Sunday, December 26, 2010

...create anything...Mashugana

...more drawings with more ideas behind them. I had an idea for a kid named Mashugana which is a Yiddish word for 'crazy person'. There is a cool idea behind it but you never know who is reading your I will keep it under wraps even though it may never see the light of day. Thats probably why all artists are Mashugana's...

keep creating anyway.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

...iAnimate & so can you!...

So the time has come to give back just a bit more...

I have wanted to teach for a while and I decided that the time is here. Jason Ryan and I have been speaking for a while and his passion for animation is everything that I expected. Being able to work with someone who loves their job just as much as you means a lot. This made my decision even easier. Starting January of 2011 I will be teaching with one of the newest animation schools...iAnimate! Not only will I be teaching, I will be offering a downloadable shot walkthrough that goes step by step from planning to polishing your shot. iAnimate (this link will take you to pricing) also offers a nice range of options for those who are on a budget and want to learn how to animate from professionals who are working in the industry. I love that this option exists because I know that a lot of people have a hard time with paying for school.....there are options! This is going to be a fun ride for me and I am sure you are going to be seeing some cool things coming out of the school. Click the links, go to the site, and see if you want to learn how to maybe get into a fun career.

all the best


Friday, November 26, 2010

Being An Animator: A Small Perspective

Imitating life! I spend most of my life imitating it. As humans we mimic what is around us a lot. The clothes we wear, the hairstyles we get, movies we create, the stories we write, and many people imitate people they know or heard of. So being an animator I watch everything around me and analyze it even more. We create motions and give performances that people can relate to. Interesting that we would want to see more and more of what we witness all the time in our daily lives. Magic or extraordinary events are used a lot in stories to break you from reality but for the most part you get a decent chunk of what you already know. Does that make our perspective small or is it just that we need the familiar. The familiar makes us feel safe even in animation.

I don't think the outlook on what you can do is small, I feel it is just this on going curiosity with who we are. Why we do the things we do and can we become better. Even with that being said, being a better person is relative to the individual. So does being more familiar with what's around you make you a better animator and how do you measure your worth on this planet if you all you do is mimic it?

...maybe too deep....?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

...characters and gesture drawning @ Disney...

Last week I actually had time to go and enjoy some gesture drawing. It was a real good feeling for the soul. I love animating and doing hand drawn animation is a great feeling because your doing both; creating life and drawing. I guess that is why I love working on my thumbnails before I touch the computer. Anyway... getting back at it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

...more process & sketching...

These first set of thumbnails are for a test I am doing at work using the Prep & Landing characters that is not production related. I am just getting used to working the the characters and rig. I finished up my work on the short and wanted to continue some acting exploration. We will be hitting the ground running on something new in January. It has not been announced yet so I cant really say anything about it.

Again my process always begins with thumbnails. I like to start with drawings since I can play with things a little bit faster. It is kind of like shooting reference because I get up and act out to the dialogue but without the camera rolling. I hit body postures and then exaggerate them on paper. I then shoot reference to look for interesting nuances that I can add within my performance. I am currently working on something that will hopefully be helpful to aspiring animators that gives a good sense on how feature quality animation is created from various perspectives.

These are just some sketches I did while waiting for Maya to do its thing.

Sunday, August 29, 2010 many stories but just animating all the time...

I found these drawings in a sketch pad then the light went off as I slowly remembered the story I was developing (not digging the poses of the arms too much, bad comp). One of the things I really enjoyed about Art school was being able to explore all aspects of my creativity. Today it still helps me with my animation because I can try and dig deep into the characters head, I think of think of drawing and sculpture when I pose the character, I think of drawing appealing shapes when I pose the mouth and eyes, I think of character design and gesture drawing as I move the character (personality and different defining traits that you get from life). All of these aspects of art school are not necessary to learn to be an animator, but I look at it like this...

...if make tires for a living and don't understand how all of the other parts of the car affect the tires, then you may be making a mediocre tire...

Monday, August 09, 2010

...things happen from hard work...

