Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Atlantis:The Lost Empire...part 5

(Head expressions of Dr. Sweet )

 Like a broken record I keep mentioning thumbnails as a valuable step in the process of animation.
My drawing ability got me into the studio as an Animation Trainee but it is the thought process that would have to sustain me if I wanted to succeed in a career as an animator.
Thumbnails were a part of the learning process.
 Along with my daily animation sessions with Disney Legend Eric Larson there were handouts to read and give thought to. Having no animation experience prior to coming to the Disney studio made everyday there a learning experience and soaking up as much knowledge as possible was a challenge and pleasure. These notes came from the masters of animation, who were in the building, on the floor below or in rooms right down the hall from me.

These notes were the thoughts of Disney Legend Milt Kahl on thumbnails...

Thumbnails used on Atlantis...
One of the first lessons I was taught as an animation trainee was to spend half your time thinking about a scene and the other half animating the scene. These words of wisdom did not make much sense then, but in time their practicality would ring loud and clear.

Thinking about what you want to do is just as important as to what and how you do it.

What is the purpose of the scene, why is it in the happening at particular time?
Listening to the sound track (over and over) for any nuances, accented words, sound effects etc.
How much time do I have to get over the business?
Is the 'business' plain enough for the audience to 'get it?'
Can this pose be stronger?
Is this the proper camera angel to showcase what needs to be communicated?
These and many more questions have to be answered before animation starts.

Dr.Sweet as he passes by Milo who has a 'kink' in his neck. My first thoughts of how the action should play worked out in thumbnails.

More detailed thumbnails provide a look at the fielding (in blue), staging and acting of the scene without wasting time animating actions which do not work properly in the field size.
These drawings are what I would show the directors for approval to start animating.


 Dr. Sweet, without being asked and to Milo's surprise, adjusts his neck.                                                               

These early thumbnails (below) are from a scene towards the end of the picture.
This time Milo asks the Doctor for his neck to be adjusted, indicating bonding and trust has occurred in Atlantis.
Idea possibilities are worked out in the thumbnail stage.

The thumbs have given me a firm idea as to how the scene should play out.



Thumbnails also help me visualize and map out field size (below in red) and character silhouette as the action takes place.

The  action-
Dr.Sweet hands on hips, rubbing hands together and cracking knuckles in eager anticipation of the action that is about to take place (2). He has to turn Milo's head around for the adjustment (3).

Milo's neck adjustment based on reality-
I was seeing a chiropractor during the making of Atlantis. He would work on the alignment of my lower back and spine by adjusting my neck. I asked him how he held his hands as the adjustment took place.

Right thumb behind ear, index and middle finger bent along jaw line and two fingers straight towards chin. Left hand thumb behind ear, first two fingers straight long jaw line and two fingers straight pointing toward chin.
Now to caricature reality in animation.
Add some exaggerated head twists and you've got a bit of entertainment:- )

(In a handout dated 5-29-81 Eric Larson wrote this about reality..."All great characters have been the results of the successful caricature of reality and our knowledge and use of reality has been gained from an analysis and appreciation of that which we have observed, read about, been told about, discussed and perhaps even dreamed about. It is the sum total of all this that will make our linear characters entertaining and have meaningful, harmonic relationships with the audience.
True, we are reminded of these facts at every  turn, but we hear them, leave them with a mental note: Yeah, I know that! and promptly go about our work not putting them to use.")

until next time...

In my last post February was singled out as a very busy month for me. I posted before a few of the events took place...

Feb. 18th...
reading of Steamboat School at the Monrovia Library...

Feb. 20th...
Taught my first class at Mt. San Antonio College

Feb. 25th...
One of three speakers at the Monrovia/Duarte Black Alumni Scholarship Luncheon...

Feb. 28th...
Spoke to an assembly at Clifton Middle School (class of '64) in Monrovia...

(Capacity crowd at Clifton's auditorium)

            Fortunately it was a short month:- )

Friday, February 17, 2017

2017 Starting the New Year in Art ...

(Sketching while waiting to enter Monrovia High School)

February is full of memorable occasions for me
The wave started to build last month.

