View Full Version : Animation:Subterranean homesick blues

06 June 2004, 11:40 AM
Hello, I would like to share an animation I've been working on. I had a lot of fun working on this and I hope you will enjoy it.:)

640x480 DivX. Thanks to Markus Stollenwerk for hosting it.

Here are some shots from the anim:

Feeback is very welcome and any questions you might have I'll be glad to answer...


06 June 2004, 12:13 PM
Well done Micke!

That must've been the cutest thing I ever saw =).

06 June 2004, 12:31 PM
:bounce: :bounce: :bounce:

just great...
animation is super... make me lought all the time..

all the best

06 June 2004, 12:37 PM
Start by saying that the render is great, bit of sss on him if I'm not mistaken, and the quality of light is gorgeous! Texturing is top notch, and the main character oodles of appeal :thumbsup:

The animation is a bit devoid of action though, the moves are very samey and the poses aren't particularly strong, and I have to say I found it a little boring, sorry. You have a lot of possibilties with the props, swinging around the lamppost, falling through the grate, jumping up and down the curb, and using the hands to gesture more would really help this piece.

The lip synch is pretty spot-on timing wise but again he doesn't really act with it, feels a little mechanical.

Hope that's not too harsh, I know it's very hard to cover all the aspects of a short film by yourself...

06 June 2004, 01:05 PM
Rendering and lighting works fine. And modelling is ok.
But i think you should learn basics about camera angles.
Those basic rules how to cut from angle to another.

Are those backround images stills? Great compositing if they are.


06 June 2004, 02:37 PM
CarlWahl- Thanks mate:) See you soon

childplay- Thanks a lot!:D

mattmos- Boring eh? exactly what I was looking for:surprised Maybe we don't share the same sense of humour... Maybe you should not be so set in what animation SHOULD look like and enjoy it for what it is. I'm a gonna teach you:eek:

LarsSon- Yes the character and the smoke is composited into the scene. That way I could keep the rendering times fairly low. All in all the whole thing took about 50 hours to render.


06 June 2004, 04:41 PM
Hey man

I really like the scene, it's beautifully lit and modelled, and it has a a really nice feel to it, but as for the film as a whole, I have to agree, it lacks pizazz....there's no real pop to it.

More dynamic camera angles, and better shot composition is a must, because he's not actually doing a whole heck of a lot...the viewer becomes bored very quickly.

He doesn't really act much, just kind of half-heartly waves his arms....the acting needs to be pushed more. i think you could have something great here, but you need to really focus on acting and directing to really sell this. it has no punch.

Great song though

firegoat out.

06 June 2004, 07:34 PM
Firegoat- The acting and movements are pretty subdued and that's what I wanted. Maybe that will bore some people who are used to seeing other types of slapstick stereotype animation, and maybe you are one of those who think that there are certain rules you have to follow, I don't. Also this is not a comical short in the way that it has a punchline at the end where the character falls on his ass, it wasn't meant to be that kind of short. I guess it's not in everybodys nature to appreciate the small things.
Furthermore I know that the animation isn't what some people would call top notch but have you ever thought about that that may not have been the goal. I think it makes the character more likable in the end because he feels a bit clumpsy. And you almost feel sorry for him because he is so poorly animated. But because of this, it's good animation. I think that's a thing that can be found for example in the muppets although they are usually a bit wilder.
I'm not saying that it couldn't be done different in some ways but what is there is pretty much what I wanted.


06 June 2004, 07:49 PM
Originally posted by LarsSon
Rendering and lighting works fine. And modelling is ok.
But i think you should learn basics about camera angles.
Those basic rules how to cut from angle to another.

Are those backround images stills? Great compositing if they are.



If you have a moment, could you give an example of the basic rules of camera angles and how Rivendale broke them?
I always try to learn from peoples crits but I have no idea what you mean.


Good job man. I love the set and character. People's taste in animation styles very so I can understand where mattmos is coming from. But if you got what you wanted from the scene, great job! As director, your vision is what counts.

