Friday, January 27, 2006

Miracle Week

I am sorry for not posting more than i have this week, but as any of you know who are even remotely interested in the world of feature animation this has been a HUGE, MONUMENTAL, COLLOSAL WEEK!
It all started on Monday morning when i saw the headline "Disney buyout of Pixar?" I was thinking, what's up with the question mark, tell me more man! as i made my way through the article and the possibilties unraveled my heart began to race, my palms got sweaty, and my throat got dry. All of the things that my friends and i have talked about over lunch all of the sudden went from never happening to a very real possibility. I decided to choke back the tears, turn the computer off and try and do something constructive with my time. I have been to let down before by big news and i wasn't gonna let it get to me now.
Cut to (sorry, so used to film) Tuesday afternoon, i get online to see what the latest scoop is (not to mention i had talked to about 5 billion people by now). and there it read "Disney buys Pixar" and "Lasseter and Catmul to be heads of creative affairs inculding feature animation. I just about had a heart attack... it was almost like when Rudy in "Rudy" gets his exceptance letter to Norte Dame! I was freaking out man!! I spent the entire day with a headache because of the emotion of it all. I went to teach at CalArts that night as well and the school was partying man, total rejoicing. Like at the end of Return of the Jedi!
Cut to Wednesday morning... I had heard all of the rumors about John being interested in doing 2D again. but as i said before, i've been let down a lot of times and i wanted some smal bits of proof. Well, the first article i found was in USA Today. It was an interview with Dick Cook (chairman of the disney studios) and him being asked some of the tough question. One was whether 2D would come back. His response, "John and I have talked about reviving 2D for quite some time. It wouldn't surprise me at all if a project were found and we wanted to make it in 2D." Do you know how HARD it is to get straight answers like that from people so high up!?? Huh, do ya? That NEVER happens. no he didn't say yes, but he did admit that they WANT to revive it and that they are more than likely searching for the RIGHT story to tell in 2D. plus for any of you who know John Lasseter the guy is a fan. He LOVES animation, not just CG but hand drawn and stop motion. He just loves the art form!! What do i think, i think it's only a matter of time before we hear about them repening the division. The other amazing piece of information was that Johns first act in his new role at Disney was to shelve Toy Story 3. Bam baby!! and his reasoning, we should only do sequels if there's a good story. plain and simple, don't you just love it that way. the TRUTH, not the rhetoric that we're used too!
anyhow, all of that to explain why i haven't posted more this week. I am still working on getting another tutorials together for everyone on the face and how it works. It's just taking longer than i thought because of unexpected, joyous news. your thoughts?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Disney + Pixar = New Age of Animation?

I Don't hardly EVER write about politics in the entertainment/film world, but i have to admit THIS story has me by the throat! Just this morning I read on Cartoon Brew's website ( about the possibility of Disney buying Pixar. You can read all about it for yourselves, but essentially what is happening is that today, this very day the Disney board and the Pixar board are meeting to either agree or disagree on a particular price tag for Pixar (notably 7 Billion buckeroo's). Now, when i read this i immediately thought of 2 likelihoods: either Pixar will have a profound influence on Disney for the better, or Visa Versa and Pixar will be brought down the tubes with Disney.
Now, personally i believe the first option is most likely. Why? For one thing, Pixar's Steve Jobs will have a prominant place on the board of directors. Given the success of Pixar's films, and being that Job's would have the largest amount of stock in the company would make is influence very very strong. Also, Jobs is similar, very very similar to Walt! He is a man who has built a company (apple) up based on instinct and quality. Tha is an over-simplification, but essentially he has vision of something much greater than making money! Walt always said making money bored him, i believe Jobs is the same way. He's a visionary that respects the creative process, thus, having sucha visionary with a very important voice on the Disney Board would be a huge influence. Lets not forget too that Roy Disney is also back with the company and has since gotten rid of a few people that we "bad blood" from the Eisner days.
The other part of the coin is that with Jobs and Pixar being apart of Disney it is very likely that Lasseter would become the head of Feature animation. Do you know how long it has been since an artist has been the head of animation? Not since Walt DIED... now, selfishly i must admit, this gives me knots in my stomach to think about (from excitement). Lasseter HAS NOT said that he would bring hand drawn back to disney, or that he would even take the helm of feature animation but, i have a strong inkling that he would. Lasseter LOVES animation... in ALL forms, and i think it would be a very smart business and artistic move to make Burbank the Hand Drawn unit and Pixar the CG unit. There IS room for both! but with Lasseter at the helm of both there is no telling where the art-form could go! just no telling!!!
Nothing is final, nothing has happened yet, for all we know the meeting today could go very poorly and things completely colapse. but imagine would COULD happen if things were to evolve in such a way. Maybe then my dreams of working on earth shattering films like INcredibles, Lord of the Rings, and Pinnochio could finally come true. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Walk this way!

