The Replicator!

This is so cool – a new approach to 3D printing.

The Replicator works like a reverse CT scan, translating a 3D computer model into a full series (to describes the 360 degree rotation around the object) of 2D images that are projected into a container of resin – the areas of strongest light becomes solid. Article and video here! More flexible than layered 3D printing, and smoother results too. For medical applications this could be especially useful. Here’s to progress and always moving things forward.

Bias and artificial intelligence

A few months ago, I started following the amazing Janelle Shane who works with electrical engineering, optics, and neural networks (AI weirdness)…there are some spooky / hilarious GAN images (it can really go either way), absurd character names, recipes (for disaster?), knock-knock jokes, and so much good info to follow on how these networks are trained and refined…the brilliant solutions they come up with and the mistakes they make. Some of the best fails end up here.

GAN-generated birdhouse

Also, I read the news and I’ve been thinking about how deep biases and specifically racist tendencies can go in humans, and how that might show up in AI. If we can refine those algorithms and decision-making biases in the neural networks (which are, after all, loosely based on human brain connections), maybe we can redirect some human malfunction too.

Animation art

These quotes are from an article by Cassidy Curtis (of Oscar-nominated Age of Sail) about Spider Man: Into the Spider-verse makes me happy…here’s to all those who keep pushing things forward, through art or whatever your field…it’s so needed and so worth it:

I found myself looking through the screen, senses buzzing, at the amazing team of artists and technologists who made it, people who really get it: the idea that when you take the art seriously, when you use every step of the process to amplify that artistic voice instead of sanding off its rough edges, when you’re willing to break the pipeline and challenge “how it’s usually done”, that’s when you can make something special, unique, and meaningful. This movie is a triumph, and every single person involved in making it should be incredibly proud. I see what you did, I know exactly how hard it was to do it, and I see you.

Cassidy Curtis

I also hope this marks a turning point for the animation industry. Listen to your artists. Trust them. Let their work shine on the big screen the way they meant it to look. And don’t let anyone tell you what “can’t be done” with the look of your film. The non-photorealistic rendering community has been building the technology to do this, literally, for decades. Let’s use it!

Cassidy Curtis

Inspiration: Battle-force

The great team at oddfellows created this fresh piece for Nike’s Battle-force,a day of hoops, street art, music, and dance. The theme was about process, so they “got to work and took a step out side of computer-comforts and spent the summer in scanner beds with spray paint and xacto blades.” This is the exciting edge to me lately (maybe it’s just the old school in me) – make the magic happen offline, and use the computer to edit add those final touches and polish.

Inspiration: Spotify-Pride Stories

The always impressive Giant Ant made this 2017 series to honor milestones in LGBTQ history for Pride month. Some great moments in the series, especially 5-4 Pt.1 – playing with perspective and scale, clean quick transitions between very different scenes, and reducing the amount of info to just what’s needed. Visual storytelling that doesn’t just mimic the audio, but also fuels the message.

Commercial > Campaign


Inspiration: 2D animation

From an interview with Sylvain Chomet (Belleville Rendez-vous, 2003, The Illusionist, 2010).

And what are your thoughts on the decline of 2D and stop-motion animation in favour of 3D?

The thing that’s actually in decline is not 2D/Stop Motion but 3D Animation. It’s become too expensive to make a CGI movie and the technique has now got to a point that most [3D Animation] films have the same characters – they all look the same!

It started with Toy Story; it was declared that 2D Animation was dead because we were going to move into CGI. CGI was supposedly going to be a lot cheaper. However, today it’s actually more expensive as you need to render some really heavy pictures, and sometimes rendering takes more time than actually drawing it.

Also, I don’t think anything is original coming from CGI Animation, and it should be. 2D Animation still has a lot of variety. I got a lot of happy faces when I said to the students ‘you made the right choice’ [choosing 2D Animation], because there’s more and more films being done and it’s getting cheaper. I feel that the 3D technique has got to a point that if you make it realistic it’s going to just look like real life. It might look fantastic but it’s not Animation. For me, it’s reached a dead end, and people are getting fed-up with always seeing the same style of film.

Finally, what is your main message for aspiring Animators everywhere?

The main thing – as I was saying to the students – is to enjoy and have fun [with animation]. And be politically incorrect, that’s what Animation is great for. Animation is for ‘bad boys’ and ‘bad girls’.

Keep an eye out for Chomet’s upcoming film, The Thousand Miles (2019)

Inspiration: The best way to learn is…drawing!

I haven’t yet read the book, but I found this write-up about the recently published Stick Figures: Drawing as a Human Practice by design historian D.B. Dowd very interesting. He encourages drawing as a practice rather than an aesthetic art form.
<Our anxiety around drawing starts around puberty, when we begin self-critiquing our abilities to render a perfect likeness, Dowd says.>
I have definitely noticed a marked difference in their own expectations  between the 2nd and 5th grade students, and it serves only as a handicap to their ability to express themselves. I’m all for making beautiful marks, but sometimes just getting the narrative down (or starting the exploration) is what’s most important. I encourage them to not view their drawings with such a critical eye, and some of Dowd’s words will be my new backup. “At its core, drawing is a problem-solving tool.”
I also love this:
“If practiced in the service of inquiry and understanding, drawing does enforce modesty,” says Dowd. “You quickly discover how little you know.”
“Drawing makes us slow down, be patient, pay attention,” he says. “Observation itself is respectful, above all else.”
Excuse me while I grab my pen and paper.