Friday, 7 October 2016

Walt Disney : The Futurist

Sometimes a person can get so wrapped up in the myths that surround them that they don't feel real anymore. For me that had started to happen to Walt Disney.

He is such a prominent feature in our industry and in the world today. I think people find it easy to roll their eyes or shrug his achievements off. He does have many rumours and myths surrounding him. Rumours that, I'm sad to say, had almost permeated my brain and got stuck there.  Almost all of which were reveled 20 years after his death. It is sad that to post this video on here and to say that you should watch this documentary about Walt Disney I first felt the need to defend the reasons I'm posting it.

What we do know about him is that this man hired some of the worlds first woman animators in 1938, despite it not being seen as a 'done thing' back then. He gave us talents such as Mary Blair, Retta Scott, Bianca Majolie and Sylvia Moberly-Holland. He introduced the world to incredible talent such as Floyd Norman, Disney's first African American animator/story artist in 1956, and helped create war films that would help end World War two. Most of the time he did this by using money from his own pocket, not government funds.
I am not naive enough to think I know even 1% about this mans life, but it is a shame that younger generations are taking jokes from Family Guy and Robot Chicken as 100% fact. Here is an interesting study on both sides of the Disney argument: Here

This man created so many technical advancements and brought out the best in so many creative people. His films have made millions of people happy . This is a documentary looking , not at the myths, but at the Futurist side to him and all the things he dreamed up. It is slightly baffling to watch a documentary like this and realise just how much he created for us.  I loved this documentary. It made me proud to be in our industry and it had me jumping around the room with inspiration.

Our industry is just in its infancy. Documentaries like this make me excited for the future. If we have achieved all of this already then I can't wait to see what is to come.

I'd definitely recommend you give it a watch:

Happy Animating x

Friday, 30 September 2016

The Next Steps In An Animation Education

Back in my university days, when I'd tell people I was studying animation , they would often joke that I was just watching cartoons all day. Obviously, this was a big part of my university life, but people would often be surprised when I started to explain all of the different elements that you must understand to be an animator.  We all know that we should be animating bouncing balls and reading The Illusion of Life to help us learn animation,  but what about those other aspects of our field that help us be a more rounded animator?  Here are some of the subjects I'm trying to get my brain to absorb:
cat glasses smart
Physics is the reason I started thinking about the subject of sub-genres inside animation. I recently heard an interesting interview with Professor Alejandro Garcia, a physics expert for Dreamworks (video here). It is obvious that Physics is involved in animation , but I've never read a physics book , or gone back to the actual science. Surely I should understand Newton's law if I'm animating it every day? I've been listening to some science podcasts and also watching experiments on Youtube. Sometimes you think you can predict a scientific outcome, but I'm constantly surprised. Such as this person throwing a spinning basketball off a ridge:

Even after a lifetime of using gravity and physics (and often clumsily not using gravity right in my day to day life) , I couldn't predict what would happen. It is interesting to look at the 12 principles of animation and apply exact physical rules to them. It changes your perspective.

Psychology (Animals and Humans) 
Most people are aware that the things on this list are part of animation, but it's rare we take the time to study them individually. Studying and looking into psychology and philosophy have really made a difference with the way I see my work. I've been reading some psychology books (mainly things like 'psychology for dummies') , but mainly I've been watching a butt-load of David Attenbourgh. I love everything about those documentaries. It started as wanting to study animals , but it became a study in comic timing. The animal kingdom will teach you more about comedy timing than anything else. I love it! Plus that beautiful voice...WE LOVE YOU ATTENBOURGH!

Okay, so I know this is an obvious one and that every tutor or mentor you've ever had has told you to get to Life drawing class, but once you aren't a brand new, bushy eyed junior, how many of us actually do this? I've started life drawing again (it's burlesque ladies in costume, which makes it extra fantastic). I've bought watercolours and I'm setting time aside every weekend for art. It's annoying because I am so out of practice. I'm hoping if I persevere it will get better. It feels good to be in a life drawing room again and to be using tangible materials instead of being on a p.c. I am instantly more inspired and thinking about the body and composition more. Which leads onto the next topic...
Philippa Rice drawing writing craft cute
I think I know things about the anatomy, but I don't. I know the animation basics. I am hoping to look at some massage books and physiotherapy books to understand the way the muscles connect. I heard an animator Samy Fecih, in a great interview you can see here, explaining how difficult it is to make a fist once your wrist moves your hand past 90 degrees. I'd never considered this. I also want to study animal anatomy to get a better understand of what the hell is going on there.

