Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Animated Thoughts: Importance of Experimentation

Something that I have found which is sorely lacking in professional life is the opportunity to experiment. Back in college, we had the opportunity to spend hours in the labs tinkering with our own ideas and projects. The sky was the limit because we didn't have the pressure of client-imposed deadlines or an employer breathing down our neck. College was that petri dish of ideas, inspiration, innovation and creativity. Yes, there were classes to take, homework to do, and projects to get done--all with their own deadlines. However, the difference between college and work--for me at least--was that college was dedicated to the discovery of information, be it problem solving or just knowledge for the sake of knowledge. But when you're on the job, you're expected to always know the correct answer at a moment's notice since 'you' are the expert. That expectation may or may not be realistic. While we should always continue learning about our career choice, the opportunities to continue learning and experimenting aren't always available.

My membership with the Toronto Animated Image Society continues to pay dividends as every year they host workshops that span a plethora of artistic styles, media, and instructors. Several times I've solved a rather vexing problem on client work by doodling, mowing the lawn, taking a shower, watching a movie, basically any activity that distracts my mind from the task at hand. So, these events where I can learn a new artistic technique, bookended by a four hour drive to and from Toronto, have provided a lot of tightly focused time to experiment, learn, and reflect upon what I have learned. They basically provide that college 'petri dish' experience in the space of a weekend. And by extension, they have provided many flashes of inspiration that have solved problems that I have faced on the job.

When I was in graduate school at R.I.T., I would spend a couple hours every Saturday at the local zoo, drawing the animals and reflecting on my classes. As the Summer months are almost upon me, I think that it's time to revive that practice by renewing my yearly membership to the local zoo and drawing the animals on Saturday mornings. In the past, that weekly act of experimentation (combined with quiet reflection) provided me with no shortage of ideas, inspirations, and solutions to my problems.

As time marches on, I am coming to the conclusion that if I want to progress both as an artist/animator and in my career, I cannot neglect the importance of experimentation. Funny how we tend to forget the lessons that served us so well in the past.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Animated Inspiration: Pub Dog

Here's a hysterical animation from Birdbox Studio that showcases the dry wit of Britain. I've probably said this before, but one of the things that I like the most about these shorts from Birdbox Studio is that there's no dialogue. So, much like the Wile Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons of yesteryear, the entire film must be carried by the motion and emotion of the characters.

If you have a few spare minutes, follow the link to their website and check out their other films. I showcased 'Sketchy Playground' here last October (back when they were calling it 'Sketchy Ice Creams'), however 'UFO' and 'Sketchy Blues' are definitely worth watching. It's hard to pick a favorite since they're all so good!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Animated Inspiration: Neomorphus

Here's a stop-motion animation that just screams 'Brothers Quay', however, it was actually created by Animatorio, a studio out of Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Neomorphus from Animatorio on Vimeo.

I have to give it to the animators. No matter how much I like this creepy little film, they've gone the extra mile and published an additional short on the making of their film that displays concept sketches, sets, animation tests, and unused scenes.

"The making of Neomorphus"

Neomorphus Making Of from Animatorio on Vimeo.

What I find particularly fascinating with this film is that they're providing a behind-the-scenes look at production. So you can see all the guide wires, camera dolly, type of camera used, as well as the model guides set up to mark the last position of the models. It's things like this that appeal to my inner animation geek--a magical little film followed by a look behind the scenes into the magician's bag of tricks!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Animated Inspiration: Simon's Cat 'Sticky Tape'

You know it's going to be a good month when Simon Tofeld releases another installment of his "Simon's Cat" series! As my current project is being produced using Flash CS4, it's always exciting--and humbling--to see what Flash can do in the hands of a master animator like Mr. Tofeld!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Animated Quotes: Tiffany Grant

"No script ever survives contact with the actors."

- Tiffany Grant, spoken lecture at ShutoCon 2011