Friday, December 20, 2013

Hopping Ball (3ds Max)

I'm learning to animate in 3ds Max for an upcoming freelance gig.

It's a little like that episode in every superhero TV show ever where the main character loses their powers and has to go back to doing everything the hard way. They have an existential crisis, but then they realize that it was never their powers that made them a hero, it was their character...

...or maybe it's just a matter of putting the right keys on the right frames. Could be that.

It's actually a pretty comfortable transition thanks to 2014's new "Maya Interaction" mode so I can use the Alt+Mouse viewport navigation that is so committed to muscle memory.

Simple Ball Rig courtesy of Cláudio Escobar.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

"Child of Light" Announcement Trailer

This is the most gorgeous and exciting thing I've seen in a long while. The art and JRPG elements are exactly what I want in a game. I was so bummed at first because I thought it was a PS4 exclusive (and I'm not getting one any time soon) but then BAM! it's coming out for everything! Can't wait!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Freelance: Micro Wizard

Here's a little sample of the freelance I've been doing lately. This little guy was created by and animated for BitGem. I'm animating a bunch of these micro characters. They're sort of the second series of micro characters. The first series of micro characters were animated by my good buddy Justin Kupka.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

iAnimate Podcast with Robert "Darryl" Purdy (Far Cry 3)

The folks over at iAnimate have started podcasting every week or two for the past few months and I only recently noticed. While I was catching up I listened to their December 21st interview with Robert "Darryl" Purdy (Animation/Cinematics Director for Far Cry 3, now at Warner Games) and I just had to share it.

I've listened to a lot of animation podcasts over the years: The Animation PodcastSpeaking Of AnimationSpline Doctors10th Muse. I haven't listened to every single episode of these but those I have listened to are almost always about film animation or animation as a general art form or games as a general topic. This is the first time I've heard a podcast that was exactly about the things I deal with every day and I couldn't stop nodding my head "yes!" as I listened to it.

Don't ask me why the blurb description says he worked at Bungie and Lucas Arts in the past because as far as I can tell he didn't, but whatever. Give it a listen.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Blocking Technique by Kevin Jackson (Updated)

Kevin "KJax" Jackson shares this fantastic tip on a quick blocking workflow that is not only fast and simple, but keeps your blocking very easy to edit up until you commit to move on. The technique uses one of the many tools included in MGtools which comes in both free and paid versions. I already have a tool that my genius friend Anthony made that does the same thing so I haven't checked to see if you need the paid version of MGtools or not.
Kevin was a year behind me in school and whereas I only had a brief stint at Rhythm & Hues he's been there for about 5 years and has earned the role of supervising animator. His animation is not only imaginative and well polished, but he works quickly so it's worth listening to any advice he has to share.
Update: Kevin has uploaded Part 2 in which he shows how the technique works in an actual shot with more complexity. He also shows off a few more of the many fantastic functions of the MGtools suite of MEL scripts.
found via Animators Resource

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Keith Lango "Retires" From Online Animation Instruction

The original online mentor for animation, Keith Lango, is going dark. Oh he's still animating and even teaching, but he's closing the book on his long-running online instruction and blogging.
Ten years ago, when I was in school, there wasn't the plethora of awesome online animation resources there are today. If you wanted to print out some classic animation notes there was (and still is); If you wanted a forum to meet people, get feedback on your WIP, be inspired or get some practice there was 10secondclub, CG-Char, Digital|Rendering and a few others; If you wanted really clear and practical tutorials about HOW to animate there was Keith Lango.
Over the years he added even more resources like videos that explained things even more clearly, or personally tailored 1-on-1 online animation mentorship.
Today, there's a lot of competing online animation instruction options available and Keith leads a pretty full life as it is so he won't be creating any new online material, but all of the old stuff will be kept online so if you haven't benefited from it yet, you still can.
The Classic Tutorials
The Video Tutorials :`(
Keith's YouTube Channel
So thanks a bunch, Keith. I never met you, but I learned a lot from you about animation, dealing with disappointment gracefully, and remembering that there are a lot of things in life that are far more important than animation.

For those of you who don't necessarily want to sign up for the much larger commitment of time and money that schools like Animation Mentor, iAnimate, or AnimShcool require but really want quality, on-going animation wisdom rejoice! KennyRoy has picked up the torch and is doing a fantastic job of carrying it forward.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Where've I Been & What's New?

So I disappear from the blog for over a year and then just start posting again with no explanation? How dare I?

To be fair I actually started blogging again last year, but I've been doing it over at because, well, people actually read that blog. So general animation stuff goes there, and things that relate to me, but are also probably somewhat animation related will go here - but probably not as often as at the other site so go subscribe to that blog for more regular doses of animation goodness.

