Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Finishing Fantasia...

 The use of thumbnails was first introduced to me by Eric Larson. His lectures on the subject along with weekly handouts cemented the process in my mind.. 

For me, thumbnails are an indispensable aspect  of the art of animation and was used by most of the 'old timers' at Disney. Here is what legendary animator (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, original Fantasia, etc.) Art Babbitt had to say about the subject...

(In the words of award winning director/animator Art Babbitt)

My use of thumbnails on Fantasia helped me work out the business of the Elk after the destruction of the area by the Firebird...

( Top- Elk surveying the scene of destruction...)

More thumbnails to visualize the action of the lips as they blow the ashes revealing the Sprite...

(Getting closer to what I visualize the action to be in my minds eye...)

Frequent in house screenings kept us updated and we were able to view the progress of the movie...

During this time there were other activities on my schedule besides animation of the Elk...

1997 saw the Walt Disney Home Video release  of the 55TH ANNIVERSARY LIMITED EDITION OF BAMBI "this timeless treasure had been painstakingly restored to its original splendor".

My and several other animator's interviews were sent out as part of a press kit to 2500 plus video journalists.

Portions of the press kit...

My schedule also included a magazine article and...

in May of  '97 I was honored with an invitation to ride in the Monrovia Day parade in the little town I grew up in...

My Alma mater got in on the publicity band wagon for Hercules...

 And in August of 1997 a group of Disney animators participated in a boot camp for young perspective animators held in Monterey Bay, CA...

(Article in our departments' newsletter the Twilight Bark and my parking pass for the facility at Monterey Bay)

That September I was extended an invitation to speak to art students at Citrus Community College by my former teacher, the late Bob Bullock...

The local paper even spilled some ink on me...:-) 

 To be continued...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Interview with #End Credits!...

 Cori Tibbets of End Credits interviewed me over the phone a few  weeks ago ...check it out:-)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Finding a home in Fantasia...part six

Animating on 'The Firebird Suite -1919 Version'... 

  I captured directors Paul (seated left) and brother Gaetan Brizzi (at the board) going over story board sketches as we start the animation phase of our project.

(The Brizzi brothers plus one.)
Before we get to the 'clean-up' version of the Elk, I have a lot of preliminary work to do...

(Clean-Up version of Elk with color direction.)

    One last request before animation...

   Though the Elk did all his acting through the eyes and body language, the producer wanted to see what facial emotions would look like on this non-verbal animal. These are some of the concepts I came up with. Three are rough and two cleaned-up versions of my rough drawings.

All animators are not alike...

  After being handed a scene by the director some jump right in and start animating...trial and error until they get it right. Some can get it right with the first attempt (I was never that type:-)
I've seen others lounge around 'shooting the breeze' and 'just laying back' until the last minute and frantically get it done...and on time!
  Ask a hundred different animators what their approach to animating a scene is and you'll get a 100 different answers.

 My approach...which is not unique to me, is one gleaned from a number of animators I have had the privilege of working with and observing over the years:

The thought process...
 Thinking a scene through and playing it over and over in my head is the start. This 'thought process' was drummed into my head by my first animation teacher Eric Larsen, who headed the trainee department when I started at Disney in 1975. Eric was speaking to a blank sheet (mind) as I had no knowledge of animation and had not formed any work habits.  He told me (and others) "the only limitations an animator has is his imagination and his ability to draw what he imagines".

Another valuable lesson Eric introduced me to was the use of 'thumbnail' sketches. These little sketches are invaluable in working out the action, seeing how a character 'reads' in a certain pose, how that character looks in the field size and many, many more potential drawing problems can be worked out in the thumbnail stage.

The most valuable asset of thumb nailing for me is when a presentation or 'pitch' is made to the director(s) as to what I plan to do with the character in that scene. Prior to any animation being done the director can see visually what I intend to do with the character.

 At this point the director(s) can make any suggestions and or comments pertaining to the scene. With the director's approval I can begin animating with the confidence, knowing at this early stage, I have their approval.

