Tuesday, February 26, 2008

To all the Pratt animators

of 2008 that is....

It is late, and I have just come back from the studio here at Pratt. It’s one of those nights where I have lost all objectivity of my own work. I am at a point in my film where I am going through a lot of these episodes. I can't judge my own work, I can't seem to figure out if something is working, or if it will function to an audience (you have to be your own audience in these situations). When this happens, I run the risk of making animation that is unclear and compositions/shots that have too much or too little.

These episodes wear off, but I still need to talk about them. I hate losing objectivity in my own work. It causes me to lose motivation. We usually have critiques every Monday morning. Even though we can e-mail stuff to other people, we are not always motivated to do so. For me, my schedule is so tight, I am afraid to re-work a scene, I worry about losing time on the rest of the film (which I feel like I am). Everything has to be finished by May 1: eight months of work in a short film

I know schedules work differently for different independent animators. Some work fast enough to get at least one film done every year. Others pace themselves out for one or two years or more. But most of these animators, unlike most students, have employees/interns working for them. Even if it is only four or five people, it still provides plenty of objectivity for the directors.

I need more than one person to look at my work. At this point, until something evolves, I need some more objectives than what I usually get every week. Andy London, my thesis adviser, always spells out the challenges of making a film. His point are very clear, but I wish to hear ways to get around them, or accept them. How do we accept these challenges if we want to spend the rest of our lives working in film and/or animation?

I end this by spreading the blogs of some of my fellow animators.

Maya Edelman
Javan Ivey
Christopher Ko
Jen Lee
David (Dav-odd) Meehan
Dan Mountain
Isam Prado

I apologize for leaving anyone out. If they wish to be added, just let me know, and I will add you to the list.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Cure showing off

I just got an idea for another post, but I don't know when I will write it. I figure I should post something for this week. I've wanted to post these for a while now.

Just a couple of music videos by the Cure, made in the 1980's. I really like these videos. Because they not only give the songs some nice illustration, but there's something real and exuberant about the band members' on-screen personalities. They are not professional actors, but they can show off like anybody else. I love watching people show off like this. Not showing off a strength, but showing the way one naturally moves. Non-sense motions like these make their way into my head when thinking of characters. It often gives me ideas of how to physically express a character's personality.

"The Walk" 1983

Of course, I love the songs too. Maybe that adds to my enjoyment of these early music videos. But I still think music videos should be made this way. They probably are, but the artist just isn't popular enough.

"Why Can't I Be You" 1986

Actually, I saw a new Radiohead video simply made up of video camera footage of the band recording the song. It looked a lot better than some of the stuff I am usually subjected to.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sleep, Movies and Persepolis

This is a late post, and its not even the post I wanted to make. But my schedule is reaching that point. The point where I am working on my film into the early morning hours, and my sleep patterns get all screwed up. I originally wanted to do a post on Chuck Jones, but I didn't have enough time to put all the images together. So for now, I am throwing this together.

Amid Amidi, Cartoon Brew's other half and (now) New York commentator, posted something on Cartoon Brew last week that really excited me. It was an article written by David Levy for the ASIFA-East newsletter, about the rise of independent animated features coming from New York. Music to my ears. With Persepolis getting lots of attention, I side with Mr. Levy in seeing this as a sign of an on-coming revolution. An evolution in animated features. I suggest you read it.

Among the filmmakers mentioned are Michael Sporn, Bill Plympton, Nina Paley, Paul Fierlinger, and Dan Kanemoto. I am suprised Amid neglected to mention Pat Smith, as Pat is working on a feature of his own at the moment.

I visited Michael Sporn's studio months ago with a class. There, he informed us of a feature he was working on, based on Edgar Allen Poe. I hope it goes well, because as Sporn's style has evolved over the years, its got the potential to hold an audience's attention for more than an hour. And I think his style is a relaxing place to go to.

Nina Paley and Paul Fierlinger also have interesting films coming along. Nina Paley has a style that is quite charming and embracing, so I am very curious to see the very personal Sita Sings the Blues. And Paul Fierlinger managed to snag some top-notch British actors for his film about a man's relationship with his dog. Very impressive.

Bill Plympton has been making his own features for years. They have been quite rocky for him, however, as they seem to go in limbo when released, and never make much money. The image above is a feature he did four years ago, Hair High, which I saw and believe to be his best feature. His most recent feature, Idiots and Angels, might be a little more effort in embracing it. Still, its nice to have something different, and after hearing Mr. Plympton talk about it with us, its clear that he is thinking more like a filmmaker than an animator now.

In the midst of my depressing schedule, I managed to go see Persepolis. I saw it early at the Ottawa Festival back in September. It is truly unlike any other feature out there. Even though its directly based on Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel, its still refreshing to see an animated feature today that is black/white and introspective. It is a deeply moving and emotion story, with moments of wonderful humor. I know some animators have complained about the style of it. But the style makes the movie work, and its probably one of the more complete features of the last ten years.

The start of a revolution? I absolutely hope so.