#1 02-18-2016 7:05 pm

Rendrman
Helper
Registered: 09-13-2009
Posts: 37
Karmojo: 18

This is no longer an animation competition!

Hi everyone. As a long-time fan of the 11 Second Club and what it does for students, I wanted to voice my concerns with what I've seen lately. I am a professional animator who has conducted many reel reviews and interviews, and I want to be honest with you all - many of the winning entries would not be looked at twice. This is not to disparage the work that students put into their work. Many of you are far ahead of where I was as a student. The problem lies in the amount of modeling, lighting, and rendering work that seems to be necessary to do well in this competition. We do not look at these things AT ALL in the reels that we review. Most of the time, the best entries are buried several places down, simply because they are not as "pretty" as the winner. Trust me, if your goal is to be hired as a character animator, the quality of the animation and acting is the ONLY thing you need to be concerned about!

I call for a return to the essence of this competition. Submit only playblasts of your shots, and spend all that extra time on planning and polishing your performance. If you don't win because of the ignorance of the voters, that's fine! You'll still have a higher-quality piece for your reel that stands a chance of getting you a job.

That's why we're all here, right?

-Chris

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#2 02-18-2016 7:11 pm

RyanHagen
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Registered: 06-16-2007
Posts: 1110
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Moderator

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

I like the idea of playblast only submissions.  However, not sure how to enforce such a thing.  I too agree that this should be a site focused primarily on animation. Ironic that your name is Rendrman:D


Ryan
Animator
"Frustration is the handmaiden of creativity" ~ Chuck Jones

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#3 02-18-2016 9:04 pm

dannykneip
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From: California
Registered: 08-14-2011
Posts: 223
Karmojo: 31

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

Chris, I've definitely been sucked into this stupid game of trying to make a beautiful render with sets and lights and costumes just so I can get an orange ribbon.  And you know what?  My work suffers every time. 

I think you are spot-on with how things work in the real world vs. the world of online animation contests and it's good to be reminded from time to time.

Cheers,


"Yeeees.  Always!"  - Orson Welles

http://www.instagram.com/dwkneip/

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#4 02-18-2016 10:34 pm

Dr. Robot
Registered: 12-12-2011
Posts: 95

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

You can get a pretty good render in a couple hours with free models and Viewport 2.0. Ultimately we're in the business of manufacturing entertainment and telling stories. While lighting and rendering may not have anything to do with 12 principles Appeal, it sure does make animation more appealing, and it can help you sell your ideas. It can also be fun to dress your stuff up a bit after you spend 40 hours animating it. I think this competition is about having fun, and if you like to render your stuff that's fine.

You're not wrong but I prefer to see nicely rendered shots if it doesn't come at the expense of the animation. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. I also know of at least one major film studio where animators show Viewport 2.0 renders to help sell their shots in dailies.

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#5 02-19-2016 12:27 am

dannykneip
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From: California
Registered: 08-14-2011
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Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

I wonder if "winning" this competition and receiving an e-critique from AM increases an artists chance of getting hired - especially if that entry lacks a truly winning animation but glimmers and shines and dazzles the audience (smoke and mirrors), which, let's be honest, has great marketing appeal in and of itself.

I like a nicely rendered animation as much as anyone, and it's possible to make time to do this, but when the votes go to the render and not the animation, as Chris points out, I do believe it's a problem that has no good solution.


"Yeeees.  Always!"  - Orson Welles

http://www.instagram.com/dwkneip/

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#6 02-19-2016 5:23 pm

Jimjams
Model Citizen
Registered: 12-02-2009
Posts: 55
Karmojo: 57

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

Dr. Robot wrote:

I also know of at least one major film studio where animators show Viewport 2.0 renders to help sell their shots in dailies.

Not to get off topic, but with regards to that, that's for the benefit of the client, not the animation lead/supervisor. Unless they have a VFX background, clients in general have a hard time seeing things in blocked or stepped as they just don't understand the animation process; as such, stepped blocks are becoming obsolete, and it is now common practice for VFX studios to have very intricate blocks, almost a final shot, and the lights and viewport 2.0 etc., are all added for flavour purely to distract the client from asking questions like 'Why is it sliding across the floor? Why is is all jerky?' But in theory, an animator should be able to get their point across without all that.