The directors also know they will not be met with any surprises the next time they view the scene. This keeps me from throwing in something we did not discuss and them not expecting something different than what was shown them.

The value of thumbnails...
The first time the Elk is seen, he is walking through the snow in the forest.
The walk is based on this series of thumb nail sketches (below right). The numbers are for rough timing. On drawing #1 he will be in this pose, drawing #9 he will be in this pose etc. Drawings 2-8 will be inbetweened and so on to the end of the scenes length. For now 1-9-17-25-33-41-49-57-65 are my key poses. As the scene progresses these drawings may be refined/finessed.

I will re-draw these poses on animation paper and expose them on camera to see if they are moving at the right speed and make any adjustments in timing at this point. This is done to avoid wasting time having a scene drawn and inbetweened before knowing for sure that it is working.

(Thumbnails of the Elk walking)

Observation in the snow...

  My trip to the Elk farm in Montana is about to pay a subtle dividend. I noticed how the hoof when entering the snow kicked up a little mound of snow as it went from a bend at the fetlock joint (below) #1 to straightening out to take the weight of the body.

This little action in the snow would not 'make or break' the scene but would add a realistic touch that in nature really happens. Thumb nails helped me work out this action.

(Leg action in snow)
Add to the mix an incline...
 The same walking action with adjustments made to compensate for the down hill movement. Like walking down a hill, the body leans slightly backward to maintain balance.

 Elk walking down and away (below) second row-series of 3 drawings where it says 'start'-moving right to left, horizontally),  Elk stops and looks across the lake at the opening of the cave he will enter (right top drawing-moving vertically) slight hesitation before he enters the water. (Wouldn't you hesitate before entering a freezing lake or any water for that mater:-).

(Thumb nails of Elk walking down incline and entering lake.)

(more thumb nails  working out the action)

Crossing the lake...
(Below right) Though you will not see his submerged torso you have to feel he is walking on the shallow bottom of the lake. This is accomplished by animating the whole body (below-top series of 4 drawings moving right to left).    

The Special Effects department will animate the water.
This is the only scene in which I animated the antlers (more on that later).

(Thumb nails of Elk crossing lake and blowing breath upward.)

(above left)  Thumb nails drawn to work out the mouth action as the Elk exhales his breath.

Inside the cave... 
Moving forward (above right - middle series of 4 drawings - moving left to right) the Elk looks around.

A nice touch the effects department added was the cold air coming from the Elks nostrils and mouth as he blows (middle row-drawing on far right) on the hanging ice to initiate the action of the Sprite animated by Tony DeRosa.
One department adding a plus to an other's work.

  As you can see these thumb nails were done in my sketch book. There are other drawings on the page that have nothing to do with the scene. Whenever the thought hits day or night I jot down whatever will give me insight as I plan the scene out in my mind and eventually on paper before animating.

To be continued...

Coming- Summer of 2016...

Back from paying a visit to Hawaii to visit my daughter and her family, I was greeted with a surprise. A package had been delivered and in it was a Japanese translation of my book 'Quick Sketching with Ron Husband'.

My editor at the time David Bevans, told me about a year ago that a foreign publisher had negotiated to publish the book and that I would possibly be contacted in case any translation or other issues arose. Never contacted, I had not expected to see a finished product so soon as it will not be available to that market until June 2016.

David also told me it is unusual for a book to be picked up internationally having been in publication less than a year. At the time QS had been in release for about eight months. About a month later I was given the same information, this time it involved a Chinese publisher also with a summer 2016 release date.  I am anticipating an advance copy of that coming in the near future too.
Having never been to Asia, I will have covered it in book form:-)

(Letter that accompanied book.)

(Japanese translation of Quick Sketching with Ron Husband)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Finding a home in Fantasia...part five

On to the University of Nevada Las Vegas...

  I did not travel much as a kid. 30 miles west to Los Angeles and 40 miles east to San Bernardino was the extent of my travel experiences from my hometown Monrovia, CA.  Yet, I found myself living in a new state...

Newspaper article announcing my and Danny's arrival in Las Vegas...

The hills just north of LasVegas. Apple core in one hand, pencil in the other and sketchbook on the rock.

