Monday, January 31, 2011

Past Due - The Sad Oscar News...

Well sad to say, "The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger" was not nominated for an Oscar. I'm very depressed – I had such high hopes. People said it was a sure thing to get nominated and the mistake I made was I started to believe it. When I got the news I was surprised and hurt.


Although it shouldn't shock me that the "Cow" film wasn't selected, all the films that were had million dollar budgets while the Cow film came in at around $7,000, and it was the only traditionally animated 2D film in a crowd of CG films.


The depressing part is that this Spring I have a lot of projects that could have used the extra publicity of a nomination:

  1. My Rizzoli book, "Independently Animated: Bill Plympton" is being released in April and I'm planning a small book tour.

  2. My new animated feature "Cheatin'" is looking for investors or distributors.

  3. I'm also working on an animated series, "Tiffany the Whale", that needs some financial assistance.


All these projects would have benefited greatly from the added publicity that comes with an Academy Nomination. So I guess I'll have to slog it out the traditional way without the Oscar prestige. In any case, all the shorts that were nominated are wonderful films and deserve to be there. I've got to go now, because I need to make a short for next year's Academy race.


See you soon,

Bill

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Animation 101: Blood and Posture.. are motion lines necessary?

"I don't use action lines to describe what is happening in the frame; I use blood and posture to tell the viewer what is happening" -Gibbens (of "Watchmen")

Another epic blog entry from Mark. It's something I think about all the time, and I happen to lean toward the NO action lines especially in animation. I hate that I've used them in the past, they added practically nothing to the action. "Blood and Posture" may just be my new tag line. i'm using my own drawings from my films as examples, you'll have to forgive me, i just have no immediate other examples at hand, and I love talking about my own discoveries, errors, etc.
Above I used action lines in "Puppet" to punch up this key that was exposed on ones. Now that I look at it, it didn't add anything, i should have left it out.
Above, I think I did well, some animators would use a "wipe" effect by elongating this exposure (again on ones) but it looks better with the more realistic "stretch" of the sock being thrown down, as well as a nice drag from the hair and sleeve.
Above, directly after the SMACK, I think I used the saliva coming off the kids mouth as a "Blood and Posture" move, eliminating any action lines, and only using goober to leave a motion trail, and also again the direction is aided by the drag on the hair, as well as the puppets little hands. This was a fun scene to animate.

Similar use of saliva.. Above from "Masks" the trail of slobber reflects the arc of the head and mouth as the character catches the little dude in it's mouth. Also, a slight blur helped the realism.
Dangit... above is another one... what's wrong with me?? this one had no reasoning behind it.. I think sometimes I put them in when i'm working on 1's because i think it goes by so quick. Also, sometimes they creep in from my roughs, when I'm establishing the arc.
Above: I even see they crept in within the rough lines of this one also from "Puppet", again, probably rough lines from mapping an arc.

Above: from "Masks", I did this right. No motion lines, even though this still is from some VERY extreme action shot on 1's.  Instead I relied on solid drag and cohesive drawing (or "posture") of the figures.  My point is, if you draw it correctly, there is no need for any effect lines. However, in "Masks", I often used subtle motion blurs when things are moving fast, which punches up realism, unlike action lines, which only serve to make it cartoony.
Here's another one above, and I think this is unforgivable.  You see the VERY NEXT FRAME has debris (read "blood") that made the action quite clear enough.. no lines were needed. moral of this... stick to the real world for your references... there's no motion lines in reality!  Hope you enjoyed this analysis.. please let me know if you agree or disagree. It seems every film I do I learn an absurd amount about movement and animation, and I love to share my discoveries, small or big. -Patrick

Friday, January 28, 2011

PAST BLAST: "Swallow-Face" MTV ID...

"PAST BLAST" is going to be yet another recurring segment on "Scribble Junkies".. exploring me and bill's past projects and forgotten milestones. Should be fun to dig up old stuff.. I'm going to kick this party off with my first ever animation "SWALLOWFACE!!!"



