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View Full Version : is 3D now all about character animation?



Johnny
07-08-2003, 01:45 PM
A friend was telling me that making objects in 3D is no big whoop in terms of making money, because anyone can do it, there are models for free everywhere, etc., but that the real area for making money is in character animation.

I wonder if this is true? Aren't there tons of character tools or free models available making it easy to crank out the characters, too?

any thoughts on the commodification of 3D??

J

robewil
07-08-2003, 01:59 PM
Well, I've been using Lightwave for 13 years now and I have never, so far, done anything that would be called "character animation". I do forensics which involves a lot of machines, construction defects, accidents, medical (showing bones breaking and other fun stuff), ground and water movement, fire, and such. Occasionally, I have to stick in a human figure or two but they are never the focus of the animation.

I, for one, would state it's very unfair to say the 3D world is all "character animation".

toby
07-08-2003, 03:46 PM
3D is way too big for character stuff to be the only challenge - Surfacing those characters to look photo-real is hard-core ( you've seen "Last flight of the Osiris"? ), also lighting, effects, camera animation, matching live action etc., all really important and difficult.

Character stuff is huge, it's one thing every audience is an expert on, so it's challenging and rewarding, but 3D is simulating the entire universe, plus our imaginations. There's plenty of work to go around!

Karl Hansson
07-08-2003, 05:05 PM
<<<...but 3D is simulating the entire universe, plus our imaginations. There's plenty of work to go around!>>>

So true! Being an 3D modeler/animator is like being god. You have your own universe and you create, destroy and control EVERYTHING!!! mu ha ha ha ha MU HA HA HA HA!!! Sometimes I am an evil god... Sorry I got carried away in all my godhood.;)

ackees
07-09-2003, 05:39 AM
Animation is the proof of the pudding, that?s where your work is judged.

toby
07-09-2003, 05:49 AM
there are dozens of things to judge besides animation, only if you're applying for an animation position are you judged solely or predominantly by your animation.

ackees
07-09-2003, 08:29 AM
All the other skills culminate in the quality of the animation, bad model then you get a bad animation, bad rendering then you get a bad animation. Animation has become the new ruler by which all the other skills are ultimately judged. Sure if you are employed for modelling your employer will judge you on your model making skills, but ultimately those models will be judged on how they perform when animated.
This is what caught out NT, they had the best rendering and concentrated on improving that aspect while animation leaped forged them, nearly all LW users character animate using plug ins or another application altogether. 8 has to fix this.
Once upon a time you would say:
Why render in anything else LW is the best.
Now you need to say:
Why animate in anything else LW is the best (hopefully in 8).

Zarathustra
07-09-2003, 12:57 PM
Short answer - YES.

Hard facts:

1) Whatever 3D job you may get, you'll be using a PC
2) Over 80% of 3D job ads specify Maya and/or Max exclusively
3) Well over half 3D job ads specify character animation
4) At least 50% of 3D job ads are for Gaming companies
5) Nearly ever major school that offers 3D animation courses teach you Maya and/or Max

If I was a kid today (with parents who were generous with their $$$) I'd get a PC and a copy of Maya and start character animating.
This coming from an old fart who uses Lightwave on a Mac doing mostly Medical modeling and animations. (Strike 1, 2, 3!)

Oh, I'd also teach myself and when I thought I was pretty good, I'd go to a school in Cali for a semester or so to network and get a job. As far as I'm concerned, Animation schools are only good for networking to get jobs. Sure, they teach you stuff, but for the $$$ they charge it's not worth it.

btw - Since you won't take PMs Robewil, how about a link to some work? As a medical guy I'd like to see some of your forensic stuff.

robewil
07-09-2003, 01:33 PM
Zarathustra
Here's some frames from the last medical-oriented work I did. It involved a compound knee fracture caused (allegedly) by a brace. I actually have only done 3 or 4 medical animations. I do a lot more with construction and patent cases.

http://www.legal-lgt.com/new/webframes/break1.jpg
http://www.legal-lgt.com/new/webframes/break2.jpg
http://www.legal-lgt.com/new/webframes/break3.jpg

Zarathustra
07-09-2003, 01:37 PM
Thanks, that's pretty good. Would suck to break your leg out in the middle of nowhere like that :(

robewil
07-09-2003, 01:50 PM
The locale is actually fairly accurate. The guy was riding his dirt bike out in the desert. There were other bikers around but in the world of forensic animation, you are only supposed to show what is important. This first shot of the guy lying face down was never actually used in trial. I included it here just to give you a better idea of what was happening.

