Saturday, November 28, 2009

Well what do you know...

Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal on how Nina Paley has managed to make $55,000 so far since releasing her film Sita Sings the Blues for free. Her revenue stream is quite varied, itself evidence of a fair amount of work on her part to monetize the film. So no, it's not the artists (unrealistic) dream of simply making a film and waiting for the checks to come in the mail. One of the first rules of being an independent filmmaker is that you must work as a business-person. Not as dreamy or glamorous as the artist dream, but it is do-able. Is $55k enough to make a living from just making films? Depends where you live and how often you make new ones. At the very least it makes the effort somewhat financially viable on its own merits.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tough sledding

Slow, slow progress on the Otto & Schmitty front. Between the new job, wrapping up the APT class, finding a new home for the family and traveling there's been no time to get any new shots done. Oh well. The schedule is opening up and I'll be able to get some stuff done. Thankfully the project was built to go fast when it is worked on, so even just a litle time spent yields decent progress.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Look, the Gobelins chase animation meme- now in anime!

I think I've written this before (maybe not), but more than a few of those popular Gobelins short animated student films all seem to share a single element: the crazy, out of control speed chase/run/fall. It's been this way for at least 4 or 5 years now. Go ahead, look 'em up. It's a repetitive trope, but it has certainly been a good one if you want some popularity. One even was nominated for an Oscar. Well, the concept has flown from France to Japan-- somebody has made an anime short employing the same central concept. With panties.

Kinda like the love story angle, though.

Eye Like Pizza- short film in prod

Animator Jeff Robinson is working on a neat looking little short film project titled Eye Like Pizza. He has a production blog here. The image above is one of his main characters. I like the look. Jeff tells me it's gearing to have a "classic-cartoony vibe". I'm all for that. He's got a quick little motion test he put together in this post.  (note: Jeff- make this stuff embedable!)

Looking forward to seeing more soon.

Really cool video

Sent along by Paul Campbell and the crew at Corgan Media Lab. Great mix of CG onto live action.

On Innovation

Via TechDirt.

Monday, November 09, 2009


Influences are a funny thing. They are rarely cohesive. I think it'd be very sad if one's influences all come from the same pot of fish. Sometimes a person finds themselves surprised by what influences them. And sometimes others are surprised, too. In some form or another- whether in large or small measure- influences tend to keep showing up in a person's work over time. Here are a few of mine, in no particular order....

The Muppet Show

Looney Toons

Woody Woodpecker

Benny Hill


Strange Brew (The McKenzie brothers film)


Snoopy Come Home

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Rowan & Martin's Laugh In

Monty Python

Richard Scarry's books.


This is the stuff that I saw as a kid or a young teen and it stuck with me for some reason. As you can see my slice of humor runs a bit off center from the usual animated fare served up by ol' Uncle Walt. I like verbal humor every bit as much as visual. However it has to be character driven and intelligent, not just self aware pop culture references that the viewer can congratulate themselves' for recognizing. Shows like the Muppet Show, M*A*S*H, and SCTV had a grown up flavor of humor without being needlessly obscene. Benny Hill was winkingly raunchy, but in a tamed down sense. Laugh In was an odd 1970's thing, but I loved the various character sketches. It too had a bit of a naughty streak, but it never crossed line into crass. It was what Saturday Night Live was, only not live, and nearly 10 years before SNL. I liked it better. The Peanuts shows & M*A*S*H greatly influenced my sense of what it means to have a story with some heart and humor at the same time. Woody Woodpecker was just energy exploding all over the screen, pure visual joy. Meanwhile the various Looney Toon shorts were burned into my cerebral cortex from infancy. They too had smart verbal humor at times, very sharp, not dumbed down or condescending. I remember being a 5 year old kid sitting and getting lost in Richard Scarry's books for what seemed like days at a time. The characters were so simple, but extremely appealing and expressive. His illustration was whimsical without being cloying. I never grew tired of looking at them and even today when I see one I'll take some moments and travel back and get lost in them again. For lack of a better word, they're just magical.

Oddly, I was never inspired by Disney films. As a kid they bored me. The only ones I remember liking were Song of the South and 101 Dalmations, and even those were hit and miss. It wasn't until I had become an adult and a professional animator that I looked at Disney films more closely. They still don't really influence or inspire me, even though I can appreciate the craftmanship involved. I can admire them for what they mean historically and technically, but they still don't do much for me. Go figure.