Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Painting on the iPhone

I just saw this on Drawn! and had to pass it along to anyone who might have missed it.

"Disney artist, Stef Kardos, is posting iPhone sketches to his Flickr page. The miniature digital paintings were done on-site using the Brushes iPhone app."

The real kicker is this video. Who would've thought you could legitimately paint on a phone?? Quite impressive.

Oh...and HAPPY NEW YEAR from all of us at Creative Juices!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Backgrounds from Paul Bunyan (1958)

via Animation Backgrounds

As some of you might already know internally, Allie and I have been pushing the boundaries on background stylings in some of the short animations we're working on. I was taken by a bunch of backgrounds Rob Richards posted over at Animation Backgrounds yesterday, from Disney's Paul Bunyan. Be sure to hop over to his blog to see all of them. They are credited to Walt Peregoy, who was likely influenced by the more modern approach used in Sleeping Beauty.

The two biggest things to note for me: color and space. Color shifts in hue throughout the film...blues, greens, purples, neutrals. They are not monochromatic, each image is composed of related hues using a limited palette. But the design approach from background to background is consistent. Also, even though the application of paint and patterning is flat, there is a vast sense of space.

I'm most taken by the above background, how he used these polygon ponds and lakes in receding scale to truly map out the topography of the land. Vertical arrow-shaped trees sprout up in varying scales across the landscape as well. All of these visual devices are working perfectly to create the overall effect.

The river is skewed in a similar way in this background. The blue is completely flat, but recedes back in perspective. He sprinkles in beaver dams to a similar effect here. Plus, check out the shape of the river (I mean, COME cool is that?). It's straight out of something Stuart Davis would do.

Finally, here's the cartoon, in two parts:
(note the colors are washed out a bit)

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Way We'll Watch


An article by Sarah McBride of the Wall Street Journal. Things to consider, as we continue to think about how we deliver media and storytelling. Get the FableVision holography pilot program started...

--> The Way We'll Watch
"Get ready for a lot more ways to catch a movie.

Hollywood studios and tech companies are rolling out a host of innovations that will change the way we experience films at home and in theaters. They've already begun to serve up DVDs that let you chat with other people who are watching the same movie. They're also sprucing up theaters with crystal-clear screens and amenities like cozier seats and restaurant-quality food.

Coming soon: kiosks that can burn a copy of a movie while you wait, from a library of thousands of titles. The industry is also working on ways to easily send movies from gadget to gadget -- so you might download a movie on your iPhone and stream it onto your TV.

Down the road, expect new ways to easily store digital movies online, so you can access them from any computer, anytime. We might also get theaters filled with dozens of speakers for super-sharp sound, as well as much more lifelike animated characters."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


We've been posting a bunch of videos at Creative Juices, lately. Back to drawing. Just moments ago I had a chance to hop on over to John K's blog, where he's talking about a term I'd never heard used before: how to avoid twins in your poses. See Mickey, above.

As quoted in "The Illusion of Life": (I think we have it kicking around the studio)

"Another sign admonished us to watch out for 'twins' in our drawings. This is the unfortunate situation where both arms or both legs are not only parallel but doing exactly the same thing."

Drawings like this should remind you of how you probably started drawing when you were a kid. I drew countless Ninja Turtles that looked just like this. John talks further about how this ties in to avoiding symmetry in your drawings, period. Symmetry has the effect of sucking the life out your character. He posts tons of great model sheets of Mickey to show what an alive character should look like.

I'm mentioning this as a reminder to all you Flash animators (that means you, Fablefolk!). It is INCREDIBLY easy to be tempted to copy, paste, and flip arms and legs to save time. Especially when you have a character facing forward. Every shortcut has a consequence. If you can spare the minute or two that it takes to rid your drawings of symmetry, they will appear all the more lifelike...less mechanical.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

World of Goo design tour

via Worldfire Blog:

David Rosen has taken the time to do a video walkthrough of World of Goo. He pays special attention to all the little details that put the game over the top:

"Whenever I play a game, I look for design lessons that I can learn and apply to my own games. Recently, I decided to show these lessons in the form of a video tour of games that make interesting design decisions."

