January 30, 2008

Cool but Odd Animations of the day

These two short animated films plopped on my desk today. They're booth very cool, but they both make you think: "What the hell is going on?"

The first is a short film called Codehunters, it was made by Stateless Films:

The other is a Kit-Kat short film. I call it a short film because it seems longer then your avrage commercial.


Thanks to Sudhir for bringing it to my attention. Anyone know who made it? Anyone know where I can get a Kit-Kat laced with hallucinogens? I guess that's how they make Kit-Kats in Europe, it's probably the only way they remain competitive.

January 28, 2008

New Mechanical sculptures/pupets from François Delarozière and Pierre Oreficee

The artists who put on the puppet show in London: "The Sultan’s Elephant" have done it again. But this time they've creased an installation of gigantic mechanical animals in the Machines de l'Ile Nantes in Nantes France. I don't know if you'd call them puppets or machines, what ever they are they're certainly cool looking. In any case check it out:




You can find more pictures here:


Take a look, it's truly amazing work.

January 24, 2008


The non-spoiler section:

I was turned off by all the viral marketing for this movie, the trailer was long and boring, but I decided to see it anyway. And I'm glad I did. It's a fun film with 70% less camp then your average Godzilla movie. It is over hyped and if you can't stand hand held cameras then go see 20 Dresses instead. It's a fun monster movie that's done better then most monster moves are done these days. I'd recommend it, but don't expect too much.

The spoiler section:

A suggestions to JJ Abrams, read a book.
Most books introduce an idea and then explore the idea, you don't seem to like to do that. You just introduce an idea then abandon them. For example, when you introduce all little creatures that made your head explode? What was the point? If your going to introduce an idea like that at least explore it. Otherwise you end up with a well animated creature that is easly defeted with a blunt objest, but a mashene gun has no effect. Next time, just stick to the theme of a giant monster attacking a city what's wrong with exploring that idea. Save the little creatures for another film.

Also, I wish Americans could design creatures as well as the Japanese. He didn't look bad he just wasn't as cool looking as he could have been.

BTW if you haven't heard, they've already started the viral marketing for the sequel.

January 18, 2008

Quinn and Bill Peet

Here's my daughter Quinn seeing how her hands match up to the great Bill Peet's.

January 16, 2008

The Death Of HD players

The only thing that strikes me as untrue is that it depicts HD as the Nazis. I'm one of those people who believe if you buy something, you own that thing. So if I buy a Blue-Ray player and some movies, I shod own them. Sony doesn't agree with this. The way they set up their Blue-Ray players is if Sony decides that they don't like how your using it, they can destroy or change it. They do this by sending software, through the web or inside the latest movie release that will scramble or change the software on your player. Before you write this off as some sort of conspiracy theory, Sony has a history of doing this. It's more then just an anti pirating technique. Sony could also decide that you've owned that Blue-Ray player for too long and destroy it so you have to buy a new one. Or they re-release a new Blue Ray disc of Harry Potter and they decide you need to upgrade, even if you don't like having Jar Jar added to the movie. They can do this and they have a history of doing things just like it. &#*$ nazis.

Nazis who I'm going to buy a Blue Ray player from anyway (I love my gigantic plasma TV.) But Nazis none the less!

Can you Nazis release Iron Giant on blue ray please.

January 15, 2008

Pervasive Persuasion

Over the weekend I attended the Pervasive Persuasion panel. It was a panel where Gary Baseman, Simone Legno, and Tim Biskup talked about their work. It was cool hearing Tim Biskup talk about what he thought each of his paintings. My wife was able to capture a video of it, you can see that here:

Here's a picture of me and a graffiti artists that I like. Still don't know his name but, I've seen his stuff all over Culver City, (apparently he's not even from LA, or America for that matter.) His line quality is super sharp and clean it was amazing to see him work. Someone snagged that picture behind us just seconds after we moved away from it. Wish I was that fast.

Anyhoo it was a good time.

January 14, 2008

Even Pigeons Go To Heaven

Check out this amazing short film: "Even Pigeons Go To Heaven." The story, characters, animation everything is really well done. Check it out:


January 11, 2008

Must Read Bill Peet

John K has put some must read stuff about Bill Peet on his blog. Bill Peet is one of my favorite story men. When you look at his boards you can see how amazing an story man he was, it's very clear who the characters are and what they're thinking. Well it turns out he was more then a story man, he had his hands in all things. Check it out, I'd consider this a must read:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

BTW if you haven't seen his autobiography or his childrens books. Check them out now.

Prase for David O'Reily, (never thougth I'd post this)

Today I was watching Boing Boing TV this morning, like I do almost every morning. (I like me that Boing Boing TV:) The first half is more of Ape Lad's Hobo videos, I always find those entertaining. Then in the second half there's this great bit of graphic animation. Nice simple design, strong poses and timing, really cool looking. So I looked up who did it and to my surprise it was David O'Reily. I've seen a few of David O'Reily films on the web. I've found them entertaining and clever, in a weird kind of way. But today's Boing Boing TV has shown that he can actually animate with a strong design sense, which was a big surprise to me. I've known that his films were met to take the piss out of the CG animation industry but I never thought that he knew what he was doing. Anyhoo take a look and tell me what you think:

BTW, you can find a nice writeup about him here.

