Category Archives: animation

How to Train Your Dragon trailer

This is the movie I’ve been working on for the past year or so. I can’t say enough good about this film. By far the best one I’ve ever worked on, I can recommend it without hesitation. Yes, it’s that good!

The trailer is finally up, and it has a bunch of my shots in it! (The freeze frame you see below is one of them.) I have mixed feelings about posting the trailer here: on the one hand, compared to the previous teasers and leaked footage that’s been out there, this does a much better job at representing what the movie’s really like. But on the other hand, it takes a lot of sweet moments and shows them out of context, which could take away some of the surprise and enjoyment when you see it in the theater. So, if you don’t mind spoilers, watch the trailer below. But if you’d rather keep yourself pure and unsullied, just wait ’til March 26th and go see it on the big screen!

And here’s a link to the full-res trailer if you’d like to see it a bit bigger!

On the Value of Drawing for CG Animators

Last weekend I got to see a live interview with one of my all-time heroes, Hayao Miyazaki. He said, through a translator, all kinds of interesting things. When asked about computer animation, he had this to say: “One time we hired an expert to animate some scenes on the computer, but in the end we found that we could draw the scenes faster with a pencil.”

Now maybe this was his choice of words, and maybe it was the translator’s, but I found this response pretty revealing. It reflects a thought process about what animation is, in which drawing is central to everything. If what you’re trying to do is draw a scene, a pencil really is faster than a computer. But is that necessarily true? Is animation, at its heart, about drawing?
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So that’s how babby is formed!

Looks like our How to Make a Baby video has gone viral. It’s been on Boing Boing, Neatorama, Geekologie, Cartoon Brew, MSN.com, and about a zillion other blogs. In the mainstream media, it’s been on Canal Plus, Metro (UK), Epoca, Glamour, and ESPN of all places.

As of today, our original video has been watched over 400,000 times. (I’m still trying to figure out how much popcorn that would mean if all those people had to go see it in a movie theater.) Meanwhile, an unofficial copy on YouTube has garnered another quarter of a million views (although for some reason my “official” YouTube copy has a scant 10,000… go figure!) And I guess the lack of dialog gives the short some kind of global appeal, because it’s been blogged in Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish. Whew!

Here are some of the best comments I’ve seen so far (in English, anyway…)


“The pope was right – condoms ARE useless. Rubber gloves, however!”

“Excellent! I played it for my 5 year old daughter and her 5 year old cousin before they left for school. I’m sure it’ll make for an interesting day for their teachers :)”

“Scientifically inaccurate – fails to show the crucial contribution made by the stork.”

“Now that is dedication! I’m watching this on the set of a stop-motion film, and it certainly puts our long waiting times between takes into perspective.”

“Adoption is much easier and less stressful on the lungs/stomach.”

“That is exactly how my wife and I did it. By the way, NEVER blow on two fingers at once. Yep … twins!”

“My girlfriend is inflatable, too. God, I’m so lonely.”

Surreal theatrical moment

At the El Capitan theater in Hollywood, I was treated to this surreal bit of pre-show entertainment: a dancer dressed as Pinocchio, wordlessly performing bits from the movie we were about to see, to rows and rows of empty seats.

I half expected David Lynch to step out and take a bow.

The art of Coraline

Today we went to the “Art of Coraline” exhibit at San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum. It’s a fantastic show, full of gorgeous drawings, maquettes, armatures and full puppets from the making of the movie (which comes out next weekend by the way… we’re gonna try to catch one of the stereo 3D screenings, don’t wanna miss that!)

My personal favorite thing to see was a little black journal, chained to the wall, labeled “Secrets”. It’s a reproduction of the working diary of Jeremy Spake, one of the armature builders. Not only is it a beautiful object, but it shows just how experimental the process really is. Stop motion is still very much an evolving art form, and it’s the thought process of guys like this that keeps it evolving. Rock on!

