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PaulHellard
11-03-2006, 12:06 AM
http://www.cgnetworks.com/cgtalk/meettheartists/simon_otto/flusheader.jpg

Simon Otto
Lead Animator
[Dreamworks Animation]

http://www.cgnetworks.com/cgtalk/meettheartists/simon_otto/flush3.jpg


Simon Otto began his animation career at the right place, studying the craft at the renowned Les Gobelins in Paris. He lives on the US West Coast and is a native of Switzerland.

Otto previously worked as a supervising animator on the title character Sinbad in ‘Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas’ as well as supervising the animation on two of the members of Sinbad’s crew, the Chinese brothers Jin and Li.

http://www.cgnetworks.com/cgtalk/meettheartists/simon_otto/flush5.jpg


In addition, he worked as an animator on the character Spirit in ‘Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron’, and he also supervised the animation of the eagle in the film. Otto began his career at DreamWorks in 1997, as an animator on “The Prince of Egypt” and later animated on “The Road to El Dorado.” Clearly some very nice work in those two features.
http://www.cgnetworks.com/cgtalk/meettheartists/simon_otto/flush8.jpg

http://www.cgnetworks.com/cgtalk/meettheartists/simon_otto/flush9.jpg


Prior to joining DreamWorks, Otto received animation training during an internship with Walt Disney Feature Animation in Paris, France. CGSociety is very happy to have Dreamworks' cooperation for this very timely 'Meet the Artist presentation.

Please make welcome, Simon Otto.

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tevih
11-03-2006, 12:33 AM
I'm the first?? :D

Hi! Nothing more! Great work and congrats on finishing flushed away! I heard it was awesome! :thumbsup:

sekhmet
11-03-2006, 01:03 AM
Hi!
As a rencently french graduated student I was wondering how you got hired by Dreamworks?
What kind of significant differences did you notice between the american way of working and the french one?
I read about the "translation" of stop motion into cg animation, how was it?
Thanks for your answers and your time!!
:)
pascal

rblitz7
11-03-2006, 01:15 AM
Hey! Im not sure how much you know about US animation schools..but if you can say, what sets Les Gobelins apart from US colleges teaching animation? What makes it so "renowned"? btw Flushed Away looks awesome!:thumbsup:

angel
11-03-2006, 01:23 AM
Hello Simon.

Congratulations on Flushed Away.

In your opinion what was the biggest challenge for you and the team of animators to overcome in this production and how was it solved?

LGM
11-03-2006, 01:58 AM
First of all, thanks for giving us this opportunity to ask questions! I appreciate it a lot.

As a lead animator, do you delegate who animates what? Or rather, what does being a "lead animator" consist of? What are your responsibilities?

How were the animations shots distributed among the animators? Were they distributed by scene (i.e. John animates scene A, Jim animates scene B), distributed by character (i.e. John animates Harvy, Jim animates Kelly) or what?

Thanks so much for your time.

Nathan Dunlap

BobbyPontillas
11-03-2006, 02:16 AM
Hey Simon,

I'm always fascinated about artist's stories and experiences about making the transition from 2D to 3D animation. So how was yours?

phlewp
11-03-2006, 02:27 AM
As a lead animator, how involved do you like to get? If you are delegating a lot of work to others, are you keeping a close eye on the development or are you letting them impart a lot their own creative decisions? Also, along the same lines, do you also like to work closely with modelling artists, lighting artists, etc?

B-Mac
11-03-2006, 04:10 AM
Hey Simon, great to be able to talk to you.

Just a couple of quick questions.

Do you think where you study reflects how good you get at animating, or for you, is it an inspiration thing?

Do you enjoy animating? Do you like doing any other aspect of CG that could rival your liking of animating?

Love your work.

Ben

penartist26
11-03-2006, 04:19 AM
i saw the trailer Flushed Away and its really amazing animation, another inspiration good job anyways simon hope we can see more animation from ur group of talented artists / animators

ivanisavich
11-03-2006, 05:59 AM
Hi Simon!

Your work truly inspires me...congrats on your position as Lead Animator!

Just two simple questions about workflow....if they've already been asked, feel free to pass over them :)

1) Over the course of a feature...approximately how much animation does each animator "own" in the film at the end of the whole process (ie....30 seconds? 5 minutes? more? less?). I realize that the animation is probably distributed pretty unevenly between animators...but a rough estimate would be great!

2) Approximately how much animation is each animator expected to have finalized each week? I heard an estimate of 8 seconds/week at some of the larger studios a while ago...but I'm wondering if that's been stepped up due to the fact that more and more CG films are being pumped out faster and faster lately.

Anyways...take care! Thanks for dedicating your time to this Q&A session :)

Capel
11-03-2006, 06:37 AM
Simon! Hey, it's me. Chris Capel. you know, the animator that just up and disappeared about a month ago. Just wanted to say it was awesome being under your supervision and i look forward to seeing you guys again soon! can't wait to see the finished film on the big screen tomorrow! congrats on your amazing work. talk to you later!

PureMoxi
11-03-2006, 06:43 AM
Hi Simon,

Thanks for taking the time to field all of our questions. Really great of you to take the time...

1. What keeps you inspired and "in the moment" for a shot?

2. How do you rise above the mechanics of animation and keep focused on the performance?

3. As you have worked in 2D, how much of your workflow is done on paper (i.e. thumbnails/key pose sketches and/or other) and in what stages of your workflow?

Ryan

sonicstrawbery
11-03-2006, 07:22 AM
Hello Simon, first congrats for your path of carreer from now and your great animation work in the movie quoted above, i'm very pleased to be able to read your opinons here !

