Monday 10 December 2012

Bonnie Rig in action

Hello guys and gals,
Josh Sobel has released a view samples of the Bonnie Rig in action, including Waqar Alam's wonderful 11 Second Club entry for November 2012. Click the pic to check it out!

Brian Horgan's: rotation orders

Character Design

Hello guys and gals,
My thanks to Onanimation for pointing this one out. Brian Horgan discusses a few tips regarding the rotation setup of your rig to maximize your opportunity to build a clean workflow and nice polish to your shot. Click the image to check it out!

iAnimate iAnimate Online Event - Being a Game Animator

Character Design

Hello guys and gals,
Some of the world's leading games animators gather together to discuss what it takes to animate in the gaming industry. Click the image to check it out!

Sunday 2 December 2012

Pandas animation tricks #18

In this video I show a graph editor trick that will help you scale around curves in Maya using the magic of math. It takes awhile to get used to using this trick but once you are used to it, it can really speed you up. I suggest everyone tries this and then then keep it in their back pockets. - AFightingPanda

Saturday 24 November 2012

Michael Amos Interview

Hello 11 Second Club community,

Its been a little quiet around the blog lately. Which will hopefully mean this interview makes a loud splash, as we catch up with Dreamworks animator Michael Amos. Michael's work was featured in Animation Mentor's showcase for 2011. Michael's theatrical approach to animation features a colourful host of characters and beautiful rendering. I hope you all enjoy reading about his work and influences.

Thank you Michael for your time,

Character Design
 (Please click to watch Michael's Animation Reel)

Please tell us a bit about your passion for musicals, theatre and film.
Firstly, thanks so much Steven for asking to interview me and talk about my work. I am a big fan of the 11 second club and often vote in the monthly competition and read the forum and blog.

Film has always been a passion of mine. For me, seeing a movie is about the feeling you get when watching it. The films that really inspire and stay with me are the ones that effected me the most in the cinema.

The first film I saw was ET when it was released, I was 4. It was probably a bit of a bad choice that my Dad made to take me to see it, but the terror I felt during the end sequence with the white tubes and doctors at their house was also a feeling I loved. I also remember leaving the cinema and just sitting down at the curb on the street unable to speak! It is this feeling that keeps me going to the cinema to search for films that really effect me.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a favourite as well. Again, my Dad took me along, with my younger brother (who again was much too young to see it and was scarred for life... me chasing him around the house trying to pull out his heart did not help!)

Amadeus would be my favourite film of all time. It is the perfect film with the most amazing score, acting, casting, costumes and story. I can frame through F. Murray Abraham's acting as Salieri over-and-over and constantly be blown away by the emotion behind that performance.

And more recently Hugo and The Artist. These film had a real nostalgic feeling to them for me. The sense of wonder that you felt in childhood and something that I think people felt more often in the early 20th century is something that drives me to animation. This feeling is something I am always trying to recapture both for myself, and when I animate, in my audience.

Which brings me to animation. The ability to breath life and a believable performance into a character is a talent that never stops amazing me. I am always surprised and so excited to see my animation come to life. I loved Loony Tunes and Disney animation as a kid. I watched Pinocchio, The Rescuers, Peter Pan and Sword in the Stone over and over and over again. And I still do! Medusa scarred me so much I couldn't watch that film for years (I seem to like being frightened in films!)

Do you have a favourite musical performance?
To be honest, musicals have only recently become a genre that I enjoy. This is totally attributed to my wife. She loves them and introduced me to many great ones like My Fair Lady, Wizard of Oz, Oklahoma! and many more.

My favorites are Meet Me in St. Louis, The Producers (both versions) and The Court Jester (anything with Danny Kaye is awesome).

As for an actual performance in a film / animated movie I would say Danny Kaye in The Court Jester when he sings about being a jester. I also love all the songs and performances in The Producers (the most recent one). You could pick any from that film and I would be happy!
And for an animated performance would be the Genie in Aladdin when he sings Friend Like Me . Eric Goldberg's animation is amazing. 

