Friday, March 20, 2015

Armikrog from PencilTest Studios

Pencil Test Studios has been working on projects for years for clients specializing in their brand of 2D animation. Mike Dietz and Ed Schofield, founders of Pencil Test Studios, teamed up with Doug TenNapel, to create their first video game, The Neverhood in 1996.

In 2013, Pencil Test Studios turned to crowdfunding site Kickstarter to help raise funds and awareness for their current game called Armikrog...
The game introduces Tommynaut (Michael J. Nelson), a space explorer who crash lands on a weird planet and ends up locked up in a strange fortress called Armikrog, along with Beak-Beak (Rob Paulsen), his color blind, talking dog.

This game has been shot in stop motion with sets and props all made of clay and other materials.

Thanks to Ed Schofield and Mike Dietz for showing us around and getting us excited by seeing all this artwork. Watch out for Pencil Test Studios Armikrog coming soon to Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, Wii U and PlayStation 4. 

Here's a walk thru of the game, check it out...

And here's a link to purchasing the game!

and this too:
If you learned something new, click on the ad to the right and the ad below this article, let us know you appreciate animation , Thank You!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sheila Graber Interview

While working on a post for my WatchCat Blog, I was researching the subject of Cat characters in Literature and came across this piece of animation by Sheila Graber.

 But what really impressed me was all the animation she has made over the years. She also has been teaching animation since the 1970s, has given workshops and has even written a book about animation as well. I found her website from her YouTube channel and asked her if I could get an interview from her for this post on Animateducated. And so, here it goes...

PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST ... Sheila Graber against a background of children s artwork at her home in Ireland. Below, some of her illustrations for Quizicat.
JR: You're my first Animator interviewee ever, so please keep this in mind.Thank you for your time to do this. I grew up learning a lot about animation on my own and sadly I have never heard or seen any of your work before. I was wondering if you could let us know how you first discovered animation?

SG: My Mam took me to see Fantasia when I was 7 (The movie and I were both born 1940) and I remember clearly the Devil growing out of the mountain in Night on Bare mountain.. The fact that the animation moved to the music was huge for me in later life. However I,( like most people ) always thought that animation could only be done in big studios - not something you could do alone. In 1970 I was divorced and had time to play about with a Super8 camera I bought for holiday films - in the instruction book it said you could "bump on your titles by using a single frame release" - I tried it animating buttons.. when the film came back 3 weeks later the fact those buttons moved by themselves was MAGIC.. I was hooked .. and that was it I just kept going after that until the present day.

JR: What was the first class did you teach? Was it easy to teach? What did you learn from the process of teaching? Do you have a teaching degree? When did you first teach kids animation?

SG:  I trained in Fine Art at Sunderland Art College and went on to be trained in teaching in 1961 at Birmingham School for training Art Teachers - this was where I met the concept that changed my life - we were shown that EVERYONE is an artist in their own way and it was our job to provide an environment in which everyone could take according to what they needed to be able to grow and express themselves thus gaining confidence in their own ability - whether they went on to "do art" or not did not matter -the fact they had felt what it feels like to succeed at something was enough to keep them going throughout life.

I put what I learned into practice in a tough Secondary School (aged 11-18) where no one really wanted to learn but found if I could gain the pupils interest they would turn negative energy into positive - or destruction into creation.. it WORKED  in art lessons and when I began my little animation experiments in 1970 I thought the folks I teach would LOVE this. and they did. At first as a cine-club after school .. but later I was able to actually build animation into the curriculum so the classes could animate everything from how your heart beats to volcanoes exploding..and I finally got animation accepted throughout the UK as an actual subject in it's own right in 1975.

I learned so much from them about timing etc.. what might have taken me weeks to perfect they sorted out in minutes.. children have a natural feeling for animation… obviously they love watching it - how much better to make their own! You can see some short clips on my demo:


From 2008 to 2015 I've been working on making apps for children/families.. hoping to influence art teachers with "Quizicat Cracks the Arty Code" - that idea goes right back to 1961.
JR: You have so many films under your belt and in your storage room, How many animation films have you made?

SG: Over 100 16 mm films - now stored in a film archive in the UK.

I worked in Super8 from 1970 - 1973/4 then 16mm from then until about 1991. From then I used Video and Mac Computers.. and from 2003/4 totally computers - drawing with a wacom tablet and using Painter software. as in "lifeline" 

From 2005 I have used computers to make books from some of the animated series I've made.. along with "Animation a Handy Guide"  a book & Interactive DVD

JR: This might sound weird, but when I was making my first 16mm film Cat & Rat, when I was finished shooting and editing it together, I felt a little depressed in the way a woman sometimes does after childbirth. I said it sounds weird, but you spend months with this idea  in your head and you spent all your time working on it, thinking about it and when its finished, your done, has this ever happened to you?

SG:  It certainly has in the sense that after months working with a particular piece of music as sound track and timing every note -on completion of the film I did NOT want to hear that music tracks for a LONG time.. and also once I'd seen that the movie worked OK - I  lost interest in that too..moving on to the next idea.
JR: We both have seen the animation process change over the years, from 2D to Computer Animation. Is there anything you miss? Anything you don't miss? Anything you think we need to keep going?

SG: I love the fact that all children now have total access to the the ability to MAKE animation via their tablet's or phones from a very early age - I would REALLY like to see schools encouraging their use throughout the curriculum to LEARN.. alas most pupils use these amazing learning tools for Facebooking or games only and teachers ban them. Or when they are used in schools it is really as a portable Whiteboard where the pupils watch and listen but do NOT actually create anything themselves.

It does not matter WHAT gear is being used - it is the THE IDEA behind the animation that counts… I used to teach animation in college to the folks who went on to become game programmers.. I once asked them if could they please find a popular game that did NOT involve killing or shooting.. stunned silence in the class. Two week later, a lad came running in saying gleefully that he'd FOUND one… it was about a shepherd and sheep herding.. since then we do have Sims and a few more positive animated games. Let's hope we have many more in the future… which I reckon is BRIGHT!

I gave up teaching in 1980 to become full time professional animator after having been commissioned to make a series of 10X 10min. movies for world TV. I had 3 XTV series and over 100 shorts running in over 25 countries from 1980 - 1990 teaching is still at the heart of what I do.

JR: Thanks Sheila! To learn more about Sheila Graber, her animation and books, please visit her website:

If you learned something new, click on the ad to the right and the ad below this article, let us know you appreciate animation , Thank You!

Looking for more Animators out there for future interviews.