Thursday, December 25, 2008

Awesome - Must See Clip

Le petit bonhomme en mousse - LE PLUS GRAND CABARET DU MONDE

Awesome puppeteer! Nicely done.


You will definitely like it :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Three Mistakes By Mr Jinnah

Three Mistakes By Mr Jinnah

(EXCERPT: Quaid-i-Azam And 9/11 - DAWN - Books and Authors; December 21, 2008)

I revered Mr M.A. Jinnah when I was a student at Muslim University Aligarh. I exalted him in my days in the Air Force and I venerate him now when he is no more with us. I hold that as a politician and a statesman he seldom faulted in his political decision-making. Having said that and with all my unshakable faith and trust in Mr Jinnah’s judgments, I now with hindsight feel that there are a few decisions or lack of actions on his part as Governor General where perhaps he faltered. One may term these as ‘mistakes’ but reference to any such ‘mistake’ is hypothetical as these are conditioned by so many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’.

Based on my limited knowledge of affairs of the state but taking cognizance of the ground realities then prevailing, I am being candid in airing my views, I could as well be wrong in my assessment! I felt at odds with at least three of Mr Jinnah’s decisions as Governor General.

FIRST: The first mistake committed by Mr Jinnah in public life was on August 15, 1947 when as Governor General he appointed an unelected bureaucrat Malik Ghulam Mohammad as Federal Minister for Finance. Later he nominated Ch Sir Mohammad Zafarullah, another unelected person as Foreign Minister.

These two nominations were against parliamentary practice and even contrary to the democratic principles of Mr Jinnah himself. It is possible that he may have planned to use the talent available outside the legislature for the good of the country, as he effectively used ‘counterfeit coins in his pocket’ during the days of the struggle of the 40s. These two cases when viewed on the touchstone of success gave two different results; whereas the first experiment badly flopped and with disastrous consequences, the second was a resounding success. However, the fact remains that it was wrong of the Governor General to appoint unelected persons to the legislature.

In case of the Finance Minister, there were two other options open to the Governor General. One, was to retain Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan as Finance Minister in addition to his responsibilities as Prime Minister. Two, to appoint another politician with a flare for finance, as Finance Minister, to be groomed under the tutelage of Sir Archibald Rowlands, the last Finance Member of Viceroy’s Council in India, who Mr Jinnah had especially asked to be loaned as his Finance Advisor. Instead he picked up Malik Ghulam Mohammad, who had finance background all-right, but he was not such an outstanding financial wizard to be put at the head of the finances of a nascent state. Ghulam Mohammad was short tempered, intolerant, headstrong, over ambitious and an arrogant bureaucrat, who spent World War II years in the supply and purchase organisation of the Government of India.

When appointed as Finance Minister he lost his head and started to think no end of himself. After the vacation of Governor General’s chair by Nazimuddin he intrigued and occupied the Governor General’s House. He was overbearing and presumptuous and because of his attitude was not liked by his colleagues. Ghulam Mohammad tried strong-arm tactics to curb his opponents but did not succeed. Intrigues started and a revolt erupted in parliament against the Governor General.

The Governor General’s nomination of Ch Sir Mohammad Zafarullah as Foreign Minister, on the other hand, matched up to Quaid’s expectations and was a great asset to the country. Sir Mohammad Zafarullah was internationally known, had been Chief Justice of the International Court at the Hague, distinguished as a member of many international forums under the UN and was held in high esteem the world over. He very successfully projected our case at the UN and other international forums and used his worldwide contacts to the advantage of Pakistan. His judicial acumen, debating and negotiating skills could not be challenged. A man of character with a clean record and with no extra-constitutional ambitions, he kept himself aloof from political intrigues and continued to serve Pakistan with dedication in various capacities till the late sixties.

These indirect and lateral inductions by the Governor General gave birth to the ambitions of the bureaucratic mafia that polluted the politics of the country and have continued to dominate weak-kneed politicians all along, influencing the electoral process and destabilising successive democratically elected governments. Bureaucratic oligarchy is one of the major factors in creating the chaotic logjam of persistent lack of morality in politics in Pakistan. Yet another undesirable and perhaps the most damaging of their acts was influencing of the higher judiciary in their favour that derailed the democratic process which was yet to take firm roots in the nascent state.

SECOND: Late in October 1947 when the tribals were on the outskirts of Srinagar airfield, ransacking the areas around and busy collecting ransom, the Governor General ordered Lt General Douglas Gracey then in temporary command of Pakistan Army to dispatch one brigade to Kashmir to coordinate and direct the thrust of the lacquers to capture the airfield that lay at their feet. Lt. General Gracey ignored the legitimate orders of the Governor General and instead contacted Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck in New Delhi to inform him of the Governor General’s intentions.

Disobedience of orders is a very serious offence in the military, requiring stern disciplinary action. I felt that at this point in time the Governor General slipped and agreed to meet Field Marshal Auchinleck for a dialogue. Time and situation demanded immediate removal of Lt General Gracey from command and replacing him with a Pakistani officer with instructions to proceed forthwith with his orders as already issued for the dispatch of troops to ‘guide’ the lacquers hovering on the fringes of Srinagar airfield.

Brig M. Akbar Khan, on furlough had already penetrated into Uri where he had established his headquarters and with his men in control of the Pandu heights was all poised to advance and wrap up Kashmir operations, once the airfield was captured. The airfield in the hands of the ‘lashkars’ would deny any Indian reinforcements from Delhi and the trapped Indian garrison in the valley would have had no option but to surrender and the situation in Kashmir would have been the reverse of what it is today.

This was the most crucial moment in Pakistan military history. Prompt implementation of the Governor General’s orders would have given a different dimension to the relations of the newly emerged states of India and Pakistan. The three futile wars and a number of battles like Siachin and Kargil that the two countries fought between themselves could have been avoided and the region spared of the tension that is constantly prevailing for the last 60 years.

History is silent on the constraints and compulsions that restrained a strict disciplinarian and firm person like Mr Jinnah from taking action against the defaulting Lt. General Gracey and later surprisingly promoting him to the rank of General and confirming his appointment as Commanderof Pakistan Army. This is a mystery and will remain a mystery because the Governor General in his wisdom on this score confided in no one.

