Monday, November 30, 2009

Famous Cat

Murray the Cat was recently hospitalized for week.

He's fine now.

Our friend Abby Denson recently published "Dolltopia" in which a cartoon Murray plays a part.

A former production artist at the studio created this painting of him.

And here's a portrait in felt on a scarf Dame Darcy made for me.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Old Tricks for New Dogs

Here's a little cameraless animation experiment. Its on clear 16mm leader with colored Sharpie.

I'm not sure if I did this, I might have. But it's more likely the work of a super talented former intern, Victoria Harris, who was last heard of entering her second semester at SCAD.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Incomplete Claim Form

We pitch or "bid", on average, about a project a week. Fortunately, we have pretty high success rate -mainly because most of our work is repeat business or personal referrals.

Sometimes we'll create artwork for the pitch, more often we'll be contracted to make some pitch art -a stipend generally, but a demonstration of a "serious" client.

It's easy to forget to these little jobs. Occasionally I'll come across remnants from one.

In honor of the likely passage of our nation's first universal health care legislation, here is art from an aborted corporate video.

Illustration by Matthew Stoddard.

Friday, November 27, 2009

On The Leeds Side Streets

Why do hundreds of thousands of children dream of being rockstars? Why so few longing to be animators?

So Disney is opening a new picture this weekend. So Cartoon Network is cutting back on its programing. So Nickelodeon is doing something too.

If I were 8 years old I might care. By the time I turned 9, I had discovered the turntable and my father's record collection. I discovered a digestible artform which was mysterious and exciting, and artform which continued to speak to me as I matured.

Cartoons? Not so much.

And just as pop music loses its excitement, something unexpected comes along and reminds why its so powerful. The first time I heard Cornershop in 1995, even Belle and Sebastion (better than Disney, not up to Cocteau) a few years later, The Handsome Family's "Milk and Scissors"; these sounds and stories make profound visceral impact.

Animation has done that to me maybe four, five times. JJ Villard's "Son of Satan", Hubley's "Eggs" (not surprisingly, it was probably the music), Fierlinger's "Drawn From Memory".

Live film emotionally connects with mature audiences as a matter of course. When I hear people bemoan the goings on at Disney or another behemoth corporation that entertains toddlers it's hard to imagine any relevance to my life.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Today I give thanks for my exciting and charmed life.

Could my parents and grandparents have imagined the interesting people I've known and the incredible things I've been a party to?

For many years I celebrated this day with the Blechman family in their elegant Central Park West apartment.

One of my appearances there was documented by Lee Friedlander.

This is same room (with maybe the same camera) in which Lee Friedlander captured R. O. three decades earlier in this iconic photo.

 Apparently, that was a mean cat.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The glue binding is dried and cracked, popping pages from the security of the covers to an out-of-line inch.  The pages are prematurely yellowed.

The content, strikingly vibrant.

In 1978 George Griffin, along with Victor Faccinto, Al Jarnow, Kathy Rose and Anita Thacher published "Frames", a paperback featuring work from roughly 80 experimental film and animation artists.

At the risk of violating the first page's "No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form with the written permission of the individual artist" -I'm going to get all "fair use" on y'all and post a three of my favorites.

Here's the letter sent to the contributors outlining the plan.  Note: halftones must be veloxed (QuarkXpress doesn't seem so bad now, does it?).

The letter explains, eloquently, the term "animation"

"Animation" refers to both a frame by frame technique and a frame by frame awareness, including optical re-photography.  In contrast to cinematography, which records real events, animation constructs a synthetic universe of time and space, resulting in the most radical form of illusion in cinema.  By "personal" we mean work which transcends the technology so necessary to filmmaking, reflecting the artist's sensibility in every stage of the production process.  Though "experimental" can inclue film made through new techniques it refers primarily to work which invents its own form,  makes its own rules, thereby stretching the definition of the medium.  This can apply to any of the various tendencies of independent animation: abstract, cartoon, conceptual, figurative, narrative.
This drawing by Suzan Pitt my immediate love upon flipping through the book.

The many of the artists featured in the book are still working today: Suzan, Candy Kugel, Karen Aqua, Tony Eastman, Jane Aaron, David Ehrlich, Sally Cruikshank, Ken Brown, Lisa Crafts and many more.  Some are icons: Larry Cuba, Jules Engel, Robert Breer.

