Posted In: DesignGreyscalegorilla
Rick Lundskow aka @lundskow
We’d like to welcome Daily Render Guest Artist Rick Lundskow @lundskow to our ongoing series of awesomeness.
What is your name, position, and where do you currently work?
How did you get into Cinema 4D?
I’m almost positive I saw a motion graphics video on vimeo back in 2010/2011. It was so impactful that I wanted to learn how to create art like it. I immediately downloaded the trial version and started watching Greyscalegorilla tutorials. After the trial expired I used the demo version. The demo wouldn’t let you save or render out projects, which was a slight bummer because some of the pieces were sweet. However, I could recreate them if I really wanted them.
Once I moved to Michigan to work at Cornerstone, I budgeted for Cinema 4d Studio. That’s when the real fun began.
When did you start your daily render practice?
I tried to start daily renders but they took too much time or I ran out of ideas too quickly. I got in my head too much… Each piece had to be amazing, but often times they were not great by any stretch of the imagination.
At Half Rez this past year I had a chance to talk to Beeple, the master of daily renders. He really encouraged me that it wasn’t as big of a deal as I was making it out to be. I just needed to make something happen. I don’t know what it was, but it clicked in my brain and I started the next day, September 15th.
What is the hardest part about doing a daily render?
Time would probably be the most difficult part of a daily render for me. Some nights I don’t get home until 10pm-12am and I haven’t even started on my project. The worst is when I get home late and I don’t even have a concept. On those nights, I wanted to give up. And there were many of those nights. However I’m sure other people have had that same exact excuse but have continued anyway. So I told myself that I couldn’t have any excuses for missing a day.
What have you learned by making something every day?
Probably the most significant thing I’ve learned is lighting and reflections. Lighting can make or break your render, so I experimented with different techniques until I found something that works for me. Since I don’t have a fancy render (which might change very soon), I wanted to learn the most with the tools that I had on hand.
As far a basic life skills go, I learned that I can put too much pressure on the creativity. I want the design to be better than the day before it, or create a compelling piece that will sell to millions of people. The former is stressful and the latter hasn’t happened yet. Daily renders are more like experiments. No pressure on the outcome. You try an idea that doesn’t work, but you fix those mistakes the next day and publish your findings. It’s important for me to realize that when I fail, I just found another way of not doing something.
What Hardware and Software do you use to make your work?
I do most of my work on a 2012 MacBook Pro. Nothing too fancy about it but it gets the job done. If I stay late at work, or have some free time over lunch, I’ll create piece on my Mac Pro with 12GB of ram. Then render it out using Team Render across 3-4 of the other machines in the office.
Aside from using Cinema, I use Illustrator a lot to create splines. The shape builder inside Illustrator is incredibly powerful for making custom shapes for lathes, sweeps, and extrudes. I recently purchased ZBrush core. While Cinema’s sculpting tools are great, there were a few features about ZBrush that made it easier to sculpt heads.
What is your day to day like at work?
My work schedule changes on a daily basis. I tend to have a theme to each week day though. Mondays are meeting days. A nice easy transition into the work week. Tuesdays are typically my big project day. I can get the most done without a ton of distractions. Wednesdays are a big filming day. We do video announcements in our Sunday services and we record & edit them mid-week. Thursdays are the busiest days because we’re trying to finish the work week strong. So I’ll finish projects that I didn’t quite complete the other work days. Coffee is a requirement for Thursdays. The great thing about my job is that I don’t work Fridays. Actually, I don’t think I’ve had a job in the past 10 years that required me to work Fridays. It’s pretty amazing.
Anything advice to anyone out there just getting started?
Great art isn’t about having the best resources, it’s about using what you have. There’s something special about taking what little resources you do have to create something beautiful. It gives you an appreciation for the things around you. When you hit a roadblock, figure a way around it. Don’t let circumstances hold you back from accomplishing what you want to do.
Also, don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Start with a 5 minute idea and work from there. Most of my projects come from a small element I see in my day to day world. Find something that inspires you and run with that idea.
Where can people learn more about you?
I’m currently rebuilding my website from scratch, so currently I don’t have more info available.
Half Rez 5 was a blast and we couldn’t do it without the help of lots of talented people. This year LooseKeys created a new set of animations for us and knocked it out of the park!
We at Greyscalegorilla know the people over at LooseKeys well since we shared an office space with them for years. Now’s your chance to get to know them as well! We sent them some questions so you can get a taste for who they are and the work they do!
What is Loosekeys and how long have you been around?
Brad Chmielewski – LooseKeys is a design and animation studio in Chicago. We’ve been around for about 5 years now. A lot of the work we do involves character animation and storytelling.
What did you learn while making these animations?