We should do the same at FableVision. And World of Goo is exactly the kind of game we should be studying to make our games better.

Thanks for passing it along, Matt!

previously: Word of Goo

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rolando for iPhone

via BoingBoing:Offworld

Looks like A LOT of FUN! Created by a company called Hand Circus. Coming in December for all of you in the iPhone cult.


Immersion (Video Game Faces)

via Videogum:

New York Times photographer Robbie Cooper used a camera behind a screen to capture kids' faces while they play video games

I hear someone calling us to make games that matter...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A couple gems from Cartoon Brew TV

Sunbeam, by Paul Vester

The Story of One-Eyed Ophelia Jackson, by Kat Morris

via Cartoon Brew TV

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ira Glass on Storytelling (x4!!)

via Flooby Nooby

On the basics...

On finding great stories...

On good taste...

On two common pitfalls...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

An Approach to Character Design

Food for thought (juice for creativity) from cartoonist Bob Camp:

(from a post on his blog called The "ON MODEL" rut)

Here's my design approach:

I have an idea of a character and the overall form of the show, comic or whatever. Then I start experimenting, scribbling mostly like in the horse and pig drawings I posted the other day. VERY loose. I try to get to know the character first. Draw them as many times as it takes to start to feel like you are getting some where. NEVER start carving out thick black lines in an attempt to get a style. Lots of people perfect a style but do not perfect the underlying character construction, line of action etc. I catch myself doing this too. All icing and no cake. It's a dead end trap. You spend so much time working on a beautiful rendering over a badly constructed or boring drawing.

Once you start getting to know your character, try to create a shorthand version. I find in storyboarding that after I've drawn a character a few dozen times I have developed a shortcut way to draw them that is always more alive, simple and yes funnier. Now that you know who you are drawing you can start to refine the individual moods and emotional states that you will put him through. You know when Ren gets really angry he suddenly develops harder angles and much more realistic anatomy?

Here's the main point of this whole diatribe:
The style you choose for a drawing should be about who your character is, what he/she is feeling. It's about how to use style as another layer to tell the story in a funnier way and not as a way to design the life out of it!

Do not grip your pencil tightly! Hold it loosely and use gesture. Use your whole arm. Do not draw slowly. make quick confident gestures/strokes. These gestures will bring you character to life and you always want to push the pose and expression because you know that once the drawings are translated into animation, much of the life will be corrected out of it.

Being a good cartoonist is like being a jazz musician. You need have great chops and not be afraid to..


Store all that away the next time you take your pencil for a spin :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Having fun with inbetweens!

Greetings zany animators! I haven't redirected your attention to John K's blog in a little while, so I thought I would share some of his most recent posts with you. In particular, this post from today (Inbetweens Can Be Fun Too). It's often common practice to focus your efforts on keyframes in animation, but much like his idols from cartoon days past (Bob Clampett), John reminds us that you can have fun with every frame of animation if you so choose. Be sure to watch the quicktime at the end of his post to see the animation in action.

More "Yogi posts" here and here. In later, he talks about how he channels limited Hanna-Barbara techniques---still using fun drawings.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This is Halloween...

I'm spreading the Halloween wishes from Randall Sly over at the Character Design blog. He's posted a candy-haul's worth of character sketches and concept art from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Definitely take a look--->HERE

(a day late)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

4 Flash Games to Help Educate Your Kids

via Geekdad

"There are possibly millions of flash-based games out there. And, this short list is a way of sharing a few, but also putting the call out to GeekDad readers. What flash games do you play with your children? What do they learn from them? What games have had to be banned – for their sheer addictiveness?"

Here are the 4 games they're offering up (I've included their descriptions as well). The games all think outside the box...not sure if they'll make your kids smarter. A handful include open-ended play, which is plus.

This art-based game is beautiful. It allows you to explore shape, and more beautiful in its open-ended style that allows you to play and create amazing images forever. A series of bubbles follow the mouse in very subtle ways, in the beginning it is a little slow, so may be difficult to hold children’s attention. But, there are ample buttons to click and options to try. And, you can save the final results as a jpg file.