This was literally the first thing I ever animated. Interesting story... In 1994, I was in college at University of Massachusetts, and one night decided to try out animation. I didn't know how to draw, let alone animate, so I just did something abstract. A friend of mine told me I should put an MTV logo on it and send it to them. So I mailed a VHS pencil test of it to "MTV Networks" the address I literally got from the phone book. I shot the pencil test on an Amiga 500, and included a personalized "on screen" cover letter as a slate (i thought that was original). About two weeks later I got a call from a guy named Abby Terkuhle, who said that MTV Animation wanted to buy it. I remember the day he called, because it was the same day that I got my rejection letter from Cal Arts (the second rejection I got from them). The budget was $8k (an unbelievable sum for a kid that worked at a snowboard shop). I re-animated the same thing, a bit tighter, and I had to re-do the logo and add sound. I had it colorized by someplace called Dungeon Digital, or something like that, and I had a musician buddy of mine, Dan Koetke, do the drums. The spot won a BDA award (Broadcast Design Assoc.) and a Jury Prize at the 1995 Holland Animation Festival. After I finished the ID, MTV offered me a job in layout on "Beavis and Butthead", which was my first ever studio job, and which brought me to New York City. I wonder sometimes how things would have been different if MTV never got back to me, or Calarts had accepted me into their program. I've recently been invited to speak at Cal Arts.. which is awesome. I also teach now at NYU graduate program with a fellow professor that attended Calarts the same year I would have, if I had gotten in.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Epic Sketchbook: Noelle Melody..


I was lucky enough to have Noelle Melody as the production supervisor on my two last shorts, she's gone on to animate and produce several works of her own, including a bangin' music video that she did with her twin sister Joy. Her sketchbook was just posted on her blog, which she's submitting to the very cool sketchbook project.
My favorite aspect of Noelle's book is how it expresses her personality perfectly! That's the thing about sketchbooks, they capture the essence of the artist, whether the artisit likes it or not. In Noelle's case, there's an interesting mix of images that express subtle darkness and then friendly innocence.. it's a wonderful contrast that I've noticed is almost every great illustrator or animator. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rizolli Book


Guess what I just received? My first copy of my big coffee table book, "Independently Animated, Bill Plympton – The Life and Art of the King of Indie Animation"

I know that's a very long title, but it's a very big book. It's a coffee table book! And it covers my whole life.

I immediately went through the book page by page upon its arrival. And even though I worked on every page, it felt like I was seeing it for the first time.

I cringed of course at some of my earlier work – but that's a normal part of an artist's development, to experiment with lots of different styles, techniques and mediums. And, I believe it will be very instructive for young artists to see the transition of my art style throughout the years.

This spring, I will be traveling across the US visiting book stores and colleges, doing publicity and signings of the book, so watch for me in your town.

I want to thank Robb Pearlman at Rizzoli for doing such a great job, also the great designer Chris McDonnell, and David Levy who helped me write the book was indispensable. And of course the wonderful Terry Gilliam who wrote the hilarious forward.

You can now preorder the book on Amazon, and if you see me I'm happy to give you a drawing in the book. Tell your friends, spread the word – it’s a great book!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Classic Tuesday Inspiration: Egon Schiele..

Adding a bit of the modern into Classical Tuesdays. Schiele is one of my favorites..

Monday, January 24, 2011

Oscar Nominations



Well, tomorrow's the big day – the day I've been waiting for for six years – the day that will make or break my career. On January 25th at 8:30AM EST, they announce the nominations for the Oscars, and my short film, "The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger" is on the shortlist.

The screenings have been going very well, and I've been getting good feedback on the "Cow" film. However, with the Oscars, you take nothing for granted.

A few years ago, Dan O'Shannon and I created and animated short called "The Fan and the Flower". Many people said we were a lock for a nomination, and maybe even an Oscar. But for whatever reason, we failed to get nominated. It's too bad, because it's one of my most popular and favorite films.

And of course my good friend Regina Pessoa made "A Tragic Story with a Happy Ending". It got terrific buzz and I felt it was a sure thing for an Oscar, but alas, it never got a nomination. I've given up trying to guess who will win at any given year, as the only thing predictable about the Academy is its unpredictability.

