Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Story Masterclass with Frank Gladstone in London on 16th August - just £6!

Lupus films, the folks who brought you The Snowman and The Snowdog, are running a one day masterclass with animation industry veteran Frank Gladstone on August 16th in London - for just £6. Anyone who is serious about story telling in animation should attend - I'll most likely be there myself, furiously taking notes. Frank is a world-class talent whose credits include some of the biggest hits in animation history. I attended his month-long story seminar at Lupus last year. Full details below:

Monday, July 14, 2014

T Dan Hofstedt reveals The Secret of Animation


T. Dan Hofstedt - animation supremo
My old friend and former kumrad at Disney animation, T Dan Hofsted, recently posted at Facebook a reply to a student asking how to become an animator. T Dan is one of the best animators I know, a veteran of countless Disney hits including The Lion King, Pocahontas, Hercules and Mulan, so he ought to know a thing or two about how to make it as an animator. Here is what he wrote:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Neuroscience of animation


Your brain, but animated
At this year's SAS (Society of Animation Studies) conference in Toronto, a number of presentations focused on the subject of Animation and the Mind - The Neuroscience of Animation. This field of research tries to look at animation from a neuroscientific point of view, asking what it is about the design and structure of our brains that influences how we watch and enjoy animation.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Flipping The Classroom

Alex Williams
Alex Williams' presentation at the Society of Animation Studies lasted only five minutes but had more content than many I heard that ran four times as long. Alex recommends 'flipping' the classroom by assigning lecture videos as homework (as he does with Animation Apprecntice, his online course) and concentrating on work in progress during studio sessions. "The beauty of an online lecture is that if you don't get it the first time, you watch it again and again". Of course...some students don't watch the videos. These are the same students who 'glance' at reading assignments in the textbooks (translation: they stared at the cover for a few seconds but didn't open the book.) And they are the same students who won't do well in class and who won't get great grades. Ultimately, you can't make people learn...they have to want to do it. But it does make sense to maximize studio time and minimize lecture time, since we are working in visual media. Alex can 'pitch' really well, too.

---Nancy

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Nancy Beiman explains why animators ought to study Charlie Chaplin


The Little Tramp. Photo: Wikipedia
Why should animators watch Charlie Chaplin films? Nancy Beiman, former supervising animator at Disney Feature Animation and now one of the key professors at Sheridan College in Toronto (and contributor to FLiP), has the answer. It's because good animators are pantomime artists, and Chaplin was "the greatest pantomimer of them all". At the 2014 SAS (Society of Animation Studies) conference in Toronto, Nancy explained how animation and silent film comedy developed together, inspiring one another to perfect the art of physical comedy.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Pete Western reports on "A Moment in Time" at BFI - the first ever public screening of "The Thief and the Cobbler" in the UK


Animation people in the UK were in for a rare treat on the first Sunday in June. AMPAS [Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] arranged a screening of the work print of Richard Williams’ lost masterpiece “The Thief & the Cobbler” followed by a Q & A with the man himself. This event was all the more extraordinary because until AMPAS got in touch with Mr. Williams to tell him they were digitizing and archiving the original director’s cut, he had refused to answer all questions about the film.

Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day 70 years on - filmed by Uncle Ken


Canadian riflemen land at Juno Beach, D Day, 6 June 1944. Colour photo by Ken Bell
This article about my great-cunle Ken Bell was first posted last year, but today, the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, seems like a good day to re-visit Uncle Ken's life and work.

Ken Bell was my great uncle. Before WW2 he was a keen amateur photographer and, soon after Canada declared war on Nazi Germany in 1939, he joined up, offering his services to the newly formed Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit, a propaganda outfit which would record Canada's involvement in the war.

On 6 June 1944, 70 years ago today, along with tens of thousands of American, British, Canadian, and other Allied forces, Ken landed at Juno Beach in Normandy with the Highland Light Infantry of Canada, on day one of Operation Overlord.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Remembering Caron Creed

Caron Creed at work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Photo: Pete Western
Caron Creed, animator, designer, wife and mother, died in her sleep last night. She had fought breast cancer for over a year, but it returned with a vengeance and she was taken into hospital on Sunday. Caron was a talented artist and huge fun to be around. On Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, where I met her, she was always the first to lead a friday night expedition to the local pub, and then beyond to the Camden Palace, where "Rabbit" animators unwound after a week of toil.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lawrence Marvit introduces Myths from the Underground - out tomorrow!


