Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Run Hamster Run!" - New Hand Drawn Animated iPhone Game

(story via CartoonBrew)



Character Concept art © Erin Humston.


Animation students pay attention:

Here's an inspiring example of an independent animator, Erin Humston, developing and selling his own work directly through the iTunes Store . I hope this is the sort of thing that many of our present day students will be thinking of doing (i.e. developing their OWN original properties) rather than just thinking their only option is "I'll graduate from school and then just go to work for Big X_______ corporate studio". Nothing wrong with that and it's a good way to learn the ropes in the business, but while you're paying your dues toiling away at Big Studio X always be working on developing your own ideas and characters , and thinking of ways to market your work so that it benefits you directly. (something that will support you , not just put more money into the coffers of Big Studio X.)


© Erin Humston.


No one knows for sure where hand drawn animation is headed - but one outlet seems to be thriving: mobile video games.

Here’s another for the list of intriguing new 2d-cartoon iPhone games: Run Hamster Run.

Erin Humiston did all the artwork and animation, and produced the game with a handful of people in Orlando, Florida. The animation is all hand-drawn.

It’s now available at the iTunes store. Here’s a sample:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Disney's The Princess and the Frog - Dec. 11 - Go see it !


(lead animator Bruce Smith, animating on
The Princess & the Frog)

It's been 6 years since Disney has released a hand-drawn animated film. Going into wide-release this Friday, Dec. 11 - The Princess and the Frog.

The time to go see this film is opening weekend , Friday Dec. 11 or Sat. Dec. 12 would count the most, through Sunday Dec. 13 is fine too .

The opening weekend box-office numbers will count for a lot as to whether Disney's return to hand-drawn animation is perceived as a hit . (and hand-drawn animation could use a genuine, revival-inducing, Little Mermaid-like hit right about now).

So far the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Let's hope the general movie-going public agrees.

Time Magazine rates the Top 10 Movies of 2009. Look what film they rate at #1. ---

The Princess and the Frog

“Musker and Clements have bucked the odds and made a cartoon feature that is true to vintage Disney traditions (like wishing upon a star) yet moves with a contemporary verve and bounce. In an amazing year for animation, The Princess and the Frog is up at the top. “

-Richard Corliss, for Time Magazine



Friday, December 4, 2009

November 11 Second Club - B.J. Crawford

Another great entry from B.J. Crawford into the 11 Second Club competition (November 2009) --



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

AAU School of Animation Fall Animation Festival - December 4, 2009

AAU animation students, attend the annual AAU School of Animation Fall Animation Festival , held this year on December 4, 2009.

The special guest speaker will be Disney supervising animator Nik Ranieri.

Nik Ranieri is equally at home in CG Animation ("Chicken Little" "Meet the Robinsons" , "Bolt") as well as Traditional Hand Drawn Animation. He has been the Supervising Lead Animator on many Disney feature films. His latest role has been as the Supervising Animator on the character "Charlotte" in Disney's newest hand-drawn animated film "The Princess & the Frog" .


Event: School of Animation Fall 2009 Animation Festival

Date: 12/4/2009
Time: 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Location: Morgan Auditorium, 491 Post St., San Francisco, CA, 94108


Phone for info. : 415- 618-3625

(*This event will be video recorded and posted online at a later date .)


(from the National Cartoonists Society web page)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Secret of Kells - Special Screening


For Your Consideration: 2009 Academy Award Nominee for Best Animated Feature -- "THE SECRET OF KELLS".


If you live near Burbank, CA "The Secret of Kells" will be playing it's qualifying theatrical run for the Oscar nomination at the AMC Burbank 8 from Dec. 4 - Dec. 10, 2009.

Tickets and other information here: http://www.gkids.tv/kells/

(click image to view it larger)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Day For Hand Drawn Animation - 2009

"A Day For Hand-Drawn Animation -2009"
(click on image to view it larger)

I posted about this last year , here:

http://hand-drawn-animation.blogspot.com/2008/11/day-for-hand-drawn-animation.html

with a follow-up post , here:


This annual "Day for Hand Drawn Animation" is sponsored by Tahsin and Lâle Özgür at Maltepe University in Istanbul .

All devotees of hand drawn animation are invited to mark the day , regardless of their geographical location. (the internet creates such a small world).

