Category: 11 Second Club winner

AnimSchool Interview: Muhammad Irfan Farooq

We’d like to welcome Animator Muhammad Irfan Farooq. First of all, Congratulations on your 11 Second Club June win!! Can you tell us a little about yourself, how long you’ve been animating and what made you want to get into this Industry?

First of all, I am very thankful to AnimSchool for giving me a chance to share my thoughts and knowledge.

Since I was a kid, I loved to watch and draw cartoons, unfortunately we did not have any art school in my country, Pakistan. However, while doing my Computer Science degree in 2002, I saw “Shrek” and “Jurassic Park”. I wondered how they created them, so I bought a computer and installed 3Ds Max and Maya at first chance and I learned some basics of the software. Luckily, in 2006 I got an internship in a studio where I learned a lot about character animation and very soon I found out animation was  my dream job. Now I’ve been animating for 5 plus years.

Which Artists/Animators do you look towards for inspiration and what stands out to you about these artists?

Honestly, for inspiration I search randomly on the internet every day. If some animator does something unique and fresh, I study his/her animation over and over again. The animation style for AnimSchool promo was one of my favorites. I love to study cartoony stuff like Tex Avery, Chuck Jones’ stuff.

While studying cartoony animation, I look for the sense of timing, transitions from one pose to another, how they lead the action, and how other body parts are following it. I also look for smear frames and how they’re used effectively.

For acting and performance, I watch live action or TV series (Friends, Seinfeld, etc) and big studio movies (The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Hercules etc.)

Irfan–11 sec –June 2013 from Irfan on Vimeo.

In the past, you’ve entered the 11 Second Club with a variety of Rigs. Why did you decide to use AnimSchool’s Malcolm Rig for both your characters in your June entry: “Love to Play Games”?

For my June entry, I used AnimSchool’s Malcolm Rig for both characters because this rig was the best fit for the style of animation I wanted to do. I wanted to exaggerate overall performance of characters. One character was super energetic; I wanted him to be more quick and snappy. The other was more composed and calm; I wanted him to be more still. AnimSchool’s Malcolm Rig looks great for both types of characters.

What was it like working with the Malcolm Rig? Did it meet all your expectations? What did you enjoy most about it?

Whenever I get free time and want to practice some really fun/ over exaggerated animation, Malcolm is the only Rig I want to use. I love its flexibility and appeal.

Making smear frames, using the face and body is my favorite part using Malcolm.

Could you tell us a little about your animation process for your animation: “Love to Play Games,” from planning/reference to splining?

For 11 second compilation, I approach dialogue a bit differently than usual. After listening to the audio hundreds of times, I jumped into the planning stage.

    Rough Idea: While listening to the audio, I draw some thumbnails to get the basic understanding about what I’m thinking about the character and his/her performance.

    Rough Timing: I get rough timing by animating a box in Maya. I think about big vs small accents of the body and transition from 1st position to 2nd.

    Rough poses and timing: It’s time to see the character with rough poses and timing based on the above steps. I copy that box animation to the spine of the character and do some rough hand animation to see if it’s going to work or not. Sometimes I import a preview into 2D software and draw over it to get a better understanding for poses and timing.

    Refining poses: Now its time to refine my Key Poses and make them stronger and more clear. I push the line of action and work for better silhouettes. Putting in expressions is a great way to get the right emotion out of the character. I also add strong finger poses before jumping into the next step.

    Refining Timing: While refining timing, I put breakdowns, 2nd breakdowns, anticipation, moving holds, ease in-outs and overshoots where needed. I also take care or arcs and paths of action for every body part. I always use auto tangent at this stage.

    Lip-sync and facial : I also put basic expressions and lip-sync during this phase.

     Polishing body: It’s time to check the character as a doctor. I start with hips and go upwards to the spine, neck and head. Then shoulders, elbow, hand and fingers. At the end, legs are easy to polish. Don’t forget to look for breathing and weight shifts.

    Polishing Facial: Polishing facial is the fun part for me. I start with eyebrows and eyes together, then I move to lip-sync and expressions. I look at the face as a fleshy part and make it feel soft.

Irfan–Progression Reel– 11sec June competition ! from Irfan on Vimeo.

What was the most challenging part when animating this dialogue? How did you work through this challenge?

Working with two characters while sharing the same shot is always challenging. After finishing the first character’s animation, I was afraid to over-animate the other character. I toned it down, so I wouldn’t draw attention away, while still keeping the character standing there alive. Luckily, I succeeded without much effort.

Lastly, what advice would you give to students who are just beginning to study animation?

