I recently went through the process of obtaining and restoring my own animation desk. I'm always busy with school, so this was a welcome breath of fresh air, even though it still concerned animation. I guess I never stop working, whatever.
Anyway, I remember how difficult it was for me to find any kind of resource on the internet on building or even obtaining your own traditional animation desk like this without spending ludicrous amounts of money; Making animation desks a luxury that students can't afford when factoring in the ever increasing tuition fees of a decent education. For example, a desk like the one I have now will run someone at a minimum $300 anywhere you look. While the full size animation desks, complete with drawers, and enough work surface to make any aspiring animator drool can run into the thousands of dollars before you even consider purchasing a decent disc or any paper. So I thought I would document the process I went through as a sort of resource, one of the very few out there, on getting up an running.
First things first, I did not build this desk. I would have if I had to, but fortunately I did not. If you're interested in building your own desk, I'll cover that at the end of this post. Before I resorted to that, I gathered a list of all the animation studios in town that have or were currently producing 2d animation. I figured since traditional animation seemed to be going through a dry spell, perhaps some of these studios wouldn't be needing all of their desks.
Unfortunately, a lot of people had already beaten me to the punch. A lot of the studios said they had already sold all of their traditional animation equipment! But I didn't give up, and eventually I found one last desk available at Bardel Animation Studios in Vancouver. The receptionist said I could have it for a mere $50. Fifty bucks! So I drove downtown and picked it up the next morning. Here it is in the condition it was in when I first got it:
It was covered with all sorts or wear and tear. Signs of the rigorous animation industry I guess. Now some people would be deterred by this, and want something brand new, but I saw passed it. Others might like the worn look, and want a desk with some real animation history behind it. I chose to sand it down, because of some ugly scars, and I wanted to make the desk mine. Take a look at this close up of the desk. It looks like the previous animator had a frustrating time animating his/her scenes, because s/he carved this into the desk! Yikes!
So I was already into my desk for $50. I spent another $8 on some sandpaper and a sander.
Much better! A little elbow grease, and nobody is any the wiser. It's as good as new:
Whoever made this desk, included the option for a light, so I wanted to take advantage of that. I've been told not to rely on the light as flipping and rolling is the best way to become a better animator. But I still wanted the option of having a light. And I didn't just want to put any old light bulb in there. I wanted to light up the disc uniformly. I decided on this light, as it used a circular fluorescent light bulb, called "circuline", which would work perfectly. This ran me $34, a little expensive, but I think it was worth it. Here's some pictures of the light:
As you can see from the picture above, all I needed to attach this bad boy was a couple of screws. The picture below shows the newly sunken screws.
Once I had the light attached firmly, I needed to supply it with some power. For convenience I wanted a switch, so I didn't have to reach down and plug it in every time I needed the light. For these steps I relied of the expertise of my father. I would suggest you consult someone familiar with electrics if you intend on doing the same. Hey were just animators right? Let's not go crazy! I ended up going down to the local hardware store with my dad where we picked out all the parts for under $20. So if you're counting, were up to $112. Here's a couple of pictures from the wiring process:
Whoever built this table, also considered portability. With the addition of the light, it didn't fold up as well as it could before, but hey, that's still pretty compact!
The first electrics trial almost fried the plug! I guess the part I wired was done incorrectly. I tried to help out, and look where it got me. Like I said, I'm only an animator! Anyway, after that it worked fine. Here's a couple pictures of the light in action:
I decided to finish my desk surface. My parents lent me this stuff, which worked out nicely:
Here's the finished desk as it sits in my room. It's so nice to finally have something I can do some pencil tests on this summer. I ordered some animation paper from Lightfoot
, and it arrived last week. My main focus this summer will be gesture sketching, but I hope to crank out a few tests on this thing as well. These are the only pictures with the disc, but it was included with the original desk for $50. So all in all, a nicely finished desk, with disc, light,and 500 sheets of animation paper only ran me $129. What a bargain!
Now if you're interested in building your own desk, and like the look of mine, I will be happy to post the dimensions of this desk. When I was considering doing the same, I noticed the lack of this information online, so I will be more than happy to provide it, if you want to build your own based off of mine.
I also cannot forget to mention the one good resource I was able to find on creating an animation desk, Brock Gallagher's blog
. I emailed Brock when I first got started on this project, and he was very helpful. I didn't build my desk, but he did, and documented it here
Anyway, I hope this post helps someone out there. If you have any questions, just post in the comments.
Labels: Animation Desk, Me