Thursday, November 29, 2007

Max is The Terminator!!

Here's my second go at a walk cycle. I'm still going for the T2 walk. I just text my best friend to loan me the DVD so I can study the walk. That's manily for the eye movements at the end. I'm then going to try and work in a camera angle in Maya. I'd like to position the camera low then pan up to his face.

But for now, here's my second pass.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My first few Maya tests

I downloaded the Personal Learning Edition (PLE) of Maya from the website. Since then I have been practicing and starting to get the feel for it. I'm starting to see the possibilities of what I can do. I then watched "Meet the Robinsons" and "Ratatouille" and started to see them in a completely different light. I was now seeing them from an animator's perspective. Before when I would watch CG animated movies, I always thought it was impossible for me to be a part of that. Now, I feel it is within my reach. I am nowhere near the caliber of those films, but I definitely now feel I am on the right path. I've been viewing several blogs from different animators. A few of them are currently enrolled, or have completed the Animation Mentor course. So I am able to see what lies ahead.

I've put together a clip of some of my animation tests. The first clip is to try and convey natural and fluid movement with a pendulum. The rest of the clips are a basic walk cycle. I even moved the shoulders and swayed the body to help push the action. The last clip, I added head and eye movements. The walk seemed very similar to the Robert Patrick walk from "Terminator 2".

The cycles are a little fast because I realized later that I was working on them with the frame rate set at 12 frames per second, not the standard 24 fps. So that's why it's a bit fast. I'll correct that next time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I'm IN!! I got the word the other day from my contacts at Animation Mentor and she said "everything is a go." There appeared to be a few snags, but she assured me everything will be taken care of. WHEW!! That is such a huge relief.

Now all I have to do is learn the software program Maya. I have already downloaded the Personal Learning Edition and purchased a book about it from work. If I can get a basic understanding of it before classes start, everything should be fine.

I'll get it.

The other cool part of it is I already have the "textbooks." First is "The Illusion of Life" by Frank & Ollie. The second is "The Animator's Survival Kit" by Richard Williams. This is great!! I already own both books...and a whole bunch more!! So I am GOOD TO GO!!


Friday, November 16, 2007

Almost there!

"Just a few more seconds!"

Well, since my last post everythings been happening so fast. I took the test for Animation Mentor. They received it and I was accepted! Then came the student loan. I always get nervous about stuff like this. I applied and that got approved as well! So I mailed off my submission packet Wednesday and they should be receiving it today (Friday). This is so exciting. I am still in a state of anticipation. Once I get the word that I am officially in, THEN I will be jumping for joy on Cloud 9. Right now, I am on Cloud 6.5.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'm broke! WOOHOO!!

I got 'em all!

Today was the release day for "Ratatouille" and "PIXAR Shorts"! The PIXAR DVD has an early history of the studio that runs 23 minutes. Very informative. I also picked up the book "To Infinity and Beyond" that tells the whole history of PIXAR.

My only complaint is that there are not enough special features. Since the release of "Cars", they have not been releasing that many "special" DVDs. has an excellent article why this is. Why?! The general public doesn't care how these features are made. Sad but true. So we, the animation fans/students, are made to suffer. Hopefully, they will release the "Super Genius" editions soon. And yes, I will probably have to purchase these DVDs again...and I will.

A nice unexpected bonus was the release of a book called "Nicktoons." It is about all the cartoons that started out on Nickelodeon. It has everything from "Ren & Stimpy" to "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and beyond. It was written by Jerry Beck from Thank you, Jerry!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Step two...

And then I wait.

I just took a quick admissions test for Animation Mentor. It was a quick eight minute exam, one shot only. They appeared to be simple IQ type questions. After looking at my scratch paper after the exam was done, I realized I definitely got one of the questions wrong. AAARRRGGHHH!!!! It was a math question and I read it too fast. My original was wrong and I soon realized the correct answer. GRRRR!!!! Oh well, hopefully I got the rest of them correct.

I was linked to an advisor, Victoria Tripp. I should be hearing from in about three weeks with the results of the exam. THREE WEEKS!! Oh, the torture! Oh, the agony! AGONY! AG-GO-NEE!!