Jake Williams – What was great about making the Half Rez animations was feeling like a newbie again with a new creative tool. While Cinema 4D was daunting at first, the amount of community resources available was integral and helping us learn on the fly. As we got more comfortable with the software, we were able to apply our style and animation principles with a totally new tool.
Ethan Barnowsky – This would be an appropriate place to thank Nick, Chris, and EJ because I spent a LOT of time in their tutorials learning techniques and tips for this project. It’s easy to take that resource for granted, but I would be miserable without their help! So, thanks!
How did you guys decide the content of each video?
BC – With most projects, we sit down and brainstorm concepts as a team. From there we’ll typically go and explore some concepts or at least pull some references for what the videos could be.
JW – We knew that we wanted to have a flow to the spots; that together they would tell a sort of story with the characters. We brainstormed a good number of ideas to get us started and then boiled it down to the 3-4 that we realistically thought we could accomplish before the show. The dance party, cheers, and drunky spots were the original 3 spots and the drone guy was added when we realized we could squeeze in one more.
Normally Loosekeys has a 2D workflow. What made you guys decide to try some 3D for these?
BC – Since HalfRez is an event centered around 3D animation we felt that we needed to make something that all the 3D animators in the room would enjoy while still staying true to our style. We could have easily done something in 2D but then we really wouldn’t have pushed ourselves to do something that challenged us.
JW – Echoing what Brad already mentioned, we wanted to push ourselves with this project. Really there was no better time to finally try to get our bearings in a 3D software package than this very project.
EB – I asked myself that question a lot while I banged my head against the keyboard trying to learn more 3D but in the end I’m super happy I had this as an opportunity to learn and create something new in C4D. I’m really thankful. Turns out it’s super fun.
Any inspirations feed into the animations?
BC – I know one thing that came up early on was the “Dumb Ways To Die” video.
JW – We looked at a ton of reference centered around TV idents and bumpers. There’s such a great timing and pacing in the stories that are told in quick 10-15 second spots that we wanted to capture. One of my favorite early references were these Adult Swim Idents from Art&Graft.
EB – We also looked at the Half Rez logo and branding and previous years bumpers and wanted to play off of those elements a bit. Love cubes and bubbles.
How was the crowd reactions to the animations both online and at Half Rez?
BC – From what I could tell it seemed that most people really enjoyed them. It’s sometimes hard to tell since I personally know so many people in the community, you never know if they are just being nice. What I think worked for us was that we took our character animation skills and storytelling ability and applied them to 3D. The 3D was very simple and I’m sure many people out there would have no trouble recreating these spots. What’s sometimes troublesome about 3D animation is that the possibilities are endless. What we do well at LooseKeys is to take something that’s complicated and make it simple. I felt like the reaction was great, we did something a bit different for us at LooseKeys and although they were cubes, it was a bit outside the box.
JW – The live crowd seemed to enjoy the spots although I wish I had made the “dance party” spot a bit longer to see if people would have jumped out of their seats! From friends and acquaintances alike I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback and it’s incredibly humbling to get this sort of response from guys and gals whose opinion and work I respect so much.
Loosekeys and Greyscalegorilla used to share office space. How’s your new place and what has changed?
BC – We do miss the Greyscalegorilla guys. Having more energy in the office is always nice to keep your creative juices flowing. For us it was time to make a move in order to feel more like the studio we wanted to be. You don’t need your own space in order to be a studio. Still there is something about having your own space that feels comfortable and helps set the tone for your workday. Having your own studio makes you want to invite clients over and show off with parties. We have now been in the space for a year and there is plenty of room for us to grow and try new things.
EB – It’s quieter without the ping pong, pinball and excited chatter which is occasionally good but mainly I miss those aspects! It took a long time to adjust to the lack of lunchtime ping pong noises coming from the other room. Like Brad said, it’s nice to have a space to call our own where we can have parties and create without getting in anybody else’s way.
Best way to follow your work as a fan? Best way to contact you as a client?
BC – I try to keep all of our social media channels updated with what we are working on. Twitter is a great place to start if you want a catch all for everything we are doing.
And for any clients who are looking to get in touch, I would be the best person to talk to about new business firstname.lastname@example.org
You guys are the most prolific podcasters I know. How many podcasts are the members of Loosekeys involved in these days?
