Monday, March 26, 2018

Bad Filmmaking 101: The Big Catch

Here's another short animation you can learn from. Please watch it first and see the review below...

Here's a film in CG animation, with a simple story, with good character design and fairly well animated. However, there are several staging and editing problems. 

The fisherman character is a large, overweight American looking guy who sets up to fish at the end of a dock. Behind the fisherman, sits a seagull who spots an approaching shark. 
The shark immediately hops up onto the dock and we see the Shark's POV through its vision, the large fat man at the end of the dock. 
Without any thought, the Shark starts dragging itself along the dock towards the man. I don't know how many of you have ever been on a dock or have studied sharks, but sharks are pretty smart and wooden docks are full of splinters, just saying.

The shark is sneaking up on his prey, until he spots a seagull shaking its head. The bird points with its beak to screen right. We dissolve to a few fish that are playing in the water and then dissolve back to the same shot of the bird looking back at the shark, shakes its head and then flies away. This whole sequence was a little hard to understand, but I think the bird was showing the shark this fish? The dissolves were also distracting.

Cut to bird flying over to land on a harpoon looking thing where it joins another bird and they begin to argue with one another. The shark is watching all of this from behind.

Is this important? Not really. Just to reveal that this harpoon thing exists and will be used later. The shark sees the birds and then focuses on the man again in the distance. The shark is now thinking of what to do; get the birds who are closer or the fat guy that is far away. He shakes his head and decides to go for the fat man.

Seems like days have gone by since we last saw the fat guy wearing headphones waiting for a fish. But now, he is being bothered by a fly. And now, we start cutting to the shark's approach and the man been bugged by the fly. Back and forth, switching camera sides as the shark approaches the shark to see the fat guy sitting on a can. The filmmakers could have added a "Butt Crack" joke here, but instead focused on a more complicated set up to a harpoon joke.
The shark is right behind its victim, he smiles and we dissolve back to the arguing seagulls on the harpoon thing. All this business could be told as the shark was getting to the man. Maybe it would even be too much cutting from the birds, to shark to man to birds, but now, we have a long wait to see if the shark eats the fat guy on the dock.

Back to those arguing seagulls, who manage to turn on the harpoon device. On my first viewing I didn't realize it was a harpoon, I thought the seagulls were sitting on top of a pole on the dock.
But, first they argue, then a slap, then a karate kid moment which goes on way too long... Hey Mr. Shark, eat that fat guy and get out of this film! 

But no, more karate slaps send the other bird to land on a plunger that starts up the machine. The harpoon flips both birds off it. As flashing lights and noise loud enough to alert the shark, the harpoon sets up and we dissolve to see the shark's tale sitting in a clamp. Cut to another angle of the clamp turning on and clamping onto the shark's tale. 

We cut the Shark with its mouth open wide getting closer to the man's head. The man has no idea what is going on, hence the headphones. The shark stops, cut to Shark turning around to react to, not the clamp on his tale, but the harpoon shooting into the sky. Cut back to shark looking the opposite way. A bunch of screen direction problems here.

Shark tries the free himself from the clamp on his tale, but he spots, the rope running out, not his POV. Then a great wild animation take of the Shark's reaction. 
Shark turns to man on the dock, trying to grab him, but is yanked out of the scene. 

Cartoon logic; a harpoon speeding away from Earth suddenly has enough force to pull a 1,500 - 2,400 lbs great white shark into the air?

We pan away from the screaming shark in the sky to see a large ship in the distance. The man sees it too and comes to life again by doing his own animated take. Cut to the ship and a tiny blob headed for the front of the ship. We know exactly where its going to land by seeing the bow of boat from above, then we cut to the shark coming towards us, landing with a cartoon bang effect which goes to black.
One more joke for the big ending, the payoff. Fade up to close up of man looking around and then at the distant ship.
Cut to a full shot of the whole ship as a familiar music score begins. We dissolve to a truck in shot to see the ship and a parody of the famous Titanic shot. But instead of two lovers at the bow, we see a distorted looking shark blinking at us as it goes by.

The pacing was off in this film, unlike to snappy end title sequence. If you have any comments or learning anything new from this post, please let us know.

If you enjoyed this post, please click on the ads to let us know and helps us donate to a local animal shelter. Every ad click brings us closer to our $100 goal, only $20.00 in clicks to go and it doesn't cost you anything. Click to early and often.

Check out the first Bad Filmmaking 101

Animation Lectures for Teens

TEEN CTN begins March 28th, 29th, and 30th, from 12:00pm - 2:00pm at CTN’s Center Stage Gallery, Burbank,CA.

So if you are a parent or teacher of a teen or a teen yourself or even if you are an interested artist at any age CTN would like to invite you to this FREE beta launch that promises to be very inspirational and kick start any teens career.

