Monday, February 5, 2018

45th Annie Awards 2018

From UCLA's Royce Hall last Saturday, Greg and I got an opportunity to attend the 45th Annie Awards, which is like the Oscars of the animation world. Now, I have to say, that every time I have attended this event before, people have mistaken me for some well known person in animation.

The first time this happened, someone thought I was Animator/Historian Tom Sito. The second time, someone thanked me for my moving tribute to Roy Disney, which was actually given by Disney producer, Don Hahn. Then last year, someone wanted me to draw a picture of Bart Simpson, thinking I was Simpsons creator, Matt Groening. 

The only things I have in common with these gentlemen are; that we all are men with facial hair, we wear glasses and share the love of animation.

The only person I wanted to meet this year was Glen Keane. For those who aren't in animation, Glen Keane brought the Disney characters of Ariel, the Beast, Aladdin, Tarzan, Long John Silver to life. and this year's animated short film "Dear Basketball.," a love letter by Kobe Bryant about his favorite sport. The film won an Annie for this year's best animated short subject and has been nominated for this year's Oscars.

Upon entering the pre-party, we met Adrian Molina , the co-writer and co-director of "Coco". He spoke to us and was very friendly. He was a story artist at Pixar and was given the opportunity to help write the screenplay "Coco" and then to co-direct it.

Coco won most of the awards that night. and "The Breadwinner" won best independent animated feature which executive producer, Angelina Jolie help put together.  

Other highlights included, Angelina Jolie in attendance, "Cuphead" won special achievement award, TV Paint won the Ub Iwerks Award, The Winsor McCay award went to the NFBC duo of Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis, Tom Kenny (the Voice of Spongbob) presented a Winsor McCay Award to Spongebob creator, Stephen Hillenburg and Pendleton Ward (Adventure Time) presented a Winsor McCay Award to animator James Baxter. 

Afterwards, we attended the VIP party where I got to meet and congratulated another animation hero of mine, James Baxter. 

When we first met Glen Keane, things were going well. And then, it started. When I meet famous people that I admire I have discovered, that I have a tendency to physically go out of focus. Most people will become nervous or shy or begin to sweat or can't think of what to say next, I go out of focus and here's proof.

I could tell Glen was noticing my blurry condition was getting worse, but he was very polite and the out of focus attack didn't last too long this time. Afterwards I remained in focus long enough to take this nice picture with him.
We met a bunch more people, but the real surprise of the night was meeting the model for Tinker Bell, Margaret Kerry!

She was also very friendly and I didn't go out of focus at all, not once. 

What a small world animation is after all. Just before we left, I ran into an old friend of mine, Wendie Owens. We use to work together at StarToons, back when I was in Chicago. Her husband, Mike Owens directed a new show on Amazon Prime called " Danger and Eggs", which was up for the best Character design in an animated TV/Broadcast production.  

As we finally began to leave Royce Hall for good, a group of people began to follow me. I am not joking here, one guy held out a pen to me and said, "Pen?" I looked around and then back to the guy. "Aren't you Pendleton Ward?" 
"Oh no, I'm sorry that's not me," I said, "I'm Don Hahn."

The group looked very disappointed as they sadly walked away. My friends said I should have signed it, but I couldn't have done that, besides it was late and we had long drive by back to Burbank.

* * * * *
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Do I really look like Pendelton Ward? (It was dark and about 1 in the morning.) Please let me know and leave a comment below, don't be shy. Can't wait to find out who I will be mistaken for at next year's Annie Awards.

I am available if anyone needs to be at an important event or a meeting at the same time. I'd be glad to help you out.

Here are a few student animated film from the 2016 Annie Awards.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Facial Expressions

Facial expressions tell your audience how a character is feeling at that moment by their emotion and without the use of words. They are kinda like drawing hands in that they take a little practice to get them to pose the right expression. Can you decode these emotions?

Here's a good article about real and fake facial expressions in animals in a test format, can you tell which is which?

And speaking of facial expressions, Aardman Animation is back working with clay again with their latest feature film, Early Man.


Here's a fun video with the stars of the movie making a character out of clay.


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Monday, January 22, 2018

Richard Williams

This Day in Animation. 1/24/18

Related image

1961- Warner Bros. cartoon voice actor Mel Blanc had a terrible auto crash. He lingered in a coma for several weeks. The way the doctor brought him around was to say: “Hey Bugs Bunny! How are we today?” Blanc replied in character:” Ehhh…fine, doc!” This is an amazing story to hear!

2006- The Walt Disney Company acquired CG animation studio Pixar. Apple and Pixar head Steve Jobs got a seat on Disney Board, Ed Catmull was named head of the studio, 1 and director John Lasseter became it’s creative head.

