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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Here's the first review of the second edition of PREPARE TO BOARD!, from Britain's Skwigly animation site.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Best Design Book of 2012

Roland Wilson's last book is a stunner.  Susan Lemieux Wilson edited a lifetime's worth of knowledge into the new book

Rowland B. Wilson's Trade Secrets: Notes on Cartooning and Animation.

I bought it at once and am going to be recommending it to my students. Wilson's color theory is specifically adpated for motion pictures, specifically animation. While his compositional tips are from an illustrator's perspective, they can still be applied to the animated image.

This is a wonderful book.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


I think I should mention some blog sites where you (students especially) can learn something about animation in other parts of the world. The industry was Hollywood-centric for so long that it's a positive pleasure to see the center of gravity shifting, or at least evening out. The Internet is a huge aid to animators: not only for communication, but for actual production. How many of you realize that you now don't need a distributor, or a studio, to get a short film made? Thanks to YouTube and Facebook and Kickstarter, we can network, fund, and distribute indie animation online. That's a pretty powerful set of tools for a bunch of crazy artists to handle.
But on to the blogs. First and foremost I would like to talk about the British site Skwigly . This was revived recently with a series of amazing podcasts with people like Barry Purves, Billy West, Fraser McLean (author of SETTING THE SCENE, the first book on layout history--really) and yours truly.  (You can hear me starting at 18:00 in Podcast Number 3.) They have just posted a podcast from the Annecy festival. Take a listen!
Raul Aguirre, Jr.'s MAN VS. ART is an eclectic blend of interviews, reviews, and articles about working in the biz, and is also very entertaining.
One of my favorite bloggers is Steve Moore, whose FLIP magazine was actually written by and for animators. (Yes, I have a couple of articles in there but Steve is unquestionably the best writer on the site.) He's now revived FLIP as a blog and has a British contributor as well!
Elliot Cowan's Sandwichbag chronicles, among other things, its owner's production of an independent feature film.  Read about it there, and view some more of Elliot's stuff. He's drawing, but everything is done on computer. This is the way cartoon animation is developing and (frankly) I don't think I will miss paper much if the results look like the ones I've been seeing here and elsewhere. (by the way, I've been drawing on a computer since 1997 and produced two animated films without paper; it's not such a big deal if you have the right tools.)
Jenny Lerew is a story artist and author whose Blackwing Diaries blog is an interesting combination of history and industry news.
Lastly, there is the blog of Animation's Editorial Cartoonist, FLOYD NORMAN...whose autobiography is being published in about a month's time. Don't miss the Gag Wall!
I know there are other blogs out there, but these are the ones I visit regularly. I hope you enjoy them.
Well, I have to tell you, it is just WONDERFUL here in my new apartment. I enjoy the neighbourhood, I like the vibes, and most importantly, I enjoy coming home to the place. That can be a very important thing when your life is basically divided between work and home, during the school term.  This is Gizmo, in the eat-in kitchen. I haven't had one of these since I was a kid. It took a little getting used to but it is fun having breakfast in the charming, well lit place. Even though the building is old and rather ugly on the outside, it has a beautiful interior. I suppose there is something profound to be read into this except that I cannot figure out what it is.

I'm on summer break now but that does not mean I've stopped working. There are people (not just Sheridan students) who ask for help on various projects. I do what I can.
There are some interesting developments in the Toronto animation scene as well. This weekend is the first TAAFI ANIMATION FESTIVAL . It's about time that Toronto had its own animation festival, and the Tiff Bell Lightbox is an excellent place in which to have it. They have a number of events, masterclasses and so on, that might be fun. Truth to tell, I'm only attending the opening screening and party, but I think that the other events should be really good, and I hope that they are booked solid.

And I'm going around camping and traveling in Canada a bit this summer, so there will be pictures. The bicycle trails here are just gorgeous, and I plan to use them as much as possible. So stay tuned...

Friday, May 04, 2012

The winter 2012 semester ended well. There were a lot of motivated and interested students in the classes, and it's a pleasure to teach when this is the case. Sheridan has a tough selection process and that's good preparation for our courses, and for real life.

I'm teaching my 'acting for animators' workshop again, beginning this Monday. It was fun last year and I'm looking forward to seeing the scenarios the students come up with.
We're also doing some retraining, ourselves. This should be quite useful and interesting.

now, unfortunately there is some bad news about the book. Its publication is delayed again since Focal Press was purchased by another publisher. I'm told they are excellent, but it nevertheless does make me a little unhappy that I cannot use the new edition for the fall classes. It really is quite an improvement over the original. But that's the way it is. The  publisher will 'push' sales in the spring, but I don't know how many schools actually would buy the books at that late date.

