Thursday, January 30, 2014

Stephan Franck talks about Silver - courtesy of the CTN


"You have to be your own person, or die." ~Stephan Franck  
The Creative Talent Network (CTN) often hosts interviews with creative individuals in the animation industry doing especially interesting work. Below is the text of a recent interview with Stephan Franck, animator, director, storyboard artist and now the author of a highly successful series of independently published graphic novels - Silver. Stephan also happens to be a former kumrad from many an animated film, and a friend of FLiP Here, Stephan talks to CTN about how he got Silver off the ground. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bob and Bradly's Charmin' Tale

Bob Blevins and Bradly Werley are Portland based animators who have created an undoubtedly original film, T.P.   As Bob describes it, "The film is a gut wrenching drama about a roll of toilet paper who is born into a dirty gas station bathroom, and must struggle for his destiny to unravel differently than his traumatized predecessor."

Told you it was different.

Bob further explains, "It started between two bedrooms and a kitchen in San Francisco, and wrapped in a garage in Portland. Some very gifted people have been helping us out, including veteran voice actor Bob Bergen, the official voice of Porky Pig."

Having recently wrapped production after three years of production, they have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help us raise funds for the post production costs. Bob and Bradly, a.k.a. WerleyBob Pictures, talked to FLiP about their ambitious project.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Brigitte's Garden at Disney MGM Studios

The best thing about working on an animated film is, as everyone knows, the project itself. It's going to be awesome, you're going to do your greatest work ever, and on opening night you will stun the world with animation excellence. But then, as the years pass, a funny things happens. You tend forget about the film itself (with a few honourable exceptions), and what you end up remembering, often with great fondness, is the people you worked with.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

More Gremlins Redux

After Friday's posting about the 1992 development of the Roald Dahl Gremlins project at Disney TV Animation, Jerry Rees sent FLIP a bunch of images of the development art used in the pitch.  Enjoy!

artist: Jerry Rees  Frans Vischer

Saturday, January 25, 2014

FLIP goes to Shepperton Studios

On wednesday I went with some of my students from Buckinghamshire New University to visit Shepperton Studios. Being a movie geek, I couldn't wait to visit the place where classic films like Kubrick's Dr Strangelove, The Day of The JackalRidley Scott's Alien and Attenborough's Ghandi were filmed. I mean, even empty film studios are full of atmosphere; a place to fill the imagination with dreams of stardust. Shepperton did not let us down.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Disney and Dahl's "Gremlins" Redux

In 1992, I got to work on three great projects: The Nightmare Before Christmas, A Goofy Movie, and one that was never produced, Gremlins; not the Joe Dante Gremlins, but the Roald Dahl / Walt Disney one.

You cartoon buffs out there recall the Bugs Bunny shorts from World War II featuring little gremlins who tear apart Bugs' warplane in flight?  They were based on a short story by Roald Dahl done during the war for Disney Studios.  Disney was developing a feature from the story, but could not secure the complete rights, partially owned by the British Air Ministry, so he mothballed the project.  Dahl would release it in book form using Disney development art as illustrations.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Learn Flash with Andy Sykes - free online video tutorials!

Andy's in the house
Earlier this year I posted about New Year's Resolutions for Animators, one of which was to learn a new piece of software. Right now I am (for a change) practicing what I preach, and learning how to use Adobe Flash, creating 2D animation - just like I used to do back in the Olden Days, before I got seduced by the Dark Side of 3D animation.

Fortunately, students today are blessed with an astonishing variety and breadth of web content, including free tutorials in just about anything one could ever want to learn. Flash is no exception to this rule. Below is a link to an excellent website which hosts a series of excellent - and highly recommended - free tutorials in Flash.

Monday, January 20, 2014

On Reinvention

Animation is a weird combination of art and business. The medium used such a Byzantine mess of equipment, and took so long to create compared to live action, that you once had to get a grant or work for the National Film Board of Canada or spend your life savings if you wanted to make 'your own' productions. This was a problem for live action film makers as well; independence came at a price (generally a low one.) In the bad old days if you didn't have a distribution contract, no one except your Mom saw the finished product.  Animated films were distributed by companies that specialized in kid films or cartoons; you had to know someone to get anything screened in a  theatre.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Nancy Beiman Joins FLIP!

