Wow, looks like I only post here once a year these days. :U
This time, it’s also regarding SIS! Stockholm International Comics Festival!
I’m going to be there, and I have a table this year too. Stop by if you have time! Come get a freebie-comic of the Prologue of The Din and look at the first proof copy of the Chapter 2 book! I’m still selling the Chapter 1 book! 7-8 May 11:00 – 17:00 Kulturhuset, Stockholm
An other fabulous month at The Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark – the professional course of 3D Character Animation 2013. <3
In the beginning of April we waved Erik Schmidt goodbye with a Thursday dinner and gave him a nice gift of all of our hand prints on a pretty yellow paper. Maybe a bit childish, but we think he liked it!
Our present to Erik.
Right after saying our goodbyes to Erik we had one weekend scheduled for Acting classes with Robert Bennett. It was great and very useful for me as an animator. But I was super nervous before the classes. Luckily I was able to have a lot of fun anyway. In one of the exercises I had to act out smelling a rotten avocado without any props. Fun!
When the acting classes were over on Sunday we were all treated pizza from a local restaurant and I made Irish Coffee for everyone. The pizzas were nothing like the pizzas the Italians in our class make! Bah! (I guess we have gotten picky about the pizzas…)
This month I finally decided to go to the Animation Festival in Annecy. It will be my first time there and I am a bit embarrassed to say that I didn’t really know about this festival until I came to this class. I think I recognize the name of it but didn’t realize it’s THE Animation Festival. Anyway, it’s going to be exciting.
I also finally started to take advantage of the bi-weekly life drawing classes at The Animation Workshop. Really nice!
Life drawing. Quickies!
Was a bit sad about not being able to attend this year’s SIS/SPX in Stockholm. It’s the first one I missed since I started going to them in 2006. Anyway, I am sure I will attend next year and have tons of cool things to show! At least I was able to finish drawing the whole Chapter 1 of The Din this month. Now I only have lots of editing and tweaks left to do before I think it’s ready. Also proof reading first, of course.
Sketch of a panel of the last page of Chapter 1 of The Din!
As for the running I have been doing great in April. Last two weeks I hit a new record in 10 km. Around 54 minutes on 10.1 km! I’m getting ready for the race on the 18:th of May! I’m so lucky to have the route around the Viborg lake. From my apartment, 1 lap around the lake and back is almost exactly 10 km! 2 lapses and back is about 16 km and 3 lapses and back is 21+ km – perfect for half marathon work outs!
The lovely route around the southern lake of Viborg. <3
Oh, and there was a party for/by the The Reward crew at the school pub to celebrate their successful Kickstarter. However I was too busy to go. Which was a shame. I really wanted to meet them!
The teachers for this month were Claus Pedersen from Pixar Canada and Yoshi Tamura who directed Réflexion and have a long successful career as a character animator. He animated some shots of Tarzan in Disney’s Tarzan. Everyone who knows me well know how much I like that movie!
With Claus and Yoshi as teachers I learnt how important it is to thoroughly plan your shots. How to structure and figure out the beats and what kind of mindsets you need to use when working with acting and lip synch shots. It’s super important to know your character to be able to plan and figure out how to communicate your story, character and show what she/he is thinking and feeling. Of course I was also able to apply what I got from Robert’s acting classes into these exercises.
Thumbnails from Yoshi's lip synch exercise.
For the first exercise with Claus I doodled and recorded a reference shot with myself and my friend Juan. For the second exercise with Yoshi I drew my own thumbnails for reference and timed them out in an other program. Both ways worked really well, but I got some more natural poses from shooting live reference.
Juan in my reference video shots!
These teachers also provided us with some helpful advice on how to polish your shot, check the arcs, the slow-in/outs etc. step by step and cleaning up your curves in the graph editor. This is something I haven’t done a lot as a game animator. The way I am used to work is the total oposite in the graph editor – I am used to rely on splined curves and as few keys as possible rather than blocking and keying until you are on twos or ones with the animator in control rather than the computer/splines. Interesting! But I think everyone works in different ways. For me, I find it much easier to make a polished shot with good acting the way the teachers have taught us. But the animation will be too heavy for games. At least the kind of games I am used to make. It’s all about balance!