06 June 2004, 08:46 PM
Rivendale - I don't think anyone's debating your intent here. And it's quite obvious that you were going for a minimalist style for the character (in terms of both modeling and movement). Plus, you obviously know animation... the character moves fluidly and realistically. The only problem is.... the animation does get kind of old after about 40 seconds or so. Now, I understand that stylistically, this character might not be the kind that jumps around and acts all goofy just to get a laugh. But the thing is, something like that (or anything stereotypically "slapstick") isn't needed to make this animation more interesting. Take for instance, whenever the character starts walking in place…. well the animation suddenly becomes more interesting. Even just adding something simple like a little turn around (a 360 that took maybe 4 beats of the music to complete) the character does while walking in place would add so much to this animation. See, the great thing about animating in a minimal style is that it really doesn’t take much to liven the thing up. Try to think of it like this…. Say you have a character that NEVER smiles, and always looks somewhat neutral. Well, the audience would get so used to the minimal change in facial expressions that when you wanted to make the character look happy or mad, you’d hardly have to change the character’s expression. Plus, if you tried to push the expression too far it wouldn’t work, because that’s not something the character would do. This then applies to your character. He’s not the kind of character who’s going to jump around and get crazy, but like I already said, that’s not needed to liven up this animation. All you need is something simple. For instance, the whole animation the character is swaying back and forth to the beat. Well, try at some point changing it up a little… maybe the character stops swaying and shakes his hips back and forth to the beat for something like 4 beats, then goes back to swaying. Or, you could have him walk in place, but instead of him taking one “step” per beat (like he already does), speed it up and have him take 2 “steps” per beat. It’s just those small things that would add so much to this animation.

On a technical note, as far as the editing goes, typically in editing when you cut to a different camera angle but are still looking at the same subject matter, you have to have 2 things change. 1 – there has to be at least a 15 percent change in the cameras placement in relation to the character. And 2 – you have to change framing (ie. Changing from a wide shot to a medium shot). For your animation, changing the framing of some of your shots would help to liven the animation up more also.

The look of the piece is WONDERFUL and the animation is good as it is (and congratulations for both those things), but some small changes could change it from good to great.

06 June 2004, 11:45 PM
ok, duder, you're missing the point. you need to vary the animation more. what you have is working ok, but it essentially the same thing over and over. with nothing to mix up the scene a bit, or change up things, the audience gets bored. people have a pathetically low attention span for things, and you need to spice it up. I'm not critiquing your animation, i'm critiquing the film as a whole. i'm saying it doesn't work. if it's your vision and you're happy with it, great, but realise that just because you like it doesn't mean it works.

when i watch it, my thought process goes

wow this is pretty
cool character
cool song
waiting for him to do something....

still waiting....

it's over.

I understand the attachment to a film and i know the painstaking effort that goes into these things, but you gotta be able to take's the best way to learn. i'm not trying to get in your face or anything, but man, if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

firegoat out.

Dr. Ira Kane
06 June 2004, 12:27 AM
nice idea, well made but you should work on the camera movement and things like blinking, few steps etc.

06 June 2004, 12:43 AM
Hey man, I thought this was a nice piece. It's definitely my favorite Dylan song so I was immediately drawn to it.
Rusdom and Firegoat make some very valid points about your animation, camera choices and your attitude. You seem very defensive about your work but in order to improve you need to be able to take critisism. Noone here is bashing your stuff infact most people really seem to like it. We're just sharing knowledge and experience to help you. Personally I thought your scaled down simplified style worked for this. Especially since Dylan is not the type to jump and dance around. Technically though, your camera cuts were painful to watch. I won't bother reiterating what has already been said because it's right on the money, but I will add that some slow pans and rolls in or out would help add some depth and interest. If you want to have a character stand in one place for the whole thing that's fine but get creative with the camera. Quite honestly, you've broken some basic rules of cinematography that hurt the overall performance. This short, although very well done, comes off very amature, leaving a stinky taste in everyone's mouth to take home with them. Fixing some of your camera issues will definitley bring you up to a whole new level with this.
Good luck in the future and I hope you will post some more work soon.

06 June 2004, 02:00 AM
you seem to be overly defensive about your work here, I don't know why you posted it here if you can't take crits.
With that said, I think this animation is quite boring. After the first 15 seconds it just becomes repetitive. The lip sync is good but the rest of the animation is simply not very good.

