Sunday, October 31, 2010

Storyboard Pro 2 Tutorial #3—When To Cut

Continuing the Storyboard Pro 2 tutorials created by Sherm Cohen and how I'm applying them to my animatic, the third entry is "when to cut."

Cohen provides an explanation here.
Here's how I chose to apply the cutting principles to my animatic:


Friday, October 29, 2010

Studies & Storyboard

I recently had to rethink the opening introduction to the characters. After running my original idea past someone, it became clear that Luthor's impatience was not being communicated clearly.

I decided to add signs of waiting: a tapping foot; a tapping finger; a glance at a watch.

Here are the initial drawings I did today:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Creativity & Thinking Like a Child

Picasso: "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist after he grows up."

Researchers at North Dakota State University executed a study about adult creativity. They discovered that the more an adult acts and thinks like a child, the more imaginative he or she becomes. Read the details here.

This made me think about all of the creative outlets we had in elementary school (I still have the ash tray I sculpted for my father in the 3rd grade! It used to be decorated with pasta elbows but those fell off years ago.) and how that decreased as we got older. It's a shame our culture doesn't value art and music education more, clearly it's necessary for our functioning as adults.

Let's all stay in touch with our inner child!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Man vs. Art Podcast—Drawing Fundamentals

This podcast from Raul Aguirre, Jr. explains the importance of building a strong foundation of drawing skills and knowledge. He describes what he calls "The Five P's"—perspective, proportion, pattern, placement and planes.

If it's all right with Señor Aguirre, I'd like to add a sixth "P": Patience.

Because I know a lot about impatience and how much time it can waste!

This past summer I was thrilled to discover John K's curriculum. It involved a lot of precise copying from the original Preston Blair "Advanced Animation" book (part one is available here, part two here. I bought a later version of this book when I was a kid. Mine, however, contains significantly different—and lower quality—drawings since the original's characters were owned by MGM, not by Blair himself.)

I was very disciplined about getting through that curriculum. But that's all I did, get through it, as quickly as possible. What I didn't do is truly learn the lessons since I was in such a RUSH!

Now I'm taking the time--AGAIN--to deeply ingrain every lesson and to practice those lessons EVERY DAY. If I had done this back in the summer, I'd be seeing significant results TODAY!

I have yet to hear a single successful artist say that drawing is an inborn talent. What they ALL do agree on is the importance of consistent study and practice. You can't help but get better with consistent study and practice.

Back to work!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Stop-Motion Made Easier

The computer continues to make the creation of animation easier and more affordable. This means we can tell more stories and get them out to the audience SOONER!

The article here, from the New York Times, explains.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Storyboard Pro 2 Tutorial #2—The Pan

Hopefully you found the first Sherm Cohen tutorial helpful. He's an experienced storyboard artist who seems enthusiastic about using Storyboard Pro. I think that's a strong endorsement for this software.

And now that I've upgraded my MacBook from 2GB to 6GB of RAM, things are flying! Particularly, I can now scrub through the animatic and see how things flow without having to take the time to export to a Quicktime movie. I still like to do the export to see how things move at the proper frame rate, but it's helpful to have the option to take a quick look. Before the upgrade, I would get the pinwheel of death every time I tried to scrub. No more of that!

Cohen's tutorial for pans is here. Below is the current opening pan in my animatic.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Raul Aguirre, Jr. On Angst-y Characters

I won't even bother to summarize the opinions of creator of Raul Aguirre, Jr., the man in the Man vs. Art podcasts, since listening to this particular rant is so entertaining! While riding the bus home recently and listening to him vent, I'm sure people who saw my silly grin thought I was some kind of weirdo.

Basically, he's complaining about all of the darkness in characters and illustration, especially with live action comic book-based heroes. I found myself endlessly nodding in agreement. I don't like when comic book-based live action movies are campy and don't take themselves seriously at all (Fantastic Four I & II and Batman and Robin) but I also don't like when they're so dark that I want to turn on a light so I can actually see what's happening (The Dark Knight.) I guess it's hard to strike the right tone between camp and serious but Iron Man I got it right.