 Jan. 4th...
The Brown Bookshelf contacted me to inquire if I would be interested in writing a blog for their annual '28 Days Later' campaign celebrating Black History Month."...yes..."

 Jan. 28th... 
I was born and raised in Monrovia, CA and went to high school with Joannie Yuille (pronounced Yule).
 Joannie donated copies of Steamboat School to all  the libraries of the five elementary schools in Monrovia. She presented the books at the school board meeting. Board member Terrence Williams invited me me to be present that night.  Thinking I was going to just observe, I was called on to say a few words. No surprise what a few words of encouragement can accomplish. Terrence later reported to me the effect of what I said reverberated through the crowd and the school board. My words lad the groundwork for what would come a few days later.

 Joannie wears many hats one of them being Chairperson of the Monrovia/Duarte Black Alumni Association (MDBAA). She invited me through the MDBAA to a number of events.
All this activity contributed to my busy month of February:-)

February 2nd...
Steamboat School was highlighted on the second day of The Brown Bookshelf '28 Days Later' month long recognition to "...push awareness of the myriad of Black voices writing for young readers...".

Feb. 5th...
I was contacted by Toni Guinyard journalist for NBC4 news requesting an interview for the channels Black History Month special.
Of course I said "yes":-).

Feb. 8th... 
I celebrated my birthday by filling out paperwork (2 hrs.) for a job as adjunct professor teaching a class titled Drawing Fundamentals at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut CA.

Feb. 9th...
Not everyday I get to see a news van in the neighborhood and it stopped in front of my home.

Out steps the occupants...


The Emmy award winning journalist Toni Guinyard and camera person Bobbie Eng.

Bobbie sets up for a shoot in the gallery...

My point of view......

 What Bobbie's camera saw...

B-roll in my studio...

Bobbie back to the gallery to do some creative camera work (below).

Toni is a little wilted after the interview passed the three hour mark...time for a Cake Break:-).

 My day old birthday cake and ice cream hit the spot for Bobbie who skipped her hash browns to fill in for a camera person who called in sick and Toni who's day started at 3am this morning and was a bit famished.

Cake Break...

 Packing up the van to leave my next door neighbor Gloria got into the act. Bobbie supplied Toni with a 'prop' microphone for a sidewalk interview:-)

 My interview will air Saturday February 18th on NBC4 at 7pm (pst) as part of NBC's celebration of Black History Month.

February 10th...
Monrovia High my alma has been literally decades since I walked the halls of MHS ,1968 to be exact.
I had a great time talking to, answering questions and encouraging the students.

(Talking to the students with NBC cameraman  capturing the interaction on film)

(MHS student who was brave enough to ask for her picture to be drawn)

My old art classroom...
I paid a visit to the classroom I took art classes in.
This room brought back memories.
Within these walls Ms Dorothy Clemmons encouraged me to "always carry a sketchbook".
 I took her advice.
It was also in this classroom Ms Clemmons kicked me out of class...I deserved it:-) and never spoke to me again.

 This publicity photo (below) of Ms Clemmons, principal Leonard Morris and myself was taken for the local newspaper the Daily News Post. I had won a regional competition sponsored by Bullocks department store for a pen and ink drawing. The piece went on to New York for a national judging and I was awarded a plaque which came to the school.
The drawing was entered in competition before I was 'booted' out of class and the award came after my departure from class.
Ms Clemmons was silent through the shoot being true to not speaking to me.
Like I said "I deserve it".

(The award winning artwork was still on display in NY, this piece of mine was used for the photo)
(Sketching for MHS art students in my old classroom)

(I presented art instructor Tiffany Sands with a signed copy proof of Steamboat School)
I met with old friend Glen Keane. After lunch we got rejuvenated and inspired with a trip to the Norton Simon Museum.
(Glen and me at the entrance of the Norton Simon Museum)

February 18th...
I am scheduled to read Steamboat School, sign autographs and Q & A at the Monrovia Library. I will be there from 1-2pm.