Others, their names have fallen from animation circulation and the simplest investigation makes you ask "why?"  The work created by these artists in the late 1970s eclipses the independent animation produced today -and many are still creating interesting work across media.

Mary Szilagyi is a name I had heard, but knew nothing about.  I knew she worked as an assistant "The Soldier's Tale" (and my memory may be failing, but I think R. O. Blechman told me she worked with Fred Mogubgub to make his segments camera-ready and fit into the rest of the film).

Her piece reminds me of Winsor McCay crossed with Lauren Weinstein.

Speaking of McCay, John Canemaker's contribution is a knockout.  What a rare talent, an astute critic, a diligent historian, and a sublimely sensitive artist.

 The collection showcases a wide range of artists, all using different techniques with different ends (although the recurrent influence of Steinberg is an obvious flavor for many of the contributors).  Beyond that, the optimism -which springs from an intellectual understanding of what it means to animate - pervading the volume expects animation to a beautiful and profound art.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Joey Ahlbum just posted his Sesame Street film "Tall Short Texans" on the YouTube.

Sesame Workshop could make a mint by publishing DVDs of their animated shorts. I'd buy at least two copies -so that's $40 right there. More than they're making off them now.

With Joey's knack for dichotomies in mind, we've been developing a pre-school series with him.


Monday, November 23, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

First, here's a great post on caricature and his lecture at SCAD by Steve Brodner.


Last week I got an email from a collector in Long Island.

He recently purchased a lot of Fred Mogubgub paintings and invited me to see them.

This portrait is about two feet by three feet.  It's covered in a glaze which gives it the look of a Byzantine icon -also preserving the paint to the point you can spill grape juice on it with little effect.

Also this painting, which needs a little repair.

A nude boy (or is he "naked" if he's wearing a jockey's cap?) conversing with two mermaids.

The front is titled "Jockey Club".

But the back is labeled "Still Pond" and priced at $3500.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

February 8, 1991 - Some Notes On Walks

Here are notes from Tissa's talk on walks.

Click to enlarge.

1) Leg is always in the middle of the body
2) Foot is never level
3) Leg is always in an arc
4) Size of leg is always the same

In a walk, one foot is always on the ground.
In a run, one frame where no foot is on the ground.

Whatever your animation is on (ones, twos, etc), move the background on the same exposure.

Run: shorter the amount of drawings the funnier the run.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I can't remember exactly why I wanted to post this.

Oh, the animation.  Tissa David animated.  Igor Mitrovic assisted.  From boards and design by Carlos Aponte.

A great animator can one thing very well.  Tissa excels at soft, flowing animation with loose and beautiful lines.

But an even greater animator can do more than one thing.

Here the design is stylized and the movement, although on twos throughout is also stylized.

She told me that she hated animating these characters because they were so "hard" (the line and the angles -opposed to "soft").  Despite the difficulty she had, she did a great job.  This is one of my favorites from The Ink Tank.

Friday, November 20, 2009

These Anarchists Mainly Drink Beer

Once the E-Z post 9/11 credit dried up and very few were willing to drop a million plus on an ugly condo two stops from Manhattan, all the Bloomberg re-zoning East of the Hudson (and all of his horses and men, to boot) couldn't finish all the construction begun in the era of low interest rates.

Two years ago I counted seven (7) construction sites on my direct walk to the L train.  All 7 were confined to the three blocks between Borinquen and Metropolitan -formerly zoned as industrial.  If we were to expand our count by a single block East to Union Avenue, this span would have recorded an additional four or five building sites.

Today I noticed an "open house" at one nearest to the subway.  The construction remains in progress.  Only one site is actually housing residents, that opened several months ago and still seems at partial capacity.

The positive to this positive waste (no, not the Pyrrhic victory of desolation over greed) is the permanent reminder wheatpasted to a "post no bills" wall.

I hope these posters for "Persepolis" stay up forever.  It's going on two years since they first appeared.  The cat walk construction has protected them from the elements, so they remain pretty well preserved.

It happens the film also screened on cable last night.

The film holds up after two years.  No screening could compare to the impact of the first, when I watched it sitting next to two children of Iranian parents who's sisters, cousins, aunts, and mothers shared the story.  Out of that context it remains a powerful film -and one of the few instances when the animation design exceeds the illustration of the original comic book.

The animation itself is nothing special -on the level of well made TV special, but the gesture drawings are especially effective.  An illustrator can often do with one drawing what an animator needs dozens to convey.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Delivery Systems

It's no secret that budgets have decreased dramatically in the past ten years.