Thinking Machine 4
Ok, it is chess. But, this isn’t just another chess game. When the computer has its turn it begins graphically representing all the possibilities before it. What results is an amazing pictorial representation of the thousands of options a computer considers before making a move. It looks pretty, in fact, it may be a ruse to distract you from concentrating on your next move.

Falling Sand
This is possibly one of the ultimate flash games. It has appeared in a couple of different forms, but what is nice is that it challenges the concept that people need an end goal, or a points tally to make the game enjoyable and addictive. Using a suite of simple tools you can stop the falling materials, change thgeir direction, gather them up, plant algae in the water and watch it spread, set the oil on fire and watch it burn. The possibilities are endless. It is great for primary aged children to explore a whole range of concepts in simple ways from volume to through to gravity.

Physics Invaders
Suggested by a GeekDad contributor (thanks Matt), here we have space invaders turned even more geek by the fact true principles of physics apply. Rather than exploding, aliens bump and plummet into each other and it takes some effort to push them out of the way. This version of the classic game is also set up to be a bit easier, so even pre-school aged children will enjoy the aliens flying and bumping all over the place – just as Newton theorised.

No Color

My pal, Cecile, from Paris shared this site with me this morning. I am a big fan of using color only when needed - or just black, gray and white. Check out this No Color site.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gorillaz Animatics

I just found these animatics over at Flooby Nooby. I've mimicked a similar layout here:

Dirty Harry

watch the final video


watch the final video

A couple things struck me when I watched these animatics, already familiar with the videos. First of all, wow! Very detailed, especially when you realize that the final versions don't quite match up shot for shot. It's almost as if they were created to inspire the final versions. Even in pencil, they're pretty amazing to watch. I can only imagine having the luxury to work so purposefully on something that's at a very early stage in the process.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Chestnut Tree

Here is a charming animated film by Hyun-min Lee. I couldn't find out much about it besides the information located at the Picnic Pictures website. The simplicity is moving and reminds me of what we often aspire to create with our Peter Reynold's inspired films. It's not all that dissimilar from Someday, really. After a previous post focusing on good sound design, this shows you just how much well-crafted animation can play a dominant roll. The music reinforces the mood and pacing, but you could follow and appreciate it without any sound at all. The narrative is entirely visual. But the music enhances it, and definitely influenced the storyboarding decisions. Because the movement is choreographed like a dance.

via Flooby Nooby

UPDATE: I noticed the original embed was taken down. I found it again at another YouTube url.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Good sound design and cheesy pants

Via Cold Hard Flash:
For Fremantle’s (American Idol) web and mobile channel Atomic Wedgie, Camp Chaos’ Bob Cesca has embarked on a new animated series. It’s titled Unga Bunga Banana, and it stars “a weird antagonistic critter with big goggles who loves to wreck havoc wherever he goes.” Cesca created the series along with John Christian Plummer, and then he invited two of my favorite artists to join him in the production. Bob directed the series with Anton Bogaty who also animated the series. Both Bogaty and Joel Trussell helped Cesca with character design. The first episode, which you can see below, is titled Cheese Pants.

Via me:
I truly believe this is a great example of strong sound design. Watch how fast the animation goes by and notice how the sounds make it believable. Oh and, of course, the visuals are really fun to look at too. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I ♥ Richard McGuire's New Yorker Cover

This gem of political illustration was in my mailbox today. You try to mash together 4 characters at once! They fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. And it's funny! His work has graced the cover of the New Yorker several times (view them here).

Richard McGuire is easily one of my favorite artists. His work is always identifiable, but it's his thought process that comes through, more than a "style." He has a way of working with forms and space that is for lack of a better word, clever. Those of you who aren't familiar with his editorial work might recognize this fella from PBS Kids. He has a bunch of great children's books as well, including What's Wrong with This Book? He's also a great comic artist.