Going to the gym
This is kind of linked to 'anatomy'. I have started going to the gym a lot , and I've been trying to lift weights. I am normally a lightweight who does cardio and a few push ups before giving up. Once I started having to lift weights I started really studying my center of gravity, my foot placements and my bodies movements. Most people in the gym are staring in the mirror to see their rippling muscles. I'm looking at my line of action. I've even started taking a tiny sketchbook to thumb things out quickly if I do a pose that I didn't expect to work. If nothing else, it makes the gym a lot of exciting.

Editing is a passion of mine. I love grabbing my holiday videos and sticking them together in an entertaining way. Editing it an incredible tool . It's storytelling and it's most basic. I love that it feels like reverse engineering. This is what you've got, now tell a story using it. Obviously, if you don't like editing or haven't done any , you will feel weird the first time you step into editing software (I use Premiere, but there are so many free ones online now). I'd say that you don't even have to show anyone. Even if it's just a phone app.  I'd recommend watching some of these incredible youtube film analysis:
10 most memorable edits of all time
or this one: 

Then I'd recommend doing a few little tests of your own. Understanding how cuts work and how film language can alter a scene is stupidly interesting to me.

Get some popcorn, get comfy and once a week try to watch one of the films*  on this list:
The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time
It is research after all.

I'm embarrassed how many iconic films I haven't seen. I love film. I watch them every day and yet I'm wasting my eyeballs on awful stuff, so why not watch the ones the world agrees are amazing. Next up for me is Lawrence of Arabia and Misery.  I'm not limiting myself, though. I'm going to re-watch a few of my favourites. 12 Angry Men and Rear Window should  be watched at least once a year. 

*TV is so good now that a new list of 'Greatest things committed to film' may have to be the new list. Battle of the Bastards in Game of Thrones....pure genius!

So that is how I'm occupying my time at the moment. I want to up my animation game and i'm hoping these things are going to take me a step further. Go Go Team Animation !

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

On Animation

I think I am probably very late to the game with this one, but my friend introduced me to this great website:
On Animation
dance rick and morty rick finger morty
I'm addicted!
Go and feed your animation addiction.

Happy Animating x

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Food For Thought : Review of Sausage Party

I recently reviewed the new Seth Rogan animation Sausage Party for Skwigly Animation Magazine. I love writing for those guys so it was great to find time to do this again. You can read the article here.

Friday, 26 August 2016

The Little Prince - Why You Should Stop What You're Doing and Watch It.

This week I saw a film that i've been excited for since I saw a trailer in Tokyo. In fact I loved it so much that i've already watched it twice.  The film that captured my heart and imagination was The Little Prince.

I saw the beautiful stop motion and I was hooked. Then I saw the stunning CG visuals and I was more confused than excited. What studio made this? Why hadn't I seen posters for this in the UK or Australia and how could I see it?

Then last week Netflix answered my animation request and put it on the site. This film was going to be realeased in early 2016 but it was mysteriously pulled . Instead it was released by Netflix in August. It has so far had positive reviews and has become the most profitable French animation of all time. The studio that created this film is a little hard to discover because a lot of people worked on it. It seems On Animation Studios (or Method Studios) in Montreal did the CG . They also created the quite pretty Chaplin & Co TV show. The Stop motion was also created in a Montreal studio and had great Stop motion animators such as Anthony Scott and Alexander Juhasz .
This is a really interesting little podcast with the two animators:

The Little Prince - Stop Motion Animation from A Scott on Vimeo.

It is a film based on a French children's book called The Little Prince. I owned a sketch book with this little guy on the cover a few years ago without knowing what it was. Boy, am I sorry I didn't know at the time. I remember a stranger being so in love with the sketch book that she ran up to me to ask where I bought it. I understand now why she was so enamored. 

In this film a young girl with an over baring , but caring mother (Rachel McAdams) move into a new house so that they can be in the catchment area of a good school. The only catch is their eccentric neighbor (Jeff Bridges). Throughout the CG story we see the little girl befriend her old neighbor who teaches her lessons through his illustrated stories. These stories are all shown in 2d and stop motion and the animation is just beautiful. The designs and uniqueness comes through in every frame.

It is one of those stories that is appealing to kids , but speaks to adults on many levels. We debated in our house for a while about the themes of the film, which is surely what a good film should do.

Not only is it visually stunning , but the characters are full of charm and very endearing.
Mr Fox is my personal favourite. Especially in the CG world when this cuddly counterpart comes to life and is animated to look like a great muppet. I want to cuddle him!