Costs have decreased too, but not nearly as far.

Within this time one of the great cost cutters has been the ability to "post" pieces -at least partially, if not entirely -in house.

TANGENT: When I first heard someone (in this case Shawn Atkins) say they were going to "a post session" I immediately thought there was some sort of wall or pole onto which the film needed to placed.  I kept my mouth shut and shortly learned it's full name was "post production" and entailed sitting in dark rooms with men -and occasional women -behind a control board with lots of dials.

In the days when the money flowed, one had to go to a facility which charged, on average $1200/hour to get you film to tape and your tape edited and up to broadcast snuff.

A producer would walk out a little lighter in wallet but laden with digital tapes of all sorts; D1, D2 and the new kid DigiBeta as well as a slew of 3/4 inch Umatics and some VHS for good measure.

Once that master tape was delivered the producer was absolved of any further practical duties.  And that master tape was one format 720x486 NTSC (unless it was D1 which uses a square pixel).  The job of duplication, distributing, broadcasting, etc fell entirely to the client.

Now much of that post-production work is done in house.  Now the animator can deliver directly to the client for broadcast.

Moreover, the delivery standard is now variable.  Not simply variable in file formats and codecs (which can be maddeningly unlimited) -variable in shape and size.

Nearly every project has a web component which can require creation of versions in dozens of sizes and compressions.

The upshot is that a job which would formerly end with the FedEx of a master tape can go on for weeks longer with the creation and re-creation of versions.   Since there's no hardline delivery as there once was, these costs wind up rolling on.  Even when the specs are agreed upon beforehand the pieces can go on for weeks.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pip Up

Saw The Private Lives of Pippa Lee finally last night.

There was a special screening at the Landmark Sunshine hosted by Variety and the American Museum of the Moving Image.

As we've written in the several posts on the production, we always felt it was a remarkable script.  The film is interesting, but it would hard to top the excitement of the script.  It's still a special picture.

It was disappointing that they cut off the projection before we got to our credits (John Dilworth tells me he saw our credits at an Academy screening).  They're pushed behind all the drivers and assistants and hairdressers assistants.  No belittling their work, or the work of colorists and other technicians -but our contribution was actually filmmaking, albeit brief in screentime.  Animation is treated as an afterthought, even though its the equivalent of handing over 30 seconds of a film to another director to make.

Producer Lemore Syvan was on hand to answer questions.  The host from Variety did an excellent job interviewing her.

Her story is interesting.  She began in journalism.  Said she wanted to work in film.  Was turned for a job, then called back when no one else would do it for the rate.  She was hired as a PA, ended the production as Line Producer.  She admits she didn't know anything about the technical aspect of film.  She learned on the job.  But she's intelligent and clearly had something to offer, because of that she quickly worked her way up the ladder.

The opens in select cities at the end of November.  It's an honest, literate film that is full of terrific and honest dialogue.  And a decent little sequence we did.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


My Dog Tulip screened in Ottawa.  I was a little disappointed.  This was no Still Life With Animated Dogs or Drawn From Memory -Paul Fierlinger's masterpieces.  Where was the personal revelation?  Where was that halting voice?

It didn't help that a festival setting caters to quick and the flashy, and that I get particularly waterlogged after two or three days of non-stop screenings.

Film Forum hosted a special screening of the film last night.

The personal revelation may be dialed back in this film, and the narrator may not speak with Fierlinger's accent and his words may be purple but the voice is clearly his.

The format is in line with many of Fierlinger's films -first person narratives.

Going in, I was expecting this film to be something it wasn't.   On second viewing, it's a beautiful meditation on love and companionship.  I wonder what it will be the third time.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Let Me Write That Again

Expectations are important in film.

A film must set and meet (and hopefully exceed) expectations in the viewer.

Conversely, pre-conceived expectations in the viewer typically do disservice to the film.

Wes Anderson has been a leading figure in a Cinema of the Leisure Class.  His films from "Bottle Rocket" to "Darjeeling Limited" celebrate priviledged parties in a world with little consequences while showcasing the director's really cool record collection.  The result -films that are generally enjoyable, though not particularly likable.  Like the kid with easy good looks, quick wit, and a nice car who can never remember your name.