"Furthermore I know that the animation isn't what some people would call top notch but have you ever thought about that that may not have been the goal. I think it makes the character more likable in the end because he feels a bit clumpsy. And you almost feel sorry for him because he is so poorly animated. But because of this, it's good animation."

To me the character does not come across as clumsy, it just comes across as a badly animated character. Nobody is going to be sorry for him simply because he's badly animated, I really don't know what gave you that idea. It takes very good animation skills to get people to feel sorry for your character from the animation and yours falls short of that goal by quite a good distance. I'm not saying you are a bad animator at all, I'm just saying that in this particular animation, you did not acheive your goals.

The background is very nice and you composited very nicely. The camera cuts are not very good. There is a reason that there are rules laid out for things like that, it's because more often than not, if you violate these rules, your audience is likely to react negatively to what you are doing. Some of your cuts are almost jump-cuts and they simply don't work in this case, I would advice you to go back and come up with better camera work.

I must admit that when I saw the pictures, I was expecting much more than you delivered. I was disappointed and bored by the animation on a whole. I think it had the potential but just fell flat on it's face from poor execution.

If you showed this to a potential employer, I would say that you could get a job as a lighter but this piece would not get you an animator's position. I hope you don't think I'm being too harsh but this is simply honest critique which is supposed to be helpful to you and I hope you can take it as such.

06 June 2004, 02:38 AM
ok, i have to agree with what has been said so far about the camera angles and whole feel of the animation so i'm not going to dwell on this. but i was just wondering what your intent with this animation was, you have kinda said what its not supposed to be, so it would be good if you could maybe elaberate more on why you have done it and what you were looking to get out of it.

moving on, i think it did have a good feel to it though, i think the look, animation style and character all have great potential. he did move well, especially the way he moved his upper body, like with his neck, this type of subtly worked well, didn't stand out too much but gave it a good feel, kinda tryhard groovy kinda feel.

i hope you take on everyone's crits though, coz they seem to know what they are talking about, and after all they are the audience and thats who your gonna have to please in the end, i guess.

keep it up:thumbsup:

06 June 2004, 05:35 AM
Ok so to sum it up, it is boring, amateourish, dissapointing and leaving a stinky taste in ones mouth, and all this in just one minute. Maybe not what I set out to do but least I got some honest critique. Heh
But seriously, I do appreciate the critique. I agree with some things you said and some not, and some people always want something else than what is given to them, but hopefully some of you enjoyed it for what it is anyway.

Sepitermal- My main objective was just to make people happy for a while, nothing more. I'm not applying for work as an animator. Since that seems to have failed miserably the close second objective was to violate the art of filmmaking and bring dissapointment to the people wich I seem to have done with great success.;)

Thanks for the nicer ones of the comments too and thanks for taking the time to view it.


06 June 2004, 07:56 AM

We all appreciate how much work you put into it. However, learning to take critiques is one fast way of learning. I know I'm rushing back to the drawing boards to make revisions because all I want to hear is "Great Job!"

One thing I would do is to brush up on lip-synching a bit. The sync is good, but there were some sounds that could have used a bit more emphasis. Also, you don't have to animate every sound that comes out of the song. There are times where normal speech sort of implies sounds and we as human learn to reconize them. You did a lot of work no doubt, but it seems like a lot of unnecesary lip flapping at times too.

Everyone else covered what I would have typed here. If you want some help on the lip sync, hit me up on MSN Instant Message anytime dude. I'll be glad to help.



06 June 2004, 08:25 AM
i just wanted to say to everyone that it's nice to actually see some constructive crits being given for once instead of the usual fanboy crap that so often litters the threads on this site.

rivendale, you have a potentially nice piece here. i won't go into any specific areas which could be improved upon as most have already been covered. you should be glad that people have decided to share their opinions in an effort to help, offering tips and suggestions that can be applied to making future projects better. 200 people telling you that 'you so rock dude!! that animation rulz :)' is not helpful...15 people offering honest advice on how you can improve your art is.

cheers everyone

06 June 2004, 09:10 AM
altough the charachter design is pretty simple.. i am really falling in love with him..
i mean .. he as so few feature in his face .. but he´s still really exprssiv and alive ..

great work for that !!!