I first discovered Richard Williams when I was in High School. Years later, I got to meet him in person at a studio where I worked. He gave us his 2 day Master lecture based on "The Animator's Survival Kit", which he was writing at the time. Check out: The Truth about the Bottom of Page 83 .

The whole studio had to end this once in a lifetime event. I remember seeing several producer in attendance, who were either trying not to fall asleep or were wishing they were somewhere else. The rest of the audience were learning for a master animator and taking notes. 

Another occasion was when he signed his ASK book for me at Dreamworks and later when he was being honored by the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences. 

Here's a very interesting video about Richard Williams which you should see.

Richard Williams- Animating Movement from The Royal Ocean Film Society on Vimeo.

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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Watchcat Holiday edisode

If you are interested in working on a Watchcat holiday animation production, here's something I am currently working on and need help with. Sorry No pay, but you will get screen credit and something to put on your reel.

Click on this link: 
for more information. 


Monday, November 20, 2017

CTNX 2017

This year's CTN animation expo began with cool and sunny weather as I stopped by a table where I met a storyboard artist from Israel. During our conversation, another storyboard artist from Oregon approached the table. I said, "Wow, you are both storyboard people!" as I introduced the two of them. 

As things turned out, I was amazed that the person from Oregon followed the Israel artist's work and now, they are meeting for the first time in person. And that's what I love about the CTN animation expo, it really brings artists from all over the world together for one weekend.

So many people from the animation community attend this expo every November. This year, we introduced our Watchcat postcards onto as many people we could meet. We also were looking for other animation people to help us on future episodes.

Saturday was very crowded inside the massive white tent as people entered, some carrying their portfolios, others carrying their kids and some even had both. While there, I met 3 guys in a row, one was a animation teacher in Denmark, another guy from Scotland and the third was from Costa Rica.  
Animation studios looking for new talent, Animation companies like Wacom, ToonBoom and TV Paint discovering future customers. Endless tables linked together displaying different Artists work, sitting side by side selling their books, prints or other artwork to passersby. No pressure selling here as in other Cons I've been to. You can talk to the artist freely without feeling as if you must buy their wares.

Many "Free tables" were set up throughout, where people could put their business cards and opportunities.They even gave away free art and animation books every now and then as well.

There were a few new things that appeared in the exhibit hall this year including VR demos.

And after all the lectures, book signings, artist demos and networking, it was nice to just sit and draw a pirate.
Or any of the other brave costumed men and women models who were there posing all day long.
So what did you do at CTNx? Was it your first time? What did you see or who did you meet? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

CTNX Opening Night: Dear Basketball

An enormous white caterpillar of a building emerges in the Marriott Burbank's parking lot. It engulfs parking signs and small trees in the process. Tonight, as it was being fitted with a giant CTNX Animation expo banner, a large group was across the street, listening to Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant talk about their film, "Dear Basketball".


Legendary producer, Don Hahn introduced Glen Keane to the CTN audience, who talked briefly about his involvement in the film. Keane also showed a clip of the final minutes of Bryant's final game where the Laker's were losing, until Bryant was able to bring them back by winning the game and ending his career on a high note. Keane's animation flows from childhood memories to adulthood back and forth during Bryant's narration, a love letter to his favorite game.
After the screening, Kobe Bryant joined the stage. He told of how he knew Composer John Williams and had asked Keane about doing the animation. At first, Keane felt a little reluctant about doing it, because he knew nothing about basketball and wasn't sure he could do it. His son Max urged him to do it and eventually Glen agreed and started working on a rough storyboard of thumbnail sketches that illustrated Bryant's writing.
It was a very inspiring discussion about how we create ideas. The film was screened again for us to enjoy for a second time.

So, how did I manage to get into a $95 special event show? Let's just say, its Magic. I really wanted to see this film and to meet Glen Keane again. Many years ago, I met him at a Siggraph event during his early involvement on "Tangled". At the time, I was really into performing magic and I showed him an animated card trick that I had come up with. He really liked it and so, I sent him a deck of cards and the special instructions.

This year at the Animation World fest, my friend met Glen there and mention me and the cardtrick from years ago. Glen remembered the trick and said that he enjoyed showing it to his grand daughter.
I was hoping I might be able to meet him again, but both Kobe and Glen left the stage before the audience could approach either of them. Turns out, Glen had just returned from an overseas flight and was probably starting to get tired from the trip.

One day soon, I hope to meet him again.

Next Post: CTNX Weekend! 

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Animal Walks

Stephen Cunnane came up with this useful animation guide  showing how a four legged animals walks in various ways.

Animal Gaits for Animators from Stephen Cunnane on Vimeo.

The link below is a good guide for laying out a walk in 2d animation.

Coming Soon!
Aardman is back...

Next Weekend! 
If you are in the Burbank area and into animation or art, stop by the 2017 CTN Expo! Click here to learn more:

Definitely worth the price of admission!