Meet the Artist: Jeff Lew

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  08 August 2005
hey thanx for awsering Jeff

just to awnser your question- FF7 Advent Children release is only 35 days ahead! stay tunned!

and i'm looking forward to c Bean again.

  08 August 2005
Quote: I also started in one direction and decided to get into animation. Do you feel that now that you've made the switch from engineering that you've found what you want? Do you find the Career aspect of animation to be just as tedious as engineering?

Hi Tevi,

Well, i've never actually worked as an engineer, and college and work don't really compare. But I can say animation or any CG job can be very tedious. If your job entails doing things like cleaning mocap or cleaning polygon meshes, or 2d rotoscoping, that's all very tedious stuff. But on the other hand it is also very rewarding, because you see your work and name on the big screen.

When I was early on in my career, I was pretty excited about it and had lots of energy. Later on, after some years, it's just a job really. You still need to take vacations to get away from it. And you still groan about waking up in the morning to go to work. But if you like what you are doing, it makes it that much easier.

  08 August 2005
Quote: I just wanted to say that "Killer Bean 2" was one of my first short movies i'v seen when i only started learning CG and i liked it a lot. The moment when the bad bean falls/dies and at that time sees his all life, the moment when he sits on the toilet was so funny, great stuff.

Hi Astahov,

I actually made the entire flashback scene so I can put a shot of him sitting on the toilet. The idea made me laugh so I put it in.

Quote: I was wondering when the 3rd part would be out ? Are you constantly working on it or due to your real life work you're lacking spare time for it ?

Yes, I'm constantly working on it. I have no completion date, but I do have my own deadline that I want to hit. Figuring out a schedule is very difficult. I can say out of all the months I've been working on it so far, I've only been on schedule for one month. The rest, I've always missed my mini deadlines.

Quote: I didn't know you were also involved in such project as "Matrix Realoded" and as i understand you were using AM for the animation but i thought that mostly Maya was used for the movie. If so did you have any problems working with the team using different applications ?

I've actually been using Maya since Beta 3 on the Spiderman ride. Before that I never used Maya, but the transition from AM to Maya was quite easy. Took me 2 weeks to learn how to animate in Maya. I've never used AM in any studio production. Animation tools are basically the same in most 3D packages. You just need to find where all the menu buttons are.

  08 August 2005
i loved the DVD, it's great !!!
Daniel Cavalcante
characeter animator
  08 August 2005
Love your work!!

Got your DVD, what other app has the most similar toolset with animation master?

Last edited by micrypt : 08 August 2005 at 11:27 PM.
  08 August 2005

why didn`t u answer my question ? :( ... i am just boy trying to becoome animator... :(

Concept designer
  08 August 2005
Hello mr. Lew

My question is about backup. Mostly what comes to the personal material of the KB3.

I'm pretty sure you already have several gigabytes of work-in-progress-material of that film that you sure wouldn't remake if it all somehow gets lost by an accident. So what's your method of keeping it safe?

I remember the unfortunate accident that happened to our beloved Keith Lango, if you know what I'm talking about. Now none of his fans will ever see the masterful short film "The Secret Joys of Myopia" we all waited sooooo long for Make sure you don't do the same mistake with KB3, please. Make dozens and dozens of backup-DVDs. Hide them everyplace in your house and keep a couple of those in the trainstation's locker whynot. I mean, you wouldn't want to be responsible of dozens of suicides going around because of the death of another phenomenal source of inspiration would you?

Thanks and all the best,
Manu Järvinen
  08 August 2005
Originally Posted by Jeff Lew:
As for my original beans, I didn't really have any concept drawings for them. For my next Killer Bean, I subcontracted some character designers to help me out. Primarily Von Caberte, you may know him from the CG talk forums. He helped me design my newest main characters.


Hi Jeff.

I am very happy seeing you as current featured artist here on Q&A.

For me, it was such a great opportunity to design the newest KB3 main characters and KB’s new car. I really felt honored and privileged.

