Randy Cook speaks out on “digital makeup”

There has been much hubbub in the animation community lately around actor Andy Serkis’s continuing assertion that he is the sole author of mocap-based characters like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, and that animators merely provide “digital makeup”, and play no creative role whatsoever in those performances. My friends who worked on those movies have always told me privately that this is far from the truth. Now Randall William Cook, Director of Animation on all three “Lord of the Rings” movies, has finally come out in public with a detailed explanation of how Gollum’s performance was actually created.

Here are Mr. Cook’s thoughts, reproduced with his permission:

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Andy Serkis has been throwing the term “Digital Makeup” around again, and causing some pretty fervid reactions as a result. He has his detractors and defenders, among them animators and motion capture editors, people who have met Andy and found him a nice bloke, people who are interested in the art of animation or the in art of acting or in both. But so far I have seen nothing from anybody who was in the trenches and actually worked on Gollum, so I suppose it’s time I weighed in on the matter.

My name’s Randall William Cook, and I was the Director of Animation on the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.

Continue reading Randy Cook speaks out on “digital makeup”

Upcoming talk: MadinSpain

I’ll be doing my “Animator as Designer” talk this June in Madrid, at a design event called MadinSpain. The event grew out of domestika.org, an online community for designers, architects, illustrators, animators, typographers, and other creative types based primarily in Spain. The video below gives a nice sense of the flavor of this event. I’m really looking forward to it. If you’re in that part of Europe the weekend of June 27th, come on by and say hello!

MAD 2012 – Making of from MADinSpain on Vimeo.

Paint a Starry Night Again, Man!

“That’s one thing that’s always been a difference between the performing arts and being a painter, you know. A painter does a painting, and he paints it, and that’s it. He has the joy of creating it, it hangs on a wall, and somebody buys it, and maybe somebody buys it again, or maybe nobody buys it and it sits up in a loft somewhere until he dies. But he never, you know, nobody ever said to Van Gogh, ‘Paint a Starry Night again, man!’ You know? He painted it and that was it.” — Joni Mitchell

These guys are about to attempt the impossible. They’re gonna paint A Starry Night again… and again… 56,800 times.

Their aim is to make a feature film about the life of Vincent van Gogh, every frame hand-painted in his style. These people are the real deal–an Oscar-winning stop-motion producer and some very talented artists. And if their project gets funded, it’ll employ dozens of painters to spend their time painting instead of whatever else they’d otherwise have to do to make a living. A worthy project no matter how you look at it. Backed!

A homegrown telestereoscope

Once in a while I get a random email from someone interested in checking out the Telestereoscope. If they’re local, I usually direct them to the CuriOdyssey museum, where we have a small one installed. But lately I’ve been encouraging anyone who’s interested to try building one for themselves. Our first prototype cost just a few dollars in materials, and can be put together in minutes. (Calibrating it takes a bit longer, but the process is educational, and ultimately quite rewarding.)

Here’s a working telestereoscope built by Will Rogers. He used metal C-clamps and some very interestingly shaped mirrors (maybe reclaimed from an old car?) giving his version a really distinctive style. I love it!

spozbo's telestereoscope

More about Rio Design Week

Here’s some more nice press about tonight’s talk at Rio Design Week.

Tecnologia e desenho unidos pela diversão (O Globo, Oct. 17)
Criando mundos que se mexem (Secretaria de Cultura, Oct. 22)
Rio inspira olhares estrangeiros que veem arte por todos os lados (O Globo, Oct. 26)
Uma viagem ao mundo da animação na Semana Design Rio (O Globo, Oct. 27)

A panoramic view of the venue by day. Rio de Janeiro's Jockey Club is, as the name implies, also a racetrack!
A panoramic view of the event venue by day. Rio de Janeiro’s Jockey Club is, as the name implies, also a racetrack. But a racetrack with quite a view!

I also did an extra run-through of my talk Friday morning for a small private group, composed of designers from the Rio de Janeiro Creative Club, and publicists from O Globo newspaper. They were a great audience, and asked really interesting questions!

A nice, intimate audience for my first run-through of the talk.
A nice, intimate audience for the practice run.
The view from the stands at the Jockey Club by night. We saw a few horse races go by while we were setting up for the talk.
The view from the stands at the Jockey Club by night. We saw a few horse races go by while we were setting up for the talk.
A much bigger, sold-out crowd on Saturday night.
A much bigger, sold-out crowd on Saturday night!

Interview in LAB 04

LAB magazine issue 4After a long hiatus, Joseph Robertson’s excellent LAB magazine is back, and it features an interesting three-way interview he conducted with me and graphic designer Ian Lynam (author/editor of Parallel Strokes) over five years ago. It’s a fun meander through many of my favorite alphabet-related topics. The rest of the magazine is gorgeous and stimulating, as always. You can download the whole thing as a PDF for free, or buy a hard copy via print-on-demand. (I already have two earlier issues, and they’re handsomely bound and printed, well worth the cover price.) Or, just go straight to our interview. Enjoy!

(Previously: Folk Typography essay in LAB 01)

 

Cassidy Curtis's splendid display of colorful things.