Saturday, January 30, 2010
(Above a classic story sketch from "The Rescuers") It's effective for expressing character's emotions and it's a poignant statement, despite the fact that you're not even looking at a detailed image of the character, just their gesture and their placement within the background. It also acts as an effective establishing shot for the rest of the sequence, putting the sequence into context right out of the gate!
In addition to giving a lonely feel, Andrew Wyeth placed the female character low in the frame, creating an even more powerless position in relationship to the overpowering desolate farmland.
This painting by Kendrick Mar, expresses the same thing in a more iconic context, but the basic idea is there.. small figure, open space.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I was lucky enough to catch the documentary "Beautiful Losers" (nice title borrowed from Leonard Cohen) last night at Sinema Old School (an epic movie house, my new favorite) here in Singapore (thanks Jenny Ruff). I found it to be a very inspiring, and accurate film, depicting my tiny generation of artists (some of which aren't even that good, but excel in attitude and positivity).. Artists include Shepard Fairey, Margaret Kilgallen, Harmony Korine (director), Mike Mills, Stephen Powers, Aaron Rose (director), Ed and Deanna Templeton, and others.
Possibly my favorite quality of the piece was how it explained the skateboarding culture influence, and how this is firmly embedded within the art movement itself. It was also interesting to hear these artists talk about doing commercial work, a struggle that most animators can relate to. Try to see it, the film site posts screening times.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Eyvind Earle was one of the many fine artists recruited by Disney in the 1950's. Eyvind's artwork is simply stunning. I can't think of a stronger visual designer, the best examples of which are the incredible images created for "Sleeping Beauty". I would highly recommend Hans Bacher's book "Dream Worlds". Below are a few of my favorite paintings by Eyvind. Michael Sporn does a way better job of collecting these images than me. I'm typically not drawn to this heavy use of graphic design within the context of animation, but these images are too alluring not to admit their greatness. Power like this reminds me of the american painter Frederic Edwin Church, a Hudson River school landscape painter that specialized in this type of imagery, with out the graphic design element. Specifically his iceberg paintings.
Church gives an amazing lesson in contrast of scale here, something I use very often in my own work. One of the things brilliant landscape artists seem to excel at is making us humans feel insignificant in comparison to nature.
Earle uses a similar contrast of scale method here to create a feeling of power. jeeeez.The depth of this piece is astounding. The more depth a piece has, the more dramatic and powerful it becomes.. in contrast to this, things that are flat are often used for humor or light hearted-ness.. a concept introduced to me by Mark Kennedy.
The contrast of scale itself is the single element that provides depth to this piece above.
Monday, January 25, 2010
It was a packed house with lots of fans that seemed to love my show. I did numerous live drawings of my famous characters plus a caricature of animator Dennis Dietrich. I showed the new cut of the "The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger". They seem to like the new ending. Yeah!
During the Q&A portion I was asked a question by famed illustrator Peter De Seve. I used this opportunity to promote his fantastic new book "A sketchy Past" definitely check it out, you'll love it.
Then a bunch of us went to the local bar to celebrate Peter. I was joined by the wonderful illustrator Jenny Yip and Alexia Gray, one of my first illustrator friends when I moved to NYC. One of her claims to fame is that she drove all around New England with John Lennon who apparently stalked her for quite awhile.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
The rule of 3rds seems to be derived from Leonardo's "Divine Proportion", the visual representation of a + b over a = a over b = Phi (1.61803...). In simpler terms, imagine a line divided in two pieces. This formula states that the whole of the line is to the larger section as the larger section is to the smaller section. The "Divine Proportion" is all around us, from art to nature to music to our bodies, to just about anything.. nautilus shells, the cochlea in the inner ear, the pyramids of Giza, snowflakes, spiral galaxies, even the music of Beethoven and Mozart!Back to using this idea in film and art... above, "Touch of Evil" used it to perfection throughout. Within illustration, it would be hard to find a single Norman Rockwell that isn't composed effectively using the rule of 3rds.
