5 of the Most Popular Video Game Cinematics

With the video game industry thriving and booming as ever, we thought we'd take a look at the impressive animation that goes on within cinematics in gaming and advertising. A well made cinematic will have an interesting story line or character introduction that ties together to the video game, and provides high quality animation. 

1. League of Legends

League of Legends, known for their beautiful character intro animations has a fantastic cinematic called "A New Dawn". It features a heroic champion and brutal team fights. The design, animation, and music make this to be an incredible cinematic. 

2. Star Wars: The Old Republic Cinematic 

This cinematic trailer combines a great storyline, amazing visuals, and a powerful Star Wars soundtrack - - whats not to love? In fact, the trailer created such a buzz and hype around the game, that when it released, gamers were slightly underwhelmed. 

3. Halo 3

This was Halo's trailer for their final installment in their game trilogy. The trailer won numerous awards in 2007, including PRWeek’s Technology Campaign of the Year. The video, which connects our real world to the game, is said to have considerably helped gaming reach mainstream media. 

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4. Assassin's Creed Revelations

This game cinematic features mainstream music, (Woodkin's Iron) and it doesn't cheapen the animation. As Screenrant put it "the song was a perfect representation of Ezio’s lifelong fight against the Templars, something that is exemplified by his valor"

5. Super Smash Bros. Brawl - Character Introductions

Ok, Mario might not be at the same caliber as the rest of these games, but we can still appreciate this Nintendo classic. Not only does this animation introduce us to all our favorite characters while they're preparing to battle, but it brings us a whole lot of nostalgia. 

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Which video game cinematic do you like best?

March Animation News Round Up!

Here's your monthly round up of Animation News. Let's get to it!

1. Zootopia wins Oscar for Best Animated Feature

Zootopia took home the Oscar for best animated feature film last month. The film won over our hearts with its outstanding A list cast and comedic relief. The film is one of 28 features to make over $1 Billion dollars at the box office. This was Disney's 5th straight win in the animation feature category!

Read More Here.

2. Piper wins Oscar for Best Animated Short

Pixar's Piper won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. Piper tells the story of an adorable young sandpiper who needs to learn to feed herself but is scared of waves. This was director Alan Barillaro's and producer Marc Sondheimer's first Oscar win.

Read More Here.

3. Turner and Warner Bros. to Launch Streaming Service

Turner and Warner Bros. will be launching a new streaming service called Boomerang this spring. For $5 dollars a month subscribers are given access to over 5,000 animated titles.  President of Warner Bros. Digital Networks, Craig Hunegs told the press "It's a whole new way to access Warner Bros.' storied legacy of laughs."

Read More Here.

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4. Nickelodean Unveils Large Scaled Content Pipeline  

Nickelodean announced they will be adding new series and spin offs to its content plan. Nickelodeon Group president Cyma Zarghami articulately said “Today’s kids are coming of age in a revolutionary period of change, in tech, entertainment, politics and culture...It’s our job to understand everything we can about kids, and connect our audience to relevant content and characters that speak to their need for authenticity and diversity – both on our screens and beyond through on-the-ground experiences.”

Read More Here.

5. DreamWorks Announces Trolls sequel

DreamWorks Animation has announced that they will be releasing Trolls 2 in Spring 2020! Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake have confirmed they will star in the sequel, and we can only hope that Timberlake will release a Trolls 2 theme song just as catchy as "Can't Stop the Feeling!"

Read More Here.

6. New Animation Tip Blog Posts

We are happy to announce we will be beginning a new series of Animation Tips on our Blog! Let us know if you have any requests on different animation techniques you'd like us to cover.

Check out our First Post Here.

Want to make some of your own animation news? You can. Head over to our Client Projects Page and let us know how we can help.

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3 Tips to Improve Your Surfacing of an Asset

Decisions on How to Surface.

There are three main ideas that I consider when surfacing an asset.

1) What is it?

2) What is its relationship to the camera? 

3) What is its story?

Often a surfacer or texture artist, will receive artwork that will show what the production designer/art director wants. Other times we will have to rely on the storyboards or the script to figure out what is needed.

“Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.”

I will be using this nursery rhyme as an example and the assignment is to surface the prop “pail.”

 

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What is it?

First thing that needs to be decided is what material is it made out of? Is it plastic, metal or wood or even a champagne bucket made of glass? What is the style? Is it cartoony or photoreal? The first stop is always the artwork. In this example, it’s a realistic wooden bucket with a rope handle.

Great! Now we know that we need a wood texture and a rope texture!

 

What is its relationship to the camera?