I'm french student in 2d/3d animation and will finish my graduation next year with a short movie, my question is large and about the CG here in France... how do you see the evolution and developpment of this field here for the future? You should know that the few CG movies that has been released here didn't worked pretty well (let's say Renaissance, Keana for the recent ones), the US animated features are a lot much popular, attractive, so how do you see the future of french CG movie, why do you think it doesn't work pretty well actually? Because we got the talents but we are missing something... I'll be very interested to hear your pov :)

Thanks again for taking time to answer!

Sebastien

riri284
11-03-2006, 07:29 AM
Bonjour Simon,

just dropping by to say hello. i really like your work, it is inspirative.

je vais tenter Les Gobelins l'année prochaine... des conseils?
Encore bravo pour ton boulot.

cheers,

-Richard Adenot

sgbox
11-03-2006, 07:47 AM
here come question.

thematt
11-03-2006, 08:27 AM
Hey Simon,

Congrats for the awesome work so far, Prince of egypt is still a reference for me.
Question about the animation of flushed away, how hard was it to mimic Ardman style of animation?.Did you animated in 12 fps to give the feeling of a more stop motion film? How was interpolation do you used any or actually animated every single frame as it would be done in stop motion?

thanks for the answers keep the great work.

cheers

sotto
11-03-2006, 09:13 AM
Well, first of all thank you very much for having me here as a guest!
This sounds like fun and your questions are already way more interesting than the ones most journalists have asked me over the past few weeks.

Also, thank you Paul for the invitation and for putting up an image of an actual shot of mine (that one where he's hanging from Rita's pants. I'm sure you'd find it interesting, that the original line of that shot was: "No, no, don't break (to belt), I've got my whole life ahead of me, two good years at least!", which I always found very witty. The directors opted for a more suiting line, that every kid in the room is going to get and that set up a physical gag a few scenes after. But I won't give it away until you've all seen it!)

Ok. Here we go:

<Tevih>: Thank you so much. Yeahh, the reviews are coming in and people (and critics) seem to enjoy the film a lot, which is always very rewarding. Especially when you work on a picture for 2 1/2 years like me on this one...


<sekhmet> Salut Pascal! As Paul had mentioned above, I went to "Les Gobelins" in Paris, which is one of the most prestigious animation schools in the world.
In my year, there were about 900 applicants and after 3 rounds of testing, they finally accepted 20 students into the program.

The great thing about it was, that not only were we surrounded by extremely talented students, but also that it was (and still is) taught by industry professionals (at that time Disney Paris and other great French studios sent teachers in for weekly exercises). Most of us progressed extremely fast and were aware of the opportunity we had at hand.

So, the big Hollywood studios of course knew about this school since a lot of their talent actually came from there. I had a contract offer in my hands about a year later. I came to Los Angeles right after my graduation.

To your second question: I don't really know, since I never actually worked in France. The differences between the French Animators and the American Animators definitely lies in the cultural backgrounds. The French are extremely influenced by their vast comic book culture. I personally think that the French are generally the best draughtsmen in the field because of that...also, they take more cigarette breaks!

I'm sure I'll answer your last question a little further down...

<rblitz7> Thanks Richie. In 2D, there really were only 3-5 schools that the big studios visited regularly: CalArts and Art Center in Los Angeles, Sheridan College in Toronto, a couple of the NYC schools and "Les Gobelins", because they would teach the actual profession as it was practiced in the studios.
Today there are at least a dozen more. Like Ringling in Florida, Gnomon in Los Angeles, Supinfocom in France, Filmakademie in Germany etc.
The American Schools are great, because they offer actual College/University degrees and not just diplomas. They also are very job oriented and not too "artsy".
I think the "renowned" part of your question I already answered above...

<SNoWs> Hey Angel, thanks!
The biggest challenge for us was finding the right path in our animation style. I am always careful with that term, because I think it makes people forget the characters when they think about style too much.
But in this case we clearly needed to find a way to maintain the Aardman simplicity and charm while introducing a more complex acting and human caricature that the story was asking for. We resolved it in finding a separate touch for every character. Roddy and Rita have different ranges in their acting than for example Spike and Whitey or the frogs. Roddy and Rita caricature more realistic human behavior. Whitey, in contrast for example is very simplistic and we hardly animated his upper body, which is what Aardman does with almost all of their characters.

The great benefit from that is, that we don't have generic animation; every character clearly behaves differently. I bet, even if it's only subconscious, the audience is aware of that and that it adds a lot of depth to the characters. And in the end, it was the mouthshapes, the eyebrows and the typical eyes that pulled it all together and created a coherent style.

<LGM> Nathan, Yes, Supervising Animators usually do the casting of the scenes in their sequences.
Supervisors oversee sequences that are animated by a team of animators including ourselves. Usually the supervisors have each developed one of the main characters in pre-production and are then cast on sequences that feature "their" characters.

The problem with character supervision in CG is that for technical and budget reasons you have sequences travel as a whole through the "pipeline". A team is assigned in every department to that sequence, whether it's in lighting or in animation or in layout. That team is responsible for animating that sequence from beginning to end. Whether it's this character or that character doesn't really play a role. That has advantages in terms of efficiency because an animator takes the whole shot and animates everyone in the shot. The benefit from that is, that you don't have five animators working on the same shot, trying to steal the show. The downside, of course, is having character-specific style or acting ideas. To supervise that, is very difficult if you have fifty animators working on all the characters.

<BobbyPontillas> I definitely want the animator to "own" the shot. That means that an animator acts the shot according to his/her feeling but in accordance with the directors instructions. It gets much more difficult and usually ends in less satisfying results if we have to copy somebody else's acting. I personally step in, when I feel that the directors vision is not being followed or when there are problems with the animation itself.
As supervisors, we are closely involved with the modelers and riggers during the development phase of the characters.

