With Chinese New Year coming up, I hope that everyone remembers to say NO to shark fin soup! Shark finning is an inhumane process that is incredibly wasteful, and decimates shark populations at really, really alarming rates. I don’t fear man-eating sharks. I fear shark-eating men.

Read up more here!

Tell Congress to ban the sale of Shark Fins

An estimated 100 million sharks are killed for their fins every year.

Shark Fin Soup is a delicacy in China and other Asian Countries. It is a soup that is flavored with either chicken or some other broth, since the fin itself has little to no flavor. The fin is primarily to add texture to the dish and because it is a delicacy. It is served at special events and can exceed $100 a bowl. The soup is often claimed to have health benefits, such as increasing your appetite, improving your kidneys, lungs and bones. However there is no evidence to support these claims and the reality is that shark meat is barely fit for human consumption. It has a very high level of mercury and the United States Environmental protection agency advises women and young children to stay clear of it.

Because of this dish, an estimated 100 million sharks are killed each year, primarily through a process called finning. Finning is where fisherman take Sharks and they remove the top fin, often times while the shark is still alive. Since there is no “use” and no profit to be made from the rest of the shark, there are thrown back to drown, since sharks cannot breath without having their top fin to aid them in moving through the water.

Because of this Shark populations have dropped between 60 and 90% worldwide in the last 15 years and most experts believe that many shark species will go extinct in the next 10 years.

The largest problem is that, the shark fin trade is a multi-billion dollar industry, which makes it a steep uphill battle to fight. One pound of dried shark fin can sell for $300 or more. While the fishing of Shark in US waters is Illegal, the sale and purchase of shark fins remains legal in the US. In order to protect many shark species from extinctions, we want the US Congress to pass a law outlawing the sale and distribution of Shark fin in the US.

Sign this Petition Now!
10 killer tips for better character animation | CG Channel
DreamWorks veteran Sébastien Wojda provides his expert tips for creating better character animation.

10 killer tips for better character animation

Monday, September 7th, 2015  | Article by Sébastien Wojda

1. Record video reference right

After deciding how to stage your character to maximize appeal and clarity, record video reference of you or a colleague acting out the shot. Make sure the camera angle is the same as in your shot, so that you know if the silhouette of the character will read clearly, and act using clear gestures.

While you’re recording, think about original ways to perform the shot. Do a lot of different takes, choose a few of the best, and use them as guides to film yourself again. This usually helps to get a clearer performance.

When you’re satisfied, import the video reference into your shot and synchronize it with the dialogue or audio.

2. Prepare your shot properly

Once that you have planned your animation, think about the controllers you’re going to use. Place the character’s global control in a position that enables you to use as few controls as possible. It’s better to use only translate Z to get the character to go forwards than to need to use both translate X and translate Z.

It’s also better to get the follow on the head set up in World mode, so whenever the character rotates its body, the head stays in the same position. This avoids the need for counter animation. It’s the same with the arms: set them up in Local mode only for physical shots, when the character is going to move a lot.

Use IK only for contact poses: otherwise stay in FK mode. It might be faster to block out a movement with IK, but it’s painful to deal with the inbetweens later in order to get the result to look believable.

3. Block out using step interpolation.

Based on your reference, block out your shot using step mode for interpolation (in Maya, Constant interpolation). Determine from your video reference which poses are key blocking poses, and try to place those keys on even-numbered frames so that it’s easier to add inbetweens and breakdowns later on.

4. Interpret the video reference: don’t just recreate it.

When posing the main keys, always remember which controls you used, and make sure that you always use the same ones so that you don’t end up with one control counter-animating another.Most of the time you’re going to have to exaggerate the poses to add more energy to your animation. Hide everything that could be distracting, like clothing, to really focus on the motion of the character’s body.

5.Get the order right when switching to spline interpolation

When going from step to spline interpolation (in Maya, Bezier interpolation mode), always start with the body’s translate Y control (up/down) in order to get the weight right. This is the most important requirement for a good animation. If possible, hide the other parts of the character – the head, arms and legs – so that it’s easier to focus on the main movements, then keep working on the body using translate X and Z and rotations.When you get the body moving in a believable way, work on the head with just keep the head and body visible; then the arms; and finally the legs. Depending on the length of your shot, work in small chunks: for example, 24 frames at a time. It’s easier to focus on small portions of the animation, and it looks less overwhelming. Always keep a video of the step-interpolated version of your shot to compare with your spline-interpolated version, and try to keep the same energy in the animation. 