Since last year the name Killer Bean and Jeff Lew became domestically popular here, my two kids are asking that would there be a Killer Bean video game.

Again, thank you very much.

Good luck and God speed.

  08 August 2005
Quote: Ho Ho! Jeff, you are! It's incredible... I remember when I'd seen Reloaded, the Burly Browl, when I think...."No one made a fighting like this since now"...And now you are here!!!
I must to say that there's a bit of frames where clothes look a bit strange, like when Neo jump over the Smiths near the end...But it's fantastic! Wow!
Just a little question... What is the approach with an animation work with so much elements...
I think that anyone work on singles objects and then they're joined... What is the setup of this, and on what processor a so complex scene is rendered...???

Hi Francesco,

Wow, that is a big question. Of course we had to develop a big pipeline early on in production. Before real production we did a proof of concept animation of the burly brawl. The choreography was different, I actually thought the choreography was better in the proof of concept. Anyways, we knew there would be about 100 Smiths in a single shot. And some shots were really long. The plan was to mocap groups of mocap actors (the max was 8 at a time) We had them do different things, like jumping over park benches, circling the action, running and stopping, pretending they got knocked over by a flying smith that Neo kicked. There was a huge library and we got many takes. Each take could then be grouped with other takes to make one massive take.

Anyways, I think Spectrum did the mocap clean up and they delivered it to us, where we cataloged and categorized them so we can pull from a library of moves later on to fill the shots.

The primary choreography with Neo was choreographed by Wu Ping (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) He choreographed a huge fight scene with his stunt team and then chopped it up so that it could be captured with 8 guys at a time. So then we used Filmbox to glue all the takes together (Neo + 7 smiths at a time.) With that, we prevised out the camera moves and the shots that the Wachowski's wanted. Plus we prevised out the smiths that were not captured and were to be done by hand.

So I think we spent 6 months prevising it out and then the Wachowski's wanted to change a lot of the fight. Man, that sucked. By then the Hong Kong stunt team was gone and we had to chop and stich pieces together that weren't meant to go together. That's where i came in to animate Neo where we didn't have anything for.

So anyways, when we got the new vis done, we first paid attention to all the Smiths who actually touched Neo. If they didn't touch him, we didn't care about them and left them out of the scene. We did what Gaeta and the Wachowski's wanted with the smiths and then after that, we finally populized the scene with background smiths.

Oh man, i just remembered that we had to clean a lot of the action, so that no smith actually penetrated with another, cause then the cloth sim wouldn't work. Anyways, what a pain. Once animation was checked on the high res models and approved, it was passed off to the cloth department to put clothes on them. I don't know much about what went of there. Then they were passed to color and lighting for image based lighting.

Oh yeah, we had a facial expression library to, to pick facial acting that fit the scene. It was all the photogrammetry stuff we recorded from the actors. Also, all the hands were animated, because we didn't mocap them.

That's basically the process. For computers, we all had Dell's. I had a dual Xeon 2.8 I think with 2 gigs ram. Not much different than home computers. And those scenes we worked on were dog slow!

  08 August 2005
Quote: Ho Ho! Jeff, you are! It's incredible... I remember when I'd seen Reloaded, the Burly Browl, when I think...."No one made a fighting like this since now"...And now you are here!!!
I must to say that there's a bit of frames where clothes look a bit strange, like when Neo jump over the Smiths near the end...But it's fantastic! Wow!
Just a little question... What is the approach with an animation work with so much elements...
I think that anyone work on singles objects and then they're joined... What is the setup of this, and on what processor a so complex scene is rendered...???

Hi Pingcg,

I think imagination is just as important if you want to be an action animator. Knowing martial arts really helps in animating the move correctly, but imagination helps when choreographing your scene.

Yes, I'm Chinese, but I forgot my Chinese name! I am so ashamed :( I'll have to ask my mom.

  08 August 2005
Quote: You are a self trained animator (I am too). I was wondering if you think you should have taken classes teaching you Maya or Softimage. Do you think it would have helped you out and if so, do you think that those who do have an advantage over those who study on their own?

