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Week Eleven - Ball Balance with Stewie (Final):

So, after four weeks, here is the completed version of Stewie and his ball balancing act. This also marks the unofficial end of Class 2, as there won't be a new assignment for next week (aside from putting together a new progress reel with my Class 2 stuff in it). Overall, there are parts of this I really like, but there are also parts that need more work - that's not to say I didn't do my best with this assignment, it's just that I'm still learning to be an animator and some aspects are still very challenging.

Some of you may be missing those days when I was able to display my classmates work in addition to my own, well this week you're in luck! A friend of mine from school has also posted his assignment on Youtube, so that makes it fair game for me to display it here (I don't think he'd mind):

Next week: Class 2 wraps up, new progress reel

Week Ten - Ball Balance with Stewie (Refining):

As you can see, I've moved into spline with Stewie's balancing act, but this is not the finished product (you can check back next week for that). With all the new controls for the arms and hands, it took me a long time to go through and clean up the graph editor. With clean up mostly complete, this week I will concentrate on strengthing the overall action and dealing with any problem areas.

Next week: The completed animation

Some birthday presents are too good not to be shared:

Week Nine - Ball Balance with Stewie (Blocking Plus):

Not a lot to report this week, as I didn't get quite as many changes done as I would have liked.....okay, so maybe I got a bit distracted by birthdays and anniversarys. Look for bigger changes next week.

Next week: Spline Pass, Refining

Week Eight - Ball Balance with Stewie (Blocking):

Let there be arms! Yes, we've finally made it; a full body character. Stewie and I will be getting very close over the next couple of months as I attempt to to master his 500 controls, give or take (see updated glance at the Graph Editor below). Anyway, here is the first blocking pass of my new assignment: a ball balancing and back flip combo. This will actually be my last assignment for Class 2 (crazy!), but it will be completed over the next three weeks. My apologies if this one is a little hard to watch on YouTube; frames keep getting dropped during playback, which means you're probably missing about half the action.

Next week: Blocking Plus

Behind the scenes: The Graph Editor (revisited)

Yep, no joke, this is what my Graph Editor looked like during Week 8. Awesome.

Week Seven - Box Jump with Stewie (Final):

So, after three weeks of work, here is the finished product. Getting used to animating the spine of a character is going to take some time, but overall I'm not too disappointed with this first animation.

Video Reference:

Seeing as how my next assignment will involve Stewie (with arms!) balancing on a ball, there was really no way I could shoot my own video reference without killing myself. So, like any 21st century American, I headed off to YouTube to see what I could find. This ended up being the video that I chose to reference (just the first 25 seconds or so):

My search results also yielded these videos, which are worth sharing:

Next week: Blocked Ball Balancing

Week Six - Box Jump with Stewie (Blocking Plus):

Not too much to say about this - Dimos liked it, so that was good - but this is just the blocking stage further refined.

Next week: The Finished Product

This one's for you, Jack.

...and it even looks like Caleb!

Gator Cam! I'm sure all you Florida residents can appreciate this video...and why they send robotic cameras into the sewers and not Bob with a camcorder.

Week Five - Box Jump with Stewie (Blocking):

I can almost hear Karen Carpenter singing "we've only just begun..." when I look at this animation. Even though I feel like most of the posing is pretty strong, there's so many more intricicies that go into a character with a spine that I'm pretty sure Dimos will have plenty to talk about in my critique. Needless to say, itís going to take some time this time (sorry, more Carpenter references).

180 Degree Jump with Ballie - Revision:

I made the mistake of focusing too much on this revision at the beginning of the week, before abondoning it when I realized that if I didn't get started on my box jump that I wasn't going to get it done in time. I eventually came back to the revision at the very end of the week, at which point I hastily wrapped it up and handed it in. Unfortunately, this was probably a mistake, as I can already see a couple of spots that still need a bit more polish.

Next week: Blocking Plus

...and while we're on the topic of youtube videos starring action figures, you have to watch this incredible stop motion animation of Iron Man vs. Bruce Lee.

There's a whole series of these - all of which parody the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" commercials - and they're frickin' hillarious.

Week Four - 180 Degree Jump with Ballie (Final):

Here's the final animation for Ballie's 180 degree jump (fully rendered for your enjoyment). My first thought upon switching this from stepped keys into spline keys (sorry, animation jargon) was that it looked awful and I was going to fail. Thankfully, after cleaning everything up in the graph editor and adding some final touches I think it turned out pretty nice. No rest for the weary, though, as it's on to our next assignment...