Man I remember sitting in Georgia in this room with roaches climbing up the wall and just working away trying to be an animator. I would sleep for a few hours wake up and continue going (this was after I quit my job as a manager at the Gap trying to pay for grad school). I was still doing both 2D and 3D animation. Going back and forth from my homemade pencil test machine back to Maya which was running slow as hell on my crappy computer that I purchased from so 'good 'ol boys' computer store in the sticks. I dont know how many times I watch that Tarzan extra disk with Glen and Bruce talking about animating their characters. There are so many people in the world who have the same story. "To watch and learn from these amazing artists, only to end up working with them" Walking in the Disney hallways means more than just making it to the Mouse House. It meant being where discoveries were made, being where this amazing rebirth of animation started, the place that gave birth to Dreamworks and Pixar, and being next to people who love the art of animation as much as you do. I never NEVER would have guess that I was going to get to work with Glen during my career and be right down the hall from Bruce Smith. They both inspired me while I was struggling and have given me even more drive as an animator. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work with them and still have the chance to learn more from them both. I am even more grateful for my mother sacrificing things so that I could pursue my dreams.

Grateful for the shots I received on Tangled and thanks to the Directors for making it an enjoyable experience.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

...Tangeled Animation comes to an end..kinda...

Its been a while since I posted....

Since November of 2009 we have been going hard and it was definitely the smallest crew that I have worked with. Everyone gave over 100 percent and we are hoping that the film does well. The name change has been beatin' down by people and the studio has been talked about in all kinds of ways; positive and negative.

My opinion is this:

a studio is a place that houses artist to create products for a consumer. The product has to make money to keep the house functioning as well as put money in the hands of the creators. You can only control what is in front of you and let your voice be heard where it can make an impact. If you are making a positive role for yourself in any workplace, you will eventually be seen and heard. If you care about your peers than help them by lifting them up. If you point out something negative than back it with something positive. Your energy spills over to everything around you and then spreads from there. I have heard negative guys and people that just talk too damn much at all the studios I have been at and they all have the same personalities, the same tendencies, and always seem to find people who will listen to their rants.
You don't have to listen and you don't have to associate with them... pretty simple concept huh. It may make your career that much more enjoyable.

With all that being said the guys who animated on Tangled have worked hard. HARD! The negative talk in and outside of the studio has not affected the drive and passion of the people who worked on the movie. If the words have done anything, I would have to say that it has inspired us to continue being better at what we do no matter where we work. Some people will enjoy the movie and some will not. All we can ask is that the fans of animation support the people who help create the film and have a good time with your families.

hungry as every... jamaalb.

Monday, May 31, 2010


When I got to Disney I had a few sit downs with Glen and i asked him about his earlier moments at the studio. I was curious about when he was learning early on from some of the remaining 9 Old Men. Studying under Ollie Johnston was one of the most eye opening experiences for him he told me. He told me a story about doing test animations and how he had some nice movements down, but some of his peers had the movement and just a little something more that he wasn't getting right away. He couldn't put his finger on it and when he went to speak with Ollie about the tests he was doing, the thing he learned to add to his animation was ENTERTAINMENT. Ollie told him that he wants to be entertained when he watches animation and that Glen should strive to put that in his work. This was a small but big gem that he gave me my first month in at the studio. "Dont forget to entertain when you are digging into the emotions of the character". There is a way to get the thoughts of the character across and entertain the audience at the same time. Entertainment will not always be showy and wacky animation, but also things the audience can relate to.

So I basically added the understanding that when people go to the theater to watch our work...they are screaming out....


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Drawings telling you to DRAW!

I follow a few blogs and most of the guys and gals I check out work in production as well... so I am sure the day to day job slows everyone on posting to blogs; including the kid. I came into my office today and started flipping the 2D animation I started and noticed one of the drawings looked like it was saying "...pick up the pencil..." Anyway work has been very hectic and everyone is putting in overtime. I have been planning my final series of shots which is going to be another level of acting for me ( I am looking forward to blocking these out).

During the last several weeks of the movie I am going to be working on an additional blog that will not be ongoing but a presentation for aspiring animators!

Have you ever watched an animated movie and wonder who did what shot? Who are the guys making these characters come to life? My favorite thing to do with my Disney DVD's is pausing the end credits and see who worked on what characters. I have all of them pretty much memorized at this point, but for CG animation you cant really do that. I decided that for TANGLED I am going to create a blog that has pictures of all the animators who worked on the movie a long with one of their favorite shots and a description of how they created it..... or whatever they want to say about it. I think that animation fans will get a big kick out of it.