But having said that, I'll give you my list of shorts that I think will be nominated:

"The Lost Thing", "Let's Pollute", "The Gruffalo", "Madagascar" and "Day and Night" by Pixar.

All these films are computer films.


And now for my picks for animated features:

I'll go with the consensus and say that "Toy Story 3" and "How to Train Your Dragon" are locks for nominations, and rightfully so. But the third choice is the wild card.


Although my heart says "Tangled" should get the 3rd choice, I'm afraid the voters will want to show their anti-corporate stripes and choose "The Ilusionist" from Sylvain Chomet , which I think would be a mistake. It's a beautiful film, but the Jaques Tati script has a lot of problems—there's a reason it was never produced before: there's no suspense, conflict, or emotion. And I believe there are some much better choices.

So be sure to tune in tomorrow to find out who's going to LA on February 27th—keep watching Scribble Junkies for the latest update, for if I do get invited, I'll be posting a frequent blog about my awards travels.


Cross your fingers!

Charles Bargue drawing course...

Reposting this due to request:
Charles Bargue (1826-1883) created what is probably the most influential and famous series of drawing classes in history. The legendary coursework was created in collaboration with his teacher and mentor, Jean-Léon Gérôme. The book "Charles Bargue, Drawing Course" is probably the best investment a student or pro alike could make, right next to "Illusion of Life". The artwork contained within the book can only be described as stunning and awakening!! it will remind you of the rich history we artists must face if we have the slightest desire to contribute. we truly are tiny specks standing on the shoulder of Colossus! I especially like the ref. to greek art, it's amazing that this type of perfection and craftsmanship was accomplished thousands of years ago. furthermore, the bulk of the book is made up of line studies of figures, especially useful to an animator.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

More GIF's for the restless...





xn—c1h:Genocyber

Friday, January 21, 2011

Buff Diss...

Buff Diss is an artist from Melbourne, Australia that primarlily uses masking tape to make his pieces. Since the tape is removed so easily, he’s stumped government officials from city to city and Buff Diss ‘enjoys the confusion it creates for them.. you can't really call it vandalism or even graffiti. Good stuff, enjoy.




Thursday, January 20, 2011

Firebird Pencil test..

I ripped this extra off of the Fantasia DVD anthology, a set that every animator should own (buy it! worth every penny). This is possibly the greatest extra on any DVD i know of (the glen keane stuff on tarzan comes close), it is simply stunning the amount of detail and dedication to timing and mood that Ted Kierscey was able to put into this sequence. It puzzles me that Ted Kierscey is not a household name, which he clearly should be. I show this sequence to my students every year, just to remind them(and myself) what this medium is capable of accomplishing. In particular, what the pencil on a piece of paper can accomplish; texture, tangibility, and an overall essence that only a hand carved line can create. I've watched this so many times, and it never fails to invigorate me to animate!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Diving Bell and the Butterfly.... Schnabel's masterpiece..

It takes a painter to make a film like "Diving Bell and the Butterfly". There are moments in this wonderful film that only a painter could ever think up. One scene in particular, a long moment of a girls wind blown hair in an automobile is so subtle, hypnotic, and beautiful, it seems to be lifted directly from one of his abstract paintings.I was fortunate enough to visit Julian Schnabel's studio in Montauk a few winters ago (all the cool kids have studios out in montauk;), and it was so inspiring that I jumped at the opportunity to go see "diving bell and the butterfly", as well as several other of his films, ie "basquiat, and "before the night falls", the later of the two is another epic film worth it's length in gold.
Netflix Before the Night Falls. Netflix Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Indie Shorts Poll Results


Hello Scribble Junketeers! I'm happy to announce the winners of the top U.S. indie cartoons. First of all, let me say we had a very good response – lots of participants. But, sad to say, most of the choices were within the last 10 years – I was hoping to get more of the older films from such talents as Sally Cruikshank, Mike Jittlov, George Griffin, Corky Quackenbush, Winsor McCay, the Hubleys, etc. But that's okay – I guess our readership is more of the highly valued youth vote. So, I've decided to reveal ten of the winning films, because we had so many great ones. I'm listing them in order of number of votes, so the top vote getters are first, and on down the line.