I love your choice to animate Dustin Hoffman's vocals from the film Hook. I like how the twist in character plays with the direction expectations of the audience. How does the finished animation reflect on your original ideas for the audio?
Concept art - Lie, Me NEVER
This shot was a hard one. I wanted to animate something a little more over the top and crazy. I felt like I only scratched the surface with a previous shot that I had tried as a project as part of the Animation Mentor course. I did this animation in the 2 week break between classes as just a personal side project to see if I could do a better job.

I filmed a lot of video reference where I had him sitting down, standing, walking around, pacing etc etc. I liked though the idea of him starting the shot not even looking at the viewer or the person he is talking to in the scene. I also felt like him standing AND not looking at them raised his status and made him a doubly arrogant!

I blocked out the shot and showed some people whose work inspires me (both students and mentors) and didn't get the best reaction. So I scrapped it, reshot the reference and started again. This shot was the only one where I almost gave up on it completely.

Most of it though was really the idea of trying to push the intensity and the personality of the character. The way he walked, his turn, the laugh etc I redid a few times to really try and get more ideas into how he moved telling us more about his character. The stiffness in the upper chest - his whole body, neck and head feeling more connected / fused together. The limp at the start (I wore a big ski boot while doing the reference to make this feel right).

The choices of audio seems highly appreciative to the theatrical qualities found in your work. What do you look for when selecting audio to animate?
I really look for character - something that sounds like it has a lot of personality. I also look for highs and lows in the dialogue and pacing. Something that has pauses or break is great too so that I can show the character thinking. I look for things that are not too recognisable so that I can put my own spin on it and not have the audience comparing it to the original performance. I also look for changes in emotion and tone. But most of all, something that is entertaining.

The entertainment factor to me is most important. Every shot in the film is in there for a reason - to tell the story, to tell us about the character, and to entertain us. I also try and keep the clips fairly short. Having pieces that you can really spend the time polishing and pushing to get it to feature quality I think is much harder with 500-600 frame shots than 200-300 frame ones.

Finally, I look for things that will complement my reel if that is the purpose of the piece. Something that is not too similar to other things I have on there, but also challenges me to work in a different style.

Your Action Analysis blog pays many wonderful tributes to the work of Disney's Nine Old Men. Please talk about their influence on your work.
The Nine Old Men are a huge influence I think to anyone that aspires to become a feature animator. They shaped our childhood and are a huge inspiration on our work. I was lucky enough to meet Frank and Ollie when they visited Australia and stay in touch with Ollie afterwards and that played a big part in how I thought about animation.

For me I think I see them as a quality bar and something to try to achieve. I also love watching their animation because I feel like 2D animation is much more free to push the poses and the graphic nature of the shapes and be more inventive with the timing/spacing. These are qualities I would like to try and get more into my work as I feel that the video reference approach is of course great for acting and subtle details, but can be too grounded in reality. I would like to see animation continue to push more into why it is animated - inventive poses, timing and spacing.

You have celebrated the works of many different American studios. What influence has your home country of Australia had on your creative practice?
The two main influences for me in Australia were Peter Viska and Chris Kennett. Peter is an animator and illustrator who has worked on a huge number of animated TV series and children's books. He was incredibly helpful and kind - he let me punch my animation paper, he gave me an animation desk, he answered a lot of questions and he ended up becoming a co-worker on a number of projects.

Chris Kennett was someone that I originally hired at my studio to work on a TV series pilot that I had co-created and was doing with Cartoon Network. He ended up becoming a good friend and is a constant inspiration as a character designer, animator and children's book author. 

As a fan of traditional animation, you mentioned your delight in watching the 2D pencil tests for DreamWorks, Me and My Shadow. What role do you believe 2D animation will play in your future career?
I am extremely lucky to be working at DreamWorks on the film, Me and My Shadow as both a 2D and CG animator. There is so much amazing talent on this film. Going to dailies is a blast to see the amazing pencil tests and CG animation being done. Its also so exciting to be drawing and doing 2D animation again.

