November 4th, 2019

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Advice: Business of Art

SONY DSC

I see a lot of people starting out in animation focusing on the business aspects… creating lots of “product”, pitching show ideas to studios, worrying about people who might ask them to work for free on a personal project, posting ads to groups like this to try to get viewers… I’ve seen people who do all these sorts of things for almost a decade, and still aren’t any further along to success as an animated filmmaker than the day they started.

You don’t become successful in animation by having the “right package”. You become successful because you have the “right stuff”. You can sit down and really animate, do layout, design backgrounds… you have skills in constructive drawing, compositional principles, perspective, anatomy and life drawing, color theory, painting techniques…

Specialization aimed at a specific job title is the absolute WORST thing you can do in school. I went to design school to study graphic design. They taught me type speccing, paste up, how to use a linotype machine… A couple of years later the Macintosh came out and everything I learned was obsolete. The only classes that I still use today are the basic ones… Design 101, Color 101, Drawing 101. Going to a trade school to learn art or filmmaking is a good way to be replaced by outsourcing.

If you want to be an artist, LEARN TO BE AN ARTIST FIRST. With a solid foundation in the fundamentals, you can learn any trade quickly on your own time or on the job. You don’t have to pay a school thousands of dollars to make you an unemployable specialist in a field that is now being done in India or China.

Instead of putting sweat equity into a business opportunity, it’s a lot better to put that effort into investing into yourself and your skills. But that takes hard work, humility, experimentation, and a solid plan for self education. Make personal films, but CHALLENGE YOURSELF. Don’t just fill time quotas. That’s the hard way to become successful for sure, but it’s a sure road for advancement. “Playing the game” and “doing business” can go in circles forever and get you nowhere.


Fall is time to save when you join Animation Resources as a student member! For the month of October our Student Membership will be discounted to only $50/year! Best of all, you will continue to get that savings every year you renew as a student for up to three years! Yes, this applies to full time educators too! Why should you join? Each week we’ll be highlighting more reasons why you should be a member of Animation Resources!

$60Reference PacksSTUDENT MEMBERSHIP

DURING THE MONTH OF OCTOBER ONLY!
$60/year $50/year (recurring)

Animation Resources membership is offered at a discounted rate for full time students and educators. After sign-up you will be required to email a photo of your current student ID card or proof of educational employment to verify your status. Renewals at the student rate is limited to three years. Invest in yourself by becoming a member of Animation Resources.


JOIN NOW Before This Offer Ends!
https://animationresources.org/membership/levels/


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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 9:20 am

November 1st, 2019

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Instruction: Writing Cartoons Pt 2- A Continuity Emerges

Valiant Tailor

When I was beginning to draft this series of articles, I remembered a folder of thumbnails that Grim Natwick’s family gave me. The folder was labelled "Valiant Tailor Gags". I thumbed through the drawings several times over the years, but I only looked at the drawings individually- I didn’t look at them as a group. I pulled the folder out this week and upon closer examination, I discovered that the drawings formed a clear record of a gag session from 1934. This set of sketches is particularly important because it shows how the gags were created, how they evolved and grew as the artists discussed them at the story meeting, and how they found their way into the continuity of a finished cartoon.

Iwerks Staff 1935

The basic premise of this sequence is… The King is being chased by bees. He dives into a lake to escape them. The Giant arrives and harasses the King. The Tailor defeats the Giant and saves the King. Grim Natwick directed this cartoon, and his notes appear on the drawings in red. A check mark indicates that the gag is approved for the film. A question mark indicates that he isn’t sure where to use it yet.

Here are some of the gags that the staff of the Iwerks Studio came up with for this premise. At the end is a Quicktime movie of the complete cartoon, so you can see how these plans were realized in the finished film.

Writing Cartoons

William Hamner suggests a gag where the King is swallowed by a whale and is shot out his blow hole. (Since the character design hadn’t been established yet, Hamner draws the character as Otto Soglow’s Little King!)

Writing Cartoons

An artist named Hudson elaborates on Hamner’s basic idea, adding a tail flip to the end.

Writing Cartoons

This gag suggests that the King be underwater, hiding from the Giant. The Giant tries to catch him like a fish with a gold watch as bait.

