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character » Yekaterina Satanina
Jul 122015

And no, not the kind of breakdowns that we all had during the making of!


Nora and I (surprisingly? or not surprisingly) had no thesis breakdowns over the course of our senior year. I am extremely grateful for her as a partner and as a friend in the process. We made a silly movie about companionship, old people, and epic sword clashes. Nora was the co-director, producer, rigger, animator, and troubleshooter. I was the lead TD, co-director, animator, and compositor. Most of my my work was focused on modeling, set dressing, and shading – for both characters and environments. If you get excited about wireframes, definitely check out the project page of Brothers in Arms. There are plenty of wireframes to be seen.



Oct 082013

I’m getting better at rigging. You’d think I’m being funny, because I just rigged a simple little flower petal, but I’m completely serious. Rigging is not all that scary anymore.


Little Petal is ready to go! Later this week I’ll be putting together a 3D animating, figuring out timing, setting up cameras and shots and all that good stuff. For now, here’s a quick animation test, just to prove that this works:

Moving right along.

Fun fact: it’s 2am and the appropriate 2am music is hip hop and reggae from the early 2000s. Getting very nostalgic about my Brooklyn childhood here.

Oct 072013

This weekend, RIT had its 2nd annual AniJam competition. 53 people from 17 teams came together to create short animated films in 24 hours. There were just three requirements:

  1. Create an animation
  2. Follow the chosen theme
  3. Finish in 24 hours

I was especially adamant about the last one. Mainly because last year my team got disqualified for submitting 3 minutes late.

From 12:30 on Saturday afternoon till 12:30 on Sunday, we cranked out work in the lab. It was a great time. I teamed up with my friends Nora Rogers, Sarah Talbot, and Deanna Giovinazzo (all wonderful 3D folks) to create our interpretation of “When the door opened.” Look at us, all happy and hyper at the beginning:


And, actually, we stayed at fairly constant levels of energy and efficiency throughout the night!

Our film will screen with the rest at the end of the semester. There will be voting and prizes.

I worked on a multitude of things, from storyboards to modeling, rigging, and animation, to final editing and compositing. Here are some screen shots of the parts that I animated:





We used the Morpheus rig for the adult character. However, we did model and rig our own. Meet Marty!


Marty is a mind-boggling combination of cute and terrifying. And that was the goal.

Spoiler alert: at the end of the film, his eye slides off his face. Oh yes, we had fun. AniJam 2013 was a success.

Aug 282013

After a summer of work, a summer of reasonable sleep schedules, a summer of daily cooking and sunset walks, comes a semester of more films. As my friend Sarah said, “All aboard the Struggle Bus!” This semester’s film is called a “big quarter” because we are in denial that semesters are here and quarters aren’t.


Here’s SQUEAK, a short film about a little flower petal. Yes, a flower petal. The petal travels a great distance and learns that sometimes unfamiliar and strange things can be friendly, and even become family. The film also subtly hints at reincarnation, but that’s too much over analyzing.

The story starts in a beautiful summer forest full of wild flowers…


… then takes the audience to a sunlit meadow…


… and inside the old little house.


And the events unravel from there!

Here is a rough model sheet of the characters. On top are the dust balls, and on the bottom is the protagonist Petal.


This film will, indeed, be heavy on modeling. Environmental modeling. I’m excited for it. To allow myself enough time for creating the sets, I kept the rigging and animation to a minimum: the dust balls are just spheres, and animating Petal will be like animating a flour sack. I have 15 weeks this time. Big quarter big quarter, go go go!

Apr 082013

It has been a week of blocking and animating. It has also been a week of crazy weather, after which, it seems, spring has finally come. The sun is back. I’m melting. This week I recorded voice, and finally got to see Gorynya move. Let me tell you how happy I am to be finally animating…

This happy.

Here is a short blocking and lip synch test. Looks like I’ll need at least one more blendshape, on the lower lip, to help with the lip synch.

The password is: CakeTest1

Still working on the overall look of it, for both the character and the background. I tried several different outline techniques for the 3D geometry, but none of them worked to my liking. There’s still plenty of time for experimenting, though.


Also, on Friday, I slept for 15 hours. 15 hours, guys. 15 hours. I am not proud of myself, for having slept so much and for having gotten myself to the point of having to sleep so much. Does that make sense?

Week 6 coming up, everybody. Week 6. Let’s go.

Mar 292013

He is not pleased with you.


In other news, my blendshapes are done! Tomorrow I paint weights, at last. The day after tomorrow I have to bust out a 3D animatic. I have to, I must, I will. I don’t have a choice.

And for now: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foster the People, vanilla apricot green tea, and experimenting with textures. Sounds like a Kat-worthy Friday night.

Mar 242013

The title – get it?? Haaaaa! Ha ha ha ha. Ha…

So, yes, today I finished the rig.


My favorite part? Making the NURBS curves controls into all kinds of fun shapes!

I’m a bit proud of it, because it’s my first character rig, made with the help of tutorials and the advice of my wonderful mentor, Piper. So far it seems to work.. but, of course, we won’t really find out until I start animating. I will only be using the top half of it for my film, but for the sake of practice I rigged the entire dragon – legs, tail even the wings. As it turns out, rigging isn’t all that bad! Granted, this is a really simple rig, but the principle of them all is the same: problem solving. And, hey, when you understand how it works, it’s fun! This much fun:


And that’s just a basic beginner rig.

In addition, I finally drafted up some expressions. Now, these are not blendshapes – but the blendshapes will be based off of these faces. These were fun to draw, and they’ll probably be even more fun to make!


Lastly, fun fact: I don’t even like cake. Too sweet. Make me happy with a pie, preferably apple pie.

Mar 162013

On my way to the lab today, I looked down at the concrete sidewalk and thought, “Bad topology…” I’d move that vertex over there. I’d delete that edge and cut the polygon here instead. Sad thing, I think this on a regular basis when walking on those concrete paths. A friend of mine asked me if I see wireframes when I squint at something. Of course I do. It’s my superpower.

Power-labbing is the weekend tradition these days. Take off your shoes, plug in the headphones, laugh at the struggles of the renderfarm. Today, someone’s render job was so heavy and complicated that one 4-frame chunk requeued 33 times and the job was scheduled to be finished two months from now. We had a good laugh. Hey, we have to entertain ourselves somehow!

I finally finished the model of Gorynya’s body. The more I model, the more I enjoy it. Possible craft track idea for senior year? Perhaps. We’ll see. For now, here he is:

modelScreenGrab01modelScreenGrab02 modelScreenGrab03

I am fairly happy with how he turned out. I learned some good things about topology through this process. Also, throughout the film, he’ll be sitting down – hence the bent legs. Oh, painting weights will be so much fun…

Here are some more thoughts about the look of the film. I love the style of old Russian illustrations, their level of detail and their line work:


¬†Obviously, I will not be able to recreate this exact look in my first attempt at a 3D film. However, I can borrow some ideas. I like the flat textures color fields and the uneven outlines of these paintings, and I will try to incorporate a similar aesthetic into my short. Coincidentally, a professor recommended this link in one of my classes: http://keithlango.blogspot.com/2010/02/squiggle-line-tutorial.html – and this tutorial may be my answer. Upon some more investigation, I realized that if I succeed in implementing this style, I can significantly cut down on animation and save myself a lot of time. Good plan? Good plan. I’ll let you know how it goes!