Monday, November 23, 2009

Update 11.23.2009

It has been a little while since I last blogged here. I have posted an early demo reel on my website: blue penccil studio gallery. Classes this semester are really starting to get intense, so I may not for a while after this but will hopefully have some great animation to display when all is said and done!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


WARNING: Slight spoilers ahead.
I finally saw 9 today, and overall I enjoyed the film. There were some truly awesome aspects of it and some let downs. Having seen the short long before any mention of a feature, it was interesting to see where the filmmakers would take the story.
First off, this is a film of details. The visual aspect of the film was astounding! The angles of the shots and construction of the scenes were a lot like a live-action film. The way the machines are shot really play up their sinister feel and their construction of a mixture of metal and found objects add to their creepiness.
The let downs of the film lie in the story. I mean how are you going to extend a short subjec into a feature? The additions and changes are interesting, but the story was still very simple and the movie relied heavily on its visual excitement and wonder. I found connections in the film that it did not address or acknowledge and found me questioning things that I believe were either supposed to be assumed by the end or that the filmmakers did not fully explain. The ending especially, where we realize that characters may return, but they instead are released as ghosts that fly up and cause rain. Why?
In the end, I will be picking this up on DVD if only for the awesome visuals and character designs. I feel there could have been more to be worked with the idea of soul stealing and the way it could have been presented, but I still enjoyed the film.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Where is the Future of Animation?