<B-Mac> Thanks, Ben! I think studying the world and people around you every day will make you a good animator/artist. I personally sketch a lot and build personal libraries in my memory with that.

Have a look at my blog that I am sharing with a couple of co-workers, it should give you an idea...

www.usatinsertnamehere.blogspot.com

Personally, I am a pure bread animator and want to concentrate on acting and storytelling.

<nards26 and ivanisavich> Thanks a lot! Our weekly quotas are somewhere between 5 and 6 feet. Which is more like 4 seconds. A senior animator will do around 3 to 5 minutes of animation on a show, but some of it will end up on the cutting-room floor. I have about 4 minutes in the film and animated around 5.

<Capel> You're one heck of an animator, chris! People, mark that name...See you soon, buddy!

<PureMoxi> Ryan. I try and be as little distracted as possible, except for good music to keep me in the mood. I also prepare myself as good as I can, before I start a shot; making the right choices as early as possible. I have studied the old Disney stuff extensively and therefore have tried to make the principles of animation become second nature to me, so I can fully focus on acting.
I still thumbnail a lot, although they're not real drawings. They are wild scribbles, but well thought through. Then, I start posing in the computer with a fairly precise pose-to-pose approach and then do my breakdowns. Once I have my acting figured out, I rework the shot in layers.

<Larsen et riri284> Bonne chance a vous deux et felicitations! Dessinez et bossez un maximum, ca vaut la peine les gars, c'est un millieu formidable...!

I think making good films and distributing them successfully is very, very difficult. Hollywood has a huge advantage, because of the different financial realities and the incredible distribution and marketing networks they have in place. Only extremely good and fresh movies from Europe will probably be able to generate a big financial success....I see the future for French Animation in their diversity. With smaller budgets you can be more risky and less conventional. I am sure we will continue to see new and exciting stuff that Hollywood can't do. Then some studios here will jump on the bandwagon and follow the trendsetters, hoping for a piece of the pie...

Simon

steveblake
11-03-2006, 10:47 AM
...what's it like working with wee brian??

SuperHero
11-03-2006, 11:21 AM
Hi Simon how are you? i'm a Maya fan

i have lots of questions :
what softwares (i mean Maya, Motionbuilder, XSI, ....) has helped you to overcome the animating of the characters in the 3d(Flushed Away) and 2d world?
what is the best way to perform a very realistic motion in a production? does it need many facilities or not?
How can a person really advance in animating of a character ?
is there anything you want to say that would help us improve our work?:wise:

thanks a lot for your cooperation.:thumbsup:

theflash
11-03-2006, 11:42 AM
Hello Simon :)

Man you are awesome. You have worked on all of my most favourite animation films spirit, eldorado, sindbad. That's really cool.

Here are my questions:

-> Which artist inspires you the most?
-> What did you practice the most while studying at gobelin?


Thanks a bunch for taking time. I cant wait to see flushed away.

danylyon
11-03-2006, 01:17 PM
Hey Simon

Don't really have a question, just wanted to drop in and say hi! We've met at the FOCAL Talk in Bern (I'm the guy with the pink hairs) Nice to see you here.
It was a really inspiring and awesome day.. made me come back to my passion (more to the art than animation though ;-)
Good luck with your future "Dragon" project. =)

Wilson-3d
11-03-2006, 01:33 PM
Hello Simon.
I have really enjoyed your work through the years and I am looking forward to Flushed Away.

I am working on my graduate thesis short film and will be graduating in May of 2007. I was wondering if you could take a look at my current animation reel. I realize you probably don't want to take too much time on your critiques but is there any chance I could get a quick over-all impression?

Chris Myers Character Animation Reel QuickTime-10 megs (http://www.chrismyers3d.com/animation/cmyers_reel_720.mov)

Thanks a lot,
Chris

mroberts
11-03-2006, 04:34 PM
A question about the modeling pipeline? Is it polygons/subdees or nurbs? Any details about the modeling pipeline would be great.

Mike

sotto
11-03-2006, 05:04 PM
<thematt> Thanks Matt! It was very challenging in terms of keeping the simplicity and charm. Learning the classical Aardman lip sync-style wasn't as hard as I had imagined.

We got on to that pretty fast. But there is definitely a slightly different animation philosophy in Aardman films. The comedy is more based on the silly nature of the characters and the impossible situations that they are put in. A lot of it needs to stay simple in order to fully realize the comedy idea. "Less is more" was one of the most important animation philosophies on this production and is very hard to do. Especially with complex characters like Rita and Roddy.




For me the two big differences from 2D to 3D are the fact that in 2D most of your time is spent on creating what you want to see and in 3D you spend a lot of time “massaging” the computer out of your scene. Plus, animating on 1's versus 2's changes the spacing approach entirely. It's much harder to have good and vivid spacing in 3D.




We did some test shots early on, where we animated on 2's (12fps), but we were just unnecessarily fighting the medium of CG. A lot of expensive problems arise from that (FX-integration, strobing etc). I am a big believer in using the medium you're in for it's advantages not it's disadvantages.




<steveblake> Steve, Wee is my neighbor here in the studio, we're training on EMO (DW proprietary animation software) together right now and light candles together every day. It's very romantic!!! (just kidding, but he's a great guy and very talented!)




<SuperHero>Hey Yasin! We animated in a juiced-up version of Maya with lots of little DreamWorks helper programs, like a retiming tool, drawtools that helped us work with and retime our scenes as if they were 2D scenes etc.




