Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lobsters are awesome.

PREPOST WARNING: I'm very, very tired right now and I'm not making much sense. I'll have to edit this later.

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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.

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Audry (left) and Carolyn (right), both people full of awesome.

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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.

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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)Photobucket


Otherwise, I did manage to meet/talk to John Canemaker and Chris Wedge:

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I told John Canemaker that I blamed him for giving me my dreams.

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I made sure to thank Chris Wedge for making Horton Hears a Who so different than any other 3D film I've ever seen.

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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.

2 comments:

Haras said...

Jerry,

I am so happy for you! What an amazing experience. Thank goodness you finally found a ride :) I'll come hear you speak to a room full of admirers someday, too.

David Nethery said...

"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!"

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And that's the lesson of a life well-lived: in obsessive pursuit of excellence and improving his art he did not throw his life away. It's the other people (the abusive rip-off industry con men) who threw their lives away. Dick Williams has an enduring place in animation history. It's those other people that no one will remember their names 100 years from now. (can anyone remember them now ? )