Today I recorded my first ever podcast! I interviewed Pixar character designer Deanna Marsigliese. Deanna is going to be leaving shortly for a year to travel. She graciously took a bit of time out with me today to help me record an interview and a bit of promo material for a future Kickstarter. It just occured to me this past Friday that getting a Kickstarter together for my short film (Pickled) would be a great idea because it could allow me to raise money to hire some other animators to help me complete my film! A three minute short film is a lot of work for one busy person to complete after all. I've been trying to get it done in my spare time for awhile now.

So watch out for exciting new things from me in the future! First I've just got to finish up my iAnimate workshop and then a workshop with Animsquad. So, in July I'm going to have much more time to get back to my short! I may put together some animation and/or Toonboom Animate tutorials as well, we'll see.

Stay tooned!

AuthorAndrea Haid
My staycation to learn more about animating in Maya and put together an animated show piece has ended, but my work on said show piece is still very much in progress.

I took the last Friday and Monday off in September this year to use as my last Staycation days. That gave me a second long weekend to research and animate a shot in Maya. Over the course of this weekend I doubted my first idea and came up with two entirely new ideas! I spent time researching these ideas and even started to animate one of them. When I went back to work that week and stepped away from the whole experience I ended up deciding to go back to idea #1. (This is the scene of a man chasing a squirrel up a tree.) Sadly, I couldn't get the Gunter rig I was using to cooperate with me. I love it's design and really wanted to use it, but it wasn't working out. So I switched over to the Malcolm rig and ended up learning how to use a rig picker which is awesome! AnimSchool created this picker for it's custom Malcolm rig and you can even make you own buttons. So I made a whole set of buttons for the Squirrelly rig I'm using too which is excellent. I just know there must be a few ways to work more efficiently than I currently am and I just don't know what they are yet. I've picked up a few great tips and shortcuts so far and using the picker is a fantastic new tool for me to use. It lets me animate faster and easier.

The climbing piece that I've decided to animate had to take a couple steps back before I could move forward. One fellow animator I showed the animatic (leica) to felt that the first camera move crossed the axis line. While I think that's up for debate since I believed the transition was clear, I sure don't want anyone who watches this piece to get hung up on something like that. So I had to pick a new camera angle for the first scene of the shot and it gave me the exciting opportunity to get some more squirrel screen time in. Happy accident! So I had to storyboard and thumbnail poses for that. And then, because I had switched to a new rig for the human, I had to start the animation over for that guy and consider tweaks to his personality since it's a completely different character.

Here are some of the pose thumbnails I did for the squirrel. They're super scribbly and rough but they're enough for me to get started. I like being able to get broad ideas out quickly and clearly. I refine my ideas from the point of brainstorm.
Here's my animatic so far! It's only the first scene of the shot. I've already got a pile of fantastic revision notes from my best critique resource! It's pretty awesome to have someone like that, that you can show work to and get a really honest and helpful critique.
I'll share more when I have more to show!
I've done further research for my climb animation sequence. I considered further the emotional state of the old man and felt as though he would be angry and at a breaking point. He's foolish to be chasing a squirrel into a tree. I felt like he's got to a point where an animalistic nature is taking hold of him. I figured that if he portrayed the characteristics of an animal, he might act like a tiger. Big cats are comfortable climbing trees. They have grace and raw strength. They are very wild and instinctual. I found some amazing reference of tigers climbing trees, attacking and growling. One thing I'm interested in is their paws, the way they use them.
I've done 7 pages of thumbnails for the man and the squirrel!
This first page here I did while putting together the camera moves and animatic (leica reel.) I was considering appealing and revealing camera angles and staging issues.
 When the skeleton of my scene is figured out, I start thumbnailing emotionally. I create very rough and simple doodles of my characters taking the shapes and poses that I feel could convey their emotional state.
 So then I get more analytical about emotion and physicality. I studied the way that big cats move and started to break that down.
 I'll definitely write down as well as doodle ideas and thoughts to get organised and get all my ideas out. I do believe that drawing this way is a snowball process; it brings more ideas when you see a visual.
 some squirrel gestures:
 big cat jump and attack:

Now it's time to start rough animation blocking!