This year Tash and Lâle write:

November 18th, a Day for Hand-Drawn Animation

A universe of dreams and fantasy that opened up with
Steamboat Willie on November 18th, 1928, or even earlier, with Little Nemo in 1911. A universe wonderful for the spectator, and even more so for the artists and craftsmen.

The tradition is alive and well in 2009.

May we all celebrate, those of us who insist on keeping it alive, and those of us who never tire of watching!

-Tash & Lâle Özgür


I thought the point that Tash made last year about the distinction of "hand drawn animation" is important to repeat:

"We call it, in our quaint Oriental tongue, Çizgi Film Bayrami, which clumsily translates as "Line-Film Holiday" or something ... "Line-Film" being what we call this kind of film. English lacks a direct equivalent, and the more generic term "animation" might have even facilitated the CG takeover ("it's all animation, isn't it?")

Think of our concept of "line film" as closer to the French "dessin animé" ("animated drawing") - it's French, language of culture, so it probably has more weight in the argument. Which argument? Why, that hand drawn animation is a distinct art form, and not simply a step on the way towards something else. "
------

Recently the veteran animator/designer/director Gene Deitch made a similar point in a speech prepared for the Xiamen International Animation Festival (Oct. 30th-Nov. 3rd) in China. Gene's speech is titled "Quo Vadis Animation?" The entire text of his speech is on Cartoon Brew:


Here is the summary:

“The core of my speech is a pitch for the survival and eventual return to primary favor of “drawn animation.” (Don’t provoke me by mentioning the term “2D” in my presence!)"

Here is a video Gene made since his travel visa was not approved by the Chinese government , so he was not able to present the speech at the Xiamen International Animation Festival :

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On the survival of Drawn Animation

My friend , animator Tahsin Özgür has often made the point that the term "2D animation" is inadequate to use when referring to what we know as classical or traditional hand drawn animation. Writing of the annual "Day for Hand Drawn Animation" celebration that he and his wife Lale sponsor at Maltepe University in Istanbul , Tash says:


"We call it, in our quaint Oriental tongue, Çizgi Film Bayrami, which clumsily translates as "Line-Film Holiday" or something ... "Line-Film" being what we call this kind of film. English lacks a direct equivalent, and the more generic term "animation" might have even facilitated the CG takeover ("it's all animation, isn't it?")

Think of our concept of "line film" as closer to the French "dessin animé" ("animated drawing") - it's French, the language of culture, so it probably has more weight in the argument.
Which argument? Why, that hand drawn animation is a distinct art form, and not simply a step on the way towards something else. "

Recently the veteran animator/designer/director Gene Deitch made a similar point in a speech prepared for the Xiamen International Animation Festival (Oct. 30th-Nov. 3rd) in China. Gene's speech is titled "Quo Vadis Animation?" The entire text of his speech is on Cartoon Brew:

http://www.cartoonbrew.com/ideas-commentary/gene-deitch-quo-vadis-animation.html

Here is the summary:

“The core of my speech is a pitch for the survival and eventual return to primary favor of “drawn animation.” (Don’t provoke me by mentioning the term “2D” in my presence!)"

Here is a video Gene made since his travel visa was not approved by the Chinese government , so he was not able to present the speech at the Xiamen International Animation Festival :

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pups of Liberty - a new animated film by Bert & Jennifer Klein


Directed by Bert and Jennifer Klein, copyright Picnic Productions 2009.

This new animated film looks absolutely charming. "Pups of Liberty" is a 15 min. animated film directed by Bert and Jennifer Klein. The story of the 'Boston Teabone Party' told with cats and dogs. Beautiful 2D hand drawn animation.


(and check out the full crew list : http://www.pupsofliberty.com/FullCrewCredits.html . Quite the impressive pedigree this film has !)

--------

*UPDATE: There is now an interview about the making-of "Pups of Liberty" with the directors Jennifer & Bert Klein on Michael Sporn's blog. Check it out :

http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/?p=2018

Many nice stills from the film are posted and Michael mentioned that in his next blog post tomorrow he will be posting some pre-production artwork from the film that the Klein's sent to him for the interview.