There's a lot of stuff I've wanted to post, but now it's sort of old news, so here's one giant brain dump about everything that's new in my life since I posted my 2010 demo reel last June:

New Computer
So, after my last computer went down in a blaze of glory while I was in the middle of crafting my 2010 demo reel, I finally got to upgrade. This was my first time building a machine completely from scratch.

I was pretty relieved when it worked on the first try.

Old Country
I had so much fun working at Airtight and I'm going to miss some really great friends. Redmond is a great city too. There's all kinds of stuff to do outdoors and a culture that really embraces both my wife's "crunchy granola" tendencies and my tech/nerd tendencies. However, my wife and I decided it was time to return home to Ontario to be close to family. So we loaded up the car for the cross-country drive from Washington, up to British Columbia, and across Canada to Ontario. Olive didn't have much room, but she was a trooper.

It was a bit scary to quit a perfectly good job without having a new one lined up first, especially these days, but we'd be back with family while I looked for work so we knew we'd be okay. After a few days of taking it slow we got impatient and pulled an all-nighter to arrive a day earlier than planned so we could finally relax and be at home again in the land of maple syrup.

New Job
Thanks to my new Franken-puter I was able to finish my reel and after pimping it out all over the province I landed the job I really wanted at Digital Extremes.
Admittedly, I was a bit conflicted between working on animated features or television in Toronto, or working on games in London. In the end, DE made an offer first and after one whole year here I'm so glad they did. It turns out that DE has consistently been recognized as one of the top/best employers in Canada. I'm having a blast working on Star Trek and I've even started doing some mocap acting from time to time at our in-house capture volume. Below is a picture of my fellow animator, who's done most of our mocap acting in the past, in our old studio. We've recently moved to a brand new, much fancier office, but our capture volume is still in transition.

New City
So I got the job and it was time to move again - at least this time the drive was a LOT shorter than it was from Washington. I miss Redmond, but London is called The Forest City for a reason (though after last winter I learned it could just as easily be called The Buried Under Snow City) and it's growing on me.
In truth, this city is one of the main reasons I wanted to work at DE. I've worked in Toronto before and the 2.5hr/day commute really takes it's toll. True, it's possible to live in the city, but I didn't want to live in the concrete jungle. What we really wanted was a house we could call our own and a yard for the dog and a garden - which we couldn't responsibly afford anywhere near Toronto.

New Apartment
The plan was to settle down and buy a house, but I had to live somewhere in the meantime so we found this great apartment within walking distance of work - which really helped when the snow was so bad the buses stopped running and we discovered the tire treads on our car were woefully inadequate - probably due as much to that cross-country drive as to the fact that they we hadn't replaced them since we bought our used car.

New Son!!!
The biggest change of all came just after midnight on the morning of May 29th, our new son, Elias Douglas Victor "DUGTOR" Sormin! (My wife won't actually let me call him that, though.)
Kids are hard. Total respect to all the good parents out there. He's adorable and fun though - just not so much at 1:30am, and 3:30am, and 5:30am, and 7:30am....

New Blog
Like I said before, I've started contributing to the blog over at - though I've cut back a bit since Elias was born. Kenny's got a fantastic thing going on over there. There's video tutorials and monthly lectures and his info is always of the sort that you can immediately turn around and start using in your daily animation workflow. There's some theory, sure, but above all else his tips are practical. Highly recommended. The blog and forums are free to anyone, but you can check out a preview of the paid content here or better yet, sign up for 30 days free and cancel any time with no obligation.

New House!
After months of searching we finally found a house that we could afford with a responsible mortgage, close enough to work, and with a yard that we can customize however we like. We compromised in that it's only semi-detached, but it was less than half the price we would've paid if I had taken a job in Toronto. I don't really have a picture of the house, but here's a half-naked picture of me in the backyard taken on International Handstand Day.

As you can see there's plenty of lush greenery around and we love it that way. There's no houses behind us, just a strip of forest with a private golf club on the other side so it's nice and quiet.

I don't know if we'll ever find another CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) as good as Jubilee Biodynamic Farm, but we did manage to find a local CSA that's doing an admirable job.

Basically, a CSA works like this: you invest in a local farm and in return you receive seasonal produce. Usually you pay a seasonal subscription fee, but some farms will allow you to invest the sweat of your brow instead. I can't recommend it enough. Not only is it a great way to make sure you eat enough fresh food and try new things, it also promotes a more sustainable, responsible food production system. Farmer Eric explains it better:

Now, most CSAs are not biodynamic. Many are organic, but even more importantly they're local and farming isn't easy. I believe the only way to support and improve a more sustainable food system is to support the farmers that grow that food.

And Now, On With The New!