Animation on a Shoestring
ANIMATION on a SHOESTRING
7 THINGS YOU MUST KNOW BEFORE YOU START YOUR NEXT PROJECT
©2008 Terrence Walker/Studio ArtFX. All rights reserved.
Studio ArtFX www.studioartfx.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Animation on a Shoestring
Table of Contents
FORWARD .......................................................................................... 1 2D or not 2D ....................................................................................... 11 The Old Way ......................................................................................... 25 The Gatekeepers ................................................................................... 39 The Indie Way ...................................................................................... 47 Inspiration & Motivation ..................................................................... 75 Let it be Easy ....................................................................................... 91 Getting it Done! ................................................................................... 94 APPENDIX A: About the Author ........................................................ 98 APPENDIX B: Anigen Series Bundle ................................................. 99 APPENDIX C: Ultimate 3D Model Bundle ...................................... 100 APPENDIX D: Get Eyes on Your Prize ............................................ 101
He was very impressed. Years earlier. Still. The only problem was that I had one month before the submission deadline was up. I was working in the video game industry five years already and all my attempts at expressing my own creativity were met with complete disinterest. Working from that script. to put it mildly. at the dawn of a new millennium. or were perverted into typical mainstream drivel by "real writers". it was handed off to a Hollywood writer who had "proven himself" writing on SeaQuest DSV. Then one day. The result was less than stellar. a friend of mine. Eventually. We were both extremely excited and presented it to our boss. knowing my affinity for anime. I had to try. I had a vision. Basically. me and another game developer at Rainbow Studios had written a detailed treatment for what seemed could be the ultimate adventure game. and the project started to move forward.Animation on a Shoestring
In the year 2000.
. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to create something I wanted and express my own ideas. It seemed I had no opportunity to get my own ideas out of my head and onto the screen. the project quickly fizzled and died. sent me an email containing information about an upcoming film festival in Tokyo. I was fed up.
and each day after completing my daily tasks. came out in the late 1980's. Within a couple of days. Even with the Japanese release of the Playstation II that year. that graphics powerhouse of a computer. I had a 300 Mhz Sony Vaio with DV capabilities. I returned to work. helped me by hosting the film on one of his servers while I scrambled to transfer my studioartfx. I had completed my first true short film. take a short nap. I went around the studio where I worked and asked the heads of different departments about equipment I might need. A friend of mine from high school. Over the years I had developed many techniques to achieve that goal. But the point is. I didn't make the submission deadline for the film festival in Tokyo. I had never completed a long form project. After that. who ran one of the first ever internet companies in the southwest U. a keyboard and other things. but had done many short clips and trailers over the years. I kept steadily on working on this film. my servers crashed from the sheer number of downloads. I got the film done! After a total of about 33 days. I knew I could do this if I tried. espeically good quality microphones.S. sound boxes to do music.com domain to a new hosting company. starting with 2D drawing and eventually moving to 3D cel shading. and then put in another 6 to 8 hours on my film. With no film festival to put it in. to which I lost a couple of days when I imported mine. so I simply put it up on my website and posted in a few anime related USENET groups about it. I knew what could be done on a standard desktop computer with off-the-shelf software. I was two or three days late. and the web hosting company I was with banned me for life. I wasn't entirely too sure what to do with the film. I would go home. On the computer and software side I was already set. Understanding Chaos. A three day weekend rolled around and I dove into the project and storyboarded the entire thing with pencil and paper.
.Animation on a Shoestring
I had been playing and experimenting with the idea of creating my own anime since the Commodore Amiga.
Animation on a Shoestring
Eventually I was back up and running on my own web server with a new hosting company. While working on Chaos. I decided it was time to edit it all together and create a feature that would be a part of Understanding Chaos on DVD.software. even advertising in other spaces. It was an overall success. That very same month. I shot a lot of behind the scenes footage related to making the movie. I began getting offers for cross promotion deals with the makers of the hardware and software I used in the film.
. I was bombarded with email from fans. In 2001. other indie films on DVD. Major websites dealing with anime. This was in the year 2000! Before long. a friend came up to me surprised as he opened the current issue of Animation Magazine to a full page ad for Understanding Chaos on DVD. That very same day. the press caught wind of this. computer graphics and even independent film were asking to interview me. I wasn't making nearly as much as my job in game industry. I was hardly worried. Major print magazines in Spain. Creating the DVD would be a harrowing adventure of its own that would not be completed until November of 2001. high paying job in the video game world. critics and general admirers. Things quickly spread beyond the borders of the U. a fulfillment service ready to go. I was ready to go into business for myself. Russia and parts of South America wanted interviews and images. and since I had the Sony Vaio with DV ability and a Sony camera to go with it. I started getting all kinds of things for free . I was ready to take things to the next level. though. but I was making an income I could live on. but my friend was shocked when I realized I had reached over a terabyte of downloads on his server. I was laid off from my cushy.S. I had an ecommerce store setup on my website. It was like I suddenly became famous. This was in January. as I cleaned out my office. and it was time to sell.
out to the river where the old style boats were sailing. Originally I was going to do a project called A. was the annual National Association of Broadcasters convention. both whom I was a big fan. Money was going to be a problem if Shadowskin wasn't done and released soon. Still. things were going well and I was not about to rest on that. graduated. Every year I would go here to see the latest in digital technology and to meet the creators of many of the tools and software I used. Finally I came up with an idea called Shadowskin. they wanted to take off on this journey in less than a week! Who was I to say no? A week later I was walking the streets of Beijing. the people there couldn't shut up about him and Hero. I didn't figure that out until later.Animation on a Shoestring
With a few lifestyle adjustments. I realized this was not going to work. In this same month. The trip continued into Shanghai where I stayed in one of the most amazing hotels I had ever been. It was going to be a series and I had an amazing story mapped out. the director of Hero. I did a demo of my animation process and techniques at the prestigious Beijing Film Academy. which title I no longer remember. now TVPaint. Since the film starred Jet Li and Donnie Yen. in post production at that very moment. it could been one I could live well on. I did a demo in an incredible movie auditorium before a crowd of very interested artists and animators. they had a big tour planned in China and Japan.P.
. but it grew to be too big during the storyboarding phase as well. Around April of 2002 I was well into production on Shadowskin but the sales of Chaos on DVD were slowing down. in Las vegas.M. I would also hang out with the Japanese distributors of Lightwave called DStorm. unfortunately. from which Zhang Yimou. like Lightwave 3D and Aura. Not only that. In a surprise move that year. I had everything except how it began. and wanted me to go along to do demo what I do using their tools. In fact. that I could actually get done. with an incredible view of this "city of tomorrow". I quickly started on my next animation project. I created another project. I was happy to keep listening. I need to do something smaller. After a month of attempts at storyboards and many trash bins full of paper.
I watched Voices of a Distant Star and its extra features countless times. The journey continued to Japan where I did another demo for a large audience and the press was out in force. I did many interviews after the show and got to talk to many of the amazing Japanese artists I had only read about up until then. The next day. and with some of the graphics I sent the. Ghost in the Shell) office was full of guns and Okiura-san's (Jin-Roh. They also made fliers and other materials for me. but I still got to visit their offices. but my motivation on Shadowskin had dwindled greatly. With the money I got fror my demo work and the DVD sales. the two directors of those films were not in. who had just released a DVD called Voices of a Distant Star that day. Oshii-san's (Patlabor. Unfortunately. I realized I had perhaps been in the wrong market all this time. I felt I had a new mission and a new market to tackle. I returned from Asia a changed man. I had to have this DVD. I was fine for cash for a while. My friends took me around town. It was an adventure of a lifetime.Animation on a Shoestring
I even did interviews with big name magazines out there. we found a store that had one copy.G. and it was mine. He was invited to meet us at the show. Still.
. though. but it was sold out everywhere. After my presentation I manned my booth. they set up a booth for me outside the auditorium covered in Chaos graphics. my friends took me to Production I. The reception to my work here was amazing. The night ended with great eating. It was the most memorable few weeks of my life up to that point. I knew where I wanted to be now. clean and sharp drawings I had ever seen in my life. I also learned about a new indie director named Makoto Shinkai. but couldn't make it. Shadowskin was still not finished. Eventually. much drinking and karaoke. Cowboy Bebop: Knocking on Heaven's Door Intro sequence) office held some of the most amazing. Unfortunately. where films like Ghost in the Shell and Jin-Roh were made. The guys from DStorm allowed me to ship two cases of my Chaos DVDs out there before hand. I quickly sold out the two cases of DVDs.
doing the extra features was easy. I had to get back to Japan. About a week before the release date. It was still tough to finish it without the motivation I once had. I was very happy with it and knew I was ready to create something for Japan. I didn't have the money to pay for the manufacturing.