You know, if you're a good observer realistic motion is not that hard to do. It's the stylized part, the right choice of exaggeration and of course the right acting that is hard to do. For realistic action, all we do is study reference as much as possible and then try to reproduce it accurately. We don't use any tools for that (except for hair and cloth simulations of course.)




The only real advice I can give without going into specifics, is to look at good animation over and over again. I think you should know “The Jungle book” inside out, frame by frame. Also, study from real life. I often like to look at gymnasts in slow-motion.


Simon

steveblake
11-03-2006, 05:33 PM
Steve, Wee is my neighbor here in the studio, we're training on EMO (DW proprietary animation software) together right now and light candles together every day. It's very romantic!!! (just kidding, but he's a great guy and very talented!)erm...Nice.yep he's a cool fella - did he ever tell you he got his arse signed by Matt Groening? :surprised

Chris Bacon
11-03-2006, 07:06 PM
Hello simon,

First off your works are very impressive you have some great films under your belt.

my first question is after watching the trailer I noticed before Ardman studios was even mentioned that the style was ardman, I was wondering what sort of chalanges the dreamworks animators faced keepin the Ardman look.

second every animator know that you need to plan your shots otherwise you become lost and the animation suffers as a result, now with you being the lead on this film and other animators looking to you for advice and direction was there anything you did to help you keep ontop of the workload.

and lastly looking back on your carear was there ever a time when you though you wouldnt be able to reach that level.

thanks

chris bacon

peglegpeet13
11-03-2006, 07:24 PM
Hello, Simon.
Movie looks great, I am going to see it very soon. What kind of advice can you give to someone that is just starting out in school. I get rather frustrated from time to time, there is so much to learn, but that is part of the challenge. I was just curious if you ever felt the same way when you started out. If so, what kind of advice could you give. Thanks
David

Winner
11-03-2006, 07:54 PM
Hi Simon,

I would be grateful if you could answer a question concerning the direction / approval process for animation, and how that ties in with the process of actually creating the animation ?

So for example..

Were the animators required to block in their shots fairly heavily ? ( by "heavily" I mean a progressive level of detail, that would be approved in stages ) or were they allowed to block mainly the story poses, and then work in a more straight ahead manner between them ?

I would imagine that there was no "strict" method that the animators had to adhere to, so if that was the case, how did you manage to direct animators that liked to work more straight ahead ? did you find this problematic ? did you find that these animators had trouble making changes to their shots if direction required it ?

Thanks, I would love to get an insight into this...

kianism
11-04-2006, 04:01 AM
How much do you spend on drawing?
or how much you used to?

jasonsco
11-04-2006, 04:14 AM
Just thought I'd pop in and say how great it is to work with Simon--you'd all be lucky to have someone like him around. On top of being a great animator, he's the kind of person that gives energy to a team and keeps a wonderful outlook on life no matter what he's doing!

(Simon, you can pay me later for the compliment. ;-D)

- Jason

andy_maxman
11-04-2006, 04:31 AM
How important are short films for an animator trying to make a mark? And what are the key things that should solely be his creation in the short-film, other than obviously the animation part of it? for ex - character design, story, models, bg design and such...

Thanks for your time, Simon

:)

mroberts
11-04-2006, 04:20 PM
Sorry if this post is a duplicate but it got delayed for a day.A question about the modeling pipeline? Is it polygons/subdees or nurbs? Any details about the modeling pipeline would be great.

Mike

Seemoo
11-04-2006, 07:03 PM
Hi Simon

Just wanted to say hi and congratulate you for Flushed Away. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm really looking forward to.

I'm one of the other few Swiss animators animating here in California.

Nume schnell woue hallo saege... Witerhin aues Gute and keep up the good work.

simon

bblackbourn
11-04-2006, 08:16 PM
I also wanted to say what a pleasure it was working with Simon during Flushed. He & his team did a beautiful job bringing the characters to life and it was great to have his involvement & collaboration when we were exploring staging & character ideas during layout.
Simon was also great at keeping the purpose of the layout in mind as things passed through animation & when he requested tweaks & changes to the cameras it was always because of a great acting idea to enhance the storytelling in the seqeunce. A rare pleasure.

"Huzzah, a man of quality!" as our good friend Toad would say ;)

I hope we get to work together again mate!

bis dann...tschuessy,

Brad Blackbourn

Jassar
11-05-2006, 01:29 PM
Hi Simon!

I still have'nt seen the movie, but I will as soon as it's available here in Jordan..

My stupid Q's are:

1- do 2D cartoons require high performance computers as 3D features?
2- What does it take to be a well known artist? luck? talent? or an outstanding CV?

Thanks!

Bunnyjen
11-05-2006, 02:12 PM
Hi Simon.

I am currently studying Computer games Design and Production and Salford University in England.

I am required to write a dissertation and was wondering if you would mind very much giving me your opinion on my questions.


Do you think there a place for 2D art in video applications anymore?

and

Do you think that people been forced away from using 2D art in games due to advances in technology, or purely due to taste?

I was also wondering if you had any ideas where i could find research material for this kind of subject matter. I'm finding it hard to collect books in the Salford library so far.

your replies would be greatly appreciated.
Thankyou very much
Jenny

hus2005
11-05-2006, 06:29 PM
very nice work,just wanted to ask what are the specefications of the computers you used in this amaizing film?

and

wat 3d sofwares u used?

AnimAmaker
11-05-2006, 06:59 PM
Hello Simon.
What do you think is harder to animate in 3D: realistic animation or animate like stop-motion?

dbsmith
11-05-2006, 07:22 PM
Hi Simon. Very important question for you:

If you were a fish, what kind of fish would you be and why?
Cheers!

