Posts Tagged ‘short animated film’

Concept Art Process for Award-Winning Short Animated Films

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Kong Vang, Cogswell alumni and Art Director of two short animated films

Kong Vang, Cogswell alumni and Art Director of the two short animated films “Driven” and “Worlds Apart” – both created in Cogswell College’s Project X class – shares his process of creating character concept designs and more.

While working on the films created in the Project X class, I learned that it takes a very dedicated team to make a short film in four semesters or less. Many of the students on this team are attending classes full-time in addition to contributing their talents towards making an awesome film.

Here’s an overview of what happens during the production process of a short animated film: First the script and storyboards are completed and approved, within the first semester. Meanwhile, the concept team begins creating concepts for characters and environments.  Approved concepts are sent into the modeling pipeline as soon as they are approved where our artists create 3d models. As each model is approved by the Director, they are sent into the texturing and rigging pipeline. Technical artists create animation rigs for each model and prepare them for animation testing.  Animation is a long process so it is important to get the rigged 3D models to the animators as soon as possible. Animation takes almost a year to get all of the shots approved.  After the animation is polished, the first test of the film timing is created, approved, and sent off to the sound effects and music score team.  Also during the process of animation, approved shots are sent to the lighting team for light set and test render. When the finalized lit shots are rendered out, they are sent to the compositing team for the final clean up. After the composite shots are cleaned up and finalized, they are sent off to the film editor who creates the final cut of the film and music score.

On the latest film ‘Driven’, each member of the team wore different hats depending on which stage of the production pipeline the film was in.  For instance, initially I started out in the concept design pipeline, then moved to the animation pipeline and finally to matte painting for the final stage of the film.

One of my jobs as a concept designer was to collect the approved designs from the other artists and finalize them. Because most approved designs are from different artists, each with their own distinct style, the finalization process ensures a consistent look and feel. After finalizing the look and stylization of the characters, I would render each character in 2D using Adobe Photoshop so that it would represent its 3d counterpart.  This allows the Director to easily visualize how each character will look before it gets passed along to the modeling team.

Digital media is the fastest way to work and Photoshop offers the perfect tools and work flow for this demanding field. With infinite tool presets, custom brushes, and limitless iterations, it allows me to work more quickly and easily compared to traditional mediums like paint or ink.

To block out the initial character’s silhouette, I like to use a standard round brush, which I adjust into an ellipse shape, then angle it 45 degrees. This style of brush setup creates a line weight that flows much more nicely than the standard round brushes. Once the silhouettes and internal shapes look good, I create a new layer in Photoshop and start to block out the forms with one color value. At this early stage, I prefer to work in black and white.  It makes it easier to focus just on values and form rather than getting caught up about the colors. My preference in digital painting is to work from dark to light values, or shadows to highlights. It has been my experience to get results much faster using this method than trying to paint from light to dark.  I push and pull (lighten and darken) the values until the character forms are clear.  During this process, I maintain a wide range of values to create depth and realism.

Once the characters have been sketched out, it’s time to experiment with color palettes. I like give a slight color tint to the values before painting on top of the black and white image. The tint layer acts as a color wash so none of the black and gray value show through later. I create a new layer and set the Layer Mode to “Color”. I start by painting over the character with the color palette that the team agrees on. By using multiple layers, I don’t lose my original black and white image – and I can test out different color schemes.  Once I’ve added general color blocks to the characters, I use a new layer to start painting in details. For the final detail stage, I use textures and custom brushes to polish the look of the characters.

The development stages from concept to finished product vary from character to character; it all depends on what the Director is looking for. For example, secondary characters may be approved before main characters. Main characters are often challenging as they have to be visually pleasing and have the right visual attitude. On the other hand secondary characters have far less restrictions, allowing flexibility for designers to explore their creativity.

The concept team spent almost an entire semester designing characters. After four months and multiple iterations, all nine characters were finally approved. Once approved, I took the concepts and started finalizing each character’s look. It took me roughly four or five hours to render out the first pass of each character to show the Director.  One character in particular – the adult Biff cop – took almost ten hours to design.  After multiple small changes, the final designs were approved.