THIRD: The question of selecting a national language of Pakistan was amongst the many ticklish problems confronting the new state. Urdu being the language of the majority of the Muslims of the subcontinent before independence, was generally considered as the likely choice but the partition of India changed the composition of population in the new country and created a perplexing situation. Now, there were two wings of the country, located 1200 miles apart with the balance of population 54:46 in favour of one wing and with two distinct languages being spoken in each wing of the country. Accordingly the ground situation was that one language was spoken and understood in one wing with the unfamiliarity of it in the other.

Governor General on his visit to East Pakistan in March 1948, without taking the East Wing leaders into confidence, declared Urdu the language of just two per cent of the population, as the national language of Pakistan at a public meeting in Paltan Maidan, Dacca. This was done in the hope of national integration but it was taken amiss and misunderstood.

Other considerations aside, imposition of Urdu as the national language on the majority of the population of the country which they could not read, write or speak, alienated the people of the Eastern wing that comprised 54 per cent of the total population of Pakistan. Bengalis perceived this move as suppression of their language and culture and considered it and rightly so, as a denial of their rights, whereas being in majority they claimed quite logically that Bengali should have been declared as the linga franca of Pakistan. They revolted in the meeting and later there were clashes where three students were killed. Incidentally it was the first time that they publicly raised voices against the decision of the Quaid.


Books & Authors reserves the right to edit excerpts from books for reasons of clarity and space.

The book describes the political quagmire in Pakistan and Pakistan’s relations with the United States.

Ata Rabbani joined the Royal Indian Air Force in 1941 and was selected as the first air aid-de-camp for the Quaid-i-Azam.


Excerpted with permission from

The Sun Shall Rise

By Ata Rabbani

Ferozsons, Lahore

ISBN 978-969-002-163-2

313pp. Rs595

Source Link: Will be available on 28th December 2008

Not-So-Simple Sleep

Can you get too much sleep?

Can you get too much sleep?

News reports abound about the weary, drowsy, sleep-deprived masses. Sleep aids can probably be found in the bedside table drawers and medicine cabinets of millions who experience sleepless nights. But is there such a thing as getting too much sleep - and how much is too much?

For years, the magic sleep number was 8. Eight hours of sleep per night has long been considered an optimal amount of sleep for an adult. Research has put that old belief to bed, though, revealing that people who get more than 8 hours of sleep report just as many sleep problems as those who get less than 7 hours of sleep. So the new magic sleep number falls somewhere between 7 and 8 hours.

Everyone oversleeps from time to time, usually to pay back a sleep debt - like after an all-night study session, a bout of jet lag, or any other period of sleep deprivation. Those who sleep beyond 8 hours on a regular basis could be long sleepers, the name given to people with hypersomnia (the opposite of insomnia, it literally means "too much sleep").

If long sleepers get the sleep their bodies need and their long sleep does not negatively affect their day-to-day life, this is not a serious problem. In some cases, hypersomnia can cause unproductive sleep and changes in mood, memory, appetite, and energy levels.

Check with your doctor if you regularly sleep 10 or more hours and experience daytime sleepiness that is not relieved by napping. There could be underlying reasons for excess sleep:
  • use of certain medications
  • head trauma
  • medical conditions (e.g., multiple sclerosis, epilepsy)
  • sleep disorders (narcolepsy, sleep apnea)
  • symptoms of other medical conditions (e.g., oversleeping is a common symptom of depression)




Dare you not to yawn!

Yawn. Simply reading that word probably got you to yawn. And while yawning is definitely a contagious phenomenon, the subject of yawning itself is not at all yawn-worthy. In fact, it's a mystery - researchers are still figuring out the purpose of yawning. See if you can manage to stifle your yawn reflex - that deep inhalation, that stretching of your jaw, the scrunched-up eyes, that long exhalation - as you gape at these theories about yawning.

A yawn is not the body's attempt to gulp up more oxygen. Though you may sometimes yawn to catch your breath, this common yawning myth was disproved years ago. In fact, yawning and breathing are triggered and controlled by totally different body processes.

A yawn can't be denied. Dr. Robert Provine, a noted yawn expert, says that a yawn has the "inevitability of a sneeze." Even when you try to clench your jaw and hold back a yawn, it still slips through. A stifled yawn will likely last just as long as a full-blown yawn, though it may not feel as satisfying.

Yawning may help us to rise and shine. Yawning happens as part of a process called pandiculation, a big, fun word that merely means "a stretching and stiffening" of the body. Envision a cat rising from a catnap, lifting its backside, stretching its front paws forward, and opening its jaws wide. We do essentially the same thing when we yawn and stretch as we awaken. Some researchers theorize that this rise-and-shine routine is how the body reverses the disorienting effects of REM sleep and gets us ready to be up and about. When we stretch, we reposition our body. When we yawn, we arouse our self-awareness. On the other hand, studies show that yawning seems to do little to energize us or help us fight back the urge to sleep once it hits.

Our yawning habits may be as unique as we are.
Are you a morning person? A night owl? If you're an early riser, you probably yawn less often than more nocturnal folks. If rising with the dawn is difficult for you, you likely yawn a lot - especially in the morning! There may be an age link here, too, since it seems that as we age, we need less sleep and we yawn less often.

Yawning may be air conditioning for the brain.
One currently "hot" theory says that yawning cools our brains down. The brain's temperature can spike during stressful moments, in the midst of a migraine, when we're sleep deprived or just plain drowsy. The body attempts to thermoregulate, or control the body's temperature, by releasing heat through the skull, veins in the face, or via the numerous sweat glands of the forehead. But if these methods fail, yawning may take over. As we yawn, our heart rate and blood pressure increase, and the squeeze-and-relax actions of our facial muscles enhance blood flow. We breathe in a great volume of cooler air, too, and all of these actions may help to balance brain temperature.

Humans aren't the only ones who yawn.
Anyone who has spent any time around cats or dogs knows that humans aren't the only animals who yawn. Many vertebrate animals yawn, in fact, including pigs and some primates. The difference is that most animals don't yawn out of boredom. Some are thought to yawn in order to regulate temperature, to assert dominance, to synchronize behaviours, or as part of courtship rituals.