Writing Cartoons

Underwater, the King uses a looking glass as a teeter totter.

Writing Cartoons

The Giant blows on the water and a passing octopus offers him Listerine.

Writing Cartoons

Ed Friedman suggests a gag where the Giant breaks a limb off a tree and uses it as a boomerang.

Writing Cartoons

Another variant on the broken tree branch- The Giant uses it as a straw to drink the lake dry.

Writing Cartoons

Several unrelated gags: The King runs out of the lake with streams of water from his crown. / The King is poked in the butt by a sword fish. / The Giant gets honey poured on his head. / The King is stung by bees on the patch on his butt.

Writing Cartoons

The Giant runs from a swarm of bees and stumbles over some wagons.

Writing Cartoons

Grim suggests a gag where the Giant takes a header into the dirt, plowing the ground in a furrow.

Writing Cartoons

He attempts a topper gag with a farmer using the Giant to plow his field.

Now comes the really interesting part! Here are Grim Natwick’s thumbnails showing how he takes the random gags and works them into a rough continuity. The drawings are very rough. You might want to print them out so you can compare them to the finished film.

Writing Cartoons

  • (32) The King enters scene and does a trout dive into the lake to escape the bees. We pan with the soldiers as the pursue the Tailor and chase him up a tree.
  • (33) The King bobs up and down in the water as the bees circle in a repeating cycle above him.
  • (34) A thunderous laugh is heard in the distance. The Giant steps over the crest of the hill and takes a few steps over them.
  • (35) The Giant scares the soldiers away. He looks at the King and laughs. The King ducks.
  • (36) The Giant blows on the water and throws a stone at the King.
  • (37) The King reaches up into the tree and grabs a branch. The Tailor jumps to another branch.

Writing Cartoons

  • (39) The Giant uses the branch like a gaffing hook, reaching to catch the King with it.
  • (40) The hook at the end of the branch catches in the patch on the King’s butt.
  • (41) The Tailor sees what is happening and ducks into a hole in the tree. The camera pans down the outside of the tree to its base, where the Tailor crawls out of another hole.
  • (42) The Tailor sneaks past the Giant and runs off screen
  • (43) Dissolve to: Interior tailor shop. The Tailor grabs a jar of honey.

Writing Cartoons

(44) Exterior Tailor Shop: The Tailor runs down the street with the jar.

  • (45) Dissolve to: The Tailor diving back into the hole in the tree trunk.
  • (46) The Tailor, standing on a high limb of the tree, drops the honey jar.
  • (47) The pot of honey dumps all over the Giant’s head.
  • (48) The King comes to the surface of the water as the bees go after the Giant.
  • (49) The Giant runs from the bees. He shoves his head in the dirt to escape them. He runs through a barn and a church over the hill and into the distance.
  • The sequence went from here to the storyboard stage, where the action was defined better and the gags were plussed. Watch the film and see how it came out…

    Writing Cartoons

    The Valiant Tailor (Iwerks/1934)< (Quicktime 7 / 7 minutes / 18.5 megs)

    The next article in this series will show how the structure of cartoons became more sophisticated in the mid-1930s, and the development of organizational tools that made that possible.

    Stephen Worth
    Director
    Animation Resources

    INSTRUCTIONINSTRUCTION

    This posting is part of an online series of articles dealing with Instruction.

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    Posted by admin @ 1:17 pm

    October 30th, 2019

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    We might be living through a potential Renaissance. Why aren’t you a part of it?

    artistic renaissance

    Art is a language. You have to be exposed to it, analyze it, break it down and understand it if you want to create it. The best way to become a better artist is to challenge yourself and surround yourself with good examples and creative people. It takes work and energy. It isn’t necessarily something that you are born with, and it’s not something you can come up with in a vacuum. You have to open your mind up and let the ideas in.

    Think about what it was like for artists in the past… Johann Sebastian Bach had to travel two weeks by foot to attend school. The artistic treasures of the world belonged to royalty and the upper classes- the average person had no access to it. Education was something that was reserved for the special few who could afford it, or the ones who could find a rich patron to finance their education.