One of the most surprising and challenging characters to design was the Jet Bike that the main character rides.  Its importance in the film is equal to the character that rides it. Although there were many great concept designs shown to the Director, none of them were approved. That’s when I was given the tough task of designing the bike. After fifty designs, we started to narrow down the concept. Once the main silhouette was chosen, I mixed elements from the best three designs together to get the final jet bike concept. The process for this single ‘character’ took three or four weeks, from start to finish, working with traditional mediums like graphite and paper.

This is just the front-end of the production pipeline for a short animated film. It takes a strong team and lots of man hours to complete the film. In the end many people had come and gone, and lots of talented people contributed to the film. We were all so glad that the film was finally finished. It took the PX team about four semesters and two summers of hard work to accomplish the short film, Driven. The Project X class has given me the best hands-on experience possible. It has definitely changed my future and life for the better. Thanks Project X!

Kong Vang

Lucasfilm Animation Artist Advises Cogswell’s Project X

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Adam Holmes, Senior Story & Previs Artist at Lucasfilm Animation, stopped by to critique and offer advice on the latest Project X production at Cogswell College. The current Project X film is in the final stages of production and should begin the film festival submission process by early April.

“I was very impressed with the Hollywood production value of the film and Huber’s leadership and experience is clearly evident,” said Holmes. “The story, music, character design, animation, lighting and FX were well above most college-produced CG projects. In many shots the excellent character animation felt like I was watching a Pixar film! I have high hopes for these students in their careers and this film could be a serious award contender.”

Project X, the brainchild of Cogswell faculty member Michael Zachery Huber, is a course for upper division students and simulates a professional animation studio. In addition to having the opportunity to work on a professional quality short animation and build a high quality portfolio, students also get to network with industry professionals who visit the class to lend their expertise.

Visit the Project X website to learn more about this unique teaching model.


AniMazing Spotlight Set to Screen The Offering

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Cogswell Polytechnical College is pleased to announce that The Offering, the first animated, short film produced under the umbrella of the Project X class, has been selected for screening at the 2nd Annual AniMazing Spotlight Animation Shorts Festival. The festival takes place from September 4 to 5, 2010.

AniMazing Spotlight is a unique competition for animated shorts featuring an international panel of animation experts who review the shorts and select award winners. The Offering has been nominated for Best Achievement in Overall Design.

The Festival includes over a dozen entertaining and inspiring programs including workshops lead by Teddy Newton who shares  his work on Pixar’s Day & Night, a presentation by the UCLA Film Archive of the work of computer animation pioneer Robert Abel, Fred Crippen shares some of his favorite films & stories, Tom Sito speaks on Animation & Politics: the Blacklist, the Mafia and Beyond and Women in Animation moves us from shorts to dollars as Kim Adelman tells us how to market our animated shorts.

Project X is a one-of-a-kind, project-based class – unparalleled in its scope and study as it incorporates every component of animation film production for the big and small screen. This class, under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator Michael Huber, is only available at Cogswell. Students worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce this studio-quality short film. They were supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni.

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

New Orleans Film Festival Set to Screen The Offering

Friday, August 6th, 2010

NewOrleans

Cogswell Polytechnical College is pleased to announce that The Offering, the first animated, short film produced under the umbrella of the Project X class, has been selected for screening at the 21st Annual New Orleans Film Festival. The festival takes place from October 14 to 21, 2010.

The New Orleans Film Festival continues its tradition as Louisiana’s preeminent film event, presenting an eclectic program of films each fall with legendary New Orleans as its backdrop. Offering filmmakers and film fans alike an ideal setting in a world-famous city, the NOFF draws in over 7,000 attendees each year. Both established and emerging filmmakers gain media exposure, connect with the region’s diverse audiences and participate in an acclaimed event attended by industry professionals as well as celebrated luminaries.

