Thursday, November 12, 2009

New website almost ready!

OK, so with great emotion I have to announce the creation of my official website:

The site is almost functional, the only thing missing is my demo reel, which I should be finishing soon. The rest is pretty much done. There are some changes I want to add, like for example, the biped laying in the first page does not change. I'd like it to change to a different pose depending on the page you're watching. Also, the name pages are not good, since they do not have a real name (go to the "Resume" section and check your URL bar to see what I'm talking about). That's because I used the website builder from my hosting provider, which is not that good.

Anyways, the site is running, so if you have any question or comment or idea on how to change it (for the better ;)) then drop a comment!



Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New website coming!

I'm very excited to tell you that a new website is coming!

I decided that I must have my own space on the internet, with my name and all. My current site ( has serve me well over the course of one year, but now it's time to move on. It's time to start spreading my name as artist over the internet, and leave the a.k.a. "Kron Khal" behind.

I've started with this blog... The name of the blog has change to "Ricardo Ayasta Animation Blog", which makes more sense and over all, it will appear in the first page when you google my name (this blog is in the second page of the search).

Considering that my final version of my demo reel will be ready in the next week or so, I need a place to put it, and a place with my name makes more sense than a place with my alias.

Anyways, I'll keep posted when I have everything set up and running with my new website. I hope I can only add (in some way) this blog to my site so you don't have to change windows between my blog and my site.



Saturday, October 3, 2009

My First Demo Reel!

The time has come, and I've delivered my first Animation Demo Reel!

The video below shows my best work so far, though I'm currently working on something else. Maybe later this month I'll update it to a newer version, with more animations and some minor fixes.

I had this video ready for CGCON in Montreal, where I had the oportunity to let the guest speaker, Kenny Roy, give some critiques on it.

Enjoy it and let me know what you think!

P.S.- I uploaded the video on Youtube, but it cut the audio off. Anyways, you can find it here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

3D Studio Max not "undo-ing"

In the past, I had a problem with 3DSMax (version 2008 in particular) where I was working normally and suddenly, when I pressed the undo hotkey (Ctrl-Z by default) it went back 20 actions (or more), not the last one. Sometimes, it didn't undo any action at all! This was specially critical when animating a biped, when in some cases I had to restart Max several times a day to make the undo work.

I made a research on the internet but couldn't find a solution, neither enough documentation about the problem itself. So, I decided to try some things on my own. First I thought there was a script doing some nasty things, but since some of my friends had the same problem without any custom script running on their PCs, that cause was automatically discarted. I also heard that increasing the number undo levels will correct the situation. Nope, it didn't. I set the number of undos to 150 but the undo still stopped working.

Then, I looked at the processes related to 3DSMax that were running in the background. And I found this little process called raysat_3dsMax2008_32server.exe. Again, I couldn't find much information about it (I believe it's used for render farm capabilities) so I decided to stop the process and see what happens.

The picture above shows the 3DSMax process in the Windows Task Manager.

Bingo! Since then, the undo is almost always working. It's been almost 3 weeks since I discovered this solution, and the undo stopped working only 2 times since then. This is a considerable improvement taking into account the previous 3 to 5 software restarts per day I had to do.

A couple of tips related to this issue:
- To kill this process, first right-click on the clock in the Windows task bar (the bar at the bottom where the "Start" button is) and select "Task Manager". From there, look for the process and press the "End process" button.
- In 3DSMax, a good way to find out if your undo stack is still working, just right-click on the undo button in the main toolbar. This button is located to the most-left of the toolbar, so you might need to scroll it to find it.

So, if you're having trouble with the undo, follow this procedure. I think this problem is not an issue anymore in 3DSMax 2009 and above, but I'm not really sure.

Have fun!


Monday, September 7, 2009

My entry for the 11 Second Club competiton - August 2009

I was waiting for the results of last month's competition to post this entry here. As some know, I entered last month's 11SC animation competition, and I have to say I felt different kind of feelings when I saw the results. To be honest, I was expecting a much better score, since I felt I improved a lot since my last entry.

Here is the animation I submitted:

As I said, I feel I'm improving as an animator, and the whole idea that my score was lower than my previous entry was really discouraging and disappointing. Discouraging basically.

However, checking all the entries on the competition, there is really a ton of good work! I can say that my entry (in my opinion) is better than some that got a better score, but again, I remembered that this is an art form, and as such, it's subjective to the poeple viewing your art. Some will like it, others will love it and a bunch others will hate it. So that helped me go through the mix of sensations I felt when I saw my 130th place (over 188).

What did I learn from all of this? First, that I improved! And I am improving, no matter what a score tells me. And I feel happy about it. Most of all, I feel proud of it. Second, I have some problems choosing my acting choices. I read somewhere than a huge part of an animation is not how you animate a shot, is what you decide to animate. Acting choices, especially in a competition like 11SC is very important. And I feel that I'm falling in very cliche poses. That's something I have to learn. But most importantly, I learned that my animations still feel floaty, weightless and somehow unnatural. And THAT is what I have to attack first.

Learning how to give weight into something that has no weight at all is not an easy task. But I also learned (some years ago in fact) that no task is impossible. So I'm currently working on it now.

I'd love to enter September competition, but I'm still not sure. I'm doing small tests for my demo reel (which I'll have to do in the next month and a half), walk cycles and stuff like that. Basic stuff actually. I have to learn those before getting into more complex things like acting. Anyways, if I decide to enter, score won't be a way of measure my progress as an animator.



Sunday, August 16, 2009

Gimbal Locks!

OK, so working on my 11 Second Club animation, I stumbled across one problem: Gimbal Locks. What are those? A good explanation can be found here.

