February 26th, 2024

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Grim Natwick’s Century of Learning

Animation Resources

One thing I’ve noticed among certain young animators is a tendency to focus exclusively on things that directly apply to whatever project they’re currently working on. Referencing art in a different style or from a different period in time can sometimes be seen by them as a distraction, or worse yet, irrelevant to their work as an artist. This is a very bad habit to get into, because it builds a box around an artists’ creativity. After a few years, this focus settles into a form of tunnel-vision. At Animation Resources, our primary purpose is to help artists “think outside the box”.

There have been a few people I’ve met in my life who saw the big picture clearly. Grim Natwick was one of them. He had an incredibly broad view of animation, which isn’t surprising because his career in animation spanned nearly seven decades! Grim was a storyteller, and even though his long convoluted stories jumped across decades and diverse subjects like the cow jumping over the moon, his thought process was like a laser beam focused on the essence of what it means to be an artist.

When you look at Grim’s career, it’s astonishing. He started out working on silent Happy Hooligan cartoons, He went on to create Betty Boop and animate Flip the Frog, Snow White, Woody Woodpecker, Mr Magoo, and Crusader Rabbit, and ended his career animating on Richard Williams’ “Thief and the Cobbler”. I once asked Grim to what he attributed his long and varied career. He didn’t hesitate. He answered right away…

“My education.”

Grim Natwick

Grim studied illustration and design in Chicago, but soon he found himself working in animation, and he realized his skills and education weren’t up to the task. He took a year off and travelled to Vienna to get formal art training. Every day of his life, Grim set aside an hour to do self study. He would pull a book on Picasso off the shelf and sit down at his drawing board and try to figure out Picasso’s shapes and abstraction. He would sketch from Reubens to learn composition. He’d break down the work of illustrators like Rackham and try to capture their watercolor techniques. All of this informed his animation and made it possible for him to reinvent himself when it was called for.

I have only worked in the field for thirty years myself, but I have seen most of the people I started out working with fall away from animation. They weren’t able to keep up with technology, or they refused to work in any other style than the one they had been trained in. Animation evolved and changed, and they were left behind because they refused to think outside their own box.

Here is a video of Grim speaking with Reg Hartt in Toronto in the early 80s. In this interview he discusses a wide range of subjects, from fine art to illustration- at one point he digresses all the way to Indonesian shadow puppets- but every bit of it directly applies to his life as an animator. And it directly applies to your life as an animator too.


GRIM NATWICK INTERVIEW 1982
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CEYYLr9tRU

When I was in college, I looked Grim up in the phone book and visited him at his apartment in Santa Monica. I aspired to work in animation and I wanted to learn how animators think. I couldn’t have had a better person to learn from. I would sit on Grim’s front porch and ask him questions. Then the stories would unfold in front of me, giving me an overview of what the artform was all about, and most importantly, insight into what it could be.

Grim NatwickIt’s 30 years later now, but I still think about the things Grim talked about. Grim never put himself in a stylistic box. He worked in every style and never stopped learning.

Young animators sometimes look at what we are doing at Animation Resources and think to themselves, “That’s old stuff. It doesn’t apply to me.” Professional animators sometimes look at it and say to themselves, “I’m a professional now. I’m not in school any more. I don’t need to study.” Grim Natwick never thought that way. He saw the interrelationships between different styles and forms of art. He credited his studies for keeping him relevant in the business long after his contemporaries had moved on or retired. Grim lived and breathed his art. He had a passion for it and he could put that passion into words. He could teach it to others. All of that is important and all of it applies to the life and career of every artist.

When I discovered this video interview, I realized how much of what Grim planted in me has developed into what Animation Resources has become today. Grim’s approach to his art is a shining example for all of us to follow. Whether you’re a student or a pro, exploring and learning and discovering new things should be a part of your daily life. Animation Resources wants to help you do that.

Members Appreciation

For the past decade, Animation Resources has been serving artists working in the fields of animation, cartooning and illustration. Our volunteers and members have pulled together to raise the bar for our art form, and it’s time to celebrate… It’s Members Appreciation time again!