It’s important to know how much time to put into completing your assignment. We know we are surfacing a prop, but is it a hero prop that will be handled by the main character or is it only a piece of set dressing that is far from that camera?

This is where storyboards and layout/previz are helpful. Knowing how the asset is being used in context is very important. The most efficient workflow is to have the cameras available and do your test renders from those cameras. If you don’t see it, then there is not much point in spending your time on those areas. It is also important to have the right size texture maps. Having texture maps that are too small will cost you resolution and maps that are overly large will make rendering more time consuming.

In our example, the “pail” will be handled by the characters and seen in multiple shots, including close-ups. This means that our asset should be surfaced completely and have decent sized maps.

 

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What is its story?

Next we need to figure out the story of the asset. Is the story about a futuristic robotic self- levitating pail? Is the story about a brand new lacquered cherrywood pail with inlaid mother of pearl? No. The artwork shows that it is an old pail that is sitting on top of the hill by a country well.

Great! Now we know that we need to age the asset.

Now we do research! This is where we look for reference. How does wood look like when it’s been sitting in the sun, or with water damage? Internet image searches are invaluable, but going out in the real world with a camera (even a camera phone) can be just as useful. Always start with the artwork, but supplement!

Decide on the color of the wood and the size of the grain. Adding stains and discoloration can add character and interest to even a simple object like a pail. And you can go even further and add “hair” to the rope to look like fibers and displacement to make cracks in the wood, however you don’t want to over do it if it is not really called for.

There are many more decisions that need to be made with every asset, but these three questions will help you make the best choices possible when starting each new assignment.


The Author

Linda Kurgpõld www.lindakurgpold.com

Linda Kurgpõld

www.lindakurgpold.com

Linda Kurgpõld is a veteran of the entertainment industry, working as a digital artist for the past 20 years. She has worked on such diverse projects as Academy Award winning feature films, TV commercials, video games, previsualization and animation, including a six year stint at Dreamworks Animation. She has specialized in textures and surfacing for the past 12 years.

Linda grew up in Studio City, California and received two degrees from the University of Southern California, a BA in Cinema Production with a minor in Fine Arts and a MFA in Animation.

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Animation Spotlight: Ken Bielenberg

Ken Bielenberg

We're excited to introduce you to Ken Bielenberg, a talented animation veteran who's credits include Shrek, ANTZ, Monsters vs Aliens, The Simpsons and many more! Ken has worked in both live action and animation, and has directed, produced, and was a VFX Supervisor on several projects. Not only are we excited to discuss Ken's career on our blog this week, but we are happy to announce he will be taking on an advisor role for Eric Miller Animation Studios. Ken will will be advising Eric on a variety of business and creative areas.

What was your path to get into animation?

I went to college at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) for computer science, but what I really loved was film and animation.  So, I used all my electives to take as many film and traditional animation classes as I could.  After 2 college co-ops at IBM, I realized that I didn't want to be a computer programmer, so I decided to combine my interests and pursue computer animation.  This was in the early days of CG -- it was a risky move.  But, my parents were really supportive so I went for it and eventually landed a production assistant position at PDI in 1990.  I was SO excited to be at PDI and practically lived there to soak it all in.

    What do you think the major differences in the animation industry today are from when you first got into the industry?

    Oh boy!  Everything is different.  When I started at PDI, flying logos were still state-of-the-art computer animation!  Five years later, TOY STORY came out, proving it was possible to make a feature length animated film.  That was huge!  Then, the next two features were ANTZ (which I worked on) and A BUG'S LIFE.  At that point in time, the power of the computers and the state of animation technology really did limit the stories that were feasible to produce in CG.  Toys and bugs were what we could handle at the time.  Now, there's really no limit.  

    Antz

    Antz

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    What do you feel will be the next big breakthrough in the animation industry?

    Computer Animation is getting closer to being able to create believable, photorealistic humans, but we're not there yet.  The "uncanny valley" is still very much an issue, but it's a holy grail challenge that will get conquered at some point.

    What has been your favorite/most rewarding animation project you worked on thus far?

    There are so many!  But, I'd have to say SHREK 2.  It was a perfect combination of a great team super excited to push the envelope and a great story.

    Are there any little known fun facts about any of the projects you've worked on?

    I worked on the Simpsons segment where Homer goes into the 3rd dimension for the Tree House of Terror VI episode in 1995.  It was the first time Homer would be realized as a 3D CG character.  We were nervous about translating this iconic 2D character into 3D.  I wasn't sure how things like his hair (he has big Ms on the side of his head!) would translate.  Would that look weird?  But, it worked and the Simpsons team was a dream to work with.  So much fun.