If you don't know his work by now, I highly encourage you to get to know him. There are all sorts of pearls of wisdom and ingenuity in his imagery.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Content-Aware Scaling is here

Adobe Photoshop CS4 was released today, and everyone is chattering about what's called content-aware scaling. It's probably the most "everyone gather around the computer and check this out" feature they've added in awhile, allowing you resize an image without distorting key content. The Linda video above demonstrates how easy it is to transform a landscape image into a vertical image, without anyone knowing the wiser. Both scary and cool. It also shows where the technology doesn't work. Here's another video by Russel Brown of Adobe.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

World of Goo

For all the hype behind a behemoth of a game like Spore (2+ years of hype and delay!), this little game may come out of nowhere and steal some of the thunder for best game of the year. Enter World of Goo, a new puzzle game due out in a week (October 13) for WiiWare and PC that brings something entirely fun and new to the genre of puzzle games. From what I can gather so far, you basically form bonds to build structures out of blobs of Goo.

Here's an early review delivering a ton of praise.

Here's a link to a handful of video clips from IGN.

And here's the link the official website (check out the blog for info and updates).

There's much to look forward to here! Best of all, it shows how innovative indie-gaming studios have the potential to break through.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Google 2001

Google just made available a searchable archive of the internet from 2001 for it's birthday. Click here for all the fun! If you find a site you want to visit, just click on link to view it in the Internet Archive. I tried searching for a lot of people in the company, and your websites are mysteriously missing. FableVision and Cosmic Blender were still in existence, however. So I traveled back in time and grabbed these snapshots. You can't escape your past! The internet has a memory :)

FableVision 2001

Cosmic Blender 2001

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Found Art 2.0

Keith in 1080P

Friday, September 26, 2008

Good Things Should Never End

--> Good Things Should Never End

If you liked Crappy Cat, you'll be sure to like this website. It won a Webby Award, and claims to be "the world's first never ending website." I haven't seen it end, their claim appears to be true. Ooodles and oodles of fun things to interact with, on a continuous rainbow of FUN!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Crappy Cat

--> Crappy Cat

Another great find over at Beautifully. You get to navigate a fun "crappy" cat around a landscape where you can practically interact with everything. Great music, animation, characters, color, design...all around bizarre FUN! Created by VanBeater.

Flash CS4

It's the moment that comes every couple of years...yet another version of Flash is soon to be released by Adobe. You can check out the official scoop over at the Flash CS4 Product Page. But for those of you who haven't made it over to Cold Hard Flash yet, Aaron Simpson has posted two fabulous demos/previews of the new "bone" or "inverse kinematics" feature. Which will be a godsend to all you tweeners out there and familiar to anyone who's been using ToonBoom or any 3D program for that matter. In a nutshell, you'll be able to rig a skeleton to your character's body parts, allowing for joints to make rotating and bending a snap.

Other new features include object based animation, a supposedly more intuitive form of motion-tweening, and 3D transformation of 2D objects. Possibly even bigger news is something called XFL file support, which means you'll be able to open content from After Affects and InDesign in Flash. All sorts of fancy new stuff. I'm mainly hoping we see a speed boost, less glitchyness, and smoother pen performance.

UPDATE: Matt passed around an even more detailed video. Watch it here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Sticky Kids' Site :: BunnyTown

My kids love to play on the computer. They spend lots of time on PBSKids, NickJr, Disney, Shockwave and MiniClip. Recently, I noticed my four-year-old daughter spending an exceptional amount of time on a particular site for a TV show. The show is called BunnyTown and, honestly, I don't think she's ever watched it.

The site can be found here:

The site has many of the same features of other sites we've done for TV shows: games and show information. But, this site does a great job of simply and effectively adding community, personalization and a rewards system to the site.

Kids are able to earn carrots by playing games. With these carrots, they are able to purchase new clothing for their 'My Bunny' (including seasonal items like Halloween costumes) as well as buy items for their 'My Home'. They are also to view other kids' 'Homes' and 'Bunnies' and leave them messages. All this functionality is extremely intuitive and well-done.