I think 2D will continue to play a very big part in my animation workflow. Many of the supervisors and HOCA's (Head's of Character Animation) on the films come from a 2D background. The new software at DreamWorks requires you to work on a Wacom Cintiq and drawing poses for both yourself and to share with other animators is built in. It also allows you to pencil test directly into your CG scene and show as a blocking pass for your CG animation (a workflow I used a lot at Animation Mentor).

Whats great about Me and My Shadow is that it is an idea that is perfect for animation and specifically the mixture of 2D and CG animation. The studio seems very open to pursuing more ideas like this (like we have seen in the past with the 2D sequences in Kung Fu Panda) and along with projects like Disney's Paperman, I find the future of 2D and CG working closer together to be really exciting.

Such details as the spots of colour in the window flowers for The Trolley Song really add an extra quality to the presentation of your reel. Please talk us through some of the artwork that inspired your reel's environments.
The backgrounds in my reel where all done based on one sad fact... I have absolutely no idea how to model anything, not even a cube, in CG! So I did the only thing I know, I drew them all.

The main thing was I wanted to present the work in the best way, but also wanted to add to the feeling and tone of each peice. So I designed settings that helped set up and tell you a little more about the character in the shot or their backstory. The lighting and mood for me was really the most important thing as I didn't want detailed or complex backgrounds distracting from the animation (that was the job I wanted, not a BG artist!)

I also tried to look at my reel a bit like a film overall. I tried to think of it in the terms of a colour script. I wanted there to be emotional highs and lows and the different shots to be really distinct from one another. So I made sure that the colours felt like they all came from a similar tonal palette (ie. I didn't suddenly introduce really bright candy colours for example), but changed enough from each shot so that there was not all blue or all red etc shots together.

The Santa Elf shot I wanted it to feel warm and cosey. I wanted you to feel safe and happy with the festive feeling of Christmas because the whole piece was about contrast to what the girl was going to say. I wanted her line to be as unexpected as possible!

(The Santa Elf  background designs)

The Robin Hood shots were modelled badly in 3D as I needed to have much more complicated camera moves and the character interacting more with the environment.

The Lie Me NEVER shot was inspired by The Godfather and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in style to the colours and lighting. I wanted a more gritty feeling to this shot and added some grain and texture to it to make it feel dirty and dark after the brighter end to Robin Hood.

The Circus Pole shot was inspired by the colours and tones from Moulin Rouge. I wanted to to feel rich in colour to compensate for the more basic rig.

The Trolly Song was all about that first morning light in a city like San Francisco / New York which influenced the designs of the houses and trolly and was set in the late 1800's or early 1900's. After the last two shots I wanted to end the reel on a more upbeat tone.

(The Trolley Song background artwork)

Looking through your blog, I've spotted that you had the opportunity to meet two of your Animation Mentor teachers, Pixar's Chris Chua and Disney's Chad Sellers. Please tell us about this experience.
I've actually been lucky enough to meet with all my mentors from Animation Mentor which has been great. I got to meet Chris Chua and  Victor Navone at Pixar where they gave me a tour and had lunch. It was awesome to talk to them about the projects they were working on and still hear how passionate they are about animation and films. It was also cool to hear about Chris' lunchtime group of friends who play board games at work.

Chad was also very kind to give me a tour of Disney a few weeks after they had wrapped on Tangled. It was great to meet a lot of the team and hear about how Chad had grown up loving Disney film and was living his dream working at the studio surrounded so much history that constantly inspires him.
My other 3 mentors were Drew Adams, David Weatherly and Sean Sexton who all work at DreamWorks. This is the most exciting part for me, being able to work alongside these guys, eat lunch, see films and hangout with them is amazing. Drew and I share a love for Disneyland that boarders upon obsession! We have made a lot of trips down there already!

