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Alex Cervantes

The animation and the bike

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The animation and the bike

I still remember when my father taught me how to ride a bike, we were in my chalet, I will never forget it. Over the years I perfected the technique, I not only opened wounds in my knees, but also in my head, and I went everywhere with my bmx, trying to emulate the BMX Bandits until one day I fell madly in love with cinema and cartoons. I left the bike little by little and I locked myself at home to draw and animate in the corners of the pages of all the books I could find, starting with the school books and ending, literally, with a new encyclopaedia that my parents bought for themselves. I never understood that slap in my face, the animation of the kame was awesome!

La Animación y La bici

In 1997, after working in some studios, I decided to set up my own studio, Hampa Studio (at that time under a different name), and fuck up other people’s books. Since then my life has revolved like a zoetrope, always around my great passion, hobby and suddenly, one fine day, my job.

As expected, the working days were at least 12 hours long, holidays were just enough (falling dead face down in bed and lifting my face from time to time to be able to breathe), and weekends were the perfect time to be alone in the studio and to advance my work. In front of my family and friends, it wasn’t an obsession, it was my job, I had finally become a responsible guy, but in reality I felt like the psychopath who joins the war to have an excuse.

Before setting up the studio I was really cool, (independently of my hours drawing and dodging my mother’s trainers), I had a pretty active social life, travelling, going out with my mates, playing videogames, going to birthdays, training, going out at night, the odd car crash, complaints from the Guardia Civil…, the usual stuff.

I forgot all that because of my great dedication to my profession and my desire to tell stories. Besides, I also tell you that the documentaries about the big studios didn’t help much, the more I knew about them, the more I worked. What? John Lasseter was sleeping under the table while he was working on his first 3D project?! Well, I’m going to sleep under the table at Ikea. If John does it and look how cool “Cars” is (joke for those in the industry!), then I’ll do it too!!!

Then I found out that the guys from Pyro Studios, when they were making their first videogame “Commandos”, spent a whole year without leaving the studio. Well, let’s go… to set up a 15M in the office, let’s not say it!

Then came the death of Steve Jobs and I thought that… there was no need to imitate everything.

La animación y La Bici

This is not me, this is John Lasseter when Steve Jobs caught him with his feet on the new table.

As the studio grew, my social life and my classic brown skin were falling into a downward spiral. But for me the most important thing was still the studio, and that’s how it has been until this year, when, looking back, I realised that no matter how hard I have worked, no matter how hard we have worked like beasts, the studio has been growing at the pace it needed to grow. We’ve had bumps, successes, failures, successes, problems… I still haven’t been able to make the film I want to make and it hasn’t been influenced by the fact that I’ve been cloistered between computers and light tables, with my underpants like muffin wrappers.

Now my working hours… are still not only 8 hours, let’s not go crazy, but they are no longer 12 or more. I take my daughter Leia (I know, I know! …we’ll get to the geeky stuff another time) to school every day, I get home early in the afternoon to go with my wife and my nanny to the park with her friends from school and at weekends I enjoy my family, my friends, a good bike ride and sleep (that last thing I do so well, I’d say it’s what I do best).

Finally, with all this I have come to the conclusion that it is not by working more hours than the clock that I am going to reach the top. What you have to do is focus your efforts, take your time to choose good stories to tell, keep your eyes open to everything that happens in the sector (which you can’t do when you’re totally exhausted), don’t be afraid of failure and, of course, take advantage of good ideas and opportunities without blinking an eye.

So… I encourage all of you who are starting out in this sector and are crazy enough to set up your own studio. Be very brave, but don’t go overboard (we know each other!). Take a rest. When you are working, do it to the death, but don’t leave your life outside of work to one side. I’ve been lucky, because my people are still there, but with a behaviour like the one I had, no matter how much you have become Pixar, you will be left with nobody, and that’s when you will have had the biggest failure you can have in this life.

By the way…., all this talk I’ve given you was basically to tell you that on Thursday afternoon I taught my daughter to ride a bike. I’m happy because it’s something that she will never forget… and neither will I.

Alex Cervantes

What is more difficult? Do 2D or 3D?

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Which is more difficult, 2D or 3D?

I’m often asked: “What’s more difficult, to make 2D or 3D?”, almost always referring to budgets and timming, with the classic comments, such as: “Surely it’s cheaper to make 3D, because it’s done by computer”. (We, in the studio, have a button that says “pixar films”, you press it, choose the theme and you get a beautiful film!) The other usual comment is: “2D is much more complicated to make”. If you’re someone in the industry and you’ve worked with both techniques, you probably know the answer, but this article is for some of my colleagues outside this world, who, knowing that I work in animation, every time they see me they ask me how I handle “…that comic book thing”. The first 7 years I was still trying to explain the difference. For the next 13 years I just tell them that my most personal work is Watchmen and that they can find it in the Fnac! I let it out and …. hey, I educate them a bit at least!