    The Simpsons / Via cinemablend.com

    The Simpsons / Via cinemablend.com

    We're excited to have you as an advisor for Eric Miller Animation Studios, what are you most excited to share your expertise on?

    I'm excited to help in any way I can.  When Eric left Dreamworks to start his own animation studio, I thought "that's incredibly ambitious and a little bit crazy."  And lo and behold, Eric's successfully launched his studio, is producing excellent work and is consistently adding new clients.  I'm especially excited about the next chapter for BINK.  He's such a cute character with a ton of potential.

    What is your dream job, or what do you want to work on next?

    My dream job is really simple.  It sounds corny, but it's all about working with great people.  I love creating an environment where insanely talented people can produce their best work.

     

    Thank you to Ken for sharing his experiences and thoughts with us!

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    2017 Oscar Nominated Animated Feature Films + Animated Features Event

    The 2017 Award Season is almost over, but before it comes to a close, The Academy must present its Oscars on Feb. 26! This years Best Animated Feature Nominations includes a list of innovative and creative features that included an impressive A list voice over cast. Read more to learn more about this years nominees and to hear about Eric Miller's experience at The Academy's Animated Feature event on Feb. 24th. 

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    THE NOMINEES

    Kubo & The Two Strings

    Kubo & The Two Strings, directed and co produced by Travis Knight, is a story about Kubo, a boy with magical powers who goes on a journey to fight off an army of evil spirits with his friends, Monkey and Beetle. The film's voiceover actors include Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei, and Matthew McConaughey. Kubo & The Two Strings is Laika's 4th feature film. 

    Moana

    Moana is Disney's 56th feature film. Considered one of the front runners for the award, this film brought in almost $600 million dollars in the box office. The story follows Moana, the daughter of a Polynesian chief who is chosen to reunite a mystical relic with a goddess. The film also gained popularity for its catchy music which was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa'i, and Mark Mancina. 

    My Life as a Zucchini

    My Life as a Zucchini (titled Ma vie de Courgette in France) is a french animated film, directed by Claude Barras. The film is an adaptation of the french novel Autobiographie d'une Courgette, which tells the story of a police officer and his friends who help an orpahan adjust to foster life. 

    The Red Turtle

    The Red Turtle, produced by Wild Bunch and Studio Ghibli, is a story about a stranded shipwrecked man who meets a red turtle. The film contains no dialogue and has been praised for its gorgeous animation and simple approach. 

    Zootopia

    Zootopia, also considered a front runner for the Oscar race, was also produced by Disney. The film's A list voice over cast includes Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Eba, Jenny Slate, JK Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Shakira, and many more. The film follows a rabbit police officer and a fox con artist who work together to uncover a disappearance. The film's A list voice over cast includes Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Eba, Jenny Slate, JK Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Shakira, and many more.  The film received critical acclaim from both critics and audiences. 

    THE ACADEMY'S ANIMATED FEATURE EVENT

    Eric attended the Animated Feature event on Thursday night, where he was able to speak and learn from this year's Oscar nominated directors and producers! Check out his photos from the event below.

    eric miller
    Attendees rush to get books signed by the directors and producers after the event.

    Attendees rush to get books signed by the directors and producers after the event.

    Zootopia Co-Director Rich Moore, with Producer Clark Spencer behind him on the right.

    Zootopia Co-Director Rich Moore, with Producer Clark Spencer behind him on the right.

    Zootopia Co-Director Byron Howard doing a little sketch.

    Zootopia Co-Director Byron Howard doing a little sketch.

    Will you be watching the Oscar's on Sunday night? Which Animated film do you hope wins?

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    February Showcase of Popular Animation YouTube Channels

    Happy February Everyone! It's time for another installment of Popular YouTube Channels we'd like to showcase! Channels are selected based on their high viewership and subscribers. Click to see our past channel round up's for October, November, December, and January! Lets get to it!

    Jaltoid

    Jaltoid is an animation channel created by an Dalton and Emi, an engaged couple! They both equally participate in the animation and drawings of the toons, which are all created on Toon Boom, Their animations feature parodies on daily life .

    Subscribers: 796,663
    Views: 92,699,140

    Watch an episode about no one reading YouTube descriptions HERE.

    Animation Domination

    Animation Domination is an adult animation series that airs on FX and have now gone to YouTube. Recently the YouTube channel has gained a high amount of popularity with more people beginning to stream and wanting new content on demand. 

    Subscribers: 1,232,305
    Views: 466,176,704

    Watch an episode about social media followers HERE.

