Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Run cycle

While in the middle of animating another shot, I decided to spend today animating on a run cycle. I think all in all it represents five hours of work, but put into it on/off during the day.

The run is based off of a test run cycle dreamworks did for MegaMind, and it's animated onto Morpheus rig.

It's always a lot of fun to step back a bit, and do short tests, it sorta gives one a new boost of energy.

Anyways, have fun!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

On directing friends and what to bring to animation

So since September I’ve been directing a short film at the school.
All in all we are ten people on the project, and I am credited as director (and I came with the original idea).

It’s weird to be suddenly put in a position of power, which it is no matter how you want to angle it.
I have no background to make me any more qualified to direct than anybody else in the group, and to from one day to the next, be in the position of leader towards your classmates is very challenging indeed.

What makes it even more challenging is the fact, that I have never done anything of this kind, more than anybody else in the team, but still I have to know what I’m doing, or at least know what to do if I don’t.

The big thing I take from this experience so far is communication – communication towards other people in the team, as well as communication on a story level, which leads me to animation.

When it all comes down, animation is what I want to do for a living, not directing, and I constantly try to make connections to animation, when lingering about all this direction things that is going on atm.
I’ve spend the last months on story construction, story boarding and lately 3d layout. All of this has one clear theme to it: Visually communicating an idea!
Basically the same as animation, am I right?
All of the animation principals, all twelve of them, or however you have on your own list (Which I highly encourage you to make!) all aids you – the animator – in one thing: communicating and idea, an emotion, a story point.

So what is it exactly I feel I’ve taken away so far, which can translate into animation, one curious soul might ask? Well, I _think_ it is this:
Whatever you do, every single pose, every single frame will communicate something to the audience.
But it goes beyond that. The way you choose to frame your character in the shot. The environment around it, how the chair is angled towards the table, how the window frames the character – it all communicates something.
Now the thing is, if you have so many things communicating something it can very easily clutter the message – and what is worse than just cluttering the message, is if you are not aware of all these messages being communicated, there is a big chance some of them might even communicate the opposite of what you want, causing mixed messages… uhhhh the horror!

So being aware that everything you put on screen says something to the audience, is a very good starting place. It might sound daunting, but think about the fact, that if you are able to turn it all on your side, you no longer just have the gestures of your character to tell a story, but framing, color, sound, light, appearance (hat, wig, glasses, whatever) and environment.
That is a lot of players on the same team!

I think will be it for now. Enough brain fart to let out at once. Hope it was somewhat interesting though.
I find it helpful to put words onto things like this.


Old shot redone

hello again

I have a few blogposts in mind for the future. Particularily about the fact that I am directing a short film atm. and how I can translate what I learn into animation (which is still what I wanna do).
But I'll save that for later.

For now I thought I would update with an old shot that I went back and reworked a bit.
It's based on a shot I did as a second year exam piece.
I focused a lot on acting and sincerity during second year, and it is something I still have a lot of focus on. I feel I am just at the break of understanding it a bit, so it feels like a whole world is starting to open up.

Anyways, I recieved good feedback on the shot, and mainly I got high score on "acting" which I was very pleased with! And that comes from a long time Pixar vetaran and now Director, David Tart.
But there was one thing that always bothered me.
The shot is about a laywer intern sitting together with a senior employee at a bar. His internship period is running out, and he know this might be the last night with theese great folks. That is why the kid on the left (white shirt) is a bit sad at first.
But the senior has a surprise for him, as he knows he got a full time employment ready for the kid. So he learns in and whispers it to him. What follows next is a very immidiate and honest reaction of pure joy and relief.

So the problem was, that when he comes down from the joyous reaction, he laughs - which is surprisingly hard to do. To overcomplicate it (damnit!) I had his left hand do a strange bouncy thing on it's way down to the glass.
It is totally with need, and after a few months of off-time from the shot, I took a look at it again, and decided to cut it off, keeping it simple.

So here it is, the more simple version:

I hope you like it :)
-More stuff to come

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Animation Analysis

Analysis of Bernie shot from “The Incredibles”.