February 25th...
Joannie asked me to say a few words at the MDBAA sponsored Black History Month Soul Food scholarship Luncheon...Monrovia Community Center 12-3pm

February 27th...
First day of teaching class at Mount San Antonio College...
(That's me 'STAFF')

February 28th...
I will speak at an assembly at  Clifton Middle school in Monrovia.
Yearbooks from my time spent there (below).


That's my busy month...until next time...

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Steamboat School and The Brown Bookshelf...

  • About Us

    The Brown Bookshelf is designed to push awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers. Our flagship initiative is 28 Days Later, a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult novels written and illustrated by Black creators. You can read more about the founders of The Brown Bookshelf here
    Today February 2, 2017...
     in it's month long celebration of Black History Month The Brown Bookshelf will highlight Steamboat School in today's

    until next time...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Steamboat 'round the bend...

Steamboat School continues on it's course...named to the list Notable Children's Book - 2017 by the Association for Library Service to Children.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Steamboat School before 2016 ends...

I’m delighted to inform you that the following books were selected for Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best books of 2016:

  • Steamboat School

The Best of the Best lists represent our choices for the year’s most outstanding titles, books of exceptional quality for a diverse, city-wide readership. The list is widely promoted throughout Chicago, including local news coverage. We order extra copies of these books in various formats to promote them throughout the city, give them special labels, and we feature them in branch displays and in our catalog and web site. We also present them to staff as great reading suggestions to promote to our patrons.

Congratulations and thanks so much for your support throughout the year, including advance review copies, which help make this process possible. We look forward to a new year of reading your books.

All my best,


Liv Hanson | Content Curator, Youth
Technology, Content and Innovation | Chicago Public Library

and Steamboat School got an 'Honorable Mention'  Best Picture Books of 2016 by Huffington Post.

until next time...

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Atlantis: The Lost Empire...part 4

More workbook and thumbnail sketches...

Workbook (WB) poses are designed to convey the is up to the animator to make the scene entertaining.

 WB sketches (below) give the basic intent of the scene and indicate the camera move (upper right corner).

Thumbnail sketches (based on the sketches made on the x-sheet- see part 3) work out the action of the handshake, his walk toward camera, putting on the lab coat and reaching into medical bag to pull out the bone saw.

Though only his upper torso is visible, the whole body has to be kept in mind for believable animation.

Thumbnails to help visualize and work out the action (below- right #1 to left #14)...these are the drawings that I would show the directors to get their approval to proceed to animation.

The directors input...
Am I capturing the action as they envisioned? I need to add or omit some action, did I overlooked something?... after all, it is their movie.

Thumbnails to work out the mouth shapes for dialogue"...well, no time like the present..."
 (this scene is presented in more detail in ...part 2)

Workbook sketches...
The scene starts out with the Doctor talking to Milo about the bone saw and what he can do with it...

and ends with him saying "...say ahh..."

The thumbnails of the action and dialogue... 

Thumbnails to work out the action- into the medical bag goes the bone saw, out comes a tongue depressor...the dialogue "...stick out your tongue and say ahh..."

Thumb nailing (below) my way trying to find an interesting way for Dr. Sweet to look into Milo's mouth...

Dr. Sweet's monologue with Milo is loaded with questions of which he (Milo) cannot answer with several objects poked in his mouth in succession...

Thumbs to visually see if the mouth shapes are working for the Dr.'s  line of dialogue  ", I hate fishin'... and experimenting to see if the beakers can be introduced in an entertaining way (below, lower left).
Lower right thumbnails were probably done at a football game as the page contains a referee and player. I carry a sketch book with me at all times and when inspiration hits me I'm prepared to jot the thoughts on paper.

WB gag brings out the jokester in the Dr...

The animators job is to plus the scene by making it entertaining and appealing. By offsetting the beakers, having distance between them and having one tossed into the air made better presentation and staging without taking away from the original intent of the scene.

 WB and thumbnails " too..."

until next time...