Can I? Really? You mean it? Oh.. this is going to be such a pleasure.. :)

studiomaxer3d
Would you like webspace with unlimited bandwidth? I can hook you up. Send me a message if you need it. My partner and I (joshone) have a server hooked up to a big fat juicy internet pipe. Its mostly his server.. i just take advantage of it.

thanks very much! It's awfully kind of you to ask, but I was able to get my reel hosted here, and I'm pretty happy with my current provider. They do great work and have been really good to me (plug: http://www.powweb.com), but thank you for the offer! :)

What is the first book you would recommend for an aspiring animator? I use XSI should I be using Maya?

I recommend reading the Illusion of Life and Richard william's animation book. Both are the top of the tops.. they'll teach you more about animation than you can dream. :) Doesn't matter what software you use.. animation is animation, software is software. If you want to learn animation.. just study anim, and apply what you're learning in whatever software package you have! :)

chadmv When I read that you went to UCSB, I got really excited since I'm graduating from UCSB this Saturday! In fact, I'm taking my last final in half an hour :)

AH! congrats!!! man.. sometimes I miss IV.. and the burritos.. <sigh>

Anyways, I was just wondering, if you could start over on your path in CG, what would you do differently?

Every once in a while I think about that & think that if I had gone to cal-arts, would I be in a different position? would I have learned more? done something else? But then I think about where I am in my career and I feel SO lucky.. I don't know if I would have done anything different, except maybe learned to sing and play guitar so I could be more fun on camping trips.
InKraBid Have you ever worked in MAX, and if so, what did you think of the prog? Anything I should REALLY look into, specially thinking about skinning and IK\FK bones structures ?

I used 3dStudio back before it was max, and HATED it for ik/fk. GAH! it drove me NUTS! pull the finger & the whole body bent over.. gaaaahh!! But I've never actually played with Max, and don't think I'll ever really get into it, unless the company I work for wants to use it. I like Maya, know it really well, and will probably always use that for home animation.. unless I need something else. :)

Have you ever worked with games? If so, any insights, things I should look out for?

I haven't personally worked for a game company, but I have many friends who have! I think you should look out for the same things that anybody looks out for when they go to a company.. make sure they respect your "YOU" time.. that they don't want you to work weekends or overtime without pay, they compensate you for your time, and treat you well at work. That you have a fun project to work on, a career path at the company you can follow, and that you don't have to wear a suit and tie to work.

With Gollum and other 'real' chars, do you really skin the whole multi-million-poly mesh, or do you have a simpler mesh that is smoothed out after skinning?

Gollum and the other characters on LOTR were done using the muscle-system.. so yeah, the whole mesh was skinned. But I've seen other places where they have a simpler mesh and then apply a wrap-deformer to deform the higher-resolution mesh after the skinning.

Do you know any good tutorials (or websites) for learning scripts for beginners, alternatively; how did you start learning scripting yourself?

I learned scripting because I had to.. Maya didn't have a file format when I started using it, so the only way to reproduce anything was to actually script it! I think David Gould's book Complete Maya Programming: An Extensive Guide to MEL and C++ API is pretty good! The best way to learn is just to start scripting everything you do.. do it with the interface, and then try and reproduce what you just did with a mel script. You'll learn pretty quickly! :)

And how much math do you have to know to be a good scripter? I ask cause I had to take my last mathexam 3 times to pass.. nuff said.

More math always helps, but I suuuuuck at math. math and names. just watch me try and name a mathmatician. oy! It's more important to be able to think analytically and logically to be a good scripter.. and to be able to be a good problem solver. You don't really need math unless you're trying to solve equations or something.

One more; How many bones were inside Gollum? And how many of those were for muscles? I'm just curious about this, if you have the exact number, dont go counting them

Funny enough, only 3 bones! Just kidding. :) I'm not sure how many bones were in him and how many were used for muscles.. we had quite a few bones in there, as he was built in an attempt to be anatomically correct.. the animation rig itself didn't have very many, but they certainly controlled quite a few!

And finally, If you like, you can check out my website at http://www.artwanted.com/inkrabid

Certainly, I'll check it out at the end when I get a chance to look at everyone's work & give crits! :)

jschleifer
06-13-2005, 05:25 PM
Miezis
1. do you ever get a "blank page" [or in your case - "non moving scene :) "] creativity stop, meaning you don't know where to start and what to do? if you do - what would be the cure? :banghead:

Oh yeah, all the time! it can happen at the worst times, too.. when you've just got tons of work to do and suddenly.. bffrrrrrrrp.

*bloop*

I usually get up and run around.. go get some coffee.. ask people to take a look and get some ideas.. try and step away from the computer a bit, it's the only way to work through it! Sometimes you need to work on another shot, too.. that can help just to take your mind away from the shot for a little while.

2. where in your opinion will this whole hollywood FX thing will go in future?

It's goin to the dogs man, to the dogs! :) Nono.. what do you mean? like where is it headed? are we giong to keep making fx? Yeah.. we'll keep doing it.. and the industry will grow and grow. People have always told stories.. always! Since the begining of time. Since before that even! Seriously! I took a time machine there, I saw it, it was quite interesting, really. There will always be people telling stories and using moer and more outlandish and amazing technologies to do it. Visual FX may or may not exist in the same form in the next 40 years.. who knows? I like to think we'll hit retro-vaudville pretty soon and everyone's going to have to learn to juggle.

sarNz

1. Do you keep all of your old work? I often times throw mine away, and i dont know why. Some people told me it was a good thing because i wouldnt copy old mistakes so i usually dont pay much attention to it. I'd like to see some of your really old work if you still have it, since seeing all your amazing stuff gets me kinda discouraged :D. Inspired, but discouraged!

I do keep my old stuff, if I can.. I've got some old videos laying around that are very embarrasing. :) very. veeeerrrry. I also like to keep old stuff so someday I can show my kids and go "see? daddy was a crappy artist, too!" :)

2. What did you listen to while working on the shots for LOTR? I often listen to the soundtrack and it helps me relax and concentrate on what im doing.

It depends on the shot.. sometimes I would listen to calming music, if it was a calm shot.. or if it was crazy action, I'd listen to electronic dance music.. unce unce unce unce.. but if it's a dialogue shot, I would listen to the dialogue. And that's it. :) and many times, I won't listen to anything... I'll just have my headphones on so people don't talk to me, so I can focus and concentrate.

stephen_T
06-13-2005, 05:30 PM
Hi jason~~~~ i have a question to ask u~~~~ thx a lot

i am developing a muscle system, my way is use two locator to control a nurbs sphere's stretch and squash.(just like Muscle TK) i try to setup Deltoid Muscle using it,but i have a big problem. for example~~finish the Deltoid Setup, then try to rotate ArmJoint toward, the back of Deltoid will look smaller on the geometry~~because the back of Deltoid Muscle thought the Joint~(there is no collision with the Joint)......so.....my ways are set driven key to the locators or create Blend shape on the muscle..would u mind give some advice on this case? thx a lot~~

Nixon
06-13-2005, 06:45 PM
Hi, Jason!

First I want to say how great it is to see you here, giving all that time to the community It really feels great to have that awesome feedback. http://cgtalk.com/images/smilies/wink.gif Many, many thanks to you and CG Talk to make this happen http://cgtalk.com/images/smilies/smile.gif http://cgtalk.com/images/smilies/smile.gif http://cgtalk.com/images/smilies/smile.gif

Second I want to say that since I met you, Bay and Matt at 3D Festival two years ago my life has changed, my eyes have opened, I've had the greatest inspiration from the greatest presentations of all time. I've tried (as far as I could) to spread the word in my country (Bulgaria) and talk about all the things I saw in Copenhagen then, that made me go nuts.

Third, I have all but one real question / request: Would it be OK if I translated part of the questions / answers from here in my language, since many people in my country don't understand english that well, pleeeease http://cgtalk.com/images/smilies/smile.gif http://cgtalk.com/images/smilies/smile.gif http://cgtalk.com/images/smilies/smile.gif Of course, I'll put some CG Talk links and banners on my page, but I need at least a permission to be able to do it.

Best wishes,
Nikolay

Benman
06-13-2005, 08:17 PM
Hey Jason your great inspiration for me!

My question is...

What advice would you give a 15 year old(me) on how to in future work on films like you as a animator?

Thank you very much man!

ps animation mentor looks so cool ive been saving so hopefully i will have enough cash to do it when im old enough.

jeandenis
06-13-2005, 08:18 PM
Great Q&A!!

Thanks so much for answering all those questions. I remember asking for your advice on one of my clips and you were very helpful (then too writing long answers). With your busy schedule I really don't know how you do that.

My question:

When do you do your best work, during the day or the evening/night? - I guess it has to be during the day because you're at work (cough cough), but I'm just more creative in the evening and into the late night.



EDIT: "A trick that randy cook would tell us to use is to write out their internal dialogue (you know, the words in their brain), and animate to that. It's an interesting way of animating a character, because it really forces you to think about what they're thinking, not just what they're saying."

Sweet trick! Of course! Just had "Duh!" moment...

Morganism
06-13-2005, 08:53 PM
Hey again Jason,
I know the week's up....I figure there's still a couple more hours left, so sorry to add my question to this huge pile.

In the time you were at Weta you transitioned across a couple jobs and up the ranks. Do you have any advice on how to keep improving your craft and moving forward? What does it take to get noticed and promoted in a company like Weta, or PDI? Would you leave a job if you felt that it didn't offer you any more chances to improve yourself or your position? (Not in the middle of a show, of course, but you know what I mean).

Thanks again for taking the time to answer all these questions.
And your shots in Mad were totally rad! I'm a big fan of scrambles and erratic animation. Fun stuff!
Alrighty, thanks.

Rock on!

Okan
06-13-2005, 10:05 PM
hi there Jason, one simple question for you.

Why did you choose the Linux version of Maya over Windows ? And do you find the Linux version more stable or fast ?

rblitz7
06-13-2005, 10:52 PM
hello Jason! what would be your best advice for a high school student going into the eleventh grade that wants to be in the visual effects field or one such as yourself? Thanks
-Richie

anzibon
06-13-2005, 11:10 PM
three cheers for this friggin amazing Q&A session! ! ! ! ! ! :buttrock:


this has been super interesting and constructive. thank you so much, Jason and thanks to all the people who had a part in bringing you here and piling this mountain of questions. keep up the good work animating and mentoring. look forward to seeing John & his Dog someday!


cheers,
~B
:scream:

jschleifer
06-14-2005, 12:05 AM
criminal
are u planning for some new DVDs or not. it would be great to see some new ones!
and by tha way LOTR was great. speacially your work. it was awesome

Heya! thanks very much! no plans as of yet.. I've talked to a few people here and there, but I don't have any plans to do anything for a little while.
batavia
1) How do you deal with frustrations as you were learning as a beginner? When you were a beginner, did you always persevere and stay on ambitious projects until you finish them (learning the basics as you go along)? Or did you usually do more of the basics first (such as making balls bounce, etc) and then, with what you know of these basics, put them together on a big project?

I tried to do bigger projects and just couldn't complete them.. so then I went to more simpler examples and worked my way up. I still go back to the basics every once and a whle when I can't get something working.. I find bouncing balls and sacks a GREAT way to quickly work out spacing and timing ideas.

