Dec 29, 2016

Watching Silver and Lead Grow is Majestic and Mesmerizing

In metal displacement reactions, one metal takes the place of another in a solution and outward "growth" occurs. Lead and silver make different and totally gorgeous patterns as they undergo displacement — motion best captured with a microscope, sped up, and set to music.

Aug 30, 2016

The Making of "Surf" by Studio Plumeau

Art Direction - Compositing: Ben Vinkenburg
2D Character Animation: Joep de Laat - Thijs Viegers
FX Animation: Thijs Viegers
Cleanup - Ink 'n Paint: Joep de Laat

Aug 26, 2016


The history of the world and the future to come, in the blink of an eye.

Executive Producer: Rainer Ziehm
Producer: Jonas Amoss
Project Coordinator: Sara Santillan
Director: S77
Creative Director: Sean Conner
3D modeling and 3D animation: Andrew Mark
Animation: Sarah Schmidt, Karl Fekete, Chavilah Bennett
Sound Design: Andrea Damiano, Ryan Peoples

Aug 11, 2016

Ginger Grouse

Directed by: BUCK
Executive Creative Director: Orion Tait
Executive Producer: Anne Skopas
Associate Creative Director: Ben Langsfeld
Producer: Kevin Hall
Art Director: Fede Reano
Designers: Ben Langsfeld, Morgan Shweitzer, Laura Alejo, Yker Moreno, Daniel Oeffinger
CG Supervisor: Ryan O'Phelan
Modeling: Arvid Volz
Rigging: Lee Wolland
CG Animation: Ryan O'Phalen, Trentity DeWitt
Character Animation: William Trebutien
Cel: Fede Reano, Jake Armstrong, , Sebastien Iglesias, Emmanuelle Leleu, Stieg Retlin
Compositors: Fede Reano
Software: Maya, Flash, After Effects
Creative Directors: Tim Vance, Paul Knott
Agency Producer: Paul Goodwin

Aug 10, 2016

The Bolt

Director: Seb Edwards.
Producer: Libby Behrens
Animation Director: Wesley Louis
Animators: James Duveen and Wesley Louis
FX Animation: Tim McCourt
Layout and Backgrounds: Maxime Dupuy
Compositor: Max Taylor

Aug 8, 2016

larpers4life - by Chris Graf

"A friend of mine secretly caught this video of larpers outside his apt. i was very excited to add some fx animation to it. If anyones interested, the whole thing took me you 6-7 hours of work to animate. And a shoutout to Sean Thornton who made the video sooooo much better with the awesome sound design."

Aug 5, 2016

Reference Gathering Tutorial

Here's how to study GIFs and videos you find on YouTube and Vimeo.
FX reference on my Pinterest boards:
Watch any YouTube video Frame-by-Frame:

Aug 4, 2016

GT Bikes Intro

Design, Animation, Editing: Guille Comin & Steffen Knoesgaard

Aug 3, 2016

May 17, 2016

'Designing an FX Pipeline for Television' by Brent Forrest

Special effects is one of the coolest positions on the TV Animation pipeline. Why? FX artists are among the first ones on a project and last to leave – you get the whole scope of production, not just one slot in the schedule.

FX are needed for every episode and most likely the opening credits, closing credits and promotional materials too. The job requires flexibility and innovation, especially for a brand new show without a library.

Don’t Waste Your Pre-Production!
There are three possible starting gates:
1. A new show without an FX pipeline,
2. An existing show with a quality pipeline.
3. An existing show with a poor pipeline.
The difference between a good and bad pipeline boils down to the asset management system. Quoting Chris Fourney, designer of the Mother Asset Manager: A good system “helps simplify productions and allows Artists to focus on the Art – instead of file management and technical issues.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.

If half of your day is devoted to converting files, naming folders, sending approval emails and data entry, then your asset management system is garbage. Period.

If you’re charged with designing the asset manager, then do not waste that precious opportunity. Set up an efficient system. It need not be a technical marvel, just provide easy access to the relevant assets: shots, storyboards, leicas, and fx elements, preferably all from the same interface.

If you can design the interface to work within the active software (Maya, Flash, etc…) Then bonus points, if not, an efficient folder structure and a well designed spreadsheet template works just as well. Communication is king, make sure the system works for the production staff and artists, and not just for you my lovelies.

Budget Shmudget
One veteran FX artist explains:
"...(It is) common for effects to be over-looked when planning a budget. Every show I’ve worked on states 'There aren’t really that many effects' or 'the effects are easy'... Well, the FX load has felt like it’s doubled with each new episode... as the client has been getting more and more 'creative' with the environment and episodic designs. Most people look at storyboards and don’t see the FX… unless it’s lasers or explosions."
When budgeting the show, it may not be apparent just how many effects are required from shot to shot. When the scenes are fully animated, however, any effects that are missing will stand out like a sore thumb.

In the odd chance that you’ll have this opportunity, make sure that the show actually has an adequate FX budget.

2D vs 3D
The 3D FX pipeline is markedly more complex than its 2d counterpart. Be aware of possible 2d solutions when working in 3d. A good library of pre-rendered elements can be more efficient than costly simulations, show depending. Likewise, making use of 3d can quickly generate your 2d assets much faster than hand-drawing.

I’d highly recommend getting at least a base familiarity with the tools of both mediums, lest you fall into technical paralysis. One final note on 3d, if you are handling your own renders, keep speed at the top of your priority list.