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#7 02-19-2016 11:12 pm

Dr. Robot
Registered: 12-12-2011
Posts: 95

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

That's true, but that only supports the point I'm trying to make. We create animation for clients and for an audience. Even though window dressing such as lighting/rendering isn't part of the job description of a character animator, it's part of creating animation and it makes your clients and your audience enjoy your work more. The idea that we should only be looking at playblasts is just esoteric. It's like having a cake baking competition without allowing frosting.

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#8 02-19-2016 11:24 pm

dannykneip
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From: California
Registered: 08-14-2011
Posts: 223
Karmojo: 31

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

But if the cake tastes like something your dog made on the front lawn, you will DEFINITELY lose the contest no matter how decorative it is, unless the judges are merely voting style over substance, and I think that's what happens here very often.  Oh well.  Keep the mouthwash handy!  wink

Are you participating this month, Robert?


"Yeeees.  Always!"  - Orson Welles

http://www.instagram.com/dwkneip/

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#9 02-20-2016 12:11 am

Dr. Robot
Registered: 12-12-2011
Posts: 95

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

Not this month Danny, got a monster shot I'm working on (literally and figuratively) tongue

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#10 02-20-2016 12:15 am

dannykneip
Upstanding Citizen
From: California
Registered: 08-14-2011
Posts: 223
Karmojo: 31

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

Good for you, Robert!!  I love to know people are working!  Do please share a link when you're done, if possible. 

My best,


"Yeeees.  Always!"  - Orson Welles

http://www.instagram.com/dwkneip/

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#11 02-20-2016 6:36 pm

RyanHagen
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Registered: 06-16-2007
Posts: 1110
Karmojo: 48
Moderator

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

Regardless of everyone's "opinion", there's no way to enforce it.  Worry about the things you can change(your entries) and let go of the things you can't(others opinions on your work).


Ryan
Animator
"Frustration is the handmaiden of creativity" ~ Chuck Jones

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#12 03-01-2016 5:51 am

acolors
Registered: 07-01-2014
Posts: 286
Productive!

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

Rendrman,
Voice 2: What is wrong with you?? .......LOL
All it is spelled out for everybody who would care to read.
http://www.11secondclub.com/competitions/current
I quote:
"In order to spend the majority of your time on the animation, please avoid spending a lot of time on lighting/rendering/etc.
Do have fun! smile"
BTW,
I'd bet 99% of 2d animation here have no light source nor shading.
Unless one uses 3d program then do 2d rendering (which does not require a lot of 2d animation skills), like
Toon shaders and tried to make every thing look 2d animation
cheers
_____________________________
don't take me too seriously... animation mostly should be fun
&
everybody's a critic (including me although I try to be humble...sometimes ...>;o)

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#13 03-01-2016 5:56 am

taboo
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Registered: 06-30-2011
Posts: 32
Karmojo: 32

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

It would be cool if you won with a playblast that maybe you could get your shot professionally lit or something.

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#14 03-03-2016 8:10 am

cristinelo
Upright Citizen
From: Montreal
Registered: 09-27-2007
Posts: 28
Karmojo: 44

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

I totally am for Playblasts only.
Only one catch in my side...that reduces drastically the use of motion blur.
Camera focus could also be an issue to storytelling...
Yep it`s a catch.

Last edited by cristinelo (03-03-2016 8:18 am)


Cristinel Bostan
animator

www.cristinel-bostan.com

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#15 03-03-2016 12:55 pm

KyleG
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From: Schell Games
Registered: 07-16-2007
Posts: 1723
Karmojo: 38
Moderator

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

There's a lot more rules you would have to set if you truly wanted an "even playing field"

You can make some pretty decent playblasts in Maya now - and what about post production packages? Like After Effects? You can add motion blur, camera effects, visual effects all outside of Maya. You would have to restrict those as well.

For example this is a playblast
http://i.imgur.com/WdBPULI.jpg

In the end this is a site for learning and pushing individual skills - As others have mentioned this would be pretty difficult to enforce.
Plus there are things that sway voters besides just lighting
things like:

fully modeled backgrounds
modified rigs
cloth simulation/visual effects
the rig/character itself

There would have to be lots of restrictions to get everyone onto the exact same level - which I think would be very hard to maintain and enforce.