As a beginner, I always would get stuck in technicalities, thinking of better work-flow and formulas. But soon, I realized it’s all about studying life, feeling it and putting it into your animation. Don’t be afraid of work-flows and technicalities, just choose one and work on that actual part. The tough one is “The Feeling” part. If your character has the feeling, you can make anyone feel happy, sad or whatever you want them to feel. Then Hurray! You did a great piece of animation!

AnimSchool Interview: Animator Camille Campion, Part 2

We would like to welcome back, March 11 Second Club winner, Camille Campion. Camille are there any artists or animators that you look towards for inspiration?

I’m not a good follower… I don’t have a list of famous animators. I spend time looking for all the good animations I can find, sometimes from a famous animator, from a big american studio, and sometimes from a student’s short film.

I’ve had the chance to work in different places with talented animators. My inspiration, many times, comes from my colleagues. They don’t necessarily need to be very experienced or extremely talented to be inspiring for me. Sometimes regulars animators just have that good idea for their shot that makes it awesome.

I have special thanks for different people who’ve really improved my animation level- Yoshimishi Tamura who was my first “mentor” when I start working, Drifa Benseghir my second director of animation who transmits her good energy to me, and many colleagues in Kandor, French and Spanish!

Could you tell us a little about your process for your animation “Interview” from planning/reference to splining?

My planning for this animation was a bit rough. I didn’t have much time to do it, that’s why I didn’t use any video references or thumbnails. I usually don’t use a lot of video reference in my animation process, but to find more ideas when I’m in an inspiration crisis.

For my animation “Interview” I dedicated one day to write the idea, think about characters, and the staging, two days to make the two different versions of malcolm I use, prepare the props and the background (modeling and rigging) and compose my shots, and five days of animation.

11 second club March 2013 – Animation Process from camille campion on Vimeo.

First, I started making golden poses in the step I name “Rough”. I work fast and think only in narration and posing. Next, in the “Blocking” step, I start working on the timing, and how I can improve my narration. The first splining step is the part I don’t like, the boring technical moment.  That’s why I develop a very strict methodology to do it as fast as I can. First, I clean a bit my curves. Then, I modify the timing just moving my poses in the timeline and adding some breakdowns, to be sure about the energy. Next, I use motion trail in the camera view, following the mass hierarchy of my body, first I clean the Root (the hips), next the chest, the head etc… The objective is to have something working efficiently without noises.

When I have this first splining pass, I can look at the rough version of the animation, change some details, refine curves and arcs, improve the timing, refine the lip-sinc to make it Final.

What was the most difficult part when animating this dialogue, and how did you work through it?

The adaptation when you are discovering a rig is the most difficult part for me. Next, as I said before, the blocking is a real pleasure, there is no part more or less difficult, it just takes time. I need more motivation for the first splining process…

Your hand motion felt very fluid. How did you come up with those particular hand gestures and in general how do you approach animating hands?

I don’t have a specific treatment for the hand. Hands are include in the blocking process composing the silhouette of the character, I try to make it cool and appealing. In the splining process, I spend time cleaning the curves frame by frame, improving the spacing and the timing when I can. Many students make the error of systematically having the hand follow the chest, but the hand expresses many emotions like the eyes or facial expressions. Many times your fingers nervously react before the rest of your body

Lastly, what advice would you give to students that are just getting into animation?

You have to find your method, your way to animate for fun and pleasure. The better shots are made by happy animators. We need to have fun during the full process.

Animate and animate and animate again, this is the practice that we find all of this and how we can improve our level. Try to find people who can give you advice, and feedback on your work. If you’re a student,  ask your teachers and the others students. If you are working,  ask your colleagues. And, if you’re alone in front of your computer, try to contact animators by vimeo, linkedin etc.. to asking for feedback on your work (there are many generous animators in the world).

AnimSchool Interview: Animator Camille Campion, Part 1

We’d like to welcome Animator Camille Campion. First of all, congratulations on your 11 Second Club March win! Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into animation?

I think I have a very classic career path for a young french animator… I’ve drawn since I was 4 years old. I was crazy about animated features when I was very young, especially the Tex Avery work. I studied art at a university and I studied 3 years in one of the many Animation Schools we have in France. We had the honor to be the Jury award winner at Siggraph 2008 with our end of studies short film, Mauvais Rôle.

For three years I worked in Paris on different companies projects, feature films, commercial and TV shows. For almost three years now, I’ve been living in Spain working for Kandor Graphics on the feature film “Justin and the Knights of Valour,” (Most of the Flying Crocodile shots are mine) Sometimes I also teach animation at the University of Granada.

11 second club March 2013 – HD from camille campion on Vimeo.

What is your favorite part of the animation process?

Definitely the staging and the blocking part, that’s the more creative part for me. The splining process is more technical and methodic. The polishing is interesting, but less than the blocking. I like the refining stage too, when your animation works, but you still have time to retouch details. Sometimes a small detail changes the whole shot.

