Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Letter from Tee

I recently came across a box full of keepsakes from my days as a CalArts student.  Among the memory jogging items were sketches and a letter by animation legend T. Hee.  Tee was one of my teachers, and we bonded over our love for the skewed and whimsical.  Finding these items was a thrill, as I had not seen them in almost thirty years.

At school,  Tee would make the rounds and hang with anyone interested in his input.  He would place tracing paper over my designs and, with a few tweaks, make it work.  He would make clucking sounds with his tongue while marking little x-es on my tangents.  He would move an arm or leg a little to get balance or silhouette.   I took advantage of any opportunity to sit with him as he went over my sketches and storyboards.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Evolution of Convolution

The following story is fiction.  But it is not bullshit.

My neighbor, Dick, is in the pharmaceutical business.  His hero is Dr. Henri Breault, who, in 1967, invented the child-proof cap.  Dick was four years old at the time, and still recalls his first encounter with such a cap, when he swallowed nine of his father's pills for back pain and had to have his stomach pumped.  He was only four, but had outsmarted Dr. Breault.  Dick has dedicated his adult life to making something as simple as taking a pill a major hassle by designing packaging that is not only child-proof, but a major challenge to adults as well.

Dick was participating in a trade show called "The Evolution of Convolution", and I was given a free pass.  I didn't feel like going, but after last month's blizzard,  my snow plow guy had dumped my driveway snow into his driveway, and I felt I owed him one.

I had no idea what to expect, but never imagined it would be as big as it was.  Apparently, convolution is a big business.   As I entered the convention hall, I was handed a map with a schematic of the booths.  The room was laid out like a maze, presumably in keeping with the theme.  There was a numbered list of vendors, though the booths on the map were lettered.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Disney Animation Florida is Still Closed

Roller Coaster Rabbit, produced at Disney Feature Animation Florida.

This month marks the the tenth anniversary of the closing of Disney Feature Animation Florida; not that anyone is celebrating.

Florida based animator Hugo Giraud recalled his days at the studio:

"I worked on Brother Bear as in-house freelancer, and was let go right after it. I was hoping to come back on My Peoples (or A Few Good Ghosts as it was renamed) since I'd seen some 2D development character art done by Andreas Deja, director Barry Cook, and animator Paul Kashuk.  I had friends at the studio and some of them were starting CG training because My Peoples was going to be a 2D/3D hybrid. 

Just as they were supposed to start production on the movie, the plug was pulled. David Stainton was seen as the culprit, since the direction of the studio was going strictly CG. There were people that were in that studio for 10 years and more - that was their life and all they knew. They'd grown up together, like a family, and not only shared work time together but been through houses, partners, marriages, kids born and grow up, divorces, etc... It was a really somber vibe, a lot of people didn't know what they were going to do. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Free live webinar at Escape Studios on March 26

I'll be doing a live animation webinar courtesy of London's Escape Studios on Wednesday 26 March at 6pm. We'll be tackling the animation of multi-legged creatures, and I'll be demonstrating a technique that allows you to animate apparently complex creatures in a simple way, creating sophisticated animation in a clean and efficient workflow. It's only an hour long, it'll be fun - and it's completely free!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How do animation graduates find work in the animation industry?

How animation graduates find work in the animation industry? Now that I spend a lot of my time teaching, I get asked this question a great deal. There is no simple or straightforward answer. Jobs in the entertainment industry have always been highly competitive, and the supply of trained graduates competing for the best entry-level positions has never been greater. Official jobs postings, word of mouth, rumours in the pub, personal contacts, even cold-calling - all of these can be effective ways to find work in the business. Below are the twelve key rules that I think are vital for success.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bugs Bunny is Still Dead

Bugs Bunny in the year 2000.  Bob Clampett got it right.

The animation world is a tither over Warner Bros. announcement of it's umpteenth revamp of the Looney Tunes franchise in Wabbit - A Looney Tunes Production.  Fans are either salivating or puking.  Much ado about Bugsy.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Are universities failing the UK's visual effects industry?

Pat Joseph, co-founder and chief creative officer of The Mill, certainly thinks so. In this post at the Televisual blog,  Joseph argues that higher education in the UK is not responding to the needs of the visual effects industry, and is not training students of the digital arts to a sufficiently high calibre. Critics of UK government policy argue that tax breaks for the creative industries create unfair competition (see thursday's post about the sad end of Rythm and Hues). But could it be that, despite the tax breaks, the university sector is the achilles heel of visual effects work in the UK?