It inspired me with its beautiful quotes and caused me to doodle a little fan art.
I can't recommend this beautiful film more.
5 stars *****

Speed Drawing : Banjo the Otter

I asked my Mr to give me a speed challenge. He gave me the task of drawing a 'Banjo playing Otter' so this is a 15 min attempt at drawing one of the greatest creatures. The Otter.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Podcasts for Animators (a.k.a Happiness for your Ear Holes)

So we all know this famous Milt Kahl pearl of wisdom:

but sometimes there are days (mainly when you are fixing intersections)  that your brain needs to escape and listen to something interesting. There use to be a great wealth of animation podcasts , but those fresh faced animators are now all directors and incredibly busy people so I had to go on the hunt for new listening material.

Here are my top 6 favourite podcasts to keep you sain on those fixing days: 

. Imaginary World Podcast - Eric Molinskey has a created the perfect podcast for my geeky mind. He explores a host of imaginary worlds. From Sci - Fi's obsession with sexy robots to translating a comic book characters costume for film. I love them! It also helps that he use to be an animator on the Rugrats so he has a great insight into the animation world too.  Start at the beginning and work your way through them ALL!

. How Did This Get Made - As far as podcasts go , this one is the king. Three famous comedians Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, Jason Mantzoukas (you'd know them all by sight since they are in every good show or film)  and a guest start watch and hilariously dissect awful films. A few favourites of mine are here and here.
Awful films are a secret passion of mine and my Mr's. We both got so addicted to this podcast that we sit down at home like to old timey people from the 1940's and just listen to it instead of watching TV. 

.Toon Talks - With the sad *disappearance of my favourite podcaster Clay Kaytis and his animation podcast, all animators were wandering the lonely animation wasteland in need of a new show. And then Sandra Ni Chonaola appeared. This bright and bubbly lady asks the questions to famous animators that I've always wanted to ask. Check out some of her incredible guests such as Pete Docter and Mark Oftedal   
*I realise this sounds like something bad happened to him but it's the exact opposite. Clay Kaytis is busy directing his first feature Angry Birds.

. The Pixar Podcast - If you haven't heard this one yet then jump on board. There are some great interviews with Pixar animators talking in detail about the techniques and information about specific shots. It's a great listen and the perfect thing to listen to while you are waiting for the next Spine Doctors podcast (one of the original and best animation podcasts around).

.I Was There Too - Each week Matt Gourley talks to extras or bit part actors that were in your favourite movies. These cast members talk about what it was like on the set and share tid-bits about your favourite films and directors. The episode where he interviews all of the people on the bus in Speed is fantastic. Mainly because each person has a different version of events. It's really interesting and done in a light hearted manner that appeals to my nerd love of film and comedy. A great listen. 

. The Canon * - This list was made a 'top 6' at the last second because I discovered a gem of a podcast only yesterday. I'm only a few episodes in but the Canon seems great. Two hosts, Devin Faraci and Amy Nicholson battle it out to decided if a certain film deserves to be placed into the Canon of 'greatest movies of all time'. Most of the time they argue like cat and dog , which only adds to the wonderfulness. They are both stupidly knowledgeable about films and both add depth to their arguments. Somehow I came away from the Temple of Doom episode agreeing that it didn't deserve to be in the Canon (?) . It's worth listening to with your ear holes. 

*I have listened to a bit more of this and I can't bring myself to stop listening BUT I hardly ever agree with their opinions. Saying this , they do have a good insight to films and I think sometimes being forced to question why you love something such as Blade Runner is a good thing. It can be frustrating because you want to argue back at them but I would recommend this show still. Just try not to get to angry at them.

Special mention: Ted Talks - This isn't a podcast as such but I LOVE listening to them. They are stupidly inspiring and leave me overwhelmed most of the time. If you don't listen to Andrew Stanton's Ted Talk and want to instantly pick up a notebook and write stories then you are crazy my friend! 

Now you see it - This is  not part of the main list because you really need to look at it to appreciate it. These little talks about film making are delightful. His love of the old Simpsons and Brad Bird may also have swayed me into loving this.

Happy Listening x

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Hitting An Animation Wall

This week I hit a wall.
Not an actual wall but a proverbial animation barrier. 

For weeks I've been over the moon that my work has been coming so naturally. I thought back to uni Tania and chuckled to myself. Then suddenly past Tania got her revenge. It was if all animation skills fell out ofmy head. I could blame the crazy weekend I've had, the stress of a new project or a million other things. Whatever it was I didn't like it.
So I wrote into google 'how to be an animator' and even though I've been doing it for 9 years and could probably predict every step that each website would advice for a beginner, it inspired me.

