Stephen Brooks

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FII2N-t–0g

What is your name and your current occupation? 
Stephen Brooks, freelance animator.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation? 
Worked at a Saw Mill in Alaska, Vacuum Cleaner salesman in Florida, and Ski Instructor in New York.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of? 
Moshi Monsters, I did all the character animation for Furi & Luvli. It was great to be apart of the beginning of the game and see it explode the way it has. I also did a teaser spot for Nate Quarry’s comic Zombie Cagefighter where I got to choreograph a fight AND animate a zombie attack simultaneously… which is just special.

How did you become interested in animation? 
On a trip to Disney World (or Land… one of them) I saw a demo of Continue…

Chris Burns

 

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What is your name and your current occupation?
Chris Burns, Owner and Lead Animator of EXIT 73 STUDIOS (exit73studios.com)

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
The craziest job I ever had, had to be a carpenter/roofer. I worked with a bunch of super manly, blue collar dudes, who’s life mission was to win concert tickets on the radio, and win pick 4 lotto. The money was good, and you couldn’t beat the hours, but I knew pretty early on, that I wanted to pursue a career in art.

 

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
In 2007, when I was lead animator at AUGENBLICK STUDIOS, there was a stint of 3 projects that completely blew my mind. It started with the web series called GOLDEN AGE, which was a documentary style narrative of obscure cartoon characters from different time periods. From there we went on to animate a 4 minute cartoon for the feature film THE TEN, in a segment called THE LYING RHINO. Right after that we started animating the first episode of SUPERJAIL! It was really lightning in a bottle for the whole studio, we had a super tight team of very talented artist, pumping on all cylinders… It actually paved the way for the studio to go all the way to the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL. THE TEN, and all the webisodes of GOLDEN AGE where proudly featured there. It was very surreal, as an animator, going into theaters and seeing your work so big with an audience.

 

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m originally from eastern Long Island, which made my choice to go to SVA very easy, being it was so close. I interned at a bunch of Animation studios, B3, NOODLE SOUP, WORLD LEADERS, and 4KIDS ENTERTAINMENT. NOODLE SOUP, provided me with Continue…

Ryan Ortgiesen


What is your name and your current occupation? 
My name is Ryan Ortgiesen. I’m a freelance animator and director in Brooklyn, NY. Thank you for this opportunity, Mike.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation? 
I’m not sure “crazier” is the right word. Hmmm, maybe zanier. I’ve had a lot of terrible jobs including foundation repair, digging trenches and evicting people from their homes. I’d say the worst was when I worked on this vineyard in France. I chopped wood for six hours a day, put up scaffolding on a five story castle with no safety equipment and was eventually fired. Longest week of my life. It was just like that one episode of The Simpsons.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Thus far, I’ve mostly worked for clients doing smaller project and some work for Cartoon Network. My proudest work is my own personal projects because I feel most passionately about the ideas and look. Passion will always spawn greatness within yourself.

How did you become interested in animation?
Being a product of the late 80’s-early 90’s, I was inundated with a barrage of fantastically crappy cartoons, particularly “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and possibly a little “Jem” thrown in there (she was, after all, truly outrages). When I was around 4 years old, I would Continue…

Bob Etchingham

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What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Bob Etchingham, I’m a key poser/lead animator at Magpie6Media in Dublin, Ireland.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
My uncle owns a jewellers and workshop here in Dublin. So I started an apprenticeship at the age of twelve while I was still at school and during college and worked there pretty much up until I got into cartoons. I miss it sometimes. Lots of interesting characters working in that industry.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I worked on a show at Studio B in Vancouver (Now DHX media) called Kid vs. Kat. That was a great show to work on cause it was the first gig I did at a studio that actually owned the show. So If you had any suggestions about a scene, something that might make it better or funnier you could just walk into the next room and talk to the director about it. The more creative input you have into something you’re working on the better it comes out and the happier you are as an animator. Also the Slacker Cats title sequences that I worked on for Seth Kearsley was a great gig cause he was really easy going with how I went about them. Again more freedom means a better end product and a better experience over all. After that then I guess just my own shorts that I make all the time. I did some animation for the podcast Tell ’em Steve Dave on the smodcast network (unsolicited haha) They came out well and got a good response so thats cool. All my own stuff is on the Bobetch Productions Youtube page.

