Nope. I’m not dead. But I’m seriously busy right now. My buddy Pascal and I are doing a special still image rendering of the Battle of Hoth from Empire Strikes Back – LEGO style! Yesterday we were playing around with shading / lighting and this particular setup worked pretty well so I rendered a quick turntable video for you to enjoy. You should be able to enjoy the final rendering by the end of the month. Cheers.
Yup, I’m still alive. Just busy. Really busy. Anyway, a couple of days ago I stumbled upon this awesome video essay by Tony Zhou. Tony talks about modern comedy in Hollywood and compares them to the work of the amazing director Edgar Wright.
This genius from the United Kingdom is incredibly talented and does some of the best comedy movies out there. The Cornetto trilogy and especially Scott Pilgrim vs. the World are among my favorite movies of all time. Just have a look at the video and learn how Edgar manages to outperform all the American competition.
Lee Unkrich, best known as director of the amazing Toy Story 3 from Pixar Animation Studios, just posted a couple of interesting photos on his Twitter account @leeunkrich. They show off some serious and strange render glitches, he and his team had to face during the creation of the final Toy Story movie. Kind of reassuring – this kind of stuff happens even to the best in the industry.
Weird render bug on Toy Story 3. Andy’s room vanished, leaving just his stuff. pic.twitter.com/EgX9gc2v2w
— Lee Unkrich (@leeunkrich) June 17, 2014
Another Toy Story 3 render glitch. Sunnyside gets even scarier… pic.twitter.com/RWidN8O9s3
— Lee Unkrich (@leeunkrich) June 17, 2014
I’ve seen this one a few weeks ago, back at FMX 2014, and it came back to my mind this morning. A pretty serious, stunning and dark animation short, written and directed by Jeff Le Bars. I really liked the art style in this one and the ending was just perfect. Something different from the ordinary funny 3D shorts you see popping up everywhere these days.
Martin Heck from Timestorm Films created an incredible timelapse video series in 4K resolution set in the country of New Zealand, a.k.a. Middle-earth. The country is probably the most beautiful on planet earth and Martins first two videos will relax and amaze you. There are two more to come, which I’ll add to this post, once they hit the web.
If you want to become a great animator, there are a lot of things you need to learn down the road. One of the first things you need to be aware of, are the basic animation principles defined by Disney Animation Studio members back in the 1930s. Cento Lodigiani did a great video on that topic, called “The illusion of life“. It’s very useful to get a good overview in less than three minutes. Check it out!
I’m currently looking into the process of rendering a digital LEGO set inside of Maya. It’s hard to create a precise LEGO build inside of Autodesk Maya, but there is some piece of software out there, which simplifies the process a lot. The Lego Digital Designer (LDD), an official digital LEGO building app, it the perfect tool to construct digital sets in no time. Unfortunately it’s not able to save your builds to a Maya oder 3ds Max compatible format. After a lot of research I finally managed to import my LDD models into Maya, using a freeware called LeoCAD. Here is how it’s done!
Step #1: The first step is to create your build inside the Lego Digital Designer application, which is available for both Windows and OS X for free. After installing the app, build something awesome and navigate to the “File” menu, where you will find the option “Export model”. Choose it and export your build as LDraw-file (*.ldr) to the desired location. You can now leave the application.
Step #2: The next step is to open your saved LDraw file with the open-source tool LeoCAD (Windows, OS X, Linux). Check if everything is awesome (yep, LEGO movie reference here) and choose “File” ➔ “Export” ➔ “Wavefront”, to save your build as a 3D software compatible *.obj file. You’re basically done, if you know how to import these files into your 3D software. Have a look at the next step, if you are a Maya user and don’t know how to do it.
Step #3: Open a scene in Autodesk Maya and choose “File” ➔ “Import …” and select your *.obj file. The LEGO build should now be displayed correctly inside your scene. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to transfer the LDD textures along with the model, so you will have to recreate them inside Maya. Have fun!
If you have problems recreating my workflow, feel free to contact me or leave me a comment below.
I’ve spent the last couple of days with some friends and other THM students down at Stuttgart, to attend the FMX 2014. This conference for animation, visual effects, games and transmedia is one of the most important annual meetings of this industry branch and was quite the adventure for a first-time attendant like me.
Over the course of the week I’ve seen some really amazing stuff, attended fascinating talks from leading members of the animation & CG industry and learned a ton of things. I even had the chance to meet one of my favorite actors, Mr. Andy Serkis, who is best known for his role as “Gollum” (LotR, The Hobbit), as well as “Kong” in Peter Jacksons King Kong and lately “Caesar” in the new Planet of the Apes movies. He was there to screen a preview of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (I wrote a german article about that over at BluGadgets) and to talk a little bit about the state of performance capturing in the film industry. I’m also proud to announce, my copy of The Hobbit is now signed by Gollum himself and I’m quite happy with that!
I’ve also got a lot of insight behind the making of high-budget productions like Frozen, 300, Gravity, Pacific Rim and Game Of Thrones, which were delivered by some amazing artists / speakers from around the world. Really – the scale of things I’ve learned other these few days is pretty darn big. There were also some smaller, sometimes even more inspiring talks about off-topic things like 3D scanning & printing, as well as a really fascinating talk about the creation of attractions in the Disney theme parks.
That being said, I felt like the bloodiest beginner on the planet listening to these amazing artists, showing off their stunning work. While it was kind of hard to realize, how far away I actually am from being ready to call myself an worthy artist, these presentations gave me a huge motivational boost as well. I’m now feeling confident going down this road and I’ll try to work harder to achieve my dream of being part of an feature-length animation blockbuster. Last but not least, I felt like I was a part of this geeky community of artists and not just some random bystander. That’s a really great feeling – I can tell you that.
And though this was my first time at FMX, it won’t be my last time – of that I’m sure.
Sometimes – not often – but sometimes, I can get a bit philosophical and think about life n’ stuff. A recent question I asked myself was “What drives people in life? What drives me in life?”. The first answer that popped into my head was religion. Some people seem to be religious enough to live on nothing but their religious belief. I envy and pity that at the same time. It must be great to have a cause in heaven, no matter what comes along your way. Being the science-type of guy, this way of lifestyle seems pretty delusional to me though. When I turned ten or something, I couldn’t get my head wrapped around the concept of a god anymore. As a child, you don’t think about what drives you forward in life. You just enjoy your freedom, your time with friends and all the great privileges only children have. But as you grow up, your horizon broadens and soon you seek more than just day to day entertainment.
There is a lot to worry about, mostly that ugly thing called “the future”, and everyday decisions suddenly have an impact on your life. That sucks, especially if you drift off the path you schemed for your life or even struggle drawing it. It’s easy to lose faith in the future, if there is nothing to strive for. Family is always a good cause to carry on, but sometimes you want more than that. Speaking for myself, I want to leave a marker on the map before I die and not to fade into oblivion just like billions of other people on this planet. I want my life to matter. After a bit of soul searching I realised, the people that touch me most are artists. People like Jonathan Davis, Shigeru Miyamoto or Peter Jackson inspired me with their work for years and helped me shaping my own path. That’s the kind of people that won’t be forgotten and will live on in their work. That doesn’t necessarily mean, I want to become famous. I just want to be part of something, that lasts longer than a lifetime and fills people with joy and amazement. Something I can be proud of even – or especially – on my deathbed. That’s what drives me in life. What about you?