Sunday, September 28, 2008

Richard Williams Speaks!

Last Monday, I had the privilege to see Richard Williams speak at the MoMA here in New York. Boy was it a blast! 

I almost didn't get a ticket, but luckily me & a few friends rushed up to the museum a few hours earlier to snag tickets before they sold out. I'm really glad I did, because it was a packed house! Everybody & their mother in law seemed to be there. Even a few of my animation professors were there, including Doug Crane, Celia Bullwinkel, Don Duga as well as the likes of Michael Sporn & Tissa David. It seemed almost like a big animation family reunion.

The house lights began to dim, the curtain opened, the screen appeared & we began to watch:

Even though I've seen it so many times, I can never get tired of watching this logo. I still can't get over how simply amazing it all is, especially when watching it on the big screen with an audience. I could stare at that rubber-hose cat, 40's fox & dachshund animation forever. Simply astounding! 

What a night it was! Not only did Richard Williams speak about his career, but he showed clips of some of the work he & his studio did, including the openings to Roger Rabbit & Return of the Pink Panther (skillfully animated by Ken Harris), the bridging sequences of The Charge of the Light Brigade, scenes from Raggedy Ann & Andy & Christmas Carol, a few of his commercials, footage of him studying walks for a BBC special & a rare trailer for his epic masterpiece The Thief & the Cobbler. He also showed a few sneak peeks at his new Animator's Survival Kit 16-DVD boxset, talking about dialogue & flexibility. 

One of the commercials he showcased was one of my all-time favorites of his: the Long Life Beer ad. After it was shown, I was blown away to hear from Dick himself that the whole 90 second commercial was animated in 2 weeks!

Although I feel a bit guilty about doing so, I snagged a few minutes of the show on my digital camera, just for you! In this clip, Dick & John Canemaker point out animators Tissa David & Michael Sporn in the audience & Dick talks a bit about Raggedy Ann & Andy & animator Emery Hawkins. I apologize for the poor sound & image quality. I suggest you should click on the video & select to watch it in high quality there. It helps a little bit.

Man.... what a night it was!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Have I really improved?...

While down in Florida to visit my grandparents last month, they took out & showed me some old drawings I did when I was little. I must've drawn these when I was around 4 or 5, shortly before I decided to pursue a career in cartoons & animation. 

The big question is.... have I really improved?

(click to enlarge to "Dumbo" size)

Sorry I haven't posted much in a while, but "Back to School" time can be very strenuous sometimes. Everybody's busy doing their class assignments that there's barely any time to even sleep, let along blog. Even Toon Platoon has taken a brief unofficial hiatus! But don't worry, I've got posts all written & ready to be put up here, from new artwork to classwork to Richard Williams. Expect to see new goodies within the next week. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Richard Williams is Comin'!!!!

Monday Night.... 7 PM.... at the MOMA...... I'll be there.

'nuff said.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Never Forget...

7 years ago today, back when I was only 12 years old, the world suddenly turned upside down. 9/11 was one of those events that change your whole viewpoint, reality bangs on your door & you realize that life probably won't be the same as it used to. For a 12 year old like I was, it's that step from the carefree life of childhood to the harsh, responsibility-ridden reality of adulthood. Everything before now seems unimportant. Who remembers Sept. 10th? 9/11 affected so much & so many, especially those who only live a hop, skip & a jump away from Manhattan. It's still a very vivid memory.

School just started & we all had the back-to-school blues. It was the 2nd period of the day, & I was in Social Studies class. About halfway through the class, one of my teachers ran in telling us that a plane flew into the Twin Towers. The TV was turned on & we watched in complete disbelief. My first thought was " Oh God...kamikazes are attacking the Twin Towers!". After the period was over, many of us gathered in the cafeteria to find out from others what was going on.

We were glued to the televisions that day. To the teachers it was somewhat clear on what was going on, but the rest of us were clueless. The big questions were "Who" & "Why?". Most of us didn't know who or what Al-Qaeda was, or what this Osama bin Laden guy was. It seemed like we were in the dark. Little bits of news snuck out every so often:

"Hey did you hear?... they hit the Pentagon too!"

They were bombing all over the place! What could be the next target? The White House? The Statue of Liberty? Disneyland? Where?! The TV's were blasting, people were talking over them, some were crying, some were calling home, some were praying. So much chaos & confusion. Then everything went dead as the first tower began to fall...

In an instant, people lost brothers, sisters, moms, dads, cousins, uncles, aunts & friends. I remember one kid's face turning almost completely white. I stood there watching in disbelief. To me, watching that first tower fall was completely mindblowing. Seeing this catastrophic meltdown live on TV.... seeing that enormous skyscraper shown on the TV the size of a stack of Legos falling over... "...if it's completely chaotic here 30 miles away, what could it possibly be like for them right there in the middle of it all?" The scale & scope of it all was completely shocking to me. I thought "Please, just let the other one stand... don't fall, don't fall...." Then it did. Two iconic symbols.... gone. We saw all the janitors gathered on the roof. They could see the smoke from the rooftop.

