Sunday, February 26, 2006

More to do than there is time to do it!

Sorry for such a lag in posting everyone, i've been checking in of course to read everyones extremely nice comments on my last post! If i ever figure out how to put links up on this blog I am gonna add everyone!!
So this last weekend i went out with some friends and there kids to see Curious George. It was my first time seeing it with an audience and i have to be honest and say i didn't expect some of the reaction that the film got. Specifically this: A little boy and his mom were right behind me, the kid laughed in all the right places but more importantly he cried in all the right places. The kid started freaking out when George gets taken away toward the end of the film. I mean, he was crying bloody murder man! He was so flippin sad... actually my friend made a hilarious remark, he leaned over and said "nice job Matt, you made a kid cry!" even though none of that works was mine i did feel a twinge of responsibility. anyway, finally once George and Ted are reunited a little later in the story these 3 kids in front of us rose to their feet and started applauding. they were SO into it! and frankly i was shocked-- i didn't EVER think the film would get that kind of reaction. Kinda cool to see that it did impact some youngin's.
Also though, and this is speaking from an animators view point, i came away kind of annoyed. I guess the fact of the matter is i don't like it when people mess with my scenes-- there were a couple few shots that i did where either clean-up didn't follow what i did, someone felt the need to reanimate a little bit, or they changed thing in editorial. I just felt like, LEAVE MY STUFF ALONE. Ya know, to CG's advantage no one else follows up what you do and things tend to improve as they go down the pipe line. A good hand drawn animator NEEDS a great clean-up artist to follow him up to not lose anything that they do. and these people are in a GREAT shortage. that's why i latch onto the ones that actually respect the animators they work with and follow their work. I worked with Brian Clift a lot on George and he did a fantastic job. Brian cleaned up the Genie for Eric G in Aladdin. I dunno, this is definately a rant by now, it's just a major irritation for me. I just want my work to make it up on screen, ya know, not a half quality version of it.
So on with the title of my post. Dudes and dudets, i am so tired. I'm dragging right now man! Working 40 hours, teaching 8, being married (this is the most fun part!), and getting a portfolio ready has been, well, too much lately. This is why for the lack of posts.
I don't have anything significant to post but i always enjoy a good monkey drawing or two or three. So check out these OOOOOLD quick sketches i did back in 02. and again, thank you all for your very nice comments!

Thursday, February 16, 2006


DISCLAIMER: OOOPS! i see that my comp did quite go as intended with the extra layer floating in the top right of the screen. Lemme fiddle with it and see if i can get you all a new render by tomorrow! it makes sense i promise
It's finally done! well, as done as it can be for now. I didn't get a chance to opaque the tail or correctly comp it (it's actually underneath him on accident, should be comp'd ontop of him). but i think overall it was a successful test for the character design. I've since been able to improve the design because of the work i did on this shot (longer legs etc...).
Ya know it's amazing what your shot looks like in color, even temp color like this. it REALLY brings out all the mistakes and makes your spacing clear as day. sometimes when things are just pencil drawings you can miss a lot if your not careful.
well, this week besides work i started boarding my film! it's been a blast visualizing this story that's been swimming in my head for about a year and a half now. it just needed the time to brew i guess.
Curious George did fairly well last weekend! Better than expected actually, i was pleasently surprised!
anyhow, gotta get ready to teach for tonight. take it easy everyone and have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

New Sketchbook

I just started a new sketchbook a couple of days ago. It always makes me nervous to start a new book. I always feel this weird pressure to make the very first drawing beautiful, like a first impression or something.
I decided to break it in with some drawings of trees. Gosh i love trees... i'm not a weird tree hugger or anything but i dunno, there's something comforting about them. Where i grew up in Chicago we had ton's of tree's, and lotsa forrest areas. I loved it, and miss them a lot. Tolkien once called tree's "the messangers of all nature to us." I don't really know what that means but it sounds poetic! Sometimes it's easy to forget to just draw for fun. I've always kinda been a guy who draws with purpose... once i got to CalArts i met a lot of people who just drew endlessly. Everything, everyone-- i was amazed at their stamina. and it definately rubbed off. In my younger years i drew quick sketches of humans and animals to get into Disney. Once that all fell apart, i started to actually draw for the sheer joy of it. A VERY healthy thing. It's so good for an artist to just wander in his or her mind creatively on the page. Things don't have to make sense, and often times that's when we do our most fresh work.

Animals fascinate me! I think if i wasn't an animator i might want to work with animals. But, it's a far second to being an animators, trust me. I just LOVE getting National Geographics and studying the way the behave, their gestures, their movement, there "thinking". Anyone who knows me well, knows i am a Christian and i can say this with all sincerity, God is my favorite artist. Yeah, i dismiss evolution, how could all this beauty be a random mistake? It takes more faith for me to be an evolutionist than to be a creationist. Think about it: if i through my pencil and sketchbook in the air a million times in a row in hopes that they'd create something unique, chances are i would get nothing that makes sense or is understandable, or even functional. That's exactly what evolution claims, that everything happened by random chance, not by intention. Not to get one a soap box, i just hate to take away to Glory that is rightfully belonging to the Creator. God's the most original artist i know of... can you make a new color? I sure can't... one of the reasons i love being an artist is because i feel God's pleasure of creating when i draw. He gave me this gift, only to Glorify Him, no other reason.

