Friday, April 25, 2008

Picture book previews

More previews from the picture book I'm illustrating.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas

Very few people get to really make a difference in the world. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston (I can't really separate these names) made it twice: once by giving us some of the greatest animation ever made, and again by telling us how to do it. These people helped transform animation from silly curiosity, to perhaps the world's most complex, refined and deep art form.
If you think about it, very few people can take that sort of credit.

To them, to the rest of the nine old men, and to Walt Disney himself - all now gone - I take off my hat and bow.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Running in the rain

So here is one of the illustrations from the picture book I'm working on. I'm quite happy with this one. More to come!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Springboard: a storyboarding software

A long time ago I promised to tell y'all about Springboard, a small but powerful storyboarding software I'm using. I love this software, and here is why.

  • Basic drawing tools: the drawing tools are good enough for getting the point across, but they're too simple for beautifully executed artwork. This makes it easier for me to stay focused on storytelling.
  • Zoom: you can zoom in and out. It's great to be able to take a step back and "watch the film", then go in again and draw. These screenshots show my 'story pass' for "catch!".

  • Export/Import: When I was happy with my story pass, I did a 'drawing pass' - exported the panels, re-drew them in a different program, and imported them back in. You can even do this automatically, using an "external editing" feature.
  • Presentation: Once the stuff is ready, Springboard offers an amazing variety of presentation outputs - you can pretty much arrange the panels into every storyboard format known to man. You can export them to HTML, as I've done in my previous post. The presentation can include text (there's a text box for each panel), timing (you can time it inside Springboard, play it, and even export it as AVI), headers, footers, filename, date - you name it.
  • It's CHEAP!
The program does have some flaws, especially concerning stability. However, (a) I'm using an old version, so they might have fixed some bugs, and (b) the problems are absolutely minor compared to the software's amazing advantages.

Check it out! The trial version is fully operational except for printing (at least, that's the way it was when I first tried it).

Thursday, April 10, 2008


A while back, I tried to come up with a 4-legged animation exercise - and somehow ended up with this silly 1 minute short. Maybe I'll even animate it some day, who knows :0)

Click the picture to see the complete storyboard.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

YouTube analysis #2: Final answer

Poor guy...note to self: get a good night's sleep before my next gameshow appearance.

What I find so interesting here, is the switch from self confidence, almost to the point of being cocky, to complete embarrassment and humility. BUT even though the change happens in a single moment, the reaction is gradual and goes through several different beats.

First Beat (1:00) - he realizes something is wrong. This is also gradual - you can actually see realization dawning on him, in slow motion (I'm guessing the transition would have been a bit quicker, had he not been so tired). He says "no, wait" - but by the end of this "shot" he's still smiling: the full impact of the mistake is not yet clear to him.

Second beat: he stares at the monitor, dumbfounded. There's a very subtle transition here - starting with a vague shadow of his former confident smile, then no no smile at all, and finally - a first trace of an embarrassed smile. It's interesting that the change is so subtle that I can hardly see any movement at all - and yet, the change of expression is very clear.

Look carefully at the corner of his mouth throughout this beat. This is what texture is all about: layering very slight variations on top of a very strong pose or transition. It's a great way of making your animation feel rich, without loosing clarity.

Third beat: the embarrassed smile is his brave attempt to hide his frustration and shame.

I like thinking of emotional changes in terms of weight and inertia (something we animators know about). Just like a moving object takes time to change direction (AKA motion arc), so mood and attitude take time to change. I think this clip shows a great example of such an "emotional arc".

Unspam your blog

Well, I tried to be optimistic and trust the goodness of human kind, but spamming got the best of me. Lately I've had to delete a spam comment almost every day (that's double spam - my Email AND the blog!). So, as much as I wanted to avoid it, I've had to add the standard Blogger password protection thingy. I hope it won't discourage anyone from commenting.

Which is a good place to say again, that I love getting your feedback! Comments are a big part of what motivates me to keep the blog alive. So talk to me - I'm listening :)