Artist Q&A Feature: Liam Lynch

We recently got the chance to chat with musician, writer, director (and puppeteer) Liam Lynch. You may recognize his name from projects such as MTV’s Sifi and Olly show, Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny and his hit song United States of Whatever. Check out our Q&A with Liam, where he talks about his career so far, advice for young artists and his extensive use of Poser.

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Featured Artist Liam Lynch

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

A: My full bio can be found on the “About” page on www.lynchland.com. I’m a writer, musician and director in Los Angeles CA. I’ve created, written and directed for television and feature films. I’ve also made music for television, feature films as well as having a top ten hit myself in the UK and Australia.

Q: How did you get into illustration / animation / graphic arts?

A: I had created, directed and acted in my own series for MTV in the late 90′s into 2000. It was a puppet show called Sifl and Olly. It was a daily show. When we would make them, I would do all the puppeting myself. We’d shoot 40 shows all at once for a season, so I would be puppeting for over a month straight. All Day, everyday. I developed carpal tunnel in my hand and wrist from hold awkward poses while puppeting to camera. After the show ended on MTV, I still wanted to make short videos and have fun with characters, however, I knew that puppets would be too painful and I needed to give it a rest. I wanted to teach myself animation. I started with Lightwave and did learn it to a degree but it was just so complicated and not character centered. That’s when I found Poser. At the time, it was Poser 2, I think. I was able to teach myself how to use it and my first time using it was to create a video that was a part of Tenacious D’s live show. As time went on, and my skills and the program evolved, I started mixing myself shot on green screen, into the Poser scenes I had created. Now, with Poser Pro 2014, After Effects and Final Cut, I am able to do camera moves and make even more ideas come to life. It’s fun to be able to just create or simulate any idea I have or would like to see.

Q: What industry trends are you a fan of and why?

A: Industry trends? I don’t really know. I do like interactive stuff though. I would much rather play a video game than watch a movie. Now that gaming is so advanced and amazing looking, movies seem so passive. Some of my favorite cinematic moments are from games. Gaming was another big influence on my teaching myself 3D animation.

Q: What has been your biggest challenge as an artist / animator?

A: Some of my challenges come with my ideas…I will think of something I want to make and it’s often something kind of out there or weird. I jump right into it and then realize… “How in the heck am I going to do that?” so every single job I do is something I haven’t done before. That leads to always doing new things and challenging myself but it’s also a constant state of feeling lost and without a technique. You have to use your own ingenuity and really know your programs to achieve shots you are visualizing. So I guess the biggest challenge is myself. Trying to create processes and planned out procedures to things that are often subconscious.

Q: What has been your biggest success?

A: I don’t know. I have a top ten hit. I’ve written and directed feature films and TV shows… but those aren’t what I’d consider success. I have also had several viral videos that blew up on YouTube. I find making stuff on YouTube far more satisfying than for networks or studios. The money isn’t…but the freedom always is better. I guess my biggest success is just not limiting myself as a person/artist to the types of things I make. I didn’t corner myself. That has a downside too because people aren’t sure how you utilize you when you’re all over the place. They want you to be good at one thing and use you for that one thing. When you give yourself more freedom, you can become harder to define, but still, I think giving myself creative freedom no matter how it could effect my career is my biggest success because it’s good for my soul.

Q: Where do you see the comic / animation industry in 10 years?

A: I definitely see more NON animators having apps and programs that allows them to animate using tracking from phones or webcams or Xbox Connect type devices. I think that just like cell phones have turned everyone into a photographer (good or bad) that technology and games are going to let more and more people animate. I think 3D model makers will have their hands full.

Q: How would you describe your job as an artist / illustrator?

A: I think I’m a jack of all trades in some ways and some people bring me into projects as sort of a creative swiss army knife. I’ve worked as creative consults on jobs and it’s awesome when someone trusts my opinion or ideas. I also love comedy and music and animation and so I really love to blend all those three things together. My YouTube channel shows a lot of examples of my fun home experiments.