I am going to post some of the doodles that I have done during production... waiting for playblasts, planning shots, waiting for shots to come up in dailies, or just during my lunch break.

thanks for being interested


Saturday, April 17, 2010

...How To Train Your Dragon...

I don't really review movies but I have to say that Dreamworks latest movie is strong beyond belief. I saw it on opening night with my wife and we were both blown away. It is the kind of movie that would make a kid want to be an industry creative or just work in the arts on that type of production. Its good to see a well balanced animated movie with action and heart. When you get on a roller coaster and you want to go again, that was a well constructed ride. I am really excited to own this movie and I am hoping that they put out a good double disk, but that is not really a Dreamworks thing.

I must have liked it a lot to do a drawing based off of the movie..shiiii

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Strength of a Team: Part 2

Moving forward together! As creative people we all have ideas that we think are good and will enhance the team’s efforts. There has always been a major issue when everyone has a “good idea”… the issue being too many chefs in the kitchen. The team members have to come together at some point on the strongest idea and most of the group needs to step back and let the leaders push forward. So it may not feel like you are moving forward together but for the sake of getting things done efficiently, most of us have to bite our tongues.

This is not a bad thing; it is just the way it is. A lot of studios have been developed out of the frustration of working for the larger ones. The feeling of not having your ideas heard leads to a lot of creative people wanting to get their vision out to the public… “let’s start a studio!” Eventually that studio will also become a place where other ideas are placed on the back burner because no matter where you are too many chefs spoil the soup.

Moving forward together is not about everyone having a ‘say’… it is about everyone on the team working in their role to the best of their ability and understanding the goals at hand. When the time comes for you to have your voice heard, make sure you are able to articulate with a sense of the higher level goals in mind. If you are asked to share your visions with the rest of the team, put your best foot forward and then you may get a bigger chance to shine. You will inspire others to do the same and make the team stronger.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Strength of a Team: Part 1

One of the biggest components of a strong team is the bond. The bond is built by the leader...etc. They are in charge of creating the foundation, culture, and path to success. This task is what will help make the team feel secure and believe in the leadership. Then the team relies on every individual.

The team looks to each other as family. Of course there will be disagreements (just like a biological family) and other issues that arise but everyone understands that no one person is above the team. If anything, the team members will push each other to be better. If the team members do not believe in itself entirely or if the bond has been tainted in a way that makes the outlook towards success questionable, then failure is eminent. Not because the team is going to purposefully do a bad job, but that the COMPLETE FOCUS of the team is not on the finish line. The vision becomes distorted.

The focus goes towards selfish reasons to do a good job.

If the opposite of the above is in place...the focus of working hard becomes selfless and leans in the direction of making something great that the team can be proud of. Over time something great happens... the team begins to learn from each other and understands how one another thinks. The bond becomes very strong and everyone is making the trek towards the finish line TOGETHER with the intention of winning. The formula is pretty simple: take care of your people and they will take care of you.

Push Forward!

Sunday, March 21, 2010


So many times I sat and worked with the making of stuff repeating over and over. Glen and Bruce popping up on the screen and making animation sound like the best job in the world. Andreas speaking on the animators that came before us and being so passionate about the work. So many animators who passed through the doors of Disney and left some kind of mark. The privilege of being around the guys who got learn from the 9 Old Men or the few that were still around to learn from is priceless. I had a taste of that history, that effort of passing down the knowledge that was given long ago. Sitting talking with Glen and Bruce have been some of the greatest moments in my animation career thus far.

I have no idea what my fate is going to be at the studio... but what is fate...

the student

a little wiser

...still working on the intro...

these are some of the main keys for the dancing part... I am flushing out the turning around to begin the dialogue. It is taking forever to work on this but its nice to do so when I have time between walking a tight rope. Man it has been several years since I have "really" animated some refined 2D work. hard to see this clip..whatever

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pencil Test Depot: New Title Page

I finally got tired of looking at the lame logo at the top of the Pencil Test Depot. This idea was inspired by a character that BJ is going to animate for the site at some point. In the meantime, I wanted to get something up there that had a bit more fun to it. CLICK THE PIC and check out some of the new posts!

Saturday, February 20, 2010 you know what you sound like..??!!