2) Do you have any memorable stories to share on your encounter with actors & directors in the making of LOTR? Specifically, how was Andy Serkis and Peter Jackson?

Whelp, I told ya the one about andy at the mocap studio.. in general we didn't interact with the actors too much, as they were very busy on set. I do remember the meeting we had when sean & elijah showed us their tatoos.. there were a LOT of girls screaming when they did that. Especially elijah's.. :)

elhaz
1.Madagascar was a fun entertaining movie, can you tell about which parts you worked on? So I can look for it maybe. (personal fav was the penguins gang...:twisted: )

I answered those ones in an earlier q.. hopefully ya found 'em! :)

2.I say you are a true pro in the 'western' animation industry:thumbsup: , but what's your take on Japaense animation movies, if you have seen some? Just a commonly discussed question among my fellow animation classmates, the west vs east thing.

I love 'em.. but then, I love pretty much all animation. 'Cept He-man. And She-ra. they were cool, but not nearly as cool as ThunderCats. I really like the fact that anime and japanese animation is getting more popular.. I'd love to see animation spread towards more film genres instead of just kids films. Incredibles is a great step towards that.. animation is an incredible art-form. It'd be fantastic to do more adult oriented fare.

3.If you only get a choice of one, and only one animation to watch it again, which one would you pick?

Gah! you bastard! that's a toughie.. hmm.. probably.. Iron Giant
Milho
It's an honor that you named your dog like me, but you forgot the 'h'

hahaha :) yeah, sorry 'bout that.. they must have fallen off in the flight over from NZ..

When do you think Jonh and his Dog will be finished.

When it's done. :) I have no idea.. no schedule for it now! hopefully within the next year or two, but we'll see..

I asked you once for the Animation where Gollum rips of Gandalf's head (mentioned in Andy Serkis ((GREAT)) book) but I think now you won't be possible to show it :cry:

Yeah, unfortunately unless you catch me doing a presentation, you probably won't see it.. I don't think it's on the DVD... heh :)

Another question, I think I remember you mentioned Japan one time (WE FROM THE NSA KNOW EVERYTHING :deal: ), why were you there? How is it, just asking cause I want to go there soon.

I've been to Japan a couple of times to do presentations, both for Alias and for Weta. It was a blast! Mostly spent time in Tokyo, but I got to head up to Osaka one time.. what a great trip. I loved being in japan. The food.. mmmmm...

Where do you think are the limits of MoCap. Do you think if the technique get better (at least for natural motion) animators will have problems to get jobs?

I don't think animators will have trouble, I think that some producers will keep pushing it thinking it'll save them money. And it will in some cases.. won't in others. Eventually, they'll use it where it makes sense, and use animators where we make sense. Honestly, I'm not concerned about mocap "taking" jobs away from animators.. I think that animators will become more knowledgeable about mocap, and use it where it works best. The best mocap editors and technitians I know are also animators. :)

How are your drawing skills now? What would you say is a good way to learn drawing for animation? E.g. focus on perspective first and then move on to drawing from life etc.?!

My drawing skills have gotten worse over the years because I don't practice as much as I used to.. I plan on rectifying that. some day. heh :) I think drawing from life is the best way to learn.. take a course & draw waht you see. learning to draw from observation instead of just waht you expect will train you well for animation, as well!

Ever considered/did classical animation?

My first "job" as an animator was 2d animation.. so yeah, I've done it before. but I really loev the immediacy and ability of 3d animation. I like being able to move things around and distort them.. I think my fav thing is to incorporate "traditional 2d animation values" into a "3d animation environment."

I don't know why I quoted those terms. Maybe 'cuz I wanted them to seem more important than they really are... <grin>

Knowing that you know both sides, technical and artistic how would you judge the importance for both skills in 3D-Animation.
Do you have benifits from knowing scripting, besides transforming a pc into a coffeemachine?
http://www.de.tomshardware.com/prax...0524/index.html (http://www.de.tomshardware.com/praxis/20050524/index.html)

Oh yeah, I think knowing both is extremely helpful.. especially when communicating with developers and TD's. Many times you need to explain what you want, or why things aren't working the way you'd like them to.. with a technical background, it's much easier to understand things from their points of view and be able to come up with a workaround. Also, I am able to mock up tools I'd like and come up with workarounds for things when working with Maya which is really helpful.. like writing my grease pencil script tool: http://jonhandhisdog.com/melScripts/js_greasePencil_3.mel

What is your job at animationmentor? And what can you tell us about the project, how do you like the idea?

I'm one of the mentors in the program. Our job (as a mentor) is to critique our students as they complete their weekly animation assignments, given to them by Bobby, Shawn and Carlos as part of the animation course. We also do weekly q&a sessions where we answer questions and talk about life as an animator. It's probably one of the most exciting animation courses out there, as the students are exposed to animators from all over the industry.. I wish I could have taken it (in fact, if Iwasn't a mentor.. I WOULD be taking it). I can't say enough positive things about it. I LOVE it. And I've been really impressed with the progression of the students in the course.. so far they're progressing much quicker than I did, and much faster than I've seen anyone do before.

Kris-S
06-14-2005, 02:40 AM
just curious about hours. I read that your average day is about 10 hours and crunch time 16 + hours if you let it .. so how long is the average crunch time? as in days, weeks, months?.. would that include any days in the weekend?.. ..I would like to thank you again for all these answers you have provided, with you slightly quirky sense of humor it's very insightful and entertianing.

cheers

Kris

Tom N.
06-14-2005, 04:37 AM
I asked you once for the Animation where Gollum rips of Gandalf's head (mentioned in Andy Serkis ((GREAT)) book) but I think now you won't be possible to show it :cry:

Yeah, unfortunately unless you catch me doing a presentation, you probably won't see it.. I don't think it's on the DVD... heh :)






They show that on the special features of the second LOTR dvd, its in the Gollum section. I borrowed it from my friend just to watch that part! It was just the playblast, is that the one you guys are talking about?

-Tom N.

jschleifer
06-14-2005, 06:17 AM
Thanks leigh!

don't worry folks, I'll finish up answering questions throughout the week & check out sites and stuff as I can! hopefully you'll find the info interesting, entertaining, and a great time-waster. :)

-jason

leigh
06-14-2005, 07:51 AM
Okay everyone, ordinarily this thread would be ending now, but we're still waiting for the next Q&A to be set up so Jason will hang around for bit and answer the questions he hasn't had a chance to yet.

Please don't post any new ones though!

Thanks boys and girls :)

jschleifer
06-14-2005, 02:56 PM
reddynamite

First off, I heard you did the shot at the end of Madagascar with the Lemiur (sp?) Cat doing the 'robot'- friggin' great work. I took my 2 daughters (4 and 2 ) to see it and they dug it quite a lot.

Lemur.. and yeah, that was one of the last shots I did on the film. Very fun stuff.. I had a blast with that one, and the one before it where Julian goes "give me some LOVE! The plan worked! The plan worked! I'm very clever!!" I'm glad your daughters enjoyed the movie.. thank them for all of us at PDI/Dreamworks! :)

Anyway, my main question is a 2 part Maya-related one:

1) When you receive a shot for the first time, when you start animating, do you block out poses first, and then do additional passes to smooth it out until you get to something that you're happy with?

The shot process for me works like this: First we get a turnover from the director. They tell us what the shot is going to entail.. what the scene is about, and what they want in the shot. As an animator, my job at that point is to find out as much as possible about what the director wants for that shot. I want to know exactly what he/she is thinking.. bring up any ideas I may have, clarify ANY questions, no matter how small.. eye direction, pose ideas, etc. Anything. Motivation.. thought process.. even background characters. Ask anything and everything. Then I go back to my desk and think about the shot for a bit, I watch it over and over, and the surrounding shots, and sometimes the surrounding sequences, just to get a good idea of what the shot would require. Then I start posing it out, using stepped curves, just to get an idea of what kind of acting choices I may be making. I'm not so worries about timing at this point.. just getting the poses right, making them dynamic, and trying to get the idea of the shot across. then I'll do a rough timing pass, and show it to the director for blocking. At this point, the shot is usually still in stepped mode (it depends on the shot, of course.. if it's a dynamic moving sweep, sometimes you have to block it with linear or spline curves). Once the director approves the blocking, I'll keep that movie around as a "guide". Something which tells me that this is the idea that I'm going for. then I'll start going for "first pass", which means I take the characters out of stepped mode, and start refining the timing.

Usually when doing this, I'll try and find obvious breaks in the action.. like maybe the character jumps forward, grabs his sword, and stabs a tree. So I'll break the shot up (mentally) into those three "actions". Then I'll shorten the timeline to work on just those sections. Then, I'll add some breakdown keys.. usually staying in stepped mode, just to get an idea of transitions and how the poses I have will move between eachother. Once I feel like I've got some good breakdowns, and good timing, I'll convert to spline. Then, I'll start working out the actual timing and motion based on the largest body-part first.. for example, the torso is usually the best place to start, because all body parts come off of it. :) I'll work on the animation for the torso, getting nice arcs, working the spacing and timing until I'm happy with it for a first pass. It's got good weight, good arcs, and good timing. It might not be final, but it's a good first pass.

Then I'll do the head and arms, and then the legs (depending on which bits are most important, of course). usually I'll hide and show bits of the body as I need it, to make sure that other parts don't distract me.

then I'll show that, and if it's approved I'll then start adjusting timing on individual pieces of the body to break things up a bit more & add more overlap and such. I'll spend more time on the face here.. fingers, toes, etc. Eventually, I'll then try and show it for a final.

I've found that working this way, it's relatively easy to make changes when the director is likely to have them (early on), and I can get to a complicated looking animation (while still easy to tweak) rather quickly.

2) Even if your answer to my first question was no, how do you block out timed poses in Maya and make them stick? I know that I'm not using the type of animation curve that I should be, because as of now, in this short film that I'm working on, I'm trying to do this (ie, a pose on frame 1, one on frame 10, one on frame 15, etc..) Maya interpolates the inbetween frames on those making it look down right freaky, and completely undesired. What do I need to do to successfully block these poses out so that they hold at their respective frames?

you have to set your tangents to Stepped. Go to the animation preferences and set them there.. I believe it's just setting Out tangents to stepped will do it! :)

Thanks in advance dude! Doh!....one more thing..for those who post on JAHD.com (http://jahd.com/), when can we see some updates? It's not like you're busy or anything <img alt="" title="wink" border="0">

Haha :) soon, hopefully! Okay, not really.. <grin>
Julez4001
Jason - could you explain in simple terms your rigs in maya and how they function in terms of using low poly charcters and high. Do you prefer using wrap deformers or not?
Polygon Smooth or Subdivisions ?

I haven't done a "final" rig in a while in Maya, but I definitely prefer poly smooth with the stuff I'm doing.. I just feel like I get more direct control over the outcome of the model. The new subdivisions may be better.. but the last stuff I used, I just felt more confident with poly smooth.

Which state of the rig is hardest for the swapping of the characters?
is it bestto put all your deformers on the low rig and pray to god that it works for the high res guy? Are you rigs destroyed when the charcter is modified and have a gang load of new blenshapes to added to it or do you a "kool" process to safeguard your rigs and the possible animation you already put on them.

