Wednesday, December 23, 2009

:30 Short Film—Part 7: GRADUATION!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's finally happened! The first class of Bill Plympton's University of Animation (we started as a school and ended as a university. How's that for progress!) has graduated. Don't believe me? My diploma's below:

Some may not consider this to be much of an accomplishment but those people never made a funny, 30 sec. film in 14 weeks while holding down a day job! About five of the fifteen students had completed films (completed meaning fully animated, color, sound and music) for the final class with several more in various stages of production.

I can say without hesitation that I found Bill's class to be immensely helpful. Since he's doing exactly what I want to do—making a living from independent animated films—the class was full of vital information. I feel more confident pursuing this path as a result of this class. And I even got an original Bill Plympton drawing:

Bill did this in front of the class as a demonstration of drawing purely with shadows, no lines. Everyone in the class left with some sort of Plympton drawing. There were jokes about selling them on eBay but I doubt that's going to happen. We're all too much in awe of Bill's talents to part with our precious drawings.

I'm satisfied with my film although I felt I crammed a little too much story into 30 seconds. I just need to tweak a few things—a character's arm is wonky; credits need to be properly phrased—and then I'm going to enter it into film festivals, starting with the Red Stick Animation Festival. Their deadline is Jan. 4, 2010 so I need to get the film completed and entered by then.

Tomorrow—more about my festival plans…and my next film!

Friday, December 11, 2009

:30 Short Film—Part 6: Final Animation

Wow, it's been two weeks since I last shared. Sorry, folks! At least I have evidence of working.

I could also show photos of my ridiculously messy apartment (even Mom was horrified when she came by during Thanksgiving) but then you'd just think I'm a dirty artist girl.

So it's the last big push for me to finish my BPAS (Bill Plympton Animation School) project. I told myself when I started that I wanted to complete it by December 16, the last day of class. And, darn it, that's EXACTLY what I'm gonna do!

As of this writing, the first 19 of 30 seconds of the film are complete. I basically made the pencil test into the final. I have only one more scene of the hunters to animate and color, then it's on to the ending. I'm still not sure how long the end will take but at this late stage, I want that scene to be as simply staged as possible. I've already decided to cut back on drawing the figures in their entirety in the interest of time. It just needs to be planned.

Below is the latest.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

:30 Short Film—Part 5: Pencil Test & Color

Sorry it's been awhile. Lack of blogging is a sign of being busy, VERY busy trying to get this film animated before the last BPAS class on December 16. Since my last post, I have been working on adding inbetweens to smooth the action. As of today, I can say that the progress is steadily getting faster. Despite feeling slightly sick today (I missed spending the holiday with my wonderful girlfriend and her family! *Sniffle*) I was able to get some rough animation done. The product is below. I also got the colors approved by Bill at the last class so I'm happy that I don't have to revisit that. It was a struggle figuring out how to make camouflage not blend into the background! That would, of course, defeat the purpose of seeing the main characters clearly against the background.

Next post—clean animation and more color.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

:30 Short Film—Part 4: Pencil Test II

Below is a portion of the pencil test I showed at the last BPAS class. It went over well, thankfully, with only a few suggestions for changes. But one of those changes was significant—more inbetweens! I thought I could get away with doing it the Plympton way, a few inbetweens each on 3 or 4 frames. NOT! I don't yet have the skill nor instinct to do that so it looks like I'll have to take the time to do more drawings to smooth out the action. I knew the movement was stiff and jumpy but, in the interest of time, I was hoping to get away with shortcuts. Guess not!

Next post—extended pencil test.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

:30 Short Film—Part 4: Pencil Test

So, after many stressful days (a colleague keeps seeing my scary, red eye and telling me that I "look tired") I finally figured out how to end this freakin' film! It's not ideal, but to tell a funny 30-second story in 14 weeks is an accomplishment in itself (wait, did I say that in a previous post? Sorry!)

Anyway, I have officially started the animating process. I followed Plympton's approach and bought some vellum (or tissue, as Plympton calls it.) This way I can layout and plan various actions with lightweight, inexpensive paper before moving to the regular animation paper. I've already found it helpful when drawing on the bus. Yeah, you heard me right, I draw on the bus. OK, the express bus, but still, it can be done when precision is not needed. But if I've got to commute an hour plus each way, having the vellum and a portable lightbox is incredibly helpful.