Over the past two decades, The NOFF has welcomed numerous indie icons into its family, including Todd Solondz (Happiness), David Gordon Green (Undertow), and Richard Linklater (Slacker). Many of the Festival’s alumni have gone on to be honored at Sundance, Cannes, and Toronto, and even at the Academy Awards.

Project X is a one-of-a-kind, project-based class – unparalleled in its scope and study as it incorporates every component of animation film production for the big and small screen. This class, under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator Michael Huber, is only available at Cogswell. Students worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce this studio-quality short film. They were supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni.

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

Strasbourg International Film Festival Set to Screen The Offering

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Strasbourg

Cogswell Polytechnical College is pleased to announce that The Offering, the first animated, short film produced under the umbrella of the Project X class, has been selected for screening at the 3rd Annual Strasbourg International Film Festival (SiFF). The festival takes place from August 20 to 27, 2010 in beautiful Strasbourg France.

The festival’s mission is to show the works of new and emerging filmmakers. SiFF will showcase creative, edgy, out-of-the-box and maverick filmmakers in all genres including experimental and avant-garde as well as more traditional dramas, thrillers, romantic comedies, daring documentaries and wild ride animation. SiFF will show approximately 25 feature films and 60+ shorts – in all genres.

The festival also includes a roaming element called, “Nomadic Tendencies,” where films from the festival will travel to St. Petersburg, Florida. The St. Petersburg screenings will take place from September 3 to 12. The Offering will screen in one or both of these locations.

Project X is a one-of-a-kind, project-based class – unparalleled in its scope and study as it incorporates every component of animation film production for the big and small screen. This class, under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator Michael Huber, is only available at Cogswell. Students worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce this studio-quality short film. They were supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni. 

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

The Offering Wins Best Animation Award at Route 66 Film Festival

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Route66Cogswell Polytechnical College is pleased to announce that The Offering, the first animated, short film produced under the umbrella of the Project X class, has received the Best Animation Award at the upcoming Route 66 Film Festival. The Festival takes place from September 17 to 19, 2010 at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield, Illinois.

The mission of the Route 66 Film Festival is to support and recognize independent filmmakers of all ages and backgrounds. The general theme of the festival is journey, whether emotional, physical, spiritual or personal. Moviemaker magazine listed the Route 66 Film Festival as one of the 25 festivals worth the entry fee in the spring 2008 issue, citing the low fees and the opportunity to have short films and interviews aired on the cable-access show “Watch My Shorts.” The Route 66 Film Festival began in 2002 as a part of the Mother Road Festival celebrating the vehicles and history of the famous highway.

Project X is a one-of-a-kind, project-based class – unparalleled in its scope and study as it incorporates every component of animation film production for the big and small screen. This class, under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator Michael Huber, is only available at Cogswell. Students worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce this studio-quality short film. They were supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni.

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

The Offering Selected for Screening at the Tupelo Film Festival

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Tupelo

Cogswell Polytechnical College is pleased to announce that The Offering, the first animated, short film produced under the umbrella of the Project X class, has been selected for screening at the 7th Annual Tupelo Film Festival. The festival takes place from May 13 to 15, 2010.

“It’s a great place to mingle,” is one of the things filmmakers and festival goers alike have to say about the Tupelo Film Festival. Established in 2004, the festival combines a beautiful setting, Southern Hospitality and world-class film screenings and workshops. And each year the festival brings together dozens of films and hundreds of film fans from around the world. In addition, the festival aims to be a centerpiece in the Tupelo Film Commission’s goal of fostering a vibrant film community in Northeast Mississippi.

The Tupelo Film Festival has grown from a national to an international film festival offering diversity in film screenings. It is indeed an event filled with fun, education, social activities, great food and excellent film screenings.

Project X is a one-of-a-kind, project-based class – unparalleled in its scope and study as it incorporates every component of animation film production for the big and small screen. This class, under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator Michael Huber, is only available at Cogswell. Students worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce this studio-quality short film. They were supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni. 

