Animators with no Boundaries

Animators with no Boundaries

The Importance of Traveling as an Animator by Nadine Promes (Edited by Colin Wheeler) As an international student and coming from a family that moved often, traveling has become second nature to me, within time, it turned into some sort of addiction. To give you an idea this summer alone I visited 4 different countries, almost 20 cities/towns and stayed in 12 different accommodations. In the past it would shock me whenever I encountered someone that said to me they didn’t like (or minded) traveling. I then realized that many factors go into this lack of interest, a major one being the fear of leaving your comfort zone. However the more I travel the more I understand how incredibly important it is to me, not only as a person, but also as an artist; more specifically an animator/storyteller. It not only opens up your mind to things you didn’t know existed, but it also introduces you to new cultures and new ways of understanding our brothers and sisters from all over the world. I fear to say that stereotypically speaking, animators are thought of as introverted people that spend most their time hunched over a desk or in front of a computer or game console for hours on end. Although I know this is partially true, I would like to break the stereotype by believing in a new generation of animators with no boundaries. World Building as an Artist As an artist, when you travel, you are open to different kinds of geographies, different city arrangements, new architecture, and new vistas you are not used to. You are also...

The Artist Epidemic: Paid or Free Work

*This is a personal rant with a lot of opinions. There may be generalizations.   We often encounter stories in the media about the wage gap and gender/racial inequality. While at an animator’s meeting today, I discovered another pervasive ideology that I find disturbing: the epidemic of artists that do not get paid what they deserve. Artists deserve to be paid for the hours that they put in. That includes the expenses they incur from travel, meeting hours with clients, and the hours of executing a task.   When you calculate the amount of hours put into a project versus what they earn, their wage falls well below the minimum. The minimum wage in Georgia is $7.25 an hour…except when applied to a freelance artist working under a set budget. I’ve talked to friends that get into projects like this. They do revision after revision with no additional charges, their hourly rate dwindling to less than $4…$3…$2…. Some artists don’t even break even. They end up exhausting their time and energy and inadvertently end up paying for the clients’ work.   Three Simple Things to Ask Yourself When You Accept Work 1. Why am I doing this? When you accept the work from a client/non-paying “friend”, what are you getting out of it? Are you getting monetary compensation, learning a new skill , or getting mentorship? You might be happy to do work for your best friends or family members. You will also be met with requests from acquaintances that just need a wedding invitation or a card for their boyfriend. These people never communicate with you on a daily basis but when they need art they suddenly remember their forgotten friend. This being said, many people have different...

Copyright for the Freelance Artist Pt 1: Copyright Basics

So today we have an awesome guest blogger Lee Morin, an Entertainment Lawyer here to shed some light about things that artists might not know but probably should, especially if they are freelancing or considering doing so. One of these things that people might be familiar with but not in details have to do with the issue of copyright in art and adaptations. While something we are all probably familiar with at a basic level, here’s some useful information that might get artists more familiar with a bit more than just the definition and a bit of how copyright is important especially to artists. * This guest blog post was written by Lee Morin, Esq.   OF COPYRIGHT, CONTRACTS, AND FAN ART If you are reading this blog, words like “manga,” “cosplay,” or “doujinshi,” may seem ordinary.  To the uninitiated, these words are foreign; but, if you have heard of Pokémon, or Dragon Ball Z, then you know “manga”[1].  My first encounter with manga was the film adaptation of Akira, and later with Ghost in the Shell, whose soundtrack is as haunting as its subject matter.  Following in the footsteps of the crossover tradition was the epic film adaptation, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, from the successful media franchise Final Fantasy, which, “centers on a series of fantasy and science fantasy role-playing video games, but includes motion pictures, anime, printed media, and other merchandise [2].” The film adaptation of Final Fantasy was the first photorealistic computer animated feature film, and most expensive to produce at $137 million with a staff of 200 at 960 workstations rendering 141,964 frames over a span of...

