New Loka Couple Ritual (Rough)

Rough anim (not used in game) exploring the (non-canon / only in my head!) idea of a pair of devotees seeking some kind of favour – cooperatively making the “seed” gesture with their hands. Seeking a blessing for their child, perhaps, or maybe permission to have one at all?


New Loka Water Scoop Ritual (Rough)

Rough anim exploring the [non-canon / only in my head!] idea of some sort of self-cleansing ritual, maybe?



New Loka Balancing Worshipper Idles and Transitions

The transitions are still rough which I’m going to say is because I learned they wouldn’t be used and not because I did a bad job on them. XD

I even lost an original Maya file for one of them, apparently, hence the one playblast that doesn’t match :`(

NewLoka BalanceSEQUENCE.gif


New Loka Kneeling Worshipper Idles


Some of these poses came from a nature song with actions that my kids learned.

I had my own internal [NON-CANON!] ideas about New Loka’s lore.

Nature cult; circle of life; spectrum of sacredness; ladder of follower/clergy rankings.

Basically all of it revolved around this cyclical progression so that some are holier than others and yet they’re all equal brother and sisters in a certain way, but not really, etc.


New Loka “Seed” Medallion Buyer



New Loka “Amaryn” Idles and Transitions

I believe we trimmed this to just the one idle so you’d never have to wait for her to turn around.141210_NewLokaFigurehead_Cycle.gif

Emote: “Follow Me!”

These were just roughed in to see which version they liked and wanted polished. If I remember correctly (and that’s probaby a big “if”) someone else did a less-over-animated version of the big arm wave one and so my anim isn’t actually the one in game.



Emote: “Enhance!”

Just finished my latest demo reel! Check it out:


(j/k: I totally made this for a joke and I’m pretty sure it was never added to the game.)

Infested Brood Mother Step Up



Claws Counter-Attack vs. Grineer


Grineer boi harmed.

Grineer boi harmed very much.

Claws Stealth Attack vs. Kubrow


(No doggos were harmed in the making of this animation. See? Good boi gets up again!)


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.


"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!


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.


iAnimate Games: Winter 2013 Student Showcase

I love the fact that iAnimate has a program specifically for game animation.


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.


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


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) AnimationMeat.com; 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.


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 KennyRoy.com 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 KennyRoy.com - 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!


"Malcolm" - Awesome New Free Rig From AnimSchool.com

I've been eagerly anticipating this one ever since they announced it. Then, after they released the Softimage version they went and made me wait for over a month to get the Maya version! Well, I guess that's the reality of creating two complete, feature film quality rigs in separate packages. Check out the video below to get a sense of what this rig is capable of.

(Part 1 of a very thorough demonstration of the rig is available on YouTube)
As a bonus you can also download a free version of Adam Burke's excellent abxPicker MEL script for Maya 2011+. I loved using the old, free version of this script and was sad when the new version for Maya 2011 was no longer free.
To get your copy of abxPicker and the Malcolm rig click on the image at the top of this article or, for you lazy types, just click right here.


Demo Reel Feedback from Animation Mentor Jean-Denis Haas

Animation Mentor hosted a contest at CTNx 2010 for a free eCrit of two randomly selected demo reels. I submitted my latest reel and was one of the winners! I found JD's critique useful and there's no sense hogging all of the wisdom to myself so it's about time I shared it here with the rest of you.

Below are the notes that I took away from JD's eCrit:

Notes from AM CTNx eCrit of Tim Sormin's Animation Reel

Fortunately for me, my reel had already done its job by landing me the job that I wanted. I didn't have the time (or in some cases didn't have the Maya files) to edit any of the actual animation, but for educational purposes I decided to re-edit my reel based on his feedback. Here's the shorter, more focused result:

I think it's better, but I accidentally killed the audio - oops! So thanks JD and Animation Mentor. Hopefully this info will help me, and any readers I may have at this humble blog, make better reels in the future.


New Demo Reels

Game Animation Reel:
I am responsible for all player-character and enemy animation in this reel. No motion capture was used on this project. Animation was created using Maya. I was also responsible for integrating these into the game using the Unreal Editor.
Narrative Animation Reel:
I created all of the character and prop animation in this reel using Maya, with the following exceptions:
- Alvin and The Chipmunks was created using Voodoo (R+H proprietary anim software)
- The Chipmunk concert run cycles were pre-made cycles that I constrained to a motion path and then modified to climb up the mic stands.
You can download these reels by right-clicking the links in the "My Portfolio" section of the sidebar to the right and choosing to "Save Link As..." (or "Save Target As..." for you folks rocking Internet Explorer)


Airtight Games vs. Penny Arcade Ping Pong Challenge 2010

Part of my match at the Airtight vs. Penny Arcade Ping Pong Challenge. Unfortunately, I lost the match 1:2


Old Yeller

My computer just went to the big render farm in the sky.

The timing is pretty crappy as I was in the middle of a personal project, but I'm pretty sure all the HDD's are fine - just the mobo has gasped its last. Looks like I'll be replacing it a year earlier than planned, but considering this thing was already 3yrs old when I bought it used 3yrs ago and it could still do a good job of running simple Maya scenes I'd say it didn't go quietly into the night.

R.I.P. Old Yeller.

Perhaps a trip to newegg.com will help me come to grips with my loss.


Creative Drawing

Drawing is hard for several reasons, but one of the reasons is that it's often hard to decide what to draw. Being loose and creative is easier said than done. I'm starting to look into ways to keep the pressure off and try to keep my logical left-brain out of the mix. Here are a couple of things I've found so far:
Keys to Drawing from Imagination
I borrowed this book from the library and though I only got through the first couple of chapters before I had to return it, I liked where it was going. The first step is to "doodle with purpose." It's easy to do and it makes a great warm up exercise. Parka has a great review of this book here. Actually, if you like art-of books or instructional art books Parka is a great blog to subscribe to.
This is an open source drawing application that is specifically designed to engage your right-brain. It has tools to automatically mirror and even a random brush that creates unexpected shapes that can then inspire you to follow a direction you would never have thought of on your own. It's a bit hard to explain in words so check out this video of Alchemy in action if you're interested:

There are quite a few examples from users on YouTube.

Dark Void Has Shipped and We're All Still Employed

Dark Void is on store shelves so go buy it! It's now under $30 on Amazon and it really is a ton of fun to rocketpack into the middle of a firefight, land right in front of a menacing robot and Falcon-punch 'em right in the face!

Okay, okay so I'm three months late posting this, but I was busy trying to get our next AAA game green-lit. Huge props go out to Jim, Matt and Jared (owners of Airtight Games) for avoiding any layoffs at the end of Dark Void. In a time when studios everywhere are experiencing dramatic downsizing, if not outright closure, Airtight has made a deliberate effort to keep the workload (and paychecks) uninterrupted. As the Dark Void build got locked down and people rolled off of it they were able to move directly onto the Dark Void DLC team or to help pitch new projects. I can't tell you what everyone is working on now that the DLC has shipped, but the important part is that we're all still working.