Friday, August 22, 2014

New Position with Dreamworks Animation!

Hi Everyone,

It's been way too long since my last post, but some very exciting events have taken place this past year. I got to work on the Smurfs 2 film, I did lots of cool freelance projects around LA, and now I'm an Animation Lead over at Dreamworks Television for the King Julien TV show.

Here is some more info from CartoonBrew on the show I'm currently working on:

I will be creating new demos soon, so if you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments section.


-Kelly P.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Stop Motion Animation-Behind the scenes

My awesome supervisor, David Tart, introduced me to the world of stop motion animation. I was completely charmed by the medium and decided I had to give it a try. So I decided to build a puppet and animate the audio clip from the 11 second club competition.

Here is the final video, and below I will go behind the scenes and show you how I created this piece.
Stop Motion Animation- 11 Second Club-June2013-Kelly Perez from Kelly Perez on Vimeo.

Step 1: Build a puppet

I decided to create the puppet from wire and clay. I followed a variety of videos on youtube and combined their techniques.

1. I made a drawing of my character and began with Aluminum wire to make the torso and legs. I ended up winding about 3 wires, because I was scared it might break during animation.
2. Add the arms and extra length for the fingers and toes.
3. Add some bones so the wire would stay together and also bend around joints. I used Quick Steel epoxy for this.

 4.I sewed him a pair of jeans from a pair of my old jeans that I cut up to make shorts. I stuffed him with aluminum foil to fill in the body since it's very light. (ideally you don't want your puppet to be too heavy or it won't stand up) You can stuff the character with anything you want, the point is to have tight fitting clothe or it will "chatter" when you animate it. I also added fingers and wrapped them in aluminum foil to give them mass, but mainly to not have the wire poke out when I bent the clay for animation.
 5. Then I sowed him a little sweater out of an old Christmas wine bag I had laying around and even added some detail in the neck line. Magic is in the details :)

 6. I added clay hands over his aluminum covered fingers. (This was Sculpey clay so it stay soft unless you bake it) I did not bake the hands since I needed to bend them while I animated. I also sowed on little shoes of cloth around his feet. On the bottom of the feet I had two magnets held on with epoxy, one on the heel the other on the toe.I also sowed little shoe laces, because they look cool.
 7. I created the head by making a ball of aluminum (Trying to keep the puppet as light as possible) and then with Sculpey clay modeled his face, hair, nose and eyes. I took just the head and threw it in the oven so the clay would bake and these parts would remain solid.
 8. I then added more clay to the bottom of the face which I was planning on animating, so it needed to stay soft clay. Same for the eyebrows, they are just little pieces of Sculpey clay. I also decided to buy these nice acrylic doll eyes online. (I also went to home depot and had them drill a tiny hole in the center so I can move them with a pencil when I animated them) (You can buy these online, and I recommend you buy the ones with holes already carved into them) I also bound the aluminum head to the wire with the Quick Steel Epoxy and here is the final product.
 Here are some links to the videos I used for building the puppet:

Step 2: Build the Props 

I decided I needed a pinball machine so I created one out two pen boxes, some random sink parts, some candles and I used 4 air freshners sticks for the legs. I also new I wanted to animate him releasing the pinball so I made the release lever with wire and aluminum foil. I also made a whole in the box so the lever could slide in and out. I also added epoxy and magnets to all four legs so that I could magnetize them and they wouldn't move during animation.

Step 3: Build a Set
I was lucky enough to intern at Laika and I got to see their sets.  They basically have giant black curtains around their entire set. It's the best way to control the light, so that you can shoot any time of the day and the light is not changing on your animation.
So I decided the best way to do this was with a big black sheet I nailed to the ceiling in the corner of my apartment.This didn't leave me much space inside, which was very cramped, but it totally worked.
 Here is what the inside looked like. I found this piece of fiberglass that was painted so I used that with the magnets. At first I thought this was a great idea, but I now know that screwing down the feet is a much better approach to the feet than magnets. I used my Canon Rebel t4i in combination with DragonFrame ( the stop motion animation software.
Here is are some mouth shapes I made for animation. I found it much faster to make a few shapes for the lip sync I was about to animate beforehand. So that when I started animating I didn't have to stop animation and make lip shapes out of clay.

 Step 4: Planning

Before I could animate I had to plan so here is my video reference and then my thumbnail drawings. It;s absolutely essential to know what you want to do with stop motion or else you will be wasting time and the puppet.
(For further detail into my planning process please take a look at this post:
Here is my planning on paper, analyzing my actions from my video reference.
If you notice my final animation changed a bit from the original planning. This happened due to the limitation of the puppets, which I was not aware of until animation started. Every step in the process should work to improve on the previous, so in actual animation I adjusted my planning to fit the scene.

