How could I miss out the founders of 3D animation, the greats that are Pixar. I really am in awe of their work and the amount of skill and talent their animators and modelers (and whole team!) have to create such stunning and realistic characters, but more than that, they capture their movement and personality perfectly. A lot of 3D animations in my mind are rather sloppy and unthoughtful in the whole look and feeling of the animation and characters and environments, which is why a lot of people choose to see Pixar films or Disney films, regardless of the subject matter, as they know that the narrative will be well thought out and the animation will be done to the best quality there is, which is also clever branding by the company.
I thought I would focus on their Toy Story films, as these are by far the most relevant to this project (as it is focusing on toys!!), however all of their films are helpful to study and learn from.
In this video in the top left you are able to see the different processes that Pixar went through to create the final animation footage in the bottom right. I find it really useful to watch the different steps taken to get their work to the standard that it is.
This short documentary on how they made 'Toy Story' has some really good points about how to make animation in general, and stressed the point that their work is narrative driven, 'Story and the characters, that drove everything'. My favourite quote from this video is 'every animator is a toy nut, every animator is a child at heart, I think you have to be to work in this medium', which is why this is such a good module to start with, plus modelling plastic is one of the easiest textures to recreate on Maya. As well as talking about the story side of animation, they talked about how they made the actual animation, and the main points I picked up on personally was the importance of textures and how this can make the audience judge the characters personality before they even start talking or moving. I also found their advice on audio really helpful as they pointed out that 3D animation needs to have realistic sounds, as it is more realistic than 2D animation and you expect it to be more life like, rather than using comic sound effects which would take away from the medium.
Pixar also went on to create Toy Story 2 and then Toy Story 3, and this is another one of their behind the scenes video's which may be worth having a look at, if again you want to see the different stages and processes behind creating an animation feature film.