INTRODUCTION

Well, let’s go back to 2D and 3D for dummies. The basic difference between these two animation techniques is that 3D animators animate virtual puppets while 2D animators animate by drawing. Obviously the production processes are different because the method itself is different, but in essence they are exactly the same. And if we were to talk about stop motion, which I don’t know anything about, I’m sure it would be very similar. Next day I promise to interview Sam, from Conflictivos productions, and Pablo Llorens, from Potens, who are the best exponents of stop motion in Spain. (Note to my friends: these are the ones who are dedicated to “comics”, but in plasticine).

(Yes, I know…! I could have used a more modern image…), well people! this is now done on Cintiq, very cool screens for drawing and it saves you paper and annoyance.

On the right screen you can see the controls (synoptic) to manage the expressions of the characters.

IS IT FASTER TO DO 2D OR 3D?

In my experience with Hampa Studio productions it is exactly the same.2D Preproduction consists of preparing Story, Concepts, Colour scripts, Character design, Props and Backgrounds, Animation test, Animatic and Layouts.

Whereas, in 3D it is all this, plus Modelling, Textures, Shaders (materials) and Rigs (skeleton of the characters and props). This makes 3D pre-production much longer, much more technical and much harder.

However, when it’s time to animate, the process is “very fast” in 3D, “only” consists of posing the character, pulling him like a doll (blocking) and smoothing the intercalations (polish or refine, each one calls it in a different way, in fact those of one side and those of the other meet at night to stick each other, well this is not true, it only happens in my mind).

The one who is hitting is of the “Polish” tendency, the one who is dodging is clearly of the “Refine” tendency.

2D ANIMATION PROCESSES

In the 2D technique, the first thing is to make the Animation (key drawings), then the Clean-up of these key drawings (that is to say, to clean them so that the lines do not vibrate and it looks nice), later the smoothing of the animation (Intercalation), then Clean-up of these intercalations and finally ink and paint, which is to give colour both to the fill and to the contour lines (something optional, but I recommend you, if you want to propose to your producer to paint the lines of the characters, you should go to talk to him/her with one of those suits worn by the tedax, if you want to stay alive). All this drawn frame by frame by several different hands, with the difficulty that this entails, (although not for a friend outside of this, that when she was in the studio and saw the light tables with the drawings, she told me “ahh, but you trace, that way it’s super easy!) Well, except for her :/, for the rest of mortals the problem and the danger of 2D with big equipment is to go away from the model of the character (just look at Beauty and the Beast, there are shots that show beauty and in others there is beauty’s distant cousin, who is seen to have come to visit or something).

Here we can see a clear example of how much fun Bella and her 45 year old cousin are having.

CONCLUSION

So, in the end, 3D and 2D, in terms of time and costs, are the same. Yes, it is true that in the final steps of production 2D is lighter, since 3D needs lighting and rendering, but on the other hand in 2D the backgrounds have to be painted by hand with their light and colour, something that also takes a lot of time.

To give you an idea, at Hampa studio it cost us the same to make Margarita (2D) as The Shadownsters (3D), in terms of time and budget, although in terms of Almax and Omeprazol we spent more on Margarita, to be honest!

Alex Cervantes / Ceo – Director / Hampa Studio

Green light for “Los Zurf”!!

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This August we start our new 2D animation series Los Zurf, a series created by Gallego Bros. and Hampa Studio in co-production with À punt media, which will premiere the series in the Valencian Community in 2019.

We can’t say much yet, but we can advance that Los Zurf is a peculiar family “from outside” that has to coexist with the citizens of a small coastal town, where the culture clash will give rise to many gags and entanglements.
The scripts will be provided by Cesar Sabater, screenwriter on some of the Hampa Studio’s projects and Director of Paella Today.

It is a family series with a Mediterranean taste that we are sure will entertain young and old.

We will continue informing 😉

Animation is not for you

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ANIMATION IS NOT FOR YOU

Animation is the most wonderful profession in this world, the closest thing to being God that a job allows, because we have to give life to inert and invented beings.

zootopia_blog_hampa_studio_animation

Although it does have some downsides. It’s not a very serious job, it’s very demanding, you have to work long hours, it’s not well known by the general public, you have to study constantly, you don’t earn a lot of money (compared to other jobs in the audiovisual sector), it’s not a job that gives you enough stability to go crazy about, and finally, it’s very difficult to put down roots somewhere. It’s the classic job that every parent would try to keep away from their child.

There are many animation schools that, in view of the summer, are going to launch their next promotion soon.People, this profession is totally vocational, if you are one of those students about to take off in the world of animation and you have entered this sector looking for stability and money, animation is not for you!, you have made a complete mistake, but hey, don’t worry!, from Hampa Studio we give you a brief guide on how to last four telediarios in this sector and so you can get to work in the Mall or as a stock boy in the supermarket. (I don’t know if they are better, but of course they will always be more stable jobs than ours).

