Saturday, December 01, 2012

Brothers In Animation: Brainstorming Lunch


This is only a few of the Brothers working in animation today, but the numbers are slowly growing.  Its not enough in my opinion so we are disucssing ways to bring more the information about "Careers in Animation" to more Black Youth... Stay Tuned

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Whats Next?... "Penguins of Madagascar: Movie"


So.. Croods has finished up and I have been moving forward on the next project which is the "Penguins of Madagascar" Movie.  Its crazy how popular the characters have become so it seemed like an easy decision for Dreamworks to make a film starring the whacky 'foursome'.

The thing that I am finding out is that the Penguins are fun and challenging at same time.  They move in a  cartoony manner but much of the movement is wildly creative and unexpected.  Their body and facial changes make them pretty interesting to watch in the Madagascar world.  I am sure this is one of the biggest contributing factors to there overall appeal.

Not only will the animation prove to be a challenge, but also trying retain the essence of characters that are well known and loved by millions.  The fans understand who the characters are and have a connection to them in a much different way than the animators.  As animators we will have to bring the audience the Penguins they know as well as reveal new things about them. The end result should be a greater appreciation and an overall enjoyable experience.

I have heard so many people bash our studio for making sequels or spin offs, but in the grand scheme the general public loves the characters we create.  I remember when I was a kid.... I was devastated when Optimus Prime died in Transformers the movie.  My point is that I wanted more and more spin offs because I loved the characters beyond what adults may understand. I guess its hard for some of us to remember that as we get older.  The memories of childhood leave many of us, but some try to retain it as much as we can.

"If you make memorable characters, they will live forever"

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Animation Ends on "The Croods" and it was a good time!

Me, James Baxter, & Sean Sexton

Well... thats another film in the bag and I have to say that Croods and Surfs Up were my favorite films to work on so far.  I am completely grateful that I got to work with James Baxter and Chris Sanders.  Its still pretty crazy to me.  As you are learning animation, you find those few guys that help push yourself, inspire, and help define where you want to take your animation. James is definitely one of those guys for me.

I will cherish my experience and hopefully we will work together again on another project

On to the Next One....

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I NEED YOUR VOTE "...from Planning to Polish..." on Steam!!!

Hey guys,

My friends at Valve have set up a new way for content to be placed on the web.  Steam Greenlight is the exciting new platform that allows independent developers get voted into the Steam service.  I love this idea I am looking for your support.  You need a Steam account to vote so if you dont have one.... its a great time to get it regardless because Valve has placed some great games and other downloadable content at your finger tips. (read more below)

If you click the image, it will take you directly to my Steam Greenlight page.  I want to thank you in advance and I looking forward to adding more content to Steam if this goes well

all the best & keep grinding'

Jamaal B

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Horse Blocking Anim: Older Test


Once I found out there was a horse in Tangled I began studying them after I got the offer to work on the project. A lot of videos, books, drawings, and anatomy and movement studies to prepare. I tried to get the four forward motions in to the test (Walk,Cantor, Gallop, & Run), but I think I only got 3. Anyway...after all the study I did one shot with Maximus where he pretty much does nothing...hahaha. I am sure I will have to animate a horse at some point in my career.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Quincy Harker: Art for Marvel Universe Reduxe Edition


- This is an illustration I did for The Marvel Universe Reduxe Edition. You can see the site here: Had fun! Thanks Jon...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

...Puss in Boots... (Animation Test)

This is my first dive into Dreamworks' animation software; EMO. I did this test between taking classes about the various things we do at DW to make our work get into the films. The actual shot in the film was NOT done by me... this was just the piece of dialogue I selected to try things out


Saturday, September 29, 2012

I did this interview for iAnimate with Larry Vasquez after I finished up on Tangled. The interview went more into how lifes experiences affected my movement through the world of animation. A lot of 'real talk' and no fluff...
-thanks Larry

Saturday, September 08, 2012

...What is... #AnimationChat...?

- I get a lot of emails from people asking me questions, advice, opinions, & things to pic my brain.  I remember when I was trying to break into the business and days I tried to get into contact with professional animators.  This was a hard thing and I found out that a lot of the people were basically..... how should I say..... a.holes.

