The Art of Movement

After spending a few years dabbling with rudimentary 3-d programs and working on small projects using the Amiga, I started doing more drawing. My love affair with 3-d began to wane, as my attentions shifted back to the 2-d arena. Ironically, the world went the exact opposite direction and began producing large scale features in 3-d with teams of hundreds of animators.

Be that as it may, and when it comes right down to it…. I’d rather draw.

Inbred Jed - Spec project for MTV - early 90s

Inbred Jed - Spec project for MTV - early 90s

As any animator can tell you, animation is a love of the art, and the art of the sacrifice. Caffeine and bad music are a staple for projects with near-impossible deadlines and endless pressure to not only meet the challenge, but to walk away proud of the effort and the finished project. In the end, the work is fun. But it is work. Lots of it.

Enjoy below the many aspects and elements of 2-d projects throughout the years. The styles vary in as many ways as the subject matter and projects themselves did. As with most animation projects, there are many elements in the work that need to come together for a piece to work. These are usually done by multiple artists with differing styles. I’ve presented below projects and work on almost all roles with the art form. Also showcased are examples of shorts and other projects I’ve worked on throughout the years. Some companies I’ve worked with include: Plural Pictures, Animink, Happy Trails Animation and others.

In a perfect world, if I could work full-time on my own animation projects, I don’t think I’d ever quit.

below: Jimmy’s Donut (2018) - not 3d animation :)

Early 3d Techniques

Sometime after 1995, I had a conversation with an animation producer about how to get a job in Animation. His advice was two-fold. 1. Get a copy of a 3-d computer program, then called Playmation and teach myself how to do it, and 2. Move to LA or New York. I followed exactly half of his advice.

It took considerable time, effort and even money, but over the course of a year or so, I was able to do rudimentary 3-d animation. I burned through two hard drives and tied up the phone line for endless hours downloading models and textures from the BBS, but was able to learn the ins-and-outs of the craft while I experimented with the modeler and the stage setup. With each new version of the software, there were exciting new features within the physics, spline modeling and interface to play with. So I learned the basics of inverse kinematics, ray-tracing, texturing, lighting, refraction and other concepts which are built into the new programs automatically these days. You have to remember, at the time the brand new “Toy Story” was at the forefront of the industry. Other than that were short films and test reels - and not much else.

Test of an Old Man

Test of an Old Man

To put this all in perspective, at the time, many objects would not connect hierarchically. So you had to place them next to each other on each and every frame. Additionally, as there was no way to lock down the footing of a character yet, much effort was needed to prevent your dude from sliding all over the floor. Add that to flipped polygons and software bugs, the whole process was very labor intensive.

That being said, I was able to learn a lot about the craft of 3-d animation and stage direction, lighting and the art of movement over the course of 5 years or so.