Each day will be a repeat and will be structured in a Ted Talk format with 5 industry pros talking each day about their experiences in getting in to the industry and having a career. Extremely limited seating.

This program will feature Jordan Koch of Nickelodeon, Katia Grifols of Glow in the Dark Studios, Jake Wyatt of Nickelodeon, John Mahoney of Cal Arts, Benson Shum of Walt Disney Animation, Caroline Hu of Warner Bros, David DePasquale of DreamWorks TV, Tony Bancroft an Animation Director, Armand Serrano of Walt Disney Animation, Andreas Deja a Legendary Animator, Fabrizio Mancinelli an independent Composer, Alina Chau a Childrens Book Illustrator and Bill Perkins Production Designer. 


First come first served. Extremely limited seating. FREE

Sign Up Form:…/1FAIpQLSdQ3k44pEbW8C1y1j…/viewform


If you are not chosen for this soft launch please mark your calendars for the CTN Burbank RoadTrip 2018 (FREE event) Burbank where the official theme this year is Teen CTN. April 14-15.


And don’t forget to join the Teen Art Challenge where you can win an iPad and more.


For any questions call 818 827 7138

If you found this helpful, please click on the ads on this blog, every click will go to helping a local animal shelter. We only need $20 in ad clicks to get to the $100 goal. Every click helps!

Thank You! 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Bad Filmmaking 101: Pigeons

Dear Animateducated Reader,

You can learn from good films, but I think you can really learn more from films that contain, "bad choices" and  a great way to learn from other's mistakes. It could be a character design flaw, unclear storytelling, acting, a bad composition choice or editing problems. 

I am in search of content showing examples of bad story and filmmaking choices in short animation films. If you know of any short films which contain unclear story or cinematic choices, please send me a link and let me know what's wrong with the film.

Here is a short film on Youtube which has some examples of "Bad Filmmaking choices". This is a film about three bored baby birds who discover a cup cake and try to get it.


Enjoy this wonderful fun story of Disney/Pixar magic and then we will talk about it below.

First of all, this short was written and directed by 4 different people and is not from "Disney/Pixar" short. The only thing Pixar about this short is that the filmmakers have slugged in a lot of music from past Pixar films to create their soundtrack. And since the Disney legal team hasn't gotten around to shutting this film down yet, let's take a look at how many things we can find learn from in this short and compare your notes with mine below...

Our story begins as we move up to the roof where sits a nest. It takes about 30 seconds to get from the main title
to this first image.

Notice that you can see, bits of the yellow of the characters inside the nest already. And what are those detailed structures in perspective in the background? This is bad Staging. Take out the birds completely or introduce them from a different camera angle.

Cut to the characters, three yellow bored birds in the nest. 
The biggest of the birds yawns and stretches while the middle bird looks about. The biggest bird very slowly plops down again, and then there are lot of eye movements with all the characters and then they all laugh. 

What happened here? Why are they laughing? 
A situation has been set up, its not clear what they are all laughing at. This causes your audience wonder and fill in the missing information. 

I'm thinking the biggest bird farts and they are reacting to it, however there is no sound effect or music cue indicating this. I am coming up with a solution to why they are waking up and laughing. And they laugh a lot about whatever just happened, so much so, that a dissolve is needed to show that some time has past.

They are all waiting and looking bored. Starting a story about a bored character can turn into a boring story. We need to know more about why the character is bored in the first place. If they are waiting for Mama bird to return because they are hungry, we need to show them doing something that shows this situation.

What are they waiting for? Its called the "Inciting Incident" and before any story begins, we need to see our character or characters in their typical way of life. The "Inciting Incident" is the thing that occurs that changes the character's routine and it sets the story in motion.

In Pigeons, the biggest pigeon suddenly looks upward, screen left to see... What?! 


CUT to: Wide shot of the blue roof top, which you probably notice first. Screen right is the nest of French fries, but then you might have noticed toward the upper left near a window sits a cupcake.

This is not a Point of View shot from the Bird's perspective, but a wide establishing shot of where the white frosted cupcake is compared to the bird's nest of french fries. 

PLOT POINT 1: The birds make their exit from the nest which takes some time to do. Now we cut to this shot and Where does your eye go first?

I bet you noticed that the RED crushed (coke like) can. Why?
Because your eye goes to the one thing that is different in a scene. My question is, why is the red can there? If its in the scene, it must be there for a reason. Somewhere in the story, it will be used because its there for a reason, right? Why is the cupcake there? We are in a very interesting and clean environment, yet someone likes to drink soft drinks and leave cup cakes outside on their window ledge. Are they diabetic and hiding their condition from someone else in the apartment?