- I told myself that if I ever made it that I would be open to guys trying to make their way (one of the reasons I wanted to teach).  It doesn't take that much to extend yourself a tiny bit because everyone has a dream and they are trying to reach it.  Animators are not famous people, so why not try to help if you can.  Granted that there are some emails that come across the wrong way.  "hey..can you look at my Demo Reel!"  No lead up, No hello...just beginning with a question.  I don't ignore these emails, instead I try to help them send the right emails so they can get the response they want.  If you never learned any kind of business etiquette, then how would you know the right and wrong things to do.  This applies to sending anyone a letter, email, or thank you to someone who works in ANY professional environment.

- With that being said, one of the things I try to tell young guys is that you should build a relationship with the person before bombarding them with questions and advice.  This is one of the reasons I wanted to try and do these AnimationChat's.  It is a nice open way to talk and be yourself with a group of peers who are all interested in the same thing.

- #AnimationChat is a place to talk shop and make some new friends!  Look for the updates on Twitter (twitter is basically the fastest and easiest way to get the word out there)

Hope to see you there

Jamaal B

Saturday, September 01, 2012

...Marvel Universe Reduxe WIP...

 This is a character from the Marvel Universe: Book of the Dead...  Quincy Harker.  I did a recreation of this character for the website Marvel Universe: Reduxe.

 The site is run by Jon Morris and  I think it is a pretty cool idea and I had to ask him to let me participate.  There werent that many characters to choose from but I thought Mr Harker had a pretty interesting back story...weird but interesting.

 You can see how I work sometimes on a character.  I usually get busy with red or blue pretty rough, but I try to get most of the proportions correct.  I rough in details and then look at images to see how the look in real life (such as the wheel chair and shotgun).  From that point  go in and lay in the pencil... and more pencil.

"'s over there..."

...I started on this between animating... again releasing the excess out of my mind.  draw..draw...draw...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

...sketching girl designs...

-just playing with some ideas that were running around in my head. Drawing is still a good release for the mind.  If I was a concept artist I am sure animating would be the mental rest from the daily pencil grind.  Let me see if I can throw out some more.


Friday, August 10, 2012

...Dreamworks India...

-So I recently returned from the Dreamworks side of production in India.  There are some great things coming and I am really excited for the new endeavors on the horizon.  The group of animators there are very hungry and the energy is pretty infectious.  I remember feeling that energy as a lead animator at a small game studio when I first moved to California.  Keeping that energy as an animator has been my goal since starting down this path and I have always wanted to work with people who believed in that same thing.  

-I have seen people explode with talent, some complain a lot, others stagnate, and many have their will broken.  A large part of my happiness comes from 'animation'.  The reason being is that animation has given me a giant opportunity to provide for my family, give me something to be proud of, and break the cycle of living the life of the streets.  Many people around me have heard me say "make your next move your best move".....  We have only so much time on this planet and  I know that I am in a position to leave a mark that will hopefully inspire the next kid to make a fantastic decision.

-Only make moves if your heart's in it, and live the phrase "Skies the Limit"

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Odd Couple: Dinner Party Part 1

*note:  I use this kind of material for my own growth and use it to help others (if I can). I try to constantly look at good acting, staging, and life around me to be a better animator/performer.

-This clip from the Odd Couple starring Jack Lemmon(Felix) and Walter Matthau(Oscar) is a great example of contrasting characters, clear staging, and great acting off of one another.  I like this first scene because it shows basic principles of characters done in a fun manner.  I think it should be used in a lot of schools for Acting in Animation 101..kind of class. Basics of timing, staging, and posing are all here.  Felix (Jack Lemmon) body shows a still aggravated patience.  It is very easy to go towards a cliché state of what we thing aggravation means in acting when we work out a scene.  Obviously if the show dictates you do that kind of acting where the aggravation and anger is explosive than that’s what must take place in your work.  I like showing these clips in a class because this first part gives you a great sense of how we can keep a character almost still, use minimal gestures, and still convey the right emotion.  Movements like adjusting the ladle over and over again in his hand as he waits for the right to moment speak These things don’t feel planned….it feels right because that is something we all probably can relate to.
-Jack Lemmon shows anger in a subtle way at the beginning of the sequence. The audience can feel the tension because of Felix’s eyes, small mouth movements, and minimal body motion compared to Oscars slightly broader gestures.  There are also physical and visual attributes that help with the overall feeling.  If you notice the opposing postures you will see that Felix slouched down with his head pushing forward in some shots(image A).