Tom pencil test (Tom & Jerry)

I haven't posted a classic pencil test in a while.  Here for your inspiration is a scene from Hanna Barbera's  MGM Tom & Jerry cartoons. Not sure which of the regular T & J animators did this scene :  Irv Spence, Ed Barge, Ken Muse, Ray Patterson. (or another ?)   Enjoy.

Behind the Scenes at Disney's Talent Development Program


“You learn something from every production that you’re on, even if it’s, you know, a commercial that lasts three weeks. You learn something from it.”

All of our AAU Online animation students should be interested to hear this podcast interview with young animation artists who have recently gone through the Disney Animation Talent Development Program and are now working on production at Disney:



Listen to an exclusive interview as Clay Kaytis, Disney animator and creator of the Animation Podcast, talks to five young artists from Walt Disney Animation Studios. 


These animators share their educational experience, what it's like to be mentored, and their journey toward becoming members of the crew with a voice in the process of creating animated films.


To hear the podcast, go to:


Disney Talent Development Program alumni on the Animation Podcast



Check out the other great animation podcasts on the site with great animators such as Dale Baer, Eric Goldberg, Nik Ranieri,  Glen Keane, etc.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"The Apple and The Worm" , new hand-drawn feature film

The Apple & the Worm is a new hand-drawn feature film from director Anders Morgenthaler.

The film was hand-drawn, but was animated paperlessly on Wacom Cintiq tablets using
TVP Animation software.

I don't understand a word of the Danish dialogue in the trailer , but it looks funny.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pencil Test Depot - great resource

Add this one to your bookmarks and check it frequently:


The Pencil Test Depot


This collection (which is ever-growing) of pencil tests was put together by animator Jamaal Bradley who writes:

"The Pencil Test Depot blog is for the people who love pencil tests. It can also be used as a resource for animators who are looking to study another animators work."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thoughts from Brad Bird

I came across this quote from Brad Bird on CartoonBrew recently:

"It’s also worth noting that (Wall Street) analysts are always bullish about any studios whose production slates are loaded with sequels, remakes, and “re-boots”.

This particular poverty of imagination is absolutely mainstream thinking when it comes to businessmen, who are all about recognizing patterns of success that they assume are repeatable… no matter how often that very approach fails.

They always try to copy the original THING rather than the CONDITIONS that allowed the original thing to come into being."

– Brad Bird

He totally nails it. They try to copy the original thing rather than the conditions that allowed the original thing to come into being. Exactly.

"Hey, make me something like Bugs Bunny... yeah, that's it , give me the New Bugs Bunny" , they say , instead of considering "What were the conditions operating at the time of the Leon Schlesinger Studio that caused the artists working there to create characters like Bugs Bunny?" Why not try to replicate those creative conditions that gave rise to those classic cartoons and then see what happens ?



Also for more thoughts along those lines from Brad Bird, read this article from the McKinsey Quarterly on Fostering Innovation , which has been around for a couple of years, but is worth reading again if you've seen it before, or if you missed it the first time around take a look:


This link is to an excerpt from the full article. To read the full article you'll need to subscribe to The McKinsey Quarterly.

Among the gems from this interview with Brad Bird are :


Lesson Five: High Morale Makes Creativity Cheap

The Quarterly: It sounds like you spend a fair amount of time thinking about the morale of your teams.

Brad Bird: In my experience, the thing that has the most significant impact on a movie’s budget—but never shows up in a budget—is morale.

If you have low morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about 25 cents of value. If you have high morale, for every $1 you spend, you get about $3 of value. Companies should pay much more attention to morale.

Again, he's talking about creating the conditions under which creativity can flourish.

-------

In a similar vein these thoughts from Frank Zappa about the demise of the music industry which can be applied directly to most of the animation industry today (in the first 2:10 of this interview) :

(from CartoonBrew.com)

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sylvain Chomet's "The Illusionist"

"The Illusionist" from a script by Jacques Tati , directed by Sylvain Chomet ("The Triplettes of Belleville")

The film is near completion (post-production) . Pathe is releasing in Europe, but no word on a U.S. release yet.