. I released Shadowskin and started taking orders. which I had already advertised months in advance in magazines and on the web. fight scene I had originally boarded. I used the very demo work I had done in China and Japan. instead of the "man versus himself. and I quickly scripted a project called World of Hearts. and put a little trailer together. I put Chaos on sale for $9. there was a big problem. I sent it off to the replicators and it was time to get going on my new mission. There was certainly no lack of motivation here. but not quite enough.99 and put out a press release. When the time came for the Shadowskin DVD release. designed and built the characters.Animation on a Shoestring
I decided to wrap it up quickly with a few dialogue scenes originally slated for episode II. So with no other option. That generate some income. I even wrote a big feature article for the Japanese version of Computer Graphics World magazine. Once Shadowskin was finished.
I watched a lot of TV on DVD in that day. I made around $3000. I quickly payed the manufacturer for the DVDs and had them shipped to the fulfillment house vis next day shipping. and we decided to go with that.A.. superhero cartoon series called Justice 4 All..A. It payed a lot of money. almost." I had a plan to work on a Warner Bros. I got a gig for an educational. but didn't quite know what I wanted to do next. but what would we do for the manga? I showed them all the material I had on World of Hearts. I was back in business. So I decided to pack my bags and head off to Hollywood to "get a real job. let alone have any idea how to get into the Japanese market. but no progress was being made on World of Hearts. I even recut the trailer for Shadowskin and put out another press release about it. I realized that it would be some months to complete World of Hearts as a film at the desired quality and even if I made it that far. Even though sales were going well. I was working on something cool and able to keep doing my own business.00 in the first few days. I was contacted by Stu Levy of TOKYOPOP who was interested in what I was doing. I arrived in L. Later in 2002. which centered around a group of female superheroes managed by a wheelchair bound Barbara Gordon (Batgirl). I had even talked to the producer already. Luckily. I was making some money. and sales picked up again. but it turned out to be quite the flop and canned after one or two episodes. I went to meet with him in their L. The DVD part was easy.Animation on a Shoestring
The sales were great. Once again I was set. office and it turned out they wanted to do a major release of my work on DVD and wanted to do an American made manga series. and continued talking with the producer of that show.
. Now I had no idea what to do next. I once again wouldn't be able to pay for manufacturing. so that orders could be fulfilled. show called Birds of Prey.
but at least it was making money. but I was ready to go back to doing my own thing. Nothing was even close to my original dream. sales of my TOKYOPOP manga and DVD dwindled to zero. comics on the iPhone. I also found my dream again. freelance work was nowhere to be found and I finally decided to "get a real job. at this point. It's nothing but "You can't. Everything slows down. Everything didn't have to be done tomorrow. pack my bags and move to the Philippines. Sony and Warner Bros." I joined an outfit called UFO Films and started work on a number of low budget creature features for Universal. By 2005.. though. I found I was no longer in a hurry anymore. I learned an incredible amount in my 3 years there that would help me with my own films. You can't get distribution.A.. an episodic web series. In fact. Still nothing close to what I wanted to do years earlier. Living in the Philippines changed everything. but the big problem with working in Hollywood is that the attitude is just soul crushing. article writing and more. in this new pace. so I talked ot the boss and we agreed it would be me. In 2008 I got back into creating content for the Japanese market.
. at the tale end of the writer's strike in Hollywood." You can't can't make your own film. The culture and pace of life is just so different. I wanted to be close to Japan. but nothing really stuck. Suddenly. The company was having problems and someone had to go. but in place with a cost of living I could manage. You can't sell that script etc. I decided to sell everything I owned. In the summer.Animation on a Shoestring
Things pretty much went downhill from there. I still didn't have direction and was not on the path to doing what I really wanted. Unfortunately. Not enough to continue living in L. I believed it could not be done. I casted about trying different things. In 2007 I was voluntarily laid off from that job. when business was bad for pretty much everyone. It was most likely to be the new guy. I continued to move further and further away from what I really wanted to be doing and the results in my life showed it.
. I am just starting this new project and will be chronicling it on the studioartfx. Where things go from here. but it also didn't have to be done tomorrow. As of this writing. I began doing tests for a new animated film project.Animation on a Shoestring
I could not only do it. I started creating images that really made me happy. I wrote a story that I could actually do right now. not something so big it would take a large crew or millions of dollars.studioartfx. the way I wanted to make it. the excitement returned. I cannot say. I could take as long as I wanted and make something I loved. It was time to bring the dream back. but I am excited to be back on the path to independent animation dreams! Terrence Walker Studio ArtFX http://www. Suddenly.com website in a new Anigen series. In fact.
Animation on a Shoestring 10
I get a vision in my head and hold to that vision and simply start creating. 3D or some combination in between is an important one to start with. storyboards and preproduction on paper with a Sanford #2 pencil. Of course today.Animation on a Shoestring 11
2D or not 2D?
That is the question. if that is your preference. use a combination. but with a pen tablet I still use my hand and a device somewhat similar to a pencil to get my ideas across.
. I don't do storyboards either. but the question of whether a project will be truly 2D. or rather most shows these days. there's so much that can be done on the computer in the 2D realm. I used to do all of my planning. Today. Still. Even though the computer has taken such a strong hold on our artistic lives we must never forget the origination of our art. How each person works will be different. Some backgrounds and certainly vehicles and mecha are usually done in cel shaded 3D. I never want to let those skill go the way of the dodo for the sake of computer art. with software like TVPaint or Photoshop. Some shows in the anime world. I do nothing on paper. Ever since Dpaint blasted across Amiga computer screens in 1987 I have been transfering those skills to the digital medium.
the same niche market magazine publisher which publishes SCI FI magazine for the Sci Fi Channel. I expect to be taking the combination further than that. of course. published by Sovereign Media. I think even with the biggest of budgets. you could say. though. never been happy with fully 3D cel shaded characters. I would love to do a project with all 2D character drawings one day. you have to enjoy what you do. with a poster bound in the center spread. My aim is to make Otaku USA the best. Most importantly. Without that. is my ultimate goal. mainly in the face department. Don't get me wrong. 2D or 3D really won't matter much. printed as a pull-out section. author of Cruising the Anime City: an Otaku Guide to Neo-Tokyo. I often do 2D touch ups to my 3D cel shaded renderings. personally. not for the indie anyway. I developed many of the 3D techniques I created because the indie needs an edge in order to "get it done!" You have to figure out what is both right for you and for your project. In addition. I have. Veteran anime and manga journalist Patrick Macias."
. "Each issue of OtakuUSA will be oversized 9 x 10 7/8. Characters are another story. at least not until I saw "The Freedom Project" by YAMATO Morita and Katsuhiro Otomo. In my current project. with full. there is a ways to go for full 3D cel shaded characters. it is not yet time to put away 3D.length Anime features and game demos. will helm the project as editor. but "hard items" seem to work okay in 3D. ANIME I remember reading sometime last year that anime and manga fans would be treated to Otaku USA Magazine. each issue of Otaku USA will include a full manga feature. That. and a DVD inserted onto the front cover.Animation on a Shoestring 12
Nothing saying it has to be be. Still. Still. most comprehensive Japanese pop culture magazine in the marketplace.
Animation on a Shoestring 13
That's what he said. The Boondocks or Avatar: The Last Airbender. Pretty much anything that wasn't Naruto or Bleach. Shows like Naruto. the pushing of too many obviously niche market titles on stores has created the appearance of less demand. So is the market growing or shrinking? For those of us who want to make anime or other types of animation along the same lines. books and merchandising coming out constantly. were returned from the retailer. though. Even today there are only half the number of titles populating store shelves than last year. and yet all indications are that the anime and manga market in America is shrinking. but at the same time. is to look at the performance of shows like Afro Samurai. We all know about the disastrous year of 2005 when over 40% of anime stock was returned to the publishers by major retail outlets suffering from over saturation of the market. this is something to consider. or another A-list title was sent back. which reflect a different paradigm than those made in Japan and imported. of both my DVD and my manga. I remember the report I got from TOKYOPOP that all my stock. It wasn't just me though. Earlier this year.