Emile Cohl's FantasmagorieAnimation as we know it today is a relatively young art. Despite the expressive and sequential cave paintings of prehistoric man that seem living and moving, actual moving animation has only been around since the 19th century. Ever since Peter Mark Roget stated his theory of the persistence of vision, animation has gone through many stages and changes in technique and technology. From the early film experiments of James Stewart Blackton and Emile Cohl through to the Disney era of quality and innovation in sound and color, the history of animation has run parallel to technical achievement. It was not as much a specific character or style that advanced animation into success but the creation of new techniques and practices such as the peg registration system and the use of celluloid sheets, or cels. Even Mickey Mouse’s success was as the first quality sound cartoon rather than the creation of an iconic character. But through a lot of the 20th century, animation stayed the same continuing to use cels and analogue cameras to produce films. It wasn’t until the late 1980’s that new innovation would lead to digitization of animation. Animation quickly converted to digital production and has spawned new processes like the growing 3D animation field. Digital has also led to the blossoming of the 2D animation world into a more productive and cost efficient era. But as technology continues to advance and 3D animation takes control of the market, traditional animation must determine what place it holds in the industry.
Before its digitization, 2D animation had been produced using the same methods since the 1930’s. The typical method employed the use of cels. Frame by frame, animators would plot out the movement of characters and objects on sheets of animation paper called bond paper. They would then hand over the sheets to be traced, inked, and painted onto transparent cels. This allowed for a separately drawn background to show through when the cel was laid over it. The combination of the transparent cel on top of a background image would then be photographed onto a film camera, completing one frame of the animation. This process was very expensive and time consuming. Each drawing needed to be handled multiple times before finally being photographed for the film. Also, mass amounts of materials are required to produce even short subjects. One 30-minute episode of The Simpsons can produce up to 30,000 cels. In the case of the first feature length animation, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it took 1,500,000 drawings and paintings and 166,352 cels & backgrounds to complete the 362,919 frames of the film. The budget for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, originally slated for $250,000, came to almost $1,500,000. The soaring costs to produce such animated films almost closed the animation super-studio Disney in the 1950’s, but a new technological innovation helped to cut costs and continue the studio’s legacy.
In 1961 Disney developed the process of Xerography, which would copy drawings directly from animation paper to the transparent cels using a special photocopier. This eliminated the need for inkers and painters and reduced the budget for their next film, 101 Dalmatians (1961) at $4,000,000, by more than half from the previous production, Sleep Beauty (1959) at $6,000,000. This precursor to the digital process would continue on into the 1980’s when the next groundbreaking innovation would begin to take over.
In 1963, Dr. Ivan Sutherland created a computer user interface called Sketchpad that allowed for images to be created as line drawing instructions. In the 1970’s, computer scientist Edwin Catmull, would be inspired by Sutherland’s work, leading him to develop key processes that would lead to 3D computer animated graphics. He would later become one to the founding members of Pixar. In 1974 he was recruited to work at the New York Institute of Technology to head off a computer research group. This team developed advances in 2D animation programming, and created new processes that could color scanned cels and automatically create in-betweened frames. In the 1980’s, Disney sought after this experimental technology and used it to create their milestone technology, CAPS (Computer Animation Production System). CAPS would eliminate the need for cels, since drawings could be directly scanned, digitally inked, and painted on computers. By working digitally, animators were able cut the high costs of using expensive cels and paint. The first feature to use this technology was The Little Mermaid (1989). While only parts of the film used it, every Disney feature from that point on would be completed with their CAPS program. Digital innovation had finally begun to make an impact on the Animation industry. But it would still take almost a decade before the rest of the industry would completely convert.
Prior to digital technology, cost cutting for smaller studios was key for their survival in a larger studio dominated market. Short subjects were the only feasible focus for smaller studios. This was because features required a large budget and television heeded production costs that were more than the return. But studios established certain methods that would become known as “limited animation” (not the same as UPA’s stylized “limited animation”) and allowed a budget small enough for television. One such process was animating on twos, which meant having a single drawing held for two frames of film. This reduced the number of drawings and cels needed, while not wounding the character movement. Animators would also reuse certain animation sequences and backgrounds, having to only animate a character movement once and re using it for following episodes (even Disney employed the recycling of animation in some of their films). Rather than animate certain movements, camera tricks and techniques were used to simulate movement of a character. Studios also played up the verbal humor and voice acting to counteract the visual stagnation of the animation. Merchandising was also a big help and brought in money from figurines, lunch boxes, and other trinkets that adorned the logo or portrait of their favorite cartoon characters. But, the final trick that studios used to help cut costs was outsourcing. In the 1960’s the Hannah-Barbera studio sorted through the steps of animation and separated the more creative and skilled work from the grunt and repetitive work. They would continue to work on the writing, layout and key animation at the studio, but shipped the rest of the work to a studio in Asia that would complete the work for significantly less money. These Asian studios would do the in-betweening, inking, and painting and then ship the finished product back to Hannah-Barbera. If an error was found in the completed production from the foreign studio, notes were taken of the glitch and it was sent back overseas to be reshot until the finished product was desirable. By outsourcing to foreign studios, merchandising and using limited animation, studios were able to lower the cost of production enough to dive into the television market.