During the month of February, Animation Resources expresses our appreciation for to members with a very special Reference Pack, and we invite you to become a member too. For the next 30 days, we will be sharing reasons why you should join us. Our benefits of membership far exceed the cost of our annual dues.

Dollar Days

This year, we are trying something new to encourage new memberships. You can join for a one week trial membership for only A DOLLAR! Yes, you get access to everything our annual members get for seven days for only a buck. (Click here for the details on our Dollar Days.) What are you waiting for?

You can find out what our members get at the Member Appreciation Page. It’s easy to join. Just click on this link and you can sign up right now online…


JOIN TODAY!
https://animationresources.org/membership/levels/

Members Appreciation Month

PayPalAnimationAnimation Resources depends on your contributions to support its projects. Even if you can’t afford to join our group right now, please click the button below to donate whatever you can afford using PayPal.


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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 11:22 am

February 25th, 2024

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Acting For Animation: Video Seminar

THIS AFTERNOON!

4:30pm PST Live Streaming Page

6:30pm PST Discord Server

Animated Discussions Podcast

The highlight of Reference Pack 056 is a video seminar hosted by Davey Jarrell and Stephen Worth titled "Acting For Animation". We have been working on this seminar for years, and have presented it at several art schools and universities. We’ve recorded it on video now so we can share it with you.

If you are a member of Animation Resources, login now to download this program. https://animationresources.org/membersonly/

If you’re not a member yet, this program alone is worth the cost of the annual dues. JOIN now. https://animationresources.org/membership/levels/

If you are not a member and would like to see this program, mark your calendar for February 25th at 4pm (PST). We will be presenting it free one time simultaneously on our live streaming page, and on our Discord Server. This seminar includes many clips illustrating the points being made. It cannot be shared on YouTube or social media. The only place to see it is on the Animation Resources website.

Animated Discussions Podcast

Animators have been referred to as "actors with a pencil," but most classes in animation and articles on technique deal more with the pencil mileage than acting. In this episode of Animated Discussions we set out to change that. What *is* acting anyway? What constitutes *good* acting? Is acting the same in live action as it is in animation? How does an animator put across personality and action through acting? We’ll be addressing those questions and many more.

In the ten short years between "Steamboat Willie" and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the Disney Studios advanced the art and technique of animation at a rapid rate of speed. This progress has been widely credited to the work of Don Graham. He instituted a series of action analysis meetings where live action films were broken down and studied, and animated films would be critiqued to determine what worked well and what could be improved upon. In this video seminar, Storyboard Artist Davey Jarrell and Animation Producer Stephen Worth will be channelling the spirit of Don Graham to present an action analysis class on "Acting for Animation".

Animation Resources Discord

Animation Resources is hosting monthly events on its Discord server. Join us to participate in discussions and network with fellow artists from all over the world. On February 25th, the doors open at 4:00 pm (PDT) and the program begins at 4:30 pm.

THIS MONTH’S PROGRAM
Join Animation Resources Board Member Davey Jarrell and Stephen Worth on Sunday, February 25th on Discord for a two hour video seminar on acting followed by a question and answer session. Doors open at 4:00 PDT and the program starts at 4:30 PDT!

ACTING FOR ANIMATION
Animation Resources
At The Animation Resources Discord Server
Animation Resources Live Stream Page
https://animationresources.org/stream/
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 25th, 2024 4:30 pm (PDT)
HOSTED BY DAVEY JARELL WITH STEPHEN WORTH

A REVIEW FROM A MEMBER

Hey Davey! Just wanted to say that acting seminar you and Steve did is one of the most inspiring videos I’ve watched in a long time. It got my brain whizzing a million miles a second, especially at the end comparing 20th Century to Scribners animation. I felt like I unlocked another understanding of a sequence I thought I had known well.

Animation Resources is one of the best kept secrets in the world of cartooning. Every month, we sponsor a program of interest to artists, and every other month, we share a book and up to an hour of rare animation with our members. If you are a creative person interested in the fields of animation, cartooning or illustration, you should be a member of Animation Resources!