BC – Thanks! I love the medium. At the moment I have 4 podcasts that I release new episodes for pretty regularly. There are a few that come on and off and some others that have ended but there are 4 that I focus my time and energy on. Shatter The Vain, a podcast with over 120 episodes about the mobile game Vainglory. This podcast is released every Monday. Released every Tuesday is Toon Talk Weekly, a podcast where Jake Williams and I talk about a new cartoon each and every week. Then there is Chicago Beer Pass with 160 episodes. Chicago Beer Pass is a weekly podcast about beer events in the Chicagoland area and Illinois. And then my video podcast is Hop Cast. This podcast isn’t recorded as often and doesn’t have a real schedule anymore but it is the longest running podcast. Ken Hunnemeder and I have been talking about beer for eight years and recorded over 285 episodes of this show.
I love the idea of podcasting, you’re able to take something you’re passionate about and share that love with the world. Each show I do has a different fan base but it doesn’t matter if one person is listening or thousands. Just the idea that someone cares about something as much as you do is enough. Podcasting is a form of storytelling and using the medium to help perfect that skill set is very important for me and the business.
JW – Special shoutout to Chris for being on Toon Talk Weekly Episode 86 to talk about his love for ReBoot!
Who are some artists / websites you admire?
JW – I’d be lying if I didn’t say I check Dribbble and Vimeo daily to see what talented folks are working on. I love simple, clean, and clever character design and animation and there is a ton of great work out there. A few favorites:
Ice Cream Hater
EB – All of those artists Jake mentioned are amazing. I also tend to lean towards bold, simple, sometimes crude illustration styles and love artists like:
Everyone in the Late Night Work Club
Follow the LooseKeys guys on twitter
If you did not spend the last 30 years on a uncharted island, you probably heard about this thing called Star Wars. A couple days ago the 7th episode came out and introduced to us BB-8, a new spherical droid. Right after being introduced in the trailer, quickly became a fan’s favorite and the fastest selling Star Wars toy.
I became a little scared that BB-8 was just an attempt to replace R2-D2 or to sell merchandising, but in the end his place in the movie was totally justified and it did gain my affection. I stumbled upon this free model of BB-8 online, that is pretty accurate and seemed like it would look great in motion.
The first step was to build the floor. It is a simple plane with a tiling sand texture on it. A noise is used to have some details and displacement gives the relief. An FFD deformer is then applied to slightly curve the plane and hide the hard edges. Finally, Signal is used to offset the texture over time, creating the illusion of movement.
Then, three layers of mountains are built using the default Landscape object. Two of them are repeating so they can loop while moving, and a third, distant one is static. By offseting the two first layers a parallax effect gives a lot of depth, and makes the furtest-back mountain look distant rather than static. Each mountain is being moved at the same speed as the scrolling floor with Signal.
The Parallax effect is reinforced with foreground objects, as well as a repeating fence between BB-8 and the landscapes, all being moved at constant speed with Signal. Here’s how it looks from a different angle:
Next, BB-8 needs to be animated. For that, 4 Signal tags are needed. One drives the body rotation using constant motion, one drives the up-and-down motion with random noise, one drives the head position and the last one the head’s rotation, both with random noise as drivers.
It’s now time to put all the elements together, and make sure everything loops correctly and stays in frame. To make the motion seem more dynamic, two more Signal noises are added to the camera’s position and rotation.
Then, the scene was lit using a directional light and an ambiant light, as well as ambiant occlusion. It was rendered in the Cinema 4D Physical renderer with both Depth of Field and Motion blur. Finally, color correction and lighting effects were added in After Effects.
I did a few couple of high quality stills, and added some grain in Photoshop:
And that’s it! All it took was a couple of Signal tags and built in effects to make this little guy come to life.
Motion artist and teacher, Colin Evoy Sebestyen has done something I have never seen before. He has posted his entire demo reel (shown above) as an open source project for anyone to download, play with, and learn from. Everything you see in his reel and in this post is available in a huge download of scene files, vector objects, and videos. So cool! I have learned a ton by opening up others’ scene files, and Colin gives us a ton of great ones to play with.
Colin also sent Greyscalegorilla this exclusive video (posted below) of him going through some of the project files to show you how they were put together and some of the thought that went behind making them. Thanks so much to Colin for putting this out for the community. Colin mentioned that you can thank him by following him on twitter, or liking his Facebook page.
Colin’s Video Walkthrough
Animated GIF Examples
Just as a painting you may own does you no good sitting in your basement unseen, your source files don’t do much backed up on a hard drive. – Colin
Computers are jerks and love to fill in the gaps linearly because they are lazy sacks of wires. A great animator/motion designer spends most of their days fighting computers to make sure they don’t mess this up.
In this presentation about designing with animation, Pasquale D’Silva goes through some great examples of how animation can be used to help design software interfaces. It’s a great talk about how animation can help make software easier to use. He also wrote this article that includes some great visual examples of these animation concepts in action. The best part… These concepts are great for ALL motion design. Not just software.
Also See… Guide To Keyframes In After Effects