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Lighting for Animation


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#1 Rohini Tekchandaney

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 07:56 AM

Hi, I have been an assistant cinematographer for the past 2 years. I've always been curious about lighting for animation. I know its not about cinematography per se but I was hoping someone here would have the know-how about how it works.

Is there a particular person who designs the lighting that goes into animated films or is it the animator himself/herself?

If so, I'm quite interested in doing that. So how would I go about it? What do I need to learn and where?

Is there anyone here who could help me understand how it works? I don't know anyone in animation so I have no clue how to go about this.

Any feedback would be great.. Thanks.

Rohini
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#2 Morgan Peline

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 10:34 AM

Hi,

I don't much about it but I did a little bit of camera assisting work for Hot Animation (who belong to HIT Entertainment) who produce 'Bob The Builder', 'Pingu' and 'Rubbadubbers'. With companies such as this or let's say Aardman then they have dedicated DPs who light the different sets on any one show - there will be many sets being used at any one time.

I don't know about Aardman so much but at Hot they would have different DPs who either lit individual episodes or if there were 'Christmas Specials' as far as I remember they would share responsibility sometimes. At Hot they had 'camera assistants' who helped the DP light (working like electricians) and who also took care of all the camera workings including framing, reloading the cameras (which were motorized Bolex's) or programming the motion control rigs.

As far as I know, at Aardman, for their features, I think that they have more specialization i.e. they have electricians who do just lighting and camera assistants who only look after the cameras and programming the motion control rigs. They have 30 sets ongoing at any time each with a dedicated animator and camera assistant for each. Features usually have 2 DPs who wander around re-lighting sets with the electicians. After the DP has set the frame, the camera assistant stays with the animator to make sure the scene is shot correctly.

Again, it was a long while ago but...at Hot on 'Bob The Builder' they had seperate directors and animators. In other words a director would talk to the story board artists to produce a story board that the animators would follow as closely as possible. On 'Pingu', I think the animators were the directors as well, but they also worked with story boards as well. All the story boards used to deisgnate a specific lens for each individual shot.







Hi, I have been an assistant cinematographer for the past 2 years. I've always been curious about lighting for animation. I know its not about cinematography per se but I was hoping someone here would have the know-how about how it works.

Is there a particular person who designs the lighting that goes into animated films or is it the animator himself/herself?

If so, I'm quite interested in doing that. So how would I go about it? What do I need to learn and where?

Is there anyone here who could help me understand how it works? I don't know anyone in animation so I have no clue how to go about this.

Any feedback would be great.. Thanks.

Rohini


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#3 Morgan Peline

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 10:44 AM

Hi,

I don't much about it but I did a little bit of camera assisting work for Hot Animation (who belong to HIT Entertainment) who produce 'Bob The Builder', 'Pingu' and 'Rubbadubbers'. With companies such as this or let's say Aardman then they have dedicated DPs who light the different sets on any one show - there will be many sets being used at any one time.

I don't know about Aardman so much but at Hot they would have different DPs who either lit individual episodes or if there were 'Christmas Specials' as far as I remember they would share responsibility sometimes. At Hot they had 'camera assistants' who helped the DP light (working like electricians) and who also took care of all the camera workings including framing, reloading the cameras (which were motorized Bolex's) or programming the motion control rigs.

As far as I know, at Aardman, for their features, I think that they have more specialization i.e. they have electricians who do just lighting and camera assistants who only look after the cameras and programming the motion control rigs. They have 30 sets ongoing at any time each with a dedicated animator and camera assistant for each. Features usually have 2 DPs who wander around re-lighting sets with the electicians. After the DP has set the frame, the camera assistant stays with the animator to make sure the scene is shot correctly.

Again, it was a long while ago but...at Hot on 'Bob The Builder' they had seperate directors and animators. In other words a director would talk to the story board artists to produce a story board that the animators would follow as closely as possible. On 'Pingu', I think the animators were the directors as well, but they also worked with story boards as well. All the story boards used to deisgnate a specific lens for each individual shot.







Hi, I have been an assistant cinematographer for the past 2 years. I've always been curious about lighting for animation. I know its not about cinematography per se but I was hoping someone here would have the know-how about how it works.

Is there a particular person who designs the lighting that goes into animated films or is it the animator himself/herself?

If so, I'm quite interested in doing that. So how would I go about it? What do I need to learn and where?