. We are seeing new anime magazines. Death Note or Fullmetal Alchemist clearly show the growth of anime and manga. but this makes me wonder. The real key for those producing their own content.
the vast difference in their market penetration must be looked at from other angles. I remember recently sitting in a hotel in the Philippines and watching a show on Disney called Martin Mystery. all things Japanese are very popular at the moment. however. Audiences can relate to them better. Totally looked like anime. don't think niche is bad. Especially YOUR niche. They can't get it from anyone else but you!
. local animation can take what works locally from Japanese anime and infuse it with the local elements of storytelling that will capture the larger audience. and you will find that group of people who will love it and follow it. considering the accepted style. You do what is unique and special to you. but was clearly an American creation with American writing and other stylistic elements. I think there is a big future in this concept. but anime in America is still foreign and that is never going to change. They will also be willing to pay a premium for it. The style. On one hand. may have no barriers to how high it can climb. This may put a ceiling on its growth. While anime from Japan may always be in its niche corner. instead of following the crowd. is greatly appealing to audiences and local productions which take influence from it have been very successful. I think.Animation on a Shoestring 14
While they were all well promoted beyond what anime companies are typically capable of. an expanded concept of anime. On the other hand. Like in Korea or China.
Animation on a Shoestring 15
on character designs. My own projects tend toward the darker and more serious. With Ghost in the Shell. I still like the realistic character. let your characters decide!
. the movies with realistic character designs tend to have the darker more serious stories that I happen to be attracted to. I think it has to fit the type of film that is being done.Animation on a Shoestring 16
REALISTIC CHARACTERS There is much debate in the world of animation. there is the problem of diverging from the popular manga designs. Many fans are immediately turned off by the sometimes overly realistic character designs used in films like Ghost in the Shell. The character designs of Pokemon wouldn't work in Memories: Magnetic Rose any more than the character designs of South Park would work in Grave of the Fireflies. As for the others. especially anime. Jin-Roh and Blood: The last Vampire. Better still. so that's easy to see. You have to decide whether that will work for your show or if it would be better to go more stylized. For me.
is this: I have yet to see a big time studio animator or major pro Maya or Lightwave guy pick up these tools and try something. The reason I say this is because I am visualizing a combination of puzzle pieces. before I left L.
. or the idea behind it. A new era is coming if not already here. which offered realtime animation and moviemaking to what seemed to already be a large user base. They don't know lighting. simply because of its graphics processing power. but I still think the writing is on the wall. are you ready for the puzzle? I have seen some examples. pacing and many other aspects of storytelling. They are doing very complex stuff. I've been thinking about it. It actually worked! They also used it for cut scenes in their original video games with surprising results. I came across this tool called iClone. of people using the Sony PS3 game console as a render engine. if you want the simplest idea of the power. I guess you could call it a machinima tool. The point.A. though.Animation on a Shoestring 17
MACHINIMA When I was working on the storyboarding episode of Anigen. Still. Pixar is by no means quaking in their boots based on the sample animations from these tools. They used it for background characters for their live action vampire series ShadowMoon Diaries. bought it and I got to see in action on quite a few of their projects. and none of these rules came down the mountain with Moses. What would this artist create? Now. Most of the users of these tools have no concept of filmmaking. who may not be able to animate one frame in a package like Maya will have the power to make their films. sometimes culturally. They choose bad camera angles or fly the camera all over the place like 1st year CG students. even on Youtube. To this day. Of course I also keep in mind that all of this is based on what we are used to. even radiosity. My neighbors. simply find any trailer for Metal Gear Solid 4 or Resident Evil 5 on the internet. People with ideas.
But what happens when someone creates with the engine of Doom 3? "Not even from a video game standpoint." That's what the CEO of id Software said in an interview with Game Arena. I mean.a lot cheaper than Maya. but from Machinima or what have you. it will take fewer years for a realtime engine to do Final Fantasy quality.Animation on a Shoestring 18
Do you see where Machinima is going now? People will have that kind of power. Then the game as well. before you buy that render farm. Doom 3 is a tool for amateur developers to create stuff. this is the cheapest package you're going to get when the game comes out -. but you can easily see the power this puts in the hands of indies who have ideas but not necessarily the budget equal to those ideas. already been surpassed. and really change out every model and create entirely new content inside. A pro artist picking up these tools and trying something is only one piece of the puzzle I see in my mind. of course. Most users are creating with Quake II or Half Life or even the Sims. If you're not into anime style or cartoon work. Obviously we're doing a lot of cool stuff with DOOM 3 the game. to tell their stories. But Doom 3 has. The other is the quality of assets. it's really almost unprecedented in terms of the power it provides people to do things. there's going to come a point where just like Steve Job's showed that a modern Mac can render Luxo Jr. Not a lot of chance of getting Final Fantasy quality with those dated engines. This may or may not be for you. how close would it be now? What could that artist create? That's what I am looking for. on a real-time basis.
. So if you're in film school and looking to make animated films. but now people are going to have something that approaches film quality in the level of visual presentation. or wish you could otherwise do a fully 3D animated film. the first Pixar short. I mean if a person were to go into Doom 3. perfectly in realtime. consider how you might use these new Machinima tools to your advantage. in realtime..
Animation on a Shoestring 19
I just want to create. I realize I am not interested in tools and feature lists the next cool thing in the next big 3D package. I am interested in the package not getting in my way!
. I lost interest in that a while ago.
this doesn't just apply to sets. having worked on a few live action films now. Who says you have to USE AS DIRECTED?! New tools and the embracing thereof also play an important part in freedom and creativity. break a piece off and stick it on another. I tried something in modo and it became frustrating and I switched to Vue to get the results I needed. I have learned some very interesting techniques. Freedom and speed. What about two or three? Overtime. change colors. This is what I lost sight of for a while. USE YOUR IMAGINATION! You are never stuck unless you choose to be. the asset library will actually allow more freedom than one might imagine in a world of reuse. A little bit of set dressing can turn something old into something new. The first thing people think of when talking about Poser or Daz content is being stuck with what you get. It applies to everything. modo takes over for the creation of a background I could not do anywhere else.
. With cel shading. some Hearts. A new lighting setup can turn something we've seen before into a new location for adventure. In this image. I remember one night.Animation on a Shoestring 20
CEL SHADING One of the greatest advantages in cel shaded movie making can be found in the study of live action films and television. Mix and match items. A bit of Chaos. A good content library is already out there at very reasonable prices. but imagine what library you might have after one film. however. This is what I am aiming for. Starting out it may not seem so apparent. some time ago. This goes DOUBLE for those who use Poser and Daz and all the content therein. that allow good directors to maximize what they have available. You have to know your tools well to avoid such pitfalls as spending an hour or two trying to create something in the wrong program. even a splash of mind animation and that which went before can be used for moving forward. With cel shading you have even MORE options. a touch of J4A.
This changes things a lot. especially to achieve the maximum possible visual quality. Now there will certainly always be a difference as 3D is not 2D and vice versa. some were making things much better. The reward being that after an initial investment of time. but then yields huge back end rewards. There was a time when I began to see a big discrepancy between that which I drew by my hand. even if it is sometimes frustrating. But how big need it be? That's where the artist must work. cannot be overstated. there comes a time when the scenes begin to just roll out with little effort. It is by this that I was able to do Understanding Chaos in one month. It just takes some tweaking to get that right look. and that which was 3D cel shaded. the advantage of cel shading. I am greatly excited for the nature of the actual show.
