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I still haven’t seen Andrew Stanton’s John Carter, but that didn’t lessen (and perhaps enhanced) my enjoyment of this nifty character animation reel put together by Emanuele Pavarotti, who worked on the film at Double Negative. Pavarotti has organized the reel nicely to give a sense of how his scenes progressed from video reference to blocking to final animation, and finally, FX/cloth/compositing passes. He even drops in comments throughout the reel to explain how certain shots evolved. Emanuele has recently been working at Blue Sky Studios on Epic and the forthcoming Rio 2.
I’m sure DreamWorks had the purest of intentions when they enlisted their superstar animator James Baxter to teach children how to draw characters like Eep and Guy from The Croods. But we all know how these tutorials will be put to use by the Internet. (All links NSFW in the last sentence.)
They’ve even made a “Gran” tutorial for the gerontophiles:
And please, I beg of you, if you do anything smutty with this character, don’t show me:
You can use and modify them in any way you like as long as it’s for a non-commercial purpose. Showreels, short films, indie games, all that stuff is cool – just give credit. If it’s web based – include a link to my site. I’m releasing these without a how-to (or support of any kind) but it should be very straight forward. They are extremely low-weight and easy to animate with, all are compatible with versions of Maya after 2010.
Cartoonist and storyboard artist Sherm Cohen has updated his fantastic How to Draw Cartoons Facebook page with scans of the rare 1939 book Popeye’s How to Draw Cartoons. The book has some solid common sense advice, including this bit which I liked: “Copy other characters you enjoy following in your newspaper. Don’t worry if they don’t look exactly like them. The important thing is—are you remembering to exaggerate your impression of the character you have in mind?” See the entire book HERE.
Digital Domain’s first animated feature The Legend of Tembo fulfilled its prophetic title. Thanks to the misdeeds of the company’s management, the film can never exist and has, in fact, turned into a legend.
Glen Keane presented an animation demo at CalArts last weekend. Part of his talk, in which he animates a dance, was captured on video and posted online. The people who attended the lecture in person had to pay $40,000 a year for that privilege. We give it to you for free on Cartoon Brew.
I’ve been meaning to give this unique DVD a plug for sometime. If you’re a filmmaker looking to make perfect ball and socket armatures for stop motion animation, look no further. Larry Larson is an instructor at The College for Creative Studies in Detroit, teaching armature building, maquette scupture and stop motion animation. He’s worked for over 40 years in special effects animation in both feature films and television spots, on projects ranging from Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead ll, to low budget flicks like Flesh Gordon ll, as well as numerous local commercials (like this), and providing props and puppets for many other shows. Larson taught Ellen Coons how to build the armatures that were used in her CB Student Fest film Money Bunny Blues which we featured here a few days ago. Larson’s new step-by-step armature making video is a labor or of love – and an important reference for all stop motion filmmakers and aspiring puppet builders.
Tashlin’s idiosyncratic style is geared more toward print cartoonists than animators, owing to Tashlin’s beginnings as a newspaper cartoonist. Even though his old-school cartooning style was already on its way out when the book was published in 1952, somehow the style looks artful in his confident hands. Throughout the book, Tashlin uses examples from his own illustrated books, including The World That Isn’t, which still holds up as a masterpiece of graphic art commentary.
Not to take this too far off-topic, but if you’re interested in learning more about Tashlin, I’d also recommend this Michael Barrier interview, which was conducted just one year before Tashlin passed away.
Tashlin has never been properly given his due as an animation director, mostly because his career as a live-action director eclipsed his earlier work. But he was easily among the most forward-thinking, singular and influential animation directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Below is a fine example of his innovative directorial style—the 1943 Warner Bros. short Puss n’ Booty.
Brunetti gets to the heart of what makes a comic a comic. It’s not a book that tries to teach you the right way to draw, or the proper tools to use. Rather it focuses on the philosophy of comics-making and the distillation of both art and story into simple pictograms and beats.
