Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thinking of the 3rd Dimension - part 3

Here are some of the animation exercises done in Maya,(a continuation of the last post). 'An animation critic's desert',I would say.There are way too many issues with all of the videos in this post, but then again,the stuff I learnt and overcame are of far greater importance.3D animation is,by no measure of reasoning,an easy thing to master.So here goes.

Walk Cycle

Walk Cycle from Alok N R on Vimeo.

Run Cycle

Run Cycle from Alok N R on Vimeo.

Weight Lift

Weight Lift from Alok N R on Vimeo.

(Click to go to my vimeo profile where I share the stories (often painful ones) behind the making of these small clips)

Process:When doing character animation ,I first take a reference video,preferably from the front and the side of the actual action (usually enacted by myself). Then I sketch out the Key poses onto paper,to capture the gesture right with the required exaggeration .I make a storyboard,where I stage the action and decide the camera angle.The camera position is the first thing I set in the scene on the software. After this I proceed to block these key poses in Maya and then finally connect the keys with the in-between poses.

That sounds all great on paper but actually executing all that is a gargantuan pain.Sticking to the process helps,and if nothing else ,that is one thing that the past one year has taught me.To religiously stick to the process.To have faith in it.The quality of your outcome can always improve provided you know how to get there.


So how do I find it, looking back at a year of nothing but 3D-maya-software learning,after making it through the ordeal ? Am I thankful to the visionary HOD for his 'foresight'ful decision to cram the curriculum with all the haphazard 3D assignments?
Nope.Not one bit.I'd rather have made my own movies in that time.

Artists should be able to chose the path they want.And follow them with conviction. And that is how things OUGHT to be,no matter how much the world compels you to earn your bread and butter first and then think about your passion.
An artist is forever, a free man.

Well, comments,suggestions and tips are always welcome ,so feel free to drop em by.
End of part 3.And until next time.Peace.

Thinking of the 3rd Dimension - part 2

Here is some of the stuff I did in Maya from (Aug-Dec 2011). These are the non character animation works.You can see a clear improvement in the presentation and quality of the work,though there is still much to improve.

The Piranha Sub

The Piranha Sub from Alok N R on Vimeo.

Building No:2

Modelling and Texturing of a Building from Alok N R on Vimeo.

Character Modelling and Texturing

Untitled from Alok N R on Vimeo.

Character Rigging and Skinning

Character Rigging and Skinning from Alok N R on Vimeo.

Character Expressions

Untitled from Alok N R on Vimeo.

(Click to go to my vimeo profile where I share the stories (often painful ones) behind the making of these small clips)

None of these(the sub,house or the character)are my original designs,lest someone come crying about copyright infringement.I ve based them on real image references.
Next,I'll share some of the animation stuff that I did.

Part 2 ends here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thinking of the 3rd Dimension - part 1

Your normal everyday animation-ignorant-man walks up to me one day.
and asks : "So you are doing animation eh?". I nod.

"Its a booming industry I hear!with so many animation schools all over.So what soft wares do you use?".

In a fleeting moment my mind raced through all the points I normally cover while I convince a normal human being about the vastness and scope of animation as a story telling art form,with a special 15 min chapter dedicated just to emphasize the importance of sketching.Then I stopped myself.

"Maya",I replied.

...regardless of what the common man would talk about from that point on,my mind would have already drifted.Wandering,wondering,pondering over the ironic truth in what I had just said.

Autodesk Maya 2011,to be precise,is the 3D software that I have been learning to use for the better part of the last one year.I refrain from saying learning to animate because I am simultaneously attempting to learn Modelling,Texturing,Rigging,Skinning and Lighting in addition to this. (A task so mammoth that even a wooly mammoth would go like, "WHAT THE F#*!".But I digress). Not to mention learning how to cope with the many million issues that this software gives. My college had condemned me to two semesters of compulsory Maya education,which for a pencil loving 2d maniac like me was like a life sentence in Auschwitz.

Anyway here is some stuff from Sem 6 (Jan - March 2011)

Building No:1

Modelling and Texturing of a Decapitated Head

I modeled a Human head based on a live reference.Figured a great deal about texturing and modelling.There are few things more complex than the human head.Learnt that lesson once again.

Human Body Modelling

(Click to see enlarged images.)

My attempt at modelling a real life reference of a human body.Despite its freaky appearance here,barring the abs ,I think it was a fairly decent attempt.Most of these images are all that remains of many months of labour that went into these works.If only I had a better understanding of how to render out good hi res images out of Maya back then..Well, we never ever manage to learn the right things at the right time,do we ?

Anyways,Part 1 ends here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Watershed reflections

I recently came across some student projects by some of the great animators out there in the industry today.Its a weird feeling when you see the work of these people,whom you had always looked upto for inspiration ,and see what they had done so many years back, when they were your age.To see the kind of experiments they did and the level of perfection they sought in their creations.The first ever animations and student films or the first ever time a soon to be claymation giant made a film in clay....