Is there anyone here who could help me understand how it works? I don't know anyone in animation so I have no clue how to go about this.

Any feedback would be great.. Thanks.

Rohini



Obviously these are big production companies. I have also met people who directed, animated and lit their own animations or I have had friends who shared responsibility. An NFTS classmate of mine just lit a film school animation which is in competition at Cannes. He lit and shot it on 35mm, while the director directed and animated it. They had a production designer build the sets.

At Hot they had a whole design and prop team who designed the sets and props and then built them.

In England there is a comany that specializes in building models (with skeletons) to order for animation companies. Models cost many many thousands of pounds.
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#4 Will Earl

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 05:44 PM

Depends on the type of animation,

Stop motion animation utilises a DP the same way as a live-action film does. CG animated films (Pixar, etc) utilise a DP as well, who performs a similar task to an onset DP, just in a digital world. VFX animation doens't use a DP, instead VFX lighting is typically designed to match the onset lighting created onset by the production DP.
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#5 Zamir Merali

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 08:50 PM

Normally if the movie is using large visual effects enviroments the dp from the live action shoot will guide the renderers in how he/she wants the scenes to be lit. However if it is just a vfx character in the shot usually the dp is not present for the entire thing. The renderers are assigned the task of lighting the characters.

In animated movies like pixar animation a team of render artists led by a render supervisor light the scenes. The rendering supervisor is esentially a dp. You could try downloading a 3d package and playing with lighting.

Check out this link to the pixars webpage. http://www.pixar.com...oit/index.html#

They describe the process from concept to finished shot. One of the steps talks about lighting although it does not give too many details. I've done some 3d lighting and it really is similar to real life lighting except that you have to simulate light reflections and there are very few restrictions.
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#6 Rohini Tekchandaney

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Posted 04 April 2007 - 02:40 AM

In animated movies like pixar animation a team of render artists led by a render supervisor light the scenes. The rendering supervisor is esentially a dp. You could try downloading a 3d package and playing with lighting.

Check out this link to the pixars webpage. http://www.pixar.com...oit/index.html#

They describe the process from concept to finished shot. One of the steps talks about lighting although it does not give too many details. I've done some 3d lighting and it really is similar to real life lighting except that you have to simulate light reflections and there are very few restrictions.


Hey! Thank you sooo much for that info. I checked out the site and yes it is very basic but it made me understand how it works so thats great.

You said you played with lighting, can you tell me which software you used? What do you do, if you don't mind me asking.

Also, can you help me as to how I can go about learnig this. Will I have to do a course in animation itself? Like in Maya or some other software? Or is there a speceific software I have to train in? Any info would be great.

I'm worried about the animation course, coz well, I'm not much of an artist so I may not be able to create the best looking characters :rolleyes:

Thanks :)

CG animated films (Pixar, etc) utilise a DP as well, who performs a similar task to an onset DP, just in a digital world.


Hi, thanks for the reply. So I'm talking about CG animated films. I'm quite interested in being a DP for that. The only thing is I don't know how to get there. Sorry for the absolute cluelessness!! But can you please help me with what I need to do to get there? What software do I need to train in? Are there any courses that you know of that specializes in this. Like I said in my previous post, I'm not much of an artist, I can probably a couple of good stick figures :blink:

But I want to learn, so whatever it takes. Thanks again
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#7 Will Earl

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Posted 04 April 2007 - 06:25 AM

Now that I know what type of animation your talking about...

If you have no prior knowledge of 3D animation/computer graphics (CG) then I suggest you find a course that covers 3D animation/CG. See if they offer a introduction course, just to see if you like it. If you want to try the self taught method then most software packages have learning editions (free but with restrictions) of their products, there are also a fair few free applications out there - Blender has a tough learning curve, but is a fairly complete software package, there are also plenty of free resources available on the web for learning CG - the forum at www.cgtalk.com is a pretty good starting point. As to which 3D application to use, well they all do pretty much the same thing (an oversimplification, but true). Maya, 3DSMax and XSi are the main players in the field, but if you want to focus on one then Maya is a good choice.

If there is a post/vfx/animation house near where you live, try get a runner or production assistant job - it's a good way to get a foot in the door. There are a few people in HOD roles that started off as a runner or PA. I know people working in CG lighting who started out in technical support or as production coordinators.

I haven't read this book by Jeremy Birn, but it does get mentioned a lot so I'll mention it here. The Gnomon Workshop and Digital Tutors offer introductary training DVDs.

Hope that helps.
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#8 Will Earl

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Posted 04 April 2007 - 06:52 AM

Normally if the movie is using large visual effects enviroments the dp from the live action shoot will guide the renderers in how he/she wants the scenes to be lit. However if it is just a vfx character in the shot usually the dp is not present for the entire thing.


During preproduction the DP often consults with the VFX supervisor on the lighting direction for particular sequences in a film, however a lot of the look for big VFX sequences/environments comes from concept art, the DP and the VFX Supe then have the job of achieving that look with onset and vfx lighting.

During post production the DP is very rarely involved with the VFX process. They may pop in and offer the comments on shots, but otherwise they stay out of the process - I'm not sure why this is, possibly the same reason DPs sometimes don't get to sit in on the DI.
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#9 Daniel Smith

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Posted 04 April 2007 - 08:47 AM

A friend of mine has been animating for years, and on some occasions he is asked to just do the lighting.

Just depends on what the 3D animators skills are like. Some are better at movement than lighting, but excel in sculpting e.t.c.
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#10 Oliver Ojeil

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 07:32 AM

While it might be couple years old (7yrs) This book is a must read Rohini. It covers many topics in 3D lighting, from history to techniques to aesthetics etc.
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#11 Zamir Merali

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 11:19 AM

If you want to start playing around right now you could download one of the 3d apps. Blender is a freeware 3d application that is pretty basic.
http://www.blender.org/

If you want to use what they will be using in the real industry download maya personal learning edition. Or 3d studio max trial version. I prefer 3d studio max but both of these are free versions on the real program. Pretty much every major production will use one of these programs.

http://usa.autodesk....?...&id=7695485
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#12 Chris Keth

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 11:29 AM

If you want to start playing around right now you could download one of the 3d apps. Blender is a freeware 3d application that is pretty basic.
http://www.blender.org/

If you want to use what they will be using in the real industry download maya personal learning edition. Or 3d studio max trial version. I prefer 3d studio max but both of these are free versions on the real program. Pretty much every major production will use one of these programs.

http://usa.autodesk....?...&id=7695485


They are very good to know but many (if not most) really big productions use a proprietary software package and not something you can get on the market anywhere.
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#13 Zamir Merali

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 11:46 AM

They are very good to know but many (if not most) really big productions use a proprietary software package and not something you can get on the market anywhere.


Not always. Pixar uses their own software but dreamworks and most other companies use maya. Most companies don't have enough money to make their own full 3d pacakge. Normally each production company will have their own version of maya. Also, all the visual effects companies use maya.
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#14 Will Earl

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 12:23 AM

They are very good to know but many (if not most) really big productions use a proprietary software package and not something you can get on the market anywhere.


Most VFX and CG animation houses use off-the-shelf applications if they do the task already - Maya is the workhorse of the professional CG industry. It's only when you start to get into places where off-the-shelf applications can't do the trick that you start developing proprietary software - in which your dealing with very specialised stuff like Crowd AI and Hair/Cloth/Water/Fire simulations.
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#15 Rohini Tekchandaney

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Posted 10 April 2007 - 09:17 AM

wow.. all this info is great... i've got the latest version of maya for now.. lets see if i can figure it out somewhat... although im pretty sure i'll still have to take a proper course in it.. lets see.. thanks for all the replies ppl... lets keep the discussion going ;)
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#16 Richard Andrewski

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 12:48 AM

Don't forget about Newtek's Lightwave. There are plenty using that too. A good all-around package and not as expensive as many of the others.
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#17 Radhika Patel

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Posted 12 April 2007 - 03:58 AM

hey!

if u go to the maya website they have a free maya personal edition if u wanna check it out:-

http://usa.autodesk....x...&id=7639525

the three point lighting is always used in cg lighting as well:-

http://warpedspace.o...tingT/part1.htm

http://www.cliffhang...nt lighting.pdf

http://www.cgtutoria...ndering/newest/

good luck!





wow.. all this info is great... i've got the latest version of maya for now.. lets see if i can figure it out somewhat... although im pretty sure i'll still have to take a proper course in it.. lets see.. thanks for all the replies ppl... lets keep the discussion going ;)


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