The big take-away from this is that my daughter has a ton of fun on this site and spends significantly more time on it than other shows (which she actually watches). While they've probably put a lot of work into the design and implementation to make the site so intuitive, there's no reason why we couldn't do something similar for our sites.

Something to think about as we're coming up with ideas....


Thursday, September 18, 2008

John Hubley's Moonbird

insight and history via Michael Sporn:

"In 1959, Moonbird took a giant leap forward. The art style borrowed from the expressionists, but used a method of double exposures to layer the characters into the backgrounds. Each animation drawing was painted black outside the border of its lines. Moonbird, the character, was colored with clear wax crayon and painted with black ink. The black resisted where the wax stood and gave a loose scribbled coloring. All of these painted drawings were photographed as double exposures, shot at less than 100%, to combine characters with Bgs.

The soundtrack involved an improvised track of two children, Mark and Ray Hubley, playing. These were recorded in sessions within a recording studio and massively edited down to create the final tracks."

I would love to see the non-YouTube version. The expressions of the kids are so human.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pascal Campion

Stand up and take notice. Pascal's work is top notch. He's somehow able to translate the loose gestural quality of a great cartoonist like Bill Watterson, into color and shape driven illustrations and paintings. Flat, but organic. Striking composition, too. His character design is fresh, and his color design (contrast in value, limited palette) is something to study, for sure. Run on over to his blog. You won't be sorry :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Google Chrome Comic

Google hired Scott McCloud (of Understanding Comics fame) to introduce the concept of their new "Chrome" browser to the world. McCloud is great at explaining ideas in the comic format, so he was obviously the perfect artist for the job. Here's the link to the comic.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Where have all the puppets gone?

Puppetry has had it rough over the last fifteen years or so. Puppets could once be seen in prime-time TV shows, films, and touring companies around the country. Now puppetry has all but disappeared from the cultural landscape. Perhaps the worst part is that no one even talks about this phenomenon, like it's not even worthy of discussion.

But here is a great article about the state of puppetry called Pulling the Strings, from the Canadian website the National Post. While the contention that puppetry is now "enjoying a renaissance" seems a bit optimistic (maybe in Canada it is!) -- nonetheless it offers a very insightful analysis of the forces working for and against puppetry, the most recent being CGI animation, which has all but displaced puppetry in feature films.

Read the full article here.

It's sad to think that after all these years, and the amazing work pioneered by Jim Henson and others, that puppetry hasn't made greater strides as a cultural force in this country. I think one reason is that puppetry is really hard to do well, a fact which no one seems to take seriously. And when someone sees a bad puppet performance, they blame the medium rather than the performer. And the perception that puppets are only for children is sadly entrenched in this country. There is hope, though, as the internet is bringing together puppet enthusiasts and giving them an audience. (I will include some puppetry links in a future post.)

By the way, the photo in the article (and above) is from the amazing Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers, in Maine.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Found Art Sculpture

We did a little collaborative art project in our weekly Artists Meeting today. Our task was to bring in a found object in the hopes of assembling some sort of group sculpture. The premise might have seemed a little silly at first, but once we gathered the juices certainly started flowing.

Jonah got the ball rolling by hanging a worn out tire wheel from a pipe with wire thread. Sam brought a hollowed out egg, which I hung from the wheel. I think with the intention of making some kind of mobile. But after a couple more objects, it was obvious that a face was emerging. So we continued to decorate. Allie brought in a picture of her hamster, which worked perfectly to connect draping arms to. Every idea was a good one, and eventually our friend was born into existence.

If you look closely, you can see the words INVENT, EXPLORE, and SHARE behind the wheel on the wall (there previously). Does that say it or what?

The most amazing part for me, aside from the fun group effort, was when someone noticed the shadow the sculpture was casting on the wall. I don't think I've laughed with so much pleasure in a while (maybe since a good episode of SpongeBob). It was one of those occurances that couldn't have been planned, but couldn't have been more perfect. Honestly, a moment of artistic genius—even if accidental.

So there you have it. Go pick up something random, invite a couple friends, and make something!