New Video Reference:

So, you might be asking yourself, "Why is Jay jumping on and off a cooler in his backyard?" and it would be a fair question. The next assignment that I chose to animate was a character jumping onto and then off of a box. Now, before you go getting your hopes up that I picked #2, I'm sorry to say that is not the case. Despite some heavy voting by my peers to indeed animate #2 (or at the very least get Caleb his own TV show), I decided that I wasn't going to be the guy animating a character bumbling and stumbling for every assignment. Having just finished animating Ballie jumping and then almost falling backward onto his butt, it was time to move in a new direction. I ended up selecting #5, as I thought it had some dynamic poses, was interesting, and would still be a challenge without putting me in over my head. I would also like to introduce you to my new character, Stewie (with no arms):

He is very much a relative of our old friend Stu, and yes, some day he will have arms, but for right now it's going to be challenge enough just getting used to a character with a spine. If you go back and watch my video reference again you will see that I'm doing my best not to use my arms at all - I even stuck them in my pockets for one shot, but we all know how that turned out (see #2). This is when things really start to ramp up at AM, as it is the beginning of full body characters...scary and exciting stuff! I'm glad to have you all here for the ride.

Week Three - 180 Degree Jump with Ballie (Blocking Plus):

Per Dimos' suggestion, I have kept this week's assignment in stepped mode, so it looks kind of similar to last week's work. You might notice, however, that this is looking quite a bit speedier than last week's rendition. Dimos was eager to adjust the timing, cutting a lot of frames out of the jump itself, thus forcing me to add some extra movement in to stay within the assigned frame limit (100-200).

Next week: The Final Product

Week Two - 180 Degree Jump with Ballie:

For this week's assignment we were to take our reference from last week and begin blocking out the animation for our scene. I ended up choosing "180 degree jump #4" from reference below, at which point I exaggerated some of the poses, as well as adding a bit more drama to stumble backwards.

Next week: More Blocking

Madison's Toughest Cowboy is at it again, but this time I had nothing to do with it:

What makes this even better is that this was on the front page of the paper on the same day:

For the Frodo in all of us:

Crystal surprised me with tickets to Wizard Quest a couple of weekends ago and it was awesome! Of course, it may not be for everyone, or, as my buddy Gene put it, "Looks awesome...if you're a 13 year old nerd!" I think he was kidding.

It was fun, it was a challenge - we both loved it! Check out their website for more info: www.wizardquest.net

Take it from just another 13 year old nerd.

This was posted in my school workspace by a fellow classmate:

Class Two, Week One - Meet Your New Class:

Week one is usually reserved for meeting your new classmates and getting to know your mentor, so there's not a lot of excitement going on this week. My new class includes students from such exotic locations as Argentina, Brazil and Australia - as well as a guy who can see Wrigley Field when he looks out his apartment window (now that's exotic!).

We also have a list of 10 different choices we get to pick from when deciding what to do for our next assignment. The animation will be done using Ballie (see walk cycles from below) and will be a four week process. This week we were to shoot video reference for possible animation choices; you can enjoy my video reference here:

I'm sorry to say, but it looks like this may be the end of Stu. In checking the syllabus, it doesn't appear that we'll be doing any more poses with him. So, in the words of the Von Trapp children, "So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehem, goodbye..."

Class 2 activate! I've got my new class (all new classmates, no familiar faces from Chad's class) and my new mentor: Dimos Vrysellas. Click here to learn more about Dimos.

Week Twelve - Class 1 Review (Progress Reel):

Mid-Week Update - Tying Up Loose Ends:

Chad really liked my character walk from last week and didn't have too much too add. He suggested that the feet not slap down on the ground quite as quickly, so that is what is what this revision contains - less slappy feet.

Chad also digged my Karate Kid balance pose for this past week, but I think some of that might arise from the fact that he is a fan of the film (or grew up in that era). Needless to say, he would certainly enjoy a "Sweep the leg, Johnny" reference. He suggested moving the arms into the "final fight scene" position, as Danielson is about to take Johnny down, thus clearing the hand out of head-area.

Here's an updated exhausted Stu. The camera is at a slightly different angle (so his head doesn't look so massive) and his feet are in a better position to hold his weight (so his big, fat head doesn't pull him over).