Once the awe and admiration dies down a bit,you slowly turn your gaze inward.A question slowly floats down and settles on your heart,"What have I been doing all this while?".The self pity that follows is countered only by your mind trying to logically find an explanation for your ineptitude for all these years.Your mind argues and blames all the counterproductive circumstances you had to live through trying to pursue this career.
'I mean,its not like i didnt do anything,right?'.

Cut the crap.Being an animator in India is hard.Damn straight f!@ckin hard.And if you've decided to become one, you darn well have to learn to live with it.

As an artist you gotta be intensely honest to yourself.Not that you lie to yourself otherwise on a regular basis.But am sure we all know there is a huge difference between lying to yourself and not being entirely honest with yourself.When you become absolutely honest with yourself you become an embodiment of all those ideals and convictions that you stand for.You come to realize that your actions and thoughts have meaning in this world(or you find meanings for them) and that you are not at anyone's mercy,if you chose not to be.This almost always means that some people would end up liking you and some would end up loathing you.

No matter what we believe in we always have our justifications for them.(And you SHOULD be able to justify them). Only then would 'it' start flowing out from within you and make itself seen in your work.And for an artist that 'it' is everything.

From what I've gathered in all these years of running around in a design college and otherwise,there is just one absolute truth that rings true for any thing you pursue in life.A simple straight forward law.Tried and tested and never failed
- 'The more you do something the better you get at it'.

Its a universal law!Something you know for sure works!Just find what you enjoy doing and keep at it.Eventually you'll get good at it.Don't bother thinking about those prodigious talents out there and all those who had lady luck shine on them all too often in their lives.Skip it.Focus.Remember the "spend 10,000hrs on it to become world class" theory.And indulge in your artistic pursuit.

I know it aint easy,but think of it this way.Imagine this line as the premise of your life's story.'The more you do what you love the better you get at it'.Everything else is built around it.From fame and fortune down to keeping your family happy,everything will happen.Believe in it and just keep at it.Now you decide what should remain in your life's script and what should be chucked.Which character needs developing and which needs pruning.If it goes with your premise retain it,else remove it.

When your reel ends lets see how the film plays out.Hopefully it will all turn out to be a fairy tale.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


An Interpretation of Time

A stop motion film we(Nikhita and myself) made last week,as part of PJ's course,in like six hours or so on the theme 'Time'.(Wrote,shot and edited all in 6hrs mind you). Was trying to explore the stuff we could do with the medium of pixilation. Looking back I feel we could have explored a lot more. But then again we learnt quite a bit.It was crazy being in front of the cam though,trying to react to all the funny things happening around me,while Nix tried to animate them.Had a lot of fun making all those weird sounds for the audio.The audio was later re-used in the birthday clip(the one I last posted).
Hope you find it interesting.


"Do it well, finish it properly, and move on."
-- Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Friday, November 18, 2011

The dance of the free spirit

Sunshine's Dance

A Stop motion dance sequence I did last week (completed in 2 days).

Process:I made the armature in a couple of hours.Then a bunch of us jammed together creating music out of junk (no instruments at all). I set a base tribal beat going and the others added in with their own junk instruments and spiced up the track.The 1 min track was cut down to 15sec incorporating the better elements of the takes.I then story boarded and made an animatic of a tribal dance for the 15 sec track which I then went ahead and animated in a day. I know it plays out a bit too fast , guess I'll take more time and care with the dope sheet next time.

The truly eye opening part of this exercise was when PJ coaxed us into making our own music for this clip.As dumb as a dodo as I am towards any sort of music sensitivity,little did I expect myself to generate music at all forget leading a jamming session.But as is the case with most things when PJ is around - it happened. Now my friends and I try to make it a point to jam every once in a while with all that junk we've collected.

"Each of us has been put on earth with the ability to do
something well. We cheat ourselves and the world if we don't
use that ability as best we can."
-- Gracie Allen

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

happy bday PJ !

A stop motion (pixilation) short we made for Prosenjit "PJ" Ganguly on the eve of his birthday. ;) Cast n crew of three. Tapan Aslot (the guy who flies,even at 4am in the night) Nishit ( camera man cum post-it co-ordinator) and myself (lead animator on Tapan cum stand by camera man). Shot on a Cannon 1000D (perched precariously at the end of a horizontally placed tripod which in turn was dangerously glued onto the balcony railing with clay and cello-tape).

All that effort paid off when we showed it to PJ the next day (rather unceremoniously in the comp lab). A small surprise party followed.

Hm.. Birthdays sure bring out the best in people.

I'll leave with a quote that I bet PJ himself would vouch for.