In any case, "THE ENVELOPE PLEASE!" drum roll…

1. Rejected – Don Hertzfeldt

2. Billy's Balloon – Don Hertzfeldt

3. Son of Satan – J.J. Villard

4. Roof Sex – PES

5. 9 – Shane Acker

6. Puppet – Pat Smith

7. Bambi Meets Godzilla – Marv Newland

8. Western Spaghetti – PES

9. Dirty Birdy – John Dilworth

10. Bar Fight – Christy Karacas and Stephen Warbrick

Those are the winners, folks! Don Hertzfeldt scored big-time, he gets the gold statuette!

This was so much fun, I think I'll do it again next year – so start making your list and checking it twice, we'll ask for ballots on the first of December. Thanks to all who participated! Let us know if you don't want the Youtube links up!

Skate vid by Kilian Martin: "A Skate Escalation"

Great skate vid by Kilian Martin: "A Skate Escalation"
some interesting twists on classic material.. some of it's a little goofy (it's not exactly a great aesthetic), but entertaining as hell. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Unfinished Audrey Kawasaki's..

I will forever be amazed with unfinished, rough or raw work. This is why I love pencil tests so much.. you can really see the process and the "soul" behind the creation. Enjoy these "in progress" paintings on wood by Kawaskaki. Still can't get enough of her delicate hands and flowing contours! Happy sunday everyone.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Michael Barrier..


I've known the name Michael Barrier for a while as a recognized and dependable historian and critic of animation, but I'm a bit ashamed to admit that this morning was the first time I ever actually READ anything he's written. If you fall into my sad category, please do yourself a favor and dig into his site, dig deep, this guy is awesome.

Do you ever read something that states exactly how you feel, but would never be able to say it as eloquently or support it enough basic knowledge? Happens to me once in a while (more than I care to admit), and I never forget the person after. Check out Michael Barriers site, and especially his "Commentary" section. Good stuff, enjoy... wow look at that, we're fb friends.

Tron

I was asked by a cool French art gallery (Galerie Chappe) to create a drawing from the new Disney film "Tron: Legacy". They want to organize a "Tron" exhibition in February to coordinate with the French launch of the film.

So last night, in order to get inspiration, I went to the local multiplex to see the 2010 remake of the 1982 original, also starring Jeff Bridges.

The graphics and FX were certainly cool, but the story was difficult for me to engage in. First, I never really played electronic games. Maybe pong once or twice. Secondly, the concept seemed beyond far-fetched. I knew it was sci-fi, but if there must be some small connection to reality and in "Tron: Legacy", I couldn't find it.

It was cool to see Jeff Bridges as a young guy (I don't know how they did that!) and Michael Sheen channeling David Bowie and Richard Simmons is a hoot!

I score "Tron: Legacy" a C-

Here are some of the sketches of my finished art.




Friday, January 14, 2011

Kodak

from the top left: DeWitt Davis, Pat Smith, Bill Plympton,
Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata, David Levy, Signe Baumane


For about 6 years, Signe Baumane and myself have been organizing the Kodak Animation Show, and each year it gets bigger and bigger. This year, despite a major blizzard, we had standing room only. In fact, we had to turn away several people because of the fire safety regulations.

still from "Guard Dog Global Jam" by Bill Plympton

The show itself was a little different from the past. There were fewer films and a number of works in progress. We started out with the finished version of my "Guard Dog Global Jam" and the audience enjoyed the wide variety of techniques and differing levels of professionalism.

Then David Levy showed his wonderful short, "Grandpa looked like William Powell" and did a funny Q and A. Next was a fabulous short by Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter that was called "Something Left, Something Taken". The audience was charmed by the Hitchcockian story and original look. They were there for an intriguing Q and A led by Signe Baumane asking about their sex life. "Accumulonimbus", by Andy Kennedy was a quirky look through the history of mankind in a tumble dryer. Signe introduced Ruth Lingford's "Little Deaths", a very stylish film about people describing orgasms, and Signe was also one of the voiceover interviewees. Then She showed 3 excerpts from her new feature "Rocks In My Pockets", which an amazing style that is totally refreshing. Pat Smith showed his new film "Masks", a beautiful and dark exploration of the battle of humanity. And I closed with a mysterious work in progress.

still from "Something Left, Something Taken" by Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata
still from "Masks" by Patrick Smith

still from "Rocks In My Pockets" by Signe Baumane

still from "Little Deaths" by Ruth Lingford

Afterward was the fun part, where we all retired to a local bar, Billy Barks, where everyone got to chat with the filmmakers, and critique the films and basically get drunk.