. considering my goal has always been to reach the level of Japanese feature animation. Combined with motion libraries. Cel shading has an upfront cost.Animation on a Shoestring 21
I couldn't be happier with the image quality these new tools have given me. This is its greatest strength. The thing which was missing was balance. Still. I remember some time ago I was loading some old scenes from Understanding Chaos and rendering them in HD to see how these things looked today. the power of this technique cannot be ignored. It was my original goal when I created Skeleton Man. I still think some of my best work can be found there. Today I have a really good pen tablet. Of course. I have made many changes over time and realized that they were not all for the better. reusable skeletons and other time saving tools. I was quite surprised. my first true cel shaded project.
say. A lot also depends on your style of animation or motion. though. Luckily for us. If I was doing a style closer to NInja Scroll. Jin Roh. where time is involved.Animation on a Shoestring 22
CLOTH SIMULATION Cloth simulation in 3D animation can be extremely tough to tackle. Usually we artists have no such time when the show has to be done next week. though. If I Was doing a style of motion like Jon Roh. I would just do cloth and hair movements as 2D touch ups. I would certainly use cloth simulation. That's where things get difficult. The thing you have to consider. Understanding when to do which is key. is whether or not it would be quicker to just draw that cloth or hair movement. It would almost be required if the film was cel shaded 3D. What that gives us is the one thing really needed to make cloth work. We have the time to get it right. However that isn't the case on your own project. Does your project speak to you?
. As the software improves we also have faster and faster processors coming out. Time! Time to experiment is all that is really necessary to get good cloth simulation results. the technology gets better all the time. There is a big difference in the animation of Ninja Scroll versus.
I won't even get into the issue of hardware because I would hope everyone knows better than to change or upgrade hardware in the middle of a project. Most paint and drawing programs haven't really changed in ten years. if you're on the fence. is it really necessary for our software to evolve out from under us between productions? I can understand improvement. who. you could have just drawn it. with only his wife on color and backgrounds. That should settle the question for just about anyone. took longer and was more fun.I want to address the issue of constantly changing software. It really depends on your tools though. and did the same scene both in 2D and in 3D cel shaded. I swear that from one production to the next things truly don't work the same.
. is upgrades. I ask you. I always think of animator Paul Fierlinger. Maybe it's just my perception that changes. all in Mirage/TVPaint in about two years. animated the indie feature film My Dog Tulip. though. If you're doing 2D this isn't that big of an issue. of course. to see which one looked better. Simple things that shouldn't change in my view. greatest features. He always used to say he never understood 3D cel shading. I created a short 30 second scene. 3D on the other hand can be a killer. do what I did. I've seen this happen! There are a host of issues worth noting in the decision to go 2D or 3D on your project. If you can. As a last resort. Still. Imagine if your CEL SHADER didn't work the same in a new version. easy if you can't draw.Animation on a Shoestring 23
UPGRADES One last thing to consider with the issue of 2D or not 2D. In the time it takes to get everything setup. Some programs make it quicker than other. The question is. Sometimes I have experienced exactly that. Everybody wants the latest.
Animation on a Shoestring 24
when it was released. and she had good things to say about it: "Overall. I mean he wrote. a true theatrical feature that actually made its way into local cinemas in California. because I suspect it shall be a very small gap before new locks are made for all new gates. such as when the dancing Prince accidentally knocks most of the Capulets off of the ship. Apparently reviews of the film were not the most positive. Jennifer Hachigian of Celshader."
. I also liked the look. I look forwards to buying the DVD. directed and animated this film. I liked the film. One animator has certainly put in the work. The world of distribution is potentially going out of their sole control and they see that coming. The flat-shaded characters and full animation made me nostalgic for the 70's and 80's animation in my collection. His name is Phil Nibbelink and he is the creator of Romeo and Juliet: Sealed With A Kiss. The real question is whether or not indies will have content ready to fill the gap. though.Animation on a Shoestring 25
The Old Way
The world of animation is changing no matter what the majors want to do about it. Now when I say he created this. I loved the visual gags.com actually went to see the film.
. But there is also seeing new ways to get the project done rather than sticking to the old. Still. check out the UK film Princess. there has never been a better time for the indie. Princess are doing fantastic in the rest of the world sales wise so I´ll start travel the film business highway when I finish shooting Echo .
.. the idea that animation for mature audiences is not to be found in the western world is crumbling as well.Animation on a Shoestring 26
So how does the director and lone animator of a thatrical feature film make it happen? Of course there's persistance and dedication. I'm sitting in the Philippines as I write this. For a look at something very different. hoping to keep my own costs down and allow me to do what I truly want to do. Go back and read the quotes from those two visionary directors. I wrote the script and then started animating. I didn't even bother to refer back to the script because the characters took on a life of their own and they told me what they wanted to say and where they wanted to go next.. That's how it should be! I once read an article on AWN which makes clear the problems we are having with keeping costs of 2D animation down and keeping work here in the states. He says: "I didn't need storyboards because I could see it in my mind and I didn't have to communicate my vision to anyone else. But Princess did a good job for me I will always remember her!" Now. the director of the film even has a blog on his site with great insight into past and future projects: "I hope my next movie will get a bigger audiens in Denmark than Princes did. about a clergy man whose sister dies of drug abuse at the end of a failing career as a porn star. Anders Morgenthaler. He began working on it in early 2003. " While Phil Nibbelink's movie is certainly for children.
we will never see anything except all the work go to China and India. I've said this many times before and don't need to go into it again. which used to be on the Studio ArtFX website. like an animator being too good to clean up his own drawings. Back then. sometime ago where a producer from MIPCOM was quoted as saying something to the effect that the chance of an indie getting their project broadcast on TV was slim to none. A look at how animation on TV in America has shaped up will make the reason for this clear. Aside from feature animation most of the cartoon world existed as short films which ran before feature presentations at the cinema. we will never see change.Animation on a Shoestring 27
Even with tools like I use on the market and many indie sources getting great results with paperless animation. I am not surprised the artists are not running for the latest greatest tools. I remember I posted on my old blog.. "Personally. as long as animators hold on to old concepts.. or that things must be separated into twenty different departments. In fact." One day?! One day?! That's one of the things Joseph Gilland writes in the article on AWN. I am finally becoming convinced that “paperless” animation production may one day become a reality. Contrasted with what he says of the industry with fastly shrinking budgets and production schedules coupled with broadcaster and distributor desire for greater quality. seeing the work being created in my current production workspace using the Cintiq and Sketchbook Pro.
. the mainstream industry as still asking whether paperless is reality or myth. the moving going crowd was a grown up audience and so these shorts were often aimed at them..
In the 1990's Saturday morning saw a new boom with newcomers FOX and the WB on the network scene. G. Joe. the mid 1960's saw new and original animated content being produced for Saturday mornings.Animation on a Shoestring 28
As television began to take over. for when the government enacted the Children's Television Act requiring broadcasters to air three hours of education programming for children. Superman. Even this was not to last though.
. Batman and Underdog and studios like Hanna Barbara and Filmation became known names in animation. Today many networks no longer deal with the business of programming their animation blocks. Since syndicated shows were sold directly to local stations. owned by Disney. Robotech and Voltron. In shows like The Transformers. the action returned to animated television. Then came the rise of the syndicated shows of the 1980's. they didn't have to follow those outmoded network rules. this gave the cable networks. Galaxy Rangers. Before long the networks were bending to the desires of such groups and cartoons were toned down more and more. Slapstick humor replaced some of the great action shows of the age. The first big wrench in this system came from parents groups in the 1970's who objected to violence in cartoons. Scooby-Doo. the Viacom owned CBS network shows Viacom owned Nickelodeon toons in their block. As the big three networks (yes I am old enough to remember when there were only three networks) realized this market's potential. Likewise. simply shows Disney created products in their Saturday morning block. FOX handed their block to 4Kids Entertainment and CW shows Kids WB programming. exempt from the rule the upper hand they still hold today where Cartoon Network and Nick rule the animation world. ABC. these shorts found themselves playing to a new market of youth on Saturday mornings.I. This was a golden age which led to such greats as Space Ghost.
it makes it absolutely impossible because the network doesn't even handle the programming. Doesn't exactly leave room for an indie to sell a program to a network. such as Nick's Avatar: The Last Airbender or Cartoon Network's many Adult Swim titles. SO where does that leave the indie wanting to be on TV?
.Animation on a Shoestring 29
The point is the programming blocks are controlled by companies that produce or own content they want shown in those spaces. Most of the cable channels completely own what they show. In fact.
the sequel to the all 3D CGI Appleseed introduced profit sharing plans.G. This includes a possible live action version of I.G. for which negotiations are in progress. One of the things that is not mentioned is possible reasons for this stagnation.