Thumbnails for the Football shot.
A funny detail is that I kind of based the second exercise’s character on Fozt (from The Din) and his personality. I even modified the rig to look a bit like Fozt. It was much easier to work with a character you know better than just working with something random.
Fozt mod of the Malcom Rig.
I have to admit that April was the toughest month during this course. The last two weeks I were really having a hard time to pull myself together. I think it was mostly because I was really moody for a lot of different reasons that I don’t really want to write about. But one of them, that I already mentioned, was about me not being able to go to the comic festival in Stockholm (SIS/SPX) which is really childish since I am having a great time here and consider myself really lucky to be able to go to this course. And I think my second exercise really affected my mood too because the voice and music was super moody. Sometimes the character you work on affect your own mood A LOT. Yeah, have a look yourself and you will understand.
And here’s something new for this post!
Progress shot movies!
I didn’t have a lot of playblasts saved from the Dialogue assignment to make a proper progress shot movie – but it’s still interesting to watch.
I am sorry this entry is very late but I have been super busy. Hope to get the May entry up as soon as possible! Until then, make sure to follow my other entries. I usually have something automatically scheduled for this blog!
Summarized list of the things I did this month:
Started going to life drawing classes
Signed up for the Animation Festival in Annecy
Attended to Acting Class lead by Robert Bennett
I was running, running, running
Hit running record on 10 km! 54 minutes!
Finished drawing all 45 pages of the first Chapter of The Din
Moping for no good reason, but now I’m back on track!
Phew, what can I say? This month has been great and full of cool stuff! Hectic, yet I feel like I’m improving a lot animation wise. I’m still very happy I decided to come to Viborg and study!
So basically, what I’ve been doing this month is; going to lectures, finishing assignments, running, going to class dinners on sundays, drawing the last pages of The Din Chapter 1. Constantly. I love being productive! I’ve also laughed a bit at Facebook’s ads in Danish. And this ad made me look great on facebook:
The facebook ads also taught me that a pimple in Danish is “Skin-Snake”. Which is awesome because in Swedish it’s “Pore-Worm”. Makes me wonder what it is in Norweigan. Gotta ask my classmate. (Oh, the odd things I think about.)
There is a school pub at the Animation Workshop that the students can book for dinners and parties. First weekend in March it was decided to have a pizza duel between two of the Italian guys in my class.
The duel kind of failed since one of the teams forgot to buy the ingredients, but the outcome was fantastic anyway. Heaploads of good pizzas…
… and tons of Pizza-Dough-Balls made out of the leftover dough. The best thing after Danish salted butter!
For four weeks we had Erik Schmidt, teaching us basic animation in Maya. Erik is a great animator and fantastic teacher. Even though I am used to animating in Maya I really learnt a lot these weeks. Especially some key shortcuts I either forgot about or didn’t know existed and also different work flows that really helped me to improve my way of animating and my way of thinking of 3D animation. Fantastic!
We had dailies where we watched eachothers assignments and discussed the result. Really helpful and a nice way to be able to go back and improve the assignments after the hand-in. He also told us stories from when he worked at Dreamworks, Disney and his years of freelancing. He showed us some of his work from his long career which was really inspiring. These are some of the movies he’s been working on: Balto, Prince of Egypt, The Road to El Dorado, Chicken Little, Meet The Robinsons and Bolt. Really interesting to hear these things from someone who both worked in 2D and 3D! The differences and how to make the best out of it.
Erik also made us traditional scones. Best thing since Pizza-Dough-Balls!
So, onward to the next topic. How has my running been going?
One of my many skills.
According to runkeeper I have god-like pace and I can run on water. Or rather according to the horde of runners that came at me during one of my morning runs, and made my GPS glitch like crazy! I think it was a race or something.
Morning run beginning of March. Beautiful sun rise at 07:00.