Yawns are contagious. You probably didn't need to be told this fact. During the course of reading this article, you've yawned at least once or twice, right? Empathy is at the heart of most contagious yawn theories, and people with empathy-impairing disorders like autism and schizophrenia have helped to illuminate this theory. When tested against people without these types of disorders, empathy-impaired subjects have been observed as less susceptible to contagious yawning. Being able to identify and connect with others has been an important evolutionary survival skill - but why would we identify through yawns? The earliest evolutionary purposes of contagious yawns are still a mystery.

Humans aren't the only ones who can "catch" a yawn.
Empathy could be the key to unlocking the mystery of contagious yawning, but the reverse may be true as well! Contagious yawning noted among chimpanzees opens up the possibility that our closest animal relatives could share advanced self-awareness and empathy similar to ours. Dog owners may have suspected that they share a bond of empathy with their pets, but research proves it's a definite possibility. Dogs can actually "catch" the yawn urge from us humans. When sitting in a room with a yawning stranger, 21 out of 29 dogs yawned back.

Yawning may warn of more than boredom.
If someone's yawning a lot, they may not be uninterested in you - something more serious may be going on. Certain kinds of medication can cause a surge of yawns, and yawning often happens before a fainting spell. Excessive yawning has also been linked to symptoms of heart problems and stroke.

Amy Toffelmire


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Snow-covered Sheep - Reuters

A snow-covered sheep stands on a meadow during snowfalls near the Albispass mountain pass south of Zurich November 22, 2008.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Our Commercials on YouTube!

Hey there,

Now and then I had seen that many commercials as soon as they released are up on youtube by agencies or by production houses.

I would like to share some of the commercials on which I worked as a team member at SharpImage.

Telenor Doctor 1911

Candyland Twister

Candyland Chilli Milli

Let us know, what you think.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Enojarse Abogado (Angry Lawyer) - English Subtitle

Hey there,

Added the English subtitle in my 11SecondClub entry for this past august for the better understanding.

Take care :)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Global Warming - Quercus

Mr. FlavioMac had posted an animation on CGSociety, about Global Warming, which is really touching. So, I like to share this with you.

For more information and to view the animation, click on

Hope you will like it.

Image ©

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Enojarse Abogado (Angry Lawyer) - Process and Breakdown

Hey there,

First time in my life, I am about to write a process and breakdown for my 11 Second Club entry for August 2008. Its the way, I have approached the Spanish clip. The clip is given below.

First and foremost thing, which involv
ed in my clip and in any animation is "the planning", to which I have also valuing a lot, because its all you need. It makes all the processes easy.

For this clip, I would like to hear it as much as I can. Due to change in language, I have to break it down more. When I listen to it, I would prefer to write the dialogue on a piece of paper or in my notebook, and looking at it and syncing myself with the audio and tuning yourself with the audio rhythm and beat according to it. And also generating the story (before and after) and an event or situation in which I have to involve my animation.

It will work in any understandable language. In such case, it have to be broke it down more and the dialogue should be written in your understandable way. I have wrote down the original dialogue which was from the film, then the Spanish version and its word by word English translation and yet another version, in my roman language, by understanding the sound and its pronunciation. Even though I got the word to word translation by the 11SecondClub, I have to find out which word is which, which two make one and one make two, so it would be easier to define.

For example:

The Spanish version:

"Cada cosa, cada cosa que se dijo y se mostró en la sala de ese tribunal, todas! demuestran que es culpable. ¿Qué se cree, que soy idiota?"

The Word to Word English version:

English: "Everything, everything that was said and shown in that courtroom, all of them! prove that he's guilty. What do you think, that I'm an idiot?"

Sorry other two versions are not available with me right now.

If you see, it had to be broken down because all you have is to act on the Spanish delivery, not on the English one. You have to know what you are working with. The sound beat and its wavelength.

You need to know what "Cada cosa" means or "tribunal" or "todas".

For example: "se dijo y se mostró" means "said and shown"

se dijo: said
y: and
se mostró: shown

You have to research and plan. If it is or it
is not your language, you have to get the dialogue’s clear meaning.

After dealing with the meaning and understanding of the audio, I will get my roman version opened in front of me, which would be easier now for me to sync and get the clear idea of the situation. I do remember it Very Happy

From start to end, all the way, your style of doing, and handling things, should be solved in your own way.

Next thing after that process, I have wrote down the story and situation which I came up with the best and also draw the thumbnails, about 3 to 4 describing my main storytelling poses.

Believe it or not, I have skip one important process, right after that process, the video referencing. Maybe everything was in my mind and on paper. However it was executed as it was planned. I think, this was because of pr
oper planning and poses library, a person need to develop and it’s develop with study and involvement in animation. I have acted it out, but all was off camera.

As most of the time, especially in that animation, I have started with lip-syncing and ending with lip-sync and facial animation. At least two pass for it. Because, it is the major thing, which our eye catches at once and I can’t resist it, to leave.

After first pass of lip sync, I would start my blocking and blocking plus by posing out the character's main story telling poses. And I like to work in chunks in the way the dialogue is delivered. I do right after main blocking poses; I will switch to blocking plus, where I will add supporting poses. I do work in spline mode and am comfortable in doing that. However, I would not compromise in any of my acting choices and will not accept any pose given by computer generated frames. I will stick to my idea unless it will replace with any cooler pose or for more enhancement. I will try to make my poses clear and readable by giving it a negative space.

Arcs, follow through and overlapping action, timing, spacing, moving holds, pose clarity and readability, lip-sync, where done in 2 days process, finishing the blocking plus phase. And I would always remember to key on all body parts, for every particular poses.

Most of the work have been done till our blocking plus phase. It was hard to get the critiques because of the language.

Then the rest, refining and polishing of the animation, which make value added and animation smooth and by refining arcs, little bit poses, smoothness of arcs and large actions between pose to pose, all this cleanup, makes a piece as it should, in my way.

I do analyse my animation and get reviewed by the team, wrote down the different views, ideas and errors from 7 to 8 people and adjusting it, which where major and necessary.

Review to your animation really helps. The animation took about a week to finish.

Oh couple of hours spend, and dame too long. Hope you can get till the end, and understand. Let me know if I skipped something or had not clearly mentioned anything.