Please follow these points, don’t leave any of them out and start saying goodbye to your animator career.

1 – Don’t be humble

You must always think that you are the best in the world and that you know everything.

It is always frowned upon the airs of grandeur and even more so coming from juniors. Please take out your pride whenever you can, if you don’t know how, watch a show like Women and Men and vice versa…, it always helps.

People will start to make fun of you… Perfect, we’re on our way!

2 – Have little respect

We spend more time in the studio than in our own home, therefore, try not to show any respect for the work of any colleague (whether in the animation department, lighting, production… or whatever). The less respect you have, the less good vibes there will be, the less creativity will flow and the more it will be noticed in the final result, and we kill two birds with one stone because, having created bad vibes, the work will have suffered, the viewer may become bitter towards us and probably the studio will not be able to get any benefit from the production.

If you try too hard at this point, the crew leads will start to suspect you of being undesirable. Good, good… The first part of the plan is finished. Don’t worry, the next few points will remove all suspicion from them!

scar_lion_king_hampa_studio_blog

3 – Have little enthusiasm

Another very important thing is: have NO enthusiasm for what you are doing. If you are working on a short film, a movie, a series, a spot or an animation cycle for a video-game, no matter how small or how big the project is, you have to hate what you are doing, and you have to show it!

Whatever we’re doing is going to take a lot of time, we’re going to be working long hours, sometimes with a lot of pressure, nerves, weekends, etc. The best thing you can do is, to all this, add constant complaints and a bad attitude so that everyone else catches it and ends up just as burnt out as you are.

Come on, cheer up, you’re doing great, the atmosphere in the studio is starting to get a bit stale 😉 and I’m sure the supervisor has realised that you’re the classic bad apple… great!

4 – Be selfish

Selfishness is the quality that will sink you in the world of animation. Be selfish with your time! If you need to spend more hours in the studio to finish a shot, don’t do it, fuck them! There’s nothing more important than your free time on the couch.

Be selfish with your work! If by order of the supervisor someone has to finish your plan, for whatever reason, don’t accept and immediately apply point 1: YOU are the fucking master, and nobody is able to finish that plan better than you.

If you have to take someone else’s shot, be a diva and say that the shot is a mess and you have to redo the whole thing, and of course you don’t have time (Mario Bros is waiting for you at home). Animation is generosity, do the opposite.

If you’re still in, the atmosphere in the studio is starting to get a bit stale and people are getting tired of you…, you’re hitting the nail on the head! ;).

the_good_dinosaur_hampa_studio_blog

5 – Be a bad partner

Our partners are our family, try not to help them in anything and less when they are in trouble.

At some point, a creative block may cause you to miss your daily or weekly goal. As you have not helped anyone, no one will help you, and therefore you are ready to apply point 4: go home and fuck the shot, maybe it will do itself. Don’t forget to tell this last point to your supervisor. He’s going to love it.

Ok, you’ve already pissed off the supervisor and all your colleagues…, this is going great!!!

6 – Never be self-critical

Don’t watch any animation, don’t look at what people are doing out there, they’re all shits. That mentality will help you to quickly get out of any studio that you step in.

If, for whatever reason, you don’t even get fired…, please, don’t forget to reinforce that behavior with excuses like: “of course, with time it can be better…” or “with what Pixar’s people charge, that’s the way it is…” etc.

If you have reached this point and have not yet been fired, you are very close, you just need a little patience.

7 – Be uncomfortable

When it’s time for daylies or reviews, you have to be very defensive. It is the perfect moment to bring out your character. There’s nothing better to get the shit kicked out of you than being uncomfortable, making bad faces, making bad gestures or having defeatist and defiant attitudes when they are explaining a retake to you.

Please don’t forget to have a bad attitude so that the supervisor will consider you impossible.

8 – Bring your overgrown ego from home

When facing a retake or coming up with ideas, you have to defend your own idea to infinity. Even if you see that what they are telling you works better, NEVER admit it. Argue as much as you can, to the point of exhaustion, if possible.

Animation is a team effort, but you think you are Cristiano Ronaldo and move on. You don’t need anyone.

Probably, if by any chance you’re still going, the supervisor will pass you by and they’re giving you minor shots to keep you entertained while they look for a replacement (a monkey with a keyboard) before kicking you out.

the_incredibles_hampa_studio_blog

9 – Don’t be interested in improving, what you know now is more than enough

Never have the spirit of self-improvement. A good friend of mine, Jaime Maestro, says that “when an animator faces an animation he has to think that he is doing it for himself”. Don’t pay any attention to him, think that you are doing it, you are doing it for filthy people who are taking advantage of you, stay stuck and fuck the others!