I try and build my pipeline so that I can transfer animation from an animation rig to a skinning rig by a pre-defined set of parameters which is very unlikely to change. In my DVDs I talk about using the joints to do this.. once you define the joint structures, you can easily create an animation rig to move the joints, and then build a skinning rig based on those original joints.. then you can always made modifications to either system, but you don't break the glue connecting the two. It's really handy that way!

the other nice thing about doing things that way is that you can keep your animation rigs really small and fast.. you get quicker file loading ,small file sizes, and things are fast to move around. Also, you can then get really detailed with the skinning rig, and the animator doesn't ahve to worry about whether or not it's going to slow down their scene.

I am babbling but I just would like to know a smooth, SIMPLE and reliable process of character rigging/animating that YOU constantly use from project to project in Maya.

It's not simple, but that's waht I use. I'm in the process of re-working the system to add more control and functionality, but it's still early and not really worked out completely. I'll post more on it on Jonh and His Dog when it gets going in the future.. sorry I can't be more specific now!
sphere
Do you think that animation in film can get much better than it is now? Do you think we may just be blind to how real it can get? That maybe one in 20 years we'll look back on todays animated features and think 'Pffft... that weight shift on that character is so not real'. How and where do you see it going?

Sure.. I think that's already happening. We look at things like skin moving and muscles moving under the skin.. stuff that was done 4 years ago that was state of the art, and think.. ehh.. it moves too much.. or not enough.. or not in the right way. I think we're just starting to reach that insane level of realism. however, I think that no matter what the technology gets to, it's still more important to get characters that we WANT to believe in. jar-jar could have been the best animated character in the world. .but I didn't believe in him because I couldn't care less about him as a character. But look at the robot in Iron Giant.. I believed in him WAY more ,and he didn't have half the crazy muscles and facial rigs and believable lighting and such that jar-jar did. but I cared about his character.. and because of that I wanted to believe, AND he still stands up.
Lord3d2
Any word on The Hobbit and an extended extended Lord of the rings set?

haha :) not that I know of!
Terkonn
In one of your earlier replys you noted that you went to art school to learn things such as drawing, sculpting and acting. How old were you when you became serious in art and how much talent did you have in each art field when you started school? Also, how old were you when you started doing art and animation? I really appreciate you coming here to cgtalk for questions. I think I speak for all when I say you are one of the most respected cg artists ever.

Well, I went to UCSB and was in the art department.. so it wasn't really an art school, but I did study art quite a bit there. I've loved art since I was.. what.. 3 years old I think? I used to have nightmares about spiders. one day my mom came to comfort me after a particularly harrowing spider dream. I was sobbing and crying and to get me to sleep, she had me draw a spider on a piece of paper. then she asked me to draw myself killing the spider. I've drawn ever since. So I've been doing art since at least that long.. I don't remember a time where I ever got "serious" about doing it.. I remember THINKING I was serious.. I mean, that's what university-level art is. we were all so serious.. so full of our own grandeur. heh :) it's fun looking back and thinking about how our art was so.. I don't know.. just AMAZINGLY important. Performance pieces about isolation.. desolation.. depression.. coffee. I think I loved art because it was fun while I was growing up.. then I loved art because I thought it was more important than the idea of "self" while in university.. now I love it because it's fun again. I like the fun side of art more. :)

man. it was depressing always being so serious about art! Every single drawing had to be wrenched from my soul.. ugh! painful! And not at all attractive to the ladies. Well, most anyway. Only the nutsos liked it. :)

seven6ty
Hey Jason. Just wanted to say I'm a big fan of your work! I'm working over at Rhythm and Hues right now on the new Narnia movie and Richie is the animation supervisor here as well! Nothing like those funny Irish accents, eh???

Ah, cool!! say hi for me! And thank him! he really taught me a lot at Weta.. that man is a GREAT talent and an awesome person! woo! :)

I was just wondering how involved you were with those LOTR rigs, like I actually got the animation rigs for the balrog and the nazgul, did you do much of the work on those? I especially liked the red neck warning control and spine controls (which gave me an idea for spine controls in a rig of my own, thanks!) on the nazgul. Did you have to coordinate your work on these rigs with several other people, or were you more on your own or what?


I believe the balrog was built from the standard rig set for all the bipeds, so yeah, I'm pretty sure I did that one.. but I didn't do the nazgul. I think Dana Peters made the nazgul animation rig, and then Eric Saindon modified it.. but I'm not sure. That was a looong time ago. But I did develop the red warning system, mainly for backs, but dana must have encorporated it into the neck. it's super-handy, isn't it! :) The rigs were definitely coordinated with others.. we had to have big back 'n forth action with the animators and other rigging people. The rigs would sit with the animators a bit ( I think mary victoria and steven hornby were the two who tested the nazgul the most..) and then come back with a billion pages of notes. :)

Also, how hard has it been for you to make decisions with your career as far as what company and what project you want to work on? My first day here I was also given a job offer by Sony on either Superman and Spiderman, and it was a real nail biter having two great opportunities like that at the exact same time. Have you felt tied down in any way and like you would have loved to have just upped and transfered to another company or project?

It happens every once and a while.. I've gotten offers for pretty good jobs just as I've taken other jobs.. or while in the middle of jobs which I can't leave (contract reasons, or just a fun project). The tough thing now is that there are SO many good projects all over the world.. you have to be really careful, 'cuz you may miss out on an awesome international project simply because you're in the middle of doing construction on your home in another country! :)


And lastly, you've said you attended UCSB, do you have any intentions of furthering your education, or are you already too caught up in everything that you've got going on to be able to consider going back? Even at this point, I'm continually in awe of some of the insane geniuses that work at these types of places. NASA plasma physicists, members of the mars rover mission, other nasa brains and so on. Anyways, tangental ramble, but yeah. Do you still feel like you've got to catch up to the other people around you at PDI all the time? I've thought about it.. but I'm already learning what I want to learn every day. I could certainly use more math.. but I'd rather learn more animation. And the best way to learn more animation.. is to do it and have people tell you when you suck! :) I feel like I've got lots to learn from the people at PDI, but I also feel like I have lots to teach. I feel like I'm in this great place of equilibrium.. it's really a special feeling.. I'm very lucky!
ashutoshnaik
You have pretty much answered all th questions i can think of..
Was wondering if you have written any books ??
If not, you will have to write 2 books now ...one on Animation and Rigging and other on Lord of Animation and Rigging (you) ..the question is when ???

Haha :) nope, no books as of yet.. just the two dvd's. Maybe books will come later.. we'll have to see. Depends on if I'd rather write or animate..

but based on the amount I'm typing in these questions, writing might not be such a bad idea. :)

reddynamite
06-14-2005, 04:36 PM
Jason, I just want to say (and I'm pretty sure that I can speak for all of us) that you rock for answering not only my questions, but everyone elses' as well. It really shows the devotion and compassion that you have for the community, and helping out others that are trying to break into the industry.

Thanks again!!!...and just maybe, when I finally break into the industry, I will buy you a nice extra large, delicious, cup of piping hot coffee ( a love of mine as well).

Cheers!!

- -Noah (aka, "reddynamite")

jschleifer
06-14-2005, 05:25 PM
ShadowM8 The question I have is related to character rigging. I'm a student at VFS working on a modeling reel, however I've discovered during my studies that I really enjoy character rigging and I would not mind a job in that area of CG. However one of the concerns I have is how should I present my rigging skills and abilities in my portfolio. It is something that can be made into a separate demo reel of itself? What features are employers looking at to be included in the rig when they are reviewing demo reels?

It's a good idea to skew your reel for the position you're applying for. If you're applying for a modeling position, create mostly a modeling reel, but put a bit of rigging on the end of it so they can see that you understand modeling for deformation (VERY IMPORTANT). If you're doing a rigging reel, I would put examples of how your rigs work in there. show the way the models are deformed.. the controls that you have and how they work.. and demonstrate any problem-solving techniques you've developed. I know that when I'm looking for a rigger, I want someone who developes new techniques, not someone who can just replicate the inverse foot, 3 arm fk/ik system. I want somebody who honestly thinks about the problem, and comes up with a unique solution. In fact, if I saw a rigging reel which just regurgitated a bunch of stuff which is freely available on the net, I probably wouldn't be interested. Character riggers need to be able to figure things out and problem solve for ideas that they dont' even know anything about yet.. they're going to constantly be presented with new requirements and requests.. they have to be able to analyze the problems and come up with solutions.. not just echo back things which have already been developed.
3dd3
1) Can, let's say, Maya 99 kill animators cuz it have some advanced techs where computer could do anything? Or more realistic interpretation - is this prospective to be an animator in the world today?

No, I don't think maya will "kill" animators.. :) I think that there is advanced technology in there which can help animators, but true animators.. ones who understand the nuance of acting and crafting a performance, will be able to get work no matter what the technology.

2) What's your opinion about mocap? (as an animator)!

Personally, I prefer animating.. mainly because I LIKE animating, and I want to touch every frame. I don't harbor any resentment against mocap, as long as it's used correctly and in the right places.

3) Do U go to the job daily? :)))))))))))))))))

Every day 'cept saturday and sunday! :)
remcv8
If anyone has ever asked, and they have, my all time favorite CG character is Gollum. Me, my wife, and my son will break down every few months and have a LOTR marathon at home. The blending of CG with real world in LOTR is the best ever. You, being part of it, are worshiped in my home...Hee...Hee

Hah, thanks remcv8! I hope you're including everyone else who worked to develop gollum, though! that's about 1,000 people all up.. heh :)
pwallin
You said you had used Infini-D in the past. That is one of my favorite 3D-apps (even using advanced ones) since it has a simple workfolw, but great results for that price.

I doubt that anyone (well, maybe except spending insanely long time) could do your Maya stuff with Infini-D...even you! So what do you think of a statement "it's not a software, it's an artist" ?

Okay, the software has something to do with it.. you need the tool to ALLOW you to get the results you're going for.. but I've seen some pretty crap work come out of Maya, as well! :) So the software is important.. but only in that you're not fighting it to do what you want. If it's too slow, or doesn't have IK, or good deformations.. yeah, that's a problem. But even with all the features in the world, if the artist doesn't know how to USE those features appropriately.. then it doesn't matter if it the software can bend matter! It won't be able to create anything worth anything on it's own. :)

And again...if Maya did not had "Mel-script", how would you compensate that?

Urgh.. I don't know. I don't think I'd use a software package for serious animation that didn't ahve the ability for me to customize it and automate workflow. I'd find it a serious flaw, and use another package.
jtoon
Heya my mentor!!
man, I'm little sad becouse in the next trimester we gonna change our mentor... d'oh! :sad:

heya Julio!!! good to see ya, bro! :) I know.. it's sad.. but soon you'll have a new mentor, who will rock your world! :)

well...I have a couple of questions for ya...

Whow many AM mentors did you knew before forming part of the classes? And which of all of them is the one that more has impressed you?

I knew a couple of them.. not too many, though! I had heard of a lot of 'em, but never met most. Not sure which has impressed me most.. I've gotta watch more critiques! :)

Which it is your animation movie favorite of always? And your favorite character?

Hurmm.. probably Iron Giant. But Toy Story is up there.. my favorite character? crap.. I don't know.. daffy? There are just too many to count!
Wilson 3d I read your answer earlier about setting up a cycle and would love to hear more about your process and flow.