    Flash forward to today. We live in an era that provides tremendous opportunities to artists. The internet brings the entirety of human culture to us with the click of a mouse. We can interact with creative people on social media and learn from them by following their progress and reading their posts. Our work can be instantly distributed to the whole world for free over YouTube or Instagram. Artists can communicate directly with their audience and the audience can feed back to the artist in real time.

    We should be living through a golden age of creativity, right? Well, why aren’t we?

    artistic renaissance

    The problem with modern day artistic culture is that people take it for granted. We’re surrounded by images, music, film, performance, architecture, in dozens of different media- websites, YouTube, Spotify, Netflix, video games, television, cell phones, computers… the list goes on and on. People have become so immersed in art that they don’t value it. Imagine telling Bach that he could sit down at his desk and instantly access the greatest music from the past 400 years. What would that mean to him? Does it mean the same thing to you?

    If you’re an animator, cartoonist or illustrator, the internet is awash in great reference material. How much time do you spend exposing yourself to new ways of expressing yourself? How often do you set aside time to break down reference to learn how it works? Which artists’ works have you studied carefully to try to understand and assimilate the things that made them great?

    Be honest. How much do you use the internet to become a better artist, and how much do you use it to tweet pictures of your lunch or share kitten memes? The internet is the greatest thing to happen to culture in the whole history of mankind, but how much do we appreciate it and utilize it to move us and our art forward?

    There are schools that teach animation and charge a hundred thousand dollars for a degree. There are archives that collect films and artwork, but they’re a thousand miles or more away from you. You might as well be back in the 1700s walking two weeks to school and not having access to art unless you are part of the upper classes.

    artistic renaissance

    What if you could become a part of a community of artists that is using the internet to create a new way of learning about art? Would you take advantage of that opportunity?

    Every day of the week, Animation Resources gives you good, solid reference and inspiration. Every one of those things are reasons why you should be a member of our organization. We’ve told you about our podcasts, e-books and downloadable animated films. Obviously, there are a lot of great perks for being a member. But there’s an even better reason to join…

    You should be a member because Animation Resources is the only organization that is using the power of the internet to create a culture of education, sharing and growth for artists involved in this field.

    That should be enough, shouldn’t it? It’s just as important for working professionals as it is for students. When learning and growth stops, so does creativity. It’s not just about inventing. It’s also about reinventing yourself. If you stop doing that, don’t be surprised if the art form moves on and you’re left in the dust.

    Animation Resources isn’t taking the potential of the internet for granted. And we aren’t charging you a hundred thousand dollars to take advantage of our knowledge base. We want to do a lot more. We want to bring our archive database to you. But we can’t do that unless artists pull together and all pitch in to support the organization that supports them. Lately, I’ve heard several artists say, “I’ll join your group when you have everything up on your site for downloading.” That totally misses the point of what Animation Resources is providing. We can go on tweeting our lunch and sharing kitten memes, or we can harness the power of the internet as a community. Self study and artistic growth is a process, not a destination.

    Everyone talks about going back to the “golden age” of animation. Even though we share old animation with our members, Animation Resources doesn’t want to go backwards. We want to use the experience of the past and the technology of the present to create an future that surpasses everything that came before. Isn’t that what you want too? Then why aren’t you a member of our community?

    It’s up to you. Don’t take it for granted.


    Fall is time to save when you join Animation Resources as a student member! For the month of October our Student Membership will be discounted to only $50/year! Best of all, you will continue to get that savings every year you renew as a student for up to three years! Yes, this applies to full time educators too! Why should you join? Each week we’ll be highlighting more reasons why you should be a member of Animation Resources!

    $60Reference PacksSTUDENT MEMBERSHIP

    DURING THE MONTH OF OCTOBER ONLY!
    $60/year $50/year (recurring)

    Animation Resources membership is offered at a discounted rate for full time students and educators. After sign-up you will be required to email a photo of your current student ID card or proof of educational employment to verify your status. Renewals at the student rate is limited to three years. Invest in yourself by becoming a member of Animation Resources.


    JOIN NOW Before This Offer Ends!
    https://animationresources.org/membership/levels/


    FREE SAMPLES!

    Not Convinced Yet? Check out this SAMPLE REFERENCE PACK! It will give you a taste of what Animation Resources members get to download every other month!
    Sample RefPack

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    Posted by Stephen Worth @ 10:00 am