PaulHellard
11-05-2006, 09:03 PM
Hi Simon, heres one from me.

So, I understand the sense you guys had during production, with all that creative tension and long hours. All that good stuff.

What is the feeling right now, as the film is finally being seen by the paying public. Please describe the vibe in the studio corridors.

Sneakybunny
11-06-2006, 04:59 AM
lol paying my respects, thankyou for give up your time to hear what we have to say. Your sketch/blog was cool. So do you carry a sketch/idea book everywhere you go ?

aes
11-06-2006, 05:02 AM
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.

Learning your craft in traditional hand drawn animation and then transitioning to CG, have you noticed any consistent gaps of knowledge in animators who began directly in CG, instead of having a 2D grounding?

What are good exercises for learning 2D? (I already having training in draftsmanship and CG animation, I'm just not sure where and how to start bringing those together in handdrawn)

Thanks. (Loved the film, just saw it today :) Really fun and snappy )

-Alonso

jjjazzz
11-06-2006, 12:44 PM
Hi Simon,

I found your brown & white sketches (on your blog) full of life and near "triplette's" stuff...
Your answer are... Cool and very helpful !
Just a question :
When you block do you do it with curves in constant extrapolations or rough splines ?
And (I know it's the second question...) : how do you make blinks (interaction between brows and lids...) ?


Thanx

Thibaut

sotto
11-06-2006, 05:51 PM
Hey Guys,




Thanks so much for your interest and for having gone out to see our movie. Unfortunately, I was sick all weekend and therefore had a really hard time sitting in front of the computer for more than 5 minutes. I'll try and check in as many times as I can today to answer all the latest questions.




<theflash> I'm glad you like them. We worked really hard on those in animation and I think you can find some of the most amazing 2D animation in them. Unfortunately, too few people actually went out to see it.

I find inspiration in a lot of artists, but for animation it must have been Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston at first and then later the guys around me (James Baxter, Kristof Serrand, Rodolphe Guenoden, William Salazar, Fabio Lignini, Jakob Jensen, Dan Wagner etc....) I don't know if you're familiar with any of these guys' work, but they're incredible. Tell me what you think of their stuff, if you happen to know them..!

I animated day and night (2D), acting scene after acting scene. I sketched a lot in the city of Paris as well and watched a lot of animation frame by frame.




<danylyon> Hey Dani, freut mi, dass verbii glueget hesch. Mir gsehnd ois sicher bald mal wider. (Sorry guys, what you see here is the language known to only a few people and a couple of cows called Swiss-German. Imagine the sounds somebody makes while throwing up...yep, that's what it sounds like)




<Wilson-3d> Hey Chris, that's very promising. It's tough to give you a lot of good advice here with a couple of phrases. You should definitely send in your reel as soon as you feel ready. A couple of quick tips: Put in a couple of really convincing and entertaining lip-sync acting tests (think about it for a couple of days and plan it really well before you start), a walk-cycle and then of course your short film. You seem to have a very artistic sense (liked the sculpture a lot, but I think that should show in the choices you make in your animation. Unless you want to become a modeler, I personally wouldn't put that in your reel.) But overall I think it already shows your sense of entertainment, which is very good. That's what we want to see in our review boards. A good sense of entertainment and a good skill level.




<mroberts> Since I am not a modeler I would probably confuse you more with my attempts of answering technical questions like that than anything. Animators don't tend to model, even though Supervising Animators are often closely involved in the process.




<Chris Bacon> Good questions Chris. 1. There were a lot of challenges to overcome in that process. First of all, just trying to move out of your comfort zone and accept that you're going to animate differently than the way you had animated before, was a big challenge. It's very hard to move away from the way you do things you think work. Learning to animate as simplistic as possible was a huge personal battle. Editing, stripping down your ideas to the bare essentials was a difficult process for everybody, but ultimately extremely beneficial to all of us. Anything floaty or meaningless in animation today annoys me even more than it did before. And it is always good to be reminded that the character stands above all other technical rules.




2.Well, the workload is only too much, when you don't work efficiently and concentrate on the right things. Less experienced animators tend to focus on the less important stuff (secondary action/arcs etc...), before they have the structure, composition and general idea of the shot right. That's where an experienced supervisor can help getting it right faster and therefore getting the shot approved sooner.


3. I worried of course. A lot. I really wanted to be able to do good animation like some of the scenes I studied intensively and that I loved so much. Something that struck me in this business, though, was that I met a lot of people along the way, that wanted to be, rather than wanting to do. If you ever find yourself more wanting to be in a position because it's cool, well paid or admired then you should think about it really hard. It's only a nice job if you really want to create the work and sit down for endless hours trying to create 5 frames of animation.




<peglegpeet13> Hey David, You know, I don't think it's that much to learn, really! Compared to other professions it's not that much information. The hard part is to do all the things at the same time and do it well. Imagine a juggler that needs to juggle 15 balls for a circus show. He's going to juggle 3 balls first and then little by little add one more ball until he's got it up to 15. That's how you need to do it. Do little short simple exercises and then add more difficult ones as you go. That's how I did it. And a personal advice is not to look left and right too much, but concentrate on your own stuff. Some people learn it really fast and then stall and others take more time, but eventually become excellent at it. Steady wins the race! And in your biggest moments of animation despair, watch your favorite animated film and you'll get your motivation back instantly or go out and sketch people in a cafe or at the train station! Good luck, buddy! (I still know the feeling by the way!)