January 10, 2008

Story is King, written or not

There's a lot of talk about story and animation on the web right now. It's an important topic, but it seems to be focusing on whether or not animation should use a script or should go straight to boarding. With respect to Steve Worth I just can't believe that "THERE WERE NO CARTOON SCRIPTWRITERS prior to 1960." It's a nice idea, and I see what your getting at but no, not true. Brad Bird gives a strong argument for using a script and I've been reading articles by John Kricfalusi about not using a script and going straight to the boards like any good cartoonist for years (John Kricfalusi has a lot of great articles in Animation Magazene about this). With the direction that technology is going I can see a time where people will draw straight into the story reel, and we will be having arguments whether or not we need a story board before going to the reel. But in the long run who cares? Any of these techniques are just tools, and it's not the tool that creates a good story it's the person behind it. And anyone worth their weight should learn to use all these tools so they can know when to apply each one so they can then focus on the story.

So let's talk about story in animation and how it's been used in the past. (I know I'm glossing over a lot of things here, this isn't a history or story.) In my opinion there's four important turning points in regards to story telling and animation. Animated films are not known for their great stories. I'm sorry but it's true. With a few exceptions, most animated films have weak stories if they have a story at all, and that's part of the problem. If this industry is to survive or fall back into the a slump again like it did in the 1980s it will be story that will make or break it. Not the animation, script or no script.

The first faze of story telling in animation is the Loony Tunes/Silly Symphonies era, this is before feature films. These films are great, I have a big collection of them at home and I watch and step through them in an effort to improve my own work. But they have no story, they're gag films that are loosely strung on a theme. If I was to make a gag film today I'd do it the same way they made these films: no script, straight to boarding. Thinking up gags and being a "Gag Man" is a lost art, and it's something I think I'd find fun and immensely satisfying. Walt Disney made a lot of these gag films but he was smart enough to realize that you can't make a feature film this way, you need stronger characters and strong story to hold people's attention. That's the second faze, films made during Walt Disney's life, everyone knows this era, it starts with Snow White and it ends at Jungle Book when he died (smoking kills kids). With Snow White he applied basic story telling technique to animation to prove you can have more depth in Animation. That leads us to the third faze, after he died.

After Walt died people at Disney didn't know what to do. He was the one who made had all the final say in how things were done, now it was left up to a lot of different people. The animators got enough control over the animated features that they started making the films their own way way. They started making them about the animation not the story. You see this happen in live action films all the time. If the actors start taking over the film making process the film usually suffers because all the actor wants is lots of key shots that shows off their acting. The same was true for the animators at Disney. They started making lots of key shots that showed off their clever animation. If you compare the films that were being made during Walt's life (example: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Lady and the Tramp), to those after he died (ex: Robbin hood, Sward in the Stone, Rescuers,Aristocats ) you'll see what I mean. The ones after he died have some of the best animation ever done at the studio. It's the nine old men at the top of their game. I love these films for the craft that they show, I study them for the same reason I study other films. For the craft. But I do have to concede that as a film, they're not that good. The characters are shallow, the story is week and predictable. If the story was as good as the animation they'd be great but there isn't enough balance between the two. A great acting shot with lots of little bits of clever business doesn't make a film unless it's supported by as strong story.

(Sorry I'm skipping over the comeback of animation Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast etc. this post is already a bit long and I'm trying to get to my point, my apologies, I could spend a whole post on that:)

The forth faze comes with Computer Animated films. At the time the press start throwing out stuff like the evolution of animation, hand drawn animation is dead and other bullshit like that. The fact of the matter is it was the the political environment of using a computer to animate that freed the filmmakers from making a typical animated story line. Basically they updated story, not one that was constrained to the story telling techniques of the 1940s but one that audience were used to seeing in non animated films. That was the real technological improvement of the time and it had nothing to do with the fact that they used a computer to make it. Toy Story proved that Animated Films are not a genre but a technique. But now we stand a chance of loosing that again. Does each technique of animating a film fall under it's own genera? Are all computer animated films: "buddy pictures," stop motion: "dark comedies" and traditional films: "teenage musical love stories?"

On every film I've worked on I've had shots put on hold, thrown away, delays that makes my footage tank, I've had to re-animate shots, and make changes I don't agree with. I've had to do these all for the sake of the story. Some of it has frustrated me but I've never complained (well, not that much) because I come from he school of thought that you have to be flexible, and if it doesn't move the story along, it doesn't belong in the film. I believe story is kingbecouse everyone remembers Sleeping Beauty, and no one remembers Aristocats . Story keeps people coming back, story keeps us in work, story will save us from the pit of the 1980s again. The idea that animation is the most important part of an animated film is not true, it's what got us into the pit of the '80s in the first place, who wants to go back? Board the film, write the film do what ever you have to do but just make the story good. That's up to the individual.

January 9, 2008

Animation Mentor, the cool kid in Animation Schools

There's a cool article about Animation Mentor and it's growth in popularity. Not that learning how to animate is a popularity contest. Apparently they've gone from 350 students to 700 students. That's some growth for any school. Internet schools are slowly gaining their foothold in the education community I wonder how this one compares to others:

By using the Web, Animation Mentor teachers can prepare lectures ahead of time and the students can access the lectures at their convenience.

"A student can log any time and they can watch the lectures on their own time," Beck said.

Instructors, which the school also call mentors, can work on their own time. Teachers provide students an "e-critique" of the pupil's work. The instructor, using software developed by Animation Mentor, can electronically draw on top of the student's work, making suggested changes.

I'd have to agree with this, with my schedule I don't think I could teach at Animation Mentor unless it was on line, I just can't make the commute to the local Animation Schools out here.

Congratulation Bobby, Shawn, and Carlos on your success.

Full article.