As we begin our third year a blog, Alex and I are pleased to announced the addition of Nancy Beiman as a FLIP writer.  Nancy was the first person interviewed in the old format FLIP, and has, over the years, been a regular source for quotes and insights.  Having her as a partner on the team is a natural fit.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Bizarro Sketch Night - A Follow Up

Photo by Ted Mathot
This past Thursday night, Ben Walker hosted Bizarro Sketch Night as a fundraiser for Jamie Baker where artists sketch with their opposite hand  (see Wednesday's post).

Ben told FLIP,  "It went really well! Jamie had fun. We all did. It sounds like having "the playing field leveled" by drawing with our bad hands made for a lot of fun and talking amongst artists. I haven't gotten a total from Jamie but we clearly brought in a nice amount of funds for him."

Here's a few pics from the event....
Photo by Ben Walker

Photo by John Hoffman
Photo by Ben Walker
Photo by Ben Walker
Photo by John Hoffman
The man of honor, James "Lefty" Baker.  Photo by Ben Walker
Jamie told FLIP: "It was a hell of a lot of fun."

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bizarro Sketch Night in San Francisco

If you're in the San Francisco area Thursday night, be sure to check out an unusual fundraiser being by Ben Walker. Bizarro Sketch Night is an event where artists draw using their "bad" hand. These sketches will then be auctioned, proceed to help artist Jamie Baker with medical bills incurred after a devastating stroke in December 2012.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How long does it take to get good at something? 10,000 hours - or 20 hours?

Author and polymath Josh Kaufman gave an excellent talk at TED recently where he discusses the horror of trying to invest 10,000 hours in a new skill in order to get really good at it. He's just become a father to a baby girl, and (like many of us) he hasn't got 10,000 seconds - let alone 10,000 hours - to invest in learning something new. So his theory (which should cheer everyone up) is that the whole 10,000 hour thing is a big exaggeration. Try doing something new for 20 hours - and you should be able to master the basics.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bean Bonkers and Life as a Human Resource

Every business has its bean counters.  In the bean business, they have them in spades.  A team of bean counters determines exactly how many beans to place each can to yield the maximum profit for the company.  If a worker at the cannery should strive to create a better can of beans by adding more beans or being more selective of the beans to be canned, that employee would, after a few formal warnings, be canned themselves.

Beans are not art.  Art is not beans.  But sometime way back, the two were crossbred to create an abominable freak worthy of Dr. Moreau; the animation production.  In this business, there are people who try to create art and people who try to count beans.  Together, they fail miserably in their individual tasks, but produce a bi-product called the animated cartoon; neither art nor beans.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year's Resolutions for Animators

What should an animator's new year's resolutions be? Animation is a huge and growing business, a far cry from the cottage industry it used to be when I got my first gig on Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in 1987. But it is a very competitive world, and good animators need to work smart to stay on top of their game. So here's our FLIP checklist of some simple ways to maintain your edge in 2014.

Friday, January 3, 2014

From Rabbits to Robots - Matt Novak Introduces his latest book

I first met Matt Novak working at the Disney Florida animation studio, known back in the late 1980s as the Disney MGM Studios. We were both working on Rollercoaster Rabbit, and we were part of the Magic of Disney Animation ride, called by everyone who worked in it (safely out of earshot of anyone important) as The Goldfish Bowl, a walk-through animation installation where the public could witness actual animated films being made.

For me, just 19 years old and still studying at University, it was a paradise, an absurdly lucky break into one of the top studios in the animation business. I was there in the summer of 1989, and Matt had already started a career as an illustrator, having published his first book Rolling back in 1986.

We got on famously, joining in obligatory trips to the local karaoke lounge, and even making it down to the Florida Keys, before my golden summer at Disney finally ended and I returned to England to continue my studies. Matt stayed on, but eventually left Disney to become a full-time writer and illustrator. Now, with around 20 books to his name, Matt has just published his latest book: Little Robot.