Tell us a bit about how your mentor's workflows and friendships inspired you.
The mentors at Animation Mentor teach because they all share the same passion for animation and really want to share that knowledge. I have taken something from each of these mentors which is reflected in my workflow constantly:

Chris' ability to simplify and distill a pose so that intention and thought is as clear as possible. Chad's notes on spacing and arcs, Drew's workflow is most similar to mine where I animate in a more straight ahead method. Dave's constant harping on about making it work from all angles (which has since saved my ass many times!) and his nit-picky notes that make me polish my work to a much higher level. Victor's notes on acting and his love of the graph editor which no longer made me scarred of it! And finally Sean who's work ethic and acting notes continues to inspire me at work everyday.

Your Robin Hood animation made it in the Animation Mentor's Student Showcase. How did you plan the environment and the path your character ran through?
I did this animation in class 3 with Drew Adams at DreamWorks. I felt like after class 2 that I had only just started to animate all the different physical actions that I wanted to try in CG. So I made a big list of everything I would like to try and animate including pushing a heavy object, jumping a large gap, catching your balance, climbing etc.

I then worked out a script based on these and how they could work together. I had also recently seen the original Robin Hood at an old cinema where I used to live in Melbourne, Australia on the big screen and loved it. I felt like that would be a good theme that I could use to tie these different body mechanic actions together into a very loose story.

I spent some time drawing out different castle and rooftop locations to work out how the different actions could take place in these settings. The restrictions from Animation Mentor was there had to be 3 shots - so only 2 camera cuts and minor camera moves ie. basic pans only. Each animation was no more than 200 frames, and a single character.

I like having these restrictions as they give you a framework to work within. I also wanted to make sure I didn't spend to much time having the character run from place to place (so the first shot is really the only one that has running) and that each shot didn't repeat itself with the body mechanic actions.

I pencil tested out each of these animations very roughly in Flash to work out the timing as I was worried I was trying to do too much in the frame limit. I also always work with paper in front of my computer as I tend to rough out the poses and push them further with a pencil rather than trying to make them work on the rig.

(Below is a glimpse into Michael's planning)

(video ref)

(Selection of planning from shots one and two, (to be editted))

(Shot three)

Since joining DreamWorks has your animation workflow evolved since your studies at Animation Mentor?
The overall workflow has remained very much the same. The only real difference is time and software. I still shoot video reference for all my shots (I usually do this on the weekend so that I am not messing around Monday morning and loosing half a day editing it and getting that right before I start blocking).

I also draw out the poses and test things in drawings first. I then block in stepped mode and show this to the Director in rounds or dailies.

The time difference comes in here - at Animation Mentor there was more steps. You would show blocking, blocking plus, spline, polish etc. At work, I usually show blocking and once I am given the go-ahead and made any revisions from the supervisors etc, I spline and do a first polish pass together.

I then show what is called 'close to final' where I am looking for the Director to approve and say my shot is 'Auto-Final' which means he is happy with the acting and performance and I don't have to show him again. I then do another few polish passes whilst showing the supervisors to get final from them as well.

The other difference is the software. DreamWorks has their own proprietary software called EMO. After 5-6 weeks of training you start on production shots and it is very different to Maya which is what I was using at Animation Mentor. It has some great features and is missing a lot too, so that has changed my workflow in a technical sense.

I am a big fan of your gothic illustrations released in your book, Scary Tales. Do you have plans to continue your practice as an illustrator?
Thanks so much! Scary Tales was something I was working on just before I started at Animation Mentor and through the first 3 classes. I was missing drawing while spending so much time on the computer and wanted to work on things that were only on paper with very little digital components. I used ink and brushes and charcoal etc. It was so nice to have that escape.

I would love to do another book and have been discussing the idea with another animator at work, so who knows!

This gothic theme and dark sense of humour has continued into your Codfish and Graveyard animations. Why were they left off your reel?
They were left off because they were the weakest two pieces on the reel. Codfish was replaced by the Lie, Me NEVER shot as I felt the acting and character was much stronger. Graveyard I felt was the weakest piece on the reel, and through discussion with my mentor at the time, Sean Sexton, we removed it.
We have talked about your many different influences. How much research do you do when commencing a new project or shot?
I do quite a bit. I look at a lot of movies for acting ideas, gestures etc. I look at comics and 2D animation for layout and staging, I read about the time or place the movie or character is from.