Week Eleven - Walks With Character (Part 2):

Here is my double bounce walk in completed form (and in three different views). This was the first week we were required to bring a walk into 3/4 (or perspective) view, after working solely in the side view.

This week's Stu assignment - "balance" :

Sweep the leg, Johnny! For those of you unfamiliar with that reference - and Crystal despises when I use it (although I have no idea why) - that line, and my pose, come from the film The Karate Kid.

Here are some additional Stus from my classmates (click image to see full size version):

This is actually every other Stu pose from my class. Why, you may ask? Well, as incredible as it is to believe, this will be my last assignment for Class 1 at Animation Mentor. All that is left for our final week, assignment wise, will be to compile all of our work from Class 1 (Basic Foundations) and upload it to AM. Class 2 begins on March 30!

"Sheep" - a short film by Dan Segarra

Dan is an Animation Mentor graduate who dropped by our live Q&A this week to talk about his experiences working in the industry. This short film was his last project at AM.

First trailer for "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" is released:

This is the movie movie that Chad (my mentor) is currently working on.

Click here to watch the trailer.

Jay unveils his newest website: www.sesamestreem.com

It has been quite a while since I've debuted a new website, and never have I had a site quite like this one. Sesame Streem is a kind of hybrid website; half business, half fun. For those of you who are fans of the classic Sesame Street and Muppet shows (and movies), I think you will enjoy this new site. It features a large selection of streamable playlists from all the different Muppet albums that I have transferred from vinyl onto CD. All the music can be enjoyed for free, but (and here's the business part) people can also use the site to search my webstore for albums that are available for sale.

Anyway, have a look when you get a chance and feel free to listen to an album or two (one of my personal favorites is the Bert & Ernie Sing-Along). Any comments, questions, spelling errors - just let me know!

Week Ten - Walks With Character (Part 1):

As you can probably imagine, the next logical step after working on vanilla walks would be to start working on walks with some character in them. This week, the animation we handed in was only to be in the blocking stage (same as week eight), but we were allowed to pick any type of walk we wanted (the "drunken walk" was a very popular choice). I ended up choosing a double bounce walk, which is an energetic walk that tends to convey high spirits or optimism. It looks a little spastic now, but as I refine it it should start to appear a bit more natural.

New Stu assignment - "Exhausted" :

My thinking here was that he had just been running and is now bent over with a stitch in his side. Admittedly, he also kind of looks like an old guy with back problems.

I also did an alternate pose; this one is more of a "I've been running now get that camera out of my face" pose:

Again, depending on your mood, this could also look like "I'm puking my guts out now get that camera out of my face," but what can you do?

Here are some additional Stus from my classmates (click image to see full size version):

Revision - Vanilla Walk:

I took another shot at last week's assignment, as well, but since I started it from scratch I thought I would post it here rather than replace the week nine video below. Now you can watch both videos and compare and contrast!

Behind the scenes: Stu

This is what Stu actually looks like when I open him up in Maya (click on the image to see a full size version). He starts off in what's known as the "default" position, at which point I start moving around the different colored curves around his body. These control things like the arc of his spine, the bend in his legs, the direction of his hips...and so on. As you can see, he's not much to look at in the beginning, but with a little work he can actually start to look like a living character.

Mid-week update - Concerned Stu revised:

Well, it was bound to happen. Ever since arriving at AM one thing we've been constantly taught to do is "push the pose." When you think you've reached the limit of a pose, exaggerate it further, make it more extreme. This, of course, begs the question: how far is too far? As it turns out, last week's Stu was just a bit too far. Chad really liked the idea and the overall pose, but he felt I had probably gone a little bit too far with it (I belive his words were something like, "I feel the weight of his head would have pulled him over the edge by now." The pose above was what Chad suggested, and even though I like it, there's still something about the previous pose that I like a little bit more, even if it is pushing the boundaries of cartoony-ness.

Now, below is what happens when things aren't pushed in the right direction! While I was working with the original pose, I couldn't quite figure out what to do with the right arm. I kept moving it around to see how it would affect the overall feeling of the shot and accidentally ended up with this pose:

Yep, I rendered the image, saw this and went, "Oh my god, I've just given Stu a penis." I thought about still handing it in, just to see Chad's reaction, but in the end decided to keep Stu genetalia-free.