Also thanks to the SI team for support.

I would like to finish off with that: don’t skip the planning and research part, which is your main building base or planned structure of the whole building structure. Manage your time. And use it wisely and all is done a
s it was planned.

I am really proud to get into this and achieving the 19th place at 11 Second Club competition.

Hope this would be helpful process and breakdown for you.

Take care,
Keep Animating Very Happy

Monday, June 30, 2008

19 Common CG Animation Pitfalls (and counting) ~ Causes and Solutions

Jeremy Cantor - Animation Supervisor - Sony Pictures Imageworks - May 4th, 2002

1) Fearing the technology

Cause: We fear what we don’t understand. Fearing a computer, or believing it is more powerful than it really is comes from not having a fundamental understanding of how a computer works.

Solution: Learn enough about the computer so that you understand its strengths and limitations. Remember that the computer is not a magical device. It can’t think. It just runs programs. It can’t do anything a person can’t do; it can just do things faster. It is only a tool. A very sophisticated pencil. Assuming the user has learned how to speak the computer’s language, the user is the master of the tool, not the other way around.

2) Motion is too robotic…linear.

Cause: Letting the computer simply write linear f-Curves that have no slow-in or slow-out.

Solution: Understand how f-Curves translate into motion. Learn & apply the fundamental principles of animation. Manually insert additional ease-in/ease-out keyframes when appropriate.

(My earliest computer animations were done with software that created linear keyframes and did not have an f-Curve editor. I could not tweak the slope of the curves to create ease-in & ease-out. I had to rely on the application of traditional animation principles and create additional keys to achieve such results.)

3) …or the opposite: Motion is too spliney…watery….”computery”

Cause: Allowing computer to do too much “unsupervised” work. CG software usually creates smooth f-Curves automatically when you set keyframes. “Watery” motion comes from just leaving f-Curves in their default spline shapes. This is why rubber is the easiest thing to animate in CG. Spline f-Curves result in rubbery motion by default.

Solution: Don’t trust the computer to make properly shaped f-Curves. Study how f-Curves translate into movement & manipulate their shapes/slopes accordingly.

4) Characters not displaying a proper sense of weight

Cause: Not understanding the basic principles of timing, slow-in/slow-out, squash/stretch, gravity, etc.

Solution: Don’t let f-Curves just remain in in their default shape after keyframes have been set. The slope of your curves translates to how the forces are acting upon your animated objects. If an object is falling, for instance, make sure your Y-translation curves are accelerating (gravity does not apply itself as a constant force, rather it causes objects to accelerate as they fall). Understand the differences in how characters of varying mass will move. It takes more energy to initiate, stop or reverse the motion of a heavy object or character than it does to do such to a light object or character. Think of the difference in the force it requires to set a bowling ball in motion as opposed to that which is required to initiate the motion of a balloon. And similarly, the force it takes to slow, stop or reverse the motion of such objects.

5) Characters seem off balance.

Cause: Not paying attention to the proper location of character’s center of gravity. Simple physics: A static object’s center of gravity must be directly above or below the point (or average of the points) of suspension, otherwise the object will fall. When a biped character lifts one leg, he must shift his center of gravity over the supporting foot in order to maintain balance. (Variations to this rule apply when the object is in motion, however).

Solution: Pay attention to general physics of center-of-gravity. Study posing and the concept of contraposto. Use yourself as a guide. Study the shifting location of your center of gravity when you transfer your weight from one foot to the other. When you walk. When you run. When you hang from your hands. Etc.

6) Isolated body part movement. Lack of overlap.

Cause: Because it is so easy to animate individual body parts separately in CG, there is a tendency to create movement where separate body parts don’t seem to be working together, or where one part comes to a complete stop before another part begins moving (no overlap). Such inorganic motion also, of course, results from not learning and understanding basic animation principles.

Solution: Study and understand the fundamental principles of animation. Don’t allow all of your keys to remain lined up on the same frames (unless there is a deliberate reason to do so). Work locally but think globally. Always remember that even when you’re focusing on a single limb, it is connected to the rest of the body and all of the parts need to work together, not individually.

7) Twinning (unnatural motion symmetry)

Cause: Twinning is when opposite body parts move as exact mirrors of one another. When the left arm motion starts and stops on exactly the same frames as the right arm. This is usually not desired for natural looking animation (although there are certainly times when it is appropriate) This happens when the animator gets lazy and animates multiple body parts simultaneously, or simply copies/mirrors motion from one limb to another & then leaving the resulting twinned motion as is.

Solution: To avoid twinning, after simultaneously animating multiple body parts or copying/mirroring motion, be sure to go in and add keyframe offsets or other naturalistic variations to the movement.

8) Repetitive or metronomic movement

Cause: Relying too much on the computer’s ability to copy and paste motion. Leaving cycles as is.

Solution: As always, remember that you control the computer, not the other way around. Don’t just blindly copy or cycle movement. Each step in a walk will often be (at least) slightly different from the one before it. Add some naturalistic variation and imperfections (unless of course, repetitive, robotic motion is the desired effect).

9) Squash/Stretch used on inappropriate objects (ie Bowling Balls)

Cause: Learning but not truly understanding the fundamental principles of animation.

Solution: Apply an artistic eye and understand when it is appropriate to apply squash & stretch & when it is not. It is certainly okay to add squash & stretch to a bowling ball, but only if doing so is the result of an aesthetic choice to deliberately bend the rules. It is not acceptable to do such if it is the result of simply applying the fundamental animation principles blindly. It is not enough to simply memorize the principles of animation. You must truly understand them so you can apply them appropriately (or deliberately ignore them if the animation at hand calls for such disobedience in order to most effectively tell your story.)

10) Volume changing when Sqashing/Stretching

Cause: Squashing & stretching an object in CG is a 2 step process. You must scale the object in one axis then oppositely scale it appropriately in the other axes. Neglecting this second step causes the object to appear to shrink when squashing & grow when stretching. Volume changing during squash/stretch is also the result of not truly learning & understanding this fundamental animation principle.

Solution: Learn & understand this principle & don’t forget the second step of scaling in the other axes.