 It feels like he is trying to push himself down in the chair before he pops out of the chair and explodes. Felix is also clean, shirt tucked, tie done and everything pressed.  If you look at Oscar it’s totally opposite.  He is straight up and down, a complete mess (not really a complete mess but in contrast to Felix..yes), and at ease with himself (image B).

 (Of course Jamaal, that’s why the film is called the Odd Couple)

-Another thing about how Felix is staged we get some nice expressions based on the directions he has to look.  Being that he has to sit, his gaze up gives us this great feeling of anger without pushing the eyebrows into what we know as “angry brows” (image C).


 His brows are completely straight as he looks up Oscar (Walter Matthau). These are hard but not difficult things to achieve in animation and that is one of the reasons I love the level of detail we can get with CG now.  There is a great turning point in the acting once Felix states that Oscar should have called him.  The abrupt pause by Oscar is a slight comedic beat because we are cued into Felix acting like a wife even more than we were expecting me to be.  We read that Oscar is thrown by this just by him stopping an action (putting a tie on) that we would normally never pause in.  This stop creates a fantastic abstract pose that really draws our attention (image D).

-I won’t over analyze the sequence because it is pretty self explanatory.   Subtle contrasting against Broad… we see this all the time in our everyday lives as well.  It makes for interesting characters, but it has to be executed correctly and with a certain appeal that can carry through many shots; long or short form.   

Sunday, March 18, 2012

...Black Dynamite...


My boy Lesean Thomas has been grinding away on the Black Dynamite TV show that is going to air on Adult Swim this summer.  I just felt like drawing the character.  The show should be pretty hilarious... the pilot was.

This is my version of Black Dynamite

Saturday, March 17, 2012

...Release the Excess: 2012...

I decided to change my top image on the site.  Release the Excess is still what this blog is about.  Letting out the garbage in my head. Some of the content is fun, some useful, some weird, and some things are just ridiculous.  I am hoping my daughter can one day look at this site and get an idea of some of the extra things that were going on in my head

Anyway, here is the blue rough I am working on.  I blew up the thumbnail to the size I wanted, then started to got to town.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

...just keep going...

While I was teaching and after, my students and a few other people asked the same question a lot.

" ...Does it take a long time to break into the business and what are the steps..."?

-There is no one answer to that question.  Obviously hard work and dedication are going to take you a long way, but there is going to be other factors that come in to play. Timing is a big part of the equation and you have to know what jobs to take and how to utilize every minute while you are there.  I knew I wanted to work in features but I never neglected my duties as an animator at the game studios.  I tried to apply the same level of work to the game studios as I do in feature.  Believe me, there are animators that can animate circles around a lot of guys in feature film.  I worked at the office and when I got home, because I wanted to be better.  There are many people still doing this.

The big thing for me is not forgetting that.  If you busted your hump in work and after work, keep doing the same.  Granted the hours you spend working at home may be considerably less, but that is the thing that got you to where you are.  Take some time to continue working on your craft.  Teachers still go to lectures and workshops to improve on their skills, singers still practice so that their voice is always in good condition, and even good mechanics learn how to work on the latest engines so they are always on top of their game.

If you remember to do the things that got you to where you need to be, you will be successful for a while.

Remember to balance it!!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

...Focus Forward & Teachng...


...Focus Forward...

I have never made a New Years resolution and I won't start now. Each year is an extension of the last for me. I began last year talking about more focus and taking a break from teaching. It has paid off because I am less stressed and I have been highly productive at work. While I was teaching I wanted it to reflect my outlook on animation and the things you can achieve. Teaching was an extension of who I am as an animator. Preparing lessons, prepping material, ensuring I give helpful feedback to EVERY STUDENT, and being available is important to me. How do you work as a full time animator, full time husband, full time dad and part time teacher? Sounds ridiculous to me. In the balance of our lives, something will have to give and something or someone will lose out. I am trying figure out how to return to teaching but it will take a bit to figure out the balance and harmony. A good teacher is invaluable. My wife, Mother, Aunt, and a few cousins ( here is one Sara Ferguson: click the name) are all teachers. How I teach reflects on them so I have to make sure I give future students what they deserve.

Thanks to all the students I have had so far who have given me much positive feedback.

Focus Forward