<Winner> Hey Cameron, Yes, we usually don't force people to work in a specific method. As long as the ideas are communicated there is no problem. Personally, I like to block my animation out in stepped mode with the fewest amount of keys necessary. This first pass displays my idea of the structure, composition and general acting idea of the shot. As soon as I have the directors approval, I go ahead and add breakdowns to my shot. Once I am happy with that, I “spline” everything and work in layers from then on and polish the shot until it's done.

Generally, the earlier your method can display most of your ideas, the better. It will give you more time in the end to polish your scene and make it perfect!




<lvlr_kian> I draw as often as I can. I also thumbnail a lot to find the best ideas for my scene.

I'll check in a little later today!


Simon

Skirk
11-06-2006, 07:47 PM
Hi Simon! Im 16 year old student from Finland, and i've been thinking about getting into the animation bussiness. So I wanted to ask you: Do you got any tips or hints to a beginner animator?

-Tuomo Rinne

Winner
11-06-2006, 08:39 PM
<Winner> Hey Cameron, Yes, we usually don't force people to work in a specific method. As long as the ideas are communicated there is no problem. Personally, I like to block my animation out in stepped mode with the fewest amount of keys necessary. This first pass displays my idea of the structure, composition and general acting idea of the shot. As soon as I have the directors approval, I go ahead and add breakdowns to my shot. Once I am happy with that, I “spline” everything and work in layers from then on and polish the shot until it's done.

Generally, the earlier your method can display most of your ideas, the better. It will give you more time in the end to polish your scene and make it perfect!

--------

Thanks for the info Simon...

sotto
11-07-2006, 01:36 AM
jasonsco>dito! ...and money's coming your way!




andy_maxman Hey Anand, Short films are generally the best way to display your skills, not only as an animator/lighter/modeler etc. but also as a filmmaker and storyteller. It is hugely advantageous to understand the entire process of animation filmmaking. Plus, if you happen to turn out an outstanding piece of shortfilm you can really make yourself heard and get job offers from places you didn't even imagine. The guy who did “9 “ for example actually managed to pull out a movie deal, an academy award nomination and virtually every Hollywood studio chasing him after his film made his way through town. Of course that's not the norm, but a lot of good things can happen also on a much smaller scale. Most animators though, get hired purely based on their demo reel...




It doesn't really matter which part is your work as long as you can display what YOU did on it. If you're the director and you feel somebody can do a certain job better than you and is willing to work on it, then you should definitely go for it. That's also an important talent, recognizing your strength and weaknesses... I don't know, did I answer your question?




Seemoo Hallo Simon. I saw your demo reel and loved it. Especially your Nemo tests. Really impressive!




Du, falls mal in LA bisch, chum doch mal verbii. Kennsch du dae Jean-Denis Haas? Schriib mer doch uf mini privat e-mail adresse. du findsch si uf oisaerem blog unter infos und fotos!!




bblackbourn I really liked working with you too, man! I hope it'll happen again soon...




Jassar 1. Not on the animation side, but on the backend of the pipeline. The last few 2D movies were almost entirely comparable to CG films in terms of CG complexity. Although, compared to the capabilities of todays machines, they would probably already be quite archaic! Again, I am not a Tech guy as such. Somebody else should probably answer that question for me ...


2. Being well known is a side-effect to being talented and determined. So, you really have to want to do good work and work at it hard. Of course there is always luck involved, but only in terms of how fast you get there. If you're really good and have a lot of commitment, you'll get there for sure somehow. Somebody will see your potential and will want to use it to their advantage (and that's a good thing!!!)









Bunnyjen I am not quite sure I understand that question. But 2D artwork is still the way we design everything that is being created in CG here at Dreamworks...




Well, in games I really don't know, but I assume it's the same as in films. CG movies made way more money and 2D films were less and less successful. It became a business decision and it will become a business decision again when it's time to move back into 2D (or something like it) I believe.

It probably has to do with the fascination of something new. The realistic, believeable worlds that are being created in CG are more fascinating to todays audiences. But it will swing back again in some way.




I would search online. Endless magazine and newspaper stories about this “phenomenon” have been published over the past decade or so...




hus2005 We worked on HP workstations/Linux and the animation was done in MAYA. It was Dreamworks last MAYA production for the animation department. All future shows will be animated in EMO (Dreamworks/PDI proprietary software).




AnimAmaker See the answer to <SuperHero> on post #25




dbsmith chips and fish




hmedia Paul! As a matter of fact, I am having a beer as we speak and people are lounging outside of my office. Everybody is really relaxed and very happy with how everything turned out. Especially in terms of animation, but also about the way the movie has been critically received and the higher than expected numbers. For us animators this has been an extremely educating experience and we all came out as much more accomplished artists. That's what really counts the most for us.

This is always the time to take it a little easier and talk about the different reactions and experiences people had. Of course, you always wish that you work on a movie that will become that cultural phenomenon that everybody on this earth will see, but considering the moderate US boxoffice numbers of Wallace and Gromit, we knew that that wasn't necessarily going to happen in this country...


Simon

mroberts
11-07-2006, 03:41 AM
More than anything I was just wondering if it were polygons or nurbs. I ask because so many big studios have switched to polygons/subdees in the last few years for there character pipelines(ILM,WETA,BlueSky,etc...). I was just wondering because PDI/Dreamworks is one of the few big studios still using nurbs.

Mike

peglegpeet13
11-07-2006, 04:35 AM
Hey Simon,

Thank you for the reply. It was very much appreciated, I wish you all the best in any future projects as well as life.
David

jawaharv
11-07-2006, 05:04 AM
Hello Simon,

I have seen the trailor, dam good, very very nice. ultimate expressions... over all lookin nice.
great job..
_jawa

theflash
11-07-2006, 04:32 PM
<theflash> I'm glad you like them. We worked really hard on those in animation and I think you can find some of the most amazing 2D animation in them. Unfortunately, too few people actually went out to see it.