So, the second edition of PREPARE TO BOARD will have to be used in the fall, 2013 classes at this rate. The original is still useful, but I have supplemented it with so many handouts over the years. I'd like to not have to do this any more. One more year should do it.

I had to take a short visit to see my parents due to illness in the family, and it's almost over now.

The move to the new apartment will take up all the remaining time not spent in retraining and teaching the workshops.

At least Gizmo is healthy. I hope she stays that way.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gizmo the Survivor Kitty

I had no idea, when I got this unwanted little cat in November of 2005, that she would prove to be (a) a wonderful animation model and inspiration for many illustrations in two books; (b) as friendly and loyal as any dog; (c) so sickly that her grievous illnesses would cost me much more than mere money. Gizmo is not just a cat; she is a friend. And when friends get sick, you help them.
Fortunately Gizmo is also a survivor. Her nicknames "Tenacious G", "Iron Kitty" and "The Fighter" (this last one, admiringly, awarded from her vet) were awarded after she survived large cell malignant lymphoma that entailed the removal of most of her large intestine in March of 2010. This is a picture of her recovering just after she came home from hospital on March 20, 2010.
Her operation took place on the 18th. Does this look like a sick cat to you?
Since then Gizmo has had another close scare in December of 2011...this one, (a nasal polyp) nonfatal, though just as pricey and difficult and painful to remove.
But she seems to have beaten both of them.
And this is quite an achievement, because the vet did confirm that all of the other cats with large cell malignant lymphoma have died within two years of diagnosis.
Gizmo even beat this cancer without chemo. I wouldn't get it for her and it wouldn't have helped anyway. But she is still here. The anniversary of her surgery: March 18th, 2012. It's been two years. She is possibly the longest lived survivor of this condition.

She is indeed a Fighter. And I say this with great admiration.

Publication date for PREPARE TO BOARD second edition

Well, since I got the text and illustrations for PTB's second edition done early, the tentative publication date has been moved up a month to August 2012 (formerly September.) This seems like a good idea, since it is, after all, a textbook; and September is when most of the books would seem to be needed.

There will be a website for the new edition and I've sent in several videos to go on it; none of them can be presented here for obvious reasons. Sheridan students Mincheul Park and Bram Cayne very generously allowed me to use two projects completed in my class using exercises from the book; and podcaster Raul Aguirre, Jr. allowed me to excerpt some of the fine interview he got with me in December 2010.

I had to film myself pitching, and while it was a distressing experience seeing myself in front of a camera (especially after a week of viewing over 500 portfolios--) I did manage to complete the pitch successfully, albeit a bit tiredly.

Term is winding down now and the group Leica projects turned out quite well this year. I wonder if it is possible to post them?
Let's find out.

More anon.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy Year of the Dragon!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Oh yeah, then there's this.

The second edition of PREPARE TO BOARD will be published this year. There's a lot of new artwork in it...and I've revised or rewritten about a third of the book. So anyone who wants to buy it will not feel that it has merely received a cosmetic makeover. I think that it is very much improved, not that the original is junk, you understand; but I write better now, and have fixed some parts that I found needed fixing. Here's the new cover, once again featuring cover girl Gizmo.

The Moon Never Sets on the British Empire

A friend of mine is doing some writing for this new version of Sherlock Holmes...and since I was curious, but still don't have a television, we watched an episode or two in a coffee shop in an undisclosed location. The infamous "Scandal in Belgravia" episode had aired the night before, and when I saw the 'sheets to the wind' scene I had the idea that it could have been staged more like this. I guess I'll never get my Canadian citizenship now.

I have Been a Naughty Person

Well, it's that time of year when we make new year's resolutions, and mine is: to start keeping this blog in some kind of shape again. You just never know who is going to read it.
Here's what has been sort of going on here: thanks to this blog (yes), two of my caricatures are going to appear in the NATIONAL POST on Saturday, January 7. The first one is the "Potato Head Ford" cartoon that appeared here in 2010. The other one is...this.
Yes, Mr. Ford's cuts are being implemented as we speak. Subway/streetcar fare is going up. Garbage pickup has been 'privatized' (and surprise: there were no bids on it; it was awarded to a company that is doubtless in someone's good graces.) Libraries, the arts, everything that makes Toronto pleasant, is being cut back. As I said to the journalist who spoke with me last week...the only thing not being cut back in Toronto is...the mayor.
He's certainly good copy, and very easy to caricature.
I drew this thing while waiting to hear whether Gizmo had survived her latest bout with surgery. Unfortunately this charming cat has been prey to some alarming illnesses for the past two years, and is probably down to her last one or two lives. I get the biopsy result tomorrow. The article will be in the TORONTO section of the paper in an article called "Ford as Muse."