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    Piemations

    Piemations was created by Mike Pitts in 2012. He is most known for his series called "Meet the Amazings" and his video "Epic levels of randomness". Michael is known for collaborating with other YouTube animators, but keeps his life fairly private, only showing his face in a couple YouTube videos. 

    Subscribers:1,316,803
    Views: 243,637,414

    Watch an episode (sort of) about ordering pizza HERE.

    Want to create engaging animation? We can help you do that! Head over to our Client Projects page and let us know how we can work together!

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    2017 Annie Awards

    Eric Miller attended the 44th Annie Awards last Saturday night, the award show which honors excellence within the animation industry. He shared with us some of his overall thoughts and experiences from the ceremony, read more to hear about Eric's night first hand! 

    eric miller + annie awards

    The Annie Awards are one of my favorite award shows that I attend.  How often do you get to see the creative people in the animation industry dress up?  It is an evening where you get to celebrate the achievements of your peers, and unlike other award shows, I actually personally know many of the people attending.

    The night was filled with a few memorable moments, for example, before the show even began I was waiting for my wife in the lobby and stroke up a conversation with a man standing next to me, I soon found out he was Bradley Pierce, the voice of Chip from Beauty an the Beast.

    miller animation + annie awards

    After we found our seats I noticed behind me was Henry Selick, so I decided I would go say hello.  I have seen him at many events before, but never had an opportunity to introduce myself. He was a very nice man, and we had a nice little conversation.  My wife even snapped this photo of us talking.

    eric miller + Annie awards

    The award show was not without some mishaps.  For example, when comedian Stephen Kramer Glickman and actress Chelsea Kane were presenting, the wrong winner card was brought out. Luckily Stephen was smart enough to realize it was not correct before reading it out loud. Chelsea went to get the correct one, and came back and once again she was given the wrong one.  I guess as they say the 3rd times a charm.  The other mishap was when the winner (I won't mention her name) dropped her Annie Award and broke it.  The top part of the statue was like a limp noodle flopping around while she gave her acceptance speech.  Even though her speech was powerful, I felt bad because I could not focus on what she was saying, as I could not stop laughing.

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    eric miller + Annie awards

    John Musker and Ron Clements, the directors of Moana, are always entertaining together, they presented several awards at the show. They have been at Disney for such a long time and I typically only see them together, excluding the first time I met John Musker, he was with Jerry Rees, and I went up to talk to Jerry not realizing at the time who John was. 

    eric miller + Annie awards
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    Glen Keane, presenter of a few awards, is another super star in our industry.  He was later joined on stage by Kobe Bryant. The media made a big deal out of Kobe attendance at the show, but in my opinion I would much rather meet Glen Keane over Kobe any day.

    eric miller + Annie awards

    Another really awesome presenting duo was Paige O'Hara (voice of Belle in "Beauty and the Beast") and Auli'i Cravalho (voice of Moana in “Moana”). I thought it was so neat them pairing those two together.  Auli’i is such a cute girl, and she had such a youthful excitement to be a part of the magic of both Moana and this evening.

    After the event as I was walking out the theater to head to the dinner I noticed I was next to Bill Plympton, so I said hello.  We had a nice little conversation, and he talked about his recent visit to DWA.  His work is a little different then the studio's mainstream, but he is an extremely talented artist. Check it out here - http://www.plymptoons.com.

    After dinner I got to talk to some more extremely talented people. The first was Mark Osbourne (Director of The Little Prince, Kung Fu Panda, and a few others).  I previously met him at the World Animation and VFX Summit last year when I ended up sitting next to him.  The next person was Travis Knight who I also met at The World Animation and VFX summit.  He is the CEO of Laika, and most recently directed Kubo and the Two Strings.  He is also the son of Phil Knight who co-founded Nike.  Lastly I got to talk with Jorge R. Gutiérrez who directed the animated movie “Book of Life”.  Really funny, and happy guy. I have heard him speak before at CTNX, but never met him in person.  

    eric miller + Annie awards

    I also got to see a lot of my animation friends, some of who I have not seen since I left DreamWorks Animation.  Overall it was a great evening, and I’m looking forward to going again next year.


    As always, if you are looking for some Award quality animation work done then head over to our Client Projects page and let us know how we can help you and your company shine! 

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    2017 Producers Guild Awards

    The 2017 Producers Guild Awards took place Saturday, Jan 28th at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The PGA awards recognizes the best producing work of the year and honors legends that have shaped the profession. 

    eric miller

    La La Land, Atlanta, and Stranger Things won big at this years Producers Guild Awards and the Award show honored producers Megan Ellison, Tim Rothman, Irwin Winkler and James L. Brooks with career achievement awards. And on the Animation front? Zootopia's producer Clark Spencer won the award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures.

