My First Animation Short

THE SHORT:  "Flor de Otoño y el Vuelo de los Cisnes"


In 1999 I was in my last year at the art school and I started to think about my possibilities about getting a job related to my artistic studies.
That year I found a flyer about a 3D Animation course and a ray of light brightened my face. I spent all my savings, I bought my first computer without any idea about computers and I enrolled to the 3D animation course, only on Saturdays, because it was the cheapest option.
The first thing I did was to buy some books and magazines about computers and Windows NT because it was a new world for me.
Computer specs: Pentium III 500 Mhz, 64mb RAM, graphics card openGL 64mb, CRT monitor 17 inches.

The course wasn´t about animation. It was only a brief review of the main processes of building a 3d character and move it. Maybe just the 5% of the whole 3d program (it was Softimage 3.7).
We had to do a short between two students. I joined Santi, a guy who had a cool idea for a short and I decided to help him building the dancing man character and the set. He spent a couple of weeks modeling the head of the dancing girl and one day, as many others, he decided to abandon the course and the short. At that point I had my character fully modeled and rigged, ready to animate.

We were 15 students at the beginning but just 2 finished the course. I couldn´t imagine to abandon, so the course was so expensive for me, and I decided to redo from scratch what Santi did (barely a very improvable head) and I added new ideas and a different ending to the short.

I did a new concept of the girl character and I started to build everything.

These are the concepts I did for the two characters.

At that time I had no internet, so I had to find other resources for references and learning.
When the characters were modeled then I had to paint them , but I had no idea how to do it with the computer so I did it the only way I knew.

I bought a scanner and I used it to scan the textures I painted with watercolours and some colour pencils.

Once the pictures were in the computer I textured the 3d models (This guy on top is my first 3d character, before that, I did only the classic bouncing ball).

I modeled all the characters with nurbs spheres (was the only way they showed me in class) and sometimes it was a bit tedious to get a good projection of the textures.
A few weeks later I bought a couple of magazines with 3d tutorials of Softimage and some CD's included came with demos of programs and basic utilities. I learned how to model with polygons and some other basic tricks.
I have to say that without these magazines and some photocopied tutorials that I had, I couldn't go forward with the short because the 3D course was unproductive. This is how I discovered Photoshop and Premiere.
I bought a book about these programs (was easy to find in the book stores) and I learned how to paint and manipulate images and how to do a cut with sound.

Me, drawing some storyboards.

Final characters modeled and textured

The lovely Softimage 3.7 interface

The animation process was pretty tough.
I animated the characters with constrained locators or directly from joints. I never touched the animation curves because I had no idea what those were for. I had to animate frame by frame all the contacts of the feet because I did not understand why they were moving between keyframes.
The month of July was intense. Animating until 3 or 4am. To view a playblast, without doing a render, I could only do it in wireframe, I did not know that I was able to view it in a different way. The truth is that I barely knew nothing, I had no animation tutorials or references or anything, just my imagination and intuition.
I had a deadline to send the renders at the school, make the final cut and dump it to VHS video tape.
I needed a copy of the short in VHS to show it to people, there was no dvd's and my computer could not do anything more.

When the animation was completed I started rendering all the shots with mental ray (I didn't used it before). I did not do any color correction or compositing work after the renders (I had not idea of any compositing program so far)  I burned a few CD's with all the stuff and I went to the school where I did the final edit with Premiere (I added a making off on the credits) and after a couple of days I got two copies of the short in glorious VHS Tape. It was the 11th of July of 2000.

I was quite happy to be able to show the short to my family and friends. I was satisfied.
I just had to start moving it.


Fortunately, a good friend of mine, who worked as 2d animator at a company in Barcelona, warned me that they were collaborating with a cool company and maybe they needed 3d artists for an upcoming television series made with Softimage 3d.
I decided to personally go and deliver one of the two VHS tapes that I had (with covers and labels) and I attached some printed pictures of traditional art work as well.
11 months after I bought my first computer I was knocking on the door of one of the best companies of digital creations in Barcelona.
After a few weeks I called them. They really liked the short and my 2d art so they said I could go the following Monday to do a five-days animation test. They wanted a test with a guy jumping and running on the roofs of some buildings and I had to do the models, rig, animation and render. This is what I did with an old Silicon Graphics:

I passed the test and I got the job. I spent 2 years in that company and I became a pro, thanks to that short.


I am a CG Artist specialized in Animation who also loves storytelling and all the creative process.
I have been working in almost all the disciplines in the CG industry since 2000 and this is the place where I share all my works since my beginnings before the digital age until the present.

LAST UPDATE: Aug 05 2023