Friday, December 26, 2008
This is Dee. He's going to star in my BFA thesis project which will be completed next year.
Obviously Dee is based on myself in that he understands the rules before breaking them (he's a "hacker" in the same way that MacGuyver is a "hacker" - finding alternate ways to use stuff). He's an inventor and tinkerer and has a dirigible made out of the old, unwanted technologies from the past.
I'm still hammering out the story, but I have a character and the message I want to convey.
Also, I've scored a minidisk player/recorder. Apparently, technology likes me; My older brother ditched it because it was broken (I managed so MAGICALLY fix it!). I guess I just have that special touch with machines!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I was going through my old stuff when I found this file. It's the first ever appearance of my "Oh Noes" characters in any of my cartoons (and probably my first ever FINISHED one).
Yes, it's tweened.
Yes, it's based on real events.
Yes, it's a timeless classic. I hope. It still applies to me today (THIS WEEK EVEN!)
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
pose to pose in 3D? Madness. These are the contact/up/down/passing positions for a walk.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Not to sound like an angst-ridden teen, but the motivation to keep going on dwindles with each week. Charles Schulz was depressed his whole life, right? I guess that makes my problems pale in comparison.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Any comments would be great.
Things I already know:
Stickwalk: Lift the back heel up more to make it look like it's pushing off, and it needs more up/down.
Sexy Walk: Needs more up/down, legs pop a little, it just doesn't look like she's walking!
Crazy Eye: I need another traceback of the mouse's blink frame in the first 48 frames
Thursday, October 9, 2008
And it looked GOOD. Before now I thought layering was the only way to do 3D animation, but this pose to pose stuff is more up my alley, given my "traditional" background.
And speaking of pose to pose, I'm coming to realize how much of a crutch it is for my hand drawn stuff. My spacing is absolutely terrible still.
....at least I can still work from pose to pose by hand :[
Friday, October 3, 2008
Yes, he's Russian. I have no clue how to pronounce his last name, but his first name is Andrei.
Here he is autographing my sketchbook, looked on by my animation professor and mentor, PGA:
Apparently, thrusting a sketchbook and pen into the hands of an artist if the universal sign for "sign please!"
He doesn't look like a guy that stirred up much trouble, but apparently the Soviet secret police loved his work so much that they took his first film and locked it up for 20 years and then sent him off in the marines for two years (check the bottom of the post for the video)
These films were screened tonight:
SO TAKE NOTE! Timing is timing, no matter what culture you're talking about. I love the fast pace of these gags. I also love the fact that Andrei first screened this in the motherland when there actually WAS a butter shortage (due to distribution problems).
The other films they screened tonight were more... experimental...
One of the things I'm told is that Eastern European animators are REALLY good at subtlety. There are some very obvious symbolism in here... but if you were asked by the powers that be, it's just about a guy sticking his furniture inside his amoir because it IS!
A warning for the next film (2 parts): It's weird. It's trippy. It's cutout animation. There might be more than one reason why they locked this film up and sent Andrei on a military adventure:
yeah, it's weird and I love it.
I just wish I could speak Russian so that I could've conversed with this guy. My head's stuck in Hollywood right now and it'd be great to hear the other side.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
So now I ain't got the flo' no mo'.
Also, I watched a deliciously terrible movie last night, Enter the Ninja (Hulu.com plug goes here). It has some pretty terrible fighting and acting in it, but for some reason it amuses me to no end:
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
As it turns out, I almost never made it to New York this evening.
Our ride bailed out at the last minute, leaving me scrambling to find ANY way of getting down to the MoMa. I'd gone through far, far too much trouble to let something as silly as a lack of transportation impede any sort of effort to meet one of my personal heroes, so I was going, no matter what, but I was a little unnerved that the trip that I had been planning for the past two months started falling apart over just one weekend.
Frank (undergraduate art director) gave me the name of a hotel in Chelsea that was "cheap" ($100/night) and I was about to dish out $80 for a bus ticket to NYC when I called up my parents to let them know that the plans had changed. I don't think the phrase "They tried to dissuade me from going" accurately describes how they felt about me going into NYC alone.
"Jerry, how important is this for you?"
On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say about a 15.
My mother (hour and a half away) kindly offers to drive (the 4 hour trip)- with a car, two others from the UMass Animation department can go, so it might have worked out better this way anyways. I owe my mom big time on this (although I did empty out my wallet to pay for the gas). Again, I have to stress that this trip started out as a 15 man expedition, and the final count was whittled down to 3.