Q: What advice would you give to young / up-and-coming graphic artists?

A: Keep making stuff. Finish everything you start. You can’t get better until you keep making stuff and practice. With every animation you make, you realize something you’ll do the next time. When you make something, always put something in your way that you don’t know how to do. It’s the only way to learn and increase the size of your tool box. You have to challenge yourself.

Q: What Smith Micro tools do you use, how do you use them and how have they affected your workflow?

A: I use Poser Pro. I actually have Poser Pro 2010 and 2014. I still use 2010 because it allows you to output movie files with alpha channels and 2014 only allows still images or image sequences with alphas. I not only use them to create videos for clients and myself, but I also use Poser a lot in the storyboard phase of productions. It’s a way for me to simulate shots and show crew my ideas and get everyone on the same page faster. I’ll block out shots and frame sizes in poser and make movies that I can show people I’m working with. It’s instant understanding that way and everyone knows what we’re making together. I also use it to figure out shots and timing for music videos. It’s been a big help for me in that way. Even when I made the movie Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, I often simulated the scenes in Poser and then would send small quicktimes to the effects department as rough examples of timing or framing. So for me, Poser also gets used as a sort of moving rough storyboard where timing needs to be seen as it plays and not just static still like a traditional storyboard that doesn’t give you an exact sense of pace.

Thanks to Liam Lynch for taking the time to share his knowledge and experience with us.

Check out these videos Liam created with Poser and be sure to head over to www.lynchland.com for more:

 

 

Tenacious D – Rock Is Dead (Directed by Liam Lynch)

The Sweet Electric – A Hero Only Tries (Directed by Liam Lynch)

Anime Studio 10 Celebration Sweepstakes Winners Announced!

Congratulations to Tiffany Urena, Evan Kester and Michael Wright! They have been chosen as the winners in our Anime Studio 10 Celebration Sweepstakes!

We’re thrilled to announce that Tiffany Urena is the first place winner and will receive the Wacom Cintiq Companion valued at $2,499. Evan Kester is the second place winner and will receive the Wacom Intuos Pro Medium valued at $349, and Michael Wright is the third place winner and will receive the Wacom Intuos Medium valued at $199.

Thank you to everyone who entered the sweepstakes and for helping us to celebrate the arrival of Anime Studio 10!

AS 10 Sweepstakes Prizes

What’s Your Process for Creating Short Animations?

Whether you’re a first time Anime Studio Debut user or a seasoned animation pro, we thought you would enjoy this infographic about the steps to making a short animation.

animated infographic

Infographic Credit: Jeca Martinez

 

As many would agree, creating animations of any length can take a great deal of time and energy. First, you’ve got to get inspired to come up with a story or character. Then, you’ve got to sketch, storyboard and actually design the thing – we know it can be a time consuming and sometimes tedious process to get your perfect final edit. As well, keeping momentum and optimism up as an animator/illustrator in this competitive industry can be difficult, but it’s the love of animation and endless creative possibilities that keep us going!

So, what are the steps you take to making an animation? We’d love to hear in the comments! We’ll share our favorites on Twitter or Facebook. To inspire and motivate you, we’re including the graphic below! “Do or do not”….you know the saying….

how many times should you try

Infographic Credit: Anna Vital

And hey, Frozen, the highest-grossing animated film of all time, made $1,097,338,890 at the box office, so get to work. Your next idea could be a hit!

Reality 3 for Poser: How-to? Learn from the master!

If you haven’t seen some of the remarkable images rendered using “Reality 3 for Poser” to LuxRender, then you must live in a cave; not that there’s anything wrong with living in a cave. If you’re finally venturing into the light and are curious how you too can create uber photorealist images from your Poser scenes, check out these two free tutorial videos from PretA3D, the developer of Reality 3 for Poser.

