Mike Pelletier – Parametric Expression

Although “Parametric Expression” by Mike Pelletier is not the most masterful example of character animation or facial rigging (and this may certainly have been the artist’s intent), this piece does something extraordinary. Despite its “uncanny valley” qualities, the work manages to go beyond the push for perfection in CG animation and instead creates something much more interesting. The even cycle of emotions seen on the faces here, gives the viewer the sense that the expressions are routine, and not really being driven by real emotions felt by the character exhibiting them. However, some of these expressions contort the face in such a way that the “real” soul inside is trying to break out of the shell built around her. It is as if the routine cycle of expressions seen here is a metaphor for the masks we where in society. The complete destruction of the face during the cycle is jarring and exciting; again, reinforcing an act of catharsis or an attempt to escape the placid exterior. This is, of course, just my take on it, but I find this particular animation to be a really compelling way of exploring these ideas.

Alexander Petrov – The Old Man and The Sea

A masterful animation painted in oil. I consider animation to be a Zen practice. Focus, awareness, compassion, and patience are all virtues of the successful animator, no matter their style, technique, or goal. It is evident in this piece, that Alexander Petrov would agree.

In Zen philosophy, space does not exist without matter and therefore they are one—just the “back” and “front” of the same thing. Although I don’t believe this was Petrov’s intention, he has beautifully illustrated this concept of space and matter being the same in “The Old Man and The Sea”. The skies and light he paints—the space in each frame, are just as alive as the characters—the matter. In a way, we lose this in 3D animation. We are continually pushing for more realism, but once we’ve mastered this (and we’re getting close), I think we’ll find our way back around to something much more “real” – something that only animation can express.


freesoundFreeSound.org is an excellent resource for sound effects and background noise for animated shots. Just adding a little ambient noise behind dialogue or pantomime animation can really set the scene and create a believable world. Browsing their library of noises may spark new ideas for shots as well…anyone care to animate someone batting a balloon? Or maybe setting up for a game of billiards?

While I’m on the topic of  sound effects, I might as well mention my latest workflow fixation. I seemed to have developed a dependency on the site rainymood.com when I am animating. For some reason, listening to the rain puts me in the zone and at times it is difficult to work without! Check it out, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Critiques! Give Some. Get Some.

196445242LA Character Animators Social Critiques will be meeting again on Sunday, March 3rd at 10:30am. Check it out and RSVP!


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Setting the stage – Initial Tests

Before I start animating a shot, I like to set the scene, add a little mood lighting, and pose the characters in a single image that captures the essence of what I am trying to convey. Here are those tests for my most current animation explorations based on the initial sketches I recently posted:

Mysterious Multiplication Test

“The Irrational Fears of Motherhood, Ep. 1: Mysterious Multiplication”

Shoulder Dislocation Test

“The Irrational Fears of Motherhood, Ep. 2: Shoulder Dislocation”


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