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The journal of an aspiring animation filmmaker. Inspiration, Film Analysis, Animation Art, Student Work, Book Notes, Book Store, Composing Pictures, and much more!

Jul 26, 2008

Extra Large Short At Telus World of Science

Earlier this week I was invited to a screening of one of Science World's newest Imax experiences entitled, "Extra Large Shorts." This is a compilation of short films, mostly animated, that were create specifically for the Imax screen. What a great idea! This got me thinking that for a medium as visually deep as animation, why haven't filmmakers taken advantage of the visual possibilities of marrying Imax and Animation more often? Our medium is rich, and full of potential when it comes to creating great experiences for audiences. Multiplying the size of screen would only multiply that experience. Outside of cost, which never seems to stop the true and stubborn animation filmmaker, I can't see why this idea hasn't come to fruition. If only Fantasia was shot for Imax. Animation and Imax could make going to the movies an EXPERIENCE again.

The highlight for me, from this show were three shorts:

Where the Trains Used to Go
This film was not animated, but created using timelapse photography. If any of the films in this complilation makes you feel in the moment, this is it.

It takes you on a four minute journey down the tracks of an old railway. Some of the tracks have fallen into disuse over the last century, but this didn't stop the filmakers from traveling through the tough terrains where the train once lay. This is what makes the film so magical. You can find out more about the film here.

More is Mark Osborne's stop motion short film. Mark is the director of Kung Fu Panda, and I can only assume this film had a big part in helping him land his first feature film directing gig . More received an Academy Award nomination, but lost out to Pixar's Geri's Game.

I was pretty excited for this one, after seeing Kung Fu Panda earlier this summer. I'd also never seen a stop motion film in Imax. This film takes full advantage of the format, and really put me in the moment.

More deals with consumerism, monotony, the fire inside us all, and selling out. These are very serious subjects for your average animated short. You can view More on Mark's website Get Happy.com. This pales in comparison to viewing it in full fisheye glory, so I would recommend seeing this how it was meant to be viewed.

The Old Man And The Sea
This is one of my favorite animated shorts. I've seen it several times, but I had no idea it was shot for Imax; so I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to see it in Imax. And you shouldn't either.

This 22 minute epic short created by Alexandr and Dimitri Petrov was actually the first animated film created for Imax, and won the Academy Award in 1999. I remember when I first saw this in Animation History class. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was watching paint strokes come to life. There's such a sense of space and light achieved in this film that just can't be achieved with hand drawn cell animation. I have so much admiration and respect for the patience and dedication of these filmmakers. The experience of seeing this film in it's full glory is worth the price of admission alone.

If you are in the Vancouver area, I would recommend you check out Science World's website for more information on showtimes.

I also saw The Dark Knight last week, very cool. Much better than the first installment to the new Batman series. Heath Ledger completely stole the show; What an incredible performance. Heath was right in saying that any press picture, including the one below, doesn't do the character justice. You really have to see him breathing life in his version of the character, which is by far the coolest adaptation to date. I heard Johhny Depp, and a few other actors offerred to fill in for the character's reaccuring role now that Ledger is gone. I doubt anyone can bring back the same character Ledger created, it will undoubtedly be a new spin. I do hope however, that if Depp gets the part he doesn't bring a Sleepy Hollow, or Sweeney Todd-esque Joker to life.

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Jul 17, 2008

Animated Films Among the Best

Rotten Tomatoes.com just recently turned ten years old, and they've compiled a list of the 10 best reviewed films in their site's history. Here's a link to the article, but if you don't want to click through them all, here's the full list from 1998 to 2007:

1998 - The Truman Show (Runner up Antz)
1999 - Toy Story 2
2000 - Chicken Run
2001 - Monster's Inc
2002 - The Two Towers (Runner up Spirited Away even though it rated 1% higher)
2003 - Finding Nemo
2004 - The Incredibles
2005 - Murderball (Runner up Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit)
2006 - The Queen
2007 - Ratatouille

Isn't it interested how animated films won or were in the running in every year except 2006 (When Cars was released)? And if you consider the screw up for 2002, an animated film won 7 out of 10 years. Animation filmmakers do not get the credit they deserve. I truly love this medium.