I will admit that I turned some heads whenever I mentioned that we had come all the way from Amherst, MA. Most everyone in the room was either a New York animator or an NYU student (I think), in any case, most everyone there was local.
Audry (left) and Carolyn (right), both people full of awesome.
We got into New York at around 5:45 and we jumped out of the car (my mother would meet up with us later) and walked to the MoMa. Tickets were sold out, but thanks to my persistence the past couple of weeks, we managed to grab the last seats in the house. We had front row seats, in fact. I was sitting next to a gentlemen who had known John Canemaker before his animation days, and in front of me in one of those odd lone seats was a gentlemen who was a producer, scuba instructor, and had worked on Tron (sorry, I lost your cards! I think my seat ate them).
at 7:00, the lights dim and, for the following two hours, I was in almost a zen like state of enlightenment:
When Dick was introduced, John Canemaker described him as one who sucked the skills and talents of the Golden Age masters as if they were tasty lobsters, and now, having mastered those skills himself, he, too, was a tasty lobster that we could nibble on for the next two hours.
this is actually us all applauding two other animators who worked on the Raggedy Ann and Andy Musical Adventure film.
I don't know if I can do justice to what Dick Williams and John Canemaker said over the course of the evening, so I won't try. I will say that, for someone who holds such a fountain of knowledge (and KNOWS it), Dick Williams is a very, very down to earth guy. At no point in the talk did he say "MY WAY IS BETTER! DO IT MY WAY BECAUSE I'M THE BEST!" but rather, I was given the sense that he was the selfless mentor that wanted to help everyone learn the Principles, not because it's the best method of doing character animation, but because he loves the medium so much and he wants to share his passion with others.
If you read up on his history and if you know how many times he's been ripped off and abused by those with money and those who control the industry, it's a wonder why he's not bitter and angry with the world, standing on a soap box shouting "BEWARE! DON'T THROW YOUR LIVES AWAY!" Instead, he's out there encouraging budding animators like myself and pointing us in the right direction.
Being so far removed from the industry with absolutely no connections, the Animator's Survival Kit is a godsend. Between this and Illusion of Life, this is pretty much all I've had as a link to the animators that are my inspiration, and the ASK was the first book that I've read that really broke down motion and life for me.
If you're reading this, Thank you again, Mr. Williams.
Dick looks very tired (hopefully my exuberant smile makes up for it)
Otherwise, I did manage to meet/talk to John Canemaker and Chris Wedge:
I told John Canemaker that I blamed him for giving me my dreams.
I made sure to thank Chris Wedge for making Horton Hears a Who so different than any other 3D film I've ever seen.
And I gave Richard Williams a hand written fanboy letter, and I even crumpled it up for him.
All in all, I'm am one very happy guy right now. Sleep deprived and completely screwed for classes today, but still, very happy.
MAJOR POINTS OF ANIMATION TECHNIQUES DISCUSSED:
-Best producers = ones that bring you booze and leave you alone (Blake Edwards, Chuck Jones)
-Don't go from A to B (expected route)... go from A to Z then to B.
-The more you undertand about reality, the funnier you can make your action
-do NOT go to hollywood for funding
-The best animators can hide frames in their sequences that are unseen, but draw attention and life.
-Learn the rules (the principles). Then throw them out the window.
Friday, September 19, 2008
After 3 weeks of calling them and asking around, being put on hold and getting no answers, I FINALLY reach someone at MoMa who's in charge of film tickets. Just in time for Monday's Richard Williams + John Canemaker extravaganza. But that's okay- last week I would have ordered 15 tickets, but now I only needed 5 tickets for the UMass animation department. That's 2 other students coming along; I'm excited to know that I'm not the only one nuts about character animation around here.
I need to come up with a list of questions to ask these two guys. I'm not sure how many people I've told this to (HORRAY INTERNET SOAPBOX), but Canemaker's book, Nine Old Men pointed me out to the window, and then William's book Animators Survival Kit taught me how to break into it. Or, at least which rocks to use. I haven't broken the window yet, but I will, one day, provided I get my rock throwing techniques perfected.
But for now, I need to concentrate on how to make a good impression on two personal heroes.
Monday, September 15, 2008
this will hopefully be going in the lower right hand corner of the UMass animation reel I'm helping to build. Any feedback would be nice (the missing part is the title/artist/year the piece was done in, but you can figure out where that stuff is going)
Week 3 of school is starting and I'm already getting stretched thin. I reached a new record for how long it takes for me to draw a pose today- 45 minutes tweaking a single frame of Jane. It's not even a difficult pose, I think I just suck at drawing. Gentlemen, let this be an example to you of why you should make a character model sheet before attempting to animate. What should have been done last week is taking me forever and I'm not even a third done with it. I'm struggling to much Flash that I'm wondering if it'd be faster to draw and scan in all the poses (honestly, I can't draw on a tablet for crap)
Sunday, August 31, 2008
This is what I feel like whenever I leave for Amherst.
I also saw I am Legend tonight; I loved the beginning (not so much the ending), but one of the things I really like about that movie is storytelling without hitting the viewer over the head with it; instead of explaining what's happening flat out, they leave a bunch of small clues as to what happened before. Which means that some frickin' telepath in Hollywood read my mind years ago because that's how I was going to build up a character for an animated feature I hope to make eventually.
I also managed to find a way to hook up an old VCR to my computer; last night I enjoyed the old Raggedy Ann and Andy "Musical Adventure" from my youth. Did you know that Richard Williams did that? I didn't. I usually don't say "style" too often, but after watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Thief and the Cobbler, I was completely taken by surprise because the acting and the animation didn't match the styles of those other films.
Apparently Art Babbit and Eric Goldberg worked on that too.
I need to find an animator from the golden age that's still alive so I can latch onto them and sponge as much knowledge as I can from them. My attempts to at least send Ollie Johnston a thank you/fanboy letter fell through last spring. And then he died a couple weeks later. It's funny how all the people who's work I idolize die around the time I'm learning about them, or how they died shortly before I started studying their work, as if this process of learning is sucking the souls from their bodies. Should I stop before every animator drops dead?
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
So I shall squander it on asking this question: Where is Chris Sanders and what is he doing? Last I heard of him, he was working on an amazing project called American Dog (currently Bolt) when he was effectively axed by John Lassiter. While I agree with Lassiter's judgement that a 1 eyed cat and a radioactive bunny isn't exactly... Disney... I hate to see such a great concept and such great characters dumbed down to its current standing.
So I know where Bolt is heading, but I haven't heard about Mr. Sanders at all. I really hope he does find another studio to push his unique and ediger style.
fun fact: Flash does NOT like large image files (or 30 of them). I was crashing every 5 or so minutes because of this until I decided to just use placeholder graphics for the high res images and boy, has my life been easier.
Wow, I'm an idiot. A quick google search turns up his site:
Apparently he's working for Dreamworks now. I can only hope he's got more artistic freedom over there. Am I dumb for hoping that he's going to help steer Dreamworks in a non-Disney direction?
Friday, August 22, 2008
1. I need glass. A big ol' pane of glass. Glass is very expensive, and I don't have any money
2. A lack of proper equipment. Ideally, I'd like to hook up an SLR camera to a computer on a dolly to keep track of the shots, but all I have is a point and shoot camera.
3. Did I mention the lack of money? I need lighting equipment and a green cloth to green screen (who would have known that those green bedsheets in the closet weren't the right shade of green/ don't provide enough contrast?
So now I'm completely selling out and I'm just animating this in flash with PICTURES of sausages. I can already tell right now that this isn't going to look as organic or have as much charm as a traditional frame by frame animation is.
....on the plus side, hey, I can at least eat the sausages now.
Monday, August 11, 2008
...for sketching of course! There's a lot of good action poses in them there events!
Otherwise, for those of you that constantly visit, you'll have noticed something new up top. That will hopefully go towards helping fund my college education. So, before anyone says it, yes, I've sold out (although when I first put it on, the first ads were "Pixar" "MGM" "animation" and "cartoons" so it's not looking to be THAT bad)
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Gentlemen (and I do use the term loosely), I welcome you to Blunderland Studios (AKA my messy room at home.)
Since I don't have a 35mm film camera and plastic cells, this scanner/printer does it for me. Only it doesn't fit my 12field paper completely :[
I, for the life of me, cannot flip Cartoon Colour white bond paper. I have no clue why; the paper just clumps up and either doesn't flip or 5 or 6 pages flip at once. Perhaps the ability to flip paper is the hallmark of an experienced animator. I suppose I'll have to just stick with rolling until I develop this talent.
As a judge for the Albinoblacksheep Tournament of Flash Artists contests and as the occasional reviewer on Newgrounds (sometimes I'm the only actual REVIEW out of hundreds), I've often wondered where my place is in reviewing other people's work. Who am I to point out an animation error, or a that the timing is slow, or that the cartoon needs more work?
Should the viewer have any say about a final piece of work? This question's been bugging me for a couple years now. Most forms of art, say, like something you find at the Museum of Modern Art, or anything hanging up in a gallery in the Chelsea District of New York or in Province Town, is usually untouchable, as far as criticisms go. Even in my art classes, if something was painted or drawn a certain way, it was that way for a reason. In this case, I find criticisms and critiques to be near useless; often times the "artist" is able to summon some verbal diarrhea as a defense; If you, as the viewer, didn't understand it, then you supposedly lack an appreciation for art, or you don't understand the artist's meaning behind the piece, meaning you're not an artist.
So here arises the issue of audience, once again. Does the audience have a right to form opinions on the piece? Do they have a right to voice their opinion? Is one opinion more valid than any other? And then what about cartoons and animation? Does ANYONE have a right to criticize a piece of work? Is the opinion of a 60 year old lawyer that's never worked on cartoons less valid than a 40 year old animation enthusiast, or a 13 year old Naruto fanboy? Who should I look to as having more authority than anyone else?
Back when I first started asking myself this question, I would have said "No, not everyone knows what they're talking about. You don't understand what I'm trying to do here." But now I'm a little more open. Obviously I'm going to trust whatever a professional animator or director says, but I think it's unwise to completely disregard the opinions of anyone, no matter how far removed they are from the field. If THEY point out something, what's to say that someone else won't think the same thing? The key is to remember who you're making this for. Yes, you're making it for yourself, but it's also intended to entertain the masses! In this case, EVERYONE'S opinion and criticisms matter, not just professionals.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
But there are many galleries in Province Town, and gallery hopping in Province Town is much, much more relaxing than gallery hopping in the Chelsea district in New York. But I still came out with the same questions that I do whenever I visit any "contemporary" art museum:
What is art?
I saw many of the traditional watercolor paintings, the impressionist oil paintings, photorealistic acrylic paintings, but I also saw many "experimental" pieces. Some were more skillfully executed than others, and some looked like they could've been painted by a quadriplegic three year old. Yet my entire family was quick to defend the latter as if they were art critics, with their main defense being the much heard:
"WELL THEY ACTIVELY CHOSE TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE THEY DIDN'T PUT ANY EFFORT INTO IT. THE MESSAGE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING ELSE!"
I, as a viewer, feel insulted every time I come across a piece that looks like it took no effort to make. What's the message you're trying to send to me? "I'm an artist, and anything I make is art, and if you don't appreciate this terrible landscape, you're not an artist and you don't understand art." That's about as pretentious as you can get and I want to hit you upside the head with my new folding shovel. Give me a reason to appreciate it other than the fact that you deem it art, because honestly, something that looks like it takes absolutely no skill to do shouldn't be heralded as a great piece of art.
On that note, happy Independence day!
I want a British accent so bad.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Wall(e) does NOT disappoint. Go out and see it now.
I honestly don't know what to say. The film is breathtaking, it's not sarcastic, it's ENTERTAINING, it tells a great story, the characters are all memorable and ALIVE, etc etc etc.
The absolute best part is how this film breaks off from the "Pixar formula" There's no hero that saves the day, no self discovery, yet, this film is awesome.
And then PRESTO. Yes, Presto! It's funny to see every other studio and their mothers working towards the Pixar standard, and then there's Pixar releasing a film remniscient of the WB cartoons (perhaps it's like the Clampett style? The bunny behaves more like a Jones Bugs Bunny though...)
So go see it. If you like animation, robots, space movies, humor, food, the sky, air, cities, ANYTHING, go and see it.
I would like to take this time to propose a question:
When the heck did Universal get good at 3D cartoons?! Since when did they have a 3D animation division?!
I'm talking about The Tale of Despereaux. Watch the trailer, be amazed by the eye candy, etc.
But seriously, where did THIS come from?
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
In other news:
MY GOD. RICHARD WILLIAMS IS GOING TO BE IN NEW YORK ON SEPTEMBER 22ND.
Bus tickets are $80 round trip. I should start saving up now for this.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Anyone have $1450 they'd be willing to part with? I promise it's not going to go to drugs or anything, only to the corruption of youth (that is, assuming my cartoons get out there).
Fahkin' weak US Dollar is killing my inner child.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Jane: Jerry, you suck at drawing.
I also just realized that I had inadvertently/subconsciously designed Jane around every single crush I've had in my life. Well, maybe not every single one, but at least the last 4. I was wondering why she looked so familiar.
In other news, Disney's going to be streaming some of their movies for free this summer, similar to NBC's Hulu service. Check it out, they've got Finding Nemo right now:
I really wish they'd put up all the Silly Symphonies and the other shorts that made Disney great (because I already have Finding Nemo on DVD)
Also, GAD I wish I had an animation guru I could apprentice to. I'm at that point where I know what my weak spots are but I have no idea of how to improve them without proper guidance. I'm just hoping that I don't form any bad habits that are hard to break from when/if I get a job at a professional studio.
Friday, June 6, 2008
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Not sure if anyone is going to see this here, but I need help designing this character. Before anyone asks, I'm doing character animations for Wayang, an MCAS prep program being designed at UMass Amherst (http://people.umass.edu/ebarney/WayangSplash.html).
My main areas of concern are fashion, color, and body shape, with the target audience being girls aged 14-17. Any feedback would be great ($5 says someone tells me to draw her in any sort of suggestive way)
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I recant my last post. This is the future of 3D. Stuff that's so cheaply produced that ANY sale will bring in a profit. It's not like money needs to be spent on making it look good anyways.
Screw you, TheStone, for sending this to me.
Friday, May 30, 2008
This is currently my desktop. I painted it Tuesday night in a fatigued stupor:
Monday, May 19, 2008
I can churn out 40 seconds of animation in one weekend, but when it comes to essays, I'm terrible. You could call it a writer's block, but I'm pretty sure my train of thought derailed and everybody inside died.
Anyways, has anyone seen Blu's new mural movie? He just posted it up. I don't know how I feel about it. On one hand, it's pretty darn amazing, but on the other, it lacks the Principles of animation, and while those rules should apply to anything that moves, I'm not sure if they ever considered that someone would be doing animations on walls.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
What is art?
I didn't really think that much of that question until I hit college when I took my first real art course. I was exposed to some things that are called art that would not be accepted by mainstream society, yet, are hailed as among the top creative works in the world of art.
One of the field trips I took with the foundations class last year (in fact, it was the FIRST ONE) was to PS1 during its "Into Me/Out of me" exhibition. For those not familiar with the show, it mainly involved every single way you can interact with the human body, from food consumption to rape to self mutilation (a lot of self mutilation, in fact). The term phrase scarred for life does not do justice to what I felt that day. My artistic cherry was popped and it felt like a little bit of me died that day. Was THIS art?
One of the culprits that contributed to one of my inner children's death was Vito Acconci. One of his video pieces was being screened. I won't divulge the full details, but it involves him, a bathtub full of blood, a knife, and an oblong object dangling in his hands. I can't find that video (not that I would want to), but this is but a sample of the stuff Vito's done (caution: mature subject matter)
So this is art?
To me, this is a class of art I call Conceptual Art, I can't just call it Art because, to me, art is something that looks like it takes actual skill to produce. Art is something that you spend years learning how to make
Anyways, back to Vito.
Vito recently visited UMass Amherst (last Thursday/Friday, in fact) and I opted to go to the free 10:00 PM informal grad student art critique. I wanted to tell him how much I HATE his video work and how any idiot with a camera could make it and that it takes absolutely no skill whatsoever to make what he made. I wanted to call him out as an artist, right then and there, in front of the 20 other people there.
But I couldn't.
If you've seen any of Vito's architectural work, you'll know how brilliant he really is. And when he spoke to critique the grad student's work, I got the sense that he really knew what he was talking about. Why does a design have to be this way? This thing feels more like a human parking garage, what's the function of it? He knew how to look beyond the aesthetics and to bare down on the CONCEPT and the REASON behind the work.
I went tog go shake his hand afterwards. This is Vito pulling out the mace:
None of my pictures came out that great that night. The lighting in the art studio was hideous (go figure).
I believe that ART is the result of a solid concept executed with an expert's talent. Yes, you can make a statement on the fragility of art by smashing in a window with a hammer, but ANYONE can do that. At the same time, you can make a photo-realistic charcoal drawing of a still life, but since it has no meaning, it's a one trick horse; you look at it once and it's done. But take those glass shards and arrange the Mona Lisa, or draw that still life 359 more times and post it all in a row around a room, and you'll have a piece of art. Art, in my opinion, must be both aesthetic as well as thought provoking.
And I can thank Vito for that enlightenment.
...Now can I burn your film/video reels and tape it as my own art piece?
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
BIG SECRETS REVEALED! I'm writing a paper comparing Max Fleisher to Will Eisner and bam, I get hit with a fact that I never garnered from anything I've ever read.
In the mean time, check this out. One of the things my animation professor (Patricia) has been trying to beat into my head is that animation is not always driven by characters with arms and legs, but can be simple motion graphics.
I like this because it's still a character animation.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
I've been trying to convince a couple guys that good animators (namely, Neill Blomkamp for the Halo movie) make good directors, but I've largely been disregarded and every single one of my points has been ignored or belittled with no specific counter examples.
Am I just wasting my time? They're never going to see the light anyways, so why bother? I've put up so many friggin examples of good animators turned directors (Mike Judge, Tim Burton, etc.) that a scholar would do a double take.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Before I start off this post, I have to say that I absolutely love Disney shorts and features (read: NOT direct to home videos). Disney teaches you how to dream, and that any goal can be reached if you try hard enough. I love that message because I believe it. That and it makes my inner children happy.
There comes a time where you hear this message too much, and, eventually, you get sick of it. If all you had to watch were romantic comedies staring Richard Gere or Hugh Grant, I'm pretty sure you'd go insane.
This is why I believe cartoons like Family Guy, The Simpsons, South Park, and anything on Adult Swim is so popular with people my age. We've heard this message of happiness and hope all of our lives, yet, in reality, life really sucks and is full of hardships (hey, it's life). If anything makes these modern day cartoons great, it's the fact that they're a direct opposite of what's now known as the Disney style. You expect a happy ending, but you get a cow pie in the face.
Even Disney has started to move away from that message. Have you seen Enchanted? The entire premise of the movie is about how fairy tales conflict with real life and how there is no such thing as a "happily ever after" because, in reality, there never really is. Charles Schulz, depressed as he was all his life, had it right in that misery is what's believable and what's funny and what makes us relate to characters more.
I posted that video of Lilo and Stitch because it's a Disney cartoon that departs from the normal Disney conventions. You won't find broken homes or a lovable anti hero in any other Disney animated feature (I think... correct me if I'm wrong.), and that's what makes this film so great. Even the direct to home Lilo and Stitch 2: Stitch has a Glitch was darn good, again, because for the most part, it departs from the normal, now stale conventions of what usually happens in a Disney cartoon.
Oh and then those films are pretty much ruined by the happy endings. It's the same thing with Horton, really. I watch these and think "Finally! A deviant!" but then it falls right back into the predictable WELL EVERYONE HAS TO HAVE A HAPPILY EVER AFTER ending.
The point I'm trying to make here is that I'm going to try to steer clear of the normal recipe as possible, since that's stale and predictable*
* I'm finding that I do a lot of saying, but not much doing. I should really be doing more.
It's 1:54 AM and my day is already ruined.
Why? The last of my role models has passed away.
This is so absolutely frustrating. A month ago I set out to try to send Ollie a bit of fan mail. Reading about the Nine Old Men was what originally inspired me to get into this whole nonsense, and I thought it'd be a nice gesture. But, alas, I couldn't get any mailing address, and I've spent the last month searching online for any clue of where to send a letter.
Perhaps my frustration would be better explained if I gave you some back story:
I first found the book, Nine Old Men by John Canemaker, when I was in my high school's library back in 2004. I've probably said this before, but I could not put that book down. This went beyond inspiration... it was as if the heavens parted, and a rotund fat man in a tight ballerina tutu was lowered in on a rope and smacked me upside the head with a frozen leg of ham- beyond divine inspiration.
In 2005 I decided that this was what I wanted to do for sure. In 2006 I started to try to track down any of the Nine to send them fan mail. I knew from the book that there were only 3 of the 9 left- Ward Kimball, Frank Thomas, and Ollie Johnston. A quick search online revealed that Ward and Frank Thomas had passed away- Ward in 2002 (AFTER the book was written) and Thomas in... 2004?! Ollie was still around but I couldn't find anything.
A month ago I picked up Illusion of Life again and I thought it'd be a nice gesture to try at least say thanks (Pendleton Ward and Jay Baxter have both recieved fan emails from me... so why not one of my heroes?). I found one contact and I sent them an email asking where I could send a physical letter.
And then this.
It doesn't help that Chuck Jones, probably my biggest influence, passed away in 2002 as well.
Just... crap. Crapola. Crap on a log. My life seems to be FILLED with near misses and unfulfilled dreams. I mean, realistically speaking, there's nothing I really could have done. I was born on the wrong coast. I didn't know what direction I wanted to shoot for until AFTER they started dropping like flies. BUT if I weren't so wishy washy I might have had a slim chance of at least meeting them.
Crap. Shoot. Sonufa.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
"The major problem has always been that management has never had respect for their history, often to the point of thinking that anyone who does know their history must have something wrong with them"
I can think of one modern day studio right off the bat that I see this with.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
...but I had no idea that he was such a purist:
And he certainly does know what he's talking about. I can only hope that I get up to that point one day :|
In other news, I made a short pencil test, inspired by R.Wappin's "Wave Principle" .
Let's just say that my timing was so off and it turned out terrible and, in its current state of existence, will never see the light of day (or the tubes of the internet).
Friday, April 11, 2008
In other news, my Media/Motion graphics class will begin production on a music video for a Carlos Santana song soon. So far the group has gone for my ideas... in fact I came up with the original concept and we built off of that.
But I'm just worried that, because I'm so bold and daring and since I talk a lot, I'm wondering if anyone else is afraid to speak up or if they just don't have any ideas. It's circular logic; I TRY to stay quiet at idea sessions, but no one speaks up, so I let loose one of the ideas that's been banging around the insides of my skull and suddenly the group likes it!
I also wasn't feeling that confident about this project before, but it looks like it could turn out alright. Right now my biggest concern is that the shot I'm working on right now is going to be done in 3D... but among the 15 group members, only 3-4 of us have MINIMAL maya experience (I have 2 semester's worth of maya animation, but no modeling or shader experience). Fortunately Chris Perry has been kind enough to allow me to barrage his inbox with questions (again).
But I COMPLETELY forgot to draw a chicken and pin it up in the middle of the storyboards. None of my groupmates would understand the reference, come to think of it, but still. I believe carrying in the torch also means getting my pranking abilities down. I think I'll have to spruce up the animatic a bit, in that case.
Also reading John K.'s blog got me all depressed again. Here I am, kid with no art background in school for animation when the rest of the world is turning its back on this lost art. Heck, bringing up Disney in my motion graphics class or any cartoons to anyone I know earns me an odd look. I guess I'm weird for watching old cartoon on Youtube rather than turn on the television and watching one of these hip shows that everyone else seems to watch (what are those, Scrubs? Project Runway? One of those damn game shows?).
I'm also reminded of the fact that, even IF the 2D industry comes back, my competition is going to be all the older displaced animators that lost their jobs, and then other people that have much more experience with art and acting than me. Darn it all. Maybe I should just go into conceptual art and make millions by canning my own crap or signing my name on a urinal. I should completely gouge out a squirrel's heart in front of the police station in Amherst and call it a performance art piece. I'll be heralded as the next BOLD artist and adored by those art critics that hang around the galleries all day. I'll call it... My Inner Child: A Treatise on Reality.
In animation news, Studio Ghibli just started recording the voices for their new feature, Ponyo on the Seacliff, which means that production for the film is nearing an end (if memory serves, they animate FIRST, record SECOND, the opposite of what Hollywood studios do.)
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Do want. So bad. So... bad...
Words cannot describe how much I'd love this. Remember that time when you were really young and you came across a toy in a store that you just HAD to have or else the rest of your day was ruined because your parents didn't want to fork out the $5 for that neat looking action figure or new nerf gun?
Yeah. It's like that, only times infinity.
I mean, shoot. I might consider selling my soul for a behind the scenes tour of both Pixar AND Disney (As long as they're not named Lloyd).
That just ruined my day.
Monday, April 7, 2008
A couple weeks ago I saw Horton Hears a Who. Considering that I hated Ice Age and Ice Age 2, I didn’t have much faith in Blue Skies Studios until I saw this. Gentlemen (and I do use the term lightly), this is a quality example of a NON-PIXAR film.
I’ve said this many times, but I’ve never published this on my blog, so bear with me.
Back in the day (1930s), every Hollywood and New York Studio was trying to imitate the Disney style. It wasn’t until the late 1930s and really with World War 2 that the other studios finally said “Screw it. We’re never going to beat them at their own game” (i.e. beautiful multiplane camera sequences, lifelike animation… there was a real art to the Disney style).
So you had the likes of Tashlin and Clampett and Avery that started pushing away from the realistic style and more towards the cartoony style. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that their cartoons were much, much better than when they were trying to imitate Disney.
So the EXACT same thing is happening with Pixar and the other studios today. Pixar has 7 (is it 7?) movies, each one a hit (except maybe Cars… but I still loved it). How many other 3D animations can you say produced films that were critically acclaimed, wildly popular, and financially successful? Shrek (only the first one, imo), Happy Feet, and Surf’s Up are the only ones that come to mind. And why is that?
THEY BREAK AWAY FROM THE PIXAR RECEPIE
Those other cartoons didn’t TRY to match Pixar. Shrek was an unorthodox fairy tale. Happy Feet was an animated musical. Surf’s Up was a faux documentary. I’ve yet to see Pixar make an animated musical or any sort of faux documentary, and Pixar movies always FEEL like a Disney movie (This isn’t bad, but the genre starts to reek when everyone else tries it and fails).
Horton is going to be added onto my list as another great example of non-Pixar animation… for the most part. The weakest parts of that film were, not to beat it to death, the times where the story tried to push that sense of morality or of the happy ending. If I (and I mean my mother) hadn’t forked out all that money to pay for the movie tickets, I would’ve left the theater. The ending is just so weak compared to the rest of the film.
I absolutely LOVED the parts that pulled off things I’ve never seen in a 3D cartoon before. There’s an amazing amount of squash and stretch in the film; Horton inflates his whole body, and his ears have the ability to become different hats depending on the mood. Morton zips around in blurs, faster than any mouse possibly could. And Horton leaps and prances around, completely ignoring physics, yet still maintaining the believability that he’s still Horton and not some elephant that’s been inflated with helium. The fly through sequences showing the absolute bedlam of Whoville are also very well done (they all seem as spontaneous and randomly wonderfully spastic, just like the books).
I just wished they pushed this style of pacing, animation, and storytelling more. The movie was definitely bogged down by the weaker “Hey people love Pixar let’s imiate them” parts. I’m almost willing to bet the decision to make the ending more serious (and weaker) was more of a financial decision than anything else (”hey what if they don’t like the spastic stuff? We should stick some of the more serious stuff in there JUUUST in case… it works for Pixar, doesn’t it?”). I can see why they didn’t push the envelope from the financial perspective, but I just wish that they took the risk and made the entire movie crazy.
Also, I don’t mean to belittle Pixar. In fact, I look up to Pixar as the best. Like I said, no one is ever going to match them, in terms of storytelling, technical achievement, etc. The area I fault Pixar in is that other studios want to produce films of similar quality, but don’t pay nearly enough attention to detail and animation as Pixar does, which results in a really shoddy film and another reason why people hate the Disney feel good stuff.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
As anyone who really knows me will tell you, I'm obsessed with cartoons. My mind was corrupted by the altar of entertainment when I was... actually, I can't remember when I first started watching television, but some of my earliest memories consist of me pressing my face up against the television screen, giggling about Daffy getting his beak blown off, Wile falling off a cliff, Donald going quackers, Roger saving the day, etc. It was all cartoons. And then Power Rangers became popular and I was completely alienated from my classmates because I preferred watching Animaniacs instead. C'est la vie.
Sometime during middle school (summer of 2000), when I found another obsession, the computer, my dad introduced me to Macromedia Flash 5 (I maintain that he tricked me into thinking that it was a computer game, but I'm sure my folks will tell you otherwise). After 2 months of tinkering, I finally had my first game. Needless to say the amount of suck it generated caused me to eventually delete the file, run a magnet over the hard drive, and then cast it into a fire.
...okay, so maybe I didn't do anything THAT drastic, but I lost the file. But if you gave 30 chimps 2 hours to make something with Flash 5, they'd probably turn something of the similar quality up.
During the GOLDEN YEARS of highschool, it dawned on me that I had no idea what I wanted to do in college, or, for that matter, for the rest of my life, so, as most teenagers do, I set about to discover what it was that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I first found the Shrewsbury High School Stage Crew, but, even after making my way up to Stage Manager, I knew I wouldn't want to do that for the rest of my life.
During my junior year research paper (on the Pentagon Papers, no less), I stumbled upon a book by John Canemaker called Nine Old Men. Now, why exactly my high school library would have this book is beyond me (the arts weren't especially well funded, especially with MCAS standards), but I took to that book like a moth to a flamethrower and I devoured it within a week. And then I read it again, and again, and again, halfway to the point where I knew what facts appeared where in the book. I don't think the phrase "I was inspired" does justice to how I felt the first time I read that book. I was already known in my classes as "That kid that knows how to use flash," so, what the heck, why not go for it?
So that brings me to today. So far I've gone through most of the animation books here at UMass and I even made it into the BFA Art/Animation program after initially getting rejected by the art department (The one time Deviantart was useful was when I had to convince the undergrad director, Frank, to let me into the classes when I was at orientation). I'm so adamant about character animation that my animation professor has started to try to get me to look in other directions (because animation isn't always that Disney/Warner Brothers stuff).
so enough about me. I'm not particularly proud of anything below here, but I'm getting better, honest! This is what I've done so far:
This is my portfolio reel from the Animation Fundamentals class at UMass, Amherst.
This is my final project from a 3D character animation class I took last year:
And I just finished these two animations for my media and motion graphics class:
(I did the character animation for this one)