Hi everyone! i took me a little while, but as promised here's the tutorial on a walk. It took me some time to get this one done for ya'll, i started teaching at CalArts this week. It's been a fun so far, but a lot of work and prep time. It's only helpful really. It forces you to make sure that what you think is right is really right. Cuz if you show them how to do something wrong then it'll come back to bite you in the butt later.
anyway, i chose a natural relaxed sort of walk to do for you guys. There are more than one method for planning a walk but the one that seems to work best for me is starting with your contact poses (key number 1 and 13). It's a dynamic way to start you walk. Starting with the "down" or the "up" is difficult and an akward way to start a walk. Art Babbit did it that way, and it worked for him but i find that for me the contact is much easier to understand. The second thing to think about is your beats and tempo. Mark on your x-sheet how fast you think he/she should be going. generally one step on a relaxed walk is 12 frames long. Which is more difficult to do because it means trickier charts. but we want what's best right? If you have less time than you'd like, you could put the walk on 16's so you could use 2's but then your walk is going to become a bit labored looking.
So anyway, I start with the contact drawings... you can either then put in the down or the up drawing. I find that i like to put the down in first... not sure why, maybe cuz i feel like i need to see that weight down first before i can do the up. anyway, once your up's and downs are in (key's 4 and 10) then you put your break down inbetween 4 and 10. This is KEY! it's ALL in the breakdowns! you can change everything in your walk by simply altering your break down, for good or worse. in this case i played it naturally. I tend to treat that breakdown drawing like a 3rd favoring the up. ya know? It gives more time in the up, and less time on the down which gives weight to the character.

Now the tricky part about walks is that you have 2 sets of charts. Your horizontal path and your vertical. Your Horizontal, meaning the distance length wise he walks should always be even. 100 percent! Even steven...
But your vertical charts are quite different... you can check out how these charts parrallel the drawing, but note that the last inbetween in a slow in or slow out is always on a 3rd in this case. As i've said before this isn't necessarily always the way it needs to be, but when your stopping and starting constantly like you are in a walk this IS the way to go. The reasoning for the 3rds is because if you put it as an even you would have even space inbetween your second to last inbetween and your key. That's very very bad when you are trying to convey weight.

Well, i hope that satisfy's every for a little while! I'm having fun doing these so i hope you all are still enjoying reading them. what i gave you today is more a template... because obviously there's a whole other element to walks that i DID NOT cover and that's character. This is a base template of understanding in which YOU need to caricature off of once you understand it. It's like, Picasso didn't start doing abstract (essentially caricature) until he knew how to accurate draw things. same is true here.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Updated pencil test

I wasn't able to figure out the HTML so i'll have to add it in a later post, but click on the title and it should take you to the animation.
I hope everybody enjoys the next stage of the process for me on this pencil test. I've been busy writting all week, so i thought on Friday I'd finish roughing out the end of this test shot. The end still needs cushion inbetweens, but otherwise i'm happy. The drop down from the swing is a little slower than i'd imagined it, but i think it works especially since he's not dropping from that high. Does anyone this I need to respace this for more snap in the landing?
Next step is adding the tail (the hard part!) and then laying down the graphite line, and then finishing it with doing a color test! should be fun to watch it's evolution.
Next week I'm gonna do a tutorial on how to animate walks, the pit falls, mechanics, and most importantly the character behind the walk. until then, have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Design Basics!

Hey Folks! I got a request to talk a little about design. Now, for sure i am not an expert on design but it is something i so completely wish i was more interested in when i was a kid. It wasn't until CalArts that i feel in love with design and saw how completely important it is to know what makes for a good design. Hand drawn or CG!
This first page here is just the very basic principle i'm sure you all know and that's finding your basic shape. Animation at it's best is about simplicity and finding the essence of something. Here Milt Kahl's Little John from Robin Hood is basically a rounded out triangle. That's his shape, when he walks on screen that's what you and i read and say "oh, it's Little John". This is why when your designing charactes it's important to keep their shapes distinct and personal unto them.
The other thing here is also the basic concept of keeping your purportions interesting. I used to think that meant totally caricaturing something to a point where it wasn't believedable. Like haing a huge huge guy with itty bitty legs. But remember these designs have to run and walk and jump, and act! So your design HAS to be functional. That's why the Cartoon Network stuff works well for what it is, is because it isn't being fully animated. Those charcaters can't turn. But these characters HAVE to turn. So remember to keep your purportion interesting. Even is boring!
Ahh, Hirschfield! who doesn't love this guy!? Another basic thing is straights and curves. The whole idea is finding a balance and a way for them to support each other. Some might find it ironic that i am using Hirschfield for the example of STRAIGHTS since he is known for his curvy streamline, but really look at it. He has IMPLIED straights, not literal ones. You can see this more clearly in the drawing at the very bottom. But in this drawings with the man holding the staff there is a balance of straights and curves in his design and gesture. The back, although it has a curve to it, is the straight that strengthens the curve of the chest in front. Makes the pose feel stronger. Incidentally, for gestures and balance, always have head somewhere over the main "supporting weight foot". If you don't the character will look like he's falling over.
And here's our examply of implied straights. Not to much to say really besides, DANG THAT CAT COULD DRAW!
I just wanted to say THANKS to the Spline Doctors for plugging my blog! It was awful nice of'em and they didn't have to do it but i appreciate it. Doing these tutorials has been fun and i hope everyones enjoying them. I am going to get more back into animation with the next few tutorials, but in the mean time i m gonna finish this script and try and finish a piece of animation. Willermess out!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Gestures: The Revenge of the Tutorials