And now I'm ok.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

One small step for Reenie...

I have taken the first step towards seeing my dreams come true. Today, I applied to the online animation school Animation Mentor. This is what I want to do with my life, make animated films. This is where I can learn how. I have seen several blogs from students currently enrolled in the program. It looks like so much fun. I know I can do this. I just pray that the review board reads my application and give me this chance. I pray my words will grant me favor with them. Wish me luck. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Pioneers

I have this book on the history of animation called "Animation Art: From Pencil to Pixel, The History of Cartoon, Anime & CGI" by Jerry Beck. It is a pretty amazing book. If I were to teach a class on Animation, this would be my history book.

I would like to profile some of the work of the early pioneers of animation.


J. Stuart Blackton (1875 - 1941)

" Humorous Phases of Funny Faces featured an artist's hand drawing the faces of a man and a woman with chalk. The faces begin to interact: the man blows cigar smoke and tips his hat. To achieve this movement, Blackton used a combination of chalk drawings and cut-outs.
To make it appear that his drawings moved, Blackton would make changes to them between the frames, resulting in a sequence in which the artist draws a face, his hand leaves the frame and the faces roll their eyes or blow cigar smoke. The hand appears again and erases the emboldened aniamted characters."


Winsor McCay (1867 - 1934)

"To produce Gertie, McCay drew 10,000 images onto rice paper and then mounted them on cardboard. Once they had been mounted, McCay was able to flip the drawings through a primitive machine to check his work. Gertie the Dinosaur was the first animated film with a star and a storyline. McCay gave his dinosaur star a personality and emotions, by painstakingly animating tiny details, such as tears dripping and dirt particles falling."

This is my cat in the morning!!

I found this on myspace and YouTube. I am not sure who the animator is but it is hilarious! It has given me new ideas and other possible storylines for my own characters. This is inspirational!

I found out recently off of YouTube that the animator's name is Simon Tofield and the short is actually called "Can Man Do." He works for a London UK Animation Studio called Tandem Films. I always like to give credit where credit is due.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Texas Jazz Festival 2007 - Day 1

Well, the Texas Jazz Festival is here again and I could not be more excited. Well, I could except I have to work Saturday night. Oh well, I was able to see a few of the bands opening night. Plus, I am off Sunday so I can catch the closing night bands.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to take my camera or sketchbook with me. I knew I wanted to take something to capture the moment, so I opted for the sketchbook. My NEW sketchbook. Here are a few of my sketches.

And here's the first page!

It was the first time I used this sketchbook. I was surprised at how the pen reacted to the paper. The paper appears to be a hot press paper. The pen just flowed over the whole thing. It felt so smooth. I really like this sketchbook.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A look back at the beginning of PIXAR

As you know, there is a new book coming out soon on the story of Pixar. Well, I just found out that there is a documentary making the circuit as well. "The Pixar Story" by Leslie Iwerks. I knew it wouldn't be out on DVD anytime soon, but I checked Amazon anyway. One of the search results for "the pixar story" was a DVD of The Charlie Rose show from October 30, 1996. It had an interview with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter. I found it on YouTube. The first half is about Pixar. The second half....well, I don't care. Enjoy!

(After a while, the video lags behind but it's the audio that is important.)

It's interesting to look back and see these men talk about something in its infancy, that we now know has blossomed into something major. You hear John's passion for the medium and the animation industry. He was trained as a traditional animator and he brings that to this new medium.
Charlie Rose asked Steve Jobs if he(Rose) was an animator and had a great story to tell, why should he come to Pixar? John fielded that question and gave him three reasons why.

1) Pixar is a place that can give creative satisfaction. They try to give the artist something that they can be proud of for the rest of their careers.

2) They try to give the artist, even if it's on the littlest piece, the sense of creative ownership. They let them figure out how to do it.

3) The most important reason is "at Pixar, we have a lot of fun" and it shows in their work. I've seen the featurettes on the DVDs more times than I've seen the actual movies, and I KNOW this to be true. They have FUN making these films.

