Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A visit with Animator Patrick Smith

A visit to the studio of traditional animator Pat Smith ---

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Animation Backgrounds Inspiration

Here is another blog site which ought to be in your bookmarks:

This site by Rob Richards takes up and continues the work that Hans Bacher was doing with his Animation Treasures background art blogs before Hans decided to stop blogging and pulled his sites off the internet . 

The backgrounds are digitally recreated from multiple screen grabs , digitally removing the character animation on top , so that a facsimile of the original Background painting is reproduced. 

Go take a look at  Animation Backgrounds 

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hayao Miyazaki's "Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea"

Here is a link to an interesting interview with Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki on the upcoming animated feature film
"Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea" directed by Hayao Miyazaki :

Producer Suzuki's Interview about Hayao Miyazaki's "Ponyo on the Cliff"

This is Hayao Miyazaki's 10th animated feature film which he has directed (along with television series, many short films , and commercials) .  He is approaching 68 years old.  But his enthusiasm for animation is still intact.  This part of the interview was especially interesting to me: 

You would think after 37 years of directing animation, Miyazaki would've reached a peak and discovered the best ways to represent any and everything with animation. But if you've ever seen a Miyazaki film, you know that isn't the case - each and everyone is as visually stunning as the last. 

Suzuki goes on to talk about the animation in Ponyo, explaining that Miyazaki is still intricately involved in the process, even hand drawing most of it. Apparently "80% of [Ponyo on a Cliff] is sea," and Suzuki talks about how Miyazaki tackled the idea of "expressing" the water.

"The waves are an important theme. He never makes others draw the waves. He draws them all by himself. He is devising to find a better way on how to express waves and sea. He is enjoying it.  The appearance of the movie is different. Usual audiences might say 'Aha… this is a different Miyazaki from what I'm used to…' The backgrounds are also different. Not so many handed. I think those are going very well…"

Another important aspect of animation nowadays surrounds using CG to create even 2D animated movies. Although Pixar is incredible in its own right, hand drawn 2D animation is a beloved style that still lives on today. Suzuki recalls an experience making Howl's Moving Castle where they converted some of their animation to CG initially, but later went back to hand drawing the remainder mid-way through because "it didn't seem very natural."

"If a movie at one point is made by the highest tech, it will become outdated soon.  There is one more point. We tried CG on Howl's. For example, the legs of the castle were made by CG. However, it didn't seem very natural to me and I told Miyazaki that his skill was better than that of a computer. He accepted it and quit using CG after that. Hence the latter half of Howl's doesn't include any CG. We now know CG has both its plus and minus sides. So the theme of this movie is as the story: simple. The visual effects are simple as well, while on the other hand it needs very hard working because of the drawing all it by hand."

The rest of the interview can be found at the above link. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ken Duncan - Jane rough animation from "Tarzan"

Good example of how an animator approaches a scene in the first rough pass, then tie-down pass before turning the scene over to the Clean-Up dept.

This animation is by Ken Duncan who was the supervising animator on Jane in Disney's "Tarzan" .

(click on the links to see the scenes. I could not embed the movies here)

Ken Duncan First Rough Pass

Oskar Fischinger - "Komposition in Blau" (1935)

An astoundingly beautiful piece by Oskar Fischinger which recently surfaced on YouTube. If you ever have a chance to see Fischinger's work on a big-screen in 35mm film it's worth it . This YouTube clip is only a pale reflection of how intense this is .

*Update: OH, too bad ... such is the transitory nature of YouTube. The Fischinger "Kompostion in Blau" link has been removed from YouTube. That was fast :- (

It was nice while it lasted. Maybe it'll be reposted someday. In the meantime check out the link to the Oskar Fischinger archives I posted above and if this sort of work interests you then order the DVD they sell from that site.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fantasia 2000 "Firebird" - Ted Kierscey Animation

Animator Pat Smith has a great post on "The Firebird" segment from Disney's Fantasia 2000 which I recommend to you :

Ted Kierscey's Animation of "The Firebird"

Very inspirational . We need to see this sort of thing to be reminded of what 2D animation is capable of and how really we only have just scratched the surface . Be sure to check out the progression clip that he posts from the Fantasia 2000 DVD :

Firebird Progression Reel