Blogging brings out interesting things in me sometimes, ha! on other news though I've been keeping up on Curious George movie reviews. I've only read one bad one out of 10. Not bad, not bad at all. Let's hope it rocks the house this weekend! Until next time enjoy the drawrin's

Monday, February 06, 2006


I just thought I'd throw in this old caricature i did of myself for fun. It really doesn't have anything to do with todays post, and come to think of it it really doesn't look too much like me. hmm, well, learn and grow i guess.
I was fortunate enough to get to go to the Curious George wrap party last Friday night. I was not suppost to go, the studio didn't get many invites, but last minute they got several more so i was a lucky one that got to go!
Ya know, i worked on the thing for 6 months. It is quite possibly one of the most horribly managed films that i've ever worked on or witnessed (Universals management, not July Films... they rule!). It was a film where money was misspent like crazy. 1,000,000 went to an unnamed screenwritter who's version of the script never got used. 20,000,000 dollars was spent on writers, thus creating a very VERY tight budget for the whole of the rest of production. Universal was pretty demanding of peoples time for what they were paying and didn't really seem to believe in the film (upper management, not the artists). but beyond all of the horrible managment, misspent money, and waisted time i think the films actually turned out to be a fun, entertaining little film! honestly, i am a harsh harsh critic sometimes (ask my wife), butdespite all that it lacked i stil enjoyed the film. It is definately uneven artistically... the oversea's animation is horrendous, but a lot of the stuff here ended up looking from decent to very nice. I think that there is a warmth that exists in the story, and there were a lot of laughs that i didn't remember being in the story reel.
I take my hat of to director Matthew O'Callaghan. He's a great guy, was good to work for and really took this film muchy farther that it deserved to go. A lot of people at the wrap party were saying that they thought the film "looked better than it deserves." I think this is a very fair observation and a testament to the artist who nomatter what he's getting paid or what the circumstances wants to see the best possible with the time he/she is given. No, the film is no masterpiece and it has plenty of areas that leave me wishing others had put more into it, but i knew what the film had gone through to get to the screen and frankly i am delighted it is as enjoyable as it was considering the unnecessary pain everyone went through to get it to the screen.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Eyes have it!

Finally, I'm good to my word! The eye tutorial is here! I was gonna cover the entire face, but i thought the eye's have plenty to talk about for one post.
I really feel like there are very few people who really take advantage of the eyes in hand drawn animation. I feel like i see a lot more CG stuff where the eyes are used to there full advantage than i see in hand drawn. I think perhaps it's because people don't necessarily know what they are capable of. We've heard this qoute that "the eyes are the window into the soul." It's so true, the first thing we look at on other people is there eyes. It's located in a social triangle. Imagine a triangle between the eyes and mouth. everything within that triangle is the first thing we look at to read what someone is feeling or thinking. Therefore it is of utmost importance that this be dead on when we are performing our shots.
Shape: The shape of an eye ball is interesting. I think because very few of us have actually seen our entire eye ball we assume it's a perfect sphere. It isn't, it is slightly elongated (check out the drawing in the top left). This affect's the eye lids-- there's is enough friction between the eye ball and the eye lid that when looking up or down the eye lid is pulled in either direction. Also, when drawing eye's treat them like you would the sphere of the skull. Draw around the form... you see a lot of flat looking pupils and cornia's in handdrawn animation. especially when it is turning. don't forget to draw around that form just as you would the sphere for the skull.
Movement: Eye's typically move very very quickly... this is comely called eye darts in animation. The reason your eyes dart around in the socket so quickly is because of the types of muscles you have behind your eye rotating it. They are very short muscle, so when the contract, they contract quickly and move your eye rapidly. There are cases when you don't want it so rapid, like if a character is inspecting something thuroughly. Generally, i find that using eye darts at the right time for the right reasons makes the character look like he's thinking. there is a great shot in Dreamworks' "Sinbad" that James Baxter did of Sinbad behind a door thinking about what he's going to say to this girl. Check it out, it's pretty incredible stuff.
Eye Lids and Pupils: Eye lids and pupils are also slightly forgotten elements in facial animation. They both are key to expression. check out the drawing above and look at the set of drawings with just the eye lids minipulated. Works ok, BUT, then check out the drawings with the pupils minipulated. MUCH better... more effective. I did i shot in Curious George of the character Ivan. He's a doorman/security gaurd of the apartment complex the man in the yellow hat lives in. the apartment doesn't allow pets, and Ivan whom takes his job way too seriously can smell a pet from a mile away. There is a shot of Ivan where he can smell George through the vent, I used the pupils very intentionally in this shot to add to what Ivan was thinking but ALSO to portray WHO he is. This guy is like a robot, his job is everything to him. He's mechanical in his movent, very stiff, so i did a sorta cyborgish thing with the pupils. I made them dialate for 2 frames (overshooting) and then shrink until they where dots. It was very affective...
Anyhow, speaking of Curious George the wrap parties tonight so i need to get back to work before i leave. Next week, in honor of the films debut i'll post a review and maybe a pencil test or two from the film since they've already realeased some footage online. until then, have a great weekend!