Kyle Kenworthy
My Blog
My Class

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#16 03-03-2016 4:28 pm

tartarstudio
From: Ireland/Sudan
Registered: 09-06-2011
Posts: 34

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

I must agree there were months when the best entry did not win. Which is unfortunate in my opinion and should not be the case, but i would say expected when there aren't safeguards in place to ensure it doesn't happen. On the other hand, i can't see a situation where these safeguards can be implemented without subsequent burden to the already stretched administrators of this website.
Our only feasible option here is hoping people would see through all the fancy rendering, lighting, colouring and backgrounds and be able to rate an entry based solely on the quality of its animation.

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#17 03-03-2016 4:50 pm

DarkFenix
From: Spain
Registered: 07-09-2014
Posts: 6

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

I don't know the begining of this contest. Of course there are a lot of animation (art) students and some professionals. But mostly are just hobbyist (like me. I'm really bad but get a fun time participating). Anyway, I think that the all winners that I've seen were deserving.

Of course a good looking rendering seems more comfortable to the eyes (for the most of voters as we are hobbyist) but I think that good animations (instead with poorly presentation) is always up in the final.

At the end, the only way to make a contest "balanced" were that all the participants had the same tools: characters, riggings, objects, backgrounds, software and configuration. And professionals must be the jury. But, that way, 2D animators cannot enter the competition. tongue

For finish, I think that a good rendering can make a good animation better. But a good rendering cannot save a bad or regular animation.

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#18 03-03-2016 5:34 pm

taboo
Upstanding Citizen
Registered: 06-30-2011
Posts: 32
Karmojo: 32

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

Maybe there could be sub challenges in the challenge forum to go along with a monthly competition? Like maybe there could be restrictions like 'only playblasts this month' or 'no props' etc.

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#19 03-03-2016 5:47 pm

taboo
Upstanding Citizen
Registered: 06-30-2011
Posts: 32
Karmojo: 32

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

How is it boring? Don't you like to challenge yourself by giving yourself restrictions on a piece? Also it wouldn't be like anybody would be forced to participate if they wanted to compete in the actual monthly contest.

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#20 03-03-2016 6:28 pm

thelittlepenguin84
Upright Citizen
From: Bristol
Registered: 03-30-2010
Posts: 2028
Karmojo: 47
Moderator

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

years ago, I noticed people saying similar things.

I am in favour of those who light their shots etc. It can really add to the story. To try to help those who wish to learn constraints, lighting etc. was the reason I set up the 11 Second club blog.

I haven't posted in a while, but I hope it still can be of use.

Thank you

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#21 03-03-2016 6:36 pm

Jimjams
Model Citizen
Registered: 12-02-2009
Posts: 55
Karmojo: 57

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

I think the point taboo is making is that when you place limitations on yourself, it forces you to think outside the box instead of going for the more obvious solutions. Much like in the olden days of film before CG became a 'quick fix', where the filmmakers had to figure out how to bring their ideas to screen without the luxury of being able to say 'we can fix it in post'.

For this month's competition, for example, it could be fun to see how someone tackled the dialogue without resorting to the obvious drinking props. It could be an internal dialogue, it could be them looking at something off-screen and walking and talking, it could be a split-personality, it could be the first character actually addressing the second directly as if 'she' was the drink, it could be quadrupeds, a pup talking to its mother, etc. These are just random ideas I pulled out the air, I'm sure someone with more brain smarts could come up with something better.

Not trying to tale a stand either way or decry the use of props or imposing limitations, as that's not the point. I think it should be more about how to make the animation work and making a very strong piece. As mentioned before, imposing limitations here would be extremely difficult to implement, so rather than get hung up it, maybe just focus on producing some really strong animation and let the work speak for itself wink

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#22 03-03-2016 10:17 pm

pooby
Participator
Registered: 10-22-2009
Posts: 8
Karmojo: 9

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

Personally, I would find it a little silly and restrictive to limit what people are allowed to do.

It's like saying that you can't use colour on 2d animation, or that it's not a draughtsmanship competition, so you shouldn't draw the details and only rough out the movement as it would be unfair to people who can't draw as well as others.
You can never level the playing field like that and it would be very boring and academic to do so.

A particularly well designed model and rig is also going to add more appeal than others but It would be boring if everyone had to use the same characters.
Seeing lighting on a face with proper shading makes the facial expression read more naturally. This is a contest about making character acting read well, so I'd see rendering as adding something to that. Not everyone can distinguish which bit is making it work in the same way a trained professional can.

I'd say it's tough luck on those that can't render and light in the same way it's tough luck on those that can't draw well. If you really want to make your final work look better, learn extra skills.