Today, many studios outsource their animation to foreign production houses. The beloved animated sitcom The Simpsons has two separate studios in Korea that it outsources the animation to. One is the Korean studio Akom and is responsible for also completing animation on Tansformers: The Movie, Tiny Toons Adventures, and The Animaniacs. The other Simpson’s studio is Rough Draft Korea and has worked closely with the sister Rough Draft studio in California to complete Futurama animation. Rough Draft Korea has also completed animation for other animated series such as The Power Puff Girls, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Dexter’s Laboratory. These studios are outfitted with state-of- the-art equipment to complete many types of animation, ranging from 2D to 3D to Motion Capture. Many of these foreign studios were equipped to do traditional cel production, and did, until digital ink and paint swept through the industry in the mid 90’s. It was once feared that outsourcing animation to these offshore production houses would lead to the downfall of the business, but in today’s market, studios are booming and cannot avoid going overseas. Former Nickelodeon animation executive Mary Harrington advises studios that what they should do is prepare really good preproduction material for the foreign studios to stay on model and produce desirable results.
Throughout this exciting period of 2D development, 3D animation emerged and began to progressively grab the spotlight. In 1995, Pixar broke new ground with the first feature length 3D computer animated film, Toy Story. Dreamworks SKG also jumped the 3D bandwagon with their first computer animated film, Antz. Numerous 3D animated films would be released from 1995 to 2003. In that year, the financial success of Pixar’s Finding Nemo, grossing $324,900,00, would top that of most profitable 2D animation ever, The Lion King. Both Disney and Dreamworks SKG had had box office flops on their recent 2D animated films, Treasure Planet and Sinbad, while most 3D animated films like Finding Nemo were topping the charts. This led Dreamworks SKG to decide to work exclusively on 3D animation and Disney planned to venture more into 3D. In 2004 Disney released Home on the Range, and it was slated as a failure costing the studio $110,000,000 and only grossing $103,951,461. It would be the Disney’s final 2D animated feature; the original animation pioneer company decided to close down its traditional animation department and begin to produce only 3D features. Following this trend in 2006 Disney would put up $7 billion to purchase their long time 3D animation partner, Pixar. Everywhere animators realized the outlook for 2D animation at the time was not good.
As Disney ended its rich 2D history, many animators desperately sought to adapt to the foreseen market change and attempted to convert their knowledge of 2D to 3D. There was a blessing for traditional animation as Pixar founder John Lasseter was placed at the head of Disney Animation and was devoted to reinstating the studio’s 2D heritage. But many still believed that computers were the animation tools of the future and that the animation lightbox would become as obsolete as the typewriter. Carl Rosendahl, president of Pacific Data Images, had a more postive evaluation that 3D is to 2D as Photography was to painting. People still paint today, but the invention of photography released painters from creating realistic imagery and allowed them to experiment and venture into non-representational art. A similar view point comes from stop motion animator Henry Selick as he assess the purpose of stop motion animation placed against the 3D market: “What are the strengths of stop-motion? What should we try to hold on to? There are a lot of strengths: it's touched by the hand of the artist -- you can feel that. You can sense that life force, but it's imperfect. It can't be done perfectly -- that's what CG can do. And I'm trying to get people to embrace that: if it pops, if cloth shifts a little, if the hair is buzzing. It's like this electricity of life”. Animators are definitely taking hold of the strength of 2d animation and are lifting it to new platforms with a revolutionary software program that have changed the industry.
The anti-aliased imaging program Flash is the latest in the development of 2D techniques and technology. Jonathan Gay who had previously created other graphic editors in the early 90’s first developed the program. He started his own company and released a program that was made to make drawing on the computer better than drawing on paper. It was called SmartSketch, and caught the attention of animators during a presentation of the software. In 1996 and with the help of co-coder Robert Tatsumi, Gay redeveloped the software and released it as FutureSplash Animator. Developments in Internet browsing at the time also gave Gay and Tatsumi a way to have users of FutureSplash Animator distribute their graphics over the Internet. Success of the program fell upon the program’s use of anti-aliased graphics which produced file sizes that were small and required little bandwidth. Macromedia would quickly purchase the software and mold it into the famously known Flash animation program.
The Flash animation market is booming since small studios are able to afford the software. The amount of staff, time, and space needed to produce a Flash animated film is greatly reduced compared to big studio productions, allowing one person to do the work of many. Flash is the hip new grandson of Disney’s CAPS, leading the world into a networking revolution. It is possible that the future of the 2D medium lies within the generation taking Flash to heart. As animators adjust to the new boundaries set by the coming of 3D animation, they are now able to experiment and venture outside the traditional ideas that have been carried by the Disney style of animation. One of Flash’s downfalls as well as an asset is that it is super flat, which forces the audience to recognize what they are watching and indentify more with the objects and shapes, rather than being immersed into a character and forgetting what they looked like (suspension of disbelief).
In the past 20 years, 2D animation has accelerated from its stagnant system developed in the 1930’s. With new tools such as Flash and other digital ink and paint systems, as wells as the cost efficiency associated with outsourcing, it is easier than ever to animate in 2D. The novelty of 3D animation has already begun to wane and new 2D and stop motion films are being anticipated. While Disney has broken itself off from its heritage and is only recently trying to reconnect, smaller studios and independents will have the opportunity to flourish and show that 2D animation has much more left to offer.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bride & Groom Charcoal Time Lapse

