Monday, April 18, 2011

Workshop 3 Notes

Just finished Workshop 3, and it took me a week to recover from it. It has been a challenging experience as it was focused on acting, especially on the face, and it required a big change in my way of thinking. I feel like I've learned a lot but also that I've only scratched the surface.

Apart from the subject matter, another difference I noticed from the previous workshop was the composition of the class. Most of my classmates were already working professionals, most of them with quite a bit of experience under their belts, attending iA to finese their skills further. As far as I know, only three out of ten of us were pure students, the rest are already working in the industry. iA doesn't impose as many entry barriers for working animators as they don't have to start the program from the beginning. They can plug directly into the workshop that best suits their skill level. I believe this is the main reason why we have such a high percentage of working pros and alumni from other schools. This was an added challenge because I felt like I had to push harder the whole time, just to keep up. It was great having all these people with experience around, it helps a lot when one's classmates know what they are talking about but it was a bit intimidating as well. I guess everyone would react differently to it, but because of that, and despite the generaly more relaxed approach of the school, I felt a dose of self imposed pressure throughout the workshop. I think all people have a degree of competitivness to them, some more some less, and we can't help but keep comparing ourselves to our peers, consciously or subconsciously, and strive to do better. I had to be out of my comfort zone a lot but I can't complain because I feel that I've learned from the work of my peers almost as much as from my instructor.

One practical issue that I encountered was how much the lighting can change the perceived mouth shapes and the lip sync. Normaly, I wouldn't worry about lighting and rendering my shots, I would just playblast them. However, my playblasts are usually done with the default lighting in Maya's viewport, which doesn't cast shadows and falls pretty much straight on. As soon as I would change the direction of the light, the combination of shading and shadow would change what my mouth shapes look like. What I ended up doing is submitting my animation as a playblast as well as a fully lit and rendered sequence, to ensure that I get notes from the instructor on what the shot will look like in its close to final form. It could be just me, but I feel there is a progression of the level of detail that I can detect in motion, going from a normal playback in Maya's viewports, shooting playblasts and rendered shots. With each level I am able to notice more and finer issues with my shots. So now, I make sure to test-light and render everything, to try and flush out as many issues as I can before I finish my shots.

Assignment 2:

Assignment 1:

These are best watched full screen, but Blogger's YouTube gadget doesn't seem to allow that.


  1. Hey Rastko, Great shots, which is why I totally agree that having good animators in the same workshop push you. Being in the same Workshop as you, I definitely looked at your stuff to push me. ;) Having an athletic background (wrestling!) I enjoy having people around me that can push me. I also agree that WS3 with the facial acting was definitely a different beast then the previous WS. Not harder, just different. Which means you do really have to change your mind set. Something hat makes me feel I've only just scratched the surface also. ha ha I guess that's why we're here at

    Just an FYI: If you double click on the Youtube video you've posted, it'll open in a new tab on Youtube where you can then can view in full screen.

  2. Hi there, your comments on Ianimate are a great help, Do you work full or part time while studying at Ianimate. I am trying to workout whether I can afford to do this along side work. I look forward to you future work and demo reels keep up the good/hard work, loving the new facial work.


  3. Hi Adam, thank you for reading and posting here. I used to work full time and study animation but not anymore. I am studying full time now. Whether you can pull it off while working really only depends on you. The funny thing is that while I was working, all I kept thinking was how great it would be to just animate and how much more time I would have, but it didn't turn out like that at all. The more time I have, less effectively I use it. It's the Parkinson's law of animation, the assignment always expands to fill all the time I have.

    I would say if you have less then 15-20 hours a week to commit to animation, it is probably not going to be super effective. You would still learn a lot, it is just that depending on your finances it may not be worth paying for it. Still, iA is a much better deal then AM, so it may be worth it. Generally speaking, around 40 hours I think is an optimum, more then that and most people start to drag things out. If you can put in around 2h every night and then another 5-6 hours on each of the weekend days, you should be fine. You're going to feel like you don't have enough time and like you are not learning as much, but you would feel the same regardless of how much time you have, it's just the way animation is. It's not easy but it's doable.

    If you have any more questions feel free to ask.

  4. Love your animations. The character design is super good. I cannot even imagine what it's like to study and do these workshops with folks who are already working in the industry. Thanks for sharing your info again! Especially, regarding how much time/hours needs to go into this program.