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    Eric Miller attended the event on Saturday and shared a few memorable moments and take aways from the night. He mentioned the event was a great event, and it is always fun to get dressed up with some amazingly talented people.  This year the show was a little different then past years as it definitely had political undertones. For example, Tim Rothman, honoree of the 2017 Milestone Award, was presented with the award by Hugh Jackman and his 2 daughters -- both of which were wearing Pussyhats from the Women's March. John Legend also went off script when speaking at the show, and spoke out against the Muslim ban, encouraging powerful producers to stand up and reject Trump's vision of the country. 

    Eric thought James Corden was the most entertaining presenter, and got a lot of laughs. Apparently, James came out claiming he was the original pick for X-men over Hugh Jackman, sharing stories similar to Hugh Jackman's speech earlier for Tom Rothman's Milestone Award, yet twisting himself into each story. 

    eric miller

    Overall it was a great event honoring some amazing and inspiring producers.  Eric said he looks forward to attending the award show next year.

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    Don't forget, if you are looking for some Award quality animation work done? Head over to our Client Projects page and let us know how we can help you and your company shine! 

    The Animated Google Doodle

    We're all familiar with the Animated Google Doodles that take over the search engine's homepage on special days. It's easy to forget that these fun small animations get billions (yes, BILLIONS!) of eyeballs everyday, so we got curious and wanted to get the DL on where they come from and who they come from. 

    Turns out, the Google Doodle actually originated as an Out of Office message from Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin! In 1998 the Google Founders were planning on being out of office for a week to attend the Burning Man festival. They played around with the Google Logo and added a simple stick figure to indicate that they'd be MIA. 

    Since then the Internet giant has assembled a team of illustrators, ahem, Doodlers, that is constantly creating and brainstorming new animated and interactive Doodles! We wanted to share with you what we thought were some of their more creative animations.

    Doodle Fruit Games (covered HERE)

    Doodle Fruit Games (covered HERE)

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    Teacher's Day

    Teacher's Day

    Google's Birthday

    Google's Birthday

    First Day of Spring

    First Day of Spring

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    Interested in creating your own Google Doodle? Enter into Google's Annual Doodle 4 Google contest HERE.

    Interested in creating your own Animations, sans the Google logo? Tell us about it HERE.

    January Animation News Round Up!

    Time for another monthly round up of animation news! Let's get down to buisness. 

    1. DreamWorks Animation Names Chris DeFaria as new president

    Chris DeFaria, formally the president of Animation and Innovative Technology at Warner Bros Pictures has been taped to become president of DreamWorks Feature Animation Group. DeFaria will have a heavy workload, overseeing DWA's strategy, development, production, innovation, technology, and business affairs. He will be reporting to Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley.

    Read more HERE.

    2. Zootopia wins Golden Globe

    Zootopia took home the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature this month. The film follows a bunny (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) and fox (voiced by Jason Bateman) as they adventure through a metropolitan area. The film scored major points for their sloth's working at the DMV scene. There are even talks about the film being turned in to a tv series! Did you agree Zootopia's Golden Globe win?

    Read more HERE.

    3. Wes Anderson to produce Animated Film

    Wes Anderson's new animated film Isle of Dogs has officially begun production in London. Per usual, Anderson has enlisted an A-list cast for his next film, just to name a few, Bill Murray, Bryan Cranston, Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson, Yoko Ono, and Edward Norton will be joining the film. Anderson has not released a film since his critically acclaimed The Grand Budapest Hotel. We can't wait to see whats in store!

    Read more HERE.

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    4. Women in Animation still have hurdles to face in the Animation Industry

    Even in 2017, Animation remains a male dominated industry. After a study showed that 99% of animated films by DreamWorks, Disney, Universal, Fox, and Warner Bros are directed men, people begun opening up a dialogue on how to create more diversity in the animation industry. The fascinating, yet alarming topic has resurfaced after The Hollywood Reporter's Animation Round Table issue comprised of only men.

    Read more HERE.

    5. Eric Miller Animation Studio Store

    Did you know you could make custom Eric Miller Animation Studio merchandise on our site? Check out our shop page to make everything from custom hoodies to iPod cases!

    Start creating HERE.

    Eager to make waves in the Animation industry too? We can help you do that! Head over to our CLIENT PROJECTS page and let us know how we can work for you!

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