An interesting fact that I love to share is that Pixar, as they mention in the interview, was originally a part of George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). Lucas wanted to sell it and Jobs picked it up. I'm hoping to find out more information about this in the new book coming out soon.

Another thing I love about the guys at Pixar, and I've heard this in many other podcast interviews, is that Pixar is all about the story. The story, not the visuals, is the most important part. If the story is not right, the film will never work. Lasseter remarks on this in that if the story does not work in the early storyboard phase, then that scene will not get put into production. Brad Bird remarked about this in an interview with the Spline Doctors. When asked what was the most important part of an animated film, he said, "Story, story, story, story, and storytelling. Being able to tell a story well. And story. Story. Story TELLING. And story" The computer was never meant to replace the artist. The computer is just a different type of "pencil" used to tell a story. The computer doesn't work without somebody telling it what to do.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

11 Second Club competition

It is about halfway through October and the deadline (Oct. 31) is approaching fast. I do not think I will be able to get anything done if I would like to compete this month. For starters, I am out of paper. Secondly, I am still trying to learn how to use (properly) my new drawing tablet. Third, I am having difficulty exporting files to Quicktime format using the program "Pencil." However, I would still like to make something of it. I have ideas and, when I get the chance, I would like to make them come to fruition.

The following dialogue is from "The Fisher King" and spoken by Jeff Bridges:

"I thought.... that if I could help him in some way, get him this, uh, this girl that he loves... that maybe, you know..... *sniff* ....things would ch... change for me."

I saw a little bit of this line in the trailer. Not much to take anything from it. Here's some sketches of what I see when I hear this piece.

I see him in a bathrobe, holding a cup of coffee in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other, trying to explain his situation to someone off camera. It's coming from Jeff Bridges and I guess I see/hear him as "the Dude" from "The Big Lebowski."

You gotta see this!!

I just saw this on another blog and I just had to post it on mine. I believe it's a Toy Story zoetrope from the MOMA that was moved to the California Adventure in Disneyland.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The first page

I picked up a new sketchbook today. I had been thinking about it for a while. I still have a few pages left in my current one, but I felt I needed something new.
I always have the same problem when I buy a new sketchbook. I never know what to do with the first page. Once I wrote a little blurb about what I hope to accomplish is that sketchbook. Other times I will leave it blank and start on the second page. But if I rip out the first page, then the second page will become the second page.


Now I am trying to figure out what to put on the second page.

No, no. I'm good.


I finally found out the name of the song used in the WALL•E trailer. I loved it the first time I saw the trailer. I went to Wikipedia and searched Wall-e. At the end of the article it gave the name of the song. It's "Central Services/The Office" by Michael Kamen from the "Brazil" soundtrack. I have never seen the movie but it is in my Netflix queue. Had I been a true movie buff, I probably have recognized the song right away. I know I also heard the song in another trailer, but I cannot remember which one.

For more information, you can visit the official WALL•E site.

Robot #1

I recently bought my first WACOM tablet. It's a drawing tablet you hook up to the computer. I haven't had much time to work with it. I was a little discouraged when I was using with a program called PENCIL. It's a 2D animation program. It's seemed to be working fine until I realized it was a little tricky. When I would push the pen down to the tablet, the thickness of the line depended on how much pressure I put on the pen when I first make contact with the tablet. Touch the tablet softly, the line is light and thin, or not at all. Push down with some force the first time you make contact, the line is thicker and darker. The line depended on how much pressure you apply when you first make contact, not the entire time the pen is in contact with the tablet. It was a little off-putting. Always having to push down hard on the pen everytime I wanted to make a decent line.

So tonight I decided to try the tablet out with Photoshop. I finally got the results I was hoping for. I can run the pen along the tablet and apply different amounts of pressure and the line will change thickness as I go. THIS is what I had been hoping for with PENCIL. So now I'm going to have to figure out some way to incorporate this into making my animations. I still need some more practice.

Oh, here's my first doodle. It's of a "robot" of some sorts. Part of my earlier homework assignment.