Here are a few more photos from the show:

Inside the book of Secrets... Jeremy Spake's book of Secrets Coraline mouth replacements Coraline's "other father" The Art of Coraline

But it’s really worth seeing this stuff in person. The armatures and puppets are so detailed that no photo can do them justice. And strangely, a lot of the artwork in the show doesn’t appear in the only available “visual companion” book about the movie. So this may really be your only chance to see it. The exhibit is only up until February 15th, so try to get there while you still can! (And if Coraline ain’t enough for ya, there are two other exhibits at the Museum right now: the Totoro Forest Project, and a retrospective of the work of Gene Colan. Between the three of them it’s well worth the price of admission!)

How to Make a Baby

How to Make a Baby from Cassidy Curtis on Vimeo.

Having a kid is such a memorable experience, but it’s kind of hard to convey to folks who haven’t been through it. So we made this little educational film to show you how it’s done. (Don’t worry, it’s totally worksafe!)

For a bigger version, and some behind the scenes details, see How to Make a “How to Make a Baby”.

Animation Mentor rocks on!

I just finished shooting a video lecture for Animation Mentor‘s revised curriculum. The topic is “personality”. It was an incredible challenge trying to tackle such a meaty subject in a one-hour video (not to mention doing all the preparation and research while raising a newborn! Man, what was I thinking?) But the team at AM did an amazing job reining in my rambling ways. My old cubicle-mate Luci Napier directed the shoot, and I was blown away by her ability to focus and keep everything on track, as well as adding great ideas of her own, from her experience as an animator, improv performer and student of psychology. (That’s her in the photo, with founder Bobby Beck, who suckered me into doing this in the first place. ;-) Now I know how it must feel for a writer to have a really smart editor. What a fun collaboration! Can’t wait to see what AM’s crack editorial department does with the footage…

Neither Graffiti Nor Animation

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Tonight I learned that one of my favorite graffiti spots, London’s “Undercroft” skatepark, has temporarily been taken over–or rather been given over by the authorities–to an artist named Robin Rhode. If you search Google or YouTube you can see some of the guy’s work… some of it is actually kinda interesting, but nowhere near cool enough to justify shutting down the Undercroft for a whole week, in my opinion.

His schtick seems to be taking a series of photos where he draws some stuff in chalk on the wall or floor, and then photographs himself a bunch of times miming some kind of simple action, like waving a flag made of bricks, or slam-dunking a basketball into an imaginary basket. He shows the work as a series of photos in a gallery, or a videotaped slide show of same.

The London-based graffiti writers in my Flickr circles have been putting him down because he’s an “artist” (as opposed to a writer), and in this case, they have a point: everyone else who paints at the Undercroft does so on their own time and resources, and at their own risk. Then, here comes this guy with a team of contractors to do the heavy work of priming the walls for him, so he can stroll in and do his drawings. And Southbank Centre actually shuts down the skatepark for a whole week just to give him room to do his thing. That’s got to bother a lot of people, given the strong anti-authority thread in the subculture: “real” graffiti writers don’t ask permission, and they certainly don’t hire assistants to do their dirty work. Graffiti writers, in a way, created the Undercroft. It’s hard not to feel like this action is taking their baby away from them.

For my part, I get irritated when art critics credit Rhode as doing “stop-frame animation“, when all he’s ever produced is a mere storyboard of an action. What he’s doing is almost animation, but it’s not really, because he never seems to shoot enough photos (nor have a strong enough grasp of the principles of motion) to make it work–it certainly wouldn’t play well at 24 frames per second–so instead he shows it as a series of stills. Pretty weak sauce, especially when there are artists like Blu out there doing full-on hand-painted animation on the street. And so I find myself wanting to hate on the guy, even though we’ve never met.

What’s interesting to me is that what these two responses have in common: both animation and graffiti require a lot of skill, effort, dedication and time. So when someone steps into either territory who doesn’t seem to be willing to put in that effort, it’s going to bother the people who live there.

Anyway, Rhode’s intervention is scheduled to end on October 4th, so it’ll all be over shortly. I look forward to seeing the writers and skaters take back their Undercroft with extreme prejudice.

A major milestone

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Looks like they’ve gotten started on marketing for the movie I’m working on. And they’re using some of my animation in a bunch of the promo materials. This is it, man, I’ve made the big time! Forget about feature films. Projected celluloid is so old-media. Animated GIFs are where it’s at! I won’t hurt your eyes by posting ’em on the front page though. Click below for the full effect.

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