Were were all sent home right after. The TV's at home must've been on for 2 days straight after that. Then watching all those months of cleanup afterwards... it was a life-altering experience for all of us. Some of my sister's friends lost someone that day. Although I personally didn't lose anyone close to me that day, it felt like I did. Could any good come out of all of this?

Besides the paranoia, we all felt a bit closer. We came together & chipped in to help. Hell, some of us even liked Bush for a few minutes. People became kinder, helpful & sympathetic souls... at least for a little while.

A few weeks after 9/11, there still was some grief & gloom hanging in the air. During class one day, I began to doodle in my notebook to keep my mind off. One of those doodles was this little chicken in a straight-jacket. To this day, part of me thinks that Cannibal Chicken was born out of 9/11.

So remember to say "I Love You" to the ones you care about each day, 'cause you don't know what may happen that day. & to never forget....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Face in my Dorm

When I was sittin' on my bed drawin' last night, I noticed that there's a shadowy Easter Island-like head guardin' the front door to my dorm room. He won't go away 'til I give it Ramen noodles & PopTarts.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

"Skull-astic" Endeavours

So far, my first week of my sophomore year here at SVA has been a blast! Great teachers, classmates & friends (old & new) & some really awesome classes (except for one which I'll talk about further in this post).

One of the classes I took this week was Anatomy class. Andrew Gerndt, the Anatomy professor, is a real swell guy & seems like it will be a great experience having him teach us. For the first few weeks, we'll be analysing & drawing the human skull. When I first saw some of the drawings by Gerdnt's older students, I felt a bit intimidated. But luckily, Andrew helped ease things a bit.
Before starting to draw that day, this is all I knew about drawing skeletons &/or skeletal parts:

By the end of the day, this is what I ended up with:

No bad for a guy who draws cartoon ducks all day, huh? I was surprised I could draw this stuff myself! It's gonna be a fun class!

Now onto the bad...

Being a freshman last year, we had to choose classes left over that the seniors, juniors & sophomores didn't want, since we had last pick. We ended up scrounging through courses that were left at the bottom of the barrel. While I ended up with a few courses I was intrigued with, one I ended up choosing as a fluke was a course called "Aesthetics". I didn't even know what that was... I could walk into class with beakers & sciencey stuff & end up being in cooking class for all I knew. Well today I found out...

I walk into class & sit down at my desk with about 20 others. The professor then walks in, & his first words were:

"Hello, I'm Dr. *****, & welcome to the hardest course here at SVA...-"

A very reassuring introduction...

The course ended up being about philosophy & writings by some dead German smartie-pantses, & you had to read about 20 different writings, with such exhilarating titles such as "Critique of Judgement" & the popular "Work of Art in an Age of Mechanical Reproducibility". After a few more brain-numbing discussions of what the class was going to include (countless essays, vigorous studies & truckloads of homework), he began to take attendence, asking each student what their favorite piece of "non-fiction pro" was... I got up & ran out of the room before he could get to the M's.

Luckily, my great class advisor Jillann was able to get me outta that mess & into a class more suited to my intellectual level: Children's Literature for Illustrators. Goodbye Freud, Kant & Nietzsche... Hello Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll & Dr. Seuss!

I still have 3 more classes to go check out, including Storyboarding with Howard Beckerman & Digital Compositing on Monday (we get to use Cintiqs!!!). This year's gonna ROCK!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bill Melendez (1916-2008)

I just learned from Cartoon Brew & Thad K.'s blog that animator Bill Melendez has passed away. He was someone I always really wanted to meet in person. Another idol gone.

Eight months ago, I posted about Bill Melendez & how great he was to me..... he still is.

So long, Bill.

Ub Iwerks & "Hell's Bells"

In conjunction with Michael Sporn's latest post & the devil picture/video I posted a few days ago, here's a little something you may find interesting for a few minutes:

To me, Hell's Bells is one of my all-time favorite cartoons. Sure it ain't Duck Amuck, What's Opera, Doc? or One Froggy Evening, but it's one of those few cartoons that inspire me to get up off my ass & start animating. God, I LOVE 20's/30's rubber-hose animation! Ub Iwerks ( & company's) loose, lively & fun animation & Carl Stalling's music never ceases to make my eyes fall out of my head & my feet uncontrollably tap to the beat. Along with cartoons like The Skeleton Dance, this is one of those cartoons I can watch over & over again & never get tired of. The scene of the three devils dancing at around 2:38 never fails to make my jaw drop.

& on top of that, it's freakin' bizarre! I mean, what other Disney cartoon (or any other cartoon for that matter) has demons milking flaming milk out of a dragon-like cow, characters getting eaten alive by three headed dogs & Satan himself getting his pants pulled down & spanked by flaming hands, all timed perfectly to music? Exactly!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back at SVA!!!

My Handy-Dandy Shmandy Personal Library of Readingness! Can you spot any of YOUR favorite books?:

Well, I've finally moved back into my old room at SVA! Computer's all set up, my bed is all made, clothes & tupperware put away, my TV's hooked up & my personal library is all squared away on my shelf! All Set! My first class starts in a few hours & I'm totally ready for my second year at the School of Visual Arts!

All except for one thing.... my toilet is leaking. Gotta get that fixed.