Recorded interview at CTNexpo

Last year I gave a presentation at the CTNexpo in Burbank, CA.  This very popular annual animation conference hosted by Tina Price is packed with the biggest names in the field who hold workshops and presentations for fans and others interested in the animation field.  Since the theme was “One of a Kind”, I was invited to talk about my transition from animation to editorial cartooning.  Here’s a link to a recorded studio interview CTN did while I was in town.  I’ll post the link to the actual presentation soon. File Feb 10, 3 04 54 PM

CalArts, A113, and Bill Moore

The March issue of Vanity Fair has an article about the the early character animation program at California Institute of the Arts, better known as CalArts.  It focuses mainly on the students who attended when the program first started in 1975 and a few years afterwards. Even if you’re not in the animation business you’ll recognize some of these names: Tim Burton, John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Glen Keane, Nancy Beiman, Jerry Rees, Mike Giaimo, John Musker, to name a few.  It really is amazing all that talent came from a small art school within the span of a few years.

The article gives the reader some behind-the-scenes glimpses into life as a character animation student at CalArts; the life drawing classes (which for many students was their first introduction to nude models), the infamous Halloween parties, the meaning behind the room A113, and the profound impact one of the teachers had on so many of the students.

That teacher was Bill Moore.  Formerly from the famous Chouinard Art Institute, he taught color and design and was the one who influenced so many of the students in the character animation program.  I attended CalArts in the early 80’s and had Moore as my teacher during my first year, the last class he taught before becoming ill.  As the article mentions, he was quite a character and very intimidating.  I remember agonizing over projects and the fear which would fill the classroom when he walked in to review our efforts, hung on the wall for review.  We all had heard the legend of Bill Moore (who always had a lit cigarette in his hand) setting on fire any work he didn’t like.  But he was a wonderful teacher.  I learned everything I know about design from Bill Moore.  And even though he sometimes came across as too tough, too insensitive- I still have a vivid memory of him briefly letting his cranky persona down.

At the end of particularly stressful design class my classmates and I retreated to our animation desks to resume work on our pencil tests and lick our wounds.  My friend and cubicle mate, Lynette was especially irritated with Moore that day and decided to challenge him as he walked looking around as he did occasionally after class.  Why do you act that way when you teach, she asked him.  Do you have to be so rude?  I expected him to reply with his usual one-liners but instead his expression softened and said “because when you get out there it’ll be much worse”.

BillMoore1stClassNotesNotes from my first day in Bill Moore’s class

BillMooreProject1983A design assignment for Bill Moore’s class- 1983  (I recall him not being particularly impressed)

Only 24 hours to go…

…for the New Soul kickstarter fundraiser.  Here’s a couple of more sketches I’ve done so far:

PolarBear- New Soul

Something new for me

Just about a year ago Michael Fry (Co-creator, Over the Hedge comic strip) contacted me and asked if I would be interested in storyboarding his newest project, a live action/animated short called New Soul.  For a while I had been thinking about branching out beyond my animated editorial cartoons for the Washington Post, so of course I enthusiastically said yes.  Larry Miller (Best in Show, The Nutty Professor) plays Advisor #51 and from what I’ve seen of the rough cut, it’s just a wonderful little gem of a film. Watch the trailer here at the Kickstarter campaign page.  There’s only 48 more hours to go on this fundraiser!Adam&Eve

Concept art for New Soul

An animated look back at 2012

OldMan2012My 2012 look back for The Washington Post

The process

A recent Facebook post asked me to explain how I create my animations.  Basically, I approach the concept process the same as I did my print editorial cartoons;  reading and listening to the news, drawing thumbnails, and making notes in my sketchbook.sketchbook pageMy drawings tend to be very rough so sometimes I can’t even decipher what I’ve done.

On deadline days I’ll decide on which idea to take to the next step to make sure that it will work as an animation. This is where my process changes (and becomes longer) than my process to create a print cartoon.  While sketching up ideas I’ll also write down possible sound effects to use and then go online to find and purchase what I’ll need.  Sounddogs is my favorite to use.  After that it’s time to lay tracks and begin figuring out the timing.  In Photoshop,  I’ll scan in rough drawings and export to Flash where I’ve laid my sound tracks.  Once I think it’s working, I’ll send to my editor at The Washington Post for approval.  After I get her ok, then it’s time to do the final animation animation poses.  animation poses

This is where I’ll send you over to an excellent video by Anup Kaphle which shows the rest of the process (this was done about a year ago, so it won’t show the one above; but you’ll get the idea)- and then here is the finished version.