Sunday, June 21, 2009

Almost Ghibli's Little Nemo

Ran across this clip a year ago on youtube, couldn't find it since then. Suddenly it resurfaces.

So the word is, this is one of those projects that gets lost in development hell, animating Winsor McCay's Little Nemo. A lot of big names came and went with going to make it. Cartoon Brew's got the word on it. Miyazaki, Moebius, Brad Bird, Frank Thomas, George Lucas, lot's of folks considered it. This little clip was made by some dudes who are long time collaborator's of Miyazaki (from before Studio Ghibli existed, and into the recent movies).
Daniel Thomas MacInnes links over to a little more history and the orginal full 3:30 pilot.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thinking vid ref

thanks to Eric Scheur for finding this great resource


Perspectives - Carlos from BaseMOTION on Vimeo.


While interviews traditionally present what people say, in Perspectives the interviewees don’t actually say anything. With the spoken portion of the footage edited out, Perspectives leaves only body language, pauses for thought, and interjections to do the communicating.

Typically people think of "content" only as what’s literally being said. The content of "Perspectives" is based on the idea that what’s not being said says something of its own.

The project is a collaboration between BaseMotion and BaseWords, the writing division of Base, who provided the name, questions, and jingle.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Gobelins 2009

Looks like the new batch from Gobelins is out, these are always inspiring (and depressing lol)

Monstera Deliciosa

La Lec Gele



Jelly Sunday

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lou Romano & Will Finn - simple approaches

Lou Romano one of the concept guys at Pixar, has an interesting post talking about the concept exploration he did on Up. (there's an interview with him over at Toon In. Also Brad Bird and others, if you're looking for something to listen to.)

Anyway, what's interesting to me is how much story telling he's getting out of non animated images with sound (well not elaborately animated). Also how they're trying to bring back some of the strengths of 2D that slip away when you get big fancy computers.

above the clouds

it's just panning still images, and it totally works to sell a mood and be entertaining.

Through the Clouds

the music and keep alive and light changing in the image is almost all that's needed.

lightning storm

again just a still image panning, with some lighting layers toggled on and off.

tree lighting

"We wanted to use light theatrically, as a way to selectively indicate detail. This is something that is done in 2D all the time, but I feel we've only scratched the surface in CG. "

Jungle Scene

"Another study in selective detail. The idea was that depth of field could simplify the jungle complexity, allowing backgrounds to go softer and more impressionistic, so the eye could focus on the foreground."

On color scripts: "These are very simple, but help give a sense of the film's tone, which I take further with lighting keys (images tweaked in photoshop to describe what is wanted in the lighting). This is a key contribution of the Production Designer at Pixar. "

Like this post by Disney animator Will Finn about a pretty limited animation test he did. "Of course it can't compete with the big studio animation I have done, but as an individual, I never can anyway. On a basic level it still achieves the same thing full animation does: communicating visually through 2 dimensional symbols. ... Maybe I just need to curb my appetite a bit without dampening my enthusiasm. My favorite quote lately comes from Teddy Roosevelt, who said: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.""

Friday, June 5, 2009

Miyazaki interviews

I'm going to go see Hayao Miyazaki give an interview in a few weeks. Needless to say the man is a god. So I've been reading old interviews with him.

motherload of interview links

Midnight Eye Interview:
Is it true that your films are all made without a script?
That's true. I don't have the story finished and ready when we start work on a film. I usually don't have the time. So the story develops when I start drawing storyboards. The production starts very soon thereafter, while the storyboards are still developing. We never know where the story will go but we just keeping working on the film as it develops. It's a dangerous way to make an animation film and I would like it to be different, but unfortunately, that's the way I work and everyone else is kind of forced to subject themselves to it.

Do your films have one pivotal scene that is representative for the entire film?
Because I'm a person who starts work without clear knowledge of a storyline, every single scene is a pivotal scene. In the scene in which the parents are transformed into pigs, that's the pivotal scene of that moment in the film. But after that it's the next scene which is most important and so on. In the scene where Chihiro cries, I wanted the tears to be very big, like geysers. But I didn't succeed in visualising the scene exactly as I had imagined it. So there are no central scenes, because the creation of each scene brings its own problems which have their effect on the scenes that follow.

