Drawn to Sound

Since last fall, I’ve been laying the groundwork with some colleagues for an artist collective(? I’m not sure that’s the right term) for animation collaborations. A talented Portland band, Micromassé, recently released an amazing new album…a 40 minute suite of music (played together) composed around the theme of positivity in the face of adversity. It’s a great album – each song has a different feel to it, yet they all go together. I was asked to create a music video for one of the tracks, and I reached out to Bomb Diggity Arts, another amazing local group which provides a range of experiences for adults with intellectual and often physical disabilities. A group of their artists, and one of their directors, animated some sequences which I intermixed with my own animations. This is what we came up with:

The Arrow Song

the o.g.

GMUNK, 19 years in the making

GMUNK is one of the baddest – always sharing knowledge and pushing things forward. From the early days of Flash to current groundbreaking projects, he’s always a force for the good. This Motionographer article is a good read – also, do check out his recently updated website. I relate to his words about the personal website…a refresh to my own is long overdue.  Part of that delay is the changing nature of how viewers want to process information in a streamlined way, which sometimes negates the experience one wants to create in the website, and how to balance between both.

Animated Visual Essays

I’ve followed the New York Times’ Modern Love series for years, the column and podcasts- made even better in 2013 (I think) when they introduced the animated videos. Stylistically varied and always visually striking – illustrating the feeling behind it through the animations – they are all worth watching. I have some favorites I should write about another time.

Anyway…The New York Times has introduced a new series about Conception.
Motionographer has a great write-up and interviews with directors from the new series.
They also mentioned the CNN Colorscope series which I hadn’t seen (I can’t seem to keep up with all the good stuff though I try, I try!) … I just watched a few of them (pink: Giant Ant, blue: Moth, lots of other greats) and they are worth the time.

Animated documentaries: ACLU Smart Justice

“…and if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, you’ll be disappointed every time. I think Einstein said that” – screenshot and quote from Johnny’s Home.
Watch these three short films about Smart Justice from the ACLU by ACME filmworks: executive producer Ron Diamond (curator/producer of Animation Show of Shows), directed by Elyse Kelly. Each film has a different animation director and animation team, allowing a range of different styles while maintaining a loose cohesion as a series. This country’s justice system has long needed reform, certainly one piece of skewed judgements where the punishments/sentencing do not fit the crime.
2D animation is such a powerful way to give perspective to a documentary; each line carries the weight of its words, and can make a topic that is difficult to watch into something more manageable.

Ancient thaumatrope

Science News posted an article about unusual archaeological findings – smaller objects they now believe were children’s toys. This reconstruction of a spinning disk from about 14,000 to 21,000 years ago in Western Europe shows an animal in different positions on each side. As the disk is twirled on a string, the creature appears to move.

Re-emerged in the 1800s as the thaumatrope.
But – 14,000 years ago! How much knowledge those ancient tribes must have had, how much was lost we may never know.
I think the thaumatrope is a great way to start thinking about frame by frame movement in animation, and even my youngest animation students enjoy making these.

Julian Frost: Winter Olympics

Julian Frost (Dumb Ways To Die) and Passion Pictures created these quick animated spots for Discovery Creative London and the Winter Olympics. There are 5 of them available on vimeo. Good to see a whole new look and feel for this kind of advertising, and always inspiring to see the great work of Julian Frost.

*Leaving this here as a reminder to screen these for my animation students next week, all of whom are great fans of Dumb Ways to Die.

Get in, make your point, and leave the stage: Rian Hughes

Creative Review’s interview with illustrator Rian Hughes re: his new graphic novel, I Am an Number.
Stylistically and in terms of message, it looks worth the read:
“Rian Hughes’ new book depicts a world in which everyone has a number. Order reigns, until some citizens start to question the numerals that adorn their chests and what they mean. When they challenge the system, things begin to fall apart.” Timely discussion.

But the last sentence of the interview is what struck me as solid advice; something to keep in mind with stories, whatever the platform, so I’m leaving it here for a reminder to self, in case I ever need it:

CR: What do you think is the secret of a successful graphic novel?RH: Personally? A clear concept, executed in an original and structurally appropriate fashion. A perfect marriage of form and content. It also helps to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Too many comic series, like long-running TV shows, are open-ended, and peter out rather than conclude. Everything, if it continues long enough, will eventually turn into a soap opera. Get in, make your point, and leave the stage.