ABOUT YOUR HOSTS

Davey Jarell is a member of the Board of Directors of Animation Resources. He is a professional storyboard artist for television and acts as our Director of Programs.

Stephen Worth is an animation producer with nearly four decades of experience. He is also the President of Animation Resources.

ABOUT DISCORD

Discord is a free chat app that supports video, voice chat and text chat. Discord servers are divided into channels, which all have their own subject or theme of discussion. Members are assigned roles which helps everyone keep track of who’s who. The Animation Resources Discord channel is a virtual meeting place for our supporters. You can meet other Animation Resources members, talk with the people behind the scenes at our organization, and attend lectures and screenings— all without leaving your home. It’s free and open to everyone in the creative community. If you’d like more info on how Discord works, see this article: What is Discord?

Here’s how to install the Discord app and login to the Animation Resources Discord Server:


    1. INSTALL DISCORD
  • iPhone or Android: Download the app from the App Store or Google Play Store and install.
  • Desktop: You can access Discord for your Mac or PC from discordapp.com. You can choose to download and install the free Discord app, or enter our channel directly using your web browser. https://discord.gg/cuvNvsMNQP
    2. CREATE AN ACCOUNT
  • Just follow the prompts to create your own login account.
    3. JOIN THE ANIMATION RESOURCES CHANNEL
  • Click the plus sign to the right of the app and select "JOIN A SERVER".
  • Enter this invite code: vES5YsV
    4. YOU’RE THERE!
  • Take a moment to look around, read the rules and introduce yourself.

The Animation Resources Discord Server is open to the public right now. Pop in and look around, and make a point to visit on Sunday!

Members Appreciation

For the past decade, Animation Resources has been serving artists working in the fields of animation, cartooning and illustration. Our volunteers and members have pulled together to raise the bar for our art form, and it’s time to celebrate… It’s Members Appreciation time again!

During the month of February, Animation Resources expresses our appreciation for to members with a very special Reference Pack, and we invite you to become a member too. For the next 30 days, we will be sharing reasons why you should join us. Our benefits of membership far exceed the cost of our annual dues.

Dollar Days

This year, we are trying something new to encourage new memberships. You can join for a one week trial membership for only A DOLLAR! Yes, you get access to everything our annual members get for seven days for only a buck. (Click here for the details on our Dollar Days.) What are you waiting for?

You can find out what our members get at the Member Appreciation Page. It’s easy to join. Just click on this link and you can sign up right now online…


JOIN TODAY!
https://animationresources.org/membership/levels/

Members Appreciation Month

PayPalAnimationAnimation Resources depends on your contributions to support its projects. Even if you can’t afford to join our group right now, please click the button below to donate whatever you can afford using PayPal.


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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 12:01 am

February 23rd, 2024

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The Great Wave Of Animation

Great Wave Of Animation

I see people on social media bemoaning the recent downturn in the animation business. They’ve adopted a doom and gloom attitude, but dry spells have always been a part of being an animator. Every seven years or so, there’s an event that sweeps across the business and changes the playing field. I’ve been through several of these myself. I got into the business following the purge created by “runaway production” when overseas studios picked up a lot of work that had previously been done stateside. Filmation shut down, Hanna-Barbara cut back, and a lot of people were out of work. Other purges involved the dot com bubble bursting, the end of big budget hand drawn features, the digitization of the production pipeline and the shuttering of independent animation houses when big studios established their own production facilities.

Now we’re seeing the end of the streaming bubble and no one knows yet what form the coming venue for animation will take. We can’t go backwards to broadcast or cable, and the streaming networks are cutting back because it became unprofitable for them to make so many shows that people just weren’t watching. Animation will always be a part of popular entertainment. All of us just need to wait for the next wave to develop, and no one knows yet what form that wave will take.