I personally want to thank Signe Baumane, all the filmmakers, and especially the people at Kodak: Anne Hubbell, who was stuck in the Atlanta Airport, Susan Selig and DeWitt Davis.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cow and Flying House

As most of you Scribble Junketeers know, my animated short "The Cow Who Wanted to Be A Hamburger" is happily included in the short list for the Academy Awards. Well, last weekend they showed that short list to all the East coast animation members to decide who gets nominated on January 25th.

So it's a very important screening. About halfway through the session, "The Cow Who Wanted to Be A Hamburger" was slotted and by Academy rules, I had to vacate the room (stupid rule). In the meantime, I decided to use the adjacent facilities. While I was in there relieving myself, there was a loud bang on the door.

It was Signe Baumane – She urged me to look at the screening because something was terribly wrong with my print. I quickly, but carefully, zipped up and raced to the screening room along with two or three other friends who were alerting me to the screening disaster. And sure enough, my print of "The Cow Who Wanted to Be A Hamburger" was horribly scratched, streaked, and had awful sound.

But what could I do? I had no backup print, and the Academy members had to see something, so I was powerless to stop the film.

At the subsequent break, everyone gave me their condolences of the unfortunate screening. Apparently, I'd mistakenly sent the Academy an old print that had been mangled at some previous film festival. But since I don't have access to a screening room, I'd sent it in blind.

This brings up an interesting issue. I told a few film historians about my Winsor McCay's "The Flying House" remake, and one famous archivist complained that the fact that I was cleaning the ancient 1921 film (by eliminating scratches and dust) ruined the film for him - he liked the damage to the film print.

But to me, it's a major distraction. If I'm watching a film, I don’t want to be reminded that it's a film I'm watching. I love getting lost in the magical world of imagination and the beautiful art.

And that's exactly what happened at the Academy screening – all the scratches and imperfections of the film stock took people out of the lovely story I was trying to tell in "The Cow Who Wanted to Be A Hamburger".

But just to let you know, I was able to order a new print from Technicolor, and it will be shipped to the West coast for the Academy Screenings there.

Cross your fingers and toes!

Night on Bald Mountain... recap


Have you sat and watched "Night on Bald Mountain" recently? It is a sobering experience to be reminded what fine, truthful, and master-crafted animation can accomplish. This segment of "Fantasia" encompasses so many elements of quality film making, that I'm finding it hard to even discuss, you may try reading this article by Michael Koresky. I'm simply in awe of this segment of Fantasia and it's accomplishments. I can't possibly begin to point out all the great aspects of this animation.Above, It begins with an incredible opening, the image of Chernabog coming to life on the precipice of a steep rocky mountain. The simple but dramatic and raw power in the drawings of Bill Tytla is enough to give you the chills.Turning into a multimedia technique(which happens throughout), we see ghosts and spirits, brilliantly rendered in pastel, or by using camera effects, rising from the ground, and riding up toward the mountain. There are moments of true brilliance through horrific imagery of demons, spirits, and lost souls. One of my favorites is the realistically rendered dancing female figures in flames. Most of the demon characters end up be morphed into sacrificial beasts, or simply cast down into flames after a playful exchange within hands of Chernabog. "If it’s the enormousness of Fantasia that still reverberates to this day, then it’s the film’s beatific final statement that still manages to surprise" That quote sums up the ending of "Night on Bald Mountain", as well as the ending of the feature itself. the animated rendition of "Ave Maria" is an incredible victory over the evil imagery that came before it. So, in closing, next time you get into a discussion of "Sponge Bob", or "Family Guy" (and yes, you CAN compare them, one is crap, one is brilliant), remember what has truly had an impact within art history, and re-discover what powerful, quality animated content can be. Cease this artform!!!!