Not the best, but it's a start.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

More sketches

These are just a few more pages from my sketchbook. I was going for action poses. Something that could show feeling and emotion.

Sketches from the zoo

Here are a few of the sketches I did at the San Antonio Zoo. I wanted to do more but it was way too hot and the animals were not doing much. A lot of them were nowhere to be seen. They were hiding somewhere in the shade.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Doodle time

Here are a few more doodles I did today at work. I only had a few minutes on my break, but I think they came out pretty good. I was trying for different types of emotions and staging.

I like the upper body part of these characters, I just couldn't figure out where to position the feet.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Just sketching

Here's something I just doodled recently. I was listening to Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes singing "If You Don't Know Me By Now." I started seeing this character acting out in my head what he was singing. So I grabbed a sheet of paper and an pen and sketched this guy out. He just an average guy but I tried to give him life and emotion. I think I got a bit of that in a few of the poses.


I was talking to a buddy at work yesterday about how I need to get back into my sketchbook. I haven't sketched anything in a while. I've just been so bogged down at work with a new system implemented and tons of reading. So I came up with some art "homework" assignments.

1) DESIGN A VEHICLE: It could be a car, truck, motorcycle, anything. It could be contemporary or futuristic or other-worldly. It can have wheels, treads, or hover. But it cannot fly. It could be used in military warfare with weapons attatched. It could be used by the public, at the home, or public transportation.

2) DESIGN A ROBOT: It could be friendly, evil, huge, smal, helpful, sinister. It could have leads, or treads, hover or fly. It could have one eye, many eyes, or no eyes. No arms, two arms, six arms. It could be part of the work force or for the home. It could be in humanoid form or not.

3) DESIGN A FLYING VEHICLE: This one can fly. It could be saucer shaped or not, hover or just fly. It could be small (one person) or huge (transport) or midsized (4-6 passengers). Could be used in the city for public transportation, an industrial machine, or military. It could have wings or not.

4) DESIGN A CREATURE, MONSTER, OR ALIEN: It could be friendly, evil, large, small, two arms, no arms, six arms, one eye, two eyes, six eyes, or fly. It could be able to defend itself in some sort.

So there's my homework assignments. I would like to try and do one once a week. I would be nice to see how many designs I can come up with and take a look at them at the end.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I see it now!

I see why it doesn't flow.

I just finished viewing the piece without the dialogue. The way I made this was I made several key drawings. These were the extremes, the poses I wanted him ("Jeff") to hit. And then I inbetweened them, mathematically. I spaced the inbetweens evenly between the two extremes. I did this so much that this is why it doesn't flow. He starts at one extreme then moves on to the next one, and then the next one, and then the next one, and then stops. It is really noticeable especially when he moves his arm from an outward motion to an inward motion. He hits that key pose and moves back in. There are no arcs in his movements. You can connect the key frames with a straight line. (I think I could do well animating robots!)

So THAT should be my next project: Ninjas vs. Pirates vs. ROBOTS!!!

IT'S ALIVE!!...well, not yet

After viewing my submission several times, I see where I've made some nice advancements and also where I need some work. The dialogue came along nicely. However, my acting still needs some work. I still need to work on the arm movements and making sure they are not so "robotic." This is what I get from only learning from books and not being able to practice it that often. The characters moved, yes. Did they seem alive? Not really. They didn't seem to flow. They didn't "pop" off the screen.
I have ideas for another piece inspired from another piece of dialogue from the latest AnimWatch podcast. I had visions in my head as soon as I heard it. I think that'll be my next project.
It's like he said in the podcast, many people want to make a film, but they just don't know what to make the film about. They're walking in circles. So now that I was able to make this last short with very little difficulty, it will give me the confidence I need to continue making them. I can now concentrate on making the characters come alive. I want their movements to be fluid. I want them to become alive.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Moving right along!!

My submission made it into the competition! I've already received some good comments and suggestions. I'm just glad I got the piece done and that it's "ok." Now that I have this under my belt, I can use it and move on to something better. Like I said in the forum, I would like to have done so much more. Next time. Now that I know I have an "easier" way of putting these things together. I can now work on my timing and acting. I just need to order some more paper. I'M ALL OUT!!