I find inspiration in a lot of artists, but for animation it must have been Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston at first and then later the guys around me (James Baxter, Kristof Serrand, Rodolphe Guenoden, William Salazar, Fabio Lignini, Jakob Jensen, Dan Wagner etc....) I don't know if you're familiar with any of these guys' work, but they're incredible. Tell me what you think of their stuff, if you happen to know them..!

I animated day and night (2D), acting scene after acting scene. I sketched a lot in the city of Paris as well and watched a lot of animation frame by frame.



Hi Simon, I hope you are feeling well and are up again. Thanks for taking time to answer our questions.

It's really unfortunate that not many ppl went to watch those 2d animation movies. But to me they are master work, esp prince of egypt (though I have not seen the movie, I have seen a book of artwork on it, amazing). I remember now some of the names from that book as you have mentioned, I looked for your name too, but unfortunately I could not find.

I will surely find out more about ppl you have mentioned and surely let you know. Thanks again for taking time. And yes surely you are in my list of most fav artists :)

Wow! I feel great, I talked to the artist who has worked on 3 most amazing and my most fav movies :)

brage13
11-07-2006, 05:34 PM
Hi Simon!
I have a some questions for you.

1) i have been doing 3d animation for a while now, do you think i should learn 2d animation aswell,
and do you think this will contribute to more jobs from clients and if i learn it do you think
i will get a better understanding of animation, rather than just doing 3D.

2) should i learn all aspect of 3d and 2d before i find my spessiality, and do you
have any thoughts on if i will succede in the bizznizz better if i find my spessiality,
rather than just doing everything

3) i'm 18 years old and i'm thinking about going to an animation school for 1-3 years
do you think this is a good idea. you get friends, contacts and a experience for life, but this
proabbly is going to cost some money. should i go to school or apply for a job in the field of
animation right now. i have been working with 3d for allmost 3 years now on my sparetime, but have
only had a spessial interesst for character animation for about 1 year.
you can see my showreel at this page: www.home.no/ani3d (http://www.home.no/ani3d)

4) can you give me some advice about breaking into the industry?

JagArt
11-08-2006, 02:16 AM
Hello, thanks for taking time out to answer any of are questions. I am a highschool senior in AP Art and I just wanted to ask what art college do you think would be a good experience without sacrificing a lot of money , and what should I be doing right now to one day, be in your position. Thank you very much

andy_maxman
11-08-2006, 02:43 AM
andy_maxman Hey Anand,

It doesn't really matter which part is your work as long as you can display what YOU did on it. If you're the director and you feel somebody can do a certain job better than you and is willing to work on it, then you should definitely go for it. That's also an important talent, recognizing your strength and weaknesses... I don't know, did I answer your question?


totally Simon, thanks for your time.

All of them are such great informations. If you get the time, i wanted to ask one more -

- what according to you is the current threat to the animation industry? both technically and creatively speaking...

thanks,
Anand

Wilson-3d
11-08-2006, 01:21 PM
Hi Simon.
I just wanted to say thanks a lot for the comments on my reel! I appreciate it.

Chris Myers

Splinter
11-08-2006, 03:00 PM
Hello Simon, First off I would like to thank you in advance for taking the time to responed to all of our questions. Plus I would like to join everyone else and simply state that I am a big fan of your work.

My question is pretty simple. I am an animation student and want to focus on 3D animation but the school that I am attending says that it is best for me to learn the animation princables, such as, squash and stretch, etc., etc. in 2D first. I'm not complaining, in fact I enjoy learning the princables this way. I'm pretty new to the animation world. I love doing it but my teacher, or professor, whatever you want to call him says that my drawing style is to "tight" and that I need to loosen up.

I agree with him so I was wondering if you could help me by explaining your approach to 2D animation. Also if there are any warm-ups that you might have done and could share would be more than helpful.

Thanks again for your help

robodave
11-08-2006, 03:54 PM
Simon, Thanks for doing this!

My question is: What is the command structure on this film? Different studios seem to do this in different ways. And I was wondering how it was done on FA.

For instance, in some studios, the Animation Supervisors are what at other studios are labelled as Supervising Animators. Or at some studios the Animation Supe is has more of a technical slant and oversees the char animation and character setup departments while the Supervising Animator just supervises the animators and maybe helps setup characters via suggestions.

What was the structure on FA and at DreamWorks? Is there an Animation Supervisor position and Supervising Animator's position? Or were the labelled some other way?

I realize this may not make complete sense. However, I hope you can see enough of what I'm trying to say to supply an answer. :D

Thanks!

LGM
11-08-2006, 11:52 PM
<LGM> Nathan, Yes, Supervising Animators usually do the casting of the scenes in their sequences.
Supervisors oversee sequences that are animated by a team of animators including ourselves. Usually the supervisors have each developed one of the main characters in pre-production and are then cast on sequences that feature "their" characters.

The problem with character supervision in CG is that for technical and budget reasons you have sequences travel as a whole through the "pipeline". A team is assigned in every department to that sequence, whether it's in lighting or in animation or in layout. That team is responsible for animating that sequence from beginning to end. Whether it's this character or that character doesn't really play a role. That has advantages in terms of efficiency because an animator takes the whole shot and animates everyone in the shot. The benefit from that is, that you don't have five animators working on the same shot, trying to steal the show. The downside, of course, is having character-specific style or acting ideas. To supervise that, is very difficult if you have fifty animators working on all the characters.

Thanks so much for explaining all that! I've been wondering for a long time how that work is distributed, and those problems met.