Looking_up

The formula for this level of ultra-realism is pretty simple. Use any recent version of Poser (Poser 9, Poser 10, Poser Pro 2012 or Poser Pro 2014), get a copy of Reality 3 for Poser for only $27.95, then watch these two videos. In a few hours max, you’ll be a master photorealist too!

 

What will you create? 3D Printing

3D printing has potential, plenty of promises and no shortage of hype. From our point of view, there’s a Poser angle for sure down the road. Think about creating a set of custom chess pieces from Poser figures, or printing an armor clad superhero in chocolate, or even prototyping your own ball jointed doll design. A quick search online turns up remarkable stories like how a 3D printer has reconstructed a face or been used to ‘print’ human organs. If you really want to make a hit on the home front, here’s a clever idea. How about using Poser’s Faceroom to create a 3D model of your significant other in chocolate and giving it to them next Valentines Day?

The tools are getting better. The printers are coming down in price. Today, there are even service bureaus to help transform just about any piece of 3D geometry into a water-tight 3D printable object. Check out a few of these links below to get your creative juices flowing.

3D-Printer

Photo Credit: Floris Van Breugel

Share your thoughts on the future of 3D printing with us on Facebook or tweet us at @SMSI Graphics.

Artist Q&A Feature: Byron Wilkins

This month, Byron Wilkins, owner of TR-1 Studios, creator of web comic 1977 The Comic and Manga Studio artist, shares his experiences in the comic industry. In his video interview, Byron provides insight into current industry trends, influential artists and career successes and challenges.

Follow Byron on Twitter @TR1Byron. Connect with us on Twitter @MangaStudio or Facebook.

Smith Micro March Madness Sales (Digital Artists Edition)

These sales have expired. To learn about our upcoming offers and product launches sign up to our email list!

Spring has sprung which means dusting off those goal lists and finding new creative inspiration. In case you need some motivation to get those new projects started here’s an overview of our top March promos that will make achieving your creative goals totally affordable… Hurry, all offers expire in March!

…We can’t wait to see what you create!

SMSI March Sales

Sock Puppets Come Alive with Darice Partnership

Darice is our new Sock Puppets partner! Darice distributes wholesale craft supplies, including Sock Friends Puppets creation kits. This means that your favorite Sock Puppets characters can take center stage on your app or your hand.

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Photo Credit: Smith Micro

Check out the Sock Puppets personalities on our free app and the Sock Puppets complete version or buy the Sock Friends Puppets creation kits. Better yet, help your kids create sock puppets adventures on the go with an app and then put on a full-fledged show at home for friends and family.

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Photo Credit: Smith Mirco

 Let us know what you think by leaving a comment, sharing on Facebook or Tweet us at @SMSIGraphics.

5 Tips to Get Your Kids Animating

1. Use what you have
If you already have animation software, great use it! If this is a new undertaking for you, try Anime Studio Debut or Sock Puppets.

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Photo Credit: Smith Micro

2. Explore the content libraries of animation software
Content libraries have great templates that allow kids to easily and quickly put together a scene with characters. This is especially important in keeping kids motivated – they can experience the joy of creating with minimal effort and time.

Fireworks Party

Photo Credit: Smith Micro

3. Work side by side
Staying close to your kids while they work is great for answering questions and giving tips. Plus, seeing your work will give your youngsters an idea of what they can accomplish if they stick with it.

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Photo Credit: Indiegogo.com

4. Observation can inspire
Getting outside and observing natural movement, color, patterns and texture can help refine kids’ sense of movement and background environments.

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Photo Credit: Wallpick.com

5. Watch your favorite animated shows
Finally, watching your favorite animated shows can help kids learn how to incorporate transitions, texture and technique into their own work.

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Photo Credit: Elecktrokami.com

Note: A tablet might be a worthwhile investment; animating with pens and brushes can help your child create in a more natural and less frustrating manner than having to use a mouse.

Photo Credit: Wacom

Photo Credit: Wacom

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