For example, the Trolly Song shot I knew I wanted to do something in the late 1800's time wise. So I spent quite a bit of time researching the costumes and women's etiquette of the era to get ideas on how the character would move. Something that I really liked was the idea that women in this time period would wear corsets. This would really restrict the movement, especially the mid section and breathing.

So I deliberately reduced the amount of movement and made the middle section of the torso quite stiff, having most of the bend come from the hips and a little from the shoulders, but none in the centre. I also made the breathing in the upper chest only and not from the belly.

Lastly, is there any advice you would like to share with your fellow animators?
Animation takes a huge commitment in time and passion. You really have to love it and live it to want to get to the point where you make it your career. My three pieces of advice would be:

- If you are going to animate, pour your heart and soul into it. Work as hard as you can and put everything into it. Use your time wisely and efficently. Turn off any distractions. I would disconnect the internet and my phone while in Maya so that while I am at my desk I am only animating, not chatting, surfing or writing emails. If you work hard it will show in your work and people will notice.

- Make real connections and contacts in the industry and animation community. So many of the jobs at the major studios and smaller ones too are from recommendations and referrals. Get to know people working at these studios as your mentors through school or at events like CTN. But don't make it about them helping you or giving you notes on your work. Just get to know them, talk to them, celebrate with them by sending an email when their latest film comes out etc. They will take notice of your work anyway and want to help you if you follow point 1!
Also- find people you admire and trust at school or online and show them your work. Get real feedback all the time. During Animation Mentor a few of us started a study group and got together every week and really tore each others stuff apart. It helped so much.

- Finally, surround yourself with people who believe in you and understand your goals. Many friends you have will think you are crazy... "You don't want to go out, you want to just stay in and animate?!?" My wife Michelle is my biggest supporter and believed in me when I thought the goal of working at DreamWorks was not going to happen. Having someone like that who understands you need to work on Friday night and all weekend and is pushing you to succeed makes all the difference.

She even slept on the floor beside my desk one night to keep me company. She would read to me when I was going from stepped to spline in my shot late at night. She moved across the world so I could work at my dream job. A HUGE part of the reason I have been able to work at DreamWorks and achieve this goal is because of her. Find your Michelle!

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Bonnie Rig 1.0

Character Design

Josh Sobel's Bonnie rig is now free to download. Click the pic to check it out!

Monday 24 September 2012

Salvador Simo interview

Character Design Hello guys and gals,

For July's monthly winner, Salvador Simo used beautiful craftsmanship to presents his puppet show. I must add, I received the interview last week, however, I felt the need to delve a little deeper. I am super glad I did. 
I hope you enjoy the tales from Salvador's 20 year career so far, and hold dear his words of inspiration. That to enter the magically world of animation, 'Anyone can get there, it is just a matter of hard work'.

I want to thank Salvador for his time and wish both him and the community good luck for their future endeavors. Enjoy!


What influenced you to become an animator?
Well I had been always drawing since a kid, but I started off my University studies as a lawyer. Then, after a while, I got onto a introductory course on Saturdays morning doing 2d animation. I can’t remember why, and it was there where I was introduced to this new world. And that was it. I knew that was what I really wanted to do. Mainly what called to me was the honesty of this environment. Anyone can get there, it is just a matter of hard work.

Your career as an animator has taken you around the world, including visits to Barcelona, London, Thailand. Care to share any fun memories of these travels?
I’ll add Los Angeles and Paris. These are very important for me. The first one is when I did work with Bill Melendez in The Peanuts Show. I had a great mentor and friend there, Larry Leichliter.

When I went to Los Angeles in 1992 I went to take night classes in the American Animation Institute, and during the day I was in the studio of Bill Melendez - I´ll say more learning than working. Bill offered me a desk and the chance to help them and learn from them. It was amazing to meet him and hear him talking, feeling his passion for animation, for me that time was a lifechanging experience. 