Of course you should break this guide from time to time, especially if you do it to further the characters, or the shot by shot direction, for example if you centralize a composition in order to make the main character feel like a target! there's always good reasons to break it! I like to turn the guide lines on in After Effects, and slide my artwork around until it hits that sweet spot! I do the same in iphoto, where I very rarely don't crop or move around a snapshot.
Friday, January 22, 2010
How many times have you heard the expression "all great films start with a great story"?
Talk about clichés! Well, I'm sick and tired of hearing that bull. Sure there are a wonderful films that are wonderful because of the story, but please give me a break! First of all, people describe great films as cinematic. What does it mean? It means it's a visual experience, something that has nothing to do with words. In fact, I love many films that have either no words, or very minimal script. For example, Jacques Tati films, or Triplets of Belleville, Georges Méliès, Charles Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Busby Berkeley. Or, for example, the films of the Marx Brothers or W.C. Fields are essentially plotless, they are cavalcade of gag sequences strung together by a weak plot. Or take John Cassavetes, his films were essentially improvised in front of the camera.
I could go on and on, but why beat a dead script? If I hear the expression "story is everything" one more time, I'll stick their tongue in my electric pencil sharpener - now that's cinematic!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
One of the best examples of this is Richard Linklater's "Dazed and Confused", where there is NOTHING to the story. It's a great movie because of the characters, the story itself is simple to say the least. Another tell tale sign of a movie that rides on Character and not story, is that if you can imagine the characters still living and interacting after the film is over, and you're curious about them.
Above, an image from one of my favorite films of all time, Ron Frick's "Baraka", a film that has no story, just beautiful mind blowing IMAGERY of our world and it's people. The film holds your attention the very same way a beautiful painting would.
I know that a lot of people will argue with me on this one, and often times it comes down to semantics. Some would counter that "Idea" and "Concept" are the same as story. But so often I've talked to short filmmakers struggling to figure out their complex stories, when all along they should have just been focusing on "framing an idea", and representing that idea with a strong imagery and characters... the story will take care of itself if the idea is strong and the audience can relate to it, especially within a short format. wussies.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Mike was the directing animator on practically all of the sequences, and the more I researched, the more I realized that Mike was truly the MAN behind "The Wall". Here's bits of our exchange, Enjoy:
"THE WALL" gave me a lot of creative freedom and allowed me to move into direction as well as animation. The opportunity to 'forward animate' ie. to start with a drawing and draw from drawing to drawing instead of producing 'key' drawings and then have an assistant 'inbetween' them. The Flower Sequence is an example of 'forward animation'(psmith note: "straight ahead" to us americans). And I used it also in the 'Tumbling Leaf Man' sequence - which, incidentally, is the first bit of animation I did for Pink Floyd." -Mike Stuart
"THE WALL" was made in a very unconventional way. Very much 'on the hoof' as it were. Most of the animation for the live performances was 'recobbled' and used in the picture. The 'hammers' caused a big problem as they were initially designed for the circular screen - extra hammers had to be added on either end as, in the film, we used an 'anamorphic lens', It is really Roger's film (Roger Waters) in my opinion. Nick Mason (pink floyd drummer)occasionally came to rushes but it was Roger Waters that had the last word." -Mike Stuart
"I am working with a chap in the states who is writing a book on the making of the film. He has already produced a book on the making of the album." To quote G. Scarfe - "I don't understand why people like it so much" I think you'll find this comment on the DVD." -Mike Stuart
Above: Images depicting my obvious influence from "The Wall" from my music video "Moving Along"
"My last project was the 78 'KIPPER' series. It won a BAFTA and Annecy in 1998 plus something in Positano. I have just designed a float for the Viareggio carnival. I mainly spend my time painting and making jewelry". -Mike Stuart
I'll be returning to the subject of "The Wall" very frequently in this blog. Let me know what you think.- Patrick