Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Purpose in Life Regained!

My cup of enthusiasm for my animated film runneth over today, after my editing/Pro Tools instructor waxed positive. Which is good, because basically I feel like my life really is occupied by some ambiguous project with an equally nebulous objective. This week is dense with work, but for the first time in a while, I am entering the work with a bit of pluck on my sleeve (eeew, who plucked on my sleeve?) and a song in my soul.

Something unusual and for the geeky - I think that tiff files don't automatically want to reconnect in Final Cut Pro, but jpegs do. Why is this? It's annoying, because then I have to go in and manually reconnect them - raspberries to that! Maybe it's the compression with the tiffs...? Nah, I think it's just FCP.

For today: another background. You love it so hard. There's a creepy antique (circa late 1800s I believe) haunting the shadows at the peak of the triangle. It wants to eat you and any spare baby flesh you have lying around.


Thursday, May 25, 2006


Deadlines loom, and although I feel a vestigial anxiety about them, there's really nothing I can do. I can't work fast enough to finish my beloved monster (tentatively titled: Violets and Roses) by June 7th, so any concern I might feel is completely wasted here. Yet the stomach cramps still come, and I do not sleep at night, don't even feel tired despite my complete lack of stimulants. I feel empty, though, as if I am racing towards a void - waiting to be swallowed up by nothing at the end. I work, but I work slowly, at times passionate about my project, then merely overwhelmed. Who am I impressing? What is my audience? My audience is unknown, or if taken literally, a handful of friends. What do you do when your goal seems so intimidating, yet so abstract?

I am not hungry, but I eat at mealtimes. I am not tired, but I eventually force myself to sleep. Yet I am happy, too, and content. I am at ease, merely confused in the bargain.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Mirrormask DVD Review

Check out my extra-saucy review of Dave McKean's very excellent film Mirrormask. You'll be happy you went to read it, especially if you didn't enjoy the film as much as you hoped you would. Note that this genre, that of live action and stylistically integrated animation, is one of my personal favourites.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Straight Ahead, Matey!

I am an excellent straight-ahead animator, yea verily. And of course, in keeping with previous posts, I will explain to you what straight ahead animation is.

Simply, straight ahead animation is when you animate, drawing one picture after another, without having any previous layouts to guide you. The opposite to straight ahead animation is key frame animation, where certain "key" poses, or important poses, are drawn first, and other drawings are created to fill in the gaps between the keys. These gap-fillers are, appropriately enough, entitled "inbetweens."

When do you use straight ahead animation? Mostly, you use it on flowing, erratic things like liquids and cloth, pushing through the pages of artwork with an immediate style and sense of motion. So why don't you use straight ahead animation all the time, if it's so immediate and flowy like some New Age music video? Because if you do, you'll run into problems - characters won't fit in with the layout properly, or end up moving out of frame, and often you'll have to go back and redo the work you've already slaved over.

I rejoice when it comes time for the straight ahead animation to be done - my cloth flows naturally, my liquids drip and quiver realistically, and I feel great when I'm actually sitting down and animating. I don't know why, but I get this tremendous rush when I'm freed of keyframes and layouts - perhaps my little hidden anarchist taking a peep between my animator's eyelids? Perhaps.

Back to work. Or maybe a nap. The white sheets on my bed beckon with greater urgency than the white sheafs of paper glaring from the light desk. If I get this film done in time for the UCLA Animation Prom, someone else has been animating my film.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

On Gather, and My Upcoming Midterms

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So this week is midterm week for me. Yea verily, do not expect much posting from me (although honestly I have been a paltry poster recently - one a week? For shame and infamy!). However, recently I have been posting a lot of my fiction - short stories, etcetera - at a site called gather.com, which is sponsored by NPR and provides a great forum for feedback. For the articles I've posted there so far, it's pretty much been a love fest. However, if you're just a casual site surfer at Gather, you'll only be able to see two of my published pieces, since the rest are flagged for at least one, if not all of the following vices: profanity, nudity, explicit violence, or explicit sex. If you wanna see my hardcore stories (which are all done in good taste; expect nothing less from an animator), you're gonna have to join Gather.

Today, I also include one of the backgrounds for the film I'm working on, which will be critiqued upon this Thursday. Don't steal, kids - you'll just look foolish.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Staying On Model

Psst...come here, I have a secret for you. For animators, it's a pretty deep, dark one too...

I have difficulty staying on model.

What is this? Some new sexual ritual that all animators must do? A sort of circle jerk for the paintbrush set? No. Staying on model means the animator's ability to draw, consistently, a character that looks like the character it's supposed to be. The term is derived from something called a model sheet that shows a character, such as Homer Simpson or what have you, drawn in turn around (or from the front, the right side, the left side, and the back; four seperate drawings on one sheet of paper). Using a model sheet, an animator is supposed to "fill in the blanks," or imagine all the conceivable angles that a character should be in according to that spectacular, god-like, splendiferous set of examples. Oh, how easy it should be for any draftsperson! But alas, alackaday, I am a paltry animator.

I struggle with keeping my characters consistent. Like fingertip whorls or the folds in a cerebellum, my drawings vary intensely from one to the next. I am lucky, actually, because right now I'm only working with a set of characters that I've come up with, and still...and still.

I deform, I mutate, I perambulate (in order to walk off the stress from all of my deformities and mutations). I can only console myself with the thought that I, honestly, want to write animation much more that I want to animate animation. Knowing that Walt Disney was a poor draftsman is helpful, too - after all I want to be a master storyteller someday - but I will never be a Disney. I'm too sexually explicit and violent to be left in charge of entertaining the kiddies. In less you're a really, um, open sort of parent I suppose.

In the meantime, however, my project consists of animating, not dreams or excuses. Well, maybe a few dreams. This is a project I've conceived of, after all.

So while I can, while still safely tucked away in the protective arms of graduate school, I live to make my dream come alive, like a little mad scientist a la Frankenstein, or a mud-goddess sitting on a shore. Only, I wish that I was a better animator. Or that I could hire better animators to work for me.

The little mud-goddess, however, is a wee bit strapped for cash at the moment.