. The U. some of the top studios. Efforts are being made to keep to the cost down. The studio behind Genius Party. Let's face it. More of the same. Hong Kong and Japanese companies behind Ex Machina. remain incredibly low. As a result. even from this great creator. with few exceptions.S. ONe look at the cover art and I was done with the show. distributed the profits among the individual directors who created it. falling into the same "command & repackage" mentality of the top video game publishers.Animation on a Shoestring 30
Things may not be any better in Japan. like Madhouse and Production I. Those were all good efforts. a new creation from Shoji Kawamori. which I wrote about on my website back when it happened.'s Ghost in the Shell. According to a Variety article some time ago. where the studios involved in the production get something on the back end rather paying all the production costs up front. Variety went on to report that the problems within the industry didn't stop there. are pitching their most popular properties to Hollywood studios for live action remakes.. You don't dare spend millions on an untested idea and hope to make your money back. anime has. the anime industry in Japan is seriously suffering from stagnating DVD sales both locally and in the international market. Wages for animators in the trenches. become very monotonous. One of the reasons for this lack of risk taking in both industries is the rising cost of production. actually doing the work. How many times can you sell another cute girl in a giant robot or armor? I just got a news mail from the Japanese DVD site I used to import DVDs from (those who read my old blog know I gave up DVD as a format a long time ago) which had an ad for Macross Frontier.
[Photo]The problem here is clearly cost. The demand is there. The vast amount of content means a necessary switch to long tail economics. The simple fact is that the industry cannot long support itself. Also. AWN's Karen Raugust wrote about how Hollywood has built in the demise of creativity in the industry. Sony Pictures Consumer Products. the ones who are struggling at the bottom. I think now is the time for indies to keep doing it and show a new road. What the article basically amounts to is that the shelf life of feature products is so short that retailers actually prefer franchises and sequels to new products. and there are dozens of such sites. Maybe it's time to start considering doing things a new way! As I mentioned before. Retailers feel there’s just not enough time to create consumer demand. Anime grows on TV everyday. In the same vein. “It’s literally about the opening weekend. svp. these problems with anime are not the result of demand. many anime studios are losing talented staff to video game companies which tend to pay much better. Then maybe the smaller studios. I've done it. I know this is possible. Can you believe this?! “The shelf life of a film is so short.Animation on a Shoestring 31
As a result. I've seen bittorrent sites where an episode of Naruto was downloaded 270. When that gets too expensive. cost! The studios continue to do things the old way. they outsource the work to a cheaper country to continue doing things the old way for a lower price. cost. Then they will have their own creations and a new era can begin. many believe that continuing to outsource production work to low cost shops in Korea and China has lowered the quality of anime.”
.” says Juli Boylan. Anime is going to have to be made cheaper and I mean much much cheaper.000 times from that one site. One need only look at the quality of Naruto The Movie 3 to see where that is going. will catch on and follow suit.
making a manga or writing a book and building up your audience. correct? As a creator who had a DVD with short shelf life. Otherwise. But you may not get a chance to see some of the extra features in this four disc box set. the special collectors edition box set of the Fuji TV. earlier last year I preordered. [Photo]I'm not here to talk about the movie. Warner Entertainment Japan and Gonzo epic theatrical feature Brave Story. Let the film arrive when the audience and demand is truly there. Do web shorts or even try and get a game made. If you want to play their game. based on a novel by Miyabe. I mean hours and hours of extras covering every imaginable facet of the film.Animation on a Shoestring 32
What this translates into is that retailers are far more comfortable with a property that stems from books. games or some other medium rather than a first time film. project and just how different an approach it is from what an indie will experience.
. forget about your film. You can see that for yourself when it arrives in your country. This basically drives an axe to the independent in this sytem. and then forgot about. What gets me is that the system has become so overly convoluted one must wonder why you would even want to play in their sandbox anymore. your dream could come and go in the span of a DVD's shelf life. quite surprisingly. yea multiple studio. It arrived early last week and I simply awaited the arrival of the weekend to begin the festivities. relates to this issue of where film properties come from. I learned a lot over the course of what I called "a brave weekend" that. You would be better off coming from another angle. Miyuki. You see. I can tell you this is true. It gives us a great glimpse into the process of a big major studio. All this goes out the window on the net and mobile devices and other forms of delivery.
Naturally he was shocked. The company was going to enter the brave new world of animation and they wanted to enter it in a big way. known for great original storytelling. in the tradition of Pixar." he said. A family oriented story with big adventure and very emotional. So the question Kameyama faced was. Kameyama was told. that he should expect it to take five years. So where to begin was the big question. In speaking with Pixar. Many months went by working with writers and attempting to develop characters with nothing quite coming up to expectations. The last partner in on the distribution side is Warner Entertainment Japan. All the development and preproduction. It simply wasn't working. Kameyama didn't plan to spend that kind of time to create the vision for Fuji TV. which clearly reaped the benefits of their entry into the Japanese film market that year with consecutive hits Death Note and Brave Story. The producer at Gonzo didn't have to think for even a full second when asked if he would like to do this big theatrical project. They don't have animators on staff or a studio waiting in the basement to take on such an epic project. The producer at Pixar told him that its not the making that takes so long. Either way. "We don't have that kind of time. Now Fuji TV doesn't do animation. who do you team up with to get such a project off the ground? Who can even pull such a project off? Kameyama found his answer in the the popular anime studio Gonzo. It's everything that goes before it. Producer Chihiro Kameyama decided to call up producers over at Pixar to get some information.
. Eventually they abandoned the idea of creating a story and thus began a search for the perfect story for this project. so they set out to create just such a story. after explaining what they were trying to do.Animation on a Shoestring 33
A producer from Fuji TV had an idea. They all knew what they wanted.
Brave Story was born! I hope this glimpse into the process gives some idea of just how wide is the gap when a major company like Fuji TV sets out to make a film and when an indie like. Miyabe's novel. with over a year and a half of actual animation production and anywhere from 700-900 staff members. Just a few pages into the novel. the project could really begin. The producer from Gonzo said. Kameyama knew they had found their story. say. not just different price ranges. Through this process. the director could watch it all come together.Animation on a Shoestring 34
It was in this search that they came across Ms. The Brave Studio was built up and populated for an advanced hybrid of traditional and digital workflow. Brave Story. Machines featuring 30" Apple Monitors running Shake composited images drawn with a pencil on paper in the same room. "What have we been doing for the past year? From the beginning it had to be this!" Now with a solid story and all production and distribution partners in place. Maya artists created complex 3D digital elements to add to the film and in a small screening room in the back. Phil Nibbelink sets out to do the same. creativity and magic can still happen either way. When the vision is right. We live in totally different worlds.
self financing his film meant that Nibbelink could do whatever he wanted. Talking animals and comedies. is. though. After all. Sandman's goal for most of its projects is to raise $1 million or so privately for development of a five-minute animated short. is even going about it in a way that I personally could never trust. Well naturally. One company. Sandman Studios. most seeking entry into this market. like doing mature subject matter or serious animated drama? We all know that the current technology. Nibbelink wanted to do 2D. Anything outside of the narrow window of what studios can see as profitable is only going to see the light of day as an indie project. the falling cost of animation production and outsourcing in Asia has made many independent projects possible.Animation on a Shoestring 35
The question that must be asked for us. and that he did. according to AWN. are eyeing that major theatrical distribution and thus creating more of the same thing the studios believe could sell. taking great animated content out of the exclusive domain of Dreamworks and Disney. Is theatrical really the way to go? One must admit that Phil Nibbelink did an amazing job of self financing and getting any level of distribution for a movie the studios were not interested in. for all their talk of creative control. the studios will only jump into the "trend of the month" type of movie. This same task faces anyone who wants to have total creative control over their work and no interest in doing yet another talking animal film.
. The real question is how do you go about it? What if you are very far outside that window. Most of its films are expected to have budgets in the range of $20 million to $25 million. The studios said 2D is dead. and then use that to pitch the project to investors or possibly studios. Still. as indies.
the studios may not even take them seriously. Just like I thought when I was at Rainbow Studios. It doesn't work! There may be some potential with private investors but with studios they are merely dreaming or asking to get their asses handed to them and end up with next to nothing in the end. We all know what happens to those who chase after it. Something they had developed while almost going out of business years ago. It's marketing. and yet it rose to be one of the top selling animated DVD titles of all time in Japan. Do you have a brand to capitalize on?
. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is a great example of a privately financed film and what can be achieved in the DVD market. The most important thing about Phil Nibbelink's quick theatrical stint is that it enabled him to contend for the animated Oscar. then seriously consider finding an independent path the getting it to an audience as well. while we must take to account its connection to a huge game franchise. was almost entirely internet and trade show based. Of course. at two different studios. With planned budgets so low. Many have never returned. That brand is an important part of the equation. Square built on something. if you can raise the $1 million in private investment. do something with that! Theatrical distribution is part of an old closed system. The indie needs a different way. but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot we can learn from them in terms of finding the way for our products to get made and find an audience. If you can muster what it takes to privately make the film and keep control. It was their brand. but I believe his real audience was found on DVD. Few ever find it. none of us have the money Square has to throw at a production.Animation on a Shoestring 36
I've been through this process. twice. In fact. it's like the Holy Grail.
With the net we can do that. We have to find our own way and travel our own road.Animation on a Shoestring 37
I hope it is clear. that there is nothing for us in the old way.
. at this point. there's something much worse than old ways of production you have to face. If you choose to follow the old path. It just takes a little high tech marketing savvy.
Animation on a Shoestring 38
Now Devil May Cry was totally different game. Just a couple of examples.Animation on a Shoestring 39
You know what the biggest problem in this industry is? It isn't money. It isn't the gatekeepers. The belief that there isn't room enough in the market for many different types of content. I bought the Japanese version at great expense just so I could dive right in as soon as it was released. It may still be one on my all time favorite games. I remember there came this game a long time ago called Onimusha. The biggest problem in this industry is shortsightedness.. there came from this same company a game called Devil May Cry. Later. You know the type I am talking about. I was a huge fan of Resident Evil from the same company previously and so I was sold on this game long before it came out.
.. The idea that everything must conform to one style or type. The cinematic play style of Resident Evil combined with samurai action more than satisfied. It doesn't help if conformity and everyone falling into their place is a big part of the culture. the lack of distribution or the lack of means for indies.
I prefer my full 3D anime like Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children rather than cel shaded. I played through this game and it was short and sweet. To see otherwise is just shortsightedness.
. "What?!" It leads me to a very simple question. SO why must it become yet another first person shooter? Is there not room enough for all types of games in the marketplace? You hear the same thing in regards to full 3D cel shaded anime. How many people say. "Now this is how it should be done! I hope all anime is done like this from now on. Why can't there be both? I happen to like and prefer hand drawn anime. similar to Tomb Raider but not constantly stuck behind the character. I loved it.Animation on a Shoestring 40
It had much faster paced action and opted. Now there are dozens and dozens of first person shooters out there. I think there is plenty of room for all types in the market. not for the cinematic play style. They can do that on the next Onimusha instead of the cinematic style. at the time Devil May Cry came out." I was thinking. "Great! Now they got this full moving camera worked out."? Again I am puzzled. but Onimusha was just more my style. It'll be so much better. Why must they be the same? It reminds of all the people who constantly complained that Metal Gear Solid should be a first person shooter. seemed to be. Still. The exact same arguments. doing Playstation 2 titles. Yet look at what the PS2 achieved. Still. but for a constantly moving camera. and anyone who plays Metal Gear Solid knows that you do many more things than run around and shoot stuff. I was working on the console team at EA. when these games came out. Today in the game world I am hearing the same arguments and complaints against the PS3 as were spoken against the PS2 when it first came out. the consensus among developers. Now both Onimusha and Devil May Cry were very successful games in their own right and each spawned a successful franchise.
Not only does this put extensive travelers on the defensive." This very attitude of companies made me immediately think of Phil Nibbelink.. There will pop up the same tired old arguments. In their eyes.. action film The Matrix. The system desires to run like a well oiled machine. the system will quickly turn against you. Instead of being praised his accomplishment with Romeo & Juliet: Sealed With A Kiss.
. almost word for word.Animation on a Shoestring 41
I see forums where someone might dare to suggest they are thinking of getting a new Mac. Many theatre owners refused to show it. Like Morpheus tells us in the anime inspired. unless its related to your career. How often do we hear terms like. against getting a Mac. doesn’t come off well. corporate America condemns travelers who don’t conform to the “work work work” year round routine and lifestyle. "You have to pay your dues. in a sense. I remember reading the words of world traveller Winston Wu as to how his travels upset the system: ". but it means they will probably lose any chance of getting hired if they tell the truth. Sheesh.On job applications in many American companies. trashed the film. The penalty for going against the system can be grave. he was nearly condemned. Shortsightedness is a plague to vision. we are programmed to be a part of a system. Even its DVD release was met with little fanfare or note such that even those interested in the film didn't know it was out. as if having gaps in your work record means that there’s “something wrong” that you have to explain. If you desire to go and seek your own way. many of whom work for news agencies now owned by the major studios. Therefore."? How often do we hear of the struggle and pain of the one who went their own way before they found success. you are required to explain any “gaps” in your work history. that were spoken ten years ago. traveling. Reviewers.
We must strive to make the system unnecessary in reaching our audience. Like Morpheus tells us in the anime inspired. action film The Matrix. having all the work already done for them. lower quality movies for their direct-to-video. marketing budgets and often sell hundreds of thousands if not a million copies.Animation on a Shoestring 42
Now think about this a moment. Any of these companies could easily have partnered with Phil Nibbelink. We must control our own destinies. Supporting that might encourage too many other animators to leave their rigidly structured. children's markets and these movies get great support from the company. It's like making free money! But he went against the system. will tell them over and over how to do their art "right". and given his film a large release on DVD with very little risk.
. we must free our minds. who couldn't draw a stick figure. 16 hour per day jobs where management and producers. We must use the multitude of tools for marketing and distribution available to everyone today to circumvent the rules. Many major studios like Disney often make far worse.
In fact. In a rant posted to John Battelle's Searchblog. You may make very little. a popular Youtuber claimed that even though they have tens of millions of views. on Metacafe. YouTube would love to become the next gatekeeper. the next network. Have it on Amazon. in an Ebay store. your own site and anywhere else that eyes may come to see it and cash may come to buy it. which I always wondered if it wasn't the makers of Lonely Girl15. If it fails to perform or make you any money." According to one video blogger. The discussion then went on the talk about exclusivity.Animation on a Shoestring 43
I remember when Youtube announced the opening of their partners program in a press release which stated that they elevated their "most popular users to partners. the ideal way for the indie to make a living may in fact be to get that project seen everywhere. on Lulu. While the majors might get high dollar value ad deals. It's not like you're handing your project over to Warner Bros. things were not quite what they seemed. And someday you too can be touched by their magic wand and granted the status of weblebrity if you pass the test. you're simply out of luck. they were not included. an important point that may be a killer for indies in the near future. you should never sign an exclusive deal. In the currently small Internet video market. then you can only post it on their site and nowhere else. The rant went on the speak of how they had been treated by Youtube in comparison to the big guys that Youtube seems so intent on signing deals with. though.
. Just what is exclusivity? This means that when you post a video on a site requiring an exclusive deal. "If they could. they've gently plucked their stars and anointed them with advertising dollars. the rant seemed to indicate that indies might be thrown a few pennies to keep them chasing after that bone. And in fact they have." That's just one of the points brought up by the anonymous Youtube star.
bandwidth overages or any other type of service charge. M dot Strange did exactly that and he met with nothing but trouble in dealing with the gatekeepers. you'll be able to reap some benefits of it.and if your content's good. Build your fan base so that they are YOURS.Animation on a Shoestring 44
One commenter on that rant page said. Unfortunately. Now matter how you slice it. and that is walk in the door with a high quality film DONE. You just have to forget the old way and leave the gatekeepers sitting at their rusting gates. YouTube doesn't have a sign-up/cancellation fee.
. This leads me to believe that your own site is still the nest way. "You get what you pay for. You can do the same. but you should always keep complete control over your valuable content. It's a good promo tool -. Ninjai. trying to play "their game" means the odds are stacked against you. I could see using Youtube for a teaser video or two. even that is not sure road. Home Star Runner and others have done exactly that." I agree. There is only one way to circumvent this.