Myths from the Underground is a new graphic novel from Eisner-nominated artist Lawrence Marvit. Ever wondered what happened to all the gods from ancient mythology whom no-one worships anymore? Wonder no more. They're still here, very much alive and among us - you just haven't noticed them. In an exclusive interview with FLiP, Lawrence explains how it all came about.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Losing Donna

On May 16, my wife, Donna, lost her life to cancer.   She was first diagnosed in December of 2010, and over the past three and a half years overcame every obstacle.  I wrote about her fight in FLiP.  But two weeks ago the obstacles became too many, too steep, and too overwhelming.  I was with her at the end, and she died peacefully.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

What does a visual effects supervisor do, exactly?


Matt Johnson (left) in Los Angeles on Beverly Hills Chihuahua
What does a Visual Effects Supervisor actually do – and how do you become one? Matt Johnson, veteran VFX supervisor on dozens of Hollywood hits, including World War Z, Into The Woods, V for Vendetta, X Men, and Chronicles of Narnia, explains what a Visual Effects Supervisor actually does for a living, and how an aspiring film-maker might become one.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

UK Premiere of "A Moment in Time" - The Director's Cut of The Thief and The Cobbler - at BFI on June 1st


On June 1st, the BFI (British Film Institute) in association with the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences is screening the UK and European premiere of "The Thief and the Cobbler: A Moment in Time" - the long-awaited Director's Cut of Richard Williams' lost masterpiece.


BFI will be screening a new digital version of the reconstructed work-print at the BFI/Southbank in London. Richard Williams will be in discussion with veteran film critic David Robinson following the screening. BFI members can buy tickets now - and tickets go on sale to the general public on May 13th

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Disney Animation and the Autistic

CBS Sunday Morning ran a story about an autistic boy who related to the world through Disney animated films - specifically the old school, hand drawn films. It's an amazing piece that underscores how character animation can be truly magic.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

James Baker's Days at Cuckoo's Nest

sketch by James Baker
I first met James Baker at Cuckoo's Nest Studio in Taiwan, in 1986.  He was working on Hanna Barbera shows,  and I was there for retakes on The Brave Little Toaster.  He gives an hilarious account of his experiences in his blog.  I can attest to the veracity of his tales - he tells it how it was!
http://www.james-baker.com/news/2014/04/one-flew-to-cuckoos-nest.html
Check it out!
-Steve

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Richard Bazley introduces Lost Treasure Hunt - just launched at Kickstarter


Richard Bazley is an animator, director and film-maker who has just launched a new animated film project at Kickstarter - Lost Treasure Hunt, a history adventure series intended to entertain and educate. The project is being made in partnership with the public broadcasting giant PBS. Here Richard talks about the genesis of the project, and how the public can get involved - and help bring it to life.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

British animation industry booms

Calamity Island. Shipwrecks... and penguins
According to an article in today's Guardian, the British cartooning industry is booming as never before, thanks in large part to the tax credits put in place by Chancellor George Osbourne in April 2013. CBeebies, the UK's most popular broadcaster of animated children's content, is apparently doubling its output, and it is largely local talent which will reap the rewards of this new boom in UK cartoon spending.

Friday, April 11, 2014

DNeg and Elizabeth Murdoch to open Locksmith Animation studio in the UK


According to yesterday's Variety, Elizabeth Murdoch and the London based visual effects house Double Negative are opening an animation studio in the UK, to be known as Locksmith Animation. The venture is being piloted by Sarah Smith, who was the writer and co-director of the Aardman animated feature film Arthur Christmas.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Wide Mike in Pharmacy

Wide Mike by Steve Moore
"This tells me nothing."  he said with a groan, gently flicking the paper back to me from behind the pharmacy counter.

My wife was getting her bi-weekly chemotherapy, and she sent me down to pharmacy to answer a question they had regarding her new insurance carrier.  She did not yet have a new insurance card, so she gave me sheet of paper with all the information printed on it, with the instruction, "Show this to pharmacy."  The pharmacist, a wide, miserable sack of paste named Mike, wasn't in the mood for my sheet of paper, and dismissed me with a passive smirk, avoiding eye contact.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

DreamWorks' artist Nassos Vakalis introduces his latest short film: "Dinner for Few"


Nassos Vakalis is a story board artist, director and animator who has worked for many years at DreamWorks, storyboarding on just about every DreamWorks film you can think of over the last ten or fifteen years. He and I worked together on many projects, during the course of which I learned to respect his skill, versatility and speed. Nassos also writes and directs his own short films; his most recent short is the impressively designed and very ambitious Dinner for Few. FLIP asked him a few questions about how he managed to complete such a complex project.

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.