One is VFXPro. You will have to register, but it is well worth it. They have great articles on how certain movie shots were done and even one 4 page article on Monsters Inc, which I do reccomend to anyone, but especially animators.
The other is just a reminder that Ed Spark’s CAD library is now here:
FIRST Cad Library.
Most of the stuff there is best for CAD programs, however as has been mentioned here before, the IGES import into MAX rather well, just the are at the actual size of the part, so scaling and a fast computer will probably be in need. Then again, I AM due for an upgrade…
Just some thoughts I thought I would pass along:
Get started MUCH EARLIER! As soon as this one is over, start work on next one. Build your story, models, textures, camera movements, etc. over the year. Things can be much more easily changed to fit the new year and robot than created from scratch in a 10 week period! I am also more than willing to write letters to teachers on FIRSTanimators letterhead, asking them to allow students to borrow software over the summer to work. Usually they are kind enough to do so if they see you are really interested. Afterschool time to learn MAX is one way of showing it. I did that almost my entire sophomore year. I was a lonly sophomore…
Go through animated film DVDs - These things are a GODSEND! Shrek has magnificent storyboard walkthroughs and commentary, as well as “How they did that” footage. Atlantis is coming out soon, and there are many others already out (Like the Toy Story 3 Disc Set).
*Use them also for ideas on the development process! Like a way to set your storyboard up while it’s being worked on is using corkboard to post index cards with shots on it, this way shots can be easily reworked! Or like Jurassic Park, making a cheesy home video version to get a very rough idea of what your going for. Why spend time on something and then realize it wont work when you can spend maybe a day filming ideas simply and save yourself weeks of frustration!
This is an ART THING. It’s geeky too, but animation is, at heart, an art thing. You are creating art, so get artsy fartsy with it. Pick yourselves up a sketchbook and practice. Write and sketch every idea you have in it. Dont like the way you draw? So what. Thats technique and that comes with time. It’s the general concept, the idea that matters. I’ll have my sketchbooks at nats, from when I started to now and you’ll be able to see a big change.
Experiment early! There’s nothing like going to network render for the first time 3 days before it’s due, then realizing you dont know how to get it to work. Try a test scene now to keep grays off your head later.
If you dont succeed at first, Try, try, try again. I did this 3 years in highschool. I failed 2 years, but the 3rd was a charm. And dont forget to set your own goals for success. You are competing with a potential 650 other teams for a chance at one of 4 (5 if you’re a rookie) awards. In 2000 my goal was to achieve the most mechanically accurate animation, and I did so, with only myself to work with. I can share that animation if anyone would like.
Dont be afraid to ask a question. There is no silly question. Only perhaps silly answers. I’m known for those. But also make sure you read through the manual, or at least flip through it and try the MAX help dialog before asking a question. Usually the answer is there, but you may need clarification. And look at older posts. Try not to repeat any. There’s these boards here and the email forum at FIRSTanimators@yahoogroups.com. I can subscribe you if you’d like, just send me an email letting me know.
Hmm… I think that’s about it for now. Until I get a tutorial worked up. I’m still looking for that nework rendering crashcourse… But until then, good luck all and happy animating.