"Fantastic Mr. Fox" uses almost all of Anderson's tropes -characters staring blankly into camera, cool pop soundtrack (primarily Beach Boys here), smarter than you leads.  Missing is the overcranked slow motion shots -thankfully, (once is cute, twice is pushing it, three times is just garbage).

The technique, a Rankin Bass style stop motion, recalls the backyard home movies budding filmmakers create with their action figures and dolls.  The glossy film school gimmicks of "Rushmore" are in the distance.

What does this all add up to?  "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is a remarkable achievement.  The peculiarities of the technique reign in the director's indulgences.  The director's "auteur" vision opens previously uncharted territory for films that use animation.

I've heard some animators complain about Wes Anderson rarely visiting the shooting set.  I suspect these are either amateurs or pixel pushing cubicle monkeys with little experience working with creative animators.  Animators don't need a director looking over their shoulders eight hours a day, they need a person to tell them what needs to be done and give them the space to do it.

And, really, the proof is in the results.  The animation, under the supervision of Mark Gustafson (who, if I recall correctly, was a big cog in the Will Vinton machine) is exceptional.  Compare to the overwrought flourishes of "Coraline" which moves around so much but says so little, the idiosyncracies of the animation in "Fantastic Mr. Fox" are not simply hurky-jerky but statements of purpose.  The animation reveals truths about the characters.

Let me write that again.  In "Fantastic Mr. Fox", the animation reveals truths about the characters.

When the foxes eat, they sit down properly, tuck in their napkins then voraciously devour their food leaving a mess of flotsam and crumbs.  It's funny.  It's simple, goofy animation.  It's a pure gesture that reminds us -they're wild animals.

If he releases another film like this Wes Anderson may vie with Richard Linklater for the best director of animated films working today.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

New York Aquarium

In New York, we're surrounded by water.

We typically don't think about it.  Even if you have to cross a bridge twice a day.

Junk, certainly, but what other treasures lurk beneath.

More Gowanus Oysters?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Life and Death

More from the land of Sesame, but this a far off Mexican land.

Und was bekam den soldaten weib?

A giant purple hand.

We did three of these "wrap arounds" for CTW (I think they were still Children's Television Workshop at the time) in the course of four days -including the weekend.

In Mexico, where "Sesame Street" is produced as a local versioned "Plaza Sesamo", the program airs on a commercial network. The producers wanted to create little bumpers to run before and after the breaks to remind kids to "STOP LEARNING" and then start again once the adverts finished.

We came up with three variations on the same idea. A cat running, it's stopped by a duck with a whistle. A fish swimming, stopped by a snorkeling penguin.

And this dog and giant hand. Or is it a really tiny dog?

I did the sound effects, including the dog and voices (and the fish -blowing through a straw into milk).

Krystof Giersz -a phenomenal animator, truly one of the best I've worked with dig the animation and Helena Uszac took care the art production on their then brand new Toonz system.

During this production, while I was fretting in their kitchen over getting the job done, Helena said to me: "It's only animation, yes we do it for a living, but it's not life and death. No one ever died over a cartoon -they're just not that important."

That bit of advice was perfect for a young producer -something all film and tv producers should keep in mind.

Friday, November 13, 2009

We're Just Living In It

Looking through "YouTube" for some of Joey Ahlbum's "Elmo's World" clips to help commemorate the show's big birthday.  Could only find this one:

We produced the first season of this series at The Ink Tank (13 episodes, the clip above was not one Brian or I worked on). The production was the first time I disputed any production choices there. It was decided these would be animated in Poland, I didn't like that. Then, the production was never acquitted the proper resources to make it work.

Joey, rightfully, decided to just make them all under his own roof after that. The decision paid off -creatively at least.

His work is very specific and idiosyncratic -the way the characters move, the perspectives which turn from normal to rubber extreme to a new angle all in the course of 20 or 30 drawings.


During the YouTube, encountered this treasure as:

Paul Fierlinger.

Striking how he has the ability to craft a long emotionally involved story just as well as succinct witty pieces like this.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

Hard to imagine in the satellite age of smart bombs, Burger King commissaries and special operations -when two active theaters of war hardly register in the New York Times' "Week In Review" -that someday a great conflagration could well consume us and our colleagues as it did our forefathers 65 years ago.

Above: a photo published in November 2, 1945 "Top Cel", the newsletter of the NY Screen Cartoonists Local 1461.  Animators shipped all the way to India.  I wonder what action the Animation Unit got up to on the subcontinent.  Pictured are: Neil Sessa, William Cookrish, W. O. Field, Joseph Magro, Harold Goddard, Nat Friedland, Reah Ehret, Carmen Eletto.