I was able to place the figures of Petey and Wayne inside the frame while remaining within the t.v. cutoff area. I'm finding that my drawing of these guys has improved despite not being great. But I'm satisfied that the action that I imagined is actually fitting properly. I also decided that the action would often be limited. The first scene with the hunters is 29 frames. So there won't be much happening besides eye and eyebrow movement.

Next post—pencil test animation of Scene 2.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

:30 Short Film—Part 3: Revised Animatic III

Wow, FIVE WEEKS!! It's taken me FIVE WEEKS to figure out how to frame the punchline of this film. I hope it was worth it!

At first I was beating myself up over it, being overly critical, telling myself that I should've figured it out a lot sooner. Then a truth hit me: this is only my second time telling a story with a punchline and my first on a 14 week deadline! There's all kinds of framing, continuity and readability issues involved that I haven't had to deal with in the past. So all things considered, taking five weeks to determine the best solution to the problem maybe isn't so awful.

The good news is that I HAVE figured it out and now I'm ready to start animatin'! The goal for the next class is to have a completed, final animatic that includes between 3-5 seconds of pencil test animation. I'm confident that the goal can be met.

Below is the first 20 seconds of the final animatic. I forgot to warn you before: this is NSFW (not safe for work) due to the sound effects.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

:30 Short Film—Part 3: Revised Animatic II

Well, I completed a revision of the first 14 seconds of the animatic. It was approved today with just minor changes so I'm excited about getting the remaining 16 seconds of the animatic done. Then on to animatin'!

I just keep hearing Julie Andrews singing about her confidence and, surprisingly, it keeps me going. Thanks, Julie!

Another important accomplishment is that I managed to decrease my stress. Three weeks ago, I was stressing myself so much that my chronic conjunctivitis (I am sooo not going to look up if I spelled that correctly!) was flaring up in my right eye. Which translates to a red eye. Which means people are uncomfortable talking to me because they're afraid I'm going to give them pink eye! (Don't worry, I have the non-contagious variety.) But once I determined the ending of the film and storyboarded it, I began to feel better. And I can say that these last few days I've had no red in my eye.

I just keep telling myself that I don't have to be the BEST draftswoman or the BEST animator or even the BEST storyteller. I just have to get this project DONE in a reasonable time and to the best of my ability. Ultimately, it's a learning experience and everything I go through during the creation of this film will make things easier for the next and the next.

It's a lovely process and I intend to ENJOY it!

Revised first 14 seconds of animatic below.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm Mental

Yes, my brain is playing tricks on me again. I've been trying to revise my animatic for TWO WEEKS!!! I've made some progress, mainly that I've come up with an ending that I think will do justice to the setup. I've designed the two main characters and have done preliminary designs for the other two main characters. But my drawing skills are once again messin' with me. I've struggled just to do a few drawings. I've become so frustrated that I took an entire 24 hour break from working on it. And this evening I've done everything except work on the film.

I have to keep on remembering what Chuck Jones said—the sooner I get out those bad drawings, I'll get to the good ones. I have to keep telling my brain that instead of telling it how much I suck!

OK, I'm off to draw.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

:30 Short Film—Part 3: Animatic

My storyboard was approved—with a few minor suggestions—and the next step is to make the animatic. That's basically the storyboard drawings timed to the actual length of the film and includes sound and music.

I had a good time finding the audio, listening to previews of all kinds of stuff. I found the elk sounds from the U.S. government's National Digital Library. Thankfully, I can use the sounds without restriction but some sort of credit is requested. That's reasonable. I returned to a reliable source called for the remaining music and sounds. Their preview clips are sufficient for the animatic and the prices seem reasonable for usage. We'll see what their terms are when I actually purchase the clips.

I thought creating the animatic would be straightforward—just take the storyboard drawings, pop them into AfterEffects, adjust the timing, add the sound and music and VOILA!! turned out to be a lot more than that! Over the course of a 3-day weekend, I spent 24.5 hours making the animatic. There was more drawing to do and a lot of tweaking but I got it done in time for class. But I discovered one thing...the ending wasn't working! YIKES!

There's nothing worse than setting up a joke only to have the punchline fall flat. That's EXACTLY what I discovered once I got to work on the animatic.

Below is the first 12 seconds of the original animatic. In future posts I'll show you the revised version so you can see how it's hopefully improved.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Petey & Wayne Evolve

Below are the latest versions of the two hunters in my film, Petey and Wayne. I have a feeling that their look will continue to evolve as the production of the film progresses.