Animating on the Go: So you want to shoot a live stop-motion

While a lot of animation is done sitting down either in a dedicated studio space or at home, there are also times, especially for stop motion animators, that you might have to step out into the physical world to capture raw footage or animate on location. Such was the case with animation and Animation Chair and seasoned film festival veteran Matthew Maloney and motion media specialist and professor Christina Maloney of Savannah of College and Art and Design-Atlanta. (Their other beautifully crafted stop motion animation “The Anchorite” premiered at Cannes in 2009.) While in theory, this may seem as simple as grabbing a camera and running outside to start shooting, the physical world deals with weather conditions, unexpected passerby reactions, and uncontrollable variables. This past winter break, they were in Hong Kong with their puppets shooting live in the mountains, on the beach, the metro of Kowloon, and on the streets in the bustling crowd of passerby for their new animation Loon. With this, they came up with some tips for those that might be interested not just in stop motion but perhaps even live action sequences that requires shooting on the streets. 1. Secure Your Equipment Not just stop motion pieces or props are probe to damage or being stolen but expensive equipment used for the shoot such as cameras, laptop, tripod are susceptible during a mobile shoot. While shooting on the street, the Maloneys created a laptop cage by repurposing an old shoe rack he bought for around $3 and locked it to the ground and then locked the tripod to it. Now it’s safer from being stolen or being bumped into during...

The Bigger Picture: Daisy and Chris’ Next Big Move

As it so happens one lazy afternoon as I was browsing my inbox, I was surprised to see an email from Daisy Jacobs and Chris Wilder telling me they’ve read my blog. For those of you who are not familiar with their work, you probably wouldn’t rationalize with my excitement of running around the living room in my pajamas doing this… As an avid stop motion fan, the first time I saw  the well deserved Oscar-nominated animated short “The Bigger Picture”, I was captured by the unique technique of blending live size 2.5D and 3D elements. Currently, Daisy and Chris are now in the process of campaigning for their next upcoming larger-than-life animation. As it is, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge and commend the efforts of independent artists. As an artist, I know fully well the efforts that goes into creating your own original pieces. It is a labor of passion and one that is a time investment often with cost involved. While there is still the idea that if art is passion, it should be free but the reality is artists also have to eat, pay rent, and function in the world as any other field of occupation. So to artists that are doing their own thing to carry out their creative vision is always a refreshing site to see and has my support and admiration. Their Next Project Now not much has been revealed about the upcoming animation Daisy and Chris has planned for yet but here are some sneak previews of images and animated gif that is sure to thrill and delight. Just looking at the lovely...

Working on PIXAR LAVA Animated Short: A Graphics Software Engineer’s Point of View

After seeing the Disney Pixar short, LAVA, there was no doubt in my mind that the environment that was showcased was gorgeous and the graphics was looking really defined. While many things were very interesting about the short, what drew me in particular was the technology behind the graphics. As luck would have it, my friend Brandon who is a Graphics Software Engineer worked on the short and kindly help me shed some light about his role in LAVA and the difference between coding for a feature and a short in his experience. PIXAR LAVA Trailer Clip Link 1. What was your role in the short? I wrote some shiny new code that allows for “deformable vector displacement,” to help create ridges on the volcanoes in the short. Displacement is a common Computer Graphics technique to add geometric complexity by “displacing” the geometry using a texture. This texture, usually a height map (black for low, white for high), allows the shading TD to control some of the more fine-grained look of the asset, and allows for details that normally require many polygons. Vector displacement is a specific flavor of displacement that allows for surface deformations in more directions than “out” and “in.” The “vector” part of “vector displacement” means that you can really displace the surface by a 3D vector. This is less common than a scalar displacement, as it requires more math, is slower, has artifacts if not handled correctly, and has weird edge cases. Deformable vector displacement means that the vector displacement authored on the asset moves with the geometry. For Lava, the ridges on the volcano...