On a more serious note, I think my running is going okay. I test-ran 21.5 km in the beginning of March to see if I could run a half marathon. I finished in 2 hours and 9 minutes, but was really exhausted. Unfortunetaly, only minutes after I hit that distance record it started snowing like crazy for days and I had to take a short break from running. No, it’s not impossible to run in snow, but I brought way too optimistic running clothes here, as I thought it wouldn’t be so cold from now on. On one of my morning runs it was – 13 C and I couldn’t feel my legs when I came home! Should’ve brought my thicker running-pants!
Snow! Outside my window.
After I hit my record I kind of slacked off with the distance and times I went running/week. I think it’s a bit of a combination of the sudden cold and snowy weather going on for two weeks and the fact that I have been working so much and prioritized sleep rather than getting up 05:40 in the morning. But also probably because I reached my goal and it made me relax too much. Big mistake!
But as I’m writing this I am back in the game and running 3-4 times a week. Hope to be able to build up my pace again, but I know for sure I can still pull off the distance!
Seen through the window in the corridor outside our class room.
We have a bit of a tradition in my class that we meet and have dinner together every sunday. Usually we cook together but to be completely honest I’ve been really bad at joining in on the cooking. Mostly because I have been busy working in the weekend or just trying to spend some time alone. And the cooking usually go on most of the day. However, I am proud to say I contributed with Swedish Chocolate Balls once (with a secret accidental fail ingredient that I am not going to mention here!). And my own version of Irish Coffee. Not much, but always something!
All we do is eat. And animeat. Hah!
Lots and lots of good food. Since everyone comes from different countries at this course, the food we eat on the Sundays is very refreshing and diverse. I still need to get all recipes! When we celebrated Gio’s 30′th birthday we had tons of different desserts. So damn goooooood…
And almost always leftovers. Mondays have been dessert-leftover-day in class. Great way to start the week!
Sausage and cheese! Bought on Lidl in Sweden, I think? Funny cuz I can't find that cheese at Lidl in Viborg. :S
My dad and Pia was really kind and sent me some cheese and dried sausage. I am not picky about food, okay. At least I… didn’t think I was up to now. But the fact that after attempting to buy a good cheese three times and end up throwing them away has proven me wrong. I never throw away food… but I just couldn’t stand the taste or the odour that stuck in my room for days as soon as I opened the fridge – no matter how enclosed the cheese package was (Yes, I can run on water AND have a super sense of smell). One of them actually went green-ish after a week! That’s what I get for buying the cheapest stuff, I guess? Haha!
I heard this kind of cheese is popular here from some of my friends and also people I know who lived in Denmark. We have this kind of cheese in southern Sweden too but it’s not as common as here. But I promise, once I live in a bigger apartment with a separate kitchen, I will give this cheese an other shot. But not as long as the kitchen is in my face when I sleep.
The butter I use when making Chocolate Balls!
But, hey, good news! There must be such a thing as food-Karma. Because every single kind of butter I have bought here has been excellent! Perfect texture, perfect consistensy and SALT. I LOVE SALT. There is this butter that I use for bread that tastes just like Bregott Havssalt (my fav Swedish butter) but has the perfect softness which makes it easier to use when spreading on crisp bread. Never breaks! Man, it’s gonna be hard (hah!) going back to Bregott when I move back home.
Danes loves Liqorice just as much as Finns and Swedes! Yay!
I was invited to tea and card game lunch to Talía and Dorte’s place. Brought some liquorice cookies that I bought at the grocery store. Om nom nom nom! I think they were popular! But the winner of the tea party was indeed Dorte’s home made buns. Om nom nom nom!
Easter Egg that I got from Robe's parents. <3
Robe and his parents came visiting me during Easter! Made me really happy! We explored the city a bit, had some beer from the local brewery (I had an Irish Coffee, though) and ate a lovely dinner at the hotel his parents stayed at. Really appreciated that I could celebrate a bit of easter with them this year!
Photos from the 31:st of March when I took a long walk, and all the snow had disappeared. Beautiful day!
This is where I ran before I found my way to the lake.