Most of the advice was basic skills, so I forced myself to sit down and come up with my own advice.
What would I tell another animator if they wanted to get out of their head?
So just for all of you out there who are having a bad day? Here's my tips for getting back on track.

1. Step away from it.
Go make a coffee, get up and walk around. Literally do anything that means you don't look at the screen for ten mins.

2. Do another creative task.
Draw on a post it, make a model out of blue tac or try your hand at origami.
 It feels like you are taking time from the scene, but it activates the right side of your brain.  You've probably chastised the creative part of your brain so much that it's turned off. The right brain is a delicate creature.

3. Delete keys.
Ok this one comes with a warning- Save first!
Create a file just for your little experiment. Go through the parts that are bugging you and delete the thousands of built up in-betweens that are bogging you down. What I normally find is that I have keys and secondary poses that are working, but I get lost in all those little flickers. The fact I know it's a
experiment means I normally try something a little different without fear and 9 times out of 10 I end up keeping the experiment.

4. Get a second pair of eyes
Yes, it’s not looking like you want it to so you aren't proud of it ,but that's why you need help. It's not weakness and people don't judge. When someone shows me there shot I have fun talking with them about it. So I imagine they feel the same way when I show them my work.

5. Listen to something inspiring.
It might be music that reflects the feeling of the scene or a quick podcast from an animator you admire, but it helps to rev those engines.
 I'm animating snappy work right now so sometimes I just play happy classical music since it's so ingrained with Looney Tunes that I can't help but get excited. ..that or I watch a few seconds of Presto or Pocoyo. Those wto never fail to inspire.

Everyone has bad days, but don't let it drag you down. Let it be the spring board to learning something extra.
Happy animating guys.


Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Smear Frame Script

Sometimes a script comes along that makes it feel like Christmas.
I NEED this smear frame script in my life

CJCG Tips Tip 001 --- Creating multiples of an arm to fake motion-blur effect in Maya for cartoony animation from C. J. Cow on Vimeo.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

51 Great Animation Exercises

I found this great list of animation exercises today. I have always wanted to try my hand at 2d since I enjoyed it at Uni so I might have to give these a go:

51 Animation Exercises

disney scared mickey mouse halloween

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Understanding Slow in's and Slow Outs

When I was a student I really struggled with the graph editor. I'd spent lots of time researching animation principles but applying them to dots and curvy lines blew my mind a little bit. Now 8 years later I don't know what I'd do without the graph editor and it's lovely curves.
I found this fantastic visualisation of slow in's and slow outs as applied in the curve editor and I fell in love with it.
I hope you like it too.

Head over to Spungella , a fantastic place to find lots of beautiful and new animation tid bits and where I found this simple yet mind blowingly easy explanation for slow in's and outs.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Endless Search for the Perfect Sketchbook

There are few words in the English language that set fear into the heart of my Mr more than 'I need a new sketchbook'. He knows that this means he'll have to scour the streets with me searching for the perfect blank pages for me to doodle on.
I absolutely love my sketchbooks. I am rubbish at keep journals or diary's so my sketchbook is the perfect reminder of where I was at any given doodling is the best. The perfect sketch book inspires me to be better and to draw more. All of my reasons for loving my book means that if I sacrifice the things I want from a new book, I end up hating it and using it as a notepad to write my Chinese take away order on. If I'm going to dedicate a year (or half a year when I'm being productive) then I want it to be the perfect book.

So here is my personal and insane criteria for buying the perfect sketchbook:

.No spiral bound books:
I realise I must be alone in this one since every sketch book in every store is spiral bound,  but it's one of the most important factors for me. I HATE spiral bound sketch books. The pages rip out easily, the spiral has a tendency to get squashed or break, the pages fall is my general nightmare. I have tried and tried to get on board with this element of sketchbook design since it seems to be near impossible for a company to not stick a swirly piece of metal on their books, but alas I can't. Just say no to the spiral guys.

lol laughing book peanuts hilarious
See through pages...don't make me laugh

.Thick paper:
This is the second most important factor. Sometimes I'll see a really pretty book, I'll see that the pages are thin or worst - see through - and I think to myself 'I'm sure it will be fine'....WRONG. Those pages need to be thick enough that I can build a fort if need be...or you know, something more reasonable like be able to watercolor paint on them if I want to. They need to be flat , not dimpled and if they are 'off white' then it's a plus. The joy of the perfect paper in a sketch book is oddly satisfying.  The touch of it, the smell, the smoothness of it.  I just love a blank sketch book. I want a book that makes me want to draw. That perfect blank page will actually make you want to deface it.
love disney reactions fan crush
When I fall in love with a new cover

.Nice cover:
This one isn't essential, but if I'm going to be carrying a sketch book around every day it would be nice if it was pretty to look at. I've tried customising them myself but I like to hide my work on the inside. I'm never happy when I create the outside design. I found the perfect mythical sketchbook once , about 10 years ago. It had the prettiest pattern on it. It was so good I bought three. Then two and a half years later I'd used them all up. Since then all others pale in can't forget your first love after all. Now I'm content if it's just a nice colour.