Step 4: Animate
Animation was very tough, since I had to keep track of the body, facial and lip sync animation all at the same time. I also bumped the camera a few times, even my dog touched the tripod legs and moved the camera. So there were quite a few technical issues to deal with. I ended up re-shooting the beginning of the line twice since I completely bumped the camera and had to start over, luckily that was a good practice round. I began to get the hang of it after a while. It's very much of a straight ahead approach to animation. Also another important tip is to always wear black, so that the color of your clothe does not bounce back with the light.

 Here is a picture of how crammed it was in there, but overall it was a great experience. The biggest things I would change for my next shot would be:

-Screw down feet, no magnets
-A bigger workspace, because being so crammed caused me to bump the set and camera quite a bit
-Fully seal your background poster board, I only sealed the corners and the center would bubble up every time I sat down to animate.

Hope this made sense and I highly encourage everyone to try stop motion. It's certainly a bit of work to get this all up an running, but the final product is absolutely wonderful. I think many people can agree that there is a certain charm to stop motion animation. You are truly bringing an inanimate object to life, I absolutely loved it!

Stay inspired :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Demo Reel Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks I've picked up over the years for creating a solid demo reel:

1. Quality over quantity.

2. The best way to decide if your shot should be on your reel, is to imagine that is the only shot the recruiter/director will see from you. If you feel good about that, then it belongs. If it does not pass that ultimate test cut it, it's not good enough.

3. Your reels should not be over 1-1:15 min long, unless you've worked on tons of feature work.

4. Put your absolute best work first, because sometimes they will stop watching reels 15seconds in. So you want to keep them watching towards the end.

5. On the same note put your second best shot at the end, so that you end with a Bang and you are a memorable candidate. You never want them to think you are pretty good, and then at the end suddenly be like well that shot was pretty bad, and now they are questioning if you are good.

6. Keep it short, sweet and awesome. I think 3-4 shots would be perfect. Show your absolute best, even if its a simple assignment like a bouncing ball. If it looks amazing it will stand out.

7. Put your name title on the front and the end of your reel. Be sure to include what discipline you are applying for, such as "lighting" "animation" "generalist." Don't spend too much time on your fancy name title, keep it simple and focus on the shots on your reel. Nobody cares about the title page, unless you are applying for a graphics art job.

8. No music. This isn't a dead set rule, but most people will think whatever music you choose is annoying and it might affect how they feel about your work. So don't waste time on it, that you could spend on your shots.

Here are some links from Pixar and Disney on how to create a reel:

Hope these help and remember your reel is an evolving creature as soon as you do new better work out with the old and in with the new :)

Keep pushing yourself! I wholeheartedly believe if you are truly passionate about animation you will reach your goals :) 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Blocking to Spline 2.0 Lecture

Here is a second video tutorial on going from Blocking to Spline. In this video I show you:
- a bit of workflow to get through this process
- fixing gimbal, and using Euler flter
-using the graph editor to your advantage
-when to offset keys
-much more :)

Here is a preview and to purchase please click the link below or go to the Lectures section.
To purchase through paypal, please click here:

Friday, November 30, 2012

Timing & Spacing Lecture-Now Available

Hey Everyone!

So upon popular request, and because it's a very tricky subject to wrap our heads around, I've just recorded a new lecture for: Timing and Spacing.
In this lecture I will discuss all these elements that create Timing:
-Spacing- Visual Time
-Timing: Side A and Side B
             -Three Speed timing
-Common pitfalls and how to fix them.

Here is a Preview of the lecture:

To purchase the lecture for $15 (USD) please click the Buy Now button or head over to the Tutorials and Lectures section of this page.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Follow A long A Shot-Part2

Breakdowns and Timing pass!

Here is a quick update on the latest shot. I added Breakdowns and afterwards spread out all my keys and added the timing.

One big thing to notes is that I purely focus on each step on my workflow at a time. Therefore when I do Key poses, like last pose that is all I focus on. No Timing, No breakdowns, just key poses. If it's working on just that level I can move on to step two, breakdowns.
Same thing for Breakdowns and once that is working properly move on to add timing.

I do think of some rough timing in my head. but it's important to give each step of your workflow it's proper attention. Just like the architect knows there will be 4 windows in a house, but she/he doesn't start building the house by cutting wood for the window.