Many animators were drafted into the Signal Corps.  Many more were enlisted into fighting units.

Below is the interior from that newsletter.

It contains a letter from Jack Baldwin in Gushkara, India (presumably the photographer).  It describes one of their duties to record the news dictated from the Army News Service in Hawaii.

Also in "The Duffy Bag" section:

NICK POPPA GEORGE, TED BERMAN, ED LEVITTE and CARL FALLBERG are civilians now.  Nick is planning to work for Tom Codricks outfit and Fallberg is doing it already.  Berman is back at Disney.

Marine GLENN COUCH promoted to S/Sgt.

LT. TOM GOODSON a proud father of a baby girl.

LEO ELLIS in a hospital in Long Island.

Cpl. PERRY ROSOVE visiting NY again?

GEORGE BAKER getting out of the army.

CAPT. BILL MC INTYRE now in  Japan.

RUSSELL BALDWIN passing through New York.  We are sorry we were unable to see him.

MORRIS GOLLUB out of the service and in New Rochelle with DAN NOONAN.

CAPT. BILL TILTON from the Philippines and in his way home.

A. KEITEL, C. GLENAR and R. STOKES leaving the Anacostia group very soon.  PAUL FENNELL is out already, his place as head of the Unit being taken by JOHNNY BURKS.

CHARLES BYRNE from Anacostia in Screen Gems and HENRY BENDER in charge of personnell.

Ex-service men that just started to work at Famous: AL EUGSTER, TOM JOHNSON, G. GERMANETTI.

ZEKE DE GRASSE out of the service and in Hollywood.

The Air Corp assigned LT. GEORGE GIROUX to his home, so he went and got married.
We may not be familiar with most of those names (I only recognize one), but if you were working on the 1942 equivalent of "Blue's Clues" or "L'il Einsteins" one of these men likely would have been in the next cubicle.

Above, an illustration by Dave Tendler (lettering by Joe Goteri) from the 12/10/44 newsletter containing all the NY Union animators in the service.  Many recognizable names here -some, like Art Babbitt or Myron Waldman, were Signal Corps.  Others, were surely in fighting units.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Process Makes Perfect

I'm going to be lazy and post something we wrote up a few years ago to help clients understand how animation works.  This was prepared specific to an anime styled project, but the essentials are the same.

Feel free to use it (with proper credits).


New technologies give us a lot of flexibility compared to ten years ago, but ultimately, animation is the same production process as it was for Daffy Duck or Popeye.

In this case, it’ll be closer to Astroboy or Star Blazers –but the idea is the same. 

Here are the key steps to the process and what to look for at each point.


Everything stems from this.  Any jokes that need tweaking, or characters changed around, or locations altered –this is the place to do it.

There’s always some flexibility with this up until the voice record –which happens before animation begins –but once the track is laid down, any alteration to dialogue involves additional time for talent, audio facilities, voice direction, video edit, and depending on how far into production we are, animators, inbetweeners, trace and painters and compositors.


The storyboard will represent the final film in single frame, black and white drawings.

Here we look for narrative continuity, dynamics, general framing and camera position, shot sequencing and visual pacing.

Along with the storyboard, an “animatic” or “leica reel” is created.  This is a simple edit of the single drawings against the voice track.

Character Designs

Character design is a bit like casting for type.  The look of the character is defined.  At this point we’ll work up several poses of each character.  Here is where art direction and knowledge of the medium are critical.  The character designer anticipates how the illustration will work in motion and in the context of the narrative environment. 

Once we go into production, any changes to design will lead to substantial work.  Further, design revisions after this phase invariably compromise the final quality of the picture.


Traditionally, a drawn animation will have a “pencil test” which serves as a full, sort-of, rough cut.  The pencil is line drawing of animation, often double-exposed onto a background.  It shows the acting performance of an animated character.

Understanding a pencil test is a learned skill.  Most people can’t look at one and make intelligent comments without examining the film for a prolonged period.

Pencil tests have come to be a luxury, as drawn animation is difficult to produce on 21st Century budgets.

Nevertheless, we do create motion tests throughout production.  Considering the simple nature of this animation style, and the necessity to create much of this work digitally many of these motion tests will be in color.