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#23 03-03-2016 11:15 pm

Snapai
From: Asheville, NC
Registered: 02-28-2016
Posts: 5

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

After watching rating and reviewing every entry this month (231 reels watched twice or more and 231 comments, oy my eyes and fingers! ;Awink I have to say that rendered vs playblast didn't really affect my judgement of the works at all. I did notice myself judging more than just the animation itself, though, and I think that's a good thing.

This contest is about how you adapt a sound file to an animation. It's not about the final render; in fact the only ones where rendering or polish jumped out at me is where someone had obviously stopped improving their scene to be able to finish out the production pipeline- fully colored 2D that moved funny, or 3D with epic backlighting or mood scenery that made it nearly impossible to see the characters.

What I did judge, that didn't directly deal with animation, were decisions in how to tell the story, or what story to tell. There were a number of animations that were harmed by bad cutting- camera work that distracted or made it hard to follow the action. Decisions on adding or leaving out characters, that either told an even better story with a silent character, or made it dull as a character just stood there waiting to speak, with no reaction to the opposing line. Technically, these aren't about the animation, but it does say a lot about the artist's cinematic vision, which does affect their work.

I didn't judge it above the importance of animation however. There were one or two that were excellently directed - proper cutting, good scene layout, definitely a good storyboard; but they were unanimated or nearly unanimated. I praised their editing in the comments of course, then promptly scored them low since they missed the point.

I noticed too, tho' - that animation has two sides to it, which kinda overlaps into the directing bit. There's the technical execution of the twelve principles, which is great and all; making a character move believably and not die when they're not the focus of the storytelling. But then there's the acting. Which movements and gestures a character "chooses" to make, from among the realm of possible believable motions. Several films I scored fairly high on technical merits, as the animation was executed correctly, but docked a star or two, because either the character moved so little as to make the scene boring, or bounced around so much to make me wonder what on earth was going on. Appropriate acting choices are a huge part of animation, and they aren't really even related to the principles of animation. In a professional setting, they might be indicated on the storyboard, but they might not; and at any rate, participants here have to decide the storyboard and scene as well.

That's where it crosses over with directing - not just what acting do the characters do, but what characters are going to be in the scene, what kind of a scene it will be within the context of the audio. I don't go for cutesy/gimmicky stories (which usually require 5-10 seconds of extra preroll and postroll to set up the story), but the ability to tell an interesting scene is huge. There were two "meet the father" reels this round, and both of them had a third fiancée character in the story that had nothing to do with the audio.  But in both cases, her part of the story was every bit as important as the speaking roles; moreover as she had to act completely without audio to match to.

But anyways. After all that, the rendering? I don't care if it's all subsurface scattered soft-looking edge-lit flesh, or a dull gray playblast, as long as you've made sure you're telling the story in the clearest way possible. smile

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#24 03-04-2016 6:38 pm

taboo
Upstanding Citizen
Registered: 06-30-2011
Posts: 32
Karmojo: 32

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

ericraffle wrote:

Well said pooby,I totally agree, if you can't do something and feel others should lower their standards that's wrong,there are tons of great video tutorials out their for free.

I never said anybody should lower their  "standards" but just thought that having -totally optional- (emphasis here because I don't think you're understanding the concept of optional) sub challenges would make things more interesting. I don't really care about learning lighting because I'm an animator first and foremost. Anyway, the entire 11 second club is not the end all be all of animation, as my ultimate goal is to get hired as a professional animator. So I don't care if I only ever submit playblast for my entire existence on this website if said playblasts eventually land me a job.

I do enjoy a well animated, well lit film as much as the next person because it obviously shows that they put extra effort into it so I do not mean any offense.

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#25 03-04-2016 8:01 pm

taboo
Upstanding Citizen
Registered: 06-30-2011
Posts: 32
Karmojo: 32

Re: This is no longer an animation competition!

I would rather be a steallar animator that a mediocre generalist (which I already am lol. I do know how to rig and how to light but I'm not particularly good at it or know enough of it to really get hired probably). I don't want to be a generalist, I'm only interested in animation and I don't care if my best animation work is good enough to get me on as a bottom rung artist at a studio as log as I'm doing what I really like, which is not lighting or rigging but actual animation.

I know additional monthly challenges will probably never happen but it was just a suggestion to maybe spice things up around here sometimes.

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