Animation on a Shoestring 45
Animation on a Shoestring 46
This could be as simple as creating a website and publishing your stories online in ebook form because publishers couldn't see the value in it. or it could be taking all the incredible tools out there and putting them together to make a studio quality animation by yourself because no one was going to hand it to you. The question we really need to ask ourselves is "Do we really have to compete in it?" For people who can see all the tools available to us today and put the puzzle pieces together. As creatives we natually create and that even means creating our own opportunities where none may have existed previously. We hear terms like "cut-throat" or "dog-eat-dog" thrown around constantly. There is a creative way of thinking. As creatives we are not limited to competing for what's available to everyone else.
. the answer is a definite NO. People compete for jobs and compete for advancement in their companies or even in office politics.Animation on a Shoestring 47
The Indie Way
There's a competitive world out there.
In the creative world. What is it that companies are missing when they "Command & Repackage" a game that's been around for years or put new skins and updated graphics on the same old sports game and dare to call it something new for this year? I doubt this was the vision of the people who started that company in a garage somewhere. though. so that they can further compete for a job so they can become the guy who animated the smoke on layer 39 of a complex shot in yet another talking animal film or first person shooter? This wasn't the dream when they started out. If we have something to say we can create it and if need be. Second Life. or just say it while the big guys are spending outrageous ammounts worried about DRM.Animation on a Shoestring 48
We live in an age of electronic media where all the monopolistic middlemen who used to decide what gets made and what gets seen are no longer necessary. because we can create the answers to our media dreams. I guess now they are even competing against the consumer. online social networks. create an avenue to get it directly to our audience. everyone is finding their way to just do it. They certainly can't experiment when they have to spend millions out-doing the other guy and out marketing him too. Yet a small guy can spend six months making an innovative puzzle game and release it with no protection. time is on our side. by himself. podcasts. People are everywhere looking for something new and those fixed minds of the competitive world. whether they make movies. and make hundreds of thousands of dollars. What is it that people are missing? What is that they are missing when they compete for top positions in some animation or computer game school. animated TV series or music are so busy worried about what the competition is doing or worried solely about that dollar that they can't dare to create something new and innovative. as shareware. All the blogs. Bittorrent is a masterpiece of creativity. Do they even continue to have a vision?
. video games. Youtube is creativity at is finest.
Those extra features were so amazing I took the disc to work the next day and showed the team I was working with at the studio saying. it seems. that I can't imagine another version coming. leave something huge to be desired. Aside from a super quick blip on how they revived Marlon Brando to play Jur-El. Past releases such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and the extended edition of King Kong show that it still occasionally happens. There was a day when the extra features on big movies were looked forward to almost as much as the DVD release of the movie itself. We can see more than they can now. and still believe it to be one of the best examples of what a DVD should be. Saw it three times. 'This is what we should be doing. there is not one frame of anything to do with editing. so too do the extra features. but on the whole. most DVD releases have been very disappointing. I first saw the potential.Animation on a Shoestring 49
These large companies and suits and dinosaurs of old are going to miss the opportunities of the future."
. and certainly not CG visual FX. but I want to start with the state of DVD. I wouldn't complain. when I watched Contact. the score. As soon as prinicpal photography with the main actors stop. That is post production.com or Metacafe become household names. When sites like Lulu. If they're saving it for an uber-release later. but more and more the guys on ground are turning them down. it will be the content of the creatives on there. but the disc seems so complete aside from that little oversight. The opportunities of the future will be ours. They'll be right in front of them but they'll miss them entirely while they try to squeeze every last drop out of the old system and out of consumers' wallets. A good example would be Superman Returns. The big machine may snatch up a few creatives now and present a false dream of "making it". I love the film. though there be hours of them. but the extra features. A lot of what I am going to mention here I am sure I have written about before.
Shadowskin on DVD. they may just embrace it. The same goes for Voices of a Distant Star. What this means is that it may open the door for us as creators. in Japan. we don't really have a flourishing OVA (Original Video Animation) market in America. 6 this way in America. These extra features wouldn't be the fluff of Superman Returns. but more importantly. They brought us a little closer to our dreams as creators. but straight to the point teaching. Today the market may be a bit more open. and release it on DVD that way. to have a strategy by which we can support the release of our series and sustain it over time. Back then it may have been as tough a sell as Blue Submarine No. Some series which started this way. with 50 minutes of extra features on DVD for $20 and is doing quite well for itself. An indie title like Kakurenbo: HIde and Seek was released as a single 25 minute episode. it is also what I did on my own when I released Understanding Chaos and subsequently. but fans and critics were in an uproar about the pricing structure and getting only a 30 minute episode on one disc. So what does any of this have to do with creating your own animation project? Well. You see. This is really the same strategy by which Anime: Concept to Reality was put out by TOKYOPOP. it did sell well. a smaller studio can create a series. and in a world of direct downloads and instant gratification. When they tried to release Blue Submarine NO. That strategy being to release a 30 to 45 minute episode and include with it a healthy dose of extra features to round a package of nearly 2 hours of viewing.
. 6. one 30 minute episode at a time. who desire to create longer form series work. They put power into the hands of the viewer. but today the market may be more lenient to such a concept. sometimes for as much as $40 or more per disc.Animation on a Shoestring 50
Those were the days when DVD's inspired. both put out by major labels. or short film. like Tenchi Muyo have gone on to become huge franchises. and the series can pay for itself as it goes along.
who likely has similar desires to create their stories. You don't have to worry about the exact to-the-second length of the video or every scene. and creating something they will love and love to keep seeing again and again as the series unfolds. Have contests. if you're doing digital downloads. My point is the sky is the limit.. You only have to worry about you and your viewers. then your bandwidth. You don't have to worry about ratings boards or trying to keep it PG-13. you don't have to worry about being fit for TV. let them vote on the outcome of something in the story. You can even involve your fans in the process.
.Animation on a Shoestring 51
The extra features become a series unto themselves teaching your craft to your fan base. Or well. You can keep your vision pure and make what you truly desire without any commitee saying what will and what won't work. You don't have to worry about commercial breaks. So why do this? DEFY ALL CONVENTIONS! If you do this.
and he always keeps his copyright.000 page views per day. L. His work has since been seen on major TV broadcasts and in theaters. shows a major change on the horizon.000 dollars. EMI and TV Asahi. I have heard. Animators on the other hand may earn as little as $900 per month to live on in a city where the cost of living makes New York. Ono's anime about a black family living in Shimane started boasting 50. Imagine being out there alone. Ono worked for more than ten years in the traditional media industry. major studio anime on DVD in Japan tops out at 10. so for an indie to do more than half that. a play on the 70's funk band. now famous for his self published Sugaikun to Kazokuishi anime created in Flash. and move to the outskirts where living costs are cheaper. the creators who provide the ideas and the knewhow receive little reward for their work. His success has led him to major deals with the likes of Toshiba. the complete lack of creative freedom and ownership of intellectual property that you would be willing to simply quit your job. Even though anime is a multi-billion dollar per year industry.
.Animation on a Shoestring 52
Imagine becoming so fed up with the animation industry. that with few exceptions. Sugaikun to Kazokuishi. the center of all things media related. His self produced DVD sold 5600 copies. Even "big" directors are not paid very well and never own their creations.000 copies per volume in sales. That is precisely where imagination has taken indie anime creator Ryo Ono. which literally means Sguy and The Family Stone. or even Hawaii seem like Austin Texas. changed all that. whatever way it takes.A. to live the dream of creating animation. netting him $96. though never been able to verify. fed up with the low wages. Imagine being so fed up that you'd be willing to actually leave the city.. willing to do it your way.