Sure, I try not to work in a "cycle" methodology when animating for a shot.. by that I mean, I don't like to animate the character in place and then translate the body, locking down the feet. What I'll do the FIRST time I'm going to animate a character walking, is I'll animate them in a cycle in place, just to get an idea as to how the character might move. But then when I start on the shot, I'll pose it out in stepped mode.. first doing the contact poses so I know how far the character is walking, then putting in the passing position, and breakdowns. Once the timing on those is right.. then I'll go in a layered manner and animate the body first, then the legs, then the arms, etc.

When you are setting your initial keys for blocking and timing (stepped curves) how much of the body are you posing? I know not to mess with the fingers and face at this point but do you go ahead and get the feet just right and anticipate follow through of the wrists for instance or just really look at the silhouette of the body, arms, legs, and head?
I always go back and forth trying to figure out if I want to mess with - for example - the head in the down position as the body moves up in a step and having it go back when the step is coming down. Do you get into this much detail at this phase?

I key the whole body (not fingers & face) & start to anticipate what kind of followthrough and drag I'm going to have.. but I'll kee the WHOLE body on those important frames. I may do slight weight with the head (in your example), but I won't push it to the extreme I may hit when in the animation. I want to make sure those poses read, and the idea of followthrough and weight are in there.. but the important thing is that they read. I've found that adding some drag actually can help the poses read more, because you get a sense of how the body will be moving throughout the shot, even though it's static for a number of frames.

Do you keep all your keys lined up at this phase (stepped curves) so you can move them around all at once to tweak the timing? If so at what point do you begin to offset the keys? I always seem to have to go back in and tweak some timing issues after I have offset the keys for say the shoulders, elbows and wrists and it takes longer.

I definitely keep all the keys together at this point. I MAY start offsettign keys when going to first pass.. but usually I'll keep them all together until I get into the final finessing part of the animation. But I've found that if I work this way.. stepped with some drag 'n overlap, then first pass with more refined timing.. by the time I get to finessing, I'm not having to offset keyframes all that much.. definitely a little, but not as much as I would expect.

At what point do you go in and start to look at the arcs in your animation? While it is still stepped or once it is linear?

I get an idea for the arcs the whole time.. even when stepped I think about what arcs I'm going to need.. but the first time I really look at them is in first pass mode. I try and have them mostly worked out by the time I show that to the director.
a3000 1) The storyboard to anim process is still obscure for me !!!
Behind the scene videos, shows some animatics as the first step in production.
But what is the reel meaning of this animatic work ?

The whole point of the animatic is to help determine the flow of the film and to get an idea for camera angle, staging, and pacing. It's kind of like a visual screenplay... or blocking for the final film (the way you block your shots for animation). It's a rough first pass of the movie.


2) In the past anim features films (read 2d) were really difficult and took many years to make, and it was an event.
Now every three month a 3d movie hit the ground.
What do you think about this oversaturation of Cgi projects ?
I guess you're going to say...we need good story to tell...blablabla...
But Ice age, Shrek1, Finding Nemo are sharing the same story:
Some antinomic characters start a loooong travel together and discover friendship at the end...well, just before the end in fact...

haha :) actually, the cg movies take just as long as the 2d movies.. just more people are able to do them. I think you'll find that they're really popular right now because producers know that they can make a lot of money. The glut of animated films will die down in another year or three as the industry cycles down again.. it does this all the time. Every 5 to 10 years it seems the industry cycles up.. tons of projects happen.. everyone jumps in on the bandwagon.. then as movies flop and people make movies for the wrong reasons, the industry cycles down.. less movies are made, and there are fewer jobs available. Then suddenly one movie will do well and everyone's back in the game again.

I don't know why so many stories are similar.. I guess they're tryiing to follow the formula which will make the most money. I'd like to see more varried stories.. more interesting genre's of animation. I think that'd be FANTASTIC!

By the way I just started a stopmotion short in my basement and I'm looking for rigger with metal skills...
If you have time ;)

Haha :) the only metal skills I have are the rock 'n role ones, wooo! and even those aren't so hot..
pwallin
After these years. How did you managed to have a love life, or did you?

Finding love is one of the most important parts of living.. you can't live if you don't love, and you can't love if you don't live. Get AWAY from work and see the world. Go outside! Look at that big flaming ball of gas in the sky. It's called the sun! Seeee it!! Live in it! yaaaarrr!!

How it was possible to be a sick (fever..and worse) and still manage to be on "deadline"?

You have to communicate with your boss and make sure they're aware of being sick. If you're home sick, it's more important for you to get healthy than it is to finish your shot. If you're really bad.. they can give your shot to somebody else to finish. Your health is more important than your company's bottom line. Any company that thinks you should work when you've got a fever.. ugh. Move away from there, and fast.

What is your weakness as a rigger/animator?

As a rigger, my math isn't good enough to develop new techniques based on really complicated math. I probably need more trig and calc work.. but I've been able to get by without it so far. As an animator I need to learn more about solumn shots.. close up acting.. really calm moments. It's much easier for me to move things around and do broad acting. I'd like to learn to be more subtle.

How many 3D apps you feel you have a same (at least roughly) level to understand them as you have with Maya?

I dont' think I know any other 3d apps as well as Maya.. I know EMO pretty well for animation, but not for rigging or anything else. And I haven't used any other 3d apps seriously besides maya for 8 years or so.. so not many! :)

Which 3D app is so hard/weird that you couldn't grasp it even to this day?

I think with practice I could grasp any 3d app.. that's one of the things I really enjoy doing is learning new applications. So if I was required to learn a new application (like I was for coming to PDI), I'd learn it and use it for whatever it was required.. as to whether or not I want to spend my spare time learnign 3d apps.. no, I'd rather learn more animation technique and draw. :)
Salaadin 1- I love cartoony style animations and modeling because there are no boundaries as to what you can do ,creativity is always there , When animating for example something running and suddenly stops and picks a heavy thing. do you make the poses for each action then add the in-betweens and breakdowns ? or do you have a different way ?

Yep, that's what I'll do when I first start out on a shot.. I'll pose it out with stepped curves to get the idea of it. Then I'll show it for blocking, then add more inbetweens and breakdowns, then start animating the body with regular spline or clamped curves. I love that type of stuff.. sooo much fun!

2- do you recomend any books or dvds for animation? i already have the animation survival kit ..!

Illusion of life and the animation survival kit are the bests.. haven't seen any anim dvd's, but I hear the Jeff Lew one is pretty cool!

3-me and my friends are opening a multimedia company and im responsible for the 3d animation department . do you have any advice as far as animation ?

Congrats! I'd say get everyone to practice drawing. make sure you work at keeping good clear poses, focus on solid staging.. not just moving things around. Get everyone to really understand spacing and timing and arcs and animating to the render camera! And draw! and practice! and daily critiques! and classes! :)

jschleifer
06-14-2005, 06:31 PM
Tom N.
Jason I had to change my underpants after seeing your name on the front page. This is pretty exciting. So many great answers have been given so far, I just have a couple short Q's:

eeeewwwww... :)

1) Can we see the bumble bee animation you mentioned?? Do you still have your old stuff? It would be great to be able to see the first works of such a pro.

Yep, I'll try and find it.. gotta warn ya.. it's ass! :)

2) Is your wife/family understanding of your work? This sounds nerdy but I'm still in school and have dated girls who don't believe that this stuff actually takes up ALL of my spare time and that its never really done until its due or taken away from you and it can get frustrating. I ask this in hopes that perhaps there ARE people out there who are able to understand this haha.

You can't let the work take up ALL your spare time.. you still need time for yourself and time for your friends and family.. but yeah, it does take up quite a bit of time. Don't worry, there are women out there who will understand that at times you can be extremely busy. But then you have to be able to make it up to them afterwards.. if you work late all week, take the weekend off and spend it just wandering around with your girlfriend/family.. do something fun.. go to the zoo.. have a bbq.. relax.. connect. It's more important than ya realize. :) But also make sure you're not made to feel guilty for those times you have to work late. This is a passion, and you don't ever want to feel guilty for loving your work. Just be sure to even it out a bit.

3) Between working at dreamworks, AM, a blog and family, how many hours of sleep do you get on average per night? (incase you don't remember, sleep is that thing where you close your eyes and rest and stuff - I forget it sometimes too)

sleeeep? sleeeeeeep? :) actually, I get about 7 hours a night.. not too bad, eh! I just work hard during the day and work as fast as possible.

and I'm a fast typer. 80 wpm. easy.
lukx

I wanted to ask about one thing. I've heard that in Pixar one animator is doing 2 minutes of animation during whole year of producion. Tell me how much time your animations last in final product. And how fast you're able to animate (minutes a week, a day ;)). It's really kind of you that you find time to answer all our questions. This is amazing that we're able to speak with many famous persons here. Hope that someday I could tell my grandchildren "I asked question a Jason Schleifer person who worked on LOTR and he answered it" :thumbsup:

that's a tough question to answer.. sometimes you spend a lot of time working on a shot and it gets cut from the film.. sometiems you have very simple shots which last really long.. sometimes you have complicated shots which are 15 frames long. So I'm not sure exactly how many minutes of footage are "standard".. we have an average quote of about 5 feet of footage per week (16 frames = 1 foot), but that's average.. so sometimes we produce more, sometimes less.

Now you can tell your grandchildren you asked jason schleifer a question, and he fumbled his way through it and never answered, the bastard!! :)
RayenD

Are you going to be a AM mentor still in the fall?

yep yep! I love it! it's fun! :)
furio666
1. Have you bumped into S K or G yet at PDI/Dreamworks? A friend of mine who used to work at Dreamworks mentioned that Spielberg is easy going and so I figure, since I'm sure you're probably a fan of his work, have had that chance to speak to the "Man" himself.

I haven't met Spielberg yet, but I've met Jeffrey a few times! he even came by my desk and took a piece of gum. :)

2. Did you use the Demo Reel on your website to apply for your current position at PDI?

Yep! that's the one I sent 'em. :)

P.S. Any chance you'd consider coming up to Canada... more specifically Vancouver for work? I admit we're still catching up to the big studios in Cali but I'm sure we'll be there soon enough!

Haha :) sure! I'd consider moving anywhere if the project and timing were right. But for now, me stickin to PDI! :)

Varsha 1. Will there be any other, totally different way of animating a character in the future, technically?

I'm sure there will at some point.. I mean, did anyone think they'd be animating with typewriters and bricks 50 years ago? Who knows what kind of interface we'll have in the future.. the thing which is never going to change is the art of telling a story. THAT's what will always be there.. the need to communicate and pass down ideas and thoughts. Whether we do it the way we do now, or by using brooms and nostril hairs.. ya never know. :)

2. If I am a self learner, and I learnt everything just by watching the tutorial DVDs and stuff, (for ex: Rigging bundle) and I have my own style of rigging or animating a character, without having any experiences worked for any studios, and let us say, and if I get a job in a studio because of my excellent reel, will I be able to work like the other rigger or animator, or I'll seem to be unique?

Having your own method is totally cool! If you can solve problems and fix things that come up, that's what companies look for. They like people who do two things.. 1, solve tough problems, and 2, work well with others. If you can do that, you're a dream hire!