Johnny
07-09-2003, 03:56 PM
Originally posted by Zarathustra
2) Over 80% of 3D job ads specify Maya and/or Max exclusively
3) Well over half 3D job ads specify character animation

well...with so many learned hands and fingers cranking out the characters, how long until there's a warehouse of ready-made characters which can be tugged and pulled into different shapes for other purposes?

J

Zarathustra
07-09-2003, 04:01 PM
What's your point, Johnny?

mlinde
07-09-2003, 04:14 PM
Originally posted by Zarathustra
2) Over 80% of 3D job ads specify Maya and/or Max exclusively
3) Well over half 3D job ads specify character animation


I don't know where you are looking for work Z, but most of the postings I've seen are looking for a variety of people for a variety of jobs. Yes, there are lots of jobs for animators. I've seen jobs for "3D Artist" which ranges from physical clay modeler to full-range digital skills.

The fact is though, in the real world (at least according to the people I've talked to out there) you will get hired for a specific job, be it modeler, technical director, character animator, matte artist, lip-sync artist, or whatever, and that will be your job. Most big industry jobs won't have you do everything, that's why the FX studios expand and contract so much with each project.

And don't be fooled that modeling isn't an important skill. Do you think Dreamworks bought a "Shrek" model from Viewpoint Digital, or that they modified that Shrek model to make the Princess? Did you know that for each digital iteration of the USS Enterprise E (in the last 3 ST movies) they made a new one every time, from scratch?

A jack-of-all trades will get a job in a small studio, or a non-specific studio (like an ad agency or other firm) while a specialist will get the job at Dreamworks, or Zoic, or ILM.

Johnny
07-09-2003, 04:19 PM
Originally posted by Zarathustra
What's your point, Johnny?

my point, or more my wondering/speculation is that as more and more people are paid to create characters of various kinds, there becomes essentially a stock of ready-made bodies, heads, hands, feet, etc...fat, short, sleek, flabby, old, young, attractive, ugly..that I wonder if, after a while, the demand to create more characters would begin to diminish, and that characters would be more a commodity, like stock imagery or clip art.

I'm not trying to diminish the skill it takes to create these fabulous works. but with a huge number of characters already in creation, wouldn't some people just want to purchase what's already made and modify it for their own purpose?

J

mlinde
07-09-2003, 04:28 PM
Originally posted by Johnny
I'm not trying to diminish the skill it takes to create these fabulous works. but with a huge number of characters already in creation, wouldn't some people just want to purchase what's already made and modify it for their own purpose?

Fair question. I guess the answer is yes and so what? People buy stock art now, but illustrators and photographers still have work coming in. There will always be a demand for customized, individually created work, at least until the apocalypse, at which time people won't want art at all...

Zarathustra
07-09-2003, 04:42 PM
mlinde summed it up the best.

Well, just think about all those hi-res models made years ago before nurbs. I have some Zygote models from a project several years ago and I'm slowly rebuilding them as simpler models for subpatches. I suppose things like that may continue as technology changes.
Of course, if Clip Art is what you want, then sure you can buy stock models. If you're serious about something, you'll want a custom model.

mlinde - I look at everything from Monster.com to AWN, and various entertainment job sights. Please, prove me wrong and show me all the Lightwave Medical jobs out there :)
I'll be happy with almost anything. Currently I'm surviving on PT and freelance. Perhaps Philadelphia isn't 3D friendly...

mlinde
07-09-2003, 04:55 PM
Originally posted by Zarathustra
mlinde - I look at everything from Monster.com to AWN, and various entertainment job sights. Please, prove me wrong and show me all the Lightwave Medical jobs out there :)
I'll be happy with almost anything. Currently I'm surviving on PT and freelance. Perhaps Philadelphia isn't 3D friendly...