11) Linear wrist/ankle movement (the “marionette look”)

Cause: A wrist does not move from here to there via translation of the wrist itself, rather, such movement is the result of elbow & shoulder (and clavicle…and back…etc) rotations. Therefore the resulting trajectory of a wrist will tend to follow an arc. A wrist can certainly move in a straight line, but that requires simultaneous compensatory adjustments in the shoulder & elbow joint. Such linear movement does occur in such instances as when throwing a straight punch, but the natural tendency is an arc. When animating limbs with IK, the resulting motion often looks like the character is a marionette with its wrists on puppet strings. This is the result of simply animating the trajectory of the IK handles in straight lines.

Solution: One solution is to animate your character’s limbs with FK, which will result in arc motion by default. However, it is often desirable to use IK, so, when doing so, remember to (usually) make the motion an arc. Simply setting an initial translation keyframe at point A then a destination key at point B will result in a linear trajectory and a “marionette” look. Intermediate keyframes are often required to create an arc trajectory. Linear trajectory is okay, assuming that is the intended result. Just remember that such motion is not the normal tendency of a jointed character.

12) Frozen holds

Cause: In traditional cel animation, it if often desirable to completely freeze a character’s motion for dramatic effect. CG animators can sometimes forget that this is one of the few traditional techniques that does not always translate successfully into 3D. Because of the additional dimensionality, the ultra perfect perspective, texture mapping & super-accurate shadow casting (etc) displayed in a 3D CG scene, the viewer tends to have a “higher” expectation of reality. And since very few real-live characters ever actually freeze completely, when a 3D character does so, it can look unnatural and the action of the scene can die completely.

Solution: Use “moving holds” instead, where your character maintains a small degree of motion. Just enough so that the scene doesn’t entirely stop dead, but not too much or the pose will no longer be a “hold”. Perhaps he continues moving ever-so-slightly along his previous trajectory. Perhaps he takes a breath or scratches his ribs. Some animators will put their character’s central pivot point on a very small figure-eight path, so that he will sway just a little bit.

13) Character motion starts & stops exactly in synch with camera cuts

Cause: When an animated scene is made up of several shots, the simplest screen direction for each complete action (or group of actions) to be perfectly book-ended by a camera cut. This creates a scene that looks as if a director had yelled “action” at the very beginning of each shot (just after the camera had started rolling) and then “stop” just before the end of each shot. This is rarely considered good screen direction, as the camera does not appear to be operated by a human being, rather it has the unnaturally cold, perfect & predictable feel of a computer that always miraculously knows exactly when to cut.

Solution: It is usually more visually appealing when the illusion of a human camera operator is created. A human camera operator will suffer from human error. He will invariably end up following just behind the action on occasion, or sometimes actually anticipating it. Overshooting will occur once in a while. Etc. Maintain some degree of overlap between your animation and the camera cuts. Addition of such real world “imperfections” can help to make your scene feel more natural.

14) Arbitrary poses & motions

Cause: The difference between “animating” a character and simply “moving” a character is that “animation” implies life…and character…and purpose. Because of the power of the computer, it’s very easy and often tempting to simply add more & more to your scene simply because you can.

Solution: Remember that every motion of a thinking character must have a purpose. Movement for movement’s sake doesn’t communicate anything & only contributes to unnecessarily increasing the length of your performance and reducing the clarity of the story being told. Ask yourself what is the reason for each pose & motion in your performance. More is not always better. Most often, “elegant simplicity” is the key to telling your story most effectively. The well known acronym KISS means: “Keep it simple, stupid!”

15) Geometry intersections

Cause: Not paying enough attention to the details of your scene. Since CG involves working with virtual objects that are intangible, there is only visual feedback to inform the user when objects intersect one another. Therefore it is sometimes easy to overlook such errors.

Solution: Pay attention.

16) Relying too much on automated processes

Cause: Expecting the computer to do too much of the work for you. With expressions, constraint systems and various other software “bells & whistles”, it is possible to create a variety of automated motions in your characters, such as automatic lagging ponytail bounces that occur whenever the head moves. Such processes usually look automated. Too perfect. Unnatural.

Solution: You should do the work, not the computer. There are certainly occasions where automated processes are effective time savers, but it is very important to implement controls into your character setups that allow you to override or completely disable such processes. This way, even though certain things are happening automatically, you still have ultimate control over them.

17) Unnatural facial animation – not enough shapes, not animating enough parts of the face

Cause: Using too few morph target shapes and animating too few parts of the face. Unless an extremely simplified style is the desired effect, facial animation usually requires a good number of target shapes and plenty of detail in order to effectively create a natural feel to the motion.

Solution: Make enough morph target shapes. Don’t just animate the mouth and the eyebrows. Add appropriate motion to cheeks, eyes, forehead & even ears. Add some corresponding head movement. Apply squash and stretch.

18) Too much camera movement.

Cause: Disregarding the notion that just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. CG software gives you complete control over the motion of your camera. You can add all sorts of crazy camera motion that is extremely difficult or downright impossible in the real world. Because of this power, there is often a temptation to overdo it. Too much camera motion can confuse the action and distract the viewer, and in extreme cases, cause dizziness and queasiness. Sometimes it is certainly appropriate for the camera’s motion to have “character” but it shouldn’t steal the action from the scene (unless the camera is being used as the primary storyteller of that particular shot, like in situations where we are “looking through a character’s eyes”. But such staging should be used sparingly).

Solution: Keep cameral motion to a minimum. Study films and notice that cameras usually don’t move all that much. Sometimes big, sweeping camera motions are appropriate. However, just make sure that you are adding such exaggerated camera motion to help tell the story, and not simply because you can.

19) Motion blur turned up too high

Cause: The motion blur button in your CG software package is a fun toy and, much like the ability to animate your camera, there is an initial tendency to play with it too much.

Solution: Remember, motion blur is an effect that is more sensed than seen. With most motions, you can only see the blurring when you freeze-frame. Watch live action films & you’ll notice that you can only really see blurring when there is extremely fast motion happening. If you can see the motion blur during the normal motions of your characters, it is turned up too high.

The bottom line

a) Study and truly understand the fundamental rules of animation before you start breaking them.

b) Don’t rely on the computer to do too much of the work for you. Remember that the computer is just a tool. You are the artist.