06 June 2004, 09:13 AM
Why do you automatically think I want fanboy replies only? That is not the case. I do want feedback on potential areas of improvement and discussion but saying that it was boring and dissapointing is not going to encourage me in any way. Remarks like that are going to make anybody unhappy, weather they admit it or not. Instead you could tell me how to make it more funny, but leave out the boring part.
Generally I admit I don't like critics very much, weather it be movie-critics, art-critics or any other kinds of know-it-alls.

There has been some good critique though that I will take with me for the future.


06 June 2004, 09:38 AM
I'm sorry if the remarks I've made have been hurtful Rivendale, the last thing I want to do is discourage people from creating more work. But you have to value honesty in critiques, and this includes stating how it is as well as how to improve. Hoepfully I did both.

Though I do understand that you are going for an understated piece with slow clumsy movements and not a Pixar short film, where from a technical point of view the animation was good, no feet going through floors or popping legs, I do still think you need more life to the piece through continuing variations in his movements.

Good luck with your next work, you definitely have the skills to create stunning pieces, I hope you can look back at this thread given a little time and understand why people comment the way they do. At art school I saw some of the most brutal crits which frequently reduced students to tears by tutors, but at the end of the day if you don't take them personally and listen to where they come from, it's always helpful.

If it's of any consolation it's only because you raised the bar so high with the look that people expect so much from the animation...

06 June 2004, 09:58 AM
Looks good,real good.The animation is pretty good too.Nothing wrong with great replies when deserved,and when crits are needed that to should be the case.Anyways nice effort and good work.:beer: :)

06 June 2004, 10:05 AM
I like it:thumbsup:


06 June 2004, 12:55 PM
I thought this was a very entertaining piece. Visually beautiful. Although I wasn't really put off by the motions the way others seemed to be (I agree that the neck movements are very smooth and appealing, especially when he juts his head out in time with pronunciations, especially on the lyric "aww"), I wish the phenomes were a little more distinct. I feel like his mouth squash and stretch more, even if he's not cartoony- even my real world mouth compresses more into the center and loses its defined corners when I say "ooh" or "oh."


This whole thread has been very interesting to me; I am a student at Pratt institute in Brooklyn...although I'm studying animation now, the first year was strictly drawing and painting.

Comparing with friends, studying art at an art school is different than doing the same at a liberal arts school. Its a harsh, competetive environment; every project, homework or final piece, we've ever done, is immediately tacked to a wall next to everyone elses, or screened, whatever, and then you hear 20 peoples criticisms. Good and bad.

Alot of people can't take this. But it makes for top level art, because it motivates you to be the best, and to spend even more nights without sleep than you thought you could. And, when your best isn't good enough, you get to have the experiences and know-how of others to learn from and take another stab at the whole process.

When I first started, this was devestating and I just wanted to get out of the classroom. But now, when I present an animation and I DON'T get alot of critical pointers, thats when I'm dissapointed. Because in the end thats what makes a piece good. And I know you say you're not aiming for a job in the field, but for anyone who is, its good to know: on, in the classroom, wherever you are among your peers, you'll be lucky enough to hear their comments, and if your piece fails, you'll know why and how to fix it. When you're walking out the front door of Pixar with your portfolio under your arm, you won't have squat.

06 June 2004, 02:00 PM
Nice look, nice simple movements. How long did you work on the lipsync?



06 June 2004, 03:30 PM
This happens to all artists at some point (usually early on); Thinking that you (the creator) are the only person who "gets it" and everyone else is just a duffus who doesn't understand your work. Artwork, for the most part either hits or misses. If you listen to the critiques people are giving you, you should be really proud. Your film has all the elements it needs to be really great. AND THATS WHAT EVERYONE IS TELLING YOU. Now, re-read all the posts, think about it, and make a few of the suggested changes.

You've received more excellent critiques than most!!

06 June 2004, 04:13 PM
Originally posted by celticdog

You've received more excellent critiques than most!!


A perspective on criticism:

If someone say your work is boring it may or may not be true. If a few people say it's boring, then it is true whether you like it or not. The best thing you can do is not be defensive about your work, and get to work making the necessary changes. After all, everyone here is trying to acheive the same goal, making your good animation into a great one.

It would be crying shame for you to get this far and not push it just a bit more. That's how everyone feels I'm sure.