A lot of people stop by this site because they’re curious to learn what it takes to not only write a children’s book, but to write a successful one. Some authors appear at workshops where they charge hundreds of dollars to dispense such insider tips. Not me. Today, I’m giving the good stuff out for free. I only ask that you thank me in your acknowledgements and cut me in on any foreign rights. It’s a fair trade for this invaluable wisdom. Let’s get down to it.
First off, the old advice is often the best advice. Write what you know. Do you know a puppy that’s a bit poky? How about some teenagers who hunt each other for sport? Connecting with children is about connecting with the world around you. A few monkeys don’t hurt either. That’s right. Forget wizards, vampires and zombies. Monkeys are what distinguish great children’s books. Try to imagine The Secret Garden without Jose Fuzzbuttons, the wisecracking capuchin whose indelible catchphrase “Aye-yaye-yaye, Mami, hands off the yucca!” is still bandied about schoolyards today? I don’t think you can.
Of course, the magic that is artistic inspiration must find its way in there. So how do you grab hold of it? Christopher Paolini swears by peyote-fueled pilgrimages to the Atacama Desert. I’m more of a traditionalist. A pint of gin and a round of Russian Roulette with Maurice Sendak always gets my creative juices flowing. Have fun. Experiment. Handguns and hallucinogens need not be involved. Though I see no reason to rule them out. Find what works for you.
Now, you’ll inevitably face a little writer’s block. There are two words that cure this problem and cure it quick. Public Domain. Dust off some literary dud and add spice to it. Kids dig this stuff. For instance, you could take some Edith Wharton and inject it with flatulence. The Age of Innocence and Farts. Done. Easy. Bestseller.
I give this last bit of advice with a caveat. Resist the temptation to write unauthorized sequels to beloved classics. I speak from experience. My manuscripts for You Heard What I Said Dog, Get Your Arse Outta Here! and God? Margaret Again…I’m Late have seen the bottom of more editors’ trash cans than I care to mention. Newbery bait? Sure. Immune to the unwritten rules of the biz? Hardly.
Okay, let’s jump forward. So now you’ve got your masterpiece, but how the heck are you going to sell the thing? Truth be told, you’re going to need an advanced degree first. As anyone will inform you, kid lit authors without PhDs or MFAs are rarely taken seriously. If you can’t work Derrida or Foucault into a pitch letter, then you certainly can’t survive a 30-minute writing workshop with Mrs. Sumner’s 5th period reading class. So invest 60-100K and 3-6 years of your life. Then let the bidding war begin.
In the off chance that your book isn’t going to sell for six figures, try blackmail. Sounds harsh, but the children’s book industry runs almost exclusively on hush money and broken kneecaps. I mean, Beverly Cleary doesn’t even own a car. So why is she always carrying a tire iron?
Money is now under the mattress and the editorial process begins. Don’t worry at all about this. Editors won’t even read your book. They’ll simply call in Quentin Blake for some illustrations and then run the whole thing through a binding machine they keep in the back of the o
My favorite publisher Chronicle Books recently announced their fall publishing line-up and it includes three books that may be of interest to Brew readers:
A first of its kind book: Setting the Scene: The Art & Development of Animation Layout by Fraser MacLean. I haven’t seen anything from it, but I know Fraser has been working his tail off to finish the book. It promises to be a comprehensive examination of animation layout practices, both past and present.
Sasquatch’s Big Hair Drawing Book by Chris McDonnell. Chris has worked on animated series like Yo Gabba Gabba! and Tom Goes To The Mayor and also designed Bill Plympton’s new coffeetable art book. His drawing activity book should be something like this.
The geekiest, and therefore coolest, animation-related Tumblr I’ve seen: Smears, Multiples and Other Animation Gimmicks. Tumblr users are invited to submit their own examples of these animation ideas. The blog is run by Michael Ruocco, a promising recent grad of the School of Visual Arts whose knowledge of classic animation is second to none.
(Disclosure: Michael did some work for Cartoon Brew last year and has also assisted me on some of my recent book projects.)