Guardian UK
There is a rumour that when Harvey Weinstein was charged with handling the US release of Princess Mononoke, Miyazaki sent him a samurai sword in the post. Attached to the blade was a stark message: "No cuts."

The director chortles. "Actually, my producer did that. Although I did go to New York to meet this man, this Harvey Weinstein, and I was bombarded with this aggressive attack, all these demands for cuts." He smiles. "I defeated him."

"Personally I am very pessimistic," Miyazaki says. "But when, for instance, one of my staff has a baby you can't help but bless them for a good future. Because I can't tell that child, 'Oh, you shouldn't have come into this life.' And yet I know the world is heading in a bad direction. So with those conflicting thoughts in mind, I think about what kind of films I should be making."

"Of course," he relents, "if, as artists, we try to tap into that soul level - if we say that life is worth living and the world is worth living in - then something good might come of it." He shrugs. "Maybe that's what these films are doing. They are my way of blessing the child"

Our story is one in which the natural strengths of the character are revealed by the situations she encounters. I wanted to show that people have these things in them that can be called on when they find themselves in extraordinary circumstances

I am not a big fan of evaluating a film based on its box office receipts. I believe a film should represent a very intimate personal encounter between what's on the screen and what's in an individual's heart. To try to reduce that to numbers on a page is not something I can be a fan of.

There is a fundamental difference in thinking about how to approach a 2-D versus a 3-D film. For example, Yubaba's head (large as it is) is not always the same size in every scene. Depending on my mood and her mood, the size of her head changes. This is an emotional relationship we develop through scale with the audience, one that we would have to abandon if we wholeheartedly embraced digital technology. I'm holding onto my pencil, thank you.

There seems to be this commonly accepted rule in filmmaking that at the end of the film, there always has to be a climax, preferably action-filled. What I've managed to achieve in this last film is with the very climax of the film, a little girl gets on the train. I'm inordinately proud of that.

ComicBox on Nausicaa
A comic book is a comic book. It's different from a movie.

I don't know if that's how one should think about it or not. I don't know what happened with Nausicaa's mother. I thought that maybe she had been forced to part from the man she loved, or she was forced marry the tribal chief. Something like that might have happened-and it might not have happened. I don't know.
She was kind, but she was wrapped in a cloak of despair-of course, such a person can also be kind. What kind of mother was she? I don't think that she was ever cruel to Nausicaa, or mistreated her. It was said that, deep down, she was a very gentle, kind person. The villagers were also kind to Nausicaa. But none of this was the same as love. In American culture, if there are any problems, it's always because 'you love me' or 'you don't love me', and that's all very nice and easy, but it's not that simple. It's different, right? I think so.

The division of the world into heroes and villains is a habit Mr. Miyazaki regards with suspicion. "The concept of portraying evil and then destroying it - I know this is considered mainstream, but I think it's rotten," he said. "This idea that whenever something evil happens someone particular can be blamed and punished for it, in life and in politics, it's hopeless." Like the natural world, which follows its own laws and rhythms - "it does what the hell it pleases," in Mr. Miyazaki's words - human nature is not something that can easily be explained or judged.

When my children were old enough to go to the movies, there was nothing we wanted to see. Neither as parents nor as film lovers; that is why I started. This film had no educative pretense. Panda! Go Panda! is just written to describe every day life, that sweetness that reminds us that life can be beautiful and luminous.
They watched it without moving. I was so happy that my intuition was validated by my two children! But the film wasn't successful this time either.

What can we tell children that will still be valid in 2004? Which type of films will they still want to see? Can we imagine these films? I think we must create films that will make people happy.

on heroines
Miya: I gave up on making a happy ending in the true sense, a long time ago. I can go no further than (the ending in which the lead character) gets over one issue for the time being. Many things will happen after this, but this character will probably manage-- I think that's as far as I can go. From the standpoint of a movie maker, it would be easier if I could make a movie in which "everybody became happy because they defeated the evil villain."