Hi David,

Actually no. Learning Maya you can definitely do on your own from reading books and manuals. I don't think there's any great advantage from people learning Maya from a class and people who read books on Maya. Learning software is pretty straight forward. It's learning your craft that is the hard part, like animation, modeling, texturing, lighting, etc.

Quote: What do you think of the state of the industry today? Are you concerned about jobs being done in the UK, India, and New Zealand?

I think the industry is becoming saturated because there are so many more applicants now. I'm not really concerned about jobs being done over seas. Someone's gotta do em, right? I think it's great for the artists in those countries to finally start a career in CG in their own country and not have to move. I don't really think it will affect over here that much. Companies have to learn how to adapt to new markets.

Quote: Do you see the larger animation and effects studios downsizing to function more like the smaller boutique studios?

Well, it depends on who you are. Dreamworks and Pixar probably won't downsize, but grow bigger. But I see other studios probably adopt the short term contract deal with employees, so they can axe them after the project is done. I think people in the industry is used to that, especially in LA.

  08 August 2005
Quote: What has been your toughest assignment in animation so far? Maybe not the most technical, but the one that gave you the most "trouble"?

Hi Floyd,

It has to be the Neo pole fighting shots. Those were ridiculous. Man, where do I begin. First Keanu Reeves was mocapped performing those moves with the pole. His stunt double was also mocapped. We tried to use Keanu's motions as much as possible, but sometimes it wasn't possible. Also, the pole was mocapped. BUT, the hands and fingers were not for obvious reasons.

Now my job was to hand animate the parts that couldn't possibly be mocapped or looked like crap in the mocap session. Then I had to blend that with the rest of the mocap choreography. Then I had to make the pole actually fit inside the CG Neo's hands and also make sure the pole actually hit the smith. In the mocap sessions, of course they never actually hit each other.

The hardest shots were the ones where Neo twirled the pole all over and behind his back. I had to be able to go from mocapped pole to hand animated pole and back. I also had to worry about all the gimbal locking that went on in such a long shot. I think one shot, i animated like 5 different poles and drove one master pole by all 5. Also, the hands and fingers I think I keyframed every single frame on some shots, which is NOT the way you want to go when the director makes changes. But it had to be done in some cases. I hated that stuff.

Quote: Now that you've got so much animation behind you, what would you change, if anything, about the first "Killer Bean" film?

My first one? You mean the one where Killer Bean is a red jelly bean? I don't know if I would change anything really. When I call something finished, I like to move on and start something new. Or else, you would basically never finish anything. I actually like the classic, phong shaded, dopey voiced, 1 light render of it, haha. Plus leaving your old stuff as it is, you can better gauge your development as the years go by. It's nastalgic too.


  08 August 2005
Hi Jeff

First of all, thanks for developing your terriffic Animation DVD - the best course on cg animation out there (I have watched it many, many times - it is still informative and also totally entertaining,). I loved Killer Bean2 (I guess there are lots of people out there sharing my sentiments on both of these points).

Just a few questions:


After the success of 'killer bean 2', how did you proceed - did the phone just start ringing off of the hook, or did you have to make the rounds? What type of process did you go through to assess opportunities which came your way? How did you prepare yourself for making deals with the big studios?


what tools will you use for future personal projects, do you still use Animation Master at all?

Thank you for your time

My Studies

My Anatomy Thread

My Website

Good Facial Expressions Resource:
  08 August 2005

Just wanted to congratulate you on your past and continued success, not only in your career but with your great dvds as well. You are an inspiration and a great help to so many aspiring animators. Please keep it up and thanks for giving some of your time to critique works.

  08 August 2005
hi Jeff,

just wanna say Thank you so much for putting up the DVD, without it i wouldn't be able to get my final project done as well as it was... back then our class didn't get character animation taught well by the lecturer and your DVD opened my eyes to how the pro's animate...

anyways All the best to you Jeff, and hope to see more cool stuff coming
"the quicker you're here, the faster you go" - Wiz Khalifa
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