Wow, here’s something I’d never seen before: Monty Python animator Terry Gilliam discussing his animation techniques on Bob Godfrey’s Do-It-Yourself Animation Show in 1974. Godfrey’s show, which made animation accessible to the masses by taking the mystery out of the production process, was vastly influential and inspired an entire generation of kids in England, including Nick Park, who created Wallace & Gromit, Jan Pinkava, who directed the Pixar short Geri’s Game, and Richard Bazley, an animator on Pocahontas, Hercules, and The Iron Giant.
In a day and age when more kids are interested in animating than ever before, it’s a shame that TV shows (or Web series) that are fun and informative like this don’t exist. The DIY advice that Gilliam gives in this episode is not only brilliant, but still as relevant today as back then:
“The whole point of animation to me is to tell a story, make a joke, express an idea. The technique itself doesn’t really matter. Whatever works is the thing to use.”
Last week, we talked about evaluating your library’s policies and determining whether they were appropriate and reasonable for teens. If you concluded that some changes are needed, it’s time to think about how to make those changes.
You will want to proceed carefully and thoughtfully. Policies are not written in a vacuum, and there will have been reasons behind every policy or procedure. If possible, find out what those reasons are. Find out the background of the policies—is this a new policy, or a time-honored one?
Learn your library’s process for changing policies and procedures. Who can propose a change and who can approve a change? If your change involves the strategic plan or the library’s core values, it may require approval by the Board of Trustees or City Council. If it is a simple procedure change, it may be able to be approved by the library’s administration.
Whoever the decision-makers are, give them sufficient and appropriate background information. Some examples:
Why the change should be made: how will this change affect the library’s service to teens and the relationship to the community?
What impact the change will have on staffing: for example, show that after-school supervision will require fewer staff members if they don’t have to spend time policing the “no-furniture-moving” rule.
What impact the change will have on procedures: for example, school id cards will be added to the list of acceptable identification for getting a library card
What impact the change will have on the budget: for example, will there be costs associated with changing signs or informational handouts?
When the change will take effect: will it require a roll-out or pilot period, or can a date be set to make the change? Would it make sense to change the policy at the beginning of a fiscal year, calendar year, or school year?
Get teen input on the proposed changes, and present that with your proposal. If you can show you have teen buy-in, it may go a long way toward making your point, especially if what you are advocating appears to be more lenient than what currently exists.
Get your supervisor’s buy-in before you take it any higher. Your supervisor can help advocate at the higher levels, but her or she needs to understand fully the proposal.
Has anyone had success with changing policies that didn’t include teens or didn’t treat them equitably?
Paris-trained mime Lorin Eric Salm answers the age-old question, Are mimes relevant in animation? That’s only second in importance to the question: if a mime falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does anyone care?
Working with [George Booth] opened vistas for me and redefined what collaboration should be all about. . . .The advertising agency (Foote Cone & Belding/SF), the designer (that would be George), and the sound designer (the late Tom Pomposello), were a magical combination that one rarely gets to experience when producing commercials. It was this project that was also a right of passage of sorts for me because I was extended a level of respect and a peer level working relationship that I hadn’t really seen yet.
The entire article is packed with pre-production artwork (at incredibly high resolutions, no less) and lots of fun behind-the-scenes stories. Well worth your time.
Here’s Quentin Blake demonstrating, step by step, how he makes the illustrations for his books.
It’s from this great page on his website, How I Draw, in which he describes the process a little more:
In the attempt to combine planning with an air of spontaneity I’ve employed various techniques of which the one I have found most successful, and have used for the last thirty years, makes use of a light box.
What happens next is not tracing; in fact it’s important that I can’t see the rough drawing underneath too clearly, because when I draw I try to draw as if for the first time.
Jake Friedman emailed yesterday to tell me about BabbittBlog.com, a site dedicated to all things Art Babbitt. Jake has been researching a biography of the legendary animator for the last few years, and if the blog is any indication, there’s still a lot left to learn about Babbitt.
There’s no shortage of animation tips posted online nowadays, but this mass of how-to advice isn’t particularly well organized. Thankfully, Jonah Sidhom has created the Animation Article Database, an invaluable list of links to animation tips from industry pros, organized alphabetically.