It was in the studio that I meet Larry. He is a great animator and now Director, with a lot of patience. Basically he became my mentor and I did learn a lot from him, not only as an animator, but also as a person. I was amazed by his kindness and his talent. It was one of those things that you find only once in a while, that moment when  you are young you say "I´ll like to be like him when I grow up". 
Working with the Peanuts, was a privilege.  The animation style they achieved was more on the illusion of movement. It was stylized animation more than the full rendered animation of the Disney films, and I think that has been always there somehow. I consider myself very lucky and grateful for that time.

When I went to Paris, I somehow got my dream to work in Disney. I had amazing time everywhere, but probably the bigger laughs were in Disney when about 20 people from different countries we were trying to learn French in the same class, and all of them from the studio, you can imagine ... we learned a lot.

So in London and Paris I had the most fun, enjoying the beer on Fridays after work with the colleagues.

Have you visited any of their fine art galleries? If so, what was your favourite piece of fine art and where was it on show?
Yes, I visited as many art galleries as I could. The classics that are my favorite. I have to mention Sorolla and the sculptures in Orsay...the Rodin Museum in Paris... Las Meninas by Velazquez in el Prado-Madrid.

I was surprised by the art in Thailand. They have a quite new museum in the centre of Bangkok. It is not very big, however, it exhibits some really impressive young talent.

After 20 years in the industry, where do you turn for new inspiration?
Well here I’m not very original. I did start my career in 2d animation and there is where I always start. The 'simple' pencil tests of Glen Keane or Milt Kahl, they just blow your mind every time.

I also like to see the work of many illustrators with amazing styles, available online, or some comic book of Loisel and some other artist.

Watching your entry, I must compliment your handling of line and shape. You wrote in your clip's description:
Was wishing for a long time to go back to 2d animation so I managed to stretch sometime this month and make this piece
Please talk about your previous experience in traditional animation.
I have spent half of my career in 2d animation. I started by painting cels and explored all the steps through to animation and layout. It is an art form that makes me very sad that it is becoming less and less. The people were quite amazing, they were artists that had a strong passion for it. Deep in my heart I will always be a 2d guy, so what can I say.

Later I moved to 3d and I think is great. It is a new way to work with animation and has many advantages. It is a relatively new tool with the same principles, and some more technical stuff. But I still miss the feeling of the pencil and the paper.

Have you had any personal experience bringing puppets to life with ventriloquism or stop motion?
Actually not, but I always start my animations thinking that the characters are puppets, so you are forced to rely on the basic pantomime not in the face, then I developed from there.
I think the magic of the puppets is on the simplicity and that is what captivate me most.

Puppets seemed to influence your earlier work. Would I be correct in noting that the style of your short film 'Insight' was influenced by the stop motion work by Tim Burton?
Well I understand that in 3d we move digital puppets and I have been influenced by many kinds of animation. It will be false to not say that Nightmare Before Christmas did not influenced me. It is an amazing piece of art and entertainment, that has influenced a lot of people.

When I did Insight I was looking for simplicity. I had very, very low resources and I wanted to finish it so I had to find a way to tell the story as simply as possible. I think the influence of the stopmotion is on the simplicity and effective way to animate. It is an interesting reference to study.

(Insight, click to view)

The characters of Insight were designed in this way, because it was a mute film the characters were not going to talk. This led me to enlarge the eyes to give more expression and space in the face. The shape of the characters all started with very simple shapes. the head of the grandma started as half circle and the body as a cylinder.

I like to use simple shapes as much as possible. In my 2d shorfilm Aquarium, the fish were based on a square shape and the bad guys were triangles.

On the subject of simplicity, I think when anyone starts a personal project we aim very high. This is good to do, but you also have to have your feet on the ground. If you aim too high the project will not be complete and that is very sad. Sometimes I have to put my producer´s hat on and be realistic. My director´s hat helps me to find a doable way to produce the project and be able to finish it.