Special thanks to Sam for the idea, and Renée for taking photos.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Welcome to the Land of Minuit

--> Minuit

This is a really fun site I just found on Beautifully. It appears to be a the website of a New Zealand indie band. You start by picking and naming a character, who you navigate around a circular landscape. It's simple, but a playful way to seek out and explore common band info like News, Guestbook, Gallery, etc...

Meet Emily

"Emily - the woman in the above animation - was produced using a new modelling technology that enables the most minute details of a facial expression to be captured and recreated. She is considered to be one of the first animations to have overleapt a long-standing barrier known as 'uncanny valley' - which refers to the perception that animation looks less realistic as it approaches human likeness."

Here's a link to the Times Online article.

I found her mouth to look a little strange (wide?) in parts. I think it could have interesting applications for video games, but I still have a hard time seeing this widely used in film or television. Actors, for the most part, already look fabulous! And it seems like a lot of work when you can just point a camera at someone to get genuine human expression.

UPDATE: more discussion over at Cartoon Brew

via Slashdot

And for something still looming in the "uncanny valley," try this video on for size:

via BoingBoing

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

And now for something Horrible

Remember Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Well former Buffy (and Firefly for the sci-fi nerds among us) writer Joss Whedon found something to do during the last writers strike- or so I believe was the story, but I assume it was an idea shaking around for a while.
Introducing- Dr.Horrible's Sing-Along Blog!
I loved this, and wanted to spread the word. It's more than worth the few dollars on itunes, and good to note- this was made for their own artistic enjoyment, meaning I doubt anyone has gotten rich off of it.
This is a great thing to remember when making our own work. If you have an idea that's been nagging at you- make it real. If you need help doing it, ask for it! You've got friends who love you and your ideas! We're all artists here trying to express ourselves, may it be through a sing-along blog or a crochet octopus (go Nomers!)With our powers combined... you know the rest :)
I feel inspired to work more on my rock opera... but since that's such a big endeavor I'm thinking of sidenoting for a while and making a short mini rocker opera. Is there a word for that? Operette? Anywho... Check out Dr.Horrible. 45 minutes of enjoyment, I promise.

Ps. It's starring Neil Patrick Harris. If you had a crush on him when you were a 6 year old little girl too, all the better.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Must-See-and-Read Color Study

It's already been picked up by both Drawn! and Cartoon Brew, but I wanted make sure all you FableVisionaries and creative folk weren't missing out on a great study in color design. Hop on over to Oswald Iten's blog called Colorful Animation Expressions for a break down of color in 101 Dalmations (1 and 2 so far).
Call it Color Theory 101! (ha)

Monday, July 28, 2008


Gary passed a game on to me called Questionaut. It's a free game on the BBC's KS2 Bitesize site, described as the following: "Journey through strange worlds and test your knowledge of English, Maths and Science on this magical mission to recover your friend’s hat." It looks like it's by the same creative folks behind Samorost.

The game design is striking, and just like Samorost, involves a lot of click-based exploration. It's educational, but once you get into the game, you discover it's more of a pretty packaging for quiz format education. Not ideal, but each of the stages are related to the subject matter you get quizzed on. I enjoyed it—the quizzes seemed 6th grade level or so.

A couple things to point out in terms of Flash production: they are really clever about mixing beautifully rendered raster art with simple vector characters that are easy to animate because of their design. The sound design adds a ton, but the game doesn't take long to load at all. So they've definitely optimized everything well.

You follow a simple narrative as you travel from stage to stage, so overall, I think they've done a nice job of wrapping a story around a quiz game. And the puzzles you solve to get to the quizzes are also very pleasurable (to interact with, and watch). Nicely done!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sports, in 3-D!

via Wired

Having a hard time getting into Fenway Park? Have you always wanted to see the Superbowl or World Cup? TV not quite cutting it for you? Why not try 3-D?

"Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban gave a presentation to the FCC about the future of digital media, and his number one point ...was that people will be able to go to a movie theater and watch a major sporting event in 3-D...It truly is a different experience from seeing a game on 2-D television. It's not like seeing it live, either, but something different and interesting. As the Pace folks explained, for instance, they discovered that constant cutting to different shots -- a TV staple -- isn't necessary in 3-D. It seems better to let the camera take in the full-court action. Viewers feel a little like they're watching from halfway up the arena seats."

Apparently the technology is almost there...we're likely to see experiments in the next couple of years. Cool, huh?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Got Milk?

--> got milk?

Thirsty? Cookies welcome. Lactose intolerant applicants need not apply ;)

Great site design and overall concept. Take special note of all the attention paid to transitions and sound design.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


What are you doing with your moleskine? ' is a blog that's been kicking around for a few months "dedicated to moleskine lovers and their art." What's a moleskine, you ask? Their slogan proudly touts that it "is the legendary notebook used for the past two centuries by great artists and thinkers, including Van Gogh, Picasso, Hemingway and Chatwin." They come in all sorts of forms (journals, sketchbooks, agendas).

This beauty is by Mattias Adolfsson. I'm not sure I've seen a wide format moleskine like this before. There are tons of talented sketchbook artists featured on this site, as if you didn't already feel guilty for not doodling enough ;)

Get sketching!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Background Design

Renée came to me the other day with a question about background design...mainly that she wanted some inspiration to look at, so I pointed her in the direction of Rob Richard's Animation Backgrounds blog. I'd seen it referenced before on John K's blog as a one-stop depot for animation backgrounds of all styles, minus the characters! There's even a handy list on the side that helps organize them into films and periods. Well, a day later, John K. is blogging away about backgrounds. Check out his post here, as I'm referencing only a few of the images he pulled from Rob Richard's site.

I'll be the first to admit that I have a difficult time with backgrounds. John K. does a good job breaking down the key principles of composition and hierarchy—how you frame a shot and how you organize elements on a page. Like with everything else in image-making, it's always key to consider things like contrast, positive and negative space (you know the laundry list)...all the things you would consider as a designer of anything. Here are two "stylized" backgrounds that really excel (from Warner Brothers Cartoons of the 1950s):

Breathtaking! I can recall a recent film we did where we had a scene with a park bench —notice the frame of reference here. I know I fall into the trap of keeping the horizon at a flat 180 degrees. See how much more dynamic these compositions are because of the angling of forms? They still adhere to a system of perspective and logic. Here are poignant words from John K:

"Some modern layout artists see a license for anarchy in these stylized images. I see very slightly distorted perspectives and stylistic interpretations of reality, but with still great planning and organization of all the graphic elements into a quickly readable statement that has a purpose in the scene and story. Each element does not follow its own physics ; it is subservient to the overall composition. Every detail follows and helps define the larger object it is part of."

Check out this fire red background from 101 Dalmations:

Here's a random shot from The Jungle Book. You can tell right away where Mowgli is supposed to go, and the background is balanced as to not overwhelm you with jungle:

Or a house fit for a mouse! This is from "Jonann Mouse", a Tom and Jerry cartoon that won an Oscar. This is the full pan...low to the ground (notice the chair leg in the foreground):

Anyway, that's just a small sampling. Definitely check out this invaluable resource!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


via ColdHardFlash

"Sam Miller, a 21-year old student at the University of Hertfordshire, created this 2-minute short Clouds, which follows a young girl’s adventures flying through the sky. The film, which took Miller around 5 months to complete, was produced as part of his second year at school. The character animation was created in Flash, and the clouds were handled in After Effects."

--I think this film is about motion and composition (striking on both accounts, anyway). I would love to see the storyboards. The character design and animation is nicely handled as well. Notice how well he mixed Flash with After Effects.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Go See Wall-E

Drop what you're doing and go see Wall-E. I mean it! If you've seen it, feel free to leave your thoughts.

Also, the Pixar short Presto is a real treat as well.

What are you waiting for?...stop reading!!

Previously: Wall-E

Friday, June 27, 2008

Best Cartoon Bumper Ever?