Viborg has some really nice streets. Interesting angles and beautiful colors!
And finally, here’s the reel with some of the assignments from Erik’s lectures! The days were usually 50% of lectures, presentations and inspiration from short movies. Then the other 50% of the day and a bit into the evening was spent on working on daily assignments. I really liked that setup! Quick assignments, daily rounds/feedback and lots of relevant information to apply on the assignments from the lectures. Very organized.
Summarized list of the things I did this month:
Reached 40 pages of The Din - image at the left is a panel from one of the pages!
Ran my first 21.5 km! Finished in 2 hours and 9 minutes. I’m happy!
Ate Pizza by my Italian classmates. And pizza dough balls. The best!
Been having awesome dinners almost every Sunday over at the Animation Workshop
Played Munchkin with Dorte, Talía and their friends, ate Dorte’s home made buns and had tea! YUM
Attended to 4 amazing weeks of classes lead by Erik Schmidt
Animated an unexpected work sample really quick. Fun!
Had my boyfriend and his parents visiting me over Easter. Happy times!
Watched A Monster in Paris for the first time. Lovely movie! <3
So February was in the beginning a lot about packing, planning and getting my shit together. After getting really sick one week in the end of January I had to do everything I had planned really fast. Like a machine. You know? It kind of looked like this:
Fuel. Task list will be ... EXTERMINATED!
My mom helped me moving here! I have increddible parents. I didn’t ask for any help on this since I know I can basically take the train (5-6 hour trip) from where I live in Sweden. But she insisted she’d drive me since she wanted to see Viborg! And Robe’s parents also showed a lot of interest in helping me since they were interested in seeing where I’d study. I’m lucky to have such helpful parents! We made it to the ferry with one minute to spare early in the morning.
Slight heart attack from almost missing the ferry.
When we arrived on friday the 15:th me and Robe had a nice dinner with mom at a place called Rindholm’s Kro. Very beautiful place with sweet people working there. Really good food and atmosphere.
On saturday I had to say goodbye to Robert. Even though 15 weeks will pass really fast and he will visit me once or twice, I got really really sad! It was hard to shake off!
I got in a better mood later because I met Talía and Dorte! I know them from tegakie/online and it was so nice to finally meet them in person. They are character animation students of the bachelor-programme . They showed me around the city, helped me buy heavy grocery stuff and invited me for tea, “lonely cake” and dinner! <3 Also got to meet their cute cat Tilde. Awwwwwww! Perfect way to start my stay here! I really appreciated it! Awesome, inspiring girls!
Licorice candy and lonely Cake! <3
First day at the course was really nice. The school staff took us out for lunch and showed us around the campus. Really inspiring environment with lots of creative stuff going on everywhere. First three weeks here were on introducing us all to Maya. All the students have very different background and profession (architects, tv-show-2D-animators, VFX). Some of us already know Maya fairly well but most never opened Maya before. For me, these weeks felt kind of basic since I have been using Maya all these years while working at Junebud. But I have to admit, it was really nice to get such a thorough and high paced recap of Maya. So much tools and shortcuts I had totally forgotten about. Now they are all fresh in my mind again!
I made sure to use these three weeks wisely, though. Among the other assignments and demos, everyone were asked to model their own character since it’s easier to learn the tools if you work on something you are dedicated to. I decided to make a pilot (Surprised?) and tried to push myself and learn new things about modeling and rigging. I feel like I actually learnt some new stuff. Especially about some rigging tools I forgot about – and can’t use – when making low poly game graphics these years.
Some of the inspiring stuff you'll find in the corridors.
Been exploring the city a bit by heading out for morning walks and short runs. Kind of got lost in the small beautiful alleys when I was really looking for the lake in the city – which supposedly is very nice to run around. First wekend one of my new friends Daga, from Poland, showed me around the lake and we had a good run together. From where I live, 1 lap around the lake and back is about 9.5 km so it’s a perfect run in the morning before going to class.