06 June 2004, 04:58 PM
Hey there, new to this Forum but I was intrigued by this thread...

I like the animation, and it would only benefit from going back in and making adjustments based on the comments you got here.

You have to be willing to take criticism on your work... be it good, bad or otherwise... you will never grow as an artist if you do not listen to the voice of experience. It can be hard to take sometimes, but you have to get used to it, learn from it, and move on. What are you going to do when a client looks at a piece and says well, it looks fine, but I hate it, change everything about it and make it look much worse than it should be from your artistic POV.

I cannot tell you enough how many times you think something is fantastic only to have someone walk in the room and tear it apart in front of you, showing you all the areas and details you missed. If that got to me I would never make it through a project.

As for the comments on this animation... they are not at all bad. You should take the information and enhance the scene till it really comes alive... you have a great start, take it further...

simply adding some camera movement would help, have the camera play a role in the animation... the camera can add so much to a scene like this, even become a character on its own... watch some stand up comedy for the pace of camera cuts and do some moves into the character... maybe have him tip his hat when the reference is made. There is so much you can add without even moving the feet. Have the character turn and look at the camera when the cut happens. Maybe put a puddle of mud in the road and have a truck come through the street wipe the lens and then have him covered in mud after the cut (never even showing the splash) just add the sound...

like I said there are no limits to where this animation can go, and it looks fantastic, just needs some more life...

and have FUN!!!!:thumbsup:

06 June 2004, 05:17 PM
Originally posted by ntmonkey

A perspective on criticism:

If someone say your work is boring it may or may not be true. If a few people say it's boring, then it is true whether you like it or not. The best thing you can do is not be defensive about your work, and get to work making the necessary changes. After all, everyone here is trying to acheive the same goal, making your good animation into a great one.

It would be crying shame for you to get this far and not push it just a bit more. That's how everyone feels I'm sure.



I agree with ntmonkey, you don't seem to be able to take criticism very well. There has been a wealth of good advice given in this thread but you don't seem to want to listen. It's no good if you are the only one who gets what you are trying to achieve because that simply means that your short failed. I really don't know why you would put this short on this forum if you are going to react negatively to the criticisms you receive. I think that you had told yourself that everyone would be blown away by it and that you wouldn't get any negative crits. Unfortunately that's not the case. You should always be ready for negative crits anytime you show your work. I think that this could be pushed further and made better if you take some of the suggestions given in this thread.

06 June 2004, 06:38 PM
Thanks for the feedback!

mattmos- it's ok, I don't take it all that seriously in the end and you had some good points too.

Noryx- Thanks, it's hard to say because I did all aspects simultaneously...model some, animate some, texture some and so on, but maybe around a week for the lipsync. The whole thing took about 1,5 months to complete.

This happens to all artists at some point (usually early on); Thinking that you (the creator) are the only person who "gets it" and everyone else is just a duffus who doesn't understand your work.

celticdog- Have you been monitoring ALL artists?! I think that statement is is very condescending to me and other artists. You seem to think that all people "get" everything, but I don't think that's the case. Obviously some people think the short is funny and some think it's boring, so some people are getting some things that some people are not, right?
Anyway I don't think there's that much to not get about this short.
If a few people say it's boring, then it is true whether you like it or not.
ntmonkey- some people thought it was funny too so who should I listen to? I still think it's funny. Just because some people don't think it's "good enough" yet doesn't make it so IMO.
The short is finished and as for making changes it won't happen right now, mainly because of the 50+ hours of rendering times, BUT like I said I appreciate the feedback and I am by no means dismissing the tips I got. I've been in the game long enough to know the value of feedback and I will take it with me for my future projects.

karabo- I have said many times now that I do appreciate the feedback, but I'm not going to react as strongly to that as to sucky critique like yours. Believe me, it makes no difference that it was my thread you replied to, I still think it's sucky critique. You are talking like you know what good animation is and that your standards are universal. To me it's like saying that you know what good art is. How can you claim that the animation is bad when I may have totally different standars of quality and goals than you? If you want to dismiss that as "not being able to take critique" then do so.

My ability to take critique or attitude is not what's up for critique in this thread so try to keep to feedback on the short now k.