3. Do you wish to animate any characters of your dream? and have you ever felt like, they could have done it more differently, it would have been better if they made it look much more better or anythin like that when you watched some famous movies in which you didn't work?

Sure, there are things you see that you go "agghh.. wish I coulda done that better" both with my shots, and with others. I think my dream character would be jack skellington.. not because he was done poorly (he was AWESOME), but because he'd be fun to move around. Then again.. so would oogie boogie.. and jessie.. and the horse.. and woody.. and julian was fun.. and... GAH!!! TOO MANY FUN CHARACTERS!!

4. lol What is the secret of your smartness? Just wondering... your sense of humor?

I eat 50 raw egg yolkes a day. you'd be amazed at the amount of vomit I have to spew.. blarfa! :) Honestly tho.. I think the "smartness" is just a willingness to never be satisfied or think that I know everything. I know that i can always learn from someone, so I'm always interested in seeing what they have to say.

except scientologists.. I hate those guys! :)

jschleifer
06-14-2005, 07:03 PM
kunal
Still I managed to dig a question, " After all that art background he has..........I wonder if Jason Schliefer still loves to draw...or couldn't draw due to his schedule."

I sketch a bit, but my drawing lacks serious.. er.. skill at this point. I hope to get back into it, cuz I love drawing.. I just suck at it right now. :)
Rick Flowers
I know that when you initially began your practice as a CG artist there were not near as many schools and official paid academic resources for learning the art. With that in mind, if you were thrown around in time suddenly at a younger age and today you were where you were when you began your journey... Given you could pass yourself the wisdom you currently have:
Would you take up classes/courses of the aforementioned like (of the modern CG world), or would you take up the seemingly more abstract road that you have actually taken these past several years?
If you could please shed your thoughts on the true value of academic (3d, cg, animation, etc) education that is available today, and do you think you would be better off today (in your skill, portfolio, and overall career), if you had such a resource earlier in your life.

Heya rick! I don't know.. I'm very happy with where I am currently, and I often wonder what my life would have been like had I gone the traditional route. Would I have ended up getting a job at Weta and moving to new zealand? I don't know.. I got the job in part because of my Maya expertise.. and I got the maya knowledge from working at Alias.. and I've been able to travel and meet people all throughout the industry based on the contacts I made there. But then again, mabye I would be further along in my animation ability.. but .. <shrug> I probably would keep the same path I took.. it's really helped me out. It hasn't been the same for others, and there are people who went the more traditional route who are further in their careers than I am, but.. ach, I don't know. heh :) Okay, here's what I'd do if I could do it all over TODAY.. I'd do exactly the same thing.. except I'd take courses from animationMentor.com at the same time. I think it's the best animation education otu there.. although, supinfocom is probably one of the best schools available for film and animation.
-dc-
So I'm curious, now that you've worked in both types of enviornments, one that relies heavily on Maya and one that is completely proprietary, which do you prefer and why? Don't think of this as a "why do you like ____ software" question - I'm more interested in a comparitive analysis from your point of view. I realize this may be hard to answer given that you may not be able to talk directly about the advantages of some of the tools you currently use, but maybe you could give it a shot.

Yeah, I can't give specifics about software things I like/dislike in terms of EMO/Maya.. but there are certainly advantages and disadvantages to both. It's tough NOT knowing the technical side of EMO simply because I can't just go in and write fixes and tools like I could in Maya.. but then again, the software and pipeline are built so solidly around what we do, that it's much easier to focus totally on animation than it is when using Maya. I think that proprietary software, or at least tools, are very necessary in a company.. there's no way a company like Alias can anticipate every need for all customers.. so they've gotta provide the tools for a production house to make modifications. It's really up to the production company themselves how many resources they devote to that development.

andre22uk
I was wondering if you ever had a mentor when you were studying? I heard some other people that have had mentors helping them learn, but were you that fortunate?

Heya drew! I didn't have an animation mentor.. I had a few professors that I would talk to and get advice from, but they were mostly art/life advice, not animation advice. Most of what I learned was self taught until I got to Weta where I had Randy, Adam, and Richie (plus a miryad of other awesome animators.. buck, stephen, beth, mel, mike, mike, atsushi, andrew, mary, chad, paul, dennis, joe, matt, carlos, shaggy, chris, richard, etc etc whose shots I watched and learned from on a daily basis).
Ninja Dodo
I've been doing a good bit of animation and it seems the main thing I need to work on is weight. So I was wondering, what would be your key tips for figuring out how to better apply weight to characters in motion?

Heya! the best way to show weight is to remember yer physics lessons.. an object in motion tends to stay in motion, and object at rest tends to stay at rest, unless acted upon by an outside force. Heavy objects take longer to change direction than light objects.. if you have a heavy body moving around, don't change it's direction so fast! If it's going side to side.. let it take a while to change that direction. It can move quickly while it's moving.. in that same direction, but as soon as you want to change the direction, it needs to slow down, slow slow slow until it can finally go the other way.

Also, I've found that offsetting timing can really help. If your foot lands, then have the body finish landing a few frames later. when the foot pushes up, push up the hips and then let the body follow after. overlapping your timing can really help show weight.

oh! I'll check out your reel and stuff after I finish answering all the questions. :)

KungFu Hampster
Currently I'm attending the Academy of Art out here in San Fran, trying to up my art skills a bit and my character animation skills. I come from a filmmaking/writing/programming background, so I figure it's best I touch up on those things to improve my reel and website. My main question is, I'm starting to get into rigging and I see a lot fo resources out there...books, dvds, websites, ect....can u offer in your opinion the best resources out there for rigging and mel scripting?

whelp, I've heard that people are enjoying the dvds I did on rigging.. they're not meant to give you a complete rig when you're done watching them, but to give you ideas and techniques and methods to explore answers to your rigging problems as they come up. Plus, they're fun to watch. Or so I hear. :)

David gould's book on mel scripting is really good as well! Also, I think the creaturetd.com website is really good as a resourse.. some incredibly smart people on there!
Storytelling Tree
1) I read in one of your answers that you don't like to put limits on your charcater, i must say that i am the only one here that agrees with you, but i didnt find a way to prevent bad bandings of the arm and legs. can you give us some tips on that?

You can do things to help the legs and arms.. especially in hips and shoulders, like putting in influence objects and corrective blendshapes. You can also TELL the animators that if they move something a certain way it will look bad. Don't limit them from doing it, but make sure they know that the shot won't be finalled if the skinning looks bad. I mainly don't like limits because I don't like it when I can't put something where it needs to be. Sometimes you HAVE to make a leg go somewhere.. and the only way to fix it is a corrective blendshape for the shot itself. That's okay! if the rig works for 95% of the shots, then you're doing well. :)

2) Even after i read those books and watched those movies i still cant DEFINE IK or FK, i know how they work, i know how to use them but when someone comes to me and ask, "What is the difference beetwen IK and FK?" I just cant answer them, can you please answer that for me?

IK and FK both stand for different types of "kinematics". Kinesiology is the study of motion.. so you can assume that FK and IK are ways of "moving things". IK stands for "inverse kinematics", fk stands for "forward kinematics". Let's start with Forward Kinematics.. the term "forward" relates to the method of achieving a result for a pose. For example, to position the arm a certain way with Forward Kinematics, you start with the shoulder, then you rotate the upper arm, then the lower arm, then the wrist. You're moving FORWARD along the hierarchy. If you move something upper in the hierarchy, the lower extremity moves.

Inverse kinematics means that you're solving the position BACKWARDS from the child to the parent.. so to place an arm with INVERSE kinematics, you start by positioning the hand control, then you orbit the elbow, then move the shoulder. The elbows position is automatically solved based on the placement of the hand in relation to the shoulder. It's solved BACKWARDS.

Does that help at all? hope so! :)


3) We dont know how to proceed after rigging the character. "Huh?" Well, what i am trying to say is: we do the rig, it is awesome, every character is moving fine and having really nice deformations but, how do we split the animation work beetwen the animators? How is it done by the studios that you worked with? How do you divide the scenes? What do you guys do so there is no difference betwen one scene made by the animator A and another scene made by animator B? How am i able to question the same thing on 4 different questions?

This is where the pipeline comes in handy. You need to develop a system for animating shots where you have a library of rigs, a library of sets, props, etc. Then when you start animating a shot, the animator can import the rig, the camera, the set, the props, etc and start animating. How you manage all that information is the pipeline itself. Check out http://www.premierpressbooks.com/ptr_detail.cfm?group=Film&isbn=1%2D59200%2D117%2D3 it looks like a great resource for you guys! :)
the_native
I have 2 off-topic questions : Do you listen music when you work (or in the free time).If yes what genre of music? ;) and What's your favorite movie?

Yep! I love Flight of the Conchords.. dub.. lots of NZ music (http://www.thegreenroom.co.nz). I listen to music more in my free time than at work.. at work I try and focus on my shot. :) Right now my fav movie is Garden State.. I LOVED it!!

jakiloblanco

I've just recently learned how to rig and animate in Maya, and looking at all the Animation Mentor work people have been posting online, I thought it would be fun to try and follow. So, I built a model somewhat like your ball and 2 legged character.

Would it be ok for me to do this and put it on my reel, or is it tapping into legal issues??

As long as you're not selling the character and making money off it, I don't see why bobby & co. would mind you using a similar character on your reel. The best thing to do is just ask them, tho.. send bobby an email and find out! I'm willing to bet that it will be fine. :)

paperclip
06-14-2005, 07:55 PM
Uhm...I know this is well overdue & I'm not supposed to be posting now, so feel free to ignore this question!

I've been hankering to go into animationmentor for a while, but there's one thing that's been holding me back- I'm deaf, so the videos, etc wouldn't really be accessible to me. Is there any way I might be able to attend, or is it a lost cause? :)

I've had a lot of fun reading through this thread. (I'm compiling a condensed version for Mibus)-- thanks for posting that info about IK/FK-- I had always wondered about that too. Too bad there is no 'rigging for dummies' book....oh wait....you could always write one! :thumbsup:
P.S- Didn't like Garden State, but Madagascar rocks! :buttrock:
Cheers...
paperclip.

MagnumCort
06-14-2005, 08:49 PM
Jason,

Thanks so much for taking the time to provide such fantastic answers to everyones questions. It's a heavy dose of 'everything I always wanted to know, but didn't know the questions to ask'. Extremely informative and is making me feel a little more optimistic about getting my carrer in the field going.

Also thanks to everyone that has asked a question - amazing!

Peace

jschleifer
06-15-2005, 12:59 AM
InvaZimm q1. Earlier in your career you worked with and for Alias, do you believe that something like would be a smart move for anyone getting into this industry, to do? Which artist (ie. animator, rigger, modeler, etc.) would probably benefit the most?

I think it's a great thing to do.. especially for those on the technical side of things (riggers, td's, etc) because it gives them a chance to understand how to communicate with software developers (most studios have a developer of some kind), and gives them a better understanding of what software development takes. It helped me because of the timing.. I got to learn the development side and also got to meet all sorts of people in the industry.

q2. From the sound of it, you seemed to have been more interseted in the animation side of the industry from early on, Why did you choose to do the rigging aspect before really breaking out there to do animations?

