Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Cat Came Back / Le Chat Colla

A histerical animated shortfilm by Cordell Barker, "The Cat Came Back" (1988) is based on the old century-old folk song of the same name.

The story is about an unexpected visit to Old. Mr Johnston, its a little yellow cat that destroys everything on his way. Mr. Johnston makes manic attempts to make the cat stay away.

This film has won numerous awards and will be screened in Toronto, Ontario and also on Television in late May 2008.

View excerpts from the film Online

More information at

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Cordell Barker began an apprenticeship in animation in 1974, cutting his teeth on Sesame Street spots, K-Tel commercials and local and national ads. In 1982, he approached the NFB about making a film that eventually became The Cat Came Back a 7-minute animated folk song which received an Oscar nomination in 1989 and went on to garner 18 international awards.

Cordell has worked as an animator/director on numerous TV ads in Canada, the US and England for clients such as Energy, Mines, and Resources Canada; Benylin; Nike; Chili's Restaurant and Bell Canada. He continues to receive awards for his innovative animations.

Cordell is happily married and the father of «three evil boys« who provided the inspiration for his latest film, Strange Invaders, about a strange child who suddenly appears one night to a childless couple.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Talking Animal Movies

For good or for bad there are a lot of these type of movies being made. It goes back to DR DOLITTLE, GOOD BOY, BABE, GARFIELD 1 & 2, sequels to AIRBUD, SNOWBUDDIES, etc, etc, etc. For the regular audience they are funny and cute, and for Hollywood this genre comes with a great financial promise.

Some of these movies are low budget while some others are high profile movies, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, THE GOLDEN COMPASS to name a few.

For animators this is a great opportunity to get their feet in a feature film and start building that resume. It not only gives them the opportunity to sharpen their facial animation skills but to get to know how a bigger pipeline works at a major studio, how it integrates with the other departments and to work with well known Animation Directors such as Chris Bailey - (Director GARFIELD 1 & 2).

Facial Animation sounds simple enough, however you'll be surprised with some of the difficulties to convey the lines, phonemes, emotions and to keep it consistent throughout the entire show.

Talking Animals movies are a great avenue for junior animators to get into a Feature Film Level. Senior animators have a different take on these projects, they see them as an easy task or an easygoing contract just to get them by until their next big project. Wherever your animation skills are at, the opportunity to participate in a talking animal movie will be certain, this film genre will continue to have a big market in the movie making business.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Animator Element: Eric Luhta

What brought you into animation?

I always loved animation when I was a kid, particularly Looney Tunes and the after-school cartoons of Transformers, GI Joe, and stuff like that. I would watch Disney movies over and over, and after Pixar came out with Toy Story, I was hooked on computer animation. But I never entertained the idea that I could be an animator because I assumed you had to be able to draw like the Disney masters. So I made a living playing, teaching, and writing music for a long time while just being an "animation fan". Then I decided I wanted a career change so I could do the music I wanted without worrying about it paying the rent, and since I loved video games, went back to school with the hopes of becoming a game designer. I took an animation class, and I was hooked. I left school to go to Animation Mentor, and here I am.

How do your musician background and animation background relate and feed one another?
I've been a musician since I was 5, so 26 years now, and there isn't a time I can remember where I didn't play music. I think after having such a dominantly non-visual background, its made sound and music my foundation where I'm comfort

able and ideas can flow. I need music to visualize anything, whether its a story, emotion for an acting shot, a character, anything. I'm actually almost paralyzed in that regard without it. So I'll always find pieces of music that I think fit with what I'm animating, and listen to them over and over while I do my planning. The more I do that, the more I find it's what works for me as an animator. I've also been experimenting with using music notation to help with my animation timing recently. I'll write out the rhythm of the "hits" on music paper, and it opens up a lot of possibilities because I can look at it in a way that I have lots of experience with. That makes me more comfortable trying different things since its more familiar.

On the flipside, animation has made me a better composer and musician too. Since animating requires such intricate detail work, getting used to that has made me much better at getting into the fine details of what I'm composing, thinking about all the minutae instead of being lazy and leaving things in a broader state.