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

The Offering Selected for Screening at the Newport Beach Film Festival

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

NewportBeach

Cogswell Polytechnical College is pleased to announce that The Offering, the first animated, short film produced under the umbrella of the Project X class, has been selected for screening at the 11th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival. The festival takes place from April 22 to 29, 2010.

The Offering will screen on April 25 at the Edwards Islands 2 Cinema inside the Fashion Island Mall during the A Short Toon Up program that begins at 7:15. For directions and to purchase tickets, please visit the Festival website. Film Director Michael Huber, will attend the screening and participate in the Q&A session following the screening.

The Newport Beach Film Festival seeks to bring to Orange County the best of classic and contemporary filmmaking from around the world. Committed to enlightening the public with a first-class international film program, a forum for cultural understanding and enriching educational opportunities, the Festival focuses on showcasing a diverse collection of studio and independent films. The Festival supports the creation and advancement of innovative and artistic cinematic works of both emerging and seasoned filmmakers and proudly embraces the passion, independent spirit and vision of these talented artists. With the integration of the local community and educational institutions into all aspects of the Festival, the Festival stimulates an interest in the study and appreciation of film and encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to participate.

Project X is a one-of-a-kind, project-based class – unparalleled in its scope and study as it incorporates every component of animation film production for the big and small screen. This class, under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator Michael Huber, is only available at Cogswell. Students worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce this studio-quality short film. They were supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni. 

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement

The Offering Selected For Screening at Tiburon Film Festival

Friday, January 15th, 2010

ProjectX_JungleMaiden

Cogswell Polytechnical College is pleased to announce that The Offering, the first animated, short film produced under the umbrella of the Project X class, has been selected for screening at the 9th Annual Tiburon International Film Festival. The festival takes place from March 18 to 26, 2010 in Tiburon, CA just north of San Francisco.

Project X is a one-of-a-kind, project-based class – unparalleled in its scope and study as it incorporates every component of animation film production for the big and small screen. This class, under the direction of Animation faculty member and long-time professional animator Michael Huber, is only available at Cogswell. Students worked tirelessly for three semesters to produce this studio-quality short film. They were supported by a massive collaborative effort from faculty, staff, visiting artists, industry professionals and alumni.

The Tiburon International Film Festival (TIFF) seeks to provide a greater understanding of the world and its many cultures through the artistic medium of film. The festival attracts top quality films from around the world. TIFF wishes to enhance tolerance between people of all backgrounds. Its goal is one of cultural enrichment and heightened cultural awareness and to create a platform for independent filmmakers to express their talent and vision from any nation. TIFF strongly believes in its motto: “Understanding the World through Film”®

Cogswell’s Short Animation “The Offering” Screened During a Masterclass in Beijing

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
Cogswell grad Robert Moore (left) with his translator in China.

Cogswell grad Robert Moore (left) with his translator in China.

On October 26 a delegation from Cogswell Polytechnical College traveled to the Communication University of China (CUC) in Beijing – one of Cogswell’s partner universities – to provide an exclusive showing of The Offering, a short animated film produced by students in the College’s Digital Arts and Animation program Project X class. The screening was part of a Masterclass Michael Huber, Assistant Professor and Director of the 3D Animation program, was invited to teach during CUC’s annual Aniwow Festival.

The Festival’s goal is to provide a platform for animation practitioners and researchers from all over the world to advance the dialog and cooperation between academic research and industry and to provide students more opportunities to learn from established artists.

The Masterclass entitled, The Production of Project X, focused on the process Cogswell used to complete the film by modeling a professional studio setting. Students who worked on The Offering were held to the same standards as those working on films in companies around the world.

Dr. Chester Haskell, President and Robert Moore, 2009 graduate of Cogswell and Lead Animator on the project, also represented Cogswell during the visit. Mr. Moore participated in the Masterclass and Dr. Haskell joined in discussions about trends and the global nature of the industry. Check out the upcoming December issue of the Alumni News for an interview with the Cogswell group about their experiences, insights and the contacts they made.

-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement