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)