  5. Hey Rastko I love your animation work its amazing you have great talent I love the iron man shot it have great stuff and amazing sense of weight looking forward to see your animation reel, curious how many hours per day you put out into animation?

    other than that a big fan of your work!


  6. Hi Mohammad, thank you. It depends, I would say realistically around 30 hours per week, on average. Some weeks are more and some less. It depends which stage the shot is in, how much I am reworking the shot etc. As I am sure you know, it can be very time consuming :)

  7. Hello Rastkos,

    I enjoyed watching your animations. I think you catched very subtle things there in face animation making the character truly alive. Your texts are also very interesting for me.

    Could you please give us some update on how it is going on with you at ianimate? Do you continue with workhops? Did the workshop paid off somehow in terms of job?

    Thank you,

    1. Hey Pavel, thank you for following this blog. I have been going through my workshops all along and it has been going fairly well. There have been some bumps in the road though. I had a shot that fell completely flat so I moved one, and the other which has potential but I haven't finished it. It is a challenge every step of the way, with all the successes and failures that come with it. I also did some shorter tests to try and streamline my workflow before I start working, which brings me to your last question. It all did pay off but I can't talk about it just yet as I haven't started on it. I'll talk about it in a few weeks.

  8. Rastkos is an an animation monster. Post it up soon! And don't forget about the little people (me)

    1. You are not so easy to forget Omar. Think of it as a compliment :)

  9. Hey man we love to hear some news from you!

  10. Hi Rastko,
    Your old assignments from ws3 looks more then perfect to me.

    You really help me to eliminate many of my doubts about iAnimate. I'm just approved to start from coming WS2, but I'm still not sure about few things.
    So, if you find time, can you explain briefly how looks one learning week at iAnimate? We get prerecorded lessons for some exercise and one live webinar about that and then we make animation for review... is that correct?

    Thank You,

    1. Hey Branislav, a typical week at iAnimate has three live events. I'll give you my example as an illustration. I have a live QnA with my instructor on Tuesday evening, a live demo session with Jason on Friday evening and a live review session on Sunday morning. The days of the week these events take place depend on the instructor and the workshop so they can be different. Jason's demo session goes for about two hours and is for everyone to attend. There are no "pre recorded" lectures, everything that we have are recordings of live events that happened since the inception of iAnimate a year and a half ago. There are almost seventy of Jason's recordings already, around 140 hours, and the countless hours of instructor QnAs and reviews. There is not enough time in anyone's life to go through all the material that is already on iAnimate, it is an incredible resource. Luckily there is the Vault which helps organize some of that information by topic.

      Most assignments last more then one week, some go up to seven. You submit your work every week for the review. At iAnimate everyone moves at their own pace, we have a lot of working animators and full time students alike, so unless it is very early in the curriculum there aren't strictly set objectives for each week, like you have to finish a certain stage by a certain day, you work that out with your instructor. Your live QnA with the instructor may or may not cover aspects of what the assignment is about, it depends on the workshop, but that is the time when you can ask your questions about it. QnAs take different forms, some are just that, many are in a lecture format and some are even hands on tutorials and demos, like Jason's. His demo also may or may not be relevant to your current assignment, but Jason has covered most of the assignment topics at some point and you can go back and revisit some of his previous demos. He doesn't just talk about things, he actually does them, it's like a tutorial. For a good part of his demo he also answers student questions. The review which is always during the weekend can also take different forms. Sometimes it is one on one time with the instructor, sometimes it's a group thing when everyone logs in and the instructor goes over each shot in front of everyone, much like a real dailies session would.

      Again, all events are recorded so you can revisit them later. I hope this helps, if you have more questions feel free to ask.

  11. That sounds great .... even better than I think.
    Thank you very much Rastko for your detailed answer.

  12. Thanks for giving such informative and in-depth observations on the program. You've pretty much covered all the questions I have regarding AM vs. ianimate. I only have 2 questions I was wondering about:

    1. Do you think AM lectures have an advantage over ianimate? Although ianimate has a wealth of material, it seems a lot less structured and organized, and most of it is coming only from Jason and the other instructors. I'm sure they are excellent teachers, but AM seems to have many more guest lecturers, with the likes of Eric Goldberg and other masters.

    2. Having studied animation in college (2D mostly), I have been accepted into workshop 2 of ianimate. However I would like to make sure I have the basics down perfectly, so I would like to practice them on my own before I begin. What exercises to you think I should focus on?