Daily Doodle

After a brief drawing posting hiatus (did I spell that right?) I thought I would post one of my recent concept sketches. Not that I have stopped drawing every day, but I just haven’t had time to post the images and most of my daily doodles are either for a personal project (that hasn’t, shall we say, matured?) or for clients that are clothed in NDAs. Anyway, if you are learning to draw – remember to draw a lot. Sometimes it’s hard to get motivated, but you can do it even watching TV (if you have time to watch TV). That’s how this sketch came about. I found myself watching Survivor last night – sigh… am I the only one or don’t you want Shane the Marketer to be voted off, like, as soon as possible?

Making Ideas Happen

Jim Capobianco in his blog has a good entry on a technique for making ideas happen (taken from Alexander (Sandy) Mackendrick’s On Film-Making). The last step of which is ‘Preserving the Spark’. The point where the rubber meets the road.

Jim says “Preserving the spark, this comes from practice, but is the ability to take the above involuntary ignition of the idea and apply effort and discipline to establish a level of productivity to bring your work to life. Sandy warns of two mistakes that are made here. They are, impatience – “the proficient hack seizes too soon on an idea that expertly renders immature and superficial ideas” and inexperience – “the inspired amateur has a brilliant concept that dies through incompetence of expression”.

That’s a good summary for a couple of reasons (among many) for the existence of bad films (and, I would add, not just bad films, but many products): impatience and incompetence. Here’s to patience and competence!

Chicken Little DVD

Just watched Chicken Little and what a fun flick! No, I didn’t get around to seeing it in the theater (I know, I know… for shame). Jason Ryan was the supervising animator for the Chicken Little character. When I was at Animation Mentor, Jason was (still is?) one of the Mentors. It’s definitely a DVD worth framing through. Some of those moving holds are amazing. Overall it had a pretty good story, I didn’t even look at the clock once! I think Disney could have probably pulled out of it’s slump with that film, even if they didn’t buy out Pixar. Great job to all those people who worked on the film. And double kudos to those who had to animate Runt. Wow, talk about a tough design to animate!

Too much talking?

This article makes an interesting point. It mentions that often a lot of animated feature films have the characters always saying something. That they are not capitalizing on moments of silence. How true. I think the author called them cellphone films.

Ipod vs. Theatre

Here is a good read about the theater, film and the digital world. We live in interesting times. The same type of question seems to crop up every so often – “Will paintings go away when cameras become popular?”

Glen Keane and Ollie Johnston

Mark Kennedy has a really cool story on his blog about a meeting between Glen Keane (one of my all time favorite animators) and Ollie Johnston (another one of my all time favorite animators) after the screening of The Little Mermaid.

It seems that Ollie didn’t like some of the expressions that Ariel made at times. Apparently the more modern animators were trying out something new at the time. They were using micro-expressions. Personally I’m not 100% convinced that these things are any kind of indicators of true feelings of the subconscious (hey, maybe they are just the face relaxing for a fraction of a second and we’re just giving it meaning that isn’t there…), but apparently the animators tried to incorporate these unattractive faces here and there to make her more ‘modern’. The result, according to Ollie, was that she looked ugly at times. Was the sacrifice of beauty worth it? Or could it have been a better film without these modern additions?

I need to look closely at this film… The Little Mermaid is one of those rare animation films that I actually don’t own. All that I recall of the film is that the one time that I watched it, it didn’t impress me and that shortly thereafter everyone named their new daughters Ariel.

Vertigo – Then and Now

This is a neat website. It shows some pictures from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Vertigo… and then it compares the same shot with what is there today (or pretty close to today). Neat.

Sup?

Not too much to post today, but I thought I would create the customary ‘ping’ to let you know I’m still here (at the risk of oversimplification, ‘ping’, in network terms, is a command that tests the network connection and checks to see if things are up and running).

I’m working on animating a character for a game. Not really a cinematic, and not really an in-game animation… it’s tough to explain, but I don’t want to break my NDA. I’m having a bit of a struggle with the character that is turning, he’s holding onto something pretty heavy. There are essentially two parts to the turn and I think I’ve figured out the first part, but the second one is tricky – it is one of those moving holds that you have to get right or it all looks floaty. Hopefully I’ll be able to show it after the NDA expires. I like the model and the animation seems to be working out.

As for some other notes of interest… Keith Lango mentioned on his blog that DNA will be laying off some folks. Tough times. All the best to those looking for work. It sounds like there should be work available (Dreamworks and Disney seemed to be looking for people). Regardless, not an easy thing to go through.

I have been drawing – not as much as I want to, but I’m trying to increase the frequency. A new blog that may be of interest to you, if you haven’t seen it already. I think it’s great and I hope Mark keeps it up: http://sevencamels.blogspot.com/. Mark Kennedy is a storyboard artist at Disney (since Rescuer’s Down Under times). Lots of nuggets there!

Oh and one last thing. If you haven’t yet and you are in the market for one, make sure you buy an LCD monitor (or 2). I’ve been hummin’ and hawin’ for so long… due to hardware failure I was ‘pushed’ into a decision and I’m not regretting it. Sharp, beautiful colors and at 2ms refresh… animation never looked so good! I totally recommend the Samsung 940BF… yum – a feast for my tired eyes. Oh, and after removing those huge 19″ CRTs – I actually have a desk!

M101

Last summer I had some time to stay up late and take some astrophotographs. This is my first attempt at taking a picture of M101 galaxy. In astrophotography the exposures have to be quite long (compared to regular standards) and this, coupled with the fact that the earth spins, makes it quite tricky. It means you have to keep the telescope/camera assembly pointed at the right part of the sky for the length of the exposure. I used a digital camera for the shot, but due to the ‘noise’ that develops from the CCD (the electronic version of film) you are limited to the length of the exposure. The solution is to take more, shorter exposures and ‘add’ them together in something like Photoshop. My tracking is off a bit (the stars aren’t exactly round) and that is partly due to the poor quality of my telescope mount (donations for a new fancier and shmancier mount are gratefully accepted :) ). If you want to see what the Hubble space telescope sees when it looks at this galaxy, check out this page. I downloaded the high resolution image and it’s now my background on my dual monitor setup. It’s breathtaking and my image is nowhere near the quality of this amazing mosaic.