6. Use shark fin curves for facial animation

For facial animation, it’s sometimes good to use a type of curve called the ‘shark fin’, which helps to simulate rapid movements, like those of the eyebrows and lips.

If you look at the image above, you can see the movement starts quickly (1) before slowing down, creating a strong attack. This also works well with the eyelids. I also like to stop a movement before continuing it again, as you can see between points (2) and (3), so that the timing of the animation doesn’t look too even.Every part of the face moves really fast, especially the eyes, so try to get their movements to happen in one or two frames; three if the spacing is really big.

(Click on the link above to see the last four tips!)

Urgent Action Alert - Shark Fin Trade Ban in Danger!

There’s been huge progress lately in the global campaign to end the shark fin trade. Now the National Marine Fisheries Service is threatening to reverse some of the most important gains.

You can take action by July 31 – and make a difference.

Eight states have enacted laws that ban the shark fin trade. Monterey Bay Aquarium was proud to sponsor  the California law that took final effect on July 1. New York became the latest to ban the trade in a bill signed last week.

All these state bans will be overturned if the fisheries service adopts a proposed rule declaring that  the Federal government, not states, has  sole authority to regulate shark fin imports.

This sends the wrong message  to countries that still target tens of millions of sharks each year just for their fins.

Your voice matters. Speak out now.

You have two days to tell the National Marine Fisheries Service that you want sharks protected and the state bans on the fin trade to remain in effect.

It takes three simple steps.

1. Go to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “Comment” page and click the “Comment Now” link.

2. Copy the letter below and paste into the Comments box.

3. Enter your name and contact information in the spaces provided’ then click “Continue”. On the last page you’ll have a chance to review your information before clicking “Submit Comment”.

Don’t let shark fin trade bans in California and seven other states be overturned!

Draft Letter: Copy & paste to save the shark fin ban

Kim Marshall

Fishery Policy Analyst

National Marine Fisheries Service

1315 East- West Highway

Silver Spring, MD 20910

Re: Proposed rule to implement the Shark Conservation Act of 2010—NOAA-NMFS-2012-0092

Dear Ms. Marshall:

I am writing to comment on the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) proposed rule to implement the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 (SCA). While I support NMFS’ effort to implement the SCA, I disagree with NMFS’ proposal to block states from implementing their own bans on the shark fin trade. This proposal would undermine efforts by U.S. states to protect sharks from the global trade in shark fins.

The Shark Conservation Act of 2010 addressed the landing and possession of shark fins caught in U.S. waters, but it did not directly address the trade in detached shark fins. Most processed shark fins sold in the U.S. are imported, and there is currently no global mechanism to trace shark fins from fisheries to markets. Thus, it is nearly impossible to determine whether a shark fin comes from a federally-managed legal fishery or was imported from an area with little or no regulation of shark-finning.

Over the past several years, several U.S. states, including California and New York, have enacted laws to address this gap in shark conservation by prohibiting the trade in fins. These laws are an important part of the global movement to reduce demand for shark fins, end the shark fin trade, and to protect sharks around the world.

NMFS’ proposal to block these bans would take away this tool and send the wrong message to countries that continue to target sharks for their fins.

If the U.S. is going to fully address the shark fin trade and continue to lead the world in shark conservation, we must allow states to regulate shark fins. Please preserve states’ rights to protect sharks by withdrawing all language in the proposed rule that would prevent states from banning the trade in shark fins. Thank you for considering my comments on this important matter.


This week and every week, we’re making a difference for sharks

Protecting the world’s shark populations is a top priority for our Conservation & Science programs, and it has been for years. We’re involved in field studies that document the migrations of far-ranging species like white sharks. And we advocate for policies to end the shark fin trade in the United States – and to keep sharks from being caught and killed accidentally in fishing gear.

Learn more about what we’re doing to help sharks worldwide.