If I’ve learned one thing from all the purges and waves I’ve survived, it’s that you can’t just sit and wait. You need to take steps now to guarantee a place in the future of animation. When the downturn turns around and opportunities begin to become available again, it’s going to be like musical chairs. Not all of the jobs that were available at the peak of the streaming bubble will be available. The first people hired back will be the best and brightest, not the average 9 to 5-er.

To prepare for that, artists should be taking this opportunity to do two things. One is to open your mind and ideate… come up with new and unique characters and ideas for cartoons. Don’t look to formulas that have been successful in the past, project yourself to be able to conceive of what will be successful in the future. When the shutdown ends, “more of the same” won’t cut it. That means exposing yourself to kinds of creativity you haven’t considered in the past, not doubling down on the things you already know inside and out. Look beyond animation for inspiration. Look to cartooning, illustration and cinema… or even music, dance, live performance and other forms of art. The one thing you can be sure of is that the future of animation won’t be like the recent past. That was tried and it didn’t work.

Secondly, artists need to prepare themselves to survive the cull. Every downturn eliminates those whose skills aren’t up to snuff and people who aren’t versatile enough to reinvent themselves to suit the coming wave. I remember artists saying, “I draw on paper. I’ll never use a computer to draw.” Those were the first ones cut in the digital purge and they never got hired back. A few years ago, anyone who could hold a pencil could get a job in animation on streaming shows. Draftsmanship and a diversity of styles weren’t required. But when the business bounces back, being average won’t cut it. The artists with chops are going to be the first ones hired, and many who believed they had established a firm career in animation are going to be left behind. Don’t be complacent. It’s not enough to establish a career. You have to work to maintain it. The second you take it for granted, you risk losing it forever. That is no exaggeration.

Instead of sitting on your hands waiting for the phone to ring, you should be working even harder to be the first pick to be called back. Go to life drawing classes, visit art museums to study masterful compositions and poses, learn to draw in new genres and styles, and research new technology so you’ll be able to be its master instead of being afraid of it. This is a chance to recharge your batteries creatively. Grab that opportunity with both hands. Find a way to survive until the drought ends and devote every spare moment to becoming a better artist. Don’t get distracted by side interests or hobbies during downtime. This is when you should be focusing on your goals, not playing. It sounds weird, but layoffs are the time you need to get to work.

I’ve devoted a big chunk of my life to Animation Resources, trying to help artists invest in themselves. Recently, I’ve gotten notes from members saying, “Sorry! I got laid off. I can’t afford $100 a year any more.” I sympathize with their problems, but I can’t think of a worse time to discontinue your membership. When things were busy and everyone was employed, these same people would say, “I’m working too much. I don’t have time to look at the Reference Packs.” If being employed is the wrong time to invest in your skills and recharge your creativity, and being unemployed is the wrong time too, then when is the right time?

The volunteers at Animation Resources work all the time curating material to help artists be better at what they do. It doesn’t matter if we’re working or not. We carve out time from our schedule to give back to the muse. The artists we serve should do the same, or they’ll risk being on the wrong side of the next wave.

Members Appreciation

For the past decade, Animation Resources has been serving artists working in the fields of animation, cartooning and illustration. Our volunteers and members have pulled together to raise the bar for our art form, and it’s time to celebrate… It’s Members Appreciation time again!

During the month of February, Animation Resources expresses our appreciation for to members with a very special Reference Pack, and we invite you to become a member too. For the next 30 days, we will be sharing reasons why you should join us. Our benefits of membership far exceed the cost of our annual dues.

Dollar Days

This year, we are trying something new to encourage new memberships. You can join for a one week trial membership for only A DOLLAR! Yes, you get access to everything our annual members get for seven days for only a buck. (Click here for the details on our Dollar Days.) What are you waiting for?

You can find out what our members get at the Member Appreciation Page. It’s easy to join. Just click on this link and you can sign up right now online…


JOIN TODAY!
https://animationresources.org/membership/levels/

Members Appreciation Month

PayPalAnimationAnimation Resources depends on your contributions to support its projects. Even if you can’t afford to join our group right now, please click the button below to donate whatever you can afford using PayPal.


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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 1:44 pm