Because I knew that in order to be able to animate the way I wanted, I'd have to make my own rigs to move things.. also, part of my job was to learn maya. The rigging was the most interesting part to me (besides animation), and it directly related to allowing me to animate.. so.. <shrug> it's what I started doing. :)

q3. If the animation industry hadn't perked your interests like they did, where and what do you think you'd be doing now?

Probably be in a crappy-ass cover band. :) I've got a good ear for picking up music.. not for making it up, but if you play me something I can usually figure out how it goes. As long as it's simple. And on the bass guitar. :)

q4. What was the worst job you feel you ever had (industry or non)?

My worst job was when I was working as a "printer jamming watch-person". I was working for a data collection firm.. one which collected names and addresses, and sent out the lists to various companies that ordered them. My job (hah!) was to sit and watch the addresses as they printed out. If the printer jammed, I had to un-jam it, and re-start printing where it had screwed up. booooooorrrring.

the other worst job was my first one ever.. a stock-boy at a department store named "Bergman's". I had to lift boxes.. and clean toilets. It sucked! Especially because all the girls got hired as cashiers and gift wrappers.. all the boys were hired as stock-boys. I thought it was sex discrimination (I was 14 at the time.. heh), so I protested and said that I felt I would be better used as a cashier. They said maybe. I said, you have two weeks to promote me, or I'll leave. After two weeks I asked whether or not I could be promoted.. they said no.. I said "here's my two-weeks notice!" Ugh. cleaning toilets. NOT fun.

q5. If you're fingers aren't already to the bone by the time you even get to me, I was wondering if you could take a look over of my current reel http://johnzimmermann.com/gallery.php?p=demo , that would be absolutely fantastic:D. It's a little old, I think, working on maybe a better one soon. But if you can't find the time in that crazy, messed up schedule of yours, it'd be alright too.

sure! I'll get to it soon enough, I promise. :)

cgtsolomon
Based on your teaching, “rigging using a lowres polymesh” was quite easy and fun to see it in action. Though your DVDs helped me a lot in rigging, later I got into problems while skinning my complex but detailed NURBS patches model to the skeletons. I tried skinning the multiresolution NURBS patches by wrap deforming it with a medium resolution polymesh which inturn was smooth bound to the skeleton. It was 25 MB file and Maya crashed. I had Maya 5.0 in a Dual Xeon (2.8 Ghz) 2GB RAM, ATI FIREGL 9600 Graphics card, 500GB harddisk m/c. What is the best way to do skinning? How are characters skinned now a days in Highend VFX houses or what is “THE” “BEST” way for efficient skinning ? How did you guys skinned Gollum? Is it one or more poly/sub-D/NURBS patches or one or the other depending on the shot?

Glad the dvd's helped! Skinning is definitely a toughie, especially to get the volume and deformations correct! From what I have seen, most highend vfx houses have some sort of muscle system rigged up now for doing their skinning. That seems to be the best way, as it retains volume.. keeps the skinning independent from the geometry (i.e. you're not weighting specific verts to joints, because if you do that and then change the model.. you gotta do it all over again).. and gives you much nicer results. I think Alias has a DVD available now which goes into detail about how to do that using maya's basic tools.. but I haven't spent much time skinning characters inthe past few years, so I'm not up on all the absolute latest in developments.


Everybody talks about Bay Rait and his work. Did he write any tutorial, or have any DVDs? I searched his “Character modeling” PDF in the net, but couldn’t find it. If you could me point to any of his resources or send me his contact that would be great.

As far as I know, he hasn't written any "how-to" documents or put together any DVDs.. you can check out his spiraloid forum (although it seems to be down right now)..

baandersnatch How do you keep your animation loose in cg? Now, I am very adept at Maya, but i've only really had a years experience in the animation aspect of things, so I'm not asking for tech solutions here. Given the nature of cg (everything is rendered perfect and solid), the ordeal of posing the character and tweaking arcs seems to be very monotonous and frustrating. For example, it seems like if you had to do something frame by frame in cg, it would be exponentially more difficult compared to 2d because if something was off, it would really show up (mostly in the form of stuttering). It seems like the more you drone on and on on a certain piece, the more stale it gets. Sometimes I just want to draw over all of it and hand animate it cause drawing is just so loose and I know I'll get what I want. Does it just take time to get over this? Please say yes.
Yes. :)

If you're able to get the looseness in your hand drawn stuff, you should be able to get the same thing in CG.. just remember that you OWN every frame. Don't let the computer inbetween for you.. if the computer gives you want you want, fine.. but YOU control it. You get to squash the character when you want to.. you stretch it when you want to.. you break the joints and move the arms and squish it down and do all the things you'd do in 2d. Sometimes it helps to actually draw what you want on your screen & then pose the character to that. it should help you get a nice loose sort of feel. :)


Dunno if you could help on this one, but I'll ask anyways. How is animating on ones in the comuter different from animating on 2's traditionally? From what I've heard (from Tony Fucile on the Incredibles DVD), animating on the 2's traditional system in the computer just doesn't work, as it makes things look floaty. I guess you could only comment on how you work, so what's your personal keyframe system? Do you just do the key poses and monotonously tweak curves for inbetweens? Or do you key every other frame? Could you get into more detail about what you said above?

I don't think you should think about computer animation in terms of animating on 1's or 2's.. think about it more in terms of animating by putting the keys where you need them based on the timing you want. Key the keyposes where you need them, then key the breakdowns, and key more breakdowns until it flows.. then convert to spline.. then key more. I don't like to tweak curves unless it's for a very specific puropse.. I key the frames that are needed. So sometimes that's every frame.. some times it's frames 1 3 5 10 12 17 18 21..
There's no "system" except to key things based on the timing you want. :)

Greets from CALARTS!! Respect!
Come to our producer's show at the end of the year, everyone who's cool comes!!

I'd love to go! someday I'll have to make it down there.. word. Respect from a non-calarts dude. :)
ftaswin Jason, when you got a rigged model for the first time, how long does it take to sink in with the controls an feeling to the character before you start animating it to A shot? I always do it all the time but only recently I realized this process as a part for me to get used to the controls + get the feeling to the character?

1 hour? 1 day? 1 week?

It depends on the character.. some characters are pretty easy to get up to speed on, especially if you'ev done one like it before. I find it usually takes a shot or two to really get to know the character if you haven't used them before.. sometimes more!

An when you are ready to animate, how long do you spend off the computer to block out your shot (by acting it)? 1 day? More?

Usually I'll take half a day to act it out.. it depends again on the shot. Some shots are pretty quick to figure out, others take a day or so of acting and re-blocking and re-blocking..


And what do you think about taping yourself acting it out and grab that as reference? I personally don't really like that if I don't have to unless I'm animating a really difficult timing/ spacing.

I think ti's a great idea. I probably need to do it more..

Is it hard not to get personal to people who don't have artistic background to tell you what you need to do with the shot and making artisitic calls? (e.g: producers, producers or maybe assistant producers). This is the time I want to stab someone on the eye and rip their skull in two.

haha :) nope.. 'cuz they're the ones with the money! I listen to their opinions.. and if they work, then great. If not, I'll try and understand what it is they're really talking about. sometimes people will make comments saying one thing.. but they really mean something else. part of the art of animation and working with others is learning how to parse that and turn it into what they want. Besides.. producers and assistant producers are people.. and if their suggestion is really difficult and doesn't work.. talk to them, they'll understand! :)
3dd3 1) So just very curious how much time U've spent on the shorts in "Madagascar". I mean time for every one, if U could, please!
Have U always met the deadlines?

I can't remember the exact times for each shot.. but I usually meet the deadlines. I was having trouble at first, but now I think I'm hittin or beating 'em each time.. whew! :)

2) What music do U like?

I think I answered this one earlier.. but go to http://www.greenroom.co.nz and you'll see a bunch of bands there that I'm into! :)

3) Will your children be animators? :)))))))))))

Either that or they'll be hurtin! just kidding. :) I don't care what my children are.. as long as they're true to themselves and they can support me in my old age.

jschleifer
06-15-2005, 02:04 AM
Miyagi
Can one success at Industry against Cal Art students-like in such limited resources? Or I’d better keep cooking Chinese food? :)

Well, it's never bad to throw away a good skill at cooking.. but yeah, you can still be successful! that's one of the great things about AnimationMentor.com.. it's international!

If positively, Will people accept low res animation in a demo reel? Or is it one-way trash?

Low resolution animation is fine, as long as it emotes properly and shows that you know how to animate! they're not hiring you for the rig or the model.. they're hiring you for your ability to act as an animator!
ryusen
1. Could you show an example of a smear frame? Before it, the smear frame itself and after? Maybe a few stills from Madagascar? :D

Sure! I can't upload an image, but check out the movie links on the official web page.. if you go to: http://www.madagascar-themovie.com/main.php
and click on Video, then choose clip #9 under movie clips.. let that load. Towards the end, you'll see a clip where julian laughs and then said "but tell me... who the heck are you?" Step through frame by frame from the laugh through 'till when he points at the zoosters. you'll see 2 frames in there that I did where he's very distored. That's a smear frame!

Another good example is something kevan shorey explains in his blog:
http://kevan.blogs.friendster.com/my_blog/2005/06/shots_two.html

2. If I'm building a rig for quite realistic looking characters, should I make the rig stretch and squash too?

I think so, yeah! But only as much as it works for you.. I think squashing and stretching is imoprtant to adding flexibility and believability to your character.

3. And can you share with me how the facial rigs for Madagascar were built? :D

Sorry, no can do. :) Besides, it's all proprietary.. it wouldn't apply to Maya anyway! <grin>
Chanchito
Heya! I think I've answered these already.. but I'll do quick recaps..

1. When you do character animation, do you ever record yourself acting out your scenes, even when doing cartoony stuff, or do you just resort to a mirror?

I do record myself a little, not very often tho.. usually I act it out or watch someone else do it, or sketch it out. :)

2. What is your favourite method of animation: pose to pose or animating one part of the character at a time (layered animation) and are there situations when either method is prefferable over the other to get the best result?

I like to start pose to pose in general, just to get a good idea for teh staging.. I'll do that for 90% of the shots. Then after I've gotten the staging right, I'll go for the layered approach, breaking it down and layering in to get the best motion. I think pose to pose is best for acting shots, and layered is definitely best for shots where the characters are moving around very dynamically with big camera moves..
flippinmental
1) My first question is that do you think it's weird that you are being paid to do something you love? Because some people seem to get worried about getting into a job where they do something they really like, like drawing, animating etc, because they think been paid to do that will ruin it for them (it unpurified it or something like that) - are the ever times when you just don't feel like animating, do you ever get worried that one day you won't find it fun anymore (because of the pressure of work etc)? If not then what makes it fun every day?

I think it's great that I'm getting paid to do what I love. I'd recommend it to everyone! :) sometimes it's tough tho.. you're right, whenever you're having a bad day, and you don't feel like animating on teh shot any more.. and you need a break.. that's when you're burnt out and you have to take a vacation. But I always come back to wanting to animate more and more and more. I've had some pretty rough times where it's felt like AAAGGHHH!! but soon enough you get another shot and it's like.. "ooo... oOOO!!" and you're all excited again. :) I think it's the challenge of it which makes it fun.. and how every shot is different.. and at the end of the day, you're doing something creative. And you don't have to wear shoes to work.

yolao
-wich things has to be learned to achieve a character like gollum in a software like maya in a home PC?

