Friday, November 18, 2011

Diving into the Brain of Pete Paquette

       Thursday November 17th the New England Institute of Art had Pete Paquette as the guest speaker for its monthly NEIA Siggraph, meet the Animator event.  Pete is an accomplished dedicated animator who seeks new ways to bring animated characters to life.   As well as working in studios he has his own side project called "Tree House Studios".

       I have always loved Scrat from the Ice Age films.  There is this one particular short that involves Scrat being stretched around the core of the earth, with multiple eyes that strobe like a zoetrope.  To my knowledge I had no idea who had animated that part of the short until I had seen it at the beginning of Petes Animation reel.  This gave me the perfect opportunity to ask Pete how he accomplished the effect.

This is the whole short of Scrat below:

Blue Sky Studios

       Pete was more than happy to explain his planning in such a feat.  To my surprise I had no idea the extent of thought and effort that went into it.  Pete showed us that he used around 17 scrats in the scene.  he placed the center apex of each Scrat at the center of the core of the earth and rotated them all on the same axis.  One of the disadvantages of using motion blur is that you are unable to key the visibility off and on without the character losing the blur effect in the render.  so each scrat was individually rotated around the same axis within small degrees to give the needed effect.  in order to have the strobing featured.  the scrats needed to be keyed on 1.2 1.4 1.5 etc. frames of a frame.  And then there was one scrat designated for the tail animation whipping around the orb.

       The whole thing was mind boggling that there was so much effort done on Pete's behalf to get this scene done.  I later asked him if the shot initially had 17 scrats in it wouldn't that make it extremely difficult to manipulate in the maya window.  And Pete replied with, "one of the directors asked Pete if it would be possible to make a change on the shot and have it done the next day.  and then Pete showed him that it would not be possible to do it in one day due to how massively heavy the scene file had become." lol

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