Tuesday, February 28, 2006

For years, I've been struggling to do something cool. And by cool, I mean a short. Just something nice and simple, possibly in pantomime, but in keeping my idea in one environment.
PIXAR Animation's shorts are notorious for this, and it's that simplicity that has inspired me over the years. Besides, do we need more than one environment to see Geri play chess with himself? Or see that little Snowman try to escape from his snowglobe 'prison' in 'Knick-Knack?'
A week ago, I was hit by an idea. Way back in my early college days, my sister got me an Artist's mannequin. He's been with me ever since, but one day I began to ponder the workings of him. What if he could walk? What if he could think? but more importantly, what if he wanted to dance?
Artist's mannequins can't really move. They're almost all exclusively made with a metal rod jammed up their midsection, and that rod is attached to a wood base. Needless to say, the wooden mannequin can't dance like that. and when he tries to stand on his own two feet, the base puts him in a very embarassing pose (it's not good when your angled at 55 degrees).
Frank Thomas and the 'Illusion of Life' talked about a key element of a character, which is to find out your character's emotions, and why do they feel like that? Well, with my artist's mannequin, I think I've got a simple character that I can explore that feeling with. and so, I've been working and coming up with ideas and going over the basics of the story, the pathos, the problems, and whatnot.
His environment will be a small little animation room (seen in that high-angled shot in the image above). Plastered around that room will be images of dancers like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, and all sorts of things that an aniamtor would use for reference. DVD's, CD's, dance books. All the things that could inspire a wooden mannequin when he's alone, the

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ambling up to the Genius Bar, and other diatribes

Well, my prize posession, my 2 years old iPod, has begun to wear down in battery strength. What is a big city person to do? Well, in one of the largest cities in the US, you log onto Apple's store website, and make a reservation at the Genius Bar. so I go in, and it's interesting to see that over 9/10 of all the people in line are seeminly having iPod trouble. And we're not talking battery problems- but locked-up pods, and many others. One person had basically come down from work, and she'd only had hers for 4 months.
So I get to the counter, and maybe 24 words into the conversation, my Genius Bar person tells me that the way that works 8 out of 10 times for Windows users is to just restore the ipod, i.e. a full restore with the recently released ipod updater should do the trick. It was either that or surrender my ipod along with $60 for a 1 week refurbishment. Well, I needed my musical fix, so I took him up on his offer.
The good bit about waiting there was that it gave me a chance to do some sketching. People seem to sit quietly and contemplative waiting for their 'babies' to be replaced by the employees(well, if their babies were 4-5th Gen ipods with only the click-wheels). The sketching in the above image, I broke free of my normal proportion lines and just did some freehand, which I quite enjoyed, getting the squiggles in the sleeves of the guy on the bottom right. Even his eyes and brows are a bit darker, which gave him a bit more personality to me.
And besides big city problems, it's also hard on Christmas shopping. With the gift card craze being the new thing, it's more and more difficult to shop for my family who live in small midwwestern towns and Canda. Yes, even Canada. Apple releases itunes gift certificates and AppleStore cards, and if you purchase them down here, you can't use them up there. Plus, almost all the restaurants in the areas, none of them correspond to where I grew up, so that kiboshes restaurant gift cards. Though I'll just have to keep looking around.
Well, if you're out there and reading this, I hope to have some watercolor work up soon-working on a small side project of Christmas cards for my family-to take some of the commercialism out of the Holiday and put some of the creativity into the gift-giving.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A fascination with sleeping

The other day, I was sitting in 'Ethel's Chocolate Bar' on Michigan Ave, when I noticed some teens from Japan sharing a fondue. Well, not really all of them, one girl and her friend were digging in, while the girl's boyfriend was trying to catch some sleep (10-to-1 he was just along for the ride that day). As the girls finished their fondue, one got up, and edged her way over to the boyfriend, til' you could only discern her eyes looking at him, just studying him for 5-7 seconds. I reached for my camera but was too late to capture it. A rough facsimile of the scene is the tiny thumbnail on the left, while the sleeping boyfriend is seen on the right.
This brought on a question later that day: what is this fascination with people watching other people sleep? I've seen them do it, but from my experience, it usually is common with couples. One person I talked to offered this explanation: 'It has to do with the fact that when it comes to guys, they are usually trying to act big and proud. And when they go to sleep, they are somewhat vulnerable.' This is pretty insightful. As a guy, it's true we're always trying to appear bigger than life, trying to impress, etc.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

PIXAR's One Man Band

Leave it to Pixar to keep interesting stuff coming our way. Their official site (http://www.pixar.com) now has a cli of their short 'One Man Band,' about a pair of dueling street musicians, named Treble and Bass, who try to get a little peasant girl to part with her coin. The preview looks cute, though it seems that some of the characters use some former model characteristics. Treble (pictured above) appears kind of like Flik in 'A Bug's Life' with his facial style. The little girl looks like she could have been Monsters Inc's Boo from some time ago. The clip has some wonderfully subtle animation. Just look at the little shoulder movement that the little girl does as the little puppet head pops out of Treble's hat. PIXAR has done some wonderfully stylized humans in the past. While everyone looks to their work on 'The Incredibles,' their shorts have been the testing ground for humans, such as the eccentrically funny Geri of 'Geri's Game.'

Monday, November 28, 2005

It begins

Today was the day after the launch of my blog, and so I went out to walk and gather information. Today has been once again learning to walk-literally, as I was on the lookout for all kinds of walks. Working off of the information in my books by Preston Blair ('Cartoon Animation'), and Richard Williams ('The Animator's Survival Kit').
The walk in animation is said to be one of the hardest things to get down, because of a number of factors. In school, I only did one walk, which was generic. I didn't work at all on trying to make it unique, which was the subject of what I was working on today, both studying and in watching people.

Sitting in Starbucks today, trying to battle it out beyond the sound system urging me to get into the Christmas spirit (i.e. buy my way into debtor's oblivion), I turned on my trusty iPod, and began to search through my music for inspiration. Recently, I've fallen back into the songs that 2 years ago were a source of creative inspiration: Enya, Donna Lewis, Michelle Branch, Vanessa Carlton, and several others. Finally, I plugged into 'Agenais' by Lewis, and began to delve into pen and ink-a process that I don't normally turn to. Prismacolors and I have fallen out of favor, much like my old friend, watercolor. The result are the two girls you see below. The left one is s generic pose, while the right one came out of my mental thinking trying to find some kind of headgear for the girl-it's partially inspired by the hat that Naomi Watts wears in her introduction as Anne Darrow in the upcoming 'King Kong.' The style of facial drawing is still a return to form, as it seems the noses just don't 'exude' from the face like they should. In the future, I hope to remedy this.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Ideas flowing from the pencil today

My biggest problem is that I am largely an 'idea man.' In this world, however, creativity succeeds through 99% perspiration, and 1% inspiration. This blog is a continuation that I hope to use to keep me on track, to push these ideas forward, as well as share some insight into what I'm doing, and hope to get comments.