All these thoughts could be flying through your audience's head as they are watching this film full of unanswerable questions. But let's continue; the birds arrive, ignoring the can, but really wanting that cup cake.

Sorry, audience here... How do these birds know what a cup cake is? I'm Sorry, I'm just thinking too much again...

So, the biggest bird looks sneaky...

... and then has an idea.
(Fade to Black)

Do you think we should see a little bit more of where that cup cake is? Right now, I think we are a little too tight in on this frame. Your eye is looking around at all that Sky area.

This is the beginning PLOT POINT 2 and setting up a joke (gag), because at the bottom we see the top of the bird's head enter and move about. 
Then we show the joke; all three birds are working together, balancing on top of one another attempting to get that cup cake. Notice the red can is still there. Maybe the birds will use it to help them get the cup cake later, after all it must be there for a reason, right?
Then we cut back to a closer shot which should show the top bird grabbing onto the cup cake. But, due to poor character design, the bird has very small wings and so, nothing really happens in this shot.
They lose their balance and all fall down. Red can is still on the right.
They all look around and then, the middle bird turns around to look at the little bird next to him. 

This must be a joke intended for the birds, because the biggest birds just looks at the little bird that moves a bit and then we FADE to Black again. End of PLOT POINT 2.

PLOT POINT 3 is where we see this. Where did all this stuff come from? What, no red can? What do you think they will do next?

Of course, the two birds help the biggest bird to fly up to the cup cake above by jumping onto the plank. The biggest bird goes up and out of frame.  We cut to this shot of the cup cake just sitting on the window ledge. We don't see the bird go up, but it does fall back down and past the cup cake and we Fade to Black again.

CRISIS: The lowest or highest point in the story.
Fade In: The bored and hungry birds are now back in their nest again looking sad.

CLIMAX: Sounds of a Mama bird, a shadow zips by and the baby birds are all excited with wide mouths opened.

RESOLUTION: A worm drops into the next and the bird's look disappointed.

Did you find anything I missed or something you didn't understand? Did you like this film or not? Anything you would have liked to see happen? Please leave your feedback or a comment below, because this isn't a horrible, just had a few things that could have been changed.

Please send me a link to any films you may find like the one above. Also, please click on the ads on this blog if you can, every click will go to helping a local animal shelter. We only need $25 in ad clicks to get to the $100 goal. Every click helps!

Next Post: Bad Flimmaking 101: The Big Catch

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Stop Motion Demo Day!

At Woodbury University, on a gray and rain day, 
six High school students got a chance to play.
Shooting stop motion at 1 or 2 frames at a time.  
Here are the results and the end of my rhyme.

Stop motion by: Jameah Palmer, Katleen Bolanos and Brian Hung
Woodbury2018_Group 01 from Toondini on Vimeo.

Stop motion by: Nathan Severson, James Wilcox and Brandon Macias

Monday, March 5, 2018

Animation Student Scholarship

ASIFA-Hollywood’s AEF 2018 Student Scholarship Call for Submissions

We’re pleased to announce that the ASIFA-Hollywood’s Animation Educators Forum Student Scholarship opens for submissions on March 5, 2018

This is an international opportunity designed to support students enrolled in college animation programs, anywhere in the world, in their quest to complete their education in this field.  Proposals will be accepted from undergraduate students entering the sophomore year or above and for graduate students working toward the completion of a thesis.

The awards range from $2500 to $5000 US and may be applied to tuition, books and supplies, animation equipment (including computer hardware or software), formal academic research and senior or graduate thesis production.

Online submission for 2018 begins March 5, 2018 and ends on May 7, 2018. To apply or find out more information please visit our site at

You can also contact us directly with any questions at: Please mention Scholarships in the subject line.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Animation History: March 2nd

Today in Animation History

Back in 1886, Willis O'Brien was born and would eventually animate the first stop motion puppet of King Kong which would premiere on this day in 1933! 

This is from "Mighty Joe Young".

1922- A 21 year old veteran named Walt Disney after getting out of the army began studying in the public library Edwin Lutz's book "Motion Picture Animation and How it is Made" in the public library. In Kansas City, he and his brother Roy persuaded the owner of a small chain of  vaudeville theaters to fund some cartoons. The Newman's Laff-O-Grams Company was formed. A year later the Disney brothers would move to Hollywood and start a new enterprise called the Walt Disney Company. (from Tom Sito's blog)

Also in 1904 - Ted Geisel, cartoonist, animation director and author, Dr.Suess was born. 

Did you know his first book was rejected 27 times, not much by today's standards, but he kept going. Here's an interesting story involving being in the right place at the right time which lead to selling his first book. The rest is history.

If you liked this posting, click on the ad to the right or the ad below this article to
let us know you appreciate animation , Thank You!