Here is a time lapse of me working on the charcoal portrait "Bride & Groom"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quick Update

The blurriness of the reference photo is really showing. I mean it looks fine but if you compare this portrait to the previous one of my father and step mother, you'll see a lack of crispness and sharpness in this one.

Otherwise, things are coming together.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Current Project

I am currently working on another charcoal portrait. This one is giving me some trouble since the reference photo I was given was small and blurry. Here is a shot of what I've done so far:
I've just started on this one and so far it is turning out well, but I fear I'll have problems down the way.

Here's hoping for an easy one.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Corpse Bride

I've finally gotten around to watching Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride and I must say it was average. At times the film was wonderfully dreary and at times colorful, but there were some animation let downs that kept it from being more.

My biggest critique is on the character designs. There definitely was the Burto nstamp on things, but it seemed too similar to the nightmare before Christmas. Aesthetically the characters were interesting enough, but their functionality for animation was stunted. Especially mouth movement on character's like Victoria. her mouth was so small and barely moved, which did fit her timid personality, but it makes for boring animation. The animation of entire character's also felt stiff at times which could also be attributed to the stiffness of society, but again not very riveting animation.

The story was interesting but the climax seemed a bit dull and many parts of the movie felt rough in terms of putting story together.

It may be that since I have seen Coraline before this film, I am comparing too much, but I think they should be compared.

Check out the two trailers below and compare!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Charcoal Portraits

So, I've started doing charcoal portraits for income. I am currently working on a freebie I promised my father and step-mother as a wedding present. I have done a few in the past, one of my favorites being Three Boys. I have also published my website: where I will post the things I need in order to do a charcoal portrait for someone. It also acts as my artist portfolio and a place to showcase my progression in animation!

Anyways: Here are some photos of my previous portraits.

Three Boys

The Charitable Couple

What I am currently working on:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Animation X-Sheet

here are some animation dope sheets you can download:

Download US Legal


Download US Letter

Friday, June 5, 2009

Avatar: The Last Airbender is Korean?

Okay. Lets talk a little about outsourcing. Did you used to watch Rugrats? How about anyone watching The Simpsons? Are you a fan of Futurama? How about Ed Edd n Eddy, or SpongeBob SquarePants, or The Powerpuff Girls? Well, that animation is more than likely Korean. Actually, the shows I just list are Korean.

Hold up. These are American shows. Their creators are American, as well as the voice actors, writers... whats up!?

Well it started long ago with a well known animation studio that has received a bad reputation for "ruining" cartoons. You see, animation was a theater only thing. They were short and the cost to make an animated film was incredibly high. When the first animations spilled into theaters, they were primitive and cheap and usually double billed with another film. Thus a tradition of seeing a cartoon before a movie began. A tradition that is no longer practiced. Soon cartoons started becoming more sophisticated with better techniques and technology. One of the sole contributors to this advancement in the field was Walt Disney. He kept pushing his animations to become better and better. He pushed so much, that they also became too expensive. Their was little business left in the area of the short subject cartoon. So the leap to feature length animation occurred. More profit was made by this decision, and soon Disney practically stopped making short subjects. The studio who still benefited from the short animation was Warner Brothers with their Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies series. These cartoons still made money because they were a bit more crude and it brought costs down. They survived until the 1960's. More demand for cartoons came, but the issue was they were providing less and less money to produce them. So, one studio decided to make a jump from the silver screen to the tube. The biggest problem that prevented animation studios from taking the leap to television was the amount to produce animation grossly overshot the any possible profit. Until Hannah-Barbera. They cut costs by making huge changes in the way they produced their animation. They would have still characters with only one small portion of them moving, use the camera to fake a movement rather than animate it moving, write scripts that relied a lot on verbal comedy almost like a radio drama, and finally... they OUTSOURCED! Ever since then animation, for television especially, has been outsourced to a Malasia, Korea, China, and India. It's the price you pay to put cartoons on T.V.

