Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Animated Thoughts: My Summer Reading

Summer seems to be the season when people say that they're catching up on their reading. Personally, I always thought Winter was the season for catching up on your reading since you'd be stuck inside due to the inclement weather, whereas during the Summer, you'd want to be outside. Humans baffle me...

Anyways, I don't really have a Summer reading list as I try to read throughout the whole year, but these are the books that I'm currently reading and trying to finish by the end of Summer so I can bring something light to Toronto and Ottawa this Fall... like a paperback... or maybe Zoran Perisic's book 'the Focal Guide to Shooting Animation'...:

by Bill Plympton

by Whitney Grace

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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Animated People: Erik Timmerman

I was in my early twenties during my time at R.I.T. and my personality had the usual mix of maturity and immaturity that most young men possess during that age. As I've mentioned before, from time to time back then, and in his own inimitable way, Erik would help guide me into manhood -- this particular time by pointing out some of my ingrained behaviors that were counter-productive to navigating polite society.

Case in point: being someone who was a keen observer of human behavior, Erik once mentioned that I looked like I had been in prison -- this based on the fact that I gave off no body language and would do things like looking both ways before entering a room.

I responded that when you spend your childhood getting bullied at school and abused at home, you develop some self-preservation habits -- such as checking the room before you enter so you don't get jumped by a schoolyard bully or reducing your body language and facial expressions to the absolute minimum so as not to attract attention to yourself and piss off an already angry parent.

But it wasn't until Erik pointed out these behaviors that I really put some serious thought into how people might be perceiving me. It could have been that I had reached a level of emotional maturity that I could accept hearing that observation from someone without taking offense or getting defensive. Or perhaps it was how Erik said it... or maybe it was just because he was a third-party observer who had no malice towards me and was, in his own unique way, engaging in a simple act of kindness.

Regardless, I had been engaging in those defensive behaviors for so many years that they had become second nature to me.

Moving silently was one of those behaviors.

While at R.I.T., I worked at the now defunct R.I.T. Research Corporation. And unfortunately, one time I scared one of my supervisors so badly that he yelled out when he saw me standing there in his doorway. Course, Rich always had a great sense of humor about such things, so after composing himself, and I apologized for startling him, he quipped that I should wear a bell around my neck when we were working late in the office so everyone could hear me coming. He laughed, I laughed, and then I asked him my work-related question.

But afterwards, Erik's words would come back to me and I made it a point to take his observation to heart. No, I didn't start wearing a bell or anything silly like that, but I did make an effort to smile a little more, lurk a little less, and lighten up a little so those hard lessons from my past wouldn't control my future.

Twenty-some years later, I'm still somewhat guarded. I still look pretty intense when I'm walking around, lost in my own thoughts and not paying attention to how I look while I'm thinking. But instead of pausing at doorways and looking both ways before entering, I pause and look around in order to see if someone needs the door held open for them. And when they do, I'm always somewhat bemused when I observe how surprised people react to that simple act of kindness.

Photograph from Andrew Davidhazy's Retired Professors and past colleagues from the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences at RIT webpage.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A Year of Animation: ASIFA International Animation Day 2018

Well, since last month I (re)created four animations from grad school for June's "Year of Animation", this month I took it a little easy and participated in an Ani-Jam.

Image halfway through the morph cycle
ASIFA Central's intrepid President, Brad Yarhouse, is in charge of ASIFA's International Animation Day, so he proposed that members of ASIFA Central participate in an Ani-Jam centered around the IAD poster. Everyone was given two images from the final poster and instructed to create a transition from the first image to the second. So, your first image will be someone else's second image and your second image is someone else's first, and so on. When completed, the animation will transition from one image to the other in a continuous loop.

In my case, I'm animating a transition from the first image in the poster to the second image.

However, given how much time my grad school archival project is taking, I decided to do a simple morph for my two frames. Transitioning from a character with two eyes to a character with one eye was a bit of a challenge and in the end, I chose to set my control points so that they were focused on specific facial characteristics so that the morph would flow much more smoothly: like the outer ends of the two pupils on one character linked together so they'd match up with the one pupil on the other character. Or the bead of sweat morphing into the glare of light on the Cyclops' eye.

What I am most proud of, though, is how well the noses morphed from one to another. That coupled with the above really draws the focus away from the flaws in the overall animation (like the fade-in of the Cyclops' large green-colored iris). I originally wanted to do this animation freehand on animation bond, but the time and effort required for this project was a little more than I was willing to commit.

You can see the completed animation this Fall when it's debuted by ASIFA Central. I'll post links in my ASIFA Central International Animation Day wrap-up blog post so you can all watch the whole Ani-Jam online.

But, until then, here's a facial morph I put together just for fun.


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