"If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is
made up of."
-- Bruce Lee

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Portfolio (April 2011)

This is my portfolio as of April 2011.Had spent months in compiling all the past years' work and making this.Kinda pleased with how it looks.Definitely a lot to improve both skill wise and presentation wise, but i think ill now shift focus onto making a demo reel.Will be updating on my animation work in Maya soon.

"The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that
you were there... and still on your feet."
-- Stephen King

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Babe and Her Ride

Marilyn and her Convertible

This was yet another sketchoholic entry.This time the theme was to draw/paint Marylin Monroe with her 1955 Convertible.The winner gets an art piece from Greg Hildebrandt the legendary fantasy artist.Managed to garner two votes.(Highest personal score yet). The illustration isnt quite done yet as I was trying hard to keep to the deadline.The umbrella and the environment could be touched up a bit more.Maybe on a less jam packed day..

Anyway,here is the link to the web site,check out the other entries in the contest

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Animation Fest in College !!!

The poster for the animation fest made by friend Nikhita and myself.

Starting from the 26th of November my college film club , affectionately named 24fps , is hosting an animation festival when we will screen 7 world class animation feature films. We will be showing Mary and Max, Spirited Away, Paprika, Persepolis, Steamboy, Illusionist and Ghost in the Shell. That is 4 Japanese,2 French and one US-Australian features. To increase the hype we made this really neat poster and put it up right at the front stairway.

Turnout for the fest was really impressive considering the huge bias the students had towards animated features in general.Sometime in the future maybe we should show a bunch of even more offbeat films. Experimental shorts maybe.

Monday, September 26, 2011


You go down with me

This was an entry for another contest on the sketchoholic website. The topic was to make interesting silhouettes keeping in mind the environment of the subject. Well I tried to capture the climatic end of an epic battle between two evenly matched foes.Locked in mortal combat they realize that there was no victor at the end of this struggle. Right then the smaller more agile of the two,ties a noose around the others neck and leaps into the abyss , taking him down with him.As to what will become of them, I leave it to the viewer to decide.

Made some poor resolution choices while making this.Lesson learnt.

28 hrs later

Zombie on my windshield

I think this would be my first ever proper full fledged digital illustration.Did this as a competition entry for the website sketchoholic.The theme for the contest was 'Badass Babes'. Managed to get one vote(though I later found out it was Nikhita who voted).

Used way too many layers in this one.Will try to reduce that in the next one.Also the expression and gesture could have been a bit more pronounced and clearer.Pleased with the way the zombie looks though.Based my fem-me fatal on a reference pic I took of Nix.Should do more of this.
Title is a dig at the zombie flick '28 days later',which I happen to be a huge fan of.


The Lynch movie

This is one of the more complete almost finished edits of the experimental film that I worked on with Ravi Popat.(We plan to have original scores composed for this some time in the way too distant future).I worked on this as an assistant director(which is another way of saying I co-conceived,co-wrote,co-edited,co-art directed,co-produced and co-directed the film with Popat).

Synopsis:It tells the tale of a psychologically disturbed girl and how an ad on a newspaper suddenly changes her routine.Thats a really sad way to put the premise of this story but it is a very subjective interpretation that we seek from the audience and I cant really say much about the film without giving anything away.So please watch it and share your views,comments and constructive criticism.

Hive issue (April 2011)

HIVE is our college newsletter which a bunch of my friends and I started.Its been over a year and a half since we launched it and this is like the 5th or 6th issue.This particular one was made possible largely due to my friend Nikhita,also a co-editor,using her tremendous capability to multitask between doing the newsletter and completing our one hundred backlogged assignment submissions.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Live Action Film Debut -The Other Face

The Other Face

A film about a man and his obsession for a rubik's cube.The cube is symbolic of an obsession that slowly grows on a man and eventually reaches ominous levels,even dictating his actions.

A Pig Story - claymation film

It is a story about a girl who is day dreaming during her study-time. The dream begins to get real when a pig, a sort of apparition, confuses and distracts her from her activity.
This film was made during the experimental animation course conducted and guided by Sir. Vaibhav Kumaresh. Without him we would have never been motivated enough to make this film happen.

Here is the final finished version of the film with audio. The movie does have a lot of rough edges in it, but I guess I rather have it this way with the warts and blotches and all. Learnt a lot about the pains of 'completing' a work of animation. Realised how much of a movie is actually made in post production.Especially at the hands of the compositor !

Duration: 2 minutes 57 seconds

A Pig Story - claymation film

A Pig Story is a short made by Nikhita Prabhudesai, Vicky Punjabi and myself. It is a story about a girl who is day dreaming during her study-time. The dream begins to get real when a pig, a sort of apparition, confuses and distracts her from her activity.