Well, is outsourcing bad? No. Not really. It's actually quite good since it has made it possible for many of our favorite cartoons to be produced. The current burst in the industry is because we can make it so cheaply.

I don't like it. Here, lets take a look at what exactly gets outsourced. What part is American made and what part is not.

Most often the setup is this:

\\Someone thinks up the show idea.
\\Story is written
\\Character Models and Object Models are drawn
\\Storyboards are drawn
\\Speech it recorded
\\Extremes are drawn from the storyboard
\\Timing is placed on the Extremes

\\Backgrounds are drawn
\\Extremes are in-betweened
\\Animation is cleaned up
\\Animation is colored
\\Effects are added
\\Animation is filmed

\\Review animation for any need changes
\\Add sound FX & music

Basically the studio here in the US does all the planning and ships it out for others to do the grunt work. Everything has already been planned out for the Asian studio to just follow the directions to put everything together. That's not too horrible, except it takes some of the love in hard work out of the job. Some things can also get lost in translation of not only language but culture.

Now lets go back to Avatar: The Last Airbender. What's interesting about this is the amount of responsibility that was given to their Korean studio.

\\Someone thinks up the show idea.
\\Story is written
\\Character Models and Object Models are drawn
\\Storyboards are drawn
\\Speech it recorded

\\Extremes are drawn from the storyboard
\\Timing is placed on the Extremes

\\Backgrounds are drawn
\\Extremes are in-betweened
\\Animation is cleaned up
\\Animation is colored
\\Effects are added
\\Animation is filmed

\\Review animation for any need changes
\\Add sound FX & music

Only two things are moved into the workflow of the Korean studio, but if you look at the content of them, you realize it is a lot.

Animators make drawn pictures move. They look at the storyboards, fill in key movements between one storyboard frame and the next, time it out, and then once it is in-betweened you'll have animation. For Avatar, no one in America touched the animation. Storyboards laid out what the shot would be and a guidline for what the animators should do, but the actions, motions, everything that moves was planned, timed and executed by Korean animators!

An article in the NY Times reported how the storyboards sent to the Korean studio only had a man fainting, but since the Koreans were in charge of connecting point A to point B, they produced a man who excitingly foams at the mouth before fainting. The piece was completely created within the Korean studio with no American making the decision to do it. Now I actually found that scene absolutely hilarious. I am also not saying that all this is a bad thing. Avatar is a great series! What I am trying to get across is that this isn't American animation. I guess you could argue that no animation that is outsourced is truly American, but at least the movements are planned out by American animators, and the other studio just follows the instructions.

It's like this:
An engineer is commissioned to design a business building, the big wigs tell him what they want. He makes the blueprint that instructs a construction crew exactly how to assemble the building. Someone else also furnishes the building.

Well the Engineer and his employer is like the American Studio, while the construction crew and furnishers are the outsourced studio.

For Avatar, the Engineer is apart on the outsourced group.

Now, this example is not exact. There are many other things that go on besides what I've mentioned. But the basic gist is there. Avatar was thought up by two Americans, but they went to Koreans to animate it for them.
Why does this bug me? Well where does the animation industry's future lie if animation studios are starting to shift more responsibility to outsourced studios? Will I have to move to Korea to land a job!? I don't think anything that drastic is going to happen. At least not anytime soon. But it does make one wonder. I want to animate. I want to make things move! I think I'll live with someone else filling in my blanks so long as I can plan out their job. But the job I want to do, was not done by Americans in Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Animation Resource HUNT

okay. So I've been scouring the internet looking for some good animation resources to use as independent study tools, and I've been finding some pretty interesting stuff! It took some time to find where this kind of stuff would be stashed, but I found a lot of very useful material in the blogs of working animators! I first tried looking at college and teacher websites, hoping that materials would be posted for students, but nada. Instead I somehow stumbled upon on animators blog, which had links to many other blogs. So I found a wealth of animation information! I'll post some of the blogs here so anyone can track down these findings.