1971 brought the opportunity to broaden my horizon beyond the town I grew up in and experience a series of firsts in my life...

    I took my first airplane rides on recruiting trips to San Francisco State University and UNLV...

    I saw snow for the first time (remember, I'm a southern California kid). We played Northern Arizona in Flagstaff AZ. It started snowing the morning of the game and by kick-off (8 pm) that night the sky was still dropping snowflakes. I got a unique introduction to the elements and a memento from the game.

(Game time weather conditions...)

(Memento from that night.)


Weather at game time showed no mercy...Due to the lack of visibility down field, the quarterback threw to the halfbacks, a lot.. thus my memento from the game.

 I also got to fly across country for the first time. The UNLV Rebels were opponents of the Miami Hurricanes. We played them in Orange Bowl Stadium. The stadium was torn down in 2008.

(Me in Orange Bowl Stadium)

    My first year (1971) we played our first home games at a local high school. By mid season  the Las Vegas Stadium was finished and I played my first game on it's artificial turf.

Though I did not witness it personally, ( we were in the locker room at halftime plotting strategy for the second half) UNLV crowned its first Black Homecoming Queen. Not a big deal in today's world, but this was newsworthy in the early 70's.

1972 football season...
My summer job this year was making fire hydrants at the James Jones Company . I can't walk
past a fire hydrant in southern California without looking for the name 'Jones' stamped on it (see top).
After a 6am to 3pm shift and a quick shower, on to my second job as recreation leader at Huntington Elementary school. Board games for the kids and wildly exciting volleyball for the older crowd:-)

(below) Wayne Nunnely and I prepare to ride to LasVegas in his VW.   Wayne, a junior had gotten a scholarship that year and I was entering my senior year at UNLV.  Wayne went on to graduate and entered into a stellar career in coaching at the high school, university and professional levels, retiring from the Denver Broncos after spending over a decade with the San Diego Chargers.


The Citrus connection...
Wayne #34, myself #26 and James (Wildman) Branch #70 were recruited from Citrus Junior College in Azusa CA. Over the years I've kept in touch with Wayne but lost track of James since school.

(#26 in action at UNLV)

My football life comes to an end. 
Through competition I learned a tremendous amount about life, had unique experiences and met a lot of great people along the way.  Through discipline and exercise I gained an appreciation for taking care of my body and this carried over to my understanding of  it's movement, balance and anatomy which is so important in the field of animation which I would eventually enter. 

    The last game for we seniors (#26).

Student Athlete...with the emphasis on student-                                                                                    
  Not everything in my life at this time revolved around sports. Along with classes I had two and at one time three part time jobs.  I had married my childhood sweetheart LaVonne. She was back in Monrovia working and raising our two boys.  I was on my way to getting a diploma but it was going to require me to take 18 units the first semester and 19 the next...oh yeah, while working two part time jobs...

(Drawing for The Yell UNLV's newspaper)

One, as an artist for the school newspaper...
and the other as a model for the photography and drawing classes.

  Leaving Las Vegas...

 I left the University of Las Vegas with a BA degree. . I did not walk in the graduation ceremony. After my last final I literally took off for home to look for a job. The university mailed the degree to me.

    My aim was to be a commercial artist, illustrating books and magazines. Little did I realize there were no commercial art jobs in southern California, not any that would be willing to give a newcomer to the field a start. I came to realize Chicago and New York were best suited for a rookie like myself  as those two cities had much of the publishing work.

 After weeks and weeks of job hunting I started at Honeywell in their technical illustration department. The gentleman who hired me said "I'm not hiring you because you have a degree, I'm hiring you because you stuck it out for four years and I feel you can handle any assignment we give you".

  The department had one person who got all the 'gravy' technical illustration assignments (exploded views, equipment diagrams etc.) The rest of the crew were given block diagrams and flow charts to do. Not very creative for a guy who had visions of illustrating magazine spreads.

 This stifling of my creative outlet led me to take a class at an art school, which led to a path to the Disney Animation Studio and the rest, as the saying goes, is history... my history.