The second week the whole class, the teacher and the coordinators went bowling together. Team building! The Norweigian Mikkel won the competition. That guy seems to be great at everything. (Generally, that goes for everyone in this class. I am amazed. And inspired!)
Me bowling. Wonder why I cropped this picture…
Haven’t worked a lot on the comic The Din in February. But it’s as expected since I spend 8-12 hours a day at school. I did however quickly model a super cute reference for Lorentz’ van. It’s based on the Volkswagen bus, and I even found a miniature toy to use as reference when modeling the reference. (That’s funny. A reference, for a reference, for a reference, for a reference to use as a… reference… referenceception.)
So, yeah – the first three weeks here haven’t been a lot of animation yet. This was totally expected and I actually liked this approach a lot. Not only because the teacher was really good at trying to teach everyone somthing new, not only the Maya beginners. But also because this gave me time to settle a bit, get to know my class mates and explore the city. After these three weeks the assignments and classes started to pile up. More on that later in the entry about March.
The pilot I modeled in class. Look at the video for a process-turntable-thing.
Here’s a short video on the first three weeks. I only included a short animation test (The ball, sack of flour and catapult were provided by our teacher) and my 3D model since most of the other assignments were really basic “getting to know Maya” stuff. The 3D model and rig are pretty much a lovely result of marrying the stuff I learnt at Junebud with the new things I learnt here. Like how to model more high res geometry suitable for bone, blend-shape and latice deformation. And how to rig a stretchy spine, legs and arms (that makes the scene explode).
Weeee! I am going to make a new, separate process video once I finished rigging and skinning this guy. And yes, I will make a slower turntable motion.
These are some of the things I have done in February:
We had a fine dinner at Ola and Maria’s place. Have been craving to have that youghurt dessert again ever since…
I ran 10 km in 55 minutes and 10 seconds! 10 seconds away from my goal but I’m very happy about this since I ran 10 km in 64 minutes about 6 months ago. Big improvement.
Now that it’s official I can finally share the reason why I have been so absent as of late!
The company I have been working for since 2008 has filed bankruptcy. This company has been like a second family to me. It was partially my company after all! I was there from the beginning when it was all late Skype meetings and ideas to an organisation in an office. From 5 people to 20+. It’s indeed really something incredible to have experienced this early in my career! I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
It’s been a long and bumpy road with lots of up and downs. We have faced many hardships like these and been able to put our heads together, work really hard and overcome them but this time we did not succeed.
I’m going to be alright but I am very sad about the fate of this company. So many talented people who put their hearts, lives and so much effort into our products. But due to some unfortunate events the company is coming to an end.
I’ve learnt so much these 4 years and I have had a lot of fun. But the last months have been very difficult. These years I’ve dealt with 90h+ weeks of crunches tons of times without any problem because it’s been fun, I’ve been doing it with awesome people, with friends, in the same boat. But to see so many people go, the people you admire wear out, the company slowly going into nothingness and at the same time do 3 people’s worth of work in attempt to keep the company alive have been so draining. This has been going on for some months. I am not lying to you when I say I’ve been doing nothing but sit in my sofa and stare into nothingness when I have been off work (aside from working out – because that is my one and only stress relief these days! Haha!). I’m glad that the waiting for answer about the company’s future is over but I’m very sad about the result.
There is still some work left to do in the aftermath of the bankruptcy but when that’s done next step for me is to update my portfolio and put together all of my best pieces from these years into a new show reel! My portfolio is soooo very old and dusty right now.
I’ll be up and running before you know it!
I’m really optimistic about where I might end up. It’s scary but sooo exciting!
Thanks for everyone’s support through these years, friends and family! Esp. thanks to my Robe and to Kichisu & Monni for being there for me this year when I’ve been stressed out about the future! <3 <3
There, now that I have written this on tumblr, I think I have shared it on all channels. Now I can move on! And maybe start posting more interesting stuff. Sooon!
The comic was updated on saturday with a cover for a new chapter.
It’s a short prologue and I hope to finish drawing it in a few weeks!
Right now I have drawn more than 50% of it so it’s all looking good!