Ah, I wish I could show you the promised land of LW medical jobs. I guess the closest you can come to those jobs is getting into the media labs at medical schools and convincing them of the need for full-time, high-end 3D modeling. :) In fact, you are close to CHOP/HUP, which are the big U-Penn Med schools, there in Philly. But if somebody isn't going to hire you full time just because you know LW and not Maya, they're very short-sighted. Skills are not dictated by the software you use, right?

Zarathustra
07-09-2003, 05:06 PM
I just had this conversation with a friend of mine. He sent me 3 job listings and they were VERY specific about having Maya/Max experience. 5+ years ago, it didn't matter. Now, with the job market the way it is employers can be very picky. They feel they don't have to waste time and money having someone learn their tools when they can pick from over a dozen guys who know them already.

toby
07-09-2003, 05:14 PM
"All the other skills culminate in the quality of the animation, bad model then you get a bad animation, bad rendering then you get a bad animation. Animation has become the new ruler by which all the other skills are ultimately judged."

I think you're confusing character animation with the finished product. What about 3D environments? Modeling spaceships? Natural effects? How can these be judged by character animation?

"This coming from an old fart who uses Lightwave on a Mac doing mostly Medical modeling and animations"

Well at least you're not busting your knuckles and getting filthy/sweaty fixing motorcycles! :( - I'd take your job in a second -

toby
07-09-2003, 06:45 PM
Z - are you looking on flay? lots of LW postings - yea, there's still more maya and max jobs, but who wants to do max, and who could afford maya when we started out - it's never too late either! You can practice animation in LW or study traditional animation, then learn to use maya with the ple

I think there's a real shortage of character animators - how many are on this forum? - I for one don't want to do it, it's pretty hard and gets judged harshly - also the lion's share of animators aren't even computer savvy.

Just my opinion, but people who're really into char. animation only see 3D as a stage, whereas many of us here because we love 3D -

Zarathustra
07-09-2003, 07:07 PM
Another side effect of the economy is companies rarely consider anyone not in their immediate area.

Of course at this point, It's a bit late for me to switch applications - time, money, etc. I also enjoy Lightwave and since I'm predominantly a modeler it's a good fit for me. It's nice to hear that a lot of studios use Lightwave for modeling and perhaps Maya for animating. I have something of a portfolio and mild recognition so here I sit, but if I were a teenager I would do what I described earlier in this thread.

I also think there's more $$$ to be had in gaming. Game industry makes a little more then Hollywood and has considerably less mouths to feed.

jcool
07-09-2003, 09:35 PM
I've used Lightwave professionally for years, mostly for broadcast design, and only rarely have done character animation. Post houses, TV Stations/Networks, and some print productions facilities employ 3D for lots of work that does not involve character animation. If you don't want to do character animation, there are other avenues.

toby
07-09-2003, 10:09 PM
I'm going to have to agree with Z that companies are definitely looking for app-specific experience. It's counter to what I've been told many times, but I think it's only the obviously 'gifted' individuals that they're willing to train.

ackees
07-11-2003, 10:46 AM
Well toby, your 3D environment, natural effects and spaceships are also characters, everything is integrated. I bust my knuckles on 3D every day - much tougher than motorcycles.

Zarathustra
07-11-2003, 11:16 AM
I wouldn't start comparing harder jobs. How do I fix my car? I have the super-duper fix all tool: credit card.
Sadly, I'm mechanically ignorant.

I'm sure a lot of people would rather have a different job then what they have. I think the hardest job is one you have to do that you really hate. That can be anything, depending on the person. For me, it's a toss-up between retail and making tombstones. Well, actually the making wasn't as hard as the setting - and my boss was an Ahole.

toby
07-11-2003, 04:56 PM
modeling a spaceship is character animation?

When you define something so broadly, you can of course reach any conclusion you want.

batzilla
07-12-2003, 02:09 AM
I have never,ever done any character animation and have absolutley no desire to whatsoever.

As a matter of fact,I dont do ANY animations.

I do nothing but product renders for several different companys and(barley) make a living at it.If I pushed harder i'd probably do alot better(money wise) but i'm an artist so...;)

Anyways,my point is Lightwave and Maya,Max,whatever are used in all kinds of areas.Mine is just print ads,posters and catalogs.Just got through doing a HUGE catalog job for a company I do product renders for every year and made enough dough to last me at least 6 months.And thats including a video game or two:D