Miya: Yes. When I think about making a male a lead, it gets really intricate. The problem isn't simple. I mean, if it's a story like, "everything will be fine once we defeat him," it's better to have a male as a lead. But, if we try to make an adventure story with a male lead, we have no choice other than doing Indiana Jones. With a Nazi, or someone else who is a villain in anyone's eyes.

Miya: Well, that's... -big laughs- But while making animation, I always feel that we are making big lies. For example, could we depict an affirmative character with a so-so looking girl? What we are doing is a show in a sense, after all.

Miya: It's difficult. They immediately become the subjects of rorikon gokko (play toy for Lolita Complex guys). In a sense, if we want to depict someone who is affirmative to us, we have no choice but to make them as lovely as possible. But now, there are too many people who shamelessly depict (such heroines) as if they just want (such girls) as pets, and things are escalating more and more. While we are talking about the human rights for women, why they can do this, I don't want to analyze much, but...[3]

on nausicaa again
To tell you the truth, this was the work I kept wondering if I could finish since the time I started. I could say that I was able to write without thinking ahead because I decided that I could stop anytime. I was working like "it turned out this way," not "I want things to go this way."

Y: Is that so? Since it's a story world with such a big plot, which can be called an epic drama, we thought you had a detailed story plan from the beginning to the end, and you've been writing it up patiently, taking your time.

M: No, no, I don't have such a planning capability. I wrote something because I was facing a deadline, and I realized the meaning of it much later. I had such experiences many times.

I mean, I didn't start Nausicaa to write a story about the ecology for the sake of environmental protection. At first, I intended to write a story which took place in a desert, but it wasn't interesting when I put it into drawings, so I changed it to the forest. Then, it became that kind of story.
In that sense too, I didn't have any big plot. The writing process was such that "it looks that way, so let's go that way." I faced a writer's block, so I wanted to have something huge, so, the sleeping God Warrior... This one too, I just wrote it into the story saying such thing as "what's gonna happen? I'm in trouble." I continued working, telling myself such lies as "it'll work out eventually. The magazine will go out of business before that..." -laughs-

A movie has to both open the story up and close it. Some may say "no, opening up is enough," but I'm a person who makes entertainment movies, so I think about the boundary I can close the story in.

Anyway, "we are right, and we beat the enemy and the peace will come" is a lie. At least, I can definitely say that's a lie. There are good and bad things. You can do good things. But, a person who does good things is not necessarily a good person. It just means he/she "did good things." In the next moment, he/she can do bad things. That is a human. Unless we think that way, we misjudge everything, including political decisions, and oneself.

"Is it meaningless if the child die?" No, it isn't. Maybe, what those children felt at that time is everything. But, the moment I put these kind of things into words, it will be grossly misunderstood somewhere. It's difficult. If we try to judge by results, many things become difficult. If I say "this moment is important," someone might take it as that we just have to care only about this moment. It's difficult. It's really difficult to put into words.

But, as I said before, to tell the truth, I made movies partly because I wanted to escape from Nausicaa. I didn't intend to do the light stuff because I was doing the heavy stuff here, but if I hadn't been writing Nausicaa, I think I would have struggled trying to put a bit heavier stuff into the movies.

About anime

Snow Queen proved how much love could be put into a work of animation, and how much the movement of the pictures can sublimate to acting. It proved that when you draw a simple and strong emotion earnestly and purely, animation can strike people's hearts as much as the best works of other media can. I think that Hakujaden also had it despite its weakness in the story.

Hence, I think that a popular movie has to be full of true emotion, even if it's frivolous. The entrance should be low and wide so that anyone can be invited in, but the exit should be high and purified. It shouldn't be something that admits, emphasizes, or enlarges the lowness. I don't like Disney movies. The entrance and the exit are lined up at the same low height and width. I can't help but feel that it looks down on the audience.