What I understood about them is that a Gimbal Lock occurs when two axis meet each other, i.e. they have the same orientation. Check the link above for a better explanation! :P

Anyways, what should you do when you have them? You can find a lot of information about how to avoid them, but what about when they are already there? Well, I found two ways around this problem.

The first one is to switch from IK to FK. This is the first solution I came up with. However, it can be a VERY tedious process. The second solution will work better during the first linear pass or during the blocking process (Gimbal Locks are another good reason to do the blocking in linear, since in stepped mode you won't be able to see them). You'll have to copy ONLY the ORIENTATION key from the previous key to the key that is screwing your nice animation. Get it?

OK, an example. Let's say in frames 40 and 50 you have these nice poses on the right hand. However, the way the hand goes from frame 40 to 50 defies human mechanics by far. Check the following video for an example:

What I did was to copy the orientation key from frame 40 to 50. Once you do this, you might have to adjust the new orientation in frame 50, but that's far more easy than switching from IK to FK. Another complication is that all the following orientation keys will be screwed up. But no worries, the time you'll spend repeating this process of copying on orientation key to the next one and readjusting is not that bad, and the animation will look far better. Oh! and do NOT copy the other keys (position, scale, CAs, etc) since it will (badly) mess up you nice pose.

OK, this are my two cents in this subject. I wanted to write about something else, but I forgot.

C U next time!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

11 Second Club August Competition!

After not being able to find a good, creative and funny concept for the 11 Second Club June's competition, I decided this month is a go! I've been blocking my scene last week in stepped-mode, and today I moved to linear.

To be honest, I must be doing something wrong, because I find passing from stepped to linear way too complicated. I'm feeling I have a better understanding of timing if go directly to linear and avoid going through stepped. As I said, it must be me, because everywhere I read it says the same thing: workflow is stepped-linear-spline.

The first time I entered the 11SC I worked on linear from the beginning, but I make the mistake of trying to emulate the stepped mode through linear tangents. What I mean is that every pose was duplicated, marking the starting and ending pose. As you can imagine, it didn't turned out well. Now I've realized that when blocking in linear, you still have to keep in mind that the spline tangents are coming next, and linear and stepped are two different things (Duh!).

Anyway, next month I'll do the whole first passes in linear (taking into consideration my latest discovery) and see what I get. For now, you can find my postings on this month's competition in the Youtube link below.

Actually, here is my first blocking pass:

As you can see, I've done a bad staging. When you see the video, your eyes go back and forth between both characters, when they should stay focused on one of them (the one to the right in your screen is the main character, the other one is Charlie).

I recognized two mistakes here: The secondary character has poses as strong as the main one, if not stronger. Second, both characters share the same amount of space in the screen, making it difficult to recognize which one is the one to see.

I fixed this (I guess) by:
- Adjusting the camera, putting in the center of your screen the main character, and Charlie more to the left.
- And changing the poses on the secondary character
- I'll still try to play with the lighting and the colors of their clothes to increase the attention on the main character.

In the next playblast, you'll see that when the main character is talking, Charlie is doing nothing. And when the main character is not talking, Charlie is doing his "thing". Let's see how it goes. I still have to do the playblast on the second pass, but I'm still adjusting my now-linear curves.

Stay tuned!


Friday, August 7, 2009

A new animation!

I've just finished a new animation... It's the Roboball in disguise! :P

I animated Tyson Ibele's Roboball ( for my Lights ans FX class. I think the end result is good, though the animation is extremely fast since I didn't had much time to do the rendering. The whole animation is 240 frames, and each frame took about 10 min to render, so I had to put everything in the less amount of frames as possible.

Here is the video! I hope you like it and leave a comment if you have any critique.

And thanks to Tyson for the rig!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New badge!

OK, so I just added an Animation Mentor Badge at the end of the page.

I'm not a student, but I'm considering taking the course in a couple of years. As I read in a post, the right moment to get into Animation Mentor is when you feel you are not improving anymore, when you feel stuck as an animation artist and you can't find the advise you're looking for from your peers.

I haven't reach that point yet, I'm only at the beginning of the path. But I might be there some day, and because of the work I've seen from the students of AM, I wouldn't hesitate to subscribe myself.

Anyways, the badge is there! :P

I have to keep going with my skinning for my "Skinning" class. :S

C ya!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Some intro words...

A year ago I was working for an engineering company, but then decided that it wasn't for me. At least not for a lifetime job. I did a 10-year projection of my professional life and I didn't like what I saw. Same job, same desk, same thing. No way!

So, my passion for movies and video games took me to a journey to the 3D realm, where I thought modeling was my dream profession... Until I hit the "Intro to Animation" course.
It completely change my life! Just the whole idea of bring a character to life burned my mind and took it to a new level. I think it was probably on a the few moments in my life when I was completely sure what I wanted.

I decided to follow the "Animation" path and that's the reason for this blog. I want everybody to know what are the pros and cons about this career, and view it from a "newbie" point of view.
You can find a lot of blogs online about how to do things right, for sure! But what about how NOT to do them? Well, you might find it here. Since I'm learning (as everybody, I guess), you'll read new discoveries and ideas about the problems I encounter along this hard but fun road called ANIMATION!

So, I hope you have fun and I be of some help.

New Blog!

Hello everyone!

I just realized that most of the blogs I read come from the Google Blogger service. I use to have my blog in my website ( but I compare it with the Blogger service and my web provider does not have an option to subscribe to my blog (other than bookmarking the page, which is not bad, but not what I wanted).

So, I decided to change. Now, if I happen to write something interesting, you will have the option to subscribe to my blog. Good, eh? I will keep the blog on my site for now, I'll decide later if I keep it permanently or not.

Enjoy and have fun!