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Character Animation and Video Reference

Professional Workflow with Sarah Arduini


Video reference is fundamental to the planning phase of your animation and good reference is your road map. If your reference is poorly executed then your animation will be as well. In this workshop, Sarah Arduini, Senior Character Animator and Key Artist, will share the tools and process she uses during her daily workflow when creating video reference for films with a focus on the theory behind the practice. It’s really important not to rush into the animation.

Planning allows you to save a lot of time in the long run since you’ll have a detailed guide of all your thoughts about the project. In this lesson, an in-depth analysis will be done on the video reference highlighting the main poses, studying the timing, weight shifts, and stripping away all the unnecessary elements and preserving just those moments that count. Sarah thoughtfully explains all the important reasons behind every choice made and each process taken going from blocking to spline/polishing. You will learn the importance of video reference and the difference between the training and work approach.

Sarah covers tips on how to act in front of a camera in order to create a believable performance and demonstrates how to shoot your own video reference when none is available while choosing the right technical aspects of cameras, fps, lights, props, and so on. Using a wide variety of editing software, you'll improve the quality of your video reference outside and inside Maya and have a full understanding of the emotional wave of the sequence/story before shooting the video reference while thinking about the subtext. At the end of this workshop you will be able to make and use video reference as professionals do and have the ability to break down the reference to better understand the body mechanics & subtle nuances and craft a quick-yet-well done video reference that will speed up your workflow.

Duration: 3h 26m

Format: HD 1920x1080

Sarah Arduini

Senior Animator, Rainbow CGI

Sarah Arduini is a Senior Animator born in Rome, Italy. She is a self-taught artist driven by her passion for Disney and has made an impressive career in the film industry over the past 10 years. 

She started in feature animation and ultimately landed in VFX and has been working for some of the most famous VFX companies in London including MPC, Framestore, and ILM. Together with the MPC team, she won the Oscar for best VFX movie, Disney's The Jungle Book. Afterward, she continued the Disney wave with Beauty and the Beast, joined the Marvel team for Guardians of the Galaxy 2, then finally reached the world-renowned company Industrial Light & Magic. There, she helped give life to the Supreme Leader, Snoke, in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and to the genetically modified dinosaurs in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Her latest success was reached with the role of Key Artist at MPC for The Lion King. Sarah is also an academic guest speaker and teaches Character Animation at an Italian university.

  • Video reference is the secret ingredient to great animation and Sarah’s course is a must for anyone wanting to learn or enhance their art and craft of character or creature work. Drawing on her talent and personal experience from some of the most challenging VFX films, Sarah will teach you to effectively use video reference to bring a new level of believability, realism, physical weight and acting performance to your work. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

    - Chris Hurtt
    Animation Supervisor at Framestore film

  • Sarah Arduini was one of the best animators I had the pleasure to direct. Her sensitivity, professionalism, and attention to detail were impressive. Despite her high-level animation and acting skills, she´s always eager to learn and pass on that knowledge, which makes her unique and reliable. Definitely an artist one wants as part of the team and hopefully as a director one day.

    - Miguel A. Fuertes
    Animation Director

  • Sarah is a talented animator with a firm grasp on the subtle complexities that make a shot sparkle. Her characters exude a liveliness and appeal that almost seems effortless.

    - Ted Lister
    Lead Animator at ILM

  • I had the pleasure of working with Sarah on a number of projects at MPC. The most recent being Disney's 'The Lion King'. Sarah is a driven, passionate and most importantly, a talented animator that has contributed greatly to all projects she has worked on. Having the eye for animation gives Sarah the ability to give constructive, insightful feedback. I look forward to working with her again.

    - Mathieu Walsh
    Lead Animator on "The Lion King"

  • Sarah has a wealth of experience, having worked at some of the top VFX houses in the world. Her friendly, approachable nature makes her a great choice for a Gnomon workshop.

    - Keith Ribbons
    Senior Animtor, ILM