There is nothing worse than render bottlenecks and there is no excuse for it. There is always an efficient way to get those colored pixels looking good and on time.

Style: Design and Refine
Take some time at the head of production to master the style of the show. Take heed from the art director, if you have one, and if not, do some of that good old fashioned research and establish the style guide yourself. It’s your job to know the style, communicate it to the artists, and enforce it. The style may evolve as the show goes on, but you can’t have drastic style variations from shot to shot. This above all: know thy style.

Build your library, Know your library, Grow your library.
Presumably you know the broad brush strokes of this show. You’ve read a few scripts, watched a few animatics and have a grasp on just what types of effects you’re going to need.

Now it’s time to design those high priority elements, the ones most likely to be used every episode. With a strong grasp on the style of the show and a good understanding of compositing, build your re-use elements. This can vary from show to show but your early library will most likely consist of:






Your reuse elements are both a functional style guide and a base for your FX library. Early on in production, you’ll have many calls for fx elements that have not yet been designed. You’ll need a good budget sense to decide which effects to build as reuse elements, and which to treat as true “One offs”. Grow your library when you can, but use your time wisely.

Doing Breakdowns: Assign Your Shots
Knowing the style of the show goes hand in hand with knowing the strengths of your effects team. Before an episode starts, you’ll have to go through the storyboards and create a comprehensive effects list – or breakdown. I prefer to group shots by effects type. It’s faster both in creating the initial breakdown and in doing the work.

It helps to group all the similar fx shots together rather than going through the show in shot order. See the charts below to see what I mean.

This is a weak FX breakdown:

This is a strong FX breakdown:

Assign the common shots to the qualified artists, and hand off the custom shots carefully. While it may be tempting to assign the best shots to yourself, be a team player.

Don’t drown your junior members in bullshit and don’t hog the juicy shots. Assign based on skill but also grow the strength of your team by giving everyone a chance to work slightly outside their comfort zones.

Also, be ready to motivate, educate and sometimes eliminate the non-performers.

Compositing and Communication
It’s very likely that the next stop on the production train will be the compositing department. Develop strong lines of communication with the Comp team early on. (Not to mention the animation team, design department, IT pros, office runners, production managers…) Make sure the assets you deliver are in sync with the rules of the next departments. Make their jobs easier and treat them as you yourself wish to be treated. I call it the Iron Pyrite Rule.

Closing Thoughts
FX can be a dream job or a living nightmare. A lot depends on how the systems described above are implemented. If you’re lucky, you can build a killer system, design a winning library and power through episodes like a champion. Other times, you’ll find your hands tied by studio procedures or client demands. In either case what matters most is a positive professional attitude and a pair of open ears. Everyone likes a flashy, effects-heavy show, the experience of doing those effects is only as good as your pipeline allows.

Originally posted June 16th 2015 on

May 16, 2016

CREA - How Commercial Realtors Help

2D FX Animation: Darren Donovan
Supervision, Art Direction, Color Design: Blame Your Brother Studio
Storyboard: Chad Hicks
Concept Layouts: Jamie Mason
Editor: Tom Berger
Character Posing: James Walsh
Animation: Michelle Trip, Chris Land, Jim Bryson, Mateusz Garbulinski.
Compositing/3D Animation: RUNE Entertainment
Sound Design + Mix: RMW Music
Agency: UNION Creative

May 11, 2016

Tutorials by Chloe Pierce

Flowing and Looping Skirt Animation

Looking at your own clothes or just clothes in general really helps! even if it isn’t what you’re trying to draw, it all helps in understanding how cloth things work. For flowy things I try to draw the ends loose, lots of curving on top of itself for big waves, keeping it a continuous wave. Sometimes I try and imagine the weight of the curve, how it fits in with the others... it kind of helps.

For anything with a large drop (skirts, capes, aprons) I tend to draw out an oval and edge lines to figure out the overall curve of the fabric and where it ends, then I go over with whatever curvy line looks nice and fits the base line. For the creases imagine there’s a point that everything is attached to…well there actually is but yeah, follow the peaks of the curves up to those points. Same goes for the bits of cloth folded over itself underneath.

In terms of animation a basic way of showing cloth is a wave. It’s a little hard to see here, but there’s a continuous wave to the right, the edge of the cloth rests on top of that imaginary line.

See more here.

Hair Cycle Animation

Usually I follow the same basics mentioned here with flowing cloth animations, where that kind of flowing/windy animation follows a wave form. I tend to do this by eye, but if it’s a bit hard to wrap your head around, making up a little wave graphic can be helpful.

Here’s a quick example (there’s one frame in there somewhere that’s bugging me…but it’s fine for the example). When I animate these sort of things I keep in mind how the invisible wave looks, and how whatever it is is being pushed. I do a lot of this in my head, so it’s a tad tricky to explain...

This is the animation slowed down, it moves very slowly at the base, moving to quick and tapering at the end as it’s pulled by everything else.

And slowed with a wave added. The wave doesn’t exactly fit…but I’ve just drawn it badly :\ in the case of short animations I tend to have things follow the timing of the wave in a very linear pattern, but it looks nicer with extra frames added to add some easing as it moves up or down. Having it suddenly skip ahead a bit can work well for rougher movement or when multiple things are affecting the movement.

Wave reference here.