The Incredibles is one of my favorite Pixar movies for a few reasons. The story is superb first and foremost.
Second, characters are really appealing and interesting – all across the board, the main characters as well as the secondary and even tertiary. Probably the best one to me is the school teacher Bernie.

He really resonates with me, for whatever reason. I really get the guy, I see how he got into the teaching, a once widely respected job, spreading knowledge and wisdom to the future generations, but instead he enters a world where young kids have only disrespect towards the teachers, and particularly this guy Dash irritates him. He is just perfectly portrayed in my view.
Because of that, I also find his shots perfectly executed. So therefor I have decided to take one of my favorites and break it down into Golden Poses, Keys and Keys+breaks (first pass).
I claim absolutely no copyrights for any of this, nor that any of the following true in any sense. This is my personal analysis of the shot, and I haven’t got the smallest clue if any of it is actually true. I did it to help myself but thought I might as well share it if anybody would happen to come by and find it interesting.
The shot belongs to Pixar/Disney– I guess :)

Alright, here we go!

These are the ones I picked as the Golden Poses.
Bernie walks in, expresses his case, expecting the Principal sitting next to him, to support him, as well as getting an apology from the Mother (Helen) and Dash sitting in front of him.
When Dash responds inappropriately he snaps and breaks his composure.

These 7 Golden Poses/Storytelling Poses defines the major acting choices for the shot.
He walks in, adjusts his glasses, reacts to Dash’s respond, accuses him aggressively, then gets back to a more composed but still determined poses.

The poses are all very clear and works really well together. He has a rather large head so facial is very important here as well, mainly the eyes/eyebrows which is used intelligently to underline his emotion.
Also the shoulders and chest is used nicely, being secure and determined in body language in the first three poses, then he breaks out in accusation and as he re-enters his initial poses again, he is tenser, shoulders are higher and chest is more sunken back, less self-confident.

The next set of keys is added to further define the movement.
Personally I find this stage very difficult because it is so easy to wash out the strength and simplicity there often lies in well-crafted Golden Poses.
This extra set of keys is also very helpful in fleshing out his characteristics in his movement pattern.

By that I mean, when he points towards Dash for instance, he could have gone forward both fast and slowly, both would probably work but be very different. By deciding to have him come forward so quickly after Dash’s response it tells the audience that he reacts instantly and from his heart.
It also helps define the movement within the golden poses.
There is a lot of dialogue that happens between the second and third Golden Poses, and this acting has to be addressed somehow. The animator chose to have him go down a bit and “Openly mocks” and the back up again on “Class”. This I didn’t find to be a part of the Story telling keys because it is part of the subset of movements that happens and are important to get the emotion and movement across believable, but it still works within a bigger set of keys, the Golden Poses, those which defines the broadest stroke to use a painting term.

This is the most fleshed out version I have included today.
This set of poses includes (I my mind) Golden Poses, Key Poses and a first set of Breakdowns.
These breakdowns are mainly used to define how to get from one pose to the next.
It doesn’t add much new to the shot in terms of story, but it is still probably the hardest part of a shot like this (I find).
Its purpose is to define the movement and in that define his emotion.
Technically it is crucial as well as it informs the computer how to inbetween the keys, so it doesn’t just do a straight linear move.
Also they are used to define leads such as in frame 4, where the upper body moves forward the most, then at frame 10 the hip as caught up.

It also defines eases like in frame 50, where the head is posed a lot closer to the previous frame than the next, making it move slowly out and fast into the next. This gives weight and implies there is a force behind the movement that has to accelerate.

Another very important role for the breakdowns is to define arc.
In reality the human joints rotate around each other, driven by muscles. This creates an arc to any movement you do, since rotating something from a fixed point will always make the end move in an arc. In a lot of animation rigs you can define movement by translating (moving) things around. This doesn’t automatically create the arc, which gives it a very linear and robotic look.