Start Spline

So here is the next pass where I start to spline. Notice how some of the timing has dramatically changed since I am going for a very snappy feel. 
I work in small chunks so I spline frm 1-36, frm 36-71,frm 71-98.
I will usually start spline by cleaning up the graph editor, then I will proceed to making sure things are not moving on the same frame. (Super huge note, frame by frame your work so all the parts in your character are not moving on the same frame.)
Arcs, sharpen timing.
Notice frm 1-71 I have gone in and done all that's mentioned above, but frm 71-98 I've only cleaned the graph editor so everything is moving at the same time and does not look very good.

Thanks and more to come soon, enjoy and feel free to ask questions in the comments section.
For more detailed information about my workflow check out previous post or the Lectures section of my blog.

Toon Boom Halloween Contest

My friends over at Toon Boom are having a pretty cool contest this month, and you can get a free copy of Flip Boom Doodle. Might be a fun way to mess around with some 2d animation tools. I know quite a few animators who use 2d software to plan out a majority of their shot. Definitely worth trying, you never know you might love it and find a new addition to your workflow.

Here are the details they sent along:

Toon Boom's 2012 Halloween Animation Contest
Toon Boom is hosting its annual Halloween Animation Contest. Using a free copy of Flip Boom Doodle, animators of all skill levels and ages are invited to create their own dancing Pumpkin! Winners will receive an iPad or a copy of Toon Boom Studio. The contest closes soon on October 31, 2012, so get those submissions into Facebook today! Click to enter:

Here are some of their submissions, if you just want to check out the competition or just watch animation:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Follow A long New Shot-Beginning to End

So here is a follow along for my latest shot. I will try to record myself working through some of these phases and post here, so you can grab some tips :)

Step 1: Imagination
 I visualized my shot and new I wanted something super wacky and over the top dramatic. So I decided to do a little girl eager to eat her hamburger and fries and BAM her parents decide to ruin it with vegetables. So she freaks and then decides to smell the veggies and the smell is so brutal its tweaks her and then she faints. Might even add her waving a little white flag at the end, where all you see is the flag as if saying "i surrender"
Definitely a very Looney Tunes style inspired animation and as said by Genndy Tartakovsky said "if I wanted realism, I'd watch a live-action movie."

*This shot shows:
1. Change of Emotion
2. Character in conflict with the situation

Step 2: Video Reference

Here is my Video Reference (A little crazy and embarrassing but hey go big or go home right!! #sportsMetaphors)

Step 3: Drawings
Extract all my Key poses from my video reference, and clean up poses for line of action, negative space.
(For more on this please refer to the lectures section where I go into more specific details)

Step 5: Set Up Scene and Shelves
Basically set up my scene and reference my character and my set in to keep my Maya file as light as possible.
Build shelves for my character so I can easily select All the controls, the Rarm, Larm, Arms,ect..
(If you find yourself selecting more than one control twice, build a shelf for it. This will increase your speed tenfold)

Step 6: Blocking Key Poses
Here I blocked in my Key poses and even a few extra sort of holds. Notice how I blocked in the nose sniff because I felt it was important, but not the head shake on the initial scare. (You can't see the headshake now, but i know it will go there and it will be in my breakdowns.) (Make these decisions on your own, always go with what YOU need for the shot to make sense and feel solid. Everyone works differently, as long as you feel like you know what will happen in every drop of every pose than your good)

-I fully pose the face, making sure to avoid twinning. Solid expressions that convey an exact emotion (these can take me and hour or more, but you have to invest the time at some point so might as well do it early) Also helps to see if your shot is working
-I fully pose the fingers-they are so expressive and essential to selling your entire pose. Give them love, even if you have to tweak every single controller they have. Get the pose YOU want, not what Maya gives you.

Here is my blocking with NO timing, it's just 20 frames played super slow. I usually just scrub my timeline and imagine general timing in my head. (Timing will not come until after Breakdowns, right now all the focus is on Key poses and then breakdown poses)

That's where I am for right now, more to blog as soon as I get it done! All these steps have detailed descriptions in post throughout the blog and in the Lectures sections. If you want more info check those out. Stay inspired, Stay motivated, Keep Calm and Animate On!

Friday, September 14, 2012

New Lecture:Finding Key Poses in Video Reference

Finding Key Poses in Video Reference-$15
In this new lecture I will discuss how to identify your Key Poses in your video reference. This is an expansion of sorts to the Planning Lecture below. I will give you some rules and tips to help you maximize the most information out of your video reference. I will go through a physical acting shot, a subtle shot, a quadruped shot and facial video reference.

For more lectures please go to the "Animation Tutorials and Lectures" section.

Monday, July 23, 2012

New Facebook Page

I created this Facebook page so everyone could be updated on new post, tips and tricks. Here is the link, be sure to "like" it and you should see my post on your feed.