Thursday 1 December 2011

Pairatch Lertkajornwong Interview

Character DesignHello guys and gals,
During the month of August, everybody at the 11 Second Club was Kung Fu fighting, animating as fast as lightning!!

Now, the 11SC blog can finally bring you an interview with the competiton's monthly winner, Pairatch Lertkajornwong! His animation on the Kung Fu chef was beautifully executed and introduced something unusual with use of slow-mo!

I wish to thank Pairatch for his time and I hope you all enjoy the interview. If you wish to leave any thoughts, please feel free to use the comments section of this post. Thank you!

Through martial arts, Bruce Lee spent his entire life searching for new ways to explore self expression. I believe his philosophies share a big relationship with animation. For each of first my next two questions, I wish to first share a Bruce Lee quote and then ask a question related to it.

The first quote:“Don't fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”
How often do you experiment with new ideas at the expense of playing it safe?
I am an open-minded type of  person. I love to try new things and keep myself open to everything  and everybody. At work, I always try a new workflow that I have learned from another animator. When I see a cool shot that I like, I tend to find who produced it, asking questions about how to accomplish something similar.

I think since I have began learning animation, I have always known the importance of having a good workflow. I tried many, trying to find one is the most powerful for my needs. Examples include layering animation, pose to pose, 2D planing, Straight Ahead. I must admit I am yet to find what I believe to be the best. I have realised however, that many times that my animation can suffer from a poor choice in workflow hurt myself, yet I understand that each has its own style. Its a matter of chooosing the right one at the right time.

I still hope to learn from others as much as I can and remain hungry and ready for new things all the time.

(This old showreel shows the range and contrast in Pairatch's work. Also please feel free to visit his youtube channel, by clicking here)

Second quote:
''It has always been very easy for me to put on a show and be cocky, and be flooded with a cocky feeling and feel pretty cool and all that. I can make all kinds of phoney things. Blinded by it. Or I can show some really fancy movement. But to experience oneself honestly, not lying to oneself, and to express myself honestly, now that is very hard to do.''
There is a big difference between simply move a rig and acting, in order to create the illusion of life. Would you like to expand on this?
I want to reach the level where I'm able to give the life to character more than just make him move. Believe me, I try so hard to do that, but I'm just a little animator and have so many more things to learn and experiment with. I still have a long way to go to reach that level.

For me I think it's very fantastic thing that you can make a simple polygon character move, make him look alive and make him look like he is the one that has a heart and mind. That it can catch the audience's imagination. If the character can catch the audience and make the audience feel with our character, that's awesome. The fun part of animation is hearing feedback that your work is liked or that they are happy with what you have produced.

When you realized you wanted to get into animation, how did you go about learning?
I began by teaching myself. I watched animation a lot and tried often to make it look like what is on screen. You can say sometimes, I copied it. I tried to learn this way for a while, until I met Jinanavin (Keko). I then studied animation at his school.

After that my methods of learning changed. I started to learn traditional techniques such as keyposes, breakdown, slow-in and slowout. I learnt the way that a classical animator would work and was introduced to the workflows of some of the best animators. The best thing is Keko's school is like a center that Thai animator can come together and meet. That means we have the opportunity to exchange some of ideas and experience about animation from this place. This is where I really started to learn and now I'm taking a class at iAnimate school. It's super fun!!!

What sort of things do you really enjoy animating?
Actually I'm very new in this industry. So every type of shot is still exciting. I find inspiration in everything. I really want to try to learn a super-cartoonie style because it looks extremely fun and I think it can challenge me. I love the way that everything is exaggerated. I remember watching Cloudy with a chance of Meatball  for the first time. I see the trailer on my friends computer that he wearing headphone so i dont hear any sound but that trailer make me laught out loud because how freaky that character move is super funny and unpredictable.

Please talk about your animation process.
Pairatch working out a pose
I separated the process into two parts. The first part is the dailogue part that I worked upon like nost animators do i.e. Blocking keypose/Breakdown/Spline/Polish.

In the second part I work on the beats of the action, and a big thing for me is the rhythm of the shot. I tried to find a good rhythm and how the action flows throughout the shot by taking reference material.

The way I look at reference is that it of course starts in normal speed. For this animation, my real life reference is super slow, because I can not act like Kungfu Chef. So I then go to edit it in After Effects to work out a good timing. I also rough thumbnail it and animate with simple box polygons in maya, to see how it work. Through this method I am just trying to find the rhythm, which would be defined further through blocking keyposes. When it all works together, the poses should tell you the beat and rhythm clearly.

I'm not strict to body mechanics in my video ref because I know it looks bad for me. I just want to find a good actions that are interesting and flow. I want to see a lot of motion in a short time. I tried testing this shot ten times in one day to get it right.

(note the original pose that throws the bowl with one hand. This was changed to strengthen the idea)
After I have finished blocking the movement and everything works the way I would like, I put in breakdowns and then spline it.