Nathan

Avi T
11-09-2006, 03:25 AM
Hey,
You guys really did an amazing job on Flushed Away! It's a shame Aardman and Dreamworks won't be working together again...

Anyway, I was wondering a couple of things:
1. I read in Animation Magazine that a year before the release the hamsters that were in the first trailer were removed to make Roddy a more likable guy. How did you guys manage to reanimate all the scenes that used to have the hamsters? Was it very time consuming, or were they not really around enough to cause a problem?
2. I also read that there were no hair simulations, so how exactly was the hair animated?
3. Any interesting things about animating the slugs?

Thank you!

Avi T
11-09-2006, 03:39 AM
Hey,
You guys really did an amazing job on Flushed Away! It's a shame Aardman and Dreamworks won't be working together again...

Anyway, I was wondering a couple of things:
1. I read in Animation Magazine that a year before the release the hamsters that were in the first trailer were removed to make Roddy a more likable guy. How did you guys manage to reanimate all the scenes that used to have the hamsters? Was it very time consuming, or were they not really around enough to cause a problem?
2. I also read that there were no hair simulations, so how exactly was the hair animated?
3. Any interesting things about animating the slugs?

Thank you!

phantomworkshop
11-09-2006, 04:46 AM
I just saw it, we were the only ones in the theater (I love that) and it was magnificent. Flawless animation, couldn't think of any changes. Great sense of humor, unique style, creative dialogue and a wholesome well-thought story. 5 *'s for this one!

Question - In the trailer, there was a joke when Sid came to the Kensington residence, where he said My names Sid, and you are? and Roddy said I am appauled. and Sid said, Nice to meet you Paul. Was there a reason it was cut out? Also, how come they never kissed? Also cut out? Heh.

rieber477
11-09-2006, 02:39 PM
Hi Simon, thanks for everything. This interview is very interesting and inspiring.
I have a "couple" of questions for you... :)

1>I use to watch lot of cartoons and live action movies, because of fun end inspiration as well. But I'd love to know what do YOU mean with "study" a movie. Which approach do you suggest to make it really usefull?

2>Which kind of reference do you use for acting scenes. I mean, do you use to shoot yourself acting on the given line or just imagine the action by thumbnailing on paper?

3>Are you going to post somewhere on the web your graduation short or something you did back in Paris? I'd love to watch your first steps in the field.

4>Can you list a short breakdown of the best shots you animated on your movies? I know something that Alessandro did, or William, Jakob, Kristof and of course sometimes I can recognize some James' stuff but I'd like to know something more about your contributions. Besides, which are the main characteristics of these great animators I mentioned above. What makes them peculiars and differents each other in your opinion?

5>Wich are your favourite animated shots ever?

Thanks again, cheers! :)
Aldo

sotto
11-09-2006, 04:59 PM
Sneakybunny Thanks! I have it on me all the time, but still don't feel like I'm drawing enough!




aes I'm glad you liked the film.

Well, a good animator is a good animator. I know a lot of guys who don't come from 2D and they're top notch. Generally the big differences I see though, are in the clarity and the design of the poses. A good, traditionally trained animator has learned to make a good drawing and will take that experience into CG. Plus, ex-2D animators usually question and criticize the results that the computer is giving them more, because they would draw it differently. This feedback has improved the look of our characters and their animateability a lot over the years.

In contrast, the CG trained animators have an edge on us, because they all modeled and rigged characters in school and through that have a much better understanding of the inner workings of the character rigs. So, ideally, knowing it all would be the perfect solution. But at the end of the day you just need to be a good performer and you will succeed.







jjjazzz Thanks for checking my blog, Thibaut! I block it all in in stepped mode as I would do in 2D. I just want to see the main keys first (except for special cases, like if the character has to be on a path f.ex.). Then I add the breakdowns. Once I am happy with the rough performance, I spline everything and let the computer give me the inbetweens. From that point on I finesse my work in layers (starting with the top node working towards the extremities).




I choose my moments to blink very carefully. There are a number of different kinds of blinks, so depending on what you want the speed might be different. The most classic blink occurs during a change of expression. There are no rules on when the blink exactly should happen, but generally the eyes close as you start to change the eyebrows. Try offsetting stuff differently and see which result you like. Sometimes, especially fast changes require the the eyes and the brows to move and open at the same time. But again there are no rules, just don't make it floaty!!. (Try only closing the eyes half-way for example, it'll show you that there are an incredible amount of ways to express emotion through a blink.)




The commonly known spacing principle of a blink is like this: open - 1/3 open – closed for at least 2 frames – 1/3 closed – any number of inbetweens depending on speed between that




I have to go. I'll try and check-in later today!




Simon

JumboWumbo5
11-09-2006, 09:23 PM
Hey Soto, I don't think this has been asked yet-

I'm 16 and a junior in High school. I sketch as often as possible and am taking oil classes on the weekends. I'd like to learn either photoshop or 3ds max, but where do I go? My school has Photoshop, so finding a workplace isn't difficult, but I feel like there's nothing out there on the web for complete novices such as myself. When did you begin working with computer applications and where should I go to begin learning for myself?

JumboWumbo5
11-09-2006, 10:49 PM
edit: bump

PaulHellard
11-10-2006, 11:48 AM
Yep, its that time.

Thank you very much to everyone who has taken part here this week with questions for Simon, and a big thank you to Simon Otto himself for taking the time out to give his insights.

Thank you also to Olivier and the other people at Dreamworks who are making such a splash with this release [pardon the pun].

Thanks again Simon.

Those who missed asking their question, please stay tuned for the next exciting 'Meet the Artist,' around this time next month. Another surprise guest is in store.