How did you become interested in animation?
I just always drew for as long as I can remember. As a kid I was really into Looney Tunes, then Ren and Stimpy all the usuals. Cartoons were just always there in the background. I used to sit and try and Continue…

Ekaterina Maximova

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What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Ekaterina Maximova, I’m an Artist and Animator.

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
The most crazy job I ever had was purifying onions in a snack bar near my College. I got there accidentally and it was only a 4-days job . After that, I promised myself to work solely in Art, no more experiments).  I also worked as a Scenery Artist just after my graduation. Actually, my major is “Theatrical Scenery painting”, so I worked in the specialty. It was a very interesting job, but I understood that I need something else.

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
It was the first time when I meet with Traditional Animation. I took part in the feature movie “Dobrynya Nikitich i Zmey Gorynych”. This is a story about characters of Traditional Russian folklore. It was a great job and a wonderful time! I made cel-Animation, met great people. I remember that moment when I saw my name in the movie’s titles, I was so excited and proud of myself.

How did you become interested in animation?
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be an Artist, and I always Continue…

The Cintiq Companion from an Animator’s Perspective

In this edition of Old But Good Tech, we’ll review Wacom’s Cintiq Companion which at this point is 3 years old and two generations behind the times. That of course doesn’t mean it’s not a viable option for an artist or animator, so read on and we’ll go over why we think it’s still a good purchase.

The beauty herself!

The tablet features a full HD display with touch control, Wi-Fi connectivity, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera and rear 8-megapixel camera, stereo headphone jack, and microphone. It also comes with the Wacom Pro Pen with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. Out of the box the Companion runs Windows 8 (mine is updated to Windows 10) and houses a third-generation Intel Core CPU and Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU. The base Windows 8 version houses 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, and the Windows 8 Pro version includes 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. My device features a 512gb HD and 8gb of memory as well as an i7 chip.

I bought my Companion off eBay for $900 have been using it now for about 4 months and in that time I have found it to be a capable device if you take the time to hack it to work correctly. Below are my reactions to this old school device.

Unboxing
First off, when you buy one the basic things you get are: the tablet, tablet stand, power cord, pen, pen case, nibs, and a faux leather carrying case complete with two custom pockets for the charger and the pen case. Your mileage may differ since it’s hard to find a new one at this point but it is cool to note that if yours doesn’t come with a pen, the Cintiq 22HD’s pen works with it as well which is nice, although it doesn’t look the same.

The Stylus box

A comparison of the Companion’s pen vs. the 22HD’s pen.

The carrying sleeve that comes with the device. Also note the pockets for the stylus box and charger cord.

Hardware
From a Hardware standpoint the Cintiq Companion performed admirably with any piece of software I threw at it. It worked well with every Adobe application,  Photoshop, Illustrator, Audition, Premiere and Animate all performed exactly as they would using my desktop Cintiq. I found them all responsive and snappy when trying to access menus or drawing or scrubbing the timeline.

The Companion’s programmable buttons.

There are four buttons and a ring with a button inside it which combined with Wacom’s software you map functions to and you can even have the same button do different things depending on which program you’re using which is extremely valuable to me and I get a lot more use out of having them as opposed to another device like the Surface Pro 2 which has no such buttons especially when using it without a keyboard for programs like Animate (Flash), Storyboard Pro and Photoshop which are all keyboard heavy apps. The device itself is extremely solid if not a little heavy and I read that the Cintiq Companion 2 is lighter in weight but I don’t personally use it while holding it in my arm so I really don’t care about the weight so much but you might.

The Cintiq Companion’s stand

The stand the unit comes with is extremely odd in its setup and feels clumsy because doesn’t attach securely and instead just has tabs that fit into slots which I find to be lazy in such an expensive flagship device. There are some larger folios that you can purchase which is the same form factor but are essentially attached to the unit which cost more but I think might be worth it if you find you’re traveling with it and setting it up and breaking it down a lot. As I said I don’t use it like that much so for me the stand is fine.