Don't hurt your peers if you are at a studio by spreading negativity... Don't be a cancer and make the people around you feel bad about where they work. Do your co-workers a favor .... shut up!!!

...Release the Excess...

Sunday, February 07, 2010

more studies

knowing where to push the face and body has been an ongoing process for me and it will probably continue for a while. I found that drawing has helped me more and more in CG animation. The biggest thing I have found to be helpful is pushing all areas of the body to make a powerful impact. It is really fun to go way beyond with extreme poses and it is challenging to find the right balance sometimes; especially when dealing with realistic looking characters. Finding landmarks has been around since animation started. Using areas of the face and body that can be distorted and taken back to their original position is a great tool. Anyway, I was just drawing a bunch of stuff thinking about what I need to work on tomorrow in my shot and this is one of the few things I sketched. I am actually animating Rapunzel at the moment so this was just a test since I cant really show any of my pre pro stuff from the movie.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

...???.insearch of the Golden Animation Reel.. (not really)???...

I have been reading and hearing a lot of conversations about studios, layoffs, projects, and so many negative things about the animation industry that my head hurts. All the conversations led to someone asking me why my reel was not posted on my blog so that studios could access it easily. I don't like thinking about reel too much, especially while I am trying to animate. Everyone thinks of their work differently and how it makes an impact on them personally. At the end of the day, we all have to find jobs and provide a good life for our families. Their are a lot of people I look up to; animators and artists a like. Most of the influential creatives have always tried to make a personal achievement within their work. Trying to perfect a brush stroke, sculpting the human form with precision, understanding anatomy through drawing, or just pushing the next level of your acting.

So it is just my opinion that focusing on what will look good on my reel will distract me from pushing my work. I like to say to myself..."focus on the subtext of your shot, the performance, make sure the mechanics are working, and think of interesting ways of handling your characters.... and guess what will happen...."

Your reel will take care of itself

Saturday, January 30, 2010

"...Kick The Ball..."

I have been trying to work really hard at the office and the days are flying by. I was on Facebook and I have to say it was pretty cool to meet up with people you haven't seen in years. As time passed I began to not speak to those people as much and they spoke less to me. It is just what it is... you grow apart from people and create lives as adults. Its cool to link up every once in a while to touch base. My career has taken me far away from where I grew up and only so many people stayed close to me. With that being said, Facebook has become another distraction for me personally. The constant glance at the site only to see someone has gained 100 crops in Farmville..? WTF is Farmville or am I just becoming old. It was fun while it lasted. I have to focus more than ever in 2010 because my family needs it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010 44 @ Disney...

Today was the 44th day at Disney... no there is no significance to the number or day. I just was curious about how long I had been there and to be honest it feels like I have been there for years. Everyone is open and the team is pushing together. I have been working away on my shots that are due this week; polishing and refining stuff. Even though the picture looks like I am going is probably more like the stare of go hard or go home. I made this sketch between playblasts. I will do another sketch on day 88 or maybe sooner.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

key frame: #2

this is probably going to take me forever just because the amount of work I have to do in the studio and my thoughts are really focused on that... but I want to create this 2D piece as well so I am using whatever little time I get (between work and family) to create it. This is the second key pose out of the 6 I have made so far. I am exploring acting choices that will fit with the dialogue I recorded. I remember reading up a few animators that I look up to and one of the things that holds true is the amount of time spent finding those poses that will make the character come to life. I will keep trying to push and hopefully this thing will come out moving... I will try my best for believability.

Friday, January 01, 2010

...New animation...

well I guess this is an idea that is carrying over from the end of last year, but it is still new. The character designs and head model sheets I created for the cartoon version of myself are for an intro. (link the the head sheet: HEAD-SHEET) Between working at the studio and writing, I have been trying to hash out what the intro should look like. I got a flash and something came to me a few days ago. I roughed out a few versions but I think this was the one I am leaning more towards. This is just some rough thumbnails of how I see the character coming into the frame and starting. It should be a really short 2D animation but I want it to look as professional as I can get it. This is good for my nephew to see and hopefully he can use this in the future.

I think it should come out ok, but I am really going to have to squeeze it in since I am going to be working a lot of hours. Sunday nights look like my best bet for trying to get this idea finished...