Have a great Fourth of July weekend...

Friday, June 30, 2006
...and if you're not an American, have a great weekend anyway!

Animation greatness on You Tube

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ward Kimball was one of Walt Disney's Nine Old Men. I never met Mr Kimball, but based on all I have read about him, I think he would have been a fun guy to be around. I found this segment on Ward Kimball via Cartoon Brew.

Animating in high water

Wednesday, June 28, 2006
It's been raining here in Honesdale and the surrounding area since Friday of last week (when we left for Los Angeles). It finally stopped today, but there is major flooding all over north eastern and central Pennsylvania. In this image, you can see a washed out bridge in Waymart. There is usually just a trickle of water under this bridge, but not today.
To keep tabs on what's going on around here, visit the local news station, WNEP.

Hooray for Hollywood

Thursday, June 22, 2006
Six of us are headed out to Hollywood for an event at Gnomon. It should be a good time. We'll be sure to take lots of pictures.

There's nothing funny about a broken humerous

Wednesday, June 21, 2006
I just got back from an unexpected two day trip to the hospitol. My six year old son fell off his bunk beds and broke his left humerous so badly that he needed surgery. Two metal pins and a bunch of pain medication later, he's doing fine. He's expected to make a 100% recovery.

Project Overlord

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Justin Neri stopped by the studio the other day and showed us Project Overlord. It's an asset management program that is in the early stages of development. You can read about it here:


We'll be helping Justin fine tune things by testing out features and suggesting new ones. Hopefully, it turns into something great. It's got a lot of promise!

The next Pixar film - "Ratatouille"

image from the "Ratatouille" trailer

More than a few people disagreed with me about my opinion of "Cars". While I'm sure there weren't any Pixar crew that read our blog and cried themselves to sleep, I thought I'd follow up with some thoughts on Pixar's upcoming film "Ratatouille". First off, here's the teaser trailer:


Of all the CG films headed to theaters in the coming months (and years), this is the film I am most excited about. Judging from the trailer, there's a lot of traditional animation techniques combined with cutting edge technology to create something that is brand new. If the classic MGM "Tom & Jerry" cartoons were done in CG, I have a feeling they would look like this. I only hope they have a mean cat in this film.

part of a model sheet of Jerry the mouse from "Tom & Jerry"

My only let down so far was to hear that Jan Pinkava is not directing the film anymore. For those that aren't familiar with Jan's work, he was the director of "Geri's Game" for Pixar. That film won an Academy Award in 1998. I had the good fortune of meeting Jan at the Ottawa International Animation Festival that year, volunteering on a stop motion piece he was creating during the festival. I was looking forward to seeing what he would do with a feature length piece. I'm sure Brad Bird will do a fine job, but it will be a different film than Jan would have made.

Happy Morning

Friday, June 16, 2006
We've figured out the chicken feather painting workflow. It's a lot of work, but the results will be worth it. Anyways, now it's a Happy Morning.


Feathers, a work in progress

Thursday, June 15, 2006
Here is a screen shot of our new feather solution. We've painted in the follicles that will drive the pin feathers. We'll keep going with the painting until we've got all three zones and 100% coverage on the surface where we want it. We've got several hours ahead of us on this... keep watching.

What do you do with more time? Re feather your chicken!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006
After getting some feedback from people, and looking at the chicken in some of our renders, we decided that the chicken needs an overhaul. We've got a bit of extra time on this project now, so why not make more work for ourselves, right?

In this image, you can see we've split the chicken into three feather zones:

There is a zone for short feathers, one for medium feathers, and one for longer feathers.

The short feathers, or pin feathers, hug the body closely and are pretty tightly packed. They are mostly around the head and neck area. In our placement drawing, these feathers are red. On a real bird, they look like this:

The medium feathers, or downy feathers, are mostly on the underbelly of the chicken. It's possible that you rest your head on a bag of these at night. On a real chicken, the breast isn't too fluffy, but hey, this is animation! In our placement drawing, these feathers are orange. Here's what downy type feathers look like on a real bird (check out those legs!):

Finally, we get to the longer or larger feathers. These are what cover most of the body of the bird. They aren't really flight feathers, but they're pretty close in length to those. In our placement drawing, these feathers are green. On a real bird, they look like this:

So there you have it. A complete overhaul has begun. Look for the results soon.

No pressure...

So one of our two big deadlines for this week got pushed back. We've now got an extra two weeks for spit and polish. WFHEW!!


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

We've got two big deadlines at the end of this week, and a ton of stuff to do between now and then.

