A major milestone


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.

Continue reading A major milestone

The difference between film and animation

Over at Kevin Koch’s always excellent Synchrolux blog, there’s a discussion brewing about a new course being offered by professor Alej Garcia at San Jose State University about the physics of animation. I love the idea of this course, and I also love the openness with which Professor Garcia is engaging with animators to get the ideas and terminology exactly right, via Kevin’s blog and elsewhere. When scientists and artists get together, good things happen!

Part of the discussion has revolved around a certain stroboscopic photo of a bouncing ball:


Kevin pointed out that the ball’s arc looked strange to him, and a wonderful discussion ensued. The question in my mind was why there appeared to be a sudden change in direction and speed between the second and third “frames” of the ball’s movement. The best explanation I’ve been able to come up with is that none of the strobe’s flashes happened to coincide with the exact moment when the ball hit the ground:


This brings up a really important distinction between animation and film. In live-action film (or in strobe photography) the camera captures whatever happens to be in front of it every 24th of a second, regardless of whether the image captured in that instant is particularly interesting or important. Only one instant is captured, and the rest of what happens in that 1/24-second interval is lost. In animation, the expectations are higher: we expect each frame to do the best possible job of telling the story of what happens in the entire interval. In the case of a bouncing ball, the most important part is clearly the instant when the ball hits the ground–not what happens a few milliseconds earlier or later! The strobe photo above might be a technically accurate representation of a bouncing ball, but it does a poor job of conveying the whole truth to the audience, because the most salient moments–the bounces–are misrepresented. This is just one of many reasons why animation has something that live action (or pure motion capture) will never quite match.

how I use my thumb-rocker switch

A student was asking about some ergonomic issues, so I thought I’d post a little demo of how I hold the stylus for my Wacom tablet, and specifically how I use the rocker-switch for the second and third buttons.

Note the way the side of my thumb rests lightly against the switch at all times. I press the forward button by putting a tiny amount of pressure on the tip of the thumb, and I press the other one by putting some pressure on the knuckle. Click, click, click, it’s easy!

Bjork floats my boat.


Encyclopedia Pictura has just released the video for my favorite song on Bjork’s latest album… and the video’s as good as the song! Apparently the video was shot in stereoscopic HD. Don’t know how we’ll ever get to see it that way, but in the meantime, here’s a not-too-shabby quicktime. (Don’t bother with YouTube‘s version, it’s intolerably compressed.)

Thanks to Guido for the link! See also Cartoon Brew for a making-of video and other links…

What’s eating Marv Pushkin?

A bear, that’s what! Yes, folks, Mykle Hansen’s new novel is finally out in print! You can buy a copy online from the publisher–or if you’re in Portland, Oregon, you can swing by Powell’s Books on Thursday, March 20th, to hear a real live bear* read a chapter from the book in Mykle’s own voice! It’s part of a bigger small publishers’ event from 5-10pm. Mykle and friends will go on around 9pm.

*Disclaimer: if real bear is not available, reading may be provided by man in bear suit.

A non-photorealistic videogame?


Check out these screenshots of this new game being created by one lone developer, Eskil Steenberg. The idea of an auteur-driven videogame is already pretty inspiring, but the painterly visuals here are especially exciting to a guy like me. I’m not a gamer myself (RSI and gaming don’t mix) but I get a lot of joy out of watching over people’s shoulders. I can’t wait to see how this plays in motion. I’m sure there will be shower-door effects and crawling texture artifacts to contend with, but if he’s clever, he’ll find a way to rise above all that. And this guy seems to be nothing if not very, very clever. Can’t wait!

(via BoingBoing)

Lunar Eclipse

I was lucky enough to catch part of the lunar eclipse tonight from outside my office in Redwood City, California. This is a time-lapse video made from a series of photos taken with my DSLR camera. The night was partly cloudy, which made for some interesting effects as the moon whisked past layers of clouds. I stabilized the moon in the center by hand (poorly, I’m afraid, but I ran out of time) using After Effects.

Music, appropriately, by Sun Kil Moon.

High-quality 720×480 Quicktime version here.

Cassidy Curtis's splendid display of colorful things.