I often post on some of the more striking things John K. has to say about animation. His latest post analyzes the opener/bumper of Rocky and Bullwinkle:

"How the Hell did they come up with this great bumper? Not only is this frame the best drawing of Bullwinkle, but just about every aspect of the cartoon is inspired...How would you plan a cartoon like this? Certainly not with a script. I don't think you could do it with just a storyboard either, because it has no logical continuity , but it all seems to go perfectly to the crazy wonderful music."

Link to Video

Previously blogged about:
The Design of Rocky and Bullwinkle

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Whenever Pixar puts out a film, animators and the public as a whole take notice. They've kind of replaced Disney as the standard bearer for animated feature films. So far, the buzz around Wall-E has been extremely positive—some are already touting it as Pixar's Best to Date. One early circulating "spoiler" is that the first half hour of the film is almost entirely silent...just Wall-E hanging out on Earth all by himself---little to no dialogue. Which intrigues me.

However, I just came across the first heavily negative review I've seen. And it comes from Michael Sporn, one of the top bloggers in the animation community. He says that "the film, to me, felt less like an animated film than a special effect film." Which is an interesting statement in it's own right....heavy on spaceships and robots (obviously). But, here's the essence of his criticism:

"The technical abilities are high, and the film is done with the greatest professionalism. But they’re machines being animated, and I never felt close to them. The Iron Giant, from that film, was a hostile, war machine and was supposed to stay a machine, but I felt more for that character than I did for Wall-E or his cutely developed girlfriend, EVE.

The film has a better concept than story. It’s the bane of all movies these days. If you can narrow the story down to one sentence, it’s more concept than story and has a harder time being successful. Wall-E feels a lot like Short Circuit 3 with no humans - for at least the first half."

Definitely disappointing if true. I'm gonna hope for better. I think that for me, it will fall on character development. R2-D2 and C-3P0 were extremely likable robots. But it IS an interesting choice for Pixar to work with less animated-looking characters. What are people's thoughts and expectations for the film, based on reviews and trailers you've seen? It hits theaters tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Open House Animation

We set up a light table at our FableVision Open House last Friday. I prepared a stack of index cards for people to draw on and what ensued was an animation tag of sorts. Where one person draws a couple frames and leaves their last card for the next person to step up to the plate. We stole the idea from a "Drinking and Drawing" event held in Boston by Frederator. Here is the animation from that event.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wobbly Land

via Drawn

Wobblyland is a new show for toddlers created by Ireland's Brown Bag Films.


What can science learn from Google?

I just read an interesting essay entitled "The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete" over at Wired, by Chris Anderson. Here's the link. He asks "What can science learn from Google?" Here are some excerpts:

"Sixty years ago, digital computers made information readable. Twenty years ago, the Internet made it reachable. Ten years ago, the first search engine crawlers made it a single database. Now Google and like-minded companies are sifting through the most measured age in history, treating this massive corpus as a laboratory of the human condition. They are the children of the Petabyte Age."

"This is a world where massive amounts of data and applied mathematics replace every other tool that might be brought to bear. Out with every theory of human behavior, from linguistics to sociology. Forget taxonomy, ontology, and psychology. Who knows why people do what they do? The point is they do it, and we can track and measure it with unprecedented fidelity. With enough data, the numbers speak for themselves."

The essay general speaks to the intrinsic value of a data in vast numbers—that by listening to the data, you can predict a lot without an underlying theory. Models are continuously trying to catch up with data. While I'm not personally ready to abandon scientific theory, it's definitely an interesting theory in it's own right.

There's a feature over at Wired on the Petabyte Age, which you can read here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Power of Child Art

Paul Reynolds came across this nifty site and the lovely work of Suzie Arrington who is commissioned by folks to take their kid's art and turn it into a jewelry keepsake. I was chattin' with Bob Flynn at the FableVision party last night about her work and the power of children's art. If you want to get more inspiration from children's art - check out a great group - the International Child Art Foundation in Washington, D.C. My friend, Ashfaq Ishaq, is the director of this great group. Notice he has "Ish" in his name! 

UPDATE: Suzie is "Suzy", and this is her KidO's website