On Creating Ghibli
Well, that was the situation. However, if everyone just brings his/her own ideas in, there will be no consistency, so the main staff have to have tight control. If we just expand a scene freely, thinking it'll be enough if this scene looks great, there will be no consistency throughout the film. That was one of the reasons for Disney's decline. So, the director's control is also important.
But it's difficult to tear the division of labor down once it got created. A system is supposed to be changed along with the people who are in it. Otherwise, its arteries get hardened.

Money can't buy creativity
In my movies for children, I want to express before anything else the themes: "The world is profound, manifold and beautiful," and "You children are fortunate to have been born into this world... Although the world's beset with lots of seemingly intractable problems, such as population explosion and environmental disruptions, making it difficult to entertain hope, it's nevertheless a wonderful thing to live." This is more easily said than done. It's adults rather than children that are seeing their hopes dashed. So making movies also amounts to struggling with myself.

Of course, we could make cartoons while still taking our vacations, but that would be reflected in their quality. Works of art are created by those who are prepared to go the limit. We're not interested in anything else.

The kind of films I really want to make are ones where I can freely create action sequences. I have all sorts of ideas which I think can yield comedies and stupid war films.

But I don't have any decisive idea on how to make the first half of the movie.[6] There is talk about skipping that part and going straight to the action, but I must not do that.

The most difficult part in making such a film is anticipating that point where all the audience wants to see are airplanes being shot down. If, after all that effort results in a convincing story, then the remaining action sequences will be satisfying.

in venice
ON: There is a theme of ecological concern in all of your movies. Are you concerned about the state of nature and do you use your stories to give the audience a message?

HM: I do not make films to send out messages about ecology. But because I feel ecology is important, because it is part of my personal values, the problem comes up in my films.

ON: When you are working on a new project: What comes first, the images or the story?

HM: Of course the images comes first. We make the story work to make that imagery (laughs) But there are some moments when I find out that I wanted to use this image. But then I realise, the story does not work this way and I end up with nothing.

One thing that characterizes a Miyazaki film as opposed to a mainstream American animated film is the sense of slowness, as if he has all the time in the world to spend.

"I take it for granted," he says. "Sometimes the filmmaker falls into the old trap that they're very much afraid that the audience will become bored. You should not be defeated by that threat. That's why the American films are too much in the face, rather than keeping space. We do not have to speed up the tempo to make the audience involved in the film. As long as you really tap into the children's feelings and try to get the real essence, you will never lose their patience."

Future of Games=Future of Storytelling

So I know that Japan has been working on facial and emotion recognition, as well as head tracking for sight lines. Not surprised all this other stuffs been in the works. This is the kind of thing that makes me say that film is going to be left in the dust. With open world mechanics where you can go anywhere you want, and this kind of technology making it feel completely immersive, who's going to want to watch movies where the character make stupid decisions ("Don't go in that door") when you can be the hero and make the stupid decisions yourself. :) Of course with this kind of new media, we need a new kind of storyteller to be able to realize it and make use of it, the single thread narrative won't cut it if you can't control your protagonist. Choose your own adventure is closer to what we're going to need. Future is now!

this xbox stuff feels too scripted, more like "what we hope to be able to do soon" not "what we can do now"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jason Martinsen Reference reel

Hey just ran across Jason Martinsen's site. Not only does he have a great reel with Horton and Ice Age stuff. But he also has a very interesting reel comparing the reference footage (and hand drawn ideas) to the finished shots. Check it out!

Steve Ogden of Animwatch

Steve Ogden used to run a site called animwatch that was interviews with short film makers and was inspirational. He moved on to other things, but I just found his blog, which has good stuff in it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Call of the Indie

Videodrome is dead, long live the new flesh!

The old media are no longer as relevant today. Yet the new media are still being created. Without gate keepers anyone is free to create the story that speaks 100% to their soul, and get it out to other people to see. I am of the belief that the best work will be what you believe in, so no 2nd guessing what an audience wants, what you (and your team) believe in 100%, told with good craftsmanship. With the possibility to get out there and get an audience, we can have more individual heart pieces, which increases the overall amount of great art out there as it increases the chances that you can find something that you connect to, more variety = more chances of deeper connection.

Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog by Joss Whedon is an example of the possiblities. But as Ralph Bakshi says "just get out there and do it"

If you play by the big boy's rules, you're gonna get creamed, so use your creativity and find new ways to do it. Like Keith Lango talks about, consider the visual harmony of how the style of movement must match the style of the look. Or live action this book looks like it might be useful.

But think about it. Brian Jin made a 24 minute film in 8 months that looks decent. (course I think it almost killed him, working 15 hour days and all weekends). I don't want to bet the farm on something, but it seems like it's possible for 1 person or a small team to make quality stuff and there has to be a way to make it self sustainable. I mean look at these guys, really high production quality for amateurs: hunt for gollum

okay, here I'm gonna collect my reading list, I'll wade through it and let you know if I actually come up with a way to make a living doing this that doesn't involve gambling your life.

I went through these starting from now, so chronologically the bottom was first

a ted talk about finding your niche audience
Mayerson has talked about it a lot:

On the purchase brothers
Failing Faster and Cheaper
On Sita Singing the Blues
Making a living off youtube
Don't start off assuming you'll challenge Pixar
Other trailheads along these paths
between you and the consumer is a bunch of idiots
different production styles
about how media consumption is changing
watchin your back

Chris Anderson articles about the free economy (giving away your product and still making a living)

Lango has been exploring ways to make it happen for years (man I wish he used a label system):
visual harmony and example and another and his journey with it
talking about making money in the new world
musings on exaggerated naturalism one and two
on style in Planet 51
on Jojo in the stars
on the strength of CG
plussing in spite of limitations
not perfect animation
thinking about the visual style (looking for a way to make it good but not need Pixar timelines)and here (sadly the pics are gone, but the thoughts remain)
on medium
using limitations
abstract vs specific
that CG look
more style exploration
fool's errand one two three
online distribution
slumbering demand for cartoons
clever staging for short cuts
alter of inneficiency one two
old vs new media
holding on to your rights
long tail , more long tail
manufactured image one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten
viral marketing analysis
online viewers want
social networking selling
great white indy animator hope one two three four five six seven
boring CG
hoodwinked effect one two
when video ipods where newipod changing media watching
limitations are your friends
make it real

The Bones are True

When I hug my loved ones, I always squeeze too tight. Over the years it's occurred to me the reason I do this, to me bones are true. Flesh and meat is weak and changes and shifts with age and time but your skeleton is like stone it's strong and keeps it's shape and hangs your ever changing flesh upon it. You can call it a metaphor but to me I think one is equal to the other, Your bones is your soul, who you really are, your real emotions, your day to day fleeting moods and feelings are your flesh but who you really are, what you really feel, the true you is always underneath and if you sat yourself in the desert for 100 years that's what would be left. The true you, your bones, the bones are true. Probably not being super clear, it's an abstract concept I'm trying to clothe in words, but hey this blogs really for me anyway so I'll understand at least :P

Saw Up last night, to see my impression highlight below (trying to not spoil anything for anyone)
Anyway, I felt like Ellie stole the show in Up. The first act of the movie, the whole relationship between Carl and Ellie, that's what I cared about. The rest of the movie was just ephemeral flesh, but Carl's love was bone. (* spoilers over)

Had me thinking about Brian McDonald and his invisible ink blog I talked about before. (here, and here) Specifically about the short film of his I saw and how it's a strong film because some bones show through in it. Basically the part that is going to stick with your audience is the part where they feel the strong true emotions. We respond to seeing another human being truly, with out all the fluff and distractions we throw up everyday to keep each other from getting so close. But as film makers we want to make films that connect to the audience ... this is what makes that connection, true emotions, "sincerity", the bones.

(Brian's post about that film is April 8, 2006 (2nd post on the page) if you're curious to see what he says)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jin Sung Choi

I think he goes by Brian. I think he made both films in under a year each amazingly. They have an interesting look. Wonder where I can find the full things

Star Wars MMO cinematic trailer

man epic trailer!!!!