Friday, January 22, 2010

Calls of the Wild Premiere with Women in Animation

Last night I had the pleasure of showing my film, "Calls of the Wild," to a small group at the Show & Tell event sponsored by Women in Animation in NYC. And I couldn't have imagined a better response!

First, the women were very friendly from the moment my companion and I walked into the room. This may sound minor, but often members of organizations are cliquish and downright unfriendly. Not these ladies; they immediately introduced themselves and were approachable.

Second, they reacted to "Calls" enthusiastically and supportively. They were effusive in their praise and offered constructive criticism. This was true not only with my film, but with all of the works shown that evening.

I look forward to continuing my association with WIA and to their future events. I think any woman living in the NYC-area who's interested in any aspect of animation should join and participate in this group. There are a lot of talented female animators and WIA appears to be a great support system.

Just more incentive to work hard to get my next projects done. Because that's what it's all about, getting our work out there!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


A few days ago I received a courtesy e-mail from Toon Boom Animation, the makers of my recently purchased Storyboard Pro and Animate Pro. They asked if I was using their products and if I'd be interested in having the film I make from their products promoted on their website.

As Madea would say, "Hell to the yeh!"

Not that I've been slacking, but if I was slacking, this is a huge incentive to get going. When I first purchased the software, I read and watched a number of their interviews so being the subject of one would be terrific publicity.

So I'm back to work on my new storyline…right now!!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First Film Festival Submission

I finally did it.

I've finally realized a dream.

Today I submitted my film, "Calls of the Wild," to the Maryland Film Festival. Hopefully it will arrive by Friday, January 15. Even MORE hopefully, it'll be selected for the festival's program!

Let's all pray to our respective higher beings for that one!

A colleague/friend told me a story today that buoyed my hopes: she was playing my film on her computer at home. Her young adult son was intrigued by the sounds and asked her what was going on. She showed him the film—an unfinished version—and he watched it through—twice—LAUGHING the entire time!

It doesn't get any better than that. :-)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Post-Plympton Project

(I have a thing for alliteration.)

Now that I've completed Bill Plympton's class, it's time to put what I learned to use. I also want to put to use what I learned from the Richard Williams class that I took in 1998! Last century, last millennium! Yeah, it might be a good time to dig those notes out, dust off the book and start drawing.

As I reviewed the Williams notes and book, it occurred to me that there are many animation exercises that I've never done. Particularly, walk cycles. One of my first walk cycles had the left arm and left leg moving together instead of oppositely! Nice. But I must have recovered from that silly mistake to draw this:

Not exactly a smooth walk, but it's something!

Williams thoroughly analyzes all kinds of bipedalism. I really wanted to execute his exercises to learn how they're done. But I didn't want the exercises taking away from creating my next film. So I'm combining the two goals into one: the walking exercises will be made into a story! Simple solution. This way I'll get the experience of drawing humans walking, running, jumping, etc. and will have a completed film for distribution.

There's no time to waste!

Storytelling & Originality

Yesterday I came across an image that's appearing on many blogs…so I thought I'd add it to mine, too!

Below is a story outline comparison between Disney's Pocahontas and Avatar:

I was struck by how much it reminded me of a similar one I saw comparing Star Wars and Harry Potter:

It was eye-opening to read the comments to these comparisons. Some feel that there are clear rip-offs while others see no similarities whatsoever.

I think Nina Paley addresses the subject well here.

Someone said that there's only a handful of story themes (love, revenge, etc.). Every story ever created in the history of man is based on those few themes; their originality is in the handling of the themes, not the themes themselves.

As a film buff, I don't feel as much of a need for new film-viewing technologies as I do for the stories to be changed up a bit. Instead of EVERY MOVIE having a white guy named "Jack" (has anyone else noticed this?) make that character Asian or Latino. Make that character female instead of male. Those small changes alone make a huge difference; the point of view of the protagonist is changed. An Asian woman has most likely lived a different life than white guy Jack and that life will inform her decisions. And people's choices and the results of those choices is the essential element of storytelling.

Ultimately, being an artist is about presenting a truthful presentation of one's point of view. Originality, schmariginality!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Super Duper Software! (I hope…)

Whoops! I know I said I'd talk more about my festival plans TOMORROW and now it's ten days later!

OK, my first New Year's resolution is to be more diligent about this blog.

Before I discuss festival plans, I want to tell you about my new purchases! Because a grown-up buying new software and hardware is like being a kid at Christmas!

I attended a Toon Boom presentation several months ago in SoHo. How would I sum up the demonstration of their software? Jaw-dropping. I don't think I've ever coveted something as much as I did Toon Boom's Storyboard Pro and Animate Pro. I was amazed with the capabilities of these two programs. The company actually has an entire suite of animation products for kids, teenagers, amateurs and professionals.

I had struggled to use After Effects with my last film and was thinking that I needed to switch to Flash. I've heard so much about the vast use of Flash that I figured it was a necessity to learn it if I intend to pursue a career in 2D animation. I even discovered animator Adam Phillips's awesome blog that discussed, among other things, the merits of both Flash and Toon Boom. He created terrific, in-depth (and free!) Flash tutorials. But he also spoke about the benefits of Toon Boom, primarily that, unlike Flash, Toon Boom's software is designed specifically for animation. Flash does animation, but that wasn't it's original intent. As a result, the animator has to fight using it, expending time and energy figuring out workarounds.

Time is vital. And if there's a tool that will make the already tedious job of animating even remotely easier, I'm for it. So I took the plunge and bought both Storyboard Pro and Animate Pro. Thanks, Toon Boom, for the discount! This software is expensive but with the discounts I saved $1200.00. Which I needed to invest in a new computer to run the new software. I have a PowerPC Mac G5 which I unfortunately bought 6 months before Apple switched to the Intel chip. My machine, despite working perfectly, is slowly becoming obsolete. It can't run Snow Leopard…nor Animate Pro. But it will run Storyboard Pro. Why, Toon Boom, why?!?!?!

Anyway, I bought a refurbished white MacBook so I could work while commuting on the bus. It's my first laptop and I'm loving it. Now that I'm done with my Plympton class film (and have taken two weeks to recover from the stress of meeting the deadline) I already have the idea for my next film. And I'm looking forward to getting to know Storyboard and Animate Pro. In future posts, I'll review how well it works.

OK, I'm done gushing about the software that I haven't even used yet!

Next post—festival talk