I've gotten a few request recently to start doing more tutorials again! I had stopped doing them cuz no one, except my friend Steven MacLeod was responding to the posts. but i am very happy to start some up again! the first request i got was to talk about gestures. Everyone ought to check out what Andrew Gordon wrote on his site about gestures, it's pretty good stuff. I thought it was funny i got asked to write about draftsmenship cuz it's what i consider to be the weakest part of my animation. Soooo, we will not be looking at any of my drawings today that's for sure. today we study KING KAHL! The main point of your gesture is to tell someone something! It is meant to reveal how the character is feeling on the inside. Sometimes you down play things, sometimes your over play them, it all depends on the scene you have and who the character is. Milt is famous for his draftsmenship amoung other things, and all of his poses are crystal clear. shapewise and storywise. I HIGHLY recommend stop framing anything he touched. I think Sher Kahn is a great example of underplaying. Milt, in some scenes hardly moved him at all even though the dialogue seemed to be doing more. He was underplaying the character... he was confident enough in lingering on a facial expression of using the eyes that he didn't feel the need to use these broad poses. but them there is Madusa who is overplayed, because it's her character. I picked a few drawings that i thought were amazing gestures for different reasons.
Now, i'm not trying to limit these drawings, i am just pointing out 1 amazing thing about them. Check out the Line of Action. You really feel the power behind that broom, but consider the character as well. Snoops is a sloppy guy, and doesn't really think to far into the future. He's clumsy and a bit stupid, so his gesture reflect a sloppiness to him. a one tract mindedness.

Rythm is basically when shapes are working into the line of action, and each other. another person who does this beautifully, in my estimation is Eric Goldberg. This drawing of Snoops uses rythm to desrcibetwo things: a shifting in weight, and tension. He is obviously turning over (shifting weight), and his arm stretching is the constrast of tension compared to the squash of his arm were all the weight is being transfered too. note though that shapes in into eachother, his arms make an arc as well as his legs.
Getting a good gesture is all about clarity... is it clear enough? Glen Keane once told me something that Ollie told him, "it's not about drawings clean, it's about drawing clearly." Silhuette is the test we all use to make sure out poses are reading as simple shapes. This is a beautiful example of such. My advice on finding a good drawing is DON'T BE AFFRAID OR TOO LAZY TO REDRAW SOMETHING. Often times i go through 4 or 5 drawings before i find a good one, maybe that makes me a weaker draftsmen but i think Milt did it to. His results were a bit different than mine are obviously. but experiment, push the pose!

I feel bad compartmentalizing these drawings. There so much beauty to be seen in them that you can't just point out one thing. but for now i guess this'll have to do.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Last of the color models!

Hi Folks! Had one heck of a weekend! Saw some really beautiful country, shot some guns, and walked through some incredibly cheap houses! I thought i'd share the last colour model with you guys. I haven't added any texture to this yet, i haven't been able to find one i like yet. So, now all the color models are done, at least until i change the script, which WILL happen. speaking of the script i need to finish it! so enjoy this pic for the day, by the way anyone can comment on the color. As i've said i'm not an accomplished painter by ANY means so please any helpful hints would help. cheers!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Outta here for the weekend!

Welp everyone, or, the 3 people that read this everyday. pretty pathetic, i know. Anyway, i'm off for the weekend to Tehachapi with my wife. yeah man! we're gonna shoot some guns, ride the oddyssy (a dune buggy), and just plain have fun in the country!
I thought i'd share this new color model i just finished of the main character of the short. I'm trying to get a few of these done for pitching reasons. Note on both these i tried adding and outside source for texture, namely, a napkin! it was more successful on the alligator, you can see it on his skin. Now, what if that could stay consistent on the character and stretch and squash with him or even more subtley like when he moves his arm. I think that would be flippin' cool. This is kinda what i want the film to look like... maybe i'll work out some sort of system were i can matte the characters with a consistent texture. wouldn't that be sweet!? any thoughts? have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

There's no way to say "happy New Year" quite like a pencil test! I was working on this a while ago, it's obviously not done and it's more complete than this test shows you, but check it out!