There are many parts to creating a creature like gollum. First, you need to know how to model a really good organic creature with geometry which flows correctly for deformation. Then you need to learn how to build a skinning rig which can move the skin in a believable fashion.. keeping volume and allowing the skin to slide and stretch over the joints. Then you need to make a facial animation system which can handle any expression you could ever imagine creating (yikes! :). Then you need to learn how to texture the creature so the skin looks real.. then you need to learn how to do hair and clothing dynamics.. then you need to learn how to animate really well.. then how to light, then how to composite. There's a lot that one would need to be able to do to create a creature that looks like gollum. I'm not saying it's impossible, far from it! but it's something which will take a lot of study and a lot of time.. not easily done by one person. Take it slow.. and realy focus on learning these things. You'll be able to get there eventually! :)

-For those (like me) ho dont know anything about writing plugins, depeloping systems, etc...is there out there in the market, plugins as advanced like the one the big studios develop?

I don't think there are any that are quite as advanced available freely, but you can definitely get close. I think there's a muscle plugin for Max which works pretty well, but I haven't tried it. Also, there's a DVD available from Alias that a few of the TDs from Tippett put together.. I'd be willing to bet that that one would teach you most of what you need to know!

Lalecp
1. Since I am a beginner, what would you suggest "focusing" on in the field of 3D Mod animation? Where would be a good place to start?

Think about what it is that you get excited about.. do you like texturing? modeling? animating? Try doing one shot.. of something moving through an environment, and work on each aspect of it. The modeling, the lighting, the rigging, the animating.. pay close attention to how you feel while you're discovering the things you're doing while working on the shot. Do any of them drive you crazy? Are you excited by anythign you're doing? what do you feel? the area that you end up staying up all hours working on because you WANT to.. that's the one (or two, or three) to focus on.

2. How did you get into this field of work, and what drove you to success?

I think I answered that earlier, but the thing which drove me to succeed was just taht I wanted to keep learning. I wasn't satisfied just making things move.. I wanted to make the m breathe. And not just breath a little.. breathe WELL.

3. What are some of your resources (like site and books) you use to check up on procedures. eg. Digital-tutors.com?

Mostly I just talk to other animators, but I do frequent cgtalk, cgchar, awn.com, animationmentor.com, and my own site jonhandhisdog.com.

4. Anything else you would suggest to a beginner? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.. :) it's great that you're getting into it so early.. just don't let it distract you from having a normal life! the best inspiration you can get is the real world.
skull_leader
1) How many years have you been animating?

Lesse.. I've been animating professionally (i.e. getting paid for it) since I was about 21.. so I guess 11 years now. yikes!

2) Since you've become a full time animator in PDI. When you get home, do you find it hard to sit in front of the computer nowadays to practice animations? Or practice animating things with you struggle at work such as facial animations which you mentioned? Or do you find that you've practiced enough at work animating 8 hours a day?

Oh yeah, I find it really tough to animate at home.. like you said, I practice 10 hours a day every day.. so when I get home I like to relax, watch tv, do animationmentor.com, have a glass of wine, and take it easy. :) But sometimes you get in moods to animate.. then I'll do little things at home.. work on rigs.. write mel scripts.. define methodologies that I'd be interested in incorporating into various products.. but mostly I watch TiVo.

3) What was your interview with Weta like? What was your interview with PDI like? Do they differ much in terms of how they interview people?

The first time I interviewed at PDI was when I was still working at Alias. It was a crazy full day interview.. a different person every half hour, and it lasted all day. It was long.. hard.. and exhausting! I would show my reel, then talk about what I had done at Alias, and then answer questions. It went on, and on, and on.. but the good thing was, that when I got an offer (that time it was to be a character TD for a film called Tusker which never got made), I knew it was because they wanted me there and saw potential, even though I didn't have film experience. The interview for Weta was much simpler.. took a half hour, and all they did was show me what they were working on. I said a few things, showed them my reel, and that was it. :) Very different interview styles.. I think at the time weta was more interested in finding people they could work with personality-wise. They knew I knew my Maya stuff, but they wanted to make sure that our attitudes would mesh.

vrljc
06-15-2005, 04:09 AM
I say Jason stays on as the feature artist for one more week. Anyone with me? :bounce:

You rock Jason! Your answers are what everyone has been waiting for.

skull_leader
06-15-2005, 08:05 AM
Thank-you Jason for your time to answer my questions.

Mikademius
06-15-2005, 12:17 PM
I say Jason stays on as the feature artist for one more week. Anyone with me? :bounce:



I'm with you since I was just about to ask a question and now I'm not allowed to :sad:

manditri
06-15-2005, 02:50 PM
Hey Jason.....just one word...JEALOUS...:twisted:..thats what I am of the kind of work u do....now since u r helping people out with their queries...heres mine.....how can I beat u at this...:)....
I have been learning maya for almost a year now and thats almost exactly the duration I have fiddled with 3D.....havent really got a grasp of animation and riggin yet...but that is what I was planning to take up as career in CG....rigging ofcourse being a more immediate goal.....and reading abt u and ur work...only gives me a broader sense of what I need to do.....I am learning to draw and some mel scripting....these r baby steps for sure but hope they take me in the right direction......I wish I cud join AM...but dont have the finances.....anyways considering the facts that I am all self-taught and have discovered 3D rather late stage in my career....cud u plz gve me an idea of what kind of scripting I shud do....perl,python (C++ i guess is an absolute essential).....what programs shud I write to head the right way....with no previous programming knowledege I am a lil sceptical.....
Help a lil...this aspiring rigger/animator....and if I get gud enuff maybe u will give me a job in ur future studio:)....u animate I rig.....he he..what do u say....
I am from India and when r u coming here to enlighten us...
Thanx for taking ur time doin the Q&A...I have read every answer of urs here and feel its as much a guide with self-betterment tips as its for animation...and both r invaluable.
Love ur work and really appreciate ur efforts sharing the knowledge. There r not many kind people in the industry...so keep it coming.....All the Best!

Cheers!
Manditri

jschleifer
06-15-2005, 07:27 PM
gah!

I just spent an hour answering the last questions, and it didn't send. :(

poop.

I'll try and re-do it later this afternoon.

gah!

hopper2k
06-15-2005, 08:30 PM
gah!

I just spent an hour answering the last questions, and it didn't send. :(

poop.

I'll try and re-do it later this afternoon.

gah!


ooo man, that happens to me alot. which is why i now have the good ol' CTRL + A then CTRL + C imbedded in my head to select my entire message and copy the thing in case it doesn't get through...and if it doesn't, i just try it again and paste the message i spent time typing up. you might wanna try that for next time.

and thanks again for personally answering all these questions including my own, and thanks to everyone else for asking the questions!

-R. Hopper

StorytellingTree
06-15-2005, 08:40 PM
Jason, first, thanks for answering my questions, it really helped me.

Second, it was a pleasure knowing you, i must say that you earn a lot of points with the CG community, your efford of answering all questions giving nice answers and a very nice support really made me surprised. Thanks a lot, i can only wishes you more 50 years of pure and fantastic animation.

thanks !

Adriano-Zanetti
06-16-2005, 08:19 PM
Aiiiiight, finally got to see madagascar yesterday, I had a blast man, congrats with such incredible work, please pass the word around to your crew... say "Adriano Liked the movie a lot!" ...just to see if someone cares ;) !
Anyway, nothing to loose in that flick, was good from the first sec of the picture til... well... it still feels good now.
What a sick job you guys did, I was amazed by the speed of the animation, so so so many poses, so many body and facial expressions, made my head spin at some points, motions and rythms I never ever seen before in any other 3D motion picture. Watchin the trailers I have to say I wasn't so thrilled about such stylized characters, although I love cartoonish stuff, it was just a bit too much for me at first... I was like "what's with the spirals in their noses ??" but watching the movie I realized how that style was opening doors in term of animations, with such fancy animals I guess pretty much everything was allowed... and it felt just right in the end.

Questions... well after going over the thread I realize I know more about you, your background and all, than about my own girlfriend's... (that statement is so gonna cost me when she reads the thread :argh:) So it seems there not much to ask anymore... or at least nothing real smart, so I'll just go with the flow now and freestyle.

Did you guys smoked and poped stuff to come up with such crazy flick ?

- if yes, was that stuff provided by the pinguins ?

- If not, I understand... just pm me the truth, I won't tell anyone.

If you had to cut out one those performers out of Episod III (ROTS) which one would it be :

- Jar-Jar : "Squiz me!" or Anakin/vader : "Noooooooo!" or Padme : "Bla bla bla ...blaaa" (pssssst...hey...hint... all of them is the right answer)

If you could save one of these men accused of crime against humanity, who would you help ? ...Hitler, Goering, Mobutu, S.Hussein, Mussolini, Staline, Atila or George Lucas. ...ok, ok, a bit unfair, but I had a second of hesitation here myself!

Enough off topic questions...

In Madagascar, message it pretty clear, eating meat...Baaad, Fish...Goooood! Now, please tell me what I'm supposed to say to my almost 3 years old daughter, who's watching Nemo 5 times a week, when she gonna watch the Madagascar on Dvd soon or later ? ...that fish are not friends anymore ? :)

Checked out your site and read over your short about your dog, I think it's great, looking forward to it... but what really amaze me here and makes me wonder... how did you introduce it to your lady, that you'd go for a flick about the Dog and not about her first, without gettin your butt kicked ? ...cause you know they have to be our muses, right ? ;)

Anyway, seriously, thanks for doing your thing the way you do it, obviously very inspiring for us all. Thanks for spending so much time on that thread, very interresting it was, cool to see you're having so much fun out there, one more motivation for us to follow your track and keep doing our thing too. Good luck with John and his Dog.

pe@ce

Adriano

Okan
06-16-2005, 09:15 PM
Are you smoking or drinking alcohol ? if not, what you do when you get frustrated while working :p
and i second time asking if you didn't catch before, why did you choose Linux over Windows for Maya ?
I know most companies run Linux but why did you use it at your home ? ( you said you use vim for MEL)
I was wondering if it is more stable with Linux or any other reason like performance etc.. ?

And a little bit of compliments, i saw Madagascar today, brilliant, rock on...:)

InvaZimm
06-16-2005, 09:25 PM
Hey Jason, thanks for replying to those "low brained"http://cgtalk.com/images/smilies/grin.gif questions of mine, greatly appreciated. Definitely great of you to be doing all this for us, so thanks again. Keep up the great work as usual.

Can't wait to hear your crits and comments on my reel.

Drake83
06-18-2005, 12:36 PM
Jason, one day i'll sit down next to you, and we'll have fun together, when i'm definitely better. Thanks for all your replies, you're an inspiration and a model to follow. By the way, your reel is amazing and this dog is so funny!! :D
Haven't seen Madagascar yet (on the screens next week) but can't wait to see it.

All the best man!

Miyagi
06-18-2005, 05:08 PM
Hi Jason!



I finish reading this thread today, you a kind of cg celebrity. You seem to be a nice person, I’m happy for you. I really think it has most to do with the care and humanity you put in your internet posts than your amazing works. Congratulations to your success and humbleness. I'm sure you are going to meet all of your goals.



P.S. Just to sincerely thank you. You don’t need to reply this one brave Jason.