Latest images of the film released by Pathe (via Victor Ens' blog)

(click on images to see them larger)





The film is about “a dying breed of stage entertainer whose thunder is being stolen by emerging rock stars. Forced to accept increasingly obscure assignments in fringe theaters, garden parties and bars, he meets a young fan who changes his life forever.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Milt Kahl pencil test - King Louis and Mowgli

Some Milt Kahl pencil test goodness :



(a drawing or two are missing, so a couple of bumps not there in the original , but this is pretty much complete)

Friday, September 4, 2009

"The Cat Piano" by Eddie White and Ari Gibson

Beautiful hand-drawn animation and design in the short film "The Cat Piano" by Eddie White and Ari Gibson of the People's Republic of Animation Studio .

(click through to the link on Vimeo to watch in HD.)



Model sheet of The Poet from "The Cat Piano"

© People's Republic of Animation

See the production blog:
"The Cat Piano" Production Blog

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Richard Purdum - Tate Gallery Liverpool , Modern Art

Amazing animated commercial for the Tate Gallery Liverpool, by Richard Purdum. (from 1988)



The image in the video (from VHS tape) is a bit soft and the colors not as vivid as the original, but this YouTube video is the only version of this I could find online.

If you want to see what it actually looked like go to Hans Bacher's blog to see frame grabs from a good print:

Tate Gallery Liverpool , Modern Art - by Richard Purdum

Monday, August 24, 2009

Eric Goldberg talk- AAU Fall Animation Festival 2008

Each Fall the Academy of Art University Animation Department has a Fall Animation Festival. In 2008 the special guest speaker was master animator Eric Goldberg who regaled the assembled students with a recounting of his brilliant career in animation (ongoing) with film clips accompanying his many charming anecdotes about his adventures in animation.


Click on the link to view Eric's presentation.


(once you get to the "Industry on Campus" site , click on the link to "Industry on Campus: Eric Goldberg") .

I hope you enjoy watching this presentation as much as I did.

If you're an animation student at Academy of Art University (or anywhere else) and you don't yet own a copy of Eric's wonderful book "Character Animation Crash Course" then GET IT . (I mean it : go order it right now. Hop to it !)

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Second Wind" by Ian Worrel

Ian Worrel's student film, "Second Wind" (Cal Arts, 2008).



Click HD to watch in high-def. Or go to YouTube to watch it larger.

(via Alan Cook's blog)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bill Tytla - Stromboli Pencil Test



Animation by Bill Tytla of the character Stromboli from "Pinocchio".

I found good quality scans of this scene on Michael Sporn's excellent blog: http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/

I wanted to try syncing it up with the sound, so am reposting it here. If you compare it to the final color version there are a few drawings missing. On the hold after he says "knock you silly" and is looking menacingly off-screen at Pinocchio the animator had a moving hold on drawing marked "D H-66" . The body is traced back from D H-66, but the beard continues to overlap and settle for 10 frames as Stromboli glowers . I covered this by adding a small interpolation within that 10 frame hold so D H-66 isn't completely held. Later drawing D-132 is missing , so I added another interpolation between D-130 and D- 134 so the timing would be accurate when adding the sound .

Then again from drawing D- 174 to D-178 the inbetween drawing D-176 is missing. This is covered by interpolating D-174 and D- 178. If you look closely you'll notice these little "dissolves" , but it's not too distracting and it keeps the flow of the timing .

Also at the very end when he says "my little wooden gold mine" on the end of the word "gold mine" there should be a blink , but those drawings are missing from the scans. I simply held the last drawing D-224 for the length of time that the blink would take place if it was there. (again, the body was traced-back as a moving hold , with the eye blink. )

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Milt Kahl - Mr. Snoops Pencil Test



Mr. Snoops from "The Rescuers" , animated by Milt Kahl. I've seen a version of this recently that had some of the drawings missing . I don't have the Medusa level, but this one has all the Snoops drawings , except for during the long hold his nose level and his eye blinks are missing. (as Medusa says "You are TOO SOFT" she pokes his nose with her finger) . Lip sync is a little off , but this was as close as I could get it working with sound grabbed from a 30fps video, changing it to 24fps and trying to match to the 24fps pencil test. (for context I added the scene right after this one as he finishes his line "fuss about her teddy bear getting wet".)

