Established Studio Embraces Real-Time Animation

The Adobe blogs have an interesting story on Renegade Animation and my old bosses who are using a new Adobe application called Character Animator.

Renegade Animation started out 25 years ago as a boutique commercial house specializing in 2D animation. Its two founders, Ashley Postlewaite and Darrell Van Citters met while working at Warner Bros. in the Looney Tunes commercial unit. Renegade Animation was an early adopter of digital tools to reduce costs and improve efficiency, and that still holds true today. Using many of the apps in Adobe Creative Cloud, the company created a paperless animation pipeline to support the production of animated episodic television, feature films, interactive games, and web and mobile content.

Recently Co-founder and Executive Producer Postlewaite, along with Production Manager Scott Lowe, and Animator and Storyboard Artist Scott Klass tried out another new technology. The team accepted an offer from Adobe to create some demo assets for Adobe Character Animator, a real-time animation tool that transforms static artwork into dynamic puppets.

Read the entire interview HERE.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Nicktoons, 25 Years Later

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To ring in the 25th anniversary of NicktoonsRugrats,” “Ren & Stimpy” and “DougVariety has an article up about several behind-the-scenes tidbits that have gone mostly unknown.

For instance:

The Co-Creator of “Rugrats” Didn’t Like Angelica
Arlene Klasky, co-creator of Klasky-Csupo and “Rugrats,” confessed that she never really liked Angelica, finding her and her signature catchphrase, “You dumb babies!,” “too mean.” She admitted to the New Yorker that the original “Rugrats” creative team struggled to keep the show edgy while also appropriate for children, and that the Angelica conflict was the reason for the team’s breakup.

You can read the entire article here.

Ren and Stimpy storyboards!

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Animation Resources.org has a fantastic Ren and Stimpy board up and if you’ve never visited Animation Resources and you’re into animation, you’re in for a huge treat because it’s one of the unsung jewels of the internet. Check it out!

 

Leo The Lion and the worst animation Netflix has to offer

 

AV Club has an interesting article up about the worst thing Netflix has to offer and if that clip above is any indication of what they have it’s pretty terrible. (Apologies to anyone who worked on it.)

“The streaming-video market is propped up by garbage,” Feldman admits, but Leo The Lion is something special. The film, the story of a vegetarian lion who escorts a group of animals to a lake filled with milk, is already a cult sensation of sorts on Tumblr, where users contribute to an ever-growing thread about the film’s many inconsistencies, mistakes, and baffling details. The strangest aspect of the film may be that the dubbed dialogue and songs do not match up with the subtitles at all. Feldman’s theory is that the subtitles are a literal translation of the original Italian script, while the dubbing has been more localized.

You can read the entire article here.

JON STEWART CREATING ANIMATED NEWS PARODY SERIES FOR HBO

Jon Stewart thedailyshow.com With the 2008 election, Stewart is increasing his influence exponentially this year. And a big part of the reason why is the Web. After some messy quarrels with YouTube over illegal copies running on the video service, Comedy Central, which produces The Daily Show, finally started putting the show up for free on its own Web site. With more people than ever turning to the Web for news and videos, The Daily Show has become the place where many claim to be getting their best coverage of the elections. So while Stewart wasn't a pioneer in going online, his embrace of the Net is an example of good timing.

IGN is reporting that John Stewart has teamed up with HBO to bring us an animated news show.

HBO’s president of programming, Casey Bloys, announced today at the TCA (Television Critics Association) summer press tour that Stewart’s new HBO series will be an Onion-Style animated “parody of a cable news network,” that he described as “very much in Jon’s voice.”

From what I gather it will be very simple animation, probably in the vein of South Park because of the next quote.

When it was brought up that animation usually takes more time, not less, Bloys said, “The animation will allow him to respond to things very quickly. It’ll be more simple animation. My hope is it will be up and running by September or October; by this fall.”

You can read the entire article here.

Character animation technique produces realistic looking bends at joints

Bending of an elbow or a knee is common in most computer animations of human or animal figures, but current techniques often result in unwanted pinching or bulging near the joints. Disney Research has found a way to eliminate those artifacts even when the animation algorithm is running in real-time.

Jessica Hodgins, vice president at Disney Research, and Binh Huy Le, a post-doctoral researcher, were able to pre-compute an optimized center of rotation for each vertex in the character model, so those centers of rotation could be the basis for calculating how the skin around each joint is deformed as it is bent.

“It’s a very simple idea,” Hodgins said. “The pre-computation enabled us to significantly reduce the joint distortions that often plague these animations, preserving the volume of the skin surface around the joint. And this method can be dropped into the standard animation pipeline.”

Hodgins and Le will present their skeletal skinning method July 24 at the ACM International Conference on Computer Graphics & Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH) in Anaheim, Calif.

Computer animators will often use a virtual skeleton to control the pose of a character and then use a skinning algorithm to define the surface of the character. Two skinning methods, called linear blend skinning (LBS) and dual quaternion skinning (DQS), are widely used in computer game engines, virtual reality engines and in 3D animation software and have been the standard for more than ten years.

But both have difficulty with certain poses. When an elbow is flexed, for instance, LBS can cause a volume loss at the area around the joint, resulting in a crease resembling a bent cardboard tube. When the forearm is twisted, a similar volume loss results in an appearance similar to a twisted candy wrapper. DQS eliminates those problems of volume loss, but creates one of its own – a bulging of the joint.

Pre-computing the centers of rotation, by contrast, improves the ability to properly weight the influence of each bone in the joint on the skin deformation, Le said.

The result is that the volume losses of LBS and the bulging associated with DQS are minimized or eliminated.

The method uses the same setup as other skeletal-based skinning models, including LBS and DQS, so it can be seamlessly integrated into existing animation pipelines. The required inputs are just the rest pose model and the skinning weights that also are required by the existing algorithms. The method also can fully utilize current graphics hardware (GPUs).

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For more information and a video, visit the project web site at https://www.disneyresearch.com/publication/skinning-with-optimized-cors/.

About Disney Research

Disney Research is a network of research laboratories supporting The Walt Disney Company. Its purpose is to pursue scientific and technological innovation to advance the company’s broad media and entertainment efforts. Vice Presidents Jessica Hodgins and Markus Gross manage Disney Research facilities in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Zürich, and work closely with the Pixar and ILM research groups in the San Francisco Bay Area. Research topics include computer graphics, animation, video processing, computer vision, robotics, wireless & mobile computing, human-computer interaction, displays, behavioral economics, and machine learning.

Website: http://www.disneyresearch.com
Twitter: @DisneyResearch
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DisneyResearch