When you want to make dynamic movements, arcs are KEY!
An example of such and arc is frame 10 (key) frame 15 (breakdown) and 22 (key).
Instead of moving the hand in a straight line from 10-22 to reach his glasses, the animator moves the hand out, from his head.
This gave it a nice arc, plus it helped clearify the pose as it allowed a nice negative space between the body and the arm/hand, giving it a clear silhouette.
That is it from me.

Below is the clip in real time, found on you tube.

I have no idea if my frame counts are accurate or not, they probably aren’t, as they have been through youtube, cut up in photoshop and stitched together in premiere, just to be uploaded at vimeo in a totally different frame rate probably. But this is more and analysis on acting and poses, keys and breakdowns, more than timing.
Again, I claim no rights to the shot creation, nor that any of the above is true in any sense.
I know I got a whole lot out of studying this piece of perfect animation, and I hope you get a little bit out of it as well.
If anybody happens to read this and want to add a point or two, agree or disagree, feel free to write a comment!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ufo acting shot

While in third yeah, we don't get to do a whole lot of animation.
Mainly I spend my time in story development and directing of the short film Porcelain:

But, I really love animation and can't wait to get a few shots of the movie, so I've decided to go ahead and practice a bit of dialogue/acting with this really lovely piece of sound.

It's still a bit rough, but getting closer to the finish line.
There are still a few contacts that's wobbly, some hard hits and spliney bits.

Friday, September 2, 2011


So we finished up at Tumblehead. A great place to spend the summer. Got to do everything from modeling to shadig/lighting, rigging, animation and compositing. All great fun.

Last monday (the 29th) I pitched two short film ideas to the school and my fellow students. All in all I think we were around 60 people listening.
It was quite nerveracking, but also a relief because it ment the end of months of prep work.
After a bunch of selection processes involving both the school and the students, 6 final projects were chosen, among those one of mine!

So for the next year I will be directing a short film with a crew of nine people behind me.
That will surely be a major challenge, both in terms of management and artistic ambitions.

The story takes place in a small danish coast town in the late 1800th and plays with the superstition and believes at the time.

More info will follow later, plus a designated blog for the short film.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

End of second year

Long blogpost coming up... just so you know ;)

I’ve just finished second year of animation school, an entire year focused on taking what we learned last year in 2d and apply it to 3d, plus building on top of course.
It has been a great year in many ways. 3D is really my area of interest and expertise, so this year has been more of a joy and less frustrating than last.
After the summer holidays we start our Bachelor year. An entire year focused on creating a five minute short film. After that it is out in the industry - proper scary! I feel I have so much more to learn befoere making it a living.

Anyways, related to that I applied to a few animation studios this summer, looking for an internship.
I was lucky enough to get through to interview callback with Cinesite in London.
Unfortunately they ended up choosing someone else, but it was a great experience to be interview by
them, and just to be considered for the job.
I landed another summer job though, doing cg and a bit of animation at a studio named Tumblehead, founded by two former students at my school. They are great guys and it is a fantastic place to spend the holiday.

I figured I might take this opportunity to upload a number of animations I’ve done lately.
First up is a rework of the action shot. I made a proper ending and got it rendered out.
I do like this shot, but I always felt it lacked a fade off. I just ran out of frame and time when I animated it in class, so I took the opportunity to fix it.

One of the last things we animated before finals at the school was commercial as part of second year. I worked mainly on storyboard, digital layout and animation – a whole lot of fun. Unfortunately I am not allowed to show you the final result just yet, but I can show you two tiny playblasts.

That was fantastic experience, and I worked with a teamed of extremely talented guys and girls, and I think it ended looking stellar! I'll post it as soon as I can.

Next up was the exam animation with reviews by former Pixar animator David Tart.
I have gone in and tweaked the animation since delivered, to accommodate his notes.
But besides the few tweaks, the whole animation is done from brainstorm to final result in a week. Pretty tight deadline, but that seems to be how we do things around here.

Take a look if you please:

A render will follow. I still have a few tweaks to do, then render.

This summer we went to the Animation Festival in Annecy, France as part of a school tradition for second year students.
This is a picture of me, after 22 hours of continious busdrive, being exhausted and hungry. Here I am, just outside the main entrance to the big theatre where the majority of the screenings took place.