However, it is also important that we always put some of our life into the designs/animations. For Insight, I did reference someone very close to me, but then chose to push the graphic concept of the design and play with it.

Focusing on your winning entry, I now must ask: Why did you choose puppets?
Well, I think the challenge is not only on doing a technically good piece, but it has to be entertaining for the audience. When I first heard the dialogue, I didn’t want to fall into the first choice and I tried to look for something a little further. I took a risk, and I thought that to have the two puppets, a kind of three little pig tease, would be more fun.

Talk a bit about your animation process for your entry.
Once I had the concept I first shoot myself to take some acting references, and sketched some ideas to plan the animation.

I knew I had to make a choice here go for the puppets as a main characters or the puppeteer, and I choose the second one, maybe a wrong choice but actually I thought to do this exercise to have fun rather that wining the competition, I could play more with the expressions and acting with him, so worth the risk. I hope this explains my staging choices.

After that I rough the key poses and did a rough pass on the breakdowns, and later the cleanup process.

The puppeteer's lip sync is delightfully expressive. Please talk a bit about your approach to facial animation.
Thanks a lot, I enjoy a lot the lip sync in animation, is a part that defines a lot of character in the acting, if you check some english actors the way they have to pronounce the words and the accents give a big stroke on the personality of the character, is fascinating to see. On my exercise I went for clear shapes and the feeling of the motion, than hitting the exact labials, I tried to hit few key expressions.
It was very thankful on the comment on the e-critique about the jaw, is true that a bit more work on it would had improved a lot the exercise.

During the voting period, I had the opportunity to make the following comment:
I believe the puppets need more stage presence. Right now, the focus is on the puppeteer... as the puppeteer knows what will happen (he is in full control), I cannot buy the element of surprise at the end
Please may you discuss your reasons for staging your animation in its current format.
As I said before was a risky choice and seems was not clear enough for the audience, but I thought that the puppeteer would be more entertaining for me, selfish choice.

In your eCritique, Keith Sintay discussed opens to help solve this staging issue. With hindsight, would you have staged your animation differently?
Mmmm, to be honest probably not. Although it make me realize what were my mistakes. One of these mistakes (I have to say that almost I knew that I was doing it wrong, but I went with it), was the last beat with the puppet wolf. Originally the attention had to be on the puppeteer, so the wolf had to remain in the back silent. However, the temptation overloaded me and I moved him forward and that mislead almost everything.

About the staging and the position of the character in the screen, I wanted to create a contrast between him moving from side to side agains the last beat of him in the centre. This way, the shot gets more strength and balance at the end.

I think Keith is right when he talks about the thirds rule. It is important to keep it in mind, but the rules and more in cinematography depend not only of the shot itself, but of the ones around and what you want to tell. The third rule gives you a safe grid to place the characters, but sometimes it is nice to push them and break the rules. It may work or it may not, but is nice to try and experiment. That is what is nice about these exercises, that you are able to try things and learn. And that is the magic in it.

Is there anything you'd like to add about your thought-process or experience in July's competition?
I always wanted to participate, but for me, there was different factors that were in play. Mainly the time. I work in the animation industry and sometimes finding a couple of weeks free is difficult. Once your schedule is free, you must also find the right story to tell with the dialogue.  Finding the one that suddenly “lights up the bulb over your head” is challenging. After all, if you have to work on your free time or after a whole day of paid work, you want something that inspire you. And in July the odds were smiling, so I decided to go for it. And I have to say that I had a lot of fun doing it, and the consideration of the members was a great and I’m really very thankful.

What advice would you offer to a beginner who wants to enter the competition?
We all want to show something nice, but most of it entertaining, so I’ll suggest before sharpening the pencil or turning on the computer, spend some time, maybe just the first week, listening the audio and thinking on the story and the way to make it entertaining, maybe making some rough thumbnails, after that, once you got it, you are almost half way in. And of course have fun.