Something else missing here is the dynamic way that Kahl moves the character within the layout . There is a subtle pan behind Snoops as he backs away from Medusa at the beginning, and again as he moves away from him after she says "You are TOO SOFT" ... You can't see it as much here with all the drawings centered, but if you watch the actual scene in the movie it has more of an illusion of space to it. Check it out on DVD or see a low-res clip on YouTube for comparison to the pencil test:

Rune Bennicke - Koda's Mom Pencil Test

Rough animation of the character "Koda's Mom" from BROTHER BEAR , animated by Rune Bennicke.
(looped three times for your viewing pleasure) .

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Badger Pencil Test - Fox & the Hound by Glen Keane ?

I've had photocopies of this scene from The Fox & The Hound for years. I've finally decided to scan them and make a proper pencil test of the scene so it can be shared. The person who gave the copies of the drawings to me said that Glen Keane animated this scene, but I'm not 100% certain about that because it didn't come with an X-sheet or a copy of the original scene folder. Could be Glen's ... If anyone has the draft from the film and can positively ID who animated this scene I'd appreciate it.




Friday, June 12, 2009

Milt Kahl Tribute - Videos online

(click image to see it larger)

In April the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences hosted a tribute to master animation Milt Kahl, which they called "Milt Kahl: Animation's Michelangelo" .

The Academy has now posted video excerpts from some of the panel speakers from that event, including John Musker, Ron Clements, Brad Bird, Andreas Deja, Floyd Norman, Richard Williams, John Pomeroy, and Alice Davis, among other notables.

Great memories of the master . Go watch the videos here, right now !  --- 

Milt Kahl Tribute Videos - Click HERE -

a little reminder of how amazing Milt's animation is: 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Myths of the Animation Industry


from The Illusionist directed by Sylvain Chomet

Excellent article from the folks at Animation Mentor that should be read by all students of animation:


By Mark Garabedian


The animation industry is the business of creating myth and magic. As such, it's not surprising that a myriad of meta-myths have arisen—easy-to-believe falsehoods about the industry itself. In preparing for their future careers, the next generation of animators and artists need not be waylaid by such rumors. Below are five common myths about the world of cartoons and the realities behind them.


Myth: 2D animation is a dying art -

Nothing could be further from the truth. While 3D animation is filling theaters across the globe, 2D art endures. Internationally, films such as Sony Picture's Persepolis ,Paprika , and The Secret of Kells continue to astound audiences with engrossing, hand-drawn cinema. In Scotland director/animator Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville) is nearing completion on his next hand-drawn animated feature , The Illusionist. In the U.S. , Walt Disney Animation is hard at work on its new 2D feature, The Princess and the Frog, while shows such as Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender and Cartoon Network's Chowder provide bright futures for the traditional style. Beyond television, the Internet has spawned numerous opportunities for vector animation (Flash and Toonboom) 2D projects as well.

Myth: It's essential to be adept at every facet of the animation process -

To quote G.I. Joe, "Knowing is half the battle." The other half is being good at what you do. Familiarity with the entire animation process can only help you, but you are being hired for a specific position. In the words of Knowledge Adventure 3D Artist Chris Marsh, "Fanning your effort and skills out to do everything the process demands only decreases your quality of work and increases production time, and that's never good." The animation process requires the efforts of many specialized individuals. Walt Disney didn't achieve his whimsical empire by being the greatest animator ever. He did so by assembling the greatest animation team ever. Discover what you do best and strive to do it better.

Myth: You want to work for a big studio -

Certainly there's no shame in working for a large studio. Who wouldn't want to have Mickey Mouse on their business card? But smaller studios have their share of perks too. A smaller company gives a great artist more opportunity to shine. Networking becomes easier, and there's more room to expand your personal style.

Myth: You should stick with a single studio for as long as possible -

Ladders: We all have the urge to climb them, especially corporate ones. But in the animation industry, sometimes it's important to spread your artistic wings. Surely no one wants an artist who never sticks around to finish a project, but by changing studios and production companies from time to time, you make yourself better known to the animation community as a whole, networking, and becoming associated with your body of work rather than your company's. "A good stint at a company is one to three years," says Big Bad Tomato digital storyboard artist Sylvia T. Leung, "it shows you are committed enough to stay, but ambitious enough to leave."

Myth: You don't need to know how to draw-

While drawing is not necessarily a key skill in today's world of texture mapping and wire framing, it's still a valuable technique in almost every step of the animation process. Putting pencil to paper, breaking down complex objects into simple shapes, and translating them into graphite blueprints will help artists of all fields better their craft. This ability will also make you more attractive to a wider number of prospective employers. Remember, even Rodin roughly sketched his figures before casting clay.