What was your first big break into the Animation Industry?
My first animation job was as a temp animator at Blue Sky on "Horton Hears A Who!", and it was amazing. Looking back, I don't know how ready I was for it, but like everything like that, it's the best way to get some true, hard earned experience. I can't begin to quantify the amount I learned there from just being around all the incredible animators at Blue Sky, and it definitely prepared me for the road ahead.

How was your experience at Blue Sky Studios?
Blue Sky really showed me firsthand what being a great animator required: the passion for the artform, the dedication to work at your shot until it was great, and the sacrifice it takes to make something truly alive, beautiful, and entertaining. That's the greatest thing I took from that experience, and while I was too green to really get it at the time, it's something that's been informing my work ever since. The animators there are so amazingly talented and passionate and give all they have to their work, and it shows when you watch the animation in Horton.

How is it working for Psyop?

Psyop has been a blast! The projects are always fun and the environment is never, EVER boring. :) It's another place that's just chock full of super talented people, and it's been another fantastic learning experience. They are really serious about putting good stories and characters into all they do, and I've really been enjoying my time there.

------------------------ Short Film: Prospective Student ------------------------

What prompt you for the story?

I heard this story about Buddhist monks, where they would want to join a temple and to prove their dedication, would have to wait outside for days. If they waited long enough, they would finally be let in. And then I thought how it would be a funny situation if one of the monks waited at the wrong door and was wondering what was taking so long. I used that as the basis of a story that I could base on my own experience, which is being a student so eager to impress his teachers that he ends up doing some really stupid things and missing the obvious. I made some really funny (at least they are NOW) mistakes in music school being over enthusiastic about proving myself, and at least it came in handy.

How long did it take to complete?

It was written and animated over 6 months, and then it sat on the shelf for 8 months after I got busy at Blue Sky and Psyop. I ended up getting a couple weeks off between projects, and just decided to finish it once and for all.

What was the biggest challenge for you?
Besides the animating, it was difficult to do lighting and texturing with my limited knowledge of those subjects. It ended up being what it is, but I learned a ton in the process and the next film I make will be that much stronger for it.

What is the greatest satisfaction for you?

Seeing it all play together with the music and sound and everything is an amazing feeling that made all those long days and nights worth it. Watching a character that feels "alive" because of what you did is a reward in itself. But the best part is people just telling you that they enjoyed it and thought it was funny and entertaining. That's why we do what we do in the end.

Eric Luhta is part of the next generation of Animators, during Animation Mentor he was a prospective student and as a graduate he is already making creative contributions to the world of animation.

For more information please visit:
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Animation Tools: PoseManiacs

A fantastic Online Drawing Tool developed by PoseManiacs.

Whether you are a life drawing enthusiast, an artist looking for some practice or just thinking about getting into drawing, PoseManiacs is here to help you. Their website comprises thousands of poses made of 3D models wrapped around with a muscle texture that enables the artist to see the muscle position and behavior. Each pose is viewable from any angle, artists can find a complex foreshortening angle or an easier one by simply rotating the camera around.

30 Second Drawing Tool

This tool mimics an actual life drawing class where the artist starts warming up by gestural drawings, big and fluid strokes following the model's poses on a given time. This tool is customizable for different posing durations and visual components that adapt to every artist needs.

Negative Space Drawing

This is a classic when it comes to drawing, it teaches the artist to see things in an opposite space rather than focusing in the body. PoseManiacs present 2 color silhouettes to help the artist.

Hands for drawing

Every artist knows that drawing hands is a intricate task. This drawing tool lets the artist choose from a variety of hand poses, once he finds what he is looking for he can rotate the camera around and zoom in and out.

Some other great drawing tools include Random Pose Viewer and Widgets

PoseManiacs is doing a remarkable job in integrating art and technology, their online drawing tools encourage artists from around the globe to keep studying the extraordinary human figure.

For more information please visit: PoseManiacs

Vancouver Animated News by Mario Pochat