The Variety Artisans series is a collection of interviews that explain how all the stuff at the core of telling a story in a movie format works. This particular one is about the Oscar Ballot Guide: Animation Character Design, where you will learn the major points of making a character the audience will want to follow and become friends with. If you enjoy this one, you may want to watch the entire series.
I have sat through a lot of tutorials about how to do things in a 3D CGI modeling and animation software package before, and this one just made me grin. Jay Johnson has a kid who had an animation project in mind, which he shared with his dad. Dad installed the full free DAZ Studio Pro software suite on his computer, the child beat on it for half an hour getting nowhere, and gave up in frustration. Jay then showed his kid how to use the software to make his project come to life in about 20 minutes, and he reports that two days later the end result was amazing according to dad.
That event caused Jay to assemble this 20 minute Quick-Start Guide for DAZ Studio Pro, paring the process down to just those components needed to get a project started and come up with a final product. Mind, he did jump to the various library segments that he knew held the components needed for the specific project to hand, so you can expect to spend a bit of time looking through each area for the building blocks required for yours. But the important part is the way he trimmed back the process to just the bare bones required to complete the task. Follow that process, and save your work often under incremented file names so you can go back to any step of it later. Once you get the first one built, you can go back and tweak any aspect of it to your hearts content until you get it perfect, but this tutorial should help you get started (and finished) a lot quicker than you expected to.
This is another excellent tutorial from Small W Studio with a Halloween slant, because the topic this time is Film Noir. He covers a number of different aspects of the CGI 3D animation process, but the two I got the most out of were resources and techniques for building the set, and using lighting to set the mood. The later is particularly important for Noir, since it is all black and white, and what is in the spotlight or in the shadows helps advance the story, not just create the atmosphere. This particular tutorial was created for the Reallusion iClone software suite, but the principles and most of the resources will work with any 3D modelling and animation package you have. That includes free projects like Blender and DAZ, so don’t think you have to pay an arm and a leg to get creative and make your movie.
If you like working with 3D animation or scenes, you should stop by the NASA 3D Resources site. They have a number of 3D models there free for public downloading and use, including the Shuttle, the ISS, and the Hubble Space Telescope. Another good resource is SciFi Meshes, where a community of model builders upload and share their work. 3D Total has a number of free models and textures, as well as a series of tutorials for creating your own.