Jul 14, 2008


As I mentioned last month I've been studying Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing From Life. This was on the advice of my Intro to Anatomy instructor from AAU. I love Bridgman's drawing style, and this book was so cheap (Only $12!). It's also gigantic, representing the kind of challenge I was looking for. As the cover says the book includes over a thousand illustrations, consisting of Bridgman's entire catalogue of anatomy and figure drawing teachings. I figured there was no better way to learn to draw than to study this tome cover to cover. Over the past few months I've reproduced every single drawing in this book. But these are not just straight duplications, they are studies. My main goal in the end wasn't to gain an in depth understanding of anatomy. Rather it was to improve my line quality and flow while drawing. It was basically a great playground for practicing, and trying to loosen up. I was also interested in improving my sense of the proportions of things when drawing. And if I absorbed a little anatomy along the way, that was a bonus.

In the beginning, I was very tight, and rigid. You can see I was fighting the pages, and really searching. Just basically trying to draw too hard. As I realised what a mountainous task this was, I knew I had to spend more time at the drawing board every day if I really wanted to loosen up. So for the past three or four weeks (In which I've completed most of this book) I've spent no less than an hour a day at the drawing board. Most of those days consisted of 3 or more hours, and some consisted of over 6. When I didn't get the results I liked, I simply tried harder. And I repeated this until I was remotely satisfied. Juggling the hours between life and work was a task on it's own, but I managed to get at least an hour every day, which was essential.

When I look at other artist's blogs, all I seem to see is there best work. I can't really blame them, who wants anyone to see their crappy drawings? But this blog isn't just for me to share my humble artwork and opinions on the animation industry with whoever should choose to read this. It's also a way for me to accelerate my rate of improvement. I can post what I consider my best work today, and think of it as shit tomorrow. This way I KNOW I'm improving, and I can chart my progress. It will also be a great thing to look back on years from now, when I'm as good as I hope I am.

Anyway, presented here are a mere 13 pages from various stages of study in chronological order. The last page was completed yesterday. I can definitely see that I have loosened up a lot. About half way through I bought a gigantic sketchbook and an oil based pencil in an attempt to loosen up and draw with my entire arm as opposed to just using my wrist. These are all learning drawings, and I'm not ashamed to show them. Of course if any of my peers have any advice for improvement, I'd love to hear what you have to say in the comments section.

I think this book is the best $12 I have ever spent on art education. I finally feel like I'm drawing now. I may not be drawing very well, but I have less hesitation when I see the blank page, and I have more confidence in my abilities. I recommend this ridiculous exercise to anyone that wants to improve their drawing skills. Click any of the images in this post to enlarge them to high resolution scans. Sorry for the poor quality, my sketchbook was too big to scan.

I'll now move on Vilppu, and his DVD series.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the last chapters of the book were devoted to drapery. What a fantastic way to put my newly loosened up arm to the test. While these drawings are very rough, and sketchy, I could not have done then two months ago as well I as I did them yesterday. THAT was the improvement I was looking for.

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Jul 8, 2008

Art of Eye Candy

Two highly recommended books are listed below. I received both last week for my birthday, and I totally geeked out on them. The Kung Fu Panda book is hands down the better of the two, which is basically a Marlet sketchbook. None the less, both should be among your animation library.

The Art of Kung Fu Panda has to be one of the best art of books I've ever seen. It's so well laid out, and bursting with incredible art work. With the amount of money I spend on these books, it's about time one contains enough art to warrant such a cost. I can't stand it when art of books are filled with production stills, and dry commentary. Give me the art! That's what I'm payin' for.