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 *****