Losing Sleep

A new study may reveal a genetic reason for why people with Fragile X syndrome and autism have trouble sleeping.

If you’ve got rhythm, thank a pair of RNA-binding proteins. A new study in mice shows that the way these proteins function is crucial for synchronizing the biological clocks throughout a person’s body.

The study aimed to understand the source of a symptom in people with Fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited form of mental retardation and the most common known cause of autism. The syndrome is caused by a defect in a gene called fragile X mental retardation 1 or FMR1. People with the syndrome often have unusual sleeping patterns.

Parents often report that it takes two to four years for children with Fragile X syndrome to begin sleeping through the night. Typically developing children usually adopt normal sleep patterns by the time they are six to eight months old.

Many neurological disorders are accompanied by sleep difficulties, says Yung-Hui Fu of the University of California, San Francisco, but the reason for those sleeping problems is often unknown.

An international team of scientists led by David Nelson, a human geneticist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, set out to investigate why. The study appears in the July American Journal of Human Genetics and is the first to suggest a mechanism for the sleep disruptions that accompany Fragile X syndrome.

For eight years, Nelson has been studying FMR1 and two related genes, called FXR1 and FXR2. All three of the genes encode proteins that bind to RNA and help regulate the process that builds proteins from RNA templates.

Previous research had shown that fruit flies that lack the Drosophila FMR1 gene have disrupted circadian rhythms when kept in darkness, but can still reset their biological clocks when exposed to light.

So Nelson and his colleagues tested mice that lack FMR1, FXR2 or both genes to see if their biological clocks are also thrown off. When normal mice are kept in complete darkness, they fall into sleeping-waking patterns slightly shorter than 24 hours. Mice lacking either FMR1 or FXR2 have yet shorter circadian rhythms when kept in the dark, but the difference is subtle, Nelson says. The mice have no trouble resetting their circadian clocks when the lights are turned on.

But mice lacking both genes gave the researchers a big shock — the mice have no circadian rhythm at all in either dark or light. The mice sleep and wake at random times.

“There are no known mutations in the mouse that do this,” Nelson says. Even disruptions of the genes that make up the circadian clock’s gears don’t cause such dramatic disruption of biological rhythms.

When one of Nelson’s collaborators examined the main biological clock in the brains of the mice lacking both genes, the researchers discovered that that clock cycles normally. But circadian clocks in the liver don’t follow the rhythm of the master clock in the brain.

Fragile X protein and its cousin are necessary for synchronizing biological clocks found in every cell in the body, the study suggests.

It also suggests yet another layer of regulation that keeps circadian clocks ticking in unison, Fu says. Scientists have documented the control mechanisms that govern when and how much RNA is produced from the clock genes and described modifications that can affect the function of clock proteins. But researchers have generally ignored the step that controls production of clock proteins, known as translational regulation. The new study may prompt more researchers to explore how protein production affects biological rhythms, she says.


Friday, June 20, 2008

The Seven P's (What I look for in an animator candidate)

Jeremy Cantor – Animation Supervisor – Sony Pictures Imageworks - May 4th, 2002

1) Perception (The MAIN thing)

Overall aesthetic/artistic/creative sensibilities….An "eye".

A grasp of general aesthetics: Composition, camera angles, screen direction, anatomy, posing, design, color theory, etc.

How does one develop such an eye? Years of drawing, painting, sculpting, film-making, studying art, watching movies, observing the world around you, etc. Someone does not necessarily need to be a classically trained "artist" to have a good eye.

This is by far the most important requirement because it is not something that can be effectively taught in the workplace. Candidates absolutely need to arrive with such sensibilities

Many demo reels have animations where the fundamental principles of animation are (all but blindly) implemented by someone who clearly knows their software very well. However, their character design is unappealing, composition is weak, camera angle choices are bad, etc. Such demo reels rarely lead to interviews.

On the other hand, someone who can't necessarily recite Frank & Ollie's 12 basic animation principles and doesn't know Softimage/Maya/3D Studio/etc all that well, but somehow manages to make an entertaining demo reel animation with appealing characters & interesting composition, camera angles & screen direction choices will be much more likely to get an interview.

We can teach someone how to use a particular piece of software...

We can teach someone the fundamental principles of animation….

But we can't teach someone to have a good eye.

Effective self-criticism is also an important aspect of perception. Be able to analyze your own animations and figure out what parts are working and what parts are not, rather than relying too much on your supervisor's critiques as your main catalyst for progress.

2) Principles

A firm understanding of the fundamental principles & mechanics of character animation (anticipation, follow through, squash & stretch, timing, arcs, non-symmetry, 2ndary action, etc). It is not enough for someone to simply be able to list these principles from memory. Candidates must truly understand them and know how and when to apply them properly. These principles should not be implemented blindly. Sometimes certain ones should be exaggerated, toned down or even left out entirely. One must KNOW a rule before it can be broken effectively, creatively and appealingly. If your director tells you to make your character look heavier, do you know which principles need to be adjusted (and how) in order to arrive at such a change?

3) Program Proficiency

At least some rudimentary computer skills and familiarity with a full-featured 3D animation package is desired. However, a gifted animator with very limited computer skills will absolutely be considered as long as he/she has the capacity and willingness to learn the technical part of the job. (Except when deadline pressures don't allow for training time). While we are in fact an "animation" department, for better or worse, we do use computers and therefore, unfortunate as it may seem, even the most amazing animator is of little use to us if he/she is unable or unwilling to (at least partially) animate digitally.

4) Personality & Professionalism

We look for animators who are independently motivated self-starters as well as effective team players. Often, your supervisors are difficult to find (or perhaps out of town) and a candidate must be able to get things done without constant "hand-holding". Also, we work in large, collaborative environment where you never know who you're going to get stuck working with on your next shot or project. If you can't (at least pretend to) get along with just about everyone (at a professional level), you won't last very long. And be aware that this is a relatively small and extremely well-connected industry. Everyone knows everyone. (2 degrees of separation sounds about right). No matter how talented someone is, if they do not play well with others, such word will spread and it will become extremely difficult for them to find work. Furthermore, we like to hire well rounded people who have outside interests and hobbies. We are going to be working very closely together for potentially a long period of time, and we prefer to surround ourselves with potential lunch-mates, not just work-mates.