One last minor update is with the strong Stu pose below. Chad, in his wisdowm, felt the fingers reaching around the piano were not working, so I removed them (sorry Jack).

Week Nine - Vanilla Walk Continued:

Here is the completed walk that I started last week. I have spliced together five cycles of it, since it's pretty hard to glean anything from a two second clip (if you'd like to try, watch last week's video). I actually discovered a mistake in the animation just as I was ready to hand it in, but with a little work I got it fixed in time. It was literally the difference of a single frame, and for those of you who don't know, one second of animation is made up of 24 frames. That's how crazy animation can be - you can be off by 1/24th of a second and things will look funny, but fix that one frame and things will suddenly look normal again.

Fun fact of the week that I learned in my lecture: when you are walking at your normal pace, it will take you one second to complete a full stride. This holds true with just about every person on the planet; you can set a stop watch by it.

Another new Stu this week:

This week's emotion: "concerned."

Here are some additional Stus from my classmates (click image to see full size version):

If you want to be an animator, don't ever let this happen to you:

22 minutes?! Is that really necessary?

And despite some confusion, this is NOT my work.

Mid-week update - Strong Stu revised:

When I handed in my Stu pose for this previous week I was pretty sure something wasn't quite right. Among other things, he just didn't seem to be taking on the actual burden of the piano. I knew Chad would give me some good ideas on how to improve the pose - which he of course did - and here is the revision.

Crash - A short film by Jure Prek (an Animation Mentor student)

Meet Stringfever! Crystal and I had the great fortune to see this group of three brothers and their cousin (all the way from London) play at a recent VAPAS event. You would never believe that chamber music could be so entertaining! Playing songs such as the Beatles' "Elanor Rigby" and "Yesterday," as well as a collection of film music - and the amazing feat of sharing a single cello while playing Ravel's "Bolero" - they were simply spectacular! Be sure to check out this video of their signature song, The History Of Music...In 5 Minutes:

You can also check out their website - www.stringfever.co.uk - for additional vidoes and info.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Verona Area Performing Arts Series (VAPAS), Joe Ringeisen (a friend of the family) sits on their board of directors and was responsible for getting me hired this past year to do work on their annual video preview for upcoming shows. If you'd like to check out their website (www.vapas.org) you can still find the video I put together for them on their main page.

Interestingly enough, it was Meegan (Joe's daughter) who was instrumental in bringing Stringfever to Verona, telling Joe about them after she saw a performance in the Cayman Islands.

Week Eight - Introduction To Walks (starring Ballie):

Now before you start thinking, "Jay, this looks like crap," let me explain. First of all, this animation is far from complete. Our assignment this week was to hand in a blocked out walk cycle, which basically means set out the key poses and then leave it in stepped mode. If you pay close attention, you'll see the animation only moves forward every three frames (this is stepped mode), which leaves me room to go back and refine the walk later on. Furthermore, our first walk is to be a "vanilla" walk; very basic, no character added. And yes, it's only two seconds - kind of boring, I know.

Thankfully, to spice things up this week, Stu makes his glorious return:

And why, you ask, is Stu holding a piano? Well, this week we were to demonstrate "physical strength." It's pretty hard not to look tough when you're carring a grand piano all by yourself!

Here are some additional Stus from my classmates (click image to see full size version):

Mid-week update - Tailor revisited:

Although my Tailor assignment from week seven was not poorly received by my mentor, I felt like I still had some work to do when it came to understanding the whole tail concept. Rather than just revising my old animation, I decided to start back over from scratch to see if I could get a better grasp of things, as well as make the animation a little more interesting.

Week Seven - Tailor:

I shot out of the gate with Tailor....and then promptly hit the wall. Hard. The tail turned out to be a much more difficult task then I could have imagined. I watched the instructional video at least half a dozen times and every time I would say, "Yep, now I get it!" Then I would go to work on the animation for a while, everything would be looking great, and then I would add a little more and it would suddenly look like crap. I came very close to scrapping the above animation and trying something even more basic, but I just couldn't bring myself to give up on the back flip. In the end, it just took me failing with the tail about 100 times before I finally started to see why it wasn't working. This animation still isn't perfect, but at the end of the week I had logged so many hours with Tailor that I just wanted to be finished with him. Chad will probably recommend a handful of changes, but I can worry about that when it's time to do a revision.