It was a really great experience. Besides the film screenings, there was a conference house, where I spend a lot fo time. listening to talks from Disney and Pixar. I got to watch Pixars new short “La Luna” – stunning work as usual.

At the Disney booth I met John Kahrs (John on the right, me on the left) long time Pixar animator and Animation Director on Tangled, as well as Animation Podcast host and Disney Animation Director Clay Kaytis.
They talked about using the things we know from 2d animation, and use it wisely in cg.

In addition to that, they showed off some of the rigs from Tangled, and explained the process of dailies where Glen Keane would draw ontop of their playblasts and suggest stronger line of action, arcs and stuff.
Very interesting indeed.

I also found a Framestore booth where I had a chat with a recruiter who seemed really into my work - a huge motivation boost for sure.

All in all it was a really inspirational week in France, and I would love to return sometime in the future.

Alright, reckon that should do it.
Feel free to comment if you feel so inclined

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Animation Showreel

So it is finally about time to update the blog.

Not a whole lot of new things has happend since last time, I've just been busy animating - a lot.
I applied for a few internships this summer, so I can now post the latest showreel.

I am working on another acting shot right now, as we are in an animation break in school and I need to keep animating or I go crazy ;)
Plus I never like the acting shots I do, so I have to keep trying.

Here is the reel, hope you like it:

Showreel - UPDATED 17/4/2011 from Christoffer Andersen on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


After having had a bunch of acting exercises we were back to action - this time for a parkour inspirered action shot, with focus on physicality and strong poses.

This is what I ended with after five days off work:

It was really nice to do something else, than the extremely labour intensive acting shots, and just go all out with line of action and cool parkour stuff - plus gathering reference was quite a joy - these guys are AMAZING!

I didn't do as much planning in turns of thumbnailing, as I usually do. I found some really nice reference on youtube, and pieced my animation together, with a combination of that and imagination, and I found it more usefull to just go into maya and work those poses out - plus I'd have to do so many drawings in the thumbs to get a feeling for timing, that I might as well just plot them into maya, since I had a clear vision in my head.

A lot of work went into preventing gimbal lock and multiple rotations in wrists and stuff, but once you know to look out for them, it's pretty straight ahead.

I think I had around 30 poses when I turned it from stepped to spline. Normally I'd like to go to spline sooner, but as there is such a big difference between the poses, I couldn't really use what maya gave me, and had to do it all manually, so it required a few more keys in stepped, I found, to keep the animation from go too crazy in spline.

Hope you enjoy it, it was sure a lot of fun to do!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Midway test

Half way through the year and half way through the school. This meant midway test.
We had a week (5 days) without teaching to do a 6 second lip sync piece.
The five days included brainstorming, video reference, thumbnailing and all.

There was a lot of time pressure.
As far as acting goes, I think I've learned a lot lately.

I never really got the hang of the lip sync'ing unfortunately. Especially the ending is quite weak in that regard - I'm pretty happy with the rest.

Billable Hours from Christoffer Andersen on Vimeo.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Acting shot

Hi there.
After a two day workshop in acting (introduction to Improv) and three days of set modeling and we started on our next animation assignment: The acting without dialogue.
Under guidence from Michael Berenstein (Pixar, PDI, Academy of Arts), we were introduced to a new economic way of animating, which was really great.
Below is a progress video. I went into splines a lot faster than usual.

Animation progress - acting shot from Christoffer Andersen on Vimeo.

After animation (two weeks), we had a two day workshop in lighting and rendering. That was a lot of fun! Amazing how much you can give the shot with lighting.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dialogue piece

Hi there.

As a major step up in difficulty we had our first dialogue piece.
It was a two week process where we spend the first few days creating a character and a backstory to support our acting choices.

This is by far the toughest challenge untill now.
Acting is a huge challenge for me and I think it'll take years of practice to come up with solid choices.
I hope you enjoy it though, as it certainly was a lot of fun to do :)

Dialogue shot final from Christoffer Andersen on Vimeo.