I completed my animation piece and entered it in the AnimWatch challenge!! I just submitted it not too long ago, so we'll see what happens. It is the first time I tried animating dialogue. It worked out great!! Well, not perfect, but now I have a frame of reference. I now know how to do it and how to improve it. My "acting" needs to improve as well. That's where the fun part comes in. Luckily I have all those books on animation to teach me timing and spacing. So here's to new beginnings!

The dialogue deals with an office setting, so I chose to base my characters on the guys from "The Office." They are charicatures of Michael Scott and Dwight. I even threw in a "look at the camera" bit in the beginning for Jeff (Dwight). The piece is traditional, hand-drawn, 2D animation. The backgroud is backlit with the action layered over. I shot it with my digital camera and uploaded the pics to Premiere Elements. I used Adobe Audition to breakdown the dialogue. When put together, they synced up great!! This opens so many possibilities for me now. I just need to buy more animation paper.
This piece is 168 drawings plus one background drawing. When I was done, I had THREE sheets of paper left. Talk about cutting it close.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


The Animwatch website ( ) has issued their animation challenge for September and I am going to go for it. The way it works is they present a piece of dialogue and we have to animate it. the piece I'm doing is only 16 seconds long. That's not too bad. Consider this: On video, there are 30 frames per second. Animation on video is shot on threes, compared to film which is 24 frames per second and done on twos. So this means there are at least 10 drawings per second on video. At 16 seconds that's about 160 drawings. I can do that. The tough part is syncing up the dialogue. I've never done dialogue. Well, I did it once but it was only five words and I just eyeballed it. It worked. So I downloaded the dialogue and analyzed it second by second. I wrote it down on a simple exposure sheet. Theoretically it should work. I've got the layout done. I've got the characters. I've sketched out a mouth movement to each sound on the x-sheet. I have an idea for the acting. I video taped myself acting it out. I even videoed my mouth saying the words to see if I get the write poses.

Here is the dialogue I am working on:

VOICE ONE:Charlie is Pure Management Material.

VOICE TWO:Well, I'm sure he is, but don't you think that the job of Creative Director should go to someone with some creative experience? I mean, he was a road foreman for God's sake!

VOICE ONE:I know you want that promotion, but... hell, I can't even remember your name!


It has a business tone to it so I immediately got images in my head of "The Office." Here are a couple of my sketches. These are the characters and this is the layout.

The deadline it September 24. Of course I decide to take the new challenge a day or two before my vacation ended last week. So here I am, as usual, rushing and hoping to get it done in time. I need to get the animation done by Monday or Wednesday at the latest. Then I can start shooting it to video and editing the whole thing.
I'm really excited about the whole thing. This is the sort of thing I need to get me going. Combine this with the feedback I've been receiving from, I am really enjoying this all!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

I recently set up a profile on a new website called I've seen it advertised in Animation Magazine and finally decided to check it out. It appears to be similiar to myspace but for animatiors. So I am in the process of posting a few more of my animation tests. I have already posted a lo-res version of "Merlin Shmerlin" and a few of the "Between the Sheets" comics. I'm planning on posting a better version of "Merlin Shmerlin" soon.

You can view my profile by clicking here.

Friday, June 15, 2007

DO NOT touch the white leaves!

So I went to the zoo today. It was one of the things I wanted to do on this vacation. I took my sketchbook and my iPod Nano, and went sketching. I also took my digital camera to sketch things I didn't have time for. That was pretty much the back half of the zoo.

I was doing pretty good in the beginning. I was walking and sketching. I was sitting and sketcing. I was snapping pictures. I even had a couple of kids come up to me because they were interested in what I was drawing. Their dad told me one of them loved to draw and wants to be an artist. I told him he needs to get a sketchbook, a nice set of pens, and never stop drawing. (If only I could take my own advice.)

It was hot. There was no wind. And the zoo is not actually known for smelling like a bed of roses. Just a warning, but when you see tall trees with birds way up on top, and all the plants and folage down below are not green but white, GET OUT OF THERE AS QUICK AS POSSIBLE!!!

