Saturday, November 20, 2010

Four Year Animation School - Year One

There are many people of my generation, I bet, who wanted to be archaeologists and college professors.  Indiana Jones.  Lecturing one day, battling Nazis for ancient mysteries the next yet still finding time to get the girl and crack one liners.

For many of us, that dream rests somewhere in our unconscious -manifesting as occasional flights of fancy.

Sometimes I daydream that I've got a well-salaried, tenured position with an oak paneled office at an Ivy League style animation university.  While my methods would change from year to year (some classes get a cheerleader, others a drill sergeant), I think my course material would be fairly consistent.

Here's the first year reading list.

Miyazaki, Hayao: Starting Point.  This is possibly the best book around animation.  Plus kids these love "Totoro" and all that stuff.  A text like this creates a bridge from the familiar -most students today are closer to "Porco Rosso" than they are to "Pinocchio" -to a new and brilliant way of thinking.

In some ways, its too easy to start with this book -if a first year student understands the lessons within, they may well grow into an animator one day.

Again, too easy.  Bendazzi's book may have some flaws (it's very Euro-centric) but it remains far and away the most comprehensive survey of animation history.  There's not too much analysis and the illustrations and synopses make a reader want to seek out the films.

While just about every student knows "Princess Mononoke", this is a book which will introduce them to one hundred years worth of films they might love even more had they only known about them.

This is a book about effects animation!  Am I crazy?  Where's the sack of flour?  Where's the bouncing ball?  Where are the walk cycles?!?!?!?!?

Joseph Gilland's "Elemental Magic" lets you know how think about animating.  He gives you techniques for seeing and translating what you see into what you commit to film.

As energizing and exciting as it is seeing your drawings move, throwing a novice in front of a lightbox with a copy of Preston Blair will give them the idea that this is way animation should be done.  That's 100% wrong.  Animation should be done by thinking about it for a long time before you even pick up a pencil.

O. K., O. K., sometimes you have to think by drawing.

That's why they'd be in life drawing for a few hours every day and have Thomas Eakins' drawing manual on their reading list.


1 comment:

Eric Noble said...

I would love to be in your animation school!!