Sunday, 19 February 2012
I was browsing through some old emails and came across a message I saved in a folder from none other than one of my animation Heroes the great Eric Goldberg -A man whom I classify as a modern day Ward Kimball and a genius of Cartooning and animation. He can be as harsh and dynamic as Chuck Jones and as subtle and goofy as the legendary ward Kimball. Goldberg has created some of the most influential characters in the history of animation – most notably the Genie - A character that in my opinion sparked the appeal factor for the fast talking adult wit in the modern medium of animation storytelling. Many years ago when I was working primarily as an animator and had never even contemplated a storyboard panel I was commissioned a task of animating a test with the Genie character for a bid to ‘The make a wish foundation’ (The test is below). Naturally I jumped at the chance and picked out a random piece of dialogue from Robin Williams (Hook) and thrown my self into it. The job ended up being animated by the master Eric Goldberg him self, and rightly so as my feeble attempt bares no comparison!
A few years later when Traditional animation was so far in decline that I was contemplating a career change I decided to write a message to Eric Goldberg and ask his opinion of my test. I had no delusion that I would obtain work at Disney from it - I sent it more in a ‘could I have been a contender’ spirit as I had always dreamt of animating on a traditional Disney feature but as traditional appears to be virtually dead I knew it was a dream I had to cast aside – yet I still just had to know what would a master such as Goldberg or Glen Keene or Andreas Deja etc… have made of my work. So I taken the plunge and sent Mr.Goldberg a message asking him to pull no punches and break me down as he would any animator working for him. Of course I knew it was a long shot and did not expect a response. However it was of great surprise and delight that Mr.Goldberg responded and it brought a huge smile to my face! His response along with my test is below!
You have learned well, my son! Your Genie animation is very fluid and funny, and yes, with that quality, you could easily have been on the Genie unit. If I were working with you personally, I’d probably have you push the eye shapes for greater expression and quirkiness. Also, I probably would have pushed for even snappier timing in a couple of places. That said, you should bear in mind that these types of comments are the same as I would give to any animator on the unit, so you should feel proud that you got so close on your own. I’m particularly impressed with your handling of Hirschfeldian shapes in movement, particularly shoulder and spine reversals throughout the piece.
I hope this brings you some closure, and by the way, don’t give up on 2D yet... It’s coming back!
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Friday, 3 February 2012
Whilst working on Universal’s ‘Tale of Despereaux’ I was assigned the task of developing a sequence that had to introduce the lifestyle of the Rats to the audience. The sequence had been in development for some time by other artists but the directors Sam Fell, Rob Stevenhagen and Gary Ross were not entirely satisfied with the direction it was going in - so I was assigned the uphill task of trying to hit the right note!. I spent a good many months tinkering with ideas in many directions ranging from ideas such as a dark Nazi-like regime to a light-hearted yet macabre song and dance number until they decided on the song and dance number called ‘It’s great to be a rat’. The final cut of the animatic never made it in the movie and just sections of my sequence was used to introduce the primary villain Botecelli. Above is a cut that I edited together in my spare time after the production was finished. I have Incorporated drawings from many varying versions I boarded and utilised all the relevant images I could find. The flow is a little patchy at times but it gives a sense as to how I originally envisaged it. I temp tracked the music composed by the late great Jerry Goldsmith for the movie Gremlins to my edit as when I was boarding the sequence I was imagining everything going along to the eccentric music and often humming it to myself whilst drawing. I have yet to see how the actual final edit looked in the animatic form, though apparently they have released the animatic as a deleted scene extra on the Blue Ray edition DVD which I have still not seen! So it wasn’t all for nothing then ;)