Aguirre also goes on a tirade about Tim Burton's work, which he dismisses as an "aesthetic." I agree with him completely. I can only take Burton's work in small doses. I'm fascinated that a human being has such a seemingly limited world view: that being that everything happens at night (his remake of Planet of the Apes. I kept wondering if this was a planet that didn't orbit the sun it was so damn DARK!) and every situation is sinister (I skipped Sleepy Hollow, Alice in Wonderland and Willy Wonka because I didn't want to see drab, dreary, dour versions of my childhood favorites.) I mean, this guy knows ONE THING: DARK! Even his early drawings and animations were dark. It's a viewpoint that simply doesn't apply to the real world.

So that's what I have to say about this podcast. Take a listen for yourself and enjoy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Comic Con NYC 2010

Thanks to my wonderful (non-comic geek) girlfriend for graciously dealing with the throng of comics, animation, science fiction and gaming geeks this past weekend at the NYC Comic Con. I'm disappointed she didn't dress up like Princess Leia but, whatever, you can't have everything! :)

My comments about the con are my personal impressions based on my reasons for attending. In other words, I didn't go to see the latest from any particular studio or company. Instead, I went to see how other amateurs present their work. And I did learn a lot about what materials to have and how to present oneself.

First, the place was PACKED! I had a weekend pass but only attended on Saturday, the day it was sold out. I haven't been in a few years but I don't remember it being that crazy. Second, the layout was superior to previous years. There was a lot more space in the rows and especially near the entrances. Third, the artists alley felt less like an alley! The last time I attended, they stuck the artists up on the mezzanine in ridiculously narrow aisles. Two people couldn't walk side-by-side, it was insane! This time the artists had as much space as the professionals which made it easier to see their work and to talk to them. Fourth, I had an informative conversation regarding submissions with Kasey (sp?), programmer for Animation Block Party. He told me that submission acceptance begins in December and continues through May. And he gave me a helpful piece of advice: do NOT submit an incomplete or rushed film. It will do more harm than good. I had actually heard that once before, from a filmmaker who submitted a work in progress to Sundance, and he said never again. Words for all filmmakers to live by. He also explained the importance of keeping a short film short; it makes it easier to include more films in a program when they're less than 10 minutes and prevents a single film from dominating. Thanks for talking to me, Kasey!

So those are the aspects that I liked. Here's what I didn't like: First, I had expected to get a bag of goodies at the door, or at least a lanyard for the big, thick tag that acted as a ticket. But they ran out of both. Not cool. So I had to rely on my purse into which to stick business cards and other freebies. Second, TOO MANY PEOPLE! Third, fewer model kits and figurines. I don't know why but I really liked seeing that stuff the last time I was there and I deeply missed that aspect.

Overall, I can't honestly say I enjoyed it. My girlfriend was surprised when I told her I wanted to leave after a brief stay. We even handed our badges/tickets to some folks outside, for free. We felt we might as well help others get in and enjoy it since we were leaving.

I doubt I'll attend again unless I have a booth or table space for my own work. But I definitely want to attend the San Diego Con in the near future, just to have the experience.

If I end up showing at a con, I'll let you know!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Storyboard Pro 2 Tutorial #1—Establishing Shot

As promised, here is a tutorial by Sherm Cohen, storyboard artist extraordinaire for Ren & Stimpy, Hey Arnold and SpongeBob. If you go to his YouTube channel, you'll see how this is the first in a series of Storyboard Pro tutorials. I thought it would be fun to show how I'm using his tutorial topics in my own work, where applicable.

Here's the original establishing shot for my upcoming film. I've since changed this opening but the overall approach is similar:


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Congratulations, Bill Plympton!

I've always admired Bill Plympton. He makes independent animated shorts and features that tell purely adult stories. And when I say adult, I don't mean smutty! I mean clever and insightful, like the adult-mind. No "family entertainment" from this guy!

That's why I jumped  at the chance to learn from him last year as a member of the first class (of only two, it seems) of the Bill Plympton Animation School. It was an invaluable experience and worth every penny AND every second.

Bill had mentioned during class that he was struggling to get his latest feature, "Idiots and Angels," released in the United States. So after two years, it's now playing in NYC. PLUS, it got a RAVE review in the New York Times.

So if you're in NYC, give this film a look.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Random Scribbles

These are from June 2, 2010.

I'm still getting out the bad drawings so I can get to the good ones! It's a process, folks, a process!