I found some interesting hand poses and model sheets at this blog:
I also found a great pdf on the Animopus blog of Walt Stanchfield's Gesture Drawing for Animators!

here is an animator who was working on Coraline and some other Disney projects, AND is an instructor at Cal-Arts:
Hand Drawn Nomad
Check the archives of this blog, there are some great technique tutorials for animation

This next blog, don't let the front page fool you. Check out the different categories and you'll find some interesting animation stuff:
Lost in the Plot
Also check out his links of friend, I found more interesting animation blogs through that!

This blog's name explains it all. It has some great concept art, character designs and storyboard art for many different animation projects:
Character Design
I especially liked seeing the storyboards to the first few scenes of UP

This next blog is one for working animators:
TAG Blog

This blog only has some simple tutorials, but it is interesting:
Angry Animator

Here is a site that is posted notes from SIGGRAPH 94 class with John Lasseter on Animation Tricks

This is a link to a forum with a list of helpful links that led me to find some of these interesting blogs.

This is also an interesting blog with old Disney artwork and probably more, but I have yet to dive into it deeper:
The Blackwing Diaries

Here's a great site with animation tips & tricks. It is hosted by's founders and provides some interesting information:
Animation Tips & Tricks

Also, even though is predominantly computer animation, there are some great reference materials on their site. Look for their free downloadable Tips & Tricks PDF, both vol. 1 & vol. 2.

Well there's a start! I hope anyone who stops by that is interested in animation will check these places out. They're worth the time!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Disney/Pixar's UP

When I first saw previews for Pixar's newest film "UP" I was not all that excited to go see it. The idea of a house being carried by thousands of helium balloons is pretty far-fetched. And yes, I know it's a cartoon they can get away with it, but it turned me off. The previews did not show much of the character's personalities besides a grumpy old man and a small boy scout type boy.

Well today was my wife's birthday and she wanted to go see a movie. She chose UP and I didn't have any problem with that. I was surprisingly interested to see what it was really about. Pixar has been cranking out films that have all been big hits and I've been waiting for a flop. This definitely wasn't it.

UP is excellent. It is not Pixar's most polished film. Wall-E was a visual feast for the eyes in the beginning of the film with its realism and a design wonderland on the Axiom later. UP is a different kind of beautiful. First, everything begins with a great story. Pixar has emphasized the importance of story and it is what keeps their films on the top. The visual beauty is just icing on the cake. UP's story begins with Carl Fredricksen as a boy. His childhood imagination latches onto a specific adventurer who searches for an elusive monster in the wilderness of South America. He becomes friends with a young girl his age, Ellie, you shares his adventuring hobby. They make a pact to one day go to South America. In a heart-wrenching montage, the lives of Carl and Ellie pass before our eyes. They become old and without ever completing their dream. Ellie becomes ill and passes away, leaving Carl alone. The true movie is between Carl and the memory of Ellie in his heart. Even though he travels in his house, lifted by balloons, the movie is mostly internal.

The visuals of the film take a step back from Wall-E's realism and look a lot like character's from the Incredible's universe. But the imagery is still beautiful. The shots of the house flying in the clouds are complemented by a wonderful score by Michael Giacchino.

I really enjoyed this film. "It's the boring things that you remember most."
Take a look at the trailers:

Teaser Trailer

Go here to view special UP-isodes.

At CNet, there is an article about how Pixar animated thousands of balloons.
CNN has an article talking about the secret to Pixar's success: Their people.

This film is a mish mash of many things. There are some ridiculous events that are funny, but in no way plausible, like getting to South America in a night or even the house lifted by balloons! But these things are easily overlooked when you become emotionally attached with the characters. The talking dogs piloting small fighter planes was also a stretch bu funny. My screenwriting teacher would question many of the motivations in this movie, saying that their motivation was not strong enough to cause them to do what they did. I say they were. If they weren't we wouldn't have a film. A hilarious addition to the cast is Dug the dog. He is funny because he is so true to how we see dogs. My wife really enjoyed the quote: "I hid under the porch because I love you."