This film was made during the experimental animation course conducted and guided by Sir. Vaibhav Kumaresh. Without him we would have never been motivated enough to make this film happen.

The sound is yet to be added, and I guess it'll take a while for that to happen. :P Nevertheless, Hope you enjoy it.

Duration: 2 minutes 57 seconds.

March 2011.

Lip Sync

"Go to hell !"

A lip sync I did with a female character . I shall forever remember this one animation for all the pain it caused me (second only to the Weight Lift) during the crunch days leading upto my sem 5 jury in Dec '10. Done in some 4-5 days battling against all the Murphy Laws of the world this turned out to be pretty decent .Loved it when she kept screaming 'GO TO HELL' at the jury panel. ;P

The Audio was taken from the movie 'Dil Chahta Hai'.

December 2010.

Frog Jump

The frog was my second proper character animation.(not much of a character though ;)).
Learnt quite a bit about a frog's movements for this.The frog has little to no anticipation while making a jump, and hence keeping it realistic ,I tried to do the same here.

The Sack and Boat in the high seas

The third and last clip I made featuring the sack. ;)
This was an exercise in Overlapping action and Follow trough .Learnt how to time overlapping actions such as these where there are multiple mutually assisting elements.

A Bouncy Affair

A curious sack and its encounter with a beach ball that wandered into its area.

Done as a part of a class assignment in my first Sem of Animation Design. I was to take the character of a sack and a prop (here a beach ball) and make a complete 2d short of 30 seconds. Took me about a month to complete.

May 2010.

Jumping sack

The jumping sack was my first try at character animation.
Well,it aint much of a character ,but still.Here I ve employed the concept of 'anticipation'. Anticipation is an action in the opposite direction,done by the character before he performs the main movement of the scene.(Here the crouching of the sack before jumping).

Done as part of a classroom assignment in my first sem of animation.

May 2010.

The Panther's stroll

Pink Panther Walk Cycle

A walk cycle made for the character the Pink Panther (created by Friz Freleng and Hawley Pratt ). The first walk cycle I ever made , this animation consists of 16 drawings.Learnt quite a bit on the human walk,follow through and overlapping actions and about the principle of arcs through this one assignment.

Watched the title sequence of the recent Steve martin pink panther movie (the first part) trillions of times.Fell in love with James Baxter's take on the panther.Great inspiration.Little did I know that it would be a long time before I did another walk cycle like this.
Box Fold

Bouncing bawling balloon balls

More class assignments from my first sem in animation

Bouncing Ball

Movement of a rubber ball, thrown across a room as it bounces around.

Bowling Ball

Movement of bowling ball.


Movement of a Balloon, tossed and turned by wind as it falls.The animation required around 250 drawn frames and was honestly a pain in the ass.

More crappy video quality outputs but to hell with it.That was the first time ever I did the famous bouncing ball assignment.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A simply pendulous sea weed travelling in a line

Class room assignments in first sem of Animation Design at MIT Institute of Design.

Simple Pendulum

Movement of a Simple Pendulum.Principle of Ease-in and Ease-out.
April 2010.


Movement of a Seaweed demonstrating the wave principle.
Class room assignment.
April 2010.

Travelling Line

Movement of a Travelling Line demonstrating the Principle of Wave motion and the concept of Follow through.
April 2010.

Most of these videos look blurry and are a bit low res.This is because back then i was still figuring out about file formats and video exporting and how to use softwares like Adobe Premiere and After Effects (something that I am still figuring out. I aint gonna change any of them.I want it to remain so just as a reminder of all the hell I went through during those days.

Saving Trees Through Saving Paper

Save Paper Save Trees

This is a short animation clip I did in Flash CS4 as a part of my 3rd semester Design Process course at the MIT Institute of Design,addressing the issue of 'Necessity for Efficient Usage of Paper'.It was meant as a 1 and a half minute clip to be aired on TV aimed at a 15-30 year age group demographic.

The movie took me 10 days to make and was my first such attempt on Flash .There are quite a few short comings,especially with the sound(I narrated it myself you see) but I hope I have done a pretty decent job. Please drop your valuable comments and suggestions.

December 2009.

The Beginning

I commence this blog journal with a slightly altered version (a pardonably slight change) of an excerpt from the book "Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke which kind of encapsulates so eloquently all that I really want to say in this post.

“For the creative…there is no poverty – nothing is insignificant or unimportant…Go within and scale the depths of your being from which your very life springs forth. At its very source you will find the answer to the question, whether you must write (or paint,draw,create). Accept it, however it sounds to you, without analyzing. Perhaps it will become apparent to you that you are indeed called to be a writer (or an artist,a teacher..). Then accept that fate;bear its burden,and its grandeur,without asking for the reward,which might possibly come from without." -Rainer Maria Rilke
And so I set forth.