I'll be posting some of my sketches and pics soon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Ok, I got pics.

Here is my animation studio. I recently surrounded it with old calendar pictures. If this doesn't get my animating juices going, I don't know what will.

So this is my new table for the darkroom. Kenny entrusted me with the darkroom equipment before he moved to Pearland and I am eternally grateful.

This looks boring.

I need some pictures.

No idea what's gonna happen.

I picked up my new PC Monday. It's a really awesome system. It's fully loaded with all the video editing and graphic software I need to make my animated shorts really POP! The only problem is...I don't know how to use any of them. It's going to take some time. Great, now I need more time to figure these out when I've been trying to find time to work on my animation and drawing.

Luckily, I am on vacation in about a week. I've been looking forward to this for a while. Plus, it's my birthday. yeah. Not really looking forward to THAT part. What can you do, right?

I would like to tell you my "plans" for this vacation but when I do, they never work out. Something ALWAYS screws them up. So you won't have any idea what I'm going to be doing and neither do I.


Thursday, May 31, 2007

Disney, Plympton, and Pat Smith

I need to start animating and I need to start NOW!! The problem is when I look at my storyboards, I don't see a lot of moving around. I see the acting as very stiff. Maybe it's because I've been staring at them as boards for so long. I need to look at some movies and see how I want the acting to be. That's what it is, acting. I want the acting to flow. I want the action to flow. I don't want them to be stiff and lifeles with only the mouths moving. I want them to come alive. Acting. That's what it's about. I am, after all, an actor with a pencil. I want to emulate Disney, with the look of Plympton and the feel of Patrick Smith.

I need to order more animation paper. I was thinking, when I receive the paper that I could trim off the excess that doesn't fit in the scanner. 1) I'll need a larger paper cutter. 2) That could take a while because I'd want the sides to be equidistance from the peg holes, and not lopsided. Well, I guess it could work that way but I like things to be even.

I need to start sketching. I need to start drawing. I can see drawings in my head and I can see them moving. In a recent interview on The Animation Podcast with Glen Keane, he said that Eric Larson told him "you have to see the animation in your mind before you animate it." Well, I can see it I just can't get the image from my mind, thru my arm, to the pencil, on the paper. I can see my cartoon come alive in my head. I can see the action. I can see the action. I can see it. I just haven't had the time to get it to the paper. THAT is the most frustrating for me. Other stuff comes up. Life comes up. Working full time then trying to work on my passion full time. It is difficult. But if I love it enough, I can make it happen. I do love it. I do love seeing my drawings come to life. That is the greatest feeling in the world.

What I need to do is do some more tests with this scanning process. Yesterday, I scanned in some of the cells of "Merlin Shmerlin." What I realized was that I had a lot of empty space. If I'm going to be using this scanning process, I have to realize that I can use the ENTIRE sheet of paper. That should be really fun.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I can't believe it took me this long!!

I finally had a huge breakthrough today. I have been trying to figure out a way to create my animation with the resources I have. I've been to The Disney Institute several times and there we used the Animators Lunchbox. I saw it and fell in love. Well, I haven't been able to afford it. Right now I have an iMac with iMovie, iPhoto, etc.

Long story short, here's what I did. I did a couple of quick sketches, scanned them in, imported to iPhoto, and then imported them to iMovie. I tried this once before and it took me forever. I shot stills of my drawings on my digital video camera, imported the video, then took out exactly three frames from every five seconds of video. It took me forever! It was really discouraging but I was able to achieve the results I was looking for. BUT NOW I did it a much easier way. I scanned them in. Imported them to iPhoto. imported them to iMovie. Within iMovie, when I am going to use a photo, I can determine how long I want the photo to be on screen. I can have it there for several seconds or, as I just realized, I CAN ONLY USE IT FOR THREE FRAMES!!!! Do you get what I'm trying to tell you?!?! All this time I have been doing it the hard way! This is going to make my "so-called animated" life so much easier. I can't believe it took me this long to figure it out.