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.