In Dragon: the Bruce Lee story, the young martial artist is working in a Chinese restaurant, when he becomes involved in a fight with some of the staff. Is this where the idea came from? If not, what else inspired the scene?
restuarant at Pairatch's house
The thing is my house is a restaurant, haha, which is the reason why when I heard this dialogue for the first time, I instantly started thinking about cooking. Through the idea I wanted to involve some object interacting,  because I think interacting with a prop in your scene looks interesting. If you've seen my shot you will see a lot of interaction.
I tried to place the chef in some business like chopping some vegetables and then use the props and his placement in that environment to create a story.

I must ask the slow motion part. How did you plan out its timing? Also how did you keep control of composition with so many objects within the scene?
First I have to tell you that before I started working on this part, I had no idea about how I was going to make it look cool. My workflow for this was a kind of experiment. I tried to thumbnail and draw eveything. I also made the last composition first, which is the part that audience will see most see a lot first, before animating backwards to see how it worked.

I tried to tweak things as much as I could, because I felt when everything is set still at the start is of less importance to the audience and they wouldn't feel too much about it.  The slowmotion part is where the entertainment happens, so this is where I spent the time. This workflow was good for me!!

Staging of the shot. Look how everything leads to the chef

Please talk about your use of different beats and rhythms.
Actually I thought about 3 speeds in my shot, but I wanted to make it super contrast.  I have a normal speed, super slow speed and superfast speed. With the beat I thought about motion of the character first and then I animated the objects to this beat so everything will flow smoothly.
I tried to avoid action that would flow only forward then back, then forward the back, but instead break it up. This was one of the first thoughts when planning.

With so many other great winners choosing to render their 3d entries, was it a conscious choice to use limited lighting?
Actually I planned to spend one day for rendering, but I had a problem about the scene setting. I am also not that good at rendering so I wanted to choose something would could be made quick, but still look good. I asked friend who is good with rendering if there was a way that looked nice, but wasn't too complicated and the best answer is viewport 2.0 . I very happy with the result, you just put some light on your scene and it needs a couple of minite to render your work. That was awesome!!

Ken and Barbie
At the beginning of your eCritique, Dana Boadway Mason, mentions she was inspired to pursue a career in animation after watching the film, Toy Story. Dana liked the idea that an animator wasn't limited by their own body, but instead she could be any character. If you had the opportunity to animate any character from Toy Story, human or toy, who would you choose and why?
I actually want to animate the barbie couple, haha! They are super funny and make me laugh in every scene. I love the way they move. It is very unique and I think it looks easy but would be super hard to animate. Actually, I would love to animate any character in that movie. Just in case, Pixar hiring me, haha!

In your eCritique, Dana suggests pushing the chef's arcs and poses, while also squash and stretch in some areas of your clip. Please share your thoughts upon this.
Dana Boadway Mason's eCritique
Yes I totally agree with her suggestion. and you know what, I didn't think about it much when I was working on this piece. Maybe, because I just concentrate a lot on spacing and the amount of detail, so I didn't get an overall feeling. That's not good. Her suggestion helped me a lot and reminded me that I have to give an eye on the overall feeling of a shot before going deep into the detail.

(please click here to watch eCritique)

Talk about any new concepts you were introduced to (or re-introduced to) through the eCritique.
One thing that stood out, that I remember and totally agree with Dana to pushing the chef's arcs and poses, while also applying some squash and stretch too. It was like wow !! Why did I forget that?

I always try to look into adding those little details like how he settles into this pose and also spacing. I always track some spacing and try to make every spacing look good, but the thing is, if you cannot make the overall feel of your work look right. the little details do not mean anything. This is because I believe the audience see the overall feeling is most important. I don't mean those little details are not important, but your first priority should be the overall feeling.

Is there anything you'd like to add about your thought-process or experience in August's competition?
I learned a lot from this piece, but the most important thing for each animator is to have calm when you working. Do not rush! For example, this shot, for me, is very complicated one and has a lot of things happening in a variety of technical ways: You have to concern yourself with how constraints, then there's IK/FK witching on the arms. You also have to manage the entertainment value of the shot.

The thing I would like to tell you is to be calm. Don't go to spline curve too fast if you not sure that its going to look good. If you go too fast you will work more slowly at the end. When you spline too early, you have to solve a lot of problems and make a lot of extra work. So I think concentrate on the each image and make sure that the frames will work well, before you get down to work on the graph editor.

What advice would you offer to someone who was just starting their animation education?
I think a good tip is to watch a lot of animation. It is very helpful. Actually watching any kind of movie is very useful, but try to pick the good ones. I think if you watch a lot your eye and your brain will remember a good thing from that movie, which will help make your natural sense for animation stronger. If your natural sense for animation is strong, then when you go to study animation, it can help lead to good things. For me, your eye is the most important thing. The better your eye and judgement, the more confident you will feel in achieving your desired result.
Interview by Steven Hawthorne