21 Apr 2010

Movie Madness + Maya Tutorials

Lines Horizontal:
This is a hard one to review and also rather easy. As it’s a five minute video featuring the movement of lines, it’s all about becoming lost in the movements and the sound as opposed to following a story or some form of narrative. The animation itself looks rather simplistic but I’m sure it wasn’t as simple as it looks. The music works wonderfully with Animation building in tempo when the animation lines up. A short movie that shows that simplistic design can really excel.

Le Merle:
A different sort of animation from McLaren this time as it focuses on a small character and the characterisation that is present. A rather surreal animation where a small bird splits apart and reforms with more parts allowing McLaren to add more to it, meaning that any items or objects that show up have a viable reason for being there. The music once again fits well into the animation, building up and slowing down when needed. The animation is very smooth and portrays the character well.

Pas de Deux:
A ballet film created by McLaren again, showing his usual style. It features a ballet dancer doing what she does best but McLaren has created a form of silhouette that is left behind. The dancer then reforms with or it disappears. It all adds up to a surreal feeling that the dancer is dancing with herself. A mirror perfect version of herself. Eventually a man enters the fray and the splitting continues leading up to a moment where the female dancers surround the male in an orgy of spectral apparitions. We even have parts where it’s as if an outline is being left behind after every moment, which to be honest, messes with my mind. My favourite shot comes near the end when the male is holding up the female and slowly lowers her and it seems like there melting together.

King Kong:
Possibly the movie that launched monster movies into the mainstream, even though it was masquerading as love story, when we only want to see a big monkey get angry. The movie isn’t a short film obviously, meaning bigger and better animations are needed, and this is evident in the titular ape. One scene that stands out to me for me is the fight between Kong and the Dinosaur on the island. I think it really showcases the power of animation and whether you think it looks fake or not, you can become enthralled by the action on the screen. Of course the other key moment here is Kong atop the Empire State Building shouting at planes. I think this is iconic now because we all are aware of the impending fate of our hero. That concrete isn’t soft. A lot of establishing shots are used to showcase the size and scale but I love how Kong really looks like its climbing, including the laboured stopping to emphasise the fact that this is a huge beast. All in all, King Kong is really brought to life by the animation team allowing the beast to feel large and powerful even though it’s properly a figure no bigger than my hand.

Jason and the Argonauts:
Now we are in the Harryhausen territory. This man did more for cinema that George Lucas and his Sci-fi epics and James Cameron and his 3D camera.
Back on Topic, The animation in this film once again expanded on the stop-motion effect to great detail. Possibly the movies most famous moment and certainly the one that showcases the animation most is the Skeleton fight. You could argue that other scenes were more impressive, but when you factor in the amount of time to create that amount of enemy combatants, then to have them fight real life counterparts. A lot of time and effort but there’s no denying the fact that it defiantly payed off. The attention to detail is nearly unmatched and shows the length that we have to go to create a convincing world and threats for our travelling heroes. The animation is smooth and fits into the action and portrays to the audience that the creatures are a plausible threat, not a small model.

Dimensions of Dialogue:
An animation created by Jan Svankmajer that explores decay and the cycle of life. This is an animation that doesn’t contain a lot but leaves you entertained, like the new ‘Star Trek’ Film. It starts with ‘full’ creatures that gradually degrade as they are eaten and then thrown back up. This pattern continues with the ‘better’ of the two meeting faces eating the other. It gradually comes down to nothing. The animation and especially the detail in the models are incredible. I can’t fathom how long this took to make. To gather the objects and assemble them in the perfect way to interact with one another, meaning it really keeps your attention.

Street of Crocodiles:
Oh. The one animation that we looked at that I didn’t engage it. I not sure what it is but I feel that the animation wasn’t clear to me, meaning that I couldn’t follow what was going on except on small parts that I looked at on its own. For example, the undoing of the screws in the dust, the bugs (Damn it, what are they called?) unravelling in the dust. I was mainly fascinated by the use of dust or decay in the film but the overall thing I thought was lacking. Sorry...
No I’m not. It’s my opinion.

Jiri Barta Animation (was it called Club of the abandoned?)
This was another slow animation, but I enjoyed it more than ‘Crocodiles’. It features a group of old manikins that no longer needed going along with their makeshift life. The animation was very fluid and clear and it really portrayed the movements of the manikins in there decaying state and how they are affected by age. The only issue I have is that the new manikins moved it the same way. I thought the old moved like that because of degradation but the newer ones where very similar to a certain extent.

My second favourite Pixar film behind the glorious Toy Story, Up is film that is just as much about story as it is animation. I won’t delve into story but I’ll say that it is powerful and that it fits into the world that Pixar have created. It has the emotional tugs as well as the action and with a huge helping of Comedy. It’s rather hard to review the animation of a Pixar film because it can be summed up by saying ‘Perfect’. The characters are modelled to perfection, whether it’s the way the character looks or has to move. There animation is even better, really giving the viewer a feeling of ‘Solidarity’. The characters move and interact as they should in relation to the created world. Can they do what they did in real life or in a live action movie? No, it would look weird and out of place, but in the film the movement fits with the characters and world really giving you a sense of plausibility that is unmatched in a lot of animation films. The animation is fluid and fits together with no jerky shots or characters magically moving to set up another action. Plus there’s the fact that the movie looks gorgeous anyway, the animation really looks spectacular. It succeeds at making you think that it’s a real movie, you forget that it’s an animation and enjoy the ride. I defy the most cynical critic to not enjoy this modern classic. The question though is:
Can Toy Story 3 surpass it in anyway?

Maya Tutorials:

Walk Cycle:

Down Walk Cycle:

Contact Walk:

Bounce Walk:

Eye Rig:

I know the eyes texture is messed up, but I'm going to rectify that when I get home today.

Tail rig:

Hand over:

Mech rig:

Character Rig:


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