I'm glad I discovered John K.'s blog. It made me realize that I need to improve my drawing fundamentals in order to animate proficiently. So I'm focusing on keeping my characters ROUNDED so it will be easier to turn and distort them. Simplicity is going to be key for this project. Why do you think Fred Flintstone didn't have a neck? So he'd be easier to animate!

Next post—:30 Short Film—Part 3: Animatic

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Diggin' the Digital

I'm still astounded by how much easier it is today to make an independent animated film than 10 years ago. No more spending hours shooting tests on film myself, poorly. Then traveling from Westchester to Manhattan to have the film processed, waiting 24 or 48 hours, then returning to Manhattan. Then I'd watch the tests on the projector (!) only to discover that it SUCKED!!! Then there was the whole process again...AGONY!!!

Now, with my PowerPC Dual Processor Mac (about to be obsolete), an Epson scanner (that I've had for 10 years), an HP color printer, a Canon Powershot digital camera, a bunch of software (After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign,  Flash, iMovie and iDVD) and the internet, I'm able to make and market a film ALL BY MYSELF!!!

For example, as I draw my storyboard, I need photo reference. In the 1990's, I would have to travel to a specific branch of the library and pour through hundreds of photos in hundreds of folders. If I wanted to bring the image home, I'd have to check them out or make poor xeroxes. But today, with the internet, a digital camera and a printer, I can quickly find photo reference or take photos of myself posing then print them for reference. It doesn't get any better than that!

Friday, October 2, 2009

:30 Short Film—Part 2: Storyboard

I just had my rough storyboard approved by Bill. And as you can see below with page one of the storyboards, I'm not kidding when I say ROUGH!

I experienced some strange feelings when I sat down to draw the storyboard—all of the sudden, despite all of the positive feedback, I began to question my story. Oh, no, was it funny enough?! Was it good enough?! That's all I could think about. So I ended up doing some mediocre drawings for the storyboard as I struggled with envisioning the story from beginning to end. Going into this week's class, I wasn't feeling completely confident or happy with the results.

Bill made two suggestions about improving the story. I appreciated the suggestions but didn't feel strongly that they fit properly. Then today—EUREKA! Bill's suggestions helped me (forced me!) to think of ways to appropriately incorporate them into my story. And I did! Solutions suddenly came to me and now I can't wait to incorporate them into the next step, the animatic.

Stay tuned for more art and the first animated tests from the film.

And I still need a title!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Meet the Players

Or at least two of the players. Pictured below are some very early sketches for two of my film's main characters. I randomly chose the names Wayne and Petey because, hey, they kinda' look like a Wayne and a Petey! Those sound like hunter names, right? Anyway, the names don't really matter since, at this point, they're never spoken during the course of the film. I just wanted to call them something other than stretched-face and football head!

I'm sure these guys will evolve as I get further into the production of the film. I mean, they already look radically different than what I had 48 hours ago! But at this point, I'm satisfied with their looks. And that's important to me, to simply be satisfied. Because being completely happy with the way they look will take soooo long that I'll never get the film done! So I'm not striving for The Best Designed Animated Character EVER! I just want to be happy enough with the design that I'll enjoy animating their faces over the next 12 weeks.

Going to go now and get to work on the storyboard. I look forward to sharing that with you in the next few days.

Friday, September 25, 2009

:30 Short Film—Part 1: Story

I just completed my second Bill Plympton Animation School (BPAS) class. We 15 students were instructed to do the first step of making a film—dream up a story. We had to come up with 3 or 4 thirty second film ideas and present them (pitch) to the class. Wouldn't you know it that I went next to last, sweatin' the whole time as I tried to listen to everyone's ideas while also trying to figure out exactly how I was going to present my ideas. There was a great variety of approaches and ideas from the class and I'm excited to see everyone's completed project, including mine! But that's not for 12 more weeks.

I decided to just share the 1 idea that I liked out of the 4 I had dreamt up. I had already passed the idea by my daddy and my girlfriend and they both liked it so I thought, it's gotta wor!. Turns out that it passed inspection and now I'm on to step 2: storyboarding and character design.

And you know what that means—I'll actually have some creative content to share with you! In the next 5 days, I need to design 4 characters. And to ensure that I don't give away my film's punchline, let's just say that the film stars 2 hunters.

Next post—art from my film.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pitchin' Your Ideas

I recently attended an ASIFA-East (Association Internationale du Film D'Animation) panel to mark the release of David Levy's new book, "Animation Development: from Pitch to Production." There's some notes about the evening HERE, which is a thorough summary.