I won't say too much more, but I urge anyone to go see this film. It is excellent. Pixar is still going strong. Be prepared to laugh and cry. If you are married, this film is a real tearjerker.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Okay, so I am really stoked about the new film 9 by Shane Acker. I remember seeing his short film "9" that sparked the feature film. I think I saw it when I attended the 3rd Animation Show in Detroit. Anyways, after seeing two trailers I've become very interested in the film.

Please view them for yourself:

Trailer 1
Trailer 2

The trailers are very good. I love the music in them and the imagery shown is very graphic, showing some of the characters being drained of their life. I love it. It's going to be hard waiting until September to see this movie, but I will definitely be going to see it in the theater.

Check out production drawings, storyboards and an interview with director Shane Acker here: Interview

Also check out Shane Acker's site.

The original short has become very hard to find and I am hoping that when the feature 9 is released on DVD the short will be included.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Independent Animators in History

Suzan Pitt was a painter that fell into animation. Her painterly skills are shown throughout this film:

Joanna Priestly - her website

Bill Plympton is one of the most known independent animators. His work was frequently played on MTV and he continues to create a large library of work. Plymptoons website


25 Ways To Quit Smoking - More free videos are here

Don Hertzfeldt has become one of the most popular contemporary independent animators. His style is very simple but he puts a large amount of work into creating the specific look and timing that is in his work. He works with no digital equipment and shoots his films analogue. HE also is a big stickler for viewing the films in the highest quality possible and really hates that people watch them online. So HERE YOU GO!


William Kentridge is a fine artist and his work is considered so. Doing his animations in charcoal and editing the same picture over and over, a ghost image remains from the path of moving objects. It is very hard to view his work outside of a museum or art gallery since this is the only way he chooses them to be seen and experienced. You can catch some clips of his work on YouTube if you like.

Yuri Norstein is a Russian animator who does beautiful work with cut out animation. He is currently having trouble finding someone to finance his films since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stop Motion History.

Lets look through some clips for the history of Stop Motion!!!

This film, The Cameraman's Revenge, was the first character stop motion animation. It was made by Ladislas Starewitch, who was fascinated by bugs. In trying to capture the mating rituals of bugs, he found it difficult, since when ever he turned on the light, the bugs would just scurry away. So he produced this system of moving dead bugs to make his own tales and stories.

Next came Willis O'Brien. His independent films did not succeed due to unimaginative gags and story, but the technique was beautiful. This led him into the special effects business for Hollywood films. He is the man who made King Kong live.

This next film was also credited to Willis O'Brien, but is mostly the work of O'Brien's talented Pupil, Ray Harryhousen.

Ray Harryhousen has a wildly imaginative talent that led to some great Sci-Fi classics. Here is some clips of his work from the various movies he has immortalized. He considers himself more of a technician than an artist.

Jiri Trnka was a Czechoslovakian animator. His Junior High art teacher was one of the last great puppeteers left in the world, and Jiri was greatly influenced by this. Check out the beautiful wooden puppets in this film.


Jan Svankmajer produced his animations with found objects, rather that manufacturing puppets to animate. This sometimes disgusting and gritty approach creates a very unique quality to his work.



Greatly influenced by Svankmajer's aesthetic, the Brothers Quay step into the spotlight with utterly beautiful and disturbing set design and characters. Unlike Svankmajer, there is no humor to balance out the disturbing imagery.