Chicken renders... available in six or nine piece

Monday, June 12, 2006

So we're fine tuning the fur render for the chicken. I say "fur" rather than "feather" because we're using Maya Fur for the feathers. Anyway, here are some work in progress renders:

In this first render, the fur isn't taking any attributes from the lights.

OK. This one is a little better, but the fur is still too hot. It's still not getting the right info from the lighting. Also, check out that ugly shadow under the chicken. Gross!

The fur is looking a bit better, but the shadow is still Yuck City.

OK. We're almost there. The fur is taking on the attributes we want from the light. There's only one light in this scene.

Using what we learned from this test, we'll know how to light the chicken correctly.
Here's a look at where we are at now with the chicken.

"Cars" - Possibly Pixar's weakest film to date

Sunday, June 11, 2006
If you haven't seen "Cars" yet, then you may want to skip reading this post until after you've seen it.

I had high hopes for this film, after seeing a display of the concept art in California. I was pretty let down. I didn't really care for the film. Here's why:
  • Too many main characters, or maybe too many characters that eat up screen time. I never got why Lightning cared so much for racing (just being built for speed isn't enough). If he had more screen time to explain his story, maybe I would hav efelt something more for him.

  • The blue girl car. Why did Lightning care for her? I didn't get that. Is it just because she's female? That's a bit shallow. Maybe that was the point, and he was supposed to get more shallow as the movie progressed? If so, they didn't really sell that point.

  • Mater was the only character that held my interest. His "All I want to do is ride in a helicopter" goal seemed a bit tacked on. Again, maybe it wasn't supposed to be that way, and there were just too many characters to show during the course of the film.

  • What was with that hotel thing out in the canyon? They never went inside, they never really said much about it, other than it used to be great. Why would I care about that place?

  • Lightning didn't really seem to change at all from the start of the film to the end. The film closes with him right back in the racing circuit.

  • There was way too much exposition in this film through fast paced TV type clips, or characters just told you about something rather than showing you.

"What is the character feeling, and why does he feel that way?" - Frank Thomas

I had no idea for most of the film what anyone thought. Farting tractors and stereotyped characters (a VW van that's a hippie and an Army jeep who acts like a soldier... who couldn't have seen that coming?) didn't do it for me.

Story - C

Character development - C-

Models - A

Rigging - A+

Lighting - A+

Animation - A

FX - A

Editing - A

Sound and music - A+

This was Pixar's weakest film to date, in my opinion. Let's hope the next one is better.

Chicken Feathers

Friday, June 09, 2006
Hey everyone.

I thought I'd make a post about chicken feathers. For our short, we're using Maya 7. We're using Maya's fur system to generate the feathers. Now for the most part, a chicken's feathers are pretty tight to it's body.

The only place that this is not the case is in the areas of the wings and tail feathers. Here's what we're doing with the wings:

We've also rigged up the feathers on the ends of the wings to flex. We're not using them as fingers exactly, but we are bending them around quite a bit (mostly to help out the arcs in the animation on the wings).

Anyways, I hope to post some finished renders of the chicken sometime soon, in all it's feathered glory.

President of the United States of America... a poor profession for poultry

Thursday, June 08, 2006
So here is some animation of the chicken hard at work as the President of the United States of America. It was animated by Kevin Wisdom. The desk and chair were modeled by Arielle Sekula.

Leave some comments and let us know what you think!

Poor Professions for Poultry

Here's the chicken character from our upcoming short, "Poor Professions for Poultry".

The premise is that there are many jobs that would not be a good fit for a chicken. We show this realistic chicken on the job. It does what a real chicken would probably do, and funny stuff happens. Here are a few more views of the chicken (all drawn by our guy J Chad Erekson):

The skeletal structure underneath is not just there to look cool. It helps our rigger (Chris Boylan) figure out where to place the virtual joints to ensure our digital chicken can do all that it needs to do... and then some.

In this image, we're looking at how the wings of a chicken work, and how we plan to arrange the feathers. We've decided that the end feathers will work like fingers if need be, so they all have controls worked into them.

Brains and color

I found this on the web today while reading Fark.com:


It reminded me of a discussion I had in college one time about color perception and what colors actually look like to other people. Maybe yellow to me is blue to someone else, but we call it the same color. It's the kind of thing you can never really know for sure.

It's about time...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Well, after several people asked about a Bishop Animation blog, we decided to create one.

Hopefully we'll be updating it every day, and hopefully some people will find it interesting.

Stay tuned.