Behind the scenes: The eCritique

So this is what I get when my assignment is "handed" back to me each week (click an image to see the full size version). You can see Chad, my mentor, on the right, as he talks about the work I've submitted, while he reviews it simultaneously on the left hand screen. During his critique he talks about what looks good, and of course, what doesn't look so good (he's generally quite positive). He can also use his computer to draw suggestions and correctoins on top of the work I've uploaded, like this:

Once he's finished, he uploads the eCritique to AM....where the whole school can now watch it. That's right, anyone who wants to can see exactly how Jay's pendulum is feeling a little bit stiff this week. The only thing that is not shared with the entire campus is the actual grade that I receive for my work.

Week Six - The Pendulum *Revised* :

This one took a little extra time to get the hang of, but then it just kind of clicked (much to my relief). This was the first week we were able to pick between different assignments based on their level of difficulty. We could either bring the pendulum straight across the scene and bring it to a stop (Diff. Level 1), or we could get more creative with the path of the pendulum before also bringing it to a stop (Diff. Level 2). As you can see, I went with #2, adding the stutter stop motion at the beginning, followed by the loopty-loop.

No Stu this week.

A bit further down the line at AM, as you get into advanced acting, you start doing facial poses similar to what I currently do with Stu. I found this in another student's workspace and knew Jack would enjoy it:

Props to anyone else who knows what movie it's from.

So a piece of spam mail made it into my inbox today, but amazingly I had not won the Euro Lottery (I know, I was shocked too). This particular piece of spam only wanted to share this gem:

"of the best practices
old-fashioned playtime.
of clarity I think

That was it, the entire email. I think it must be a haiku.

Week Five - The Obstacle Course & Advanced Bouncing Ball *Revised* :

A new Stu pose for this week:

I'm hoping that this reads pretty well by itself, but in case you were wondering, the specific emotion we were to achieve for this week was "devastation."

Also, since you might be interested in what someone else's work looks like, here's a sample of devastated Stus from my classmates (click image to see full size):

Behind the scenes: The Graph Editor

Some of you have expressed interest in the inner workings of my animation work, so I thought I would share some info on what tools I've been getting better acquainted with. I should also mention that although I had previously done my 3D modeling in a program called Lightwave, since starting at AM I have begun using a new software called Maya.

The beauty you see above (click on the image to see a full size version) is called the graph editor. This is where I spend the majority of my time adjusting the spacing and timing in my animations. Everything you see in this particular graph represents a single ball and about five seconds of animation, nothing else (you can imagine what it's going to look like when I get to full blown character animation).
It kind of makes you want to become an animator too, huh? Well, as frightening as it first looks, it really is a huge part of what goes into making a great animation and I hope to continue calling it my friend for a long time to come.

This also happens to be a gra
ph from my upcoming assignment for Week Five, which I will be posting later this week.

Week Four - Two Bouncing Balls with Different Weights *Revised* :

There wasn't a new Stu pose assignment for this week, so I did revisions on my excitment pose from last week and my walking pose from Week 2:

I also made some slight revisions on last week's bouncing ball assignment, although with the quality of the youtube video I don't know if you'll really be able to see much of a change. None the less, you can see it down below.

Week Three - The Bouncing Ball (my first animation) *Revised* :

Also, another Stu pose:

We were supposed to go for "excitement" with the pose, and according to Crystal he looks "crap your pants excited," so I would consider that a win.

My animation mentor: Chad Sellers

He rocks! Be sure to check out his website at http://www.chadsellers.com/

Week Two - Posing Stu:

Hello to all my loyal Dabrosis followers! As you all should know by now, I am currently on my way at Animation Mentor and loving every minute of it. As I am eager to share my progress through school with all of you, I will be looking to turn Dabrosis into a forum for everything I've been working on. This may include photos, movies, or who knows what else, but I will post it here. Should any other new hotnesses occur, I will post them as well, but the majority of my upcoming updates will be school related. I hope you will enjoy viewing my work as much as I enjoy creating it.

Still putting the "bro" in Dabrosis,

Week one is complete:

Okay, maybe a little less...but it's a start!

When you come home from vacation and find this, it's time to get a new dog-sitter:

You can just see the humiliation in his eyes.

I have no idea why I'm posting this, I enjoy emabarassment I suppose:

Thanks Eric.

Learn more about Jay's animation school:

The best stuff to look at is the previous studen showcase videos, all of which you can find here.

Thanks Jack.

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