Tuesday, 23 April 2019

DNeg Animator Oz Gani Mentors our Students

Oz Gani
We're excited to welcome back VFX animator Oz Gani to Escape Studios, helping to guide our second year animators, who are currentlystart work on their second group project, an animal or creature documentary.

Oz has been reviewing our students' work and helping us to make sure we're reaching for DNeg standards of animal and creature animation.

Oz Gani is a supervising animator at DNeg, and a veteran of VFX hits such as Edge of Tomorrow, The Amazing Spiderman, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Bringing in animators like Oz is very much at the heart of what we do at Escape Studios, making sure our students are guided not just by industry-trained tutors, but also working with industry to make sure we're teaching the latest skills and software.

Ross Burgess and Oz Gani acting out some dinosaur action
Finding Great Reference
Oz Gani explained to our students that the secret of the DNeg animation process is "all about finding great reference".

This involves filming your own reference for a shot, or - more commonly with animal and creature work - searching through YouTube to find the right clip - which can then be used to create convincing and believable animation.

As animation gets more and more complex, especially in high-end VFX work, it becomes more and more important that the animator's work is rooted in real, observed locomotion and action.

Client Approvals
As a result, Oz said that he spends about "50% of his time searching for great reference".  Sometimes, it's a question of finding a series of clips, trimming them, editing them together, and splicing them together to create the perfect shot. This then gets shown to the client, so that the client can approve the basic moves.

The "Frankenstein Approach"
Oz talked about "Frankensteining" different bits of reference, to combine different clips of animal business and use this as reference.  He explained how he learned this technique at ILM, on The Revenant, where the animators who worked on the grizzly bear created an astoundingly realistic performance. And the secret of getting this right was all about finding the right reference.

Live Action on "Boss Baby"
Ross showed an example of this process, featuring acting filmed by "Boss Baby" animators Anthony Hodgson and Rani Namaani, who cut together a progress reel of their acting on the movie, juxtaposed with the final shots, showing how much work went into the acting and preparation of each shot. 

Boss Baby Animation & Reference Reel 1 from anthony hodgson on Vimeo.

Importing Live Action Reference into Maya
Once reference footage has been found, students can import the reference video into Maya, directly onto an image plane, in order to have the reference footage in the shot.  This process is "all about satisfying the vision of a director", which is "the hardest thing to learn as a junior - how to get into the head of the director quicker". And, "once you have the right footage, and the right action, it's so much quicker to animate".

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To find out more about our new BA/MArt, now recruiting for September 2019, follow this link.   To apply, visit the offical page here

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