Monday, November 20, 2006

Matt's Excellent Portland Adventure

Welp, It's that time of the year. A time when we all need to reflect on why we should be thankful. Me, I have absolutlely nothing to not be thankful for. Yes, I could go on and on about my wonderful wife, the fact that i am still doing hand drawn animation for a living, and that we have so much more than 90 percent of the world. But honestly, what i am driven to confess is my thankfulness is for a God who loved me enough to die for me so that i may live. All else is rubbish compared to knowing Jesus as Lord of my life-- I am thankful indeed!
As for other news, I am affraid that posts are going to slow down dramatically for a while. I have taken a job up at Laika in Portland! It's not permenant, and i will mostly be working freelance from home though i will need to be spending a good long chunk of time up there in house. I'll be on "Coraline" doing hand drawn animation-- there is no hand drawn in the film, but they are using a lot of it for reference and other things. I've heard the film is looking amazing! Someone up there even told me that from the reels they've seen it's as strong as the "Iron Giant". Now, I'll take that with a grain of salt for now but if it's true this could be pretty freakin cool!
Anyhow, I do not intend on not ever posting, if i do it'll be small for now. No tutorials for a while--thanks for your patience everyone and to my students at CalArts, rock on and finish strong! I'll see you guys next semester! Cheers!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Tied Down Final on Vimeo

So here it is! BIG THANKS to Kaveh for helping my compress this and adding a frame counter at the bottom of the screen. very cool, thanks man! So this was started in June doing the animation at nights and on weekends and here we are! Honestly, it's still not 100 percent done. My version of digicel is only 300 frames long and the actually scene length is 308. So, we're gonna miss the last 8 frames. The last thing to truly do is a beauty pass!
The animation at this point is pretty close-- I'm happy with it, but i think there is some stuff that needs tweaking, mostly nit picky stuff like overlap, blinks, spacing things. This is were your beauty pass comes in. Honestly, i've NEVER had the luxury to be able to take the time to do a beauty pass on my animation. Most studios don't do this, I know Pixar does but i don't think Disney or Dreamworks do. If you guys who work at either of those spots do please let me know so i can correct my info. Anyway, i will get a comprehensive list up of what i think should be tweaked (i.e. the blink on simple) and then do it, and post it :)
So that is near the longest shot i've ever animated! It was FUN! Really got to sink my teeth in and struggle with the acting. Compare the rough pass and the tie down, it's staggeringly different. It's fun to see how organic the creative process is. Like i said, tie down, for me at least, is as creative if not more so than the ruff pass. The problem with doing personal stuff is sometimes you don't have what you might elsewhere like model sheets. So, I think the model changed a tiny bit-- although i was careful to check every Key i did with my first drawing. I think something i discovered, to all of your advantanges is that I tend to be a better refiner than i am just laying down a beautiful rough drawing like some crazy french animators! Why is it that French guys always know how to draw, like , amazingly well! Anyway, besides the point. Like i was saying if any of you work this way you know you're not alone. I think not having an official modelsheet makes a difference too-- that is, in what your ruffs look like. But this just goes to show that everyone works differently and can come to good results in the end. However, i will say it is a consistant goal of mine to be learning how to make more beautiful ruffs all the time. I typically use my ruffs as land marks really, just abstract ugly drawings that i KNOW i am going to refine. But sometimes that's not fair to your director who needs to NOT BE SURPRISED when you show him your tie down.
So i guess the next step is this-- I will begin the tutorials again on tying down-- being more thurough about it, finish the beauty pass on the animation and post it. THEN i want to do something scary! well, for me at least :) I am gonna ask a hand full of animators i know and respect look at the animation and critique it. I will post their critique's on the blog so you all can learn from their wisdom! That's really where animation is at anyway, mentorship. The great thing about this artform is that it feels like there is a lineage being passed down from generation to generation! To be a character animator is a high artform, and no easy task! It's like once you are apart of this great team of people that you now have a sacred responsibility to carry on the artform in the most respectful and integral manner possible. Not to make an idol out of it, but rather, just to respect it and those who've come before you and give it everything you have to make it special.
Thanks for hanging with me through this guys!