24th Aug 2021 | Open Movies | Sprite Fright
Sprite Fright is the new open movie, currently in production. You can follow its progress here on the Cloud.
Gerard Manresa Ortega hails from Barcelona, and works as a 3D animator on Sprite Fright. In this interview, Gerard covers his background, motivations for becoming an animator, Blender-specific advice, and animation advice in general.
“I started in 3D as a generalist,” Gerard says. “I like video games and wanted to know more about how they were made. Through this, I discovered animation, and I started to understand how feature films were animated. I paid attention to the details and the complex process required to bring a character to life. I just loved it. So I ended up at Pepe School Land studying animation. It is such a great school; I met amazing people. Some of them even ended up working at Blender Studio.”
For Gerard, animation is all about the journey. “You’ve been working for days on a shot,” he says. “And then one day you see it rendered and it's beautiful. Or you see the evolution of Sprite Fright overall. Every Friday, we have a weekly meeting, with updated work. It’s super cool to see how it changes and gets closer to the final look.”
“I’ve been animating for three years,” Gerard says. “Two of those were at Pepe Land, so this is my first real job. I’m really, really happy to be part of the Sprite Fright team.”
“Previously, I worked at a studio here in Barcelona, doing short animations for video games. I also worked on a Christmas commercial, which was super cool as I got to animate some cute forest animals. It was cool as a first experience because you have to learn how to work fast: the quotas on commercials are crazy.”
“One thing I learned on Sprite Fright is how to use the Nonlinear Animation Editor,” Gerard says. “I didn’t even know it existed before working here. I’m not an expert on all it can do, but here on Sprite Fright we use it to switch the animation from ones to twos. With the NLA, you can add modifiers to your action like noise or limits, but the one that I use is stepped interpolation. With this, you can choose the value at which your animation will step. So you can set the value to two, forcing the animation to play every two frames and it sticks to that duration, ignoring one frame of the interpolation and jumping directly to the next. Another thing you can do is add an offset to choose the frame you want to step.”
Gerard continues: “In my workflow, I use stepped interpolation with background characters. On the main characters, I like to have full control of which frames I'm showing, but with the backgrounds they are generally on loops, so the NLA is perfect. I can animate with bezier curves, and set the character to twos with the NLA.”
“Another favorite part of my workflow is the annotate tool. It’s a very fast way of doing draw overs. What I like the most is just pressing ‘D’, and you’re drawing. It's amazing! In 3D we don’t have onion skin, so the annotate tool is great for drawing to check the spacing, for example. One cool thing you can also do is to set the annotate tool to draw in ‘view’. Which means that you draw through the camera. If the camera is moving, the drawing will move with it.”
One final, big picture hint from Gerard. “Follow a style guide. When a few animators work with the same character, you need rules to make everything consistent. For instance, some characters have their mouth shapes more rounded while others’ have more angular mouth shapes.” For Sprite Fright’s style guide, look here.