06 June 2004, 07:09 PM
rivendale give your head a shake and lose the ego.

these people are have taken the time to actually review and give an opinion on something you've done. i figured this subject had been flogged to death and you'd finally get the point, but you just don't seem to be able to take something negative without a snarky remark in reply.

lose the attitude. cg talk isn't the place for it.

firegoat out.

06 June 2004, 08:06 PM
Well what can I say... you're not getting me. The reason I'm debating this is not because I don't want honest critique or because I think my animation is perfect and should be treated like it. I just want to make a statement about how people are critiquing about things in this forum and probably others.
I mean, you can't claim that this is bad animation because if someone else claims it's good then who is right? You have to keep an open mind and realise that your opinion is always very subjective. You may not like it but you can't say it's bad. I don't expect all people to understand this but this is why I'm debating.


06 June 2004, 08:38 PM
Make the changes and rerender. Lose the volumetric steam effect. It added nothig to the scene and that will cut down on the render time significantly.

I think this piece is very funny. I like simple characters. Although the detailed setting seems out of synch with the simplicity of the character.

I liked the character's hand gestures and body bops. The weight shifts need to be improved upon as he does his marching movements.

Overall, I enjoyed watching it. It could have been more interesting had you added even more camera angles, and some kind of scenic interactions (i.e., newspaper blowing by, bird swooping passed or landing on a handrail, listening to the song).

You've gone this far with the piece, finish it.

06 June 2004, 09:23 PM
Great work. :thumbsup:

06 June 2004, 09:43 PM
Hi Rivendale,

I think that I understand what you mean. When Forrest Gump for example started in German movie theaters one half of the audience said that it was fantastic the other half said that it was bad. Definitely the film was succesful so the producers did not have to be unhappy about it.

But I also think that every criticism is a good criticism even if there is no must to follow it. Take it as helpful suggestions even if it is said that your animation was boring (mattmos also made some more suggestions). There were other precise statements as well so that you now know what is meant with 'boring'.
I am sure that you do not have to defend on this aspect, your work is fantastic (in my and in the opinion of other people). If that is enough for you you do not have to change anything on your work. But maybe you want to have impact on a bigger audience, then it could be that you have to re-render your animation. Personally, I would be glad about a sequel! :beer:

By the way thanks for the information about lipsync. This helps a lot. :thumbsup:



06 June 2004, 01:45 AM
I'm new to this forum and a novice when it comes to animation.
I just discovered CG TALK a few months ago -and I love it!!!
It has been the best discovery I've found. I learn so much from looking at other peoples stuff and reading both pro and con critiques by the knowledgable people that post on here.
I can't wait until I have something that is worthy to put up on this website and get some feedback from it.
When I went to art school the hardest critic of my work was the teacher that taught me the most; and I still keep in touch with him years later.
He used to rip my work apart like no one else. He saw flaws in it that most people
would most likely miss; Flaws that I missed or weren't sure how to fix.
It never bothered me how hard he was on my work for three reasons:

1) Because he was usually right.

2) His critiques made me a better artist.

3) He always had my best interest at heart and wanted me to grow as an artist.
I responded to it and grew from it.

You show great potential, but only if you're open and willing to accept that there's
always room for improvement - whether your a pro or a novice.
That's been my experience anyway.:shrug:

06 June 2004, 01:50 AM
Amen to that!

06 June 2004, 06:41 AM
Thanks lot and thanks DigiLusionist for the tips.

Webhead- Yes I agree with all of that, it's all very wise, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm critiquing the way some people are viewing things. That I do it in this specific thread is not so important. Read my last post again since it pretty much sums up what I'm trying to say. You have to understand that because I'm trying to say something that most people aren't used to understanding well...most people are not going to understand, they are just going to view me as defensive but do you really think after all these posts that I don't get that, I do.

The thing is, I'm trying to say something with this piece also...I mean just look at how simple the character is, do you really think that he's the kind of guy who would make judgements like some people in this thread, I don't think so. He is too simple for that, but because of it, he's a happy camper. I think that there is way too much negetivity in the world, and this is just my way of trying to show you a different view where you accept everything you see as it is without judging it. The critique is fine, but this is my main goal.
Visit the gallery and try it out, it's pretty rewarding...


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