If they haven’t found your replacement yet (because the zoo is closed), they will have already made you the most absolute vacuum, both colleagues and management…. Super cool, we are very, very close!

10 – Don’t be proactive

Each project has its own characteristics and, sometimes, you have to adapt to the time and resources available, but do NOT adapt, say that what you are asked for is impossible and that’s it. Do not consider other possibilities or think of alternative solutions. Think that deadlines don’t go with you, pass them by!… and as it is most likely that you won’t make the date, say “…that’s just not the way to do things…”.

At this point, I don’t even think they expect anything from you, in fact…, it would be a miracle if you were still in the studio. But don’t slack off, apply this point mercilessly, so that people will hate you to death. Try to hide pencils and other sharp objects, what you want is to be kicked out, not to have your heart cut out and set on fire.

11 – Don’t contribute anything

When you are given the briefing for your plan, do what you are asked to do but do it mechanically, don’t contribute anything, don’t interpret or bother to understand what you are being asked to do and why you are being asked to do it. Don’t do your part.

This is the last point. With this I guarantee that you will go “out the front door with both ears and tail!!!” or in the “accident and crime” section of the news.

hades_disney_hampa_studio_blog

Well, these are the 11 most important points so that your career as an animator begins and ends almost the same day and so you can prepare yourself well for a public competitive examination, and have a more stable and secure job. And in your free time don’t forget to post in the animation forums, saying what bastards the studios and production companies are. Do it day in and day out, lest some clueless studio wants to hire you back and you have to start all over again.

Alex Cervantes

Director – Hampa Studio

The Shadownsters on TV!

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Ruutu+  is a famous Finnish pay television, it is the first one that trusts our series The Shadownsters, from Hampa Studio, we are very happy to announce that it is already possible to access the chapters through this television.

If you live in Finland, you have small children, and you have your back bad from the loading the ice, stay at home, put Ruutu + and do not hesitate to enjoy this series, which will help the little ones to face their night fears.

Kindly Note: The Protagonist of The Shadownsters name’s is Solomon, the Finns have renamed it “Samuli”

Alex Cervantes / Ceo – Director  / Hampa Studio

The monsters come to the study

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The monsters come to the study.

 

In Hampa Animation Studio we know that monsters arrive. The study is that it does not stop. The arrival of the monsters to study is imminent, it can not be avoided. Therefore, we do not know if these monsters are good or bad, but we are sure that they come here to stay.

At this time, we can present to some of the monsters, one by one, so that you go staying with them. But be careful, there are 104. Will you be able to remember all the monsters of Hampa Animation Studio?

Alex Cervantes /Ceo – Director / Hampa Studio

Margarita (The Short Film)

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Margarita, inspired on Rubén Dario´s poem, is a lyrical short film where music, poetry and color fuse together to bring to life the story of a young princess who leaves behind her extraordinary life to follow her own dream.

It’s a journey full of hopes and dreams for all those brave people who want to shine and follow their own star.

Awards and Selections:
• Animadrid
• Animacor
• Animac
• Goya (nominados)
• 5th Athens AnimFest.
• I Tirant Avant
• Animabasauri-Animabasque.
• 14 Festival La Fila de Cortometrajes.
• Festival Internacional de Cortometrajes de Torrelavega.
• SICAF 2010 Festival de animación de Seoul/Korea.
• NAFF 2010 / NEUM ANIMATED FILM FESTIVAL 2010.
• Animamundi 2010.
• 15° Festival Internacional de Cine para Niños / MÉXICO.
• 7ª Muestra de Cine de Lavapiés.
• 8º Festival de Cine de Ponferrada.
• 5ª edición del Corto Festival DUNAS Fuerteventura.
• 6to Festival de Musica de Cine de Úbeda (Premios Jerry Goldsmith 2010).
• II Festival Internacional de Cortos de Gines.
• Sapporo International Short Film Fest. and Market 2010.
• 7th edition of ANONIMUL Int. Independent Film Festival.
• 26th Warsaw Film Festival.
• 21st Sao Paulo International Short Film Festival.
• La linterna Mágika.
• Muestra de Cortos el Tormo.
• Chicago International Film Festival.
• Festival TOFUZI / Best film for children.
• FIBABC / Festival iberoamericano de cortos ABC.
• Mostra de Valencia.
• Leuven Short Film Festival.
• Animasyros 3.0.
• 11th Totonto Latin media arts ALUCINE.
• Cinema film festival St. Louise.
• FICI (International Children and Youth Film Festival)
• Festival Quartmetratges

Markets:

• 3D Wire

Un cortometraje de Hampa studio, con colaboración de:
• Ministerio de Cultura / ICAA
• IVAC
• RTVV / Radiotelevisión Valenciana
• Banjo Music
• RecLab
• AIDO
• IndigoMedia