Just as 24 drawings a second creates the illusion of motion, assumptions and opinions give the illusion of industry facts. Fortunately, the truth is usually quite optimistic and should give any budding artist hope for their creative and professional future.



Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Frank Thomas "Hook" pencil test


Animation by Frank Thomas.

This post has been updated. The original version of this pencil test that I uploaded had some of the drawings missing .

I've rescanned this from the xerox copies I had . I located the missing drawings and I think I've got the timing and lip-sync pretty close to the original. (although I'm still not 100% happy with the lip-sync ... it's off, although sometimes it looks right on , so I wonder if it's the Flash player showing it at differing frame rates, depending on bandwidth at the time ? I should try to post this as a Quicktime so it'd be more accurate. )

There were no peg holes or numbers on the xerox copies I have of these drawings so I had to do a lot of guess work and "nudging" to get the drawings to register correctly, but I finally got it to look pretty solid. The parts of the drawings to the right of the screen where the image gets lighter and drops out are artifacts from the photocopies I have. Unfortunately it will just have to stay that way for now because I don't have the time to go in to touch-up the lines which dropped out.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Abe Levitow Notes on Animating

Animation drawing by Abe Levitow :


Mark Mayerson has posted a set of Notes on Animating by the master Warner Bros. animator Abe Levitow.

Click through the link to read the notes:

Notes on Animating by Abe Levitow

The last paragraph of Levitow's notes resonates now more than ever given the current precarious position of hand-drawn animation:

"Even though the Disney animator Marc Davis has said:  'Animation is an anachronism; it is that rarity, a handmade product in a mechanized age', the satisfaction gained from doing it well is the kind of satisfaction that can only be gotten by creating something with your own hands that no one has ever done before.  It's a sublime feeling ... you'll see !!"

Abe Levitow animation drawing :




(these great drawings are from the Abe Levitow webpage. Go there to see more of Abe's drawings.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More Animation Tutorials - Tony White's Desktop Academy


Seems like everywhere I look these days people are posting tutorials and training videos for classical hand-drawn animation .

The latest tutorial website to go up is Tony White's Desktop Academy of Traditional Animation.

He has the first free tutorial up on the subject of Keys, Extremes, and Inbetweening:

Desktop Academy Tutorial 01 - Inbetweening

For those of you who don't know about him, Tony is the author of the excellent books

"The Animator's Workbook",

"Animation from Pencils to Pixels ~ Classical Techniques for Digital Animators"


and the new book

"How to Make Animated Films" (to be released in June, 2009)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New "Princess & The Frog" trailer

First "official" trailer for Disney's new hand-drawn animated feature "The Princess & The Frog" ---




High Quality Quicktime .mov version of trailer

Looks beautiful. I'm looking forward to later this year :

August - Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea

December - The Princess & The Frog

Yay !

Drawing for Animation: Construction

James Baxter demonstrates how to construct a character for animation:



If you've not seen the sequence that James supervised for Kung Fu Panda go watch it here:

Kung Fu Panda Opening Dream Sequence


Also, as I mentioned a few posts below , Don Bluth has been posting some animation tutorials on YouTube to promote his longer Animation Tutorial DVD's . These clips are excerpts from the longer videos, but contain some good information on how to construct a cartoon character for animation:






And here's an interesting demonstration by Glen Keane on how he approaches animating a scene. Glen's initial approach is to get the feeling , to capture the "forces" that are animating the character from the inside.



Each of these artists has their own approach to drawing, but all have in common their use of the principle of constructing the character from basic forms in a rough drawing before going over top of those forms to draw the details of the character in outline. (it's like drawing from the "inside out") One thing I've noticed is that a lot of students are still trying to draw too "clean" , drawing in outline , but without any structure underneath the outlines of the drawings.

New Sub-section of blog: Animation Equipment



In the sidebar notice there is now a link to a new sub-section of this blog:   Hand-Drawn Animation Equipment which has sources and suggestions for setting up an animation workspace.




Most of the sources are the same ones listed to the right in the sidebar under the Links to "Animation Supplies"  and "Animation Software" ,  but I thought it would be useful to have a page with photos of the various kinds of animation desks, discs, etc. that are available.  I've also included some Do-It-Yourself instructions for those you who would prefer to build your own desk.


(photo by Dan Caylor)                                                                  

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ponyo watch



Posted below is a new "Ponyo On A Cliff by the Sea" trailer, from the French-language release.

This is all hand-drawn, from director Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Those who have seen it describe it as “very similar to 'My Neighbor Totoro' in tone, with a simpler plot that focuses more on the emotions of the young protagonists than anything else, and the animation is gorgeous.”



As usual, Daniel Thomas MacInnes' "The Ghibli Blog: Conversations on Ghibli" provides the best coverage leading up to the U.S. release of the film (by Disney) on August 14, 2009 :

Ponyo stills, clips , and other coverage on The Ghibli Blog

The U.S. release is supervised and produced by Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy, Hayao Miyazaki, John Lasseter, Steve Alpert .

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Don Bluth Animation Tips

I like to use this blog to post links to inspirational material or practical resources wherever they may be found. You can never read enough or practice enough when it comes to animation, so I see this blog as a supplement to what we're teaching you in your online classes.

I recently became aware that Don Bluth has been making a series of Animation Tutorials on DVD.

Don has generously posted some sample videos for free on his web site DonBluthAnimation.com .

Obviously the sample videos are to whet your appetite to purchase the full-length tutorials on DVD, but even the samples have some great "nuts & bolts" basic info. on animation. I suggest you check them out , especially if you are new to hand-drawn animation:


Basic Tutorial on Doing a Character Turn-around, Pegging, and Labeling drawings

Animating a Walk Cycle

Animating a small Bird in Flight

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*

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Frank Thomas Pencil Test - Lady and Tramp kiss

I have posted this pencil test on my blog previously , but thought that I'd repost it to bring your attention to some of the drawings from this sequence posted recently on Michael Sporn's excellent blog . Click on the link to Michael's blog to see the drawings.

L & T drawings

Here's the pencil test:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Classic Milt Kahl pencil test

I could watch these pencil tests for hours .  (I wish Disney would release special pencil test editions on the "extras" sections of the DVD's .)  

Mowgli trying to climb the tree , animated by Milt Kahl.

From Disney's "The Jungle Book". 



(found via Alan Cook, via Victor Ens)


Friday, April 17, 2009

An old one , but a good one : The Training of a Golden Age Animator

Looking through some notes today I found a link to a couple of old posts on other people's blogs that are worth reading for any of you animation students (and worth reading for those of us who have been around the business for a while) .

The first is an article on the ASIFA Animation Archive called "The Training of a Golden Age Animator" , which came about when the director of the ASIFA Animation Archive, Steve Worth, was asking himself the question: "What sort of education did golden age animators have? "

Steve posts some examples from the life of master animator Carlo Vinci.

The essay , "The Training of a Golden Age Animator" should be read and taken to heart by all of us who would be students of the art of animation.

The second bit of wisdom I have for you was posted by Will Finn : A Letter From Ward Kimball.   

When he was in High School the young Mr. Finn wrote to Disney animator Ward Kimball for advice about getting into the animation field. Kimball's letter, written in typical iconoclastic Kimball style, is a very sage piece of advice and despite the breezy style conveys that Kimball respected and cared for young animators or wannabe animators like Will Finn (who in fact went on to become one of our finest contemporary animators) .

Here is the reply that Ward Kimball sent to Will Finn:

Kimball letter to Finn

Good reading.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

SHOP TALK: Cintiq tablets and Paperless Animation



The latest issue of Steve Moore's online animation magazine FLIP! has a survey of animator's who are using Cintiq tablets for their professional and personal animation work.

Many of our students at Academy of Art University Online are animating paperlessly using Cintiqs and/or Intous tablets in our "traditional" (i.e. hand-drawn) animation classes . So this round up of professional opinions of how the workflow is changing (for better or worse) using tablet-based paperless animation is on interest.

Check out the discussion:

SHOP TALK: How Do You Like Your Cintiq ?

It's always interesting to listen to animators discussing their favorite tools (it used to be that animators would get in to long, often passionate discussions about what was the "best" pencil .)

I think my friend Rusty Mills has the most detailed answers about what it means to be a traditional animator working on a Cintiq .  Rusty emphasizes that it's not the Cintiq (or other tablets) that make something difficult to draw or to achieve a good line quality: it's the software being used and the computer that the tablet is attached to.

Rusty debunks several myths about using a Cintiq, such as:

"The Cintiq has terrible line quality."

Again it it entirely dependent on the software. Often the user doesn't know enough about a software package to alter the look of the line. I have even seen particular studios mandate bad line quality because the people in charge don't know how to use the software correctly.

If you find using a Cintiq alters your drawing style for the worse try changing some of the setting both in your software and in the tablet driver itself.


Following up on some of what Rusty talks about in that article on the "FLIP!" site here are things that I have found help to make animating with a tablet a much more enjoyable experience:

1.) Adjust the Digital Drawing Tools to your own preferences:

Also, an important point often missed by beginners to tablet based drawing is that the individual animator needs to make adjustments to the pre-set brushes and pencil tools that come with the software , be it TVPaint , Toonboom, or Flash, etc. The digital drawing tools in these programs can and should be tweaked to fit your own preferences , exactly as some animators prefer a certain type of pencil over another. (Blackwing 602 or Blaisdell Layout Pencil? Tombow or Col-Erase Tuscan Red ? ) Don't simply use the default settings on the drawing tools as they come with the software off the shelf . Play. Experiment . Try adjusting the tools until you get a "pencil" or a "pen" line that feels comfortable to draw with.

In addition to adjusting the drawing tools to fit your own preferences also be aware that some of the better animation programs such as TVP Animation (highly recommended) have custom "papers" which can be turned on in the background. The paper will give a more textured, toothy feel to the drawing , simulating the feel of drawing on a slightly rough surfaced paper.

For example here is a rough character sketch I did in TVP Animation with my own custom pencil tools . Most people looking at this sketch would have no idea that it wasn't drawn on paper:

(click image to see it larger)



2.) Project Resolution Size:

Another thing that many people overlook is that screen resolution of the project does matter : if your original file is low-res. like 640 x 480 you will not have nearly the same amount of control and subtly of line as working at full 2K Film Resolution 2048 x 1556 . Many people like to work at HD "wide-screen" resolution 1920 x 1080. Trying to get subtle line quality at 640 x 480 is like drawing on the back of a napkin or on a Post-It note compared to working on a large canvas or a large piece of high-grade bond paper. Sometimes I will work at lower resolutions if I'm just blocking in rough sketches that I know are not going to be any larger, the same as I will sometimes do a rough storyboard using Post-It notes , but if the line quality counts then use a larger resolution .

Then when you export your finished animation for uploading to a website you can reduce the size (say 2048 x 1556 output to 640 x 480 ) so the file sizes aren't unmanageable , but the original resolution should be as high as your computer can reasonably handle (this can become an issue if you don't have enough memory or your CPU is not fast enough ; as always a faster computer with more memory will run better. If your animation software runs sluggishly at high resolutions then it's time to upgrade ) .

3.) Wacom Pen Nibs:

Finally, be aware of the different types of stylus nibs that Wacom makes . The standard hard plastic nib that comes with the pen stylus can tend to be a bit slippery and hard to control as it skates across the surface of the tablet. Some people solve this by putting a thin piece of tracing paper vellum or a frosted (matte surface) piece of acetate over the tablet's surface to give the surface of the the tablet a bit of "grain" so the pen tip isn't quite so slippery. But another option that I prefer (especially for sketching rough animation drawings) is to use the Wacom "Felt Tip" nibs. These fiberous nibs feel more like drawing with a real pencil and are not as slippery as the standard plastic nib. For digital clean-up or "inking" I will sometimes use the Wacom "Stroke Nibs" which are like the standard plastic tip nibs, but they have a little spring in them which gives them a more flexible, springy feeling when laying down a line.

Here's another example of a "traditional" looking drawing done with a Cintiq tablet using the TVP Animation software:

(click image to view larger)


This is by Academy of Art Online instructor Mark Chong. Here's a screen capture time lapse movie of Mark drawing this in TVP:



Here's another video I found on YouTube showing the process of animating a traditional style animation scene (this time using Flash) in a paperless environment on the Cintiq tablet.