(To read about how I got my start at Disney, see my previous post here).

 That is how I got on the cover of the Spring 1997 UNLV magazine...

Now, on with Finding a home in Fantasia :-)


Friday, May 8, 2015

Finding a home in Fantasia...part four

Leading up to High School Graduation...
 The things you do and decisions you make in the 'now' affect circumstances later in life...

 Junior year in high school...
  Driving my Mom's car I pulled into McDonalds for a burger. Rick Harrison, center on our football team, was at the window taking orders (no drive thru in those days) ..."Want a job?"..."Sure".
Rick had a quick talk with the manager, I got handed an apron.  "Fill out the paperwork tomorrow."

Next thing I know, I'm at the window taking orders.  A worker did not show up and it was the '10 pm rush' and the crew was short handed... instant employment.

 The manager took a liking to me and saw that I got training to move up the ladder within the franchise. From taking orders to 'french fry man'. Then on to "the grill" cooking burgers and steaming the fish fillet sandwiches. After a few months I had advanced as far as a 16 year old, part timer could go. A five cent an hour raise went with my rise to the top.

I made $1.25 an hour - minus 10 cent per hour (they figured you would eat that much on your shift break) plus a 5 cent per hour raise = $1.20 an hour.

I worked part time and summers through high school....Made good pocket money, but working 'closing' during the week left me barely able to keep my eyes open in first period geometry class. Came that close to getting an F.

I also saved enough money to buy a '57 Chevy for transportation my senior year. This was 1967:-)

 The McDonalds job was part time for the manager. His first eight hours was spent at Consolidated Electrodynamics. Knowing I was graduating he asked if I wanted a summer job at the company. Without hesitation I said..."yes".

(Summer employment 1968)

  While filling out applications for college I discovered I had not done my research. What my high school counselor, family and friends failed to tell me was that I needed SAT scores. I had already graduated when I took the tests at the University of Southern California in early June.
Art Center College of Design could not make a decision about my admittance until they got the test results.

I would have to wait.

The graduation ceremony was on a Thursday, that next day I started at Consolidated running a machine that made blueprints for the draftsmen. The machine was powered by ammonia and the fumes were overpowering. My brother Lennie gave me a gold plated watch for graduation. By the end of summer, the fumes had worn away the gold plating:-)

After work...

(Note Mom left for me.)
  Mom had left me a note..."call this tonight".

Walt Gurney was the head football coach at Azusa high school. We had played them my junior year and the coach said he remembered me from the game.

(What Coach Gurney remembered about that night...)

Coach Gurney was coaching the East San Gabriel Valley All-Star football team against the West team. They had already started practice and a player got injured. There was an open spot on the team..."Would you  be interested in playing? an alternate you'll probably play defensive back" answer "YES, of course."

(East team, me between #51 and #80. Rocky Long #10 quarterback and presently head football coach at San Diego State Univ.)

 It only took a few days of practice to erase the alternate status...

Summer ends...

 My summer job ended, still no word from Art Center. Too late to enroll at the local Junior College. I found employment at the perfume maker Avon Co. I was a dishwasher in their cafeteria waiting to hear from the art school. To keep my creativity alive I took a class at night at Art Center's campus.
 The long wait had had it's effect on me. I had gotten discouraged about attending art school and registered at Citrus Junior College.

Around Christmas time I got word from Art Center. They had gotten my test results and I was accepted into their program. I had already made up my mind to attend Citrus, besides I did not have nearly enough to pay for tuition to a top art school.

Citrus College- Art and Football...
  I knew I wanted to do something in the field of art, just what specifically was the question I had to answer.

I had been carrying a sketchbook since high school.  My constant sketching gave me a partial answer.  I took classes in medical illustration and found it was not my creative outlet.  Drawing, painting, drafting, sculpting and illustration at Citrus helped fuel my fire for art.

(Me #23 in action...)

I played football for the Owls of Citrus and after two years I left with an AA degree and was offered a scholarship to play football at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Getting closer to explaining how I got on the cover of  UNLV magazine.

 to be continued...