Monday, November 17, 2008

Goldberg, Williams, Lasseter, Maclane

lot of little snippets from different places

Richard Williams Spline cast
Ken Harris was one of those minimum movement guys, playing tennis he would hardly move and the ball would go flying. So he hated the flashy Disney animation flashing all around, he would reduce it all down, so it was very conservative and that's what made it funny. Master of restraint, disagreeing with the Illusion of Life "pushing it further". When you push it further you can always pull it back, but they never do, they never do pull it back and it's too much. It's great to go crazy, but it's funnier if you don't. I want to push less.

I felt the need to do a stick figure version of the illusion of life because it was too complicated with the beautiful disney drawings, the principles are disguised and distracted from.

Animation Podcast Eric Goldberg
I like to draw everything that has give and will support the idea of the pose, and then draw the anatomy on top. Which is a limit in CG, you are already dealing with bone and hinged characters. I know there's an underlying structure, but I look at the overall graphic shapes and how they would move, and then make it work anatomically afterwards. I tend to start with the most compelling aspects first, I will almost always start with the face. My current character the first thing I draw is the bridge of the nose, then the eyes behind it, and then the mouth underneath, so I can get whatever expression I want.(normally you start with the cranium, but then you're constricted in what kind of expression will fit) The eyes nose mouth combination is the central focus So I'm not limiting to myself to what the expression should be based on how it sits on the cranium, I'm going for the priority, the expression first, and then hooking it up into the cranium afterwards.

On Pocahontas we had to drop ALL of the comedy to appease Jeffrey Katzenberg, make it straight and dramatic. Of course what happened, towards the 11th hour, everyone was saying "there's no laughs in this film, we have to put some laughs back". Fortunately we had the sidekick characters to put the comedy in, but honestly you could pull the characters out and it would be the same film, It was like trying to wedge comedy bricks into a house that had already been built. They were spot gags, not essential to the story. The great thing about Ron and Jon is that the comedy is part of the fabric and tone of the movie, you can't tell the story without the comedy characters, it makes a more unified fabric of the story, a more unified film, then if you drop all the jokes and put the comedy in on a second pass.

Mike Jiona(?) color designer:
Use very vibrant colors to evoke mood, not necessarily to evoke realism.

I think animation was invented for the short film. Brevity is the soul of wit. If you can say something compellingly in a very short amount of time, that's better then waffling about it for 2 hours. That said, the breadth that can be said in a feature can be much much deeper. The sidekick character in a feature has the largest emotional range, they carry the comedy, there needs to be something underneath that comedy, and they have to feel for the hero so the audience will. The toughest thing to do on the Genie was to make him sincere, make people believe that after bouncing off the walls he still has feelings for Aladdin, and that contrast makes it all the more stronger, getting that contrast (from wild to subtle) and stay in character is really gold.

Fantasia can define who the characters are through pantomime with their movement. When watching tv you can leave it on and "watch it" without actually looking at it 90% of the time and know what's going on. You can't "listen" to a road runner cartoon and appreciate the nuances of the personality unless you actually WATCH it. If you can turn down the sound and tell what's going on it's animation, if you can turn down the picture then it's radio.

what is CG capable of but hasn't yet accomplished?
A lot of people in CG use the limitations of the medium and call it a style. "CG's a style, you can be a lot more subtle, little eye darts and things" but what you can't do seemingly is make a character really feel organic, big changes in shape and facial muscles and stuff. You can, but you have to think in a different way, typically in CG you work layeredly, you move the torso then the legs then the arms, which is why CG walks look floaty, because they don't have a push off (which is how you would do it in hand drawn, start with the push off thrusting that torso forwards). Strides are being made but it's not a natural thing for CG to do. CG is still in it's infancy, it's only a little further along then Steamboat Willie. If Cg's going to advance it needs to learn more from the 80 years of hand drawn that developed the medium. It's stunning to look at the drafts for Song of the South, the same 4 names over and over (Thomas, Johnston, Kahl, Davis) these guys could produce a prodigious amount of quality animation without breaking a sweat. They had developed certain approaches and ideas, that could be made use of in CG now. It's because they knew their medium so well, certain conclusions where arrived at over all of those years as basic ideas/ basic principles: the strength of a storytelling pose, don't make extraneous movement if you want the audiences eye to go a certain place, stop moving the body if you want to see a facial expression change.

Whenever I can I reduce the motion blur, because I want the actual shape of the character to give you the fluidity itself, instead of doing it with motion blur, which is why CG looks kind of like toys moving around. Clay notes that smears and wipes and stuff are a dying art because if they are put in for a big movement, they look funny with the motion blur on top. Eric saw a fur demo at Pixar he was told "look at all that overlap we get for free" and he thought "look at what you aren't getting, someone making that arm point and all of that fur dragging behind it to emphasize the point and then catching up, you get the dynamics but you don't get the artistic thought that says everything supports that movement. Sim follows what the action does, but it doesn't emphasize what the actions does. Which is what's compelling about hand drawn, everything you do can organically support, whether it's the stretch of a drawing, or the shape of the clothes. You can also draw things with a give, so it feels like the character is organic and alive and constantly being affected by the environment and their bodies and everything.

Interview with Angus MacLane
AM: For BURN•E, communicating his thought process to the audience was the biggest challenge. He is a fairly limited character, which is appealing, but more work must be done in the story process to communicate his intentions. With BURN•E, and with WALL•E, if the audience can’t tell what the character is thinking or what is going on, then they loose interest very quickly.

Q: Burn-E has a very "Pixar" feel to it as an animated short. What is it about repetitive failure (Lifted, One Man Band, now Burn-E) that is so funny?
Angus MacLane.: Humor usually comes about when result doesn't match the expectation. If everything in a characters' life goes well it's hard to relate to and probably not as funny.

RI: Is it harder to do an animated film with little dialogue? Does it put more pressure on the animation to do the talking? Because of this, was WALL•E a harder character to create than some of your others?

AM: It’s not harder to animate, but it is way more work in the storyboard process.

In your work make sure that you are making something that you believe in. In BURN•E I tried to have at least one thing in each shot that was true or real or relatable. Make the world of your film believable and relatable and the audience will follow.

Interview with Lasseter
Lasseter: To make very successful and entertaining films, you need to do three things really well: You need to tell a story that keeps people on the edge of their seat; you need to populate that story with really memorable and appealing characters; and you must put that story and those characters into a believable world. My philosophy is that quality is the best business plan, and it all starts with a great story, regardless of whether it's released in theaters or goes straight to video. The sequel should be as good or better than the original. When we were making "Toy Story 2," the movies we looked at were "The Godfather: Part II" and "The Empire Strikes Back."

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