See Robert Valley's "Pear Cider and Cigarettes" NOW!

I've been inspired by a lot of animation lately.

The work coming out of the Ecole de l'image Les Gobelins is amazing. Like this:

So there's a lot of animation—especially hand drawn/2D animation—out there to inspire and emulate.

And one person's work that I'm really loving is Robert Valley. He draws like this:

And he animates like this:

He's amazing! And although I wish that all of his women weren't insanely skinny, I love the ethnic diversity of his characters, something that many artists don't do. Usually diversity, especially of women, translates into one blonde, one brunette and one redhead. Hair color diversity! Obviously, that leaves out a lot of other people.

So when I heard that Valley not only made a 35-minute mature film that was accompanied by an ebook and tutorials, all available for purchase, I bought them immediately!

A page of thumbnails from "Pear Cider and Cigarettes" making of book. Valley explains why doing thumbnails is important.

And if you're interested in being an independent animator, I recommend you purchase the film and the bonus features of the ebook, tutorials and commentary.

I've watched the film twice (and intend to watch it again with the commentary), studied his ebook, which contains the original script, and went through all four of the Photoshop tutorials. And it was the most inspirational and educational experience for which any independent animator could hope.

A page from "Pear Cider and Cigarettes" making of book. 

One idea in particular that I thought was incredibly smart was that Valley designed the artwork for the graphic novel to also be used in the film. To keep the work to a minimum, he used a specific aspect ratio— 19:9—that worked for his graphic novel panels as well as for the film frames. The graphic novel ended up essentially being a storyboard for the film! 

Each panel of the graphic novel is a layered Photoshop file. Valley then takes that completed panel and puts it into a Premiere file and times it to music. This creates a placeholder/animatic showing the timing of every scene. He would then take the panel art and extend it and adjust it to create the animation for the film. So awesome!

A page from "Pear Cider and Cigarettes" making of book.

The ebook contains links to YouTube for the music, which is just as great as the animation. I downloaded the whole playlist. I'm listening to it as I write this! And it has a private password to watch Valley's "Shinjuku" animation, a precursor to the methods he used in "Pear."

A page from "Pear Cider and Cigarettes" making of book.

Valley's "Pear" is a big step in the direction of convincing people that animation isn't just for children and is a great medium for adult topics.

"Pear Cider and Cigarettes" is available for rent or purchase at Vimeo.

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