The slot the Companion’s stand slides into. No it does not lock which is one of the reasons I don’t like it much.

A view of the Cintiq Companion’s 3 stand ‘flaps’ which slide into slots depending on what height you want.

One other frustrating thing which has largely been reported about his the power button is exactly where you put your hands to grab it and therefore makes you turn the device off constantly whenever you pick it up. Another odd choice by Wacom was putting the webcam top of the device when it is in portrait display as opposed to landscape display which really to me is quite short-sighted. I don’t know who they assumed it was going to be drawing in portrait mode all the time I’m but I guess they clearly thought people would prefer it that way. In the companion 2 they moved it to the landscape View. So I guess they realized their mistake and fixed it.

Storyboard Pro works perfectly well on the Companion but the menus are small and I did miss the screen real estate compared to my 22HD but that said it’s definitely still usable. Plus you can connect an external monitor to it to add to that real estate. Harmony worked well too and I even managed to animate a little scene without much issue, although I never finished it.

Autodesk Maya also works perfectly with the Cintiq Companion and my only gripe was the tiny menus which was fixable with a small hack (more on that later). I have built multiple models with many parts using and it handled each model like a champion and did not lag when rotating the models I built. I built this kitchen using the companion and it rotates with ease.

Granted the kitchen I built does not have a lot of textures so there is that to consider about its performance but I don’t really spend much time texturing 3D models so for me it works perfectly.

Another example is this shelving area which I also built using the Cintiq Companion and Maya and the companion performed admirably when rotating this model around as well despite there being many small parts to the scene. It has yet to be sluggish in anything I have thrown at it!

When using the Companion, it’s performance seems exactly like using a much larger Cintiq only smaller. The strokes work just as quickly and it feels very responsive when trying to draw quickly as opposed to other devices like the Surface Pro which I have found to lag behind when I draw. One of my biggest tests is using Adobe Animate to see if a device’s Graphics chip can keep up with rapid drawing because it is the processor-intensive application and many people post frustrations when trying to use it with a tablet PC because of its lag of underpowered hardware. The Cintiq Companion however, chews it up and spits it out with ease and I have not seen any delay whatsoever while using it. I’ve tried a lot of Tablet PCs over the years and really it is the only one that is able to handle Adobe Animate.

A small piece I animated using Adobe Animate on the Cintiq Companion

All this said there are a few small things that you need to do to make the Cintiq Companion 1 usable when you take it out of the box. Particularly so because of the high-resolution screen if your eyesight is not fantastic as it’s high resolution screen causes most applications to display extremely tiny menus. Adobe’s applications are notorious for this issue and I have read many times people returned the device rather than finding a solution but sine there are ways to hack the system to fix it, I feel that to return the device is silly for something so fixable. Now granted you might be saying, “Gee I know nothing about hacking and I don’t want to ruin my expensive device.” and I’m with you there but it’s really not a huge issue as this is fairly simple to do and can be done with a simple piece of code which I posted about last year during my review of the Surface Pro 2.

One exception that I found using it however was with Maya whereby regardless of hacking the system to display larger fonts and menus Maya would not actually display them larger regardless. But again thanks to google, I found a hack for fixing Maya’s tiny menus as well and was able to increase the fonts the size that I could see far more easily. That’s said I think you are willing to make a few small tweaks to it it is an extremely powerful and useful machine. In fact I would say that it is the only Tablet PC that I have found that is able Toon Boom Harmony and Storyboard Pro capably

To sum it all up I feel the Cintiq Companion 1  is a  hardy device and I think both hobbyists and professionals alike  we’ll enjoy it regardless of it being an older  device. The added plus is that now that it is an older device it’s cheaper and more likely to be  attainable for an artist.  There are things about the companion to that I have read make it  a better device  but it’s also more expensive because it’s newer and if you don’t have the money the Companion 1 will work very well in your workflow and be a great addition to your arsenal.

I did not see any units available for sale as of this writing on eBay or through Google’s Shopping search but they pop up now and again and you just have to look for them! If you decide to get one based on this review or already have one let’s us know in the comments below!