Watch 19. Street of Crocodiles (Timothy & Stephen Quay, 1986) in

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fall 2009 Class Schedule

26-2075 01 Digital Aniamtion Techniques I, S. Perkins, Monday 9a - 11:50a

26-3050 01 Acting for Animators, F. Maugeri, Monday 3:30p - 6:20p

26-2030 02 Stop-Motion Animation, D. Crisanti, Monday 6:30p - 9:20p

26-2010 01 Animation Camera & Sound, B. Young, Wednesday 9a - 11:50a

51-1330 03 Japanese I, B. Traczyk, Monday & Wednesday 1p - 2:50p

I am really excited for these classes. I know I will have fun in Frank Maugeri's Acting for Animators class. In Camera & Sound is where we learn timing on dope sheets and start dealing with sound and lip sync. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More Animation History Clips

Here are a few more clips from Censorship, racism, and WWII week:
This is just a good Felix cartoon. Love the caricatures in it.


Here's a WWII clip. These SNAFU cartoons were made by Leon Schlesinger and the gang who made Looney Tunes. They were headed off by the government, specifically Frank Capra!


Dr. Suess wrote this! Can you guess who's voice Snafu's is copying?

This is one of the best Looney Tunes ever in my opinion. Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese combo was awesome. This was the first tune that change Daffy from crazy to cynical.




WWII Bugs Bunny cartoon.... WOW


A Walter Lantz cartoon (Woody Woodpecker creator) He was really ragged on when they tried to redistribute this cartoon.


This short by Bob Clampett is a little easier to watch since it is mixed with Jazz and has some war reference.

Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

UPA style

Well, the Midterm Exam for Animation History was on Monday. I think I did fairly well. Before the midterm we had lecture on UPA. Pretty simply stuff, literally. Watched Hellbent for Election by Chuck Jones, the first Mr. Magoo, Gerald McBoing Boing, and this Yugoslavian UPA style cartoon which was... interesting. Enjoy:



Yes, the train had FDR's face



Yes, Dr. Suess is in the credits


Well that is the interesting stuff to date. I am hoping to post some of my Drawing for Animation work up soon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mid Semester Update

It has been a while since I've blogged here. Well, the Spring Semester is almost half-way through and it has been a pretty intense one. It's also be very aggravating. My Classes this semester are as follows:
Animation History
Screenwriting I
Drawing For Animation
Animation Story Board Concept & Design

Animation History is a blast. The teacher is fun, and we get to watch cartoons for the entire class! The most interesting one to date was this last class. We were discussing Censorship, Racism, and WWI cartoons. We watched Disney's "The Winged Scourge"

Well, that was nothing compared to what the teacher showed us next... no intro, just watch...

Again, no comment. So...

In Screenwriting, We've been putting together a short film screenplay of 6-8 minutes based on an unexpected discovery. I was having trouble at first, but after a few revisions, the teacher has told it is one of the best in the class. That's cool, but I don't even like the thing... lol. This class has a lot of restrictions on what you can write about: no monsters, no aliens, no creatures of any kind, nothing out of the norm, has to be character driven and dialogue driven. It still has been fun. The teacher took a bit to get used to since he's an old Romanian, he has this thick accent which makes communication between students and teacher difficult.

Drawing for Animation has be my hardest class in workload and emotional hardship. I am a little disappointing by the teacher. Other classes of Drawing for Animation are really breaking down the information technically to assist students in animating. Our teacher just simple gives us a hand out with no break down. Just a visual representation of a walk and no further explanation. ::Sigh:: It has been getting better though... I've just had to do a lot of SELF teaching in order to get the results I want. But Damnit... If I am paying $16,000 a year for someone to make me self teach myself... I'd be pissed. I am pissed. Aww.. but screw it... I've been rolling out some of the better animations in the class, and have been attentive of any loose materials left by other classes. I think I'll be alright.

Animation Storyboard Concept & Design is an okay class. Most of the class is nothing though. We often are waiting for the teacher to get back from an errand or a break. She's a nice teacher, but sometimes the class feels disjointed and all over the place. She has also had a problem of precisely conveying what she wants of us. But its okay, since she isn't a harsh grader. But in a way, I wish she was a harsh grader, so I know exactly what I need to work on.

So anyways, that's the update in a nutshell. Midterms are coming up, so we'll see how they turn out!!!