Be prepared to receive and appropriately respond to criticism (supervisors and directors are not always the most diplomatic folks on the planet). The ability to respond professionally to criticism and failure is often the very thing that separates successful creative people from non-successful creative people. How many times have you heard the story of the author whose million-selling book was initially turned down by dozens of publishers? (ie J.K. Rowling)

A strong interest in the subject matter produced by the studio to which you are applying is also a desired quality as well as a key ingredient for success. These jobs demand that you utilize the full extent of your creative energy for often very long hours in potentially high stress environments. Without a passion for the end product, it will be very difficult to handle such demands for very long. It is unlikely that someone who hates Science Fiction films will ever work above and beyond the call of duty or learn new software on their own time or attempt to "push the envelope" creatively or technically at a Visual Effects studio. Climbing the ladder in this industry requires a lot of creative passion. You will not go far in this business if you are only in it for the money (except perhaps in the executive branches).

5) Problem Solving

Be willing and able to accept and attempt to conquer technical and artistic challenges. When faced with a problem, don't be someone whose first instinct is to run to a supervisor and ask for help. Think creatively…Approach the problem from a different angle..Make a simplified version and do some trial and error. …Pick up a manual.

6) Precision

The teams I tend to work with pride themselves on attention to detail. Candidates should possess such sensibilities as well.

Do you understand the importance of that last ten-percent that turns a good animation into a great animation?

Do you look at the details of your animations with a fine-toothed comb before deciding that they're finished?

Do you check your work for technical glitches, geometry intersections, motion "pops", etc?

Is your resume or cover letter full of spelling errors? If so, can we expect the same level of carelessness in your work?

7) Performance

I find that it is often helpful if an animator has some experience in some form of performing art, especially one that stresses meticulous control of the human body: Gymnastics, dance, martial arts, diving, mime, acting, etc. Folks with such skills tend to have a better understanding of anatomy/physiology/kinesiology and can more effectively break down and evaluate individual body motions at varying levels of detail. Also, such folks tend to be less inhibited when it comes to jumping off their chairs and publicly acting out a performance to more effectively study how their animation should play out. Performers realize that it is okay to dance around like a maniac in the interest of becoming a better animator, and any co-worker who points and laughs is doing so out of jealousy for being too self-conscious to ever do such a thing them self!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Creating Perspective Grids For Your Projects

Toon Boom Animation:
Creating Perspective Grids For Your Projects

Perspective is always a bit tricky to get right, especially if you are still new to drawing! Adding this skill on top of animation can become quite overwhelming. Here is a simple trick that will help you to save time and effort while working on your animation project.

Creating Perspective Grids in Toon Boom Studio

If you have learned the basics of perspective, you know how to draw your horizon line and vanishing point. From there you can create a full grid. By using Toon Boom Studio’s 12 Field grid, you can easily trace your lines at equal distance to make a clear and useful grid. This image shows an example of a one vanishing point perspective grid and a two vanishing point perspective grid:

Animation Tips & Tricks

We suggest that you create this grid on a separate element. This allows you to activate the light table and use this grid as a reference.

Animation Tips & Tricks

You can use this method to create backgrounds or shapes that require accurate perspective. And since the grid is on another layer, you do not need to erase any guide lines. Once you are done, you will just need to delete the Grid element in your Timeline!

Animation Tips & Tricks

Animation Tips & Tricks

Using Perspective Grids in Animation

It is also possible to use these grids for animation. For example, this grid has two vanishing points:

Animation Tips & Tricks

You could use this grid as a reference for a 3/4 walk animation. You can see this demonstrated in the next image where each square equals one step:

Animation Tips & Tricks

Trying to create an animation like this without any visual references can be quite tricky and give unpleasant results. Save yourself some time and headaches by using the grid guide lines.

Reuse your Grids by Creating Templates

Why redraw your grids over and over when you can reuse them. In Toon Boom Studio you can easily save each grid as a template and store them in your library to use whenever you need to. To use the Library to store all your grids as a template, simply create a new catalogue called Perspective Grids and then drag and drop the selected cell into your library! Each time you create a new grid, make sure to save it. You just never know when it might be useful again!

Animation Tips & Tricks


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ollie Johnston (1912-2008)

The Disney Company on Ollie Johnston

by brewmasters
April 15, 2008 12:20 pm


(Above: Milt Kahl, Marc Davis, Frank Thomas and Walt Disney flank seated Ollie Johnston)

Howard Green just sent over the official studio press obituary, released to the media at 11am today:

Ollie Johnston, one of the greatest animators/directing animators in animation history and the last surviving member of Walt Disney’s elite group of animation pioneers known affectionately as the “Nine Old Men,” passed away from natural causes at a long term care facility in Sequim, Washington on Monday April 14th. He was 95 years old. During his stellar 43-year career at The Walt Disney Studios, he contributed inspired animation and direction to such classic films as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Pinocchio,” “Fantasia,” “Song of the South,” “Cinderella,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Peter Pan,” “Lady and the Tramp,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Sword in the Stone,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Jungle Book,” “Robin Hood,” “The Rescuers,” and “The Fox and the Hound.”

In addition to his achievements as an animator and directing animator, Johnston (in collaboration with his lifelong friend and colleague Frank Thomas) authored four landmark books: Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life, Too Funny for Words, Bambi: The Story and the Film, and The Disney Villain. Johnston and Thomas were also the title subjects of a heartfelt 1995 feature-length documentary entitled “Frank and Ollie,” written and directed by Frank’s son, Theodore (Ted) Thomas. In November 2005, Johnston became the first animator to be honored with the National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony.

Behind every great animated character is a great animator and in the case of some of Disney’s best-loved creations, it was Johnston who served as the actor with the pencil. Some examples include Thumper’s riotous recitation (in “Bambi”) about “eating greens” or Pinocchio’s nose growing as he lies to the Blue Fairy, and the musical antics of Mowgli and Baloo as they sang “The Bear Necessities” in “The Jungle Book.” Johnston had his hand in all of these and worked on such other favorites as Brer Rabbit, Mr. Smee, the fairies in “Sleeping Beauty,” the centaurettes in “Fantasia,” Prince John and Sir Hiss (”Robin Hood”), Orville the albatross (”The “Rescuers”), and more than a few of the “101 Dalmatians.”