One aspect of the panel that I found interesting was the diametric opposition of Janice Burgess of Nickelodeon and Amid Amidi of (which happens to be one of the first sites I check every day. Yep, it's that good.) Burgess—the sole representative on the panel of television execs—explained that material should be crafted to appeal to the specific niche of that station. Amidi, on the other hand, felt that artists should not focus on demographics but should instead focus on becoming better artists.

As I listened, I understood both of their positions and felt that they were both correct. I think Amidi is accurate to tell artists to focus on their craft before they limit their creativity to service one particular type of viewer. I also thought Burgess was correct to explain that the executives who greenlight television projects have as much riding on its success as the creator. It is understandable that executives must always consider the bottom line and ensure that the property appeals to their viewers.

The primary message of the evening was: follow your heart, create from your core, THEN do the research to determine who would be most receptive to your ideas. In other words, don't pitch a raunchy sex comedy to Nickelodeon! HBO or Showtime would be a better home for that type of material.

Ultimately, it all comes back to pursuing your passion. So get going!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fears & Doubts & Stress, Oh My!

Wow, I've barely started my animation class with its 30 second project and already I'm feeling fears, doubts and stress! How do I know that's what I'm feeling? Because I awoke today with a sharp pain in my right shoulder, my usual spot for the collection of my fears, doubts and stress. I can't tell you how many times over the last...oh...18 YEARS I've felt this! Yep, 18 years of second-guessing, believing other people's negativity about me, not to mention my own lack of confidence. Lack of confidence, now THAT one's a killer!

It's essential to our creativity that we work past all of the negative feelings—both from within and without—and continue working towards our goals. Just. Keep. Going.

And then there's perfectionism, another major bogeyman. How many times have you started something only to stop because you felt it didn't measure up to some artificial standard?

I'm going to get by my perfectionism by constantly reminding myself that other animators (I won't name them. I don't want to start a big ole argument!) don't have great drawing skills. I'll keep reminding myself that a lot of animation on t.v. has mediocre art and stories. So if strive for excellence but only reach mediocrity, my work will be at least as good as the others and maybe even better.

So let's get to work!

Next post—some comments about ASIFA-East's recent t.v. pitch panel.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Back To School

Several weeks ago I learned that Bill Plympton—yes, THE Bill Plympton—was offering an animation class out of his Chelsea studio. I jumped at the opportunity. I jumped so fast, I was the first to sign up! And after experiencing the first class this past week, I'm confident that going "back to school" with this class was a good decision.

The assignment for the class is to make a 30 second film. And although this assignment will take attention away from my 5 minute film mentioned in the earlier post, in 13 weeks I'll have a completed film. And that's the point of all of this, to get projects DONE and my ideas OUT INTO THE WORLD! Plus, with such a short, definitive deadline, I'll be forced to work quickly and efficiently. It will also force me to think funny—my interest in storytelling has always been more on the serious side. So now I have to get out of my serious-chick comfort zone and try to make folks laugh! I'm sure ya'll won't hesitate to tell me if I succeed or not. Just be nice about it, please! :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pursue Your Passion

Don't let the orange blob above fool you…this blog is about neither amoebas nor strangely colored fluids. It's about CREATING!
Creating what exactly?
Well, I, the Krause mentioned above, am creating a five-minute animated film partially titled…well…Creation. I'll share the remainder of the film's title later. Yes, I'm pettily withholding minor pieces of information as a cheap ploy to get you to come back to this blog!
Anyway, I'll be chronicling the production of this film with the goal of completing it by June 30, 2010 for entry (and acceptance) into film festivals.
But it isn't all about me! I'm also hoping to encourage all of you to pursue your passions (assuming, of course, that your passions go beyond eating, drinking, whoring, watching televised sports and sleeping. Not that there's anything wrong with those things, but, you know, life's short and stuff).
I know, I know. You don't have the time or energy to write that song, novel or screenplay because of your job, spouse, kid(s) and/or pet(s). Thankfully, I don't have to worry about any of those things (just kidding! I have…a cat.) But imagine for a moment how much more satisfying the other parts of your life would be if you made the time to pursue your passion.
I am struggling, like you, to balance the things I want to do with the things I need to do. All I can offer is some suggestions that have worked for me and hopefully you'll be inspired to share what works for you.
So that's me and what I'm doing. Check back for more—in addition to this film, there's also a shorter film in the works (my first real attempt at comedy!), and a graphic novel and screenplays being developed.
So much to create, so little time. •sigh•