At this point, it is sort of like a rough cut and “good” take in live action.  Some acting changes can be made –along the lines of “is there a better read of that line?”.  Different angles, additional shots, and other changes are the equivalent of calling a re-shoot in live action.  It’s possible, but just like a re-shoot in live action, it requires a great expense of resources.

Rough Cut

By the time the rough cut comes around in animation all the creative decisions have been made.  This is a point for fine tuning of edits/transitions/special effects.

What can be done at this point is the same as what you can do in a live action edit when there is no possibility of re-shooting.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Where They Never Heard of Wild Things

In the spring of 1998 we got a call at The Ink Tank from a U. S. agency that served as an intermediary between Japanese advertising agencies and American production companies.

A Japanese beer was launching a new brand and were planning an animated advertising campaign to go with it.

We were asked to work up some designs.  I think they gave us something like $1500.

The concept was this beer was an ancient recipe passed on by Germanic "master brewers".

Maciek Albrecht worked up some characters, some one else I don't remember, but we wanted to come up with the best pitch possible.

R. O. Blechman was in Florida at the time, visiting his mother.  I go over the prospectus with him over the phone.

He says, "We should get Maurice Sendak to do it."

"You think he will," I replied. "I didn't think he did advertising."

"Even Woody Allen does commercials in Japan."

So I flip through the rolodex and dial up the Connecticut phone number.

I should note here that "Where The Wild Things Are" was not an important book to me.  In fact, I never even heard of it until Tasca Shadix tossed it at me in 1993 during a collegiate visit to Austin.

"Really Rosie", on the other hand, was a film that did have an impact on my young psyche.

More than anything that was likely due to the terrific soundtrack by Carol King.

I'm thinking of starting a "Twitter" account so I can "Tweet" while listening to "Tapestry"

Back to the telephone.

Maurice Sendak, for those who don't know, had his signature reproduced on the Brooklyn Public Library Card.  Him Walt Whitman, and two people I don't remember.  Maybe Marianne Moore.

He's also a giant amongst illustrators.  His mechanics are beyond comparison and his ability to convey emotion in his drawings is practically magic.

So I was a little taken aback when he answered his own phone.  Even more when the "voice of god" was disturbing similar to an old Jewish guy from Flatbush.

I laid out the job for him.  Told him the whole scope of the project, what his contribution would entail, how we would staff the production (promising him Ed Smith who did a phenomenal job 20 years earlier with a drawing of Sendak's for "Simple Gifts").

He hemmed and hawed.  "I'm busy designing sets for Julliard".

"Oh, what production?"  Smoozing.

"Hansel and Gretl."

"The Humperdinck," my salemanship was in full force -naming checking 19th Century operas on the beat, "That's a great piece.  I'd love to see what you do."

And round robin for the next few minutes.  He would think about it.

Then he called back.  "I'm sorry, I'm just too busy."

Deflation.  I phoned R. O. in Florida.

"Bob, Sendak doesn't want to do it.  I've tried everything I know.  He's just not interested."

"Give me his number, I'll talk to him."

Five minutes later, R. O. calls back: "Maurice will send something FedEx in the morning.  It'll just be line work though."

10 am, FedEx rolls in.  He didn't deliver what he said.  He claimed he would do a line drawing of the main character and that was it.

In the package were four pages of full watercolors.  Beautiful, beautiful illustrations.  The character in nearly two dozen poses.  And the character, to us, was perfect.

We scan them, and send the disk to our client.   This was the age of dial up 56 baud modems and sending 5 MB worth of files to Japan was still a bit of a trick.

A couple days later I ring up our client.  "What's up, I thought we had a great presentation.  Is there a problem?"

He then confessed that another studio presented nearly 30 designs.

"So," I was a little snippy, "we've given you Maurice Sendak.  You can go through one hundred illustrations and not even get close."

He then dropped one of my favorite sentences ever, the one line which could deflate our well constructed pitch: "The client in Japan never heard of Maurice Sendak, and frankly, they just thought his drawings were weird."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

February 1991 Animation is Acting

Here are notes from two of Tissa David's lectures in February of 1991.

Below she goes over some basics (isn't that all there is?).

Stretch (as long as the volume remains the same).

Motion in arcs are important to flowing animation.

Action should be in the clear and very visible.

Don't do two actions at the same time.

Map out a diagram before animating.

Notes on a treadmill walk (walking in place while the background pans), along with notes on a horse's tail.