Roy E. Disney, director emeritus and consultant for The Walt Disney Company, said, “Ollie was part of an amazing generation of artists, one of the real pioneers of our art, one of the major participants in the blossoming of animation into the art form we know today. One of Ollie’s strongest beliefs was that his characters should think first, then act…and they all did. He brought warmth and wit and sly humor and a wonderful gentleness to every character he animated. He brought all those same qualities to his life, and to all of our lives who knew him. We will miss him greatly, but we were all enormously enriched by him.”

John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and a longtime friend to Johnston, added, “Ollie had such a huge heart and it came through in all of his animation, which is why his work is some of the best ever done. Aside from being one of the greatest animators of all time, he and Frank (Thomas) were so incredibly giving and spent so much time creating the bible of animation – ‘Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life’ – which has had such a huge impact on so many animators over the years. Ollie was a great teacher and mentor to all of us. His door at the Studio was always open to young animators, and I can’t imagine what animation would be like today without him passing on all of the knowledge and principles that the ‘nine old men’ and Walt Disney developed. He taught me to always be aware of what a character is thinking, and we continue to make sure that every character we create at Pixar and Disney has a thought process and emotion that makes them come alive.”

Glen Keane, one of Disney’s top supervising animators and director of the upcoming feature “Rapunzel,” observed, “Ollie Johnston was the kind of teacher who made you believe in yourself through his genuine encouragement and patient guidance. He carried the torch of Disney animation and passed it on to another generation. May his torch continue to be passed on for generations to come.”

Andreas Deja, another of today’s most acclaimed and influential animators paid tribute to his friend and mentor in this way, “I always thought that Ollie Johnston so immersed himself into the characters he animated, that whenever you watched Bambi, Pinocchio, Smee or Rufus the cat, you saw Ollie on the screen. His kind and humorous personality came through in every scene he animated. I will never forget my many stimulating conversations with him over the years, his words of wisdom and encouragement. ‘Don’t animate drawings, animate feelings,’ he would say. What fantastic and important advice! He was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, and it was an honor and joy to have known him.”

John Canemaker, Academy Award®-winning animator/director, and author of the book, Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men & The Art of Animation, noted, “”Ollie Johnston believed in the emotional power of having ‘two pencil drawings touch each other.’ His drawings had a big emotional impact on audiences, that’s for sure — when Mowgli and Baloo hug in ‘The Jungle Book;’ when Pongo gives his mate Perdita a comforting lick in ‘101 Dalmatians;’ when an elderly cat rubs against an orphan girl in ‘The Rescuers’ — Ollie Johnston, one of the greatest animators who ever lived, deeply touched our hearts.”

Born in Palo Alto, California on October 31, 1912, Johnston attended grammar school at the Stanford University campus where his father taught as a professor of the romance languages. His artistic abilities became increasingly evident while attending Palo Alto High School and later as an art major at Stanford University.

During his senior year in college, Johnston came to Los Angeles to study under Pruett Carter at the Chouinard Art Institute. It was during this time that he was approached by Disney and, after only one week of training, joined the fledgling studio in 1935. The young artist immediately became captivated by the Disney spirit and discovered that he could uniquely express himself through this new art form.

At Disney, Johnston’s first assignment was as an in-betweener on the cartoon short “Mickey’s Garden.” The following year, he was promoted to apprentice animator, where he worked under Fred Moore on such cartoon shorts as “Pluto’s Judgement Day” and “Mickey’s Rival.”

Johnston got his first crack at animating on a feature film with “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Following that, he worked on “Pinocchio” and virtually every one of Disney’s animated classics that followed. One of his proudest accomplishments was on the 1942 feature “Bambi,” which pushed the art form to new heights in portraying animal realism. Johnston was one of four supervising animators to work on that film.

For his next feature assignment, “Song of the South” (1946), Johnston became a directing animator and served in that capacity on nearly every film that followed. After completing some early animation and character development on “The Fox and the Hound,” the veteran animator officially retired in January 1978, to devote full time to writing, lecturing and consulting.

His first book, Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life, written with Frank Thomas, was published in 1981 and ranks as the definitive tome on the Disney approach to entertainment and animation. In 1987, his second book, Too Funny For Words, was published and offered additional insights into the studio’s unique style of visual humor. A detailed visual and anecdotal account of the making of “Bambi,” Walt Disney’s “Bambi”: The Story and the Film, the third collaboration for Thomas and Johnston, was published in 1990. The Disney Villains, a fascinating inside look at the characters audiences love to hate, was written by the duo in 1993.

In addition to being one of the foremost animators in Disney history, Johnston was also considered one of the world’s leading train enthusiasts. The backyard of his home in Flintridge, California, boasted one of the finest hand-built miniature railroads. Even more impressive was the full-size antique locomotive he ran for many years at his former vacation home in Julian, near San Diego. Johnston had a final opportunity to ride his train at a special ceremony held in his honor at Disneyland in May 2005.

The pioneering animator was honored by the Studio in 1989 with a Disney Legends Award. In 2003, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences held a special tribute to him (and Frank Thomas), “Frank and Ollie: Drawn Together,” in Beverly Hills.

Johnston and Thomas were lovingly caricatured, and even provided the voices, in two animated features directed by Brad Bird, “The Iron Giant,” and Disney/Pixar’s “The Incredibles.”

Johnston moved from his California residence to a care facility in Sequim, Washington in March 2006 to be near his family. He is survived by his two sons: Ken Johnston and his wife Carolyn, and Rick Johnston and his wife Teya Priest Johnston. His beloved wife of 63 years, Marie, passed away in May 2005. Funeral plans will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations can be made to CalArts (, the World Wildlife Fund (, or National Resources Defense Council ( The Studio is planning a life celebration with details to be announced shortly.

Original Link:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Coming Soon in 2008


How are you doing?

Just to make a list of topics that I am going to be sharing pretty soon.

  • The days after Assassination of Late Benazir Bhutto
  • Milkateer - An Animated Series
  • Once more KESC!
  • Want to become an Animator?
  • Opportunities and Chances
Currently these are my top 5 topics, which I am going to share with you.

Stay Tuned