.A5: This is the last essential item on the list. It needs to fit in my handbag, hand luggage and in front of me while still giving me enough space to place my coffee cup (and optional cake). I can do a 'page full' drawing with detail or lots of little sketches. Plus in an emergency I can paint or draw across two pages for an A4 experience. People say that size doesn't matter. They obviously have never owned a sketch book. A5 is the perfect size. 
sad bunny paper carrot
They trick me into thinking their perfect...but nope!

.Elastic to keep it together:
Now we get into the 'wouldn't it be nice if...' list. These are those things you add onto a list that aren't essential but would be great. Kind of like wishing the man you end up with loves cooking you eggs Benedict, has a high speed internet connection and an addiction to Netflix. A girl can dream.
An elastic attached to the book to keep it together is easy, a nice touch and makes it seem more professional when you grab it in a coffee shop because you just have to draw that funny dog that just passed the window. Keep it together man!

.Hardback cover:
Another non-essential, but in my magical make believe land where every drawing would make Glen Keane audibly say 'wozah' and unicorns prance around me, my sketch book also has a hardback cover. Is it essential ? No . Does it make drawing easier? YES. Are most of the great sketchbooks donned by a hardback cover..of course. I like to go between a hard back and a semi hard jokes please, we are all adult here.

cat money cash
Take my wait I changed my mind

.Doesn't cost a cabillion pound : This unfortunately has to be the last factor because I have been known to spend a disgusting amount on sketchbooks  in the past. I've spent the kind of amount where you lie if someone asks you how much it costs, or change the subject very quickly. The sad truth is that normally when you spend money the sketch book will be lots and lots better , but I  begrudge paying such crazy amount for blank paper...especially since if the kind of sketch book  I love happens to be in fashion then it will be everywhere for a fraction of the price. On these occasions it is perfectly reasonable to buy up a whole shops stock. When my baby sister was little she had a doll that she wouldn't let go of. My mum needed a way to pry the doll out of my sister hands because it was starting to smell so she went and bought 3 decoy dolls to distract my sister. What does this have to do with sketchbooks? Not much but it does prove that you can never have too much of a good thing. And that my mum was an evil genius.

I know that everyone reading this list will just be shouting ...'JUST BUY A MOLESKIN'..which is a valued point but they are so stupidly expensive for what they are and (as crazy as it sounds) the fact everyone has them kind of makes them feel a little soulless. Then again this may just be my bitter poor inner voice.

So the search for the perfect sketchbook continues. I may have made a break through on the case with my recent search. The shop had the perfect book but only in poo-shade so I ordered a prettier colour online. Will it be the one ? Who knows but a girl just has to keep searching.

Now I just need to find the perfect pencil........
Rick and Morty adult swim pencil

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Frank Thomas

Today I'm mostly watching Frank Thomas' work frame by frame because...well he's FRANK THOMAS!
Have a looksie

Thursday, 18 February 2016

We Need More Eye Squash!

Why have one pair of eyes when you can have 5?!
I have always been a sucker for the Key frames. The main keys that drive the animation, but I've grown into a complete sucker for the frames you are never really meant to see. Those lovely in-betweens.
I'm working on a really squashy and stretchy piece of animation at the moment and I have just fallen in love with body dynamics and what you can get away with in the in-betweens. We need more CG project's that have a rig you could do these kind of quirky things to...or just more Chuck Jones and Bob Clampett's in the world.
Here is a great little compilation of zany squash and stretch animation: 

We need more Cowbell........I mean smear frames!

cowbell more cowbell snl christopher walken blue oyster cult

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Inspiration for your morning

Today I have fallen in love with a serious of videos posted by the wonderful guys over at Spine doctors. 
Every now and again I'll go through a animation slump where I love every second of the work, but I'm quite happy working on other peoples stuff....then I read something or hear something and inspiration smacks me upside the head.

These video's have had the desired effect:

Charm and comedy are two of my favourite parts of story. Creating the illusion of life is just another way of saying 'creating charm' to me. It will come as no coinsidence that the second video talks about the master of putting charm on the big screen (and my personal favourite) , Brad Bird.

Enjoy and happy animating x