You’ve animated on the 11 second club with much success with many different rigs. Why did you decide to use AnimSchool’s Malcolm Rig for both your characters for your entry: “Interview”

I’m work hungry. It was during a professional pause, I was with this envy of animation. Every time I’d try to use a new character, because I get bored fast with the same character. I want to explore new physiology, and personality. Next I wanted to use a professional character, I looked on the web to see what was available. Malcolm is used a lot, and now I know why!

What was it like working with the Malcolm Rig? Did it meet all your expectations? What did you like most about it?

The first important thing for me is the model, the design and appeal. Malcolm looks good, his design is simple, but with potential- I like that. The rig is very complete, the facial rig is superb and powerful.

One thing I don’t like, and it’s a problem I see in many rigs, is that sometimes there’s too much control. It could be stuffy to manage. As a detail, when I move the head in translation there’s no compensation in the neck. The column deformation sometimes is a bit hard.

In general Malcolm is a really good rig, it’s not famous for nothing. I think the better of the free rigs on web! The thing I prefer… I really like the facial rig, but his hands are awesome. The mesh and the rig respond really well, and that’s not usual.

How did you go about animating 2 characters with the same structure, while making sure 2 different personalities came through?

It’s not very different than animating one character, you just need more time. The important thing is to identify your objective and the personality you want to show in your character. Try to make them different but believable. In shots like this you’re driven by the audio, that makes things easier.

It’s hard for me to explain with these shots because I was trying something new, I was discovering the rig and I only spent 5 days in the animation process…

AnimSchool Interview: Aju Mohan, Part 2

We would like to welcome back 11 Second Club September winner, Aju Mohan. How did you come up with the idea for your “Audition” shot?

If you see my August entry, I did more serious stuff with the dialogue, so I wanted to do something entirely different this time. But, the September dialogue was also too serious, which had me confused for a while. As I was racking my brain for ideas, my dear friend and colleague, Teju Alosyius, pitched me an idea of character doing an audio dubbing in a studio. From there I developed the idea of “Audition.”

Tell us about your planning process and what type of reference you used?

My planning for this shot was pretty straight forward.  I did lots and lots of thumbnails. I wanted to capture the correct expression and feeling in the intial planning stage itself. I researched a lot of audition videos from you-tube and that helped me immensely.

You were able to create an unique look to your entry to make it stand out. What process did you use to achieve this look?

From the initial stage itself I wanted to do something different visually. I was looking at some French 2D animations and wanted to achieve that feel. But, I’m not that much of a drafts man. So, I did the animation using Maya in 12fps, exported the play-blast, and drew on top of every frame so that I could maintain the volume. For rendering, I used the normal surface shader and imported it into a compositing software and merged all the layers. I did a video of my work in progress.

Lastly, where are you working now, and what are you working on next?

I recently began working as an animator at DreamWorks Dedicated Unit India. On my personal time, I’m concentrating a bit more on my drawing skills. Hopefully I will come up with a 2D animated short-film in the near future.

Thank you Aju, for your time and for sharing your work.

AnimSchool Interview: Aju Mohan, Part 1

Today we would like to welcome Aju Mohan. First of all, congratulations on your September win for the 11 Second Club. Well done! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your animation background?

Thanks a lot for having me here. I’m basically a Mechanical Engineer. By the last semester of my degree, I got introduced to a guy who was working as an animator. I got to see some of his work and it blew me away!!

From that instance onwards, I knew that I wanted to be an animator. After finishing my degree course, I went straight to an Animation academy and enrolled myself.

When all my engineering friends were getting jobs and earning tons of money, I was drawing and animating my heart out. But I have to say, It was the best decision of my life!

11 second club entry, audition!! 🙂 from ajumohan on Vimeo.


Out of all the rigs out there, tell us why you chose AnimSchool’s modified Malcolm female rig for your animation, “Audition”?

It had been a while since I’ve animated anything at home, due to tight production schedule, so I wanted to try something out. I was hearing a lot about the Malcolm Rig from my colleagues and friends, and I thought I’d give it a try.  I was blown away by its flexibility, and I knew instantly, that Malcolm was the one for my shot!

Were there any challenges or difficulties you faced when using the rig, and if so, how did you overcome them?

Absolutely none. I used the Malcolm Rig before too (for my August entry). My only regret is I have not utilized its potential fully cause of lack of time!

You had many dramatic expression changes in your animation. Did the rig meet your expectations to push those expressions and get what you were looking for?

Yes, the Malcolm rig is fantastic for facial expressions, actually now when I look at my shot again, I think I could have pushed the expressions a bit more. But no worries.

In Part 2 of Aju’s interview, he discusses his planning process and how he created the unique look.