Feeank
06-18-2005, 09:08 PM
Hello Jason, I've read half the thread already and I was scared to post my questions too late so if I ask something already anwsered bear with me please:)

I work for an animation company here in Venezuela, we're producing by the fingernails a feature film and our company has brougth a lot of CG experts here to give conferences and shows. People like Brian Rosen from Pixar, Michelle Meeker (ROTK, Shrek), Cristina Drahos (Matrix and tons of other flicks), Sandra Voellker (Babe, Stuart Little), Esdras Varagnolo and Paul George (I Robot, Day after tomorrow, these last two are also Venezuelans) have been invited here and they have given incredible shows, sharing their expertise and encouraging the audience (mostly CGI fans and afficionados) to follow this path and go pro. So my questions after that long expose would be:

1. Did you get to meet Michelle Meeker during your Weta period? how was the experience working with her (If you got to do so)

2. Would you be interested in taking part on these type of experiences here? We would really appreciate your insigth about the industry and the craft and you also look like a really nice person to talk with.

3. Are you still active in this board? (not sure if this has been asked or anything, sorry)

4. Given that you get to fulfill your dream of forming your own studio (I really hope so) would you be hiring / taking interns from the people in CGtalk? (hope I didn't put you against the ropes with this one;) )

5. As I said, I'm working on a feature film, but our crew lacks the academic background / experience required in a big-budget Hollywood CGI production. What we lack in experience I think we compensate with passion, creativity and near-obsession self teaching, but this may not be enough for Hollywood. Any advice/words on this? Should I be worried about this? I really want to take my career outside Venezuela (WETA, Lucasfilm, Pixar and the like) and have the chance to work with the bests there are and improve my skills and so on.

6. I don't have animations of my own posted in this forum, I tend to focus on Modelling and rigging, but my friend Bigyuyo has a small playblast from a particular project we're working on. You can check it following this link http://www.geocities.com/bigyuyo/index.html
sorry for the messy website (Geoities=Evil)

7. Not a question, and I know modelling it's not your field, but you're equally kindly invited to check my personal WIP (again, follow signature) just for fun, no reply to this required. Thanks in advance and I hope you like it

gah!

I just spent an hour answering the last questions, and it didn't send. :(

poop.

I'll try and re-do it later this afternoon.

gah!

Heh, I always ctrl-c the post before hitting the submit button just in case, especially if it's a long one (see, you can always learn something in CGtalk :D )

Well, that's it (WOW, I'm sorry for the amount of questions). I want to really compliment you for your work on LOTR especially on Gollum. I know it was a team effort but i'm sure there are tons of shots that you get most of the credit. (LOTR is my favourite movie so having the chance to talk with you here is really a priceless opportunity) I haven't seen Madagascar yet and wasn't particularly looking forward to it but all this talk about snappy animaton has pumped my interest, I'm sure your work there is equally superb. Again, speaking for thousands of CG afficionados down here, we would really like to see you at a conference/show/whatever the name, I promise you Venezuela won't dissapoint you (have you heard about our Misses? :cool: Weee!)

Thanks for all Jason, good luck and best wishes

Francisco Morales

jschleifer
06-20-2005, 04:49 PM
more answers coming!

hey folks.. was really busy last week so I didn't have time to go back and re-type answers, but I'll finish it all up this week!

woo! :)

leigh
06-20-2005, 06:52 PM
Guys, please refrain from posting new questions... this Q&A session ended a week ago, although Jason has been kind enough to continue posting replies to questions he had not yet answered. Please do not add additional questions.

Thanks!

ThePumpkinKing
06-20-2005, 06:56 PM
Guys, please refrain from posting new questions... this Q&A session ended a week ago, although Jason has been kind enough to continue posting replies to questions he had not yet answered. Please do not add additional questions.

Thanks!

Okay, this isn't a question to jason, but to CGTalk: Any progress on setting up the Aaron Sims Q&A? I'm a huge fan of his, and I have been agonizing to ask him some questions. Of course, I realizze there are technical difficulties, but could you possibly give an estimate of when he will be on?

By the way, Jason, I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to post any questions (I had finals in tha past couple of weeks, so things are a bit hectic). I adore Lord of the Rings, and much of it couldn't have happened without your help, so thank you.

Feeank
06-20-2005, 07:30 PM
Guys, please refrain from posting new questions... this Q&A session ended a week ago, although Jason has been kind enough to continue posting replies to questions he had not yet answered. Please do not add additional questions.

Thanks!

Oops. I'm really sorry about that, though I can only alegate ignorance as a defense on my behalf. I had no idea that the Q-A session had ended when I posted my questions. Sorry for that.

leigh
06-20-2005, 07:36 PM
Okay, this isn't a question to jason, but to CGTalk: Any progress on setting up the Aaron Sims Q&A? I'm a huge fan of his, and I have been agonizing to ask him some questions. Of course, I realizze there are technical difficulties, but could you possibly give an estimate of when he will be on?


Aaron was supposed to be next, but unfortunately he is busy right now. So he will be doing a session in a few weeks. I am busy trying to organise someone else in the meantime.

ThePumpkinKing
06-20-2005, 09:08 PM
Aaron was supposed to be next, but unfortunately he is busy right now. So he will be doing a session in a few weeks. I am busy trying to organise someone else in the meantime.

Okay, then, I guess that gives me more time to think up questions:). Besides, I'm sure he's hard at work making Tethered Islands. Thanks for the prompt response!

joel3d
06-20-2005, 09:27 PM
No question,

I just like to say thanks Jason you sound like a really good person.

Good luck!

Miak
06-20-2005, 10:02 PM
Lol... Gotta say thanx too... I'm new here, and the thing that made me stay here and start all that's been going on in the last three weeks (doing graphics for two books and entering a mini-challenge here :P) was Jason's enthusiasm... No questions lol :)

penartist26
06-21-2005, 02:43 AM
first of all hi and hows life'? :) man you are so talented character animator ever when i first saw u at alias' movie interview and knowing ur one of those key people who's behind the CGI
fantastic movie LOTR i was amaze specially ur talent' U ARE GREAT!

ok heres my Q.

Q-1 : WACOM (other brands) tablet pen digitizer or MOUSE?

Q-2 : SPAWN OR BATMAN? (and pls tell me why) im interested.

Q-3 : STEVEN SPIELBERG TIM BURTON OR GEORGE LUCAS??

Q-4 : rate yourself 1-10 as an ARTIST /ANIMATOR'

Q-5 : SCI_FI or HORROR?

i hope u will having some time to answer my Q. keep up the good work man ur one of my idols in 3-D world' :) more success to ur life

jschleifer
06-22-2005, 04:12 AM
flyingP
Just curious, apart from Weta, did you get an impression of how the overall industry is developing in NZ ?, another 8 weeks and I'll be back in NZ myself after a twelve year absence so any info would be most appreciated

It seems like the industry is doing pretty well over there, especially in wellington and in auckland. I didn't talk to anyone NOT workin at weta (in the industry, I mean.. I talked to lots of people not working at weta who don't work in the industry, but.. well.. you know what I mean), so I'm not sure of any specifics.. but I have a feeling it's growing quite a bit. Have a great time going back! NZ is awesome. :)

Sagroth
Maybe that's not your primary speciality, but reading your answers I've figured out that you want to have your own studio and make your own projects one day, so I'm really interested in your opinion.

It could be fun, but I've seen a lot of artistic people start their own studios only to have them (the studios) die a slow death & the people work themselves to.. well.. to death. :) I'd be happy to start something up with a few friends, as long as I had someone to manage the show & get all the money for us while we created cool stuff. If there were money in film festivals.. ahh..

So what do you think about skills of animation/vfx-heavy film director - is it essential for him to know at least basics of all animation/vfx technical stuff? Or should he just leave that 'tricky stuff' for specialized team and spend more time on actual directing craft?

I think it's incredibly helpful for anyone to know at least a little bit about anything they're working with. For example, if a director understands that when they say "I want wet hair flinging around and lots of water droplets all reflecting and refracting" that it's going to be a hard and expensive shot, then that's great because they can work with the vfx supervisor on making sure that it's in the budget. However, it's not necessary for them to know EVERY little thing about how stuff is done.. just enough to respect the artists creating the work.

I know that in his early films (btw, what d'you think about them, honestly? :)) Peter Jackson had a lot of work in 'natural' vfx stuff. Do you think that helped him a lot while planning/making LotR trilogy?

Haha :) I loved all of them except Meet The Feebles.. just didn't get into that one when I watched it the first time. It was funny the second time, but the first.. ehh. Forgotten Silver is one of my fav films of his. I LOVE it. He and Costa did a great job with it. I do believe peter's knowledge and love of fx and animation helped him quite a bit with LOTR. He was able to converse with us on a number of levels about how to get things done (not saying "do this", but could understand when we said "that's hard"). Plus it was just great hearing the stories from him and Richard Taylor about the things they used to do.

And lastly, if you for example want to be an animation film director, what skills are you going to improve for that purpose?

I would like to improve my "subtle" animation skills. I feel like that's the real area I want and need to work on.
More to come folks.. more to come. :)

flyingP
06-22-2005, 07:37 AM
It seems like the industry is doing pretty well over there, especially in wellington and in auckland. I didn't talk to anyone NOT workin at weta (in the industry, I mean.. I talked to lots of people not working at weta who don't work in the industry, but.. well.. you know what I mean),

;)

so I'm not sure of any specifics.. but I have a feeling it's growing quite a bit. Have a great time going back! NZ is awesome. :)

thanks Jason the more positive impressions I'm hearing the more comfortable I am feeling with the move...hell I'd be going back anyway :D like you say NZ is awesome, have missed it heaps.

Cheers and all the best mate, and thanks for taking the time :thumbsup:

Wilson-3d
06-24-2005, 06:46 PM
Just wanted to say thanks Jason. I really really enjoyed reading this the last few weeks. Great job.

niralrajani
06-25-2005, 09:29 PM
hi jason
i am Rigger in india i am gr* fan of ur RIg's, i love way u make them i always try to make some thing new learning from your Rig..keep doing good work, great guy great job.

paintbox
06-26-2005, 09:53 AM
I just saw The Fellowship of the Ring and I just wanted to say whoever did the Cave Troll and the Ballrog did a fantastic job. Especially when the Cave Troll is about to collapse, the hand that reaches for the mouth ; the muscles are failing and then he falls to the earth ; it's pure excellence.

I don't know if you did anything on that Jason but I am amazed at that whole scene. LOTR is quite a work of art !

Alex Morris
06-29-2005, 04:49 PM
Hey Jason!

Wow need to catch up on the thread! Are you going to be at Siggraph this year?

Alex

jschleifer
06-29-2005, 05:50 PM
Hey Jason!

Wow need to catch up on the thread! Are you going to be at Siggraph this year?

Alex

haha :) hey alex!! yeah, I'm way behind.. got TONS of work to do & haven't had time to do any more answers.. hopefully within the next two weeks things will calm down & I'll have a bit of time to finish up!

and yep, it looks like I am going to siggraph.. I'll catch up with ya there!

-jason

Mibus
09-14-2005, 09:07 AM
paperclip has once more provided a compiled Q&A:
http://features.cgsociety.org/cgtalk/meettheartists/jason_schleifer/