. I could realistically see doing original shows. even working alone and voicing all the characters. We have to move forward. He is currently doing The Frogman Show for TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) late night programming. but it seems that broadcasters may be ahead of them in seeking newer cheaper ways to get programming on the air for their multi-billion dollar industry. that might actually have real market potential. Many of the majors are looking into co-production deals with the U. Costs are cheap here. producing anime work at 10% of what it normally costs. the way it was done. Regardless of whether it is production technique. in the opinion of some. Imagine a future where the industry belongs to indie animators or tiny studios producing their own in-house content using Flash. Ono uses Flash and can do a 30 minute episode in days. software or even content management. will soon be a relic of the past. drops quality. This leads to mass exits from the industry and work going overseas which. the Japanese anime industry is struggling to stay afloat. but it hasn't stopped his rise to success. "The Universe likes speed. Joe Vitale has said. so does the anime industry.Animation on a Shoestring 53
Mr. they are making so much more money than before. While it traditionally takes several weeks and a lot of money to produce anime. but to the lone animator or small team. Anime Studio or even Poser and Vue. As I mentioned previously. Fire.S. France and other nations which have a market for anime. Even if I need help I can hire competent artists for next to nothing." Well apparently. Broadcasters pay much. The old thinking has to go. even by myself. Production costs are rising even as wages for individuals are falling.. He admits that his work does look as good as the creations of veterans. One of the reasons I came to the Philippines was to try and duplicate something of what this guy has done.
right? Has model building ever stopped your creative flow? I mean. but how much time. Whether 2D or 3D. Everything you need is already out there! I was going through a number of 3D model sites and I started thinking. energy and effort will it save? Time you could put into something else to get your movie done. someone could literally write a story. even photoreal samples. That would be the first trip I make to the 3D model sites to buy that car. If I need a high quality car. not just in the U. Some sites have great models for $20.S. and just start making it! Sure I am oversimplifying everything.Animation on a Shoestring 54
I can sell them on my site or sell them to broadcasters. What is your time worth to you? I would just buy it and move on. especially a car that exists in the real world. you won't see me modeling it.
. who wants to build and populate some bookshelves? Yet I have seen some incredible. not any individual item in it. "Why aren't there more independent CGI shorts and movies?" Considering the quality of low cost CG models available on the web. Others can be as high as $300. On the UFO Film SS Doomtrooper which I worked on for SciFi Channel. That's the way you do it! My interest is in my characters and my movie. detailed bookcases on model sites for $20 or less. I certainly didn't want to build the thing. One of the artists there did a quick search online and found the vehicle we needed in a pack of four tanks for $50. we needed a particular tank to appear in one of the shots and it had to look like it was there. Of course we bought it. but you get the idea. find all the CG models they need. Prices vary from site to site. there's really nothing stopping the indie anymore. but anywhere in the English speaking world.
Before I get to that quote. Vue and Daz this goes double for available content.. people don't believe. It pains me to understand how people cannot see the same puzzle pieces I see. a guy called Switchblade327 wrote: ". I can find just about anything I could ever need and focus entirely on just making the show. "man it would be great if I could get some money together and get a crew going. Even after I and many others have done their own films. his work proves that no man is an island. others who have no desire to see it made. be it lighting/rendering/animation. one or more aspects. and will continue to leave their dreams and ideas in the hands of others. cinematography. I want to talk about why the quote is so important. But just like the also talented Tim Albee. though. But it raises the question: other then bragging rights.Animation on a Shoestring 55
Now that I have discovered the world of Poser. Anigen. or what these others have done.. storytelling.
. people will say. nobody (or very few anybodies) is going to be great or even all that good at *every* aspect of film production. In a CGTalk thread about my web series.. who has been doing his own films for decades. As a result." They have totally missed the point. actually finish projects of this scope in a reasonable amount of time. etc ALWAYS suffers in projects like these. Even after directly seeing something I have done. extremely selfmotivated. I read a great quote one day from veteran Mirage animator Paul Fierlinger.He's incredibly inspiring and has managed to do what few here could. why would you want to? He's clearly very talented and more importantly. The quote relates to something we have heard a lot from artists like Makoto Shinkai and Timothy Albee about what is truly possible today.. modeling.
On the other hand we have the global economy to fit into. and won't even begin because of unbelief. Who’s preparing students for this reality?" That's what I agree with. computer specialists who service the needs of animators and cleaning crews who cater to the needs of homemakers. anything. sculptors. Don't look at what those other guys are doing! Paul wrote: "Our art has now joined the ranks of writer/authors. unless you want to take into account private secretaries who take dictates from writers. Makoto Shinkai said in his interview on the "Voices" DVD that the technology had brought anime into the same realm as manga. but its a shame if they really desire to make their own project. I say that if someone is not good at a particular aspect. There are no crews of writers.
. We have to see the process and the projects differently. then they can learn! What really is beyond our grasp? This is why the quote from veteran animator Paul Fierlinger is important. the only road to this person ever seeing their projects come to life is major studio funding of millions and a large crew. anywhere. which can be done entirely by one person." As a result of this thinking. all by ourselves. All the promises are unto them that believe. It's anyone's choice to believe or not believe. without which they don't believe its possible. painters. even though more artists are doing it everyday. painter/ illustrators and sculptors and composers and housewife/husbands. composers or homemakers to join and within whose ranks one could contribute as a specialists.Animation on a Shoestring 56
Maybe I could animate a whole short in handcuffs while starving myself and that would be a great "making of" story but the short probably wouldn't be so great when finished. to make. anytime for anyone. and unto them only.
pay per view. ad supported etc). it certainly feels like it’s worth investing development resources to content that would be suited to podcasting and mobile. Things are shifting faster than ever and doors can open and close in the space of a single project. Ken Faier: That said. it will create more opportunities for independents.e. What does this mean for the indie swimming in this world? AWM: How serious is the potential market of podcasting and webcasting? Kenneth Locker: Very large — it is cost effective and ubiquitous with very low cost of entry barriers. That which was law a mere fifteen years ago is now as useful as a stone tablet. And as the larger players like Fox and CBS jump into the ring.Animation on a Shoestring 57
I remember in an article I once saw on AWN the industry movers and shakers talk about the ever changing climate in the world of animation. subscription.
. Success will ultimately depend on the quality of the content and which business models emerge (i.
Homestarrunner was very popular in UFO where I worked and they have sold a few hats and DVD's in that office. but now I may be in the position to do it. I think it worth noting that budgets. They do 300 to 400 sales of DVDs and merchandise every single day! The opportunity exists doing a cool chapter based show on PSP or iPod to reach your audience immediately and build something that could be huge. knows them personally. This is surely the direction I am heading in. but you need not fret if you can get past the gatekeepers. Talent. In fact. marketing dollars and things along these lines was not mentioned.com.Animation on a Shoestring 58
Sounds like nothing but good news if you ask me. It doesn't get any better than this folks. I have said it many times. Sure there are services like iTunes. You can deliver content yourself. I am often stuck on the idea of feature projects but more and more it is becoming apparent that there is real value in serious consideration of chapter based entertainment for mobile platforms like the PSP. Joe Cartoon. Apparently those guys make a living doing only that too. I don't just mean getting by either. from your own site. anybody can do it. That says something. A friend of mine. quality. My next series will be what I truly want it to be and it will be available right on my site for digital download. include even an iPhone or PSP version. Fred Seibert: Homestarrunner. (dare I say Channel Frederator) are only the beginning. the guy who hosted Understanding Chaos when my server went down. and excitement are now the only barriers to hit making and brand building. Why not? Would you rather play in the Hollywood sandbox? Do you think the big kids let the little kids play there?
. Happy Tree Friends.
a great article over at Cinematech which gives some powerful insights. Independents couldn't even buy film from Kodak. It also lets us know that we are responsible for changing things and that the tools available to us now leave no room for excuses. people have to know it exists. Kodak founder George Eastman. on why the system is closed to us. and how it was set up that way from the start. "In 1908. Of course. which prevented anyone else from making or distributing movies without paying fealty to the MPPC. how much did it cost to even think about making your own animation? It wasn't enough to know how to draw anime. and software like Flash or Mirage. to those interested in independent film making. To this very day you cannot go out and buy a Panavision camera and own the means of production.Animation on a Shoestring 59
There was. Thomas Edison. even getting to that point. The web can be our home and opportunities here are without end and limited only by imagination. you needed expensive equipment just to realize it on paper. You may remember episode 16 of Anigen covered this to some degree. to say nothing of shooting it to film. and designed to exclude the entrepreneur. and nine other titans of the young industry formed the Motion Picture Patents Company. Before widespread use of computer technology. in order to get it seen. From its very start. some time ago. with projected movies still in their infancy. with a Dolby digital 5. the movie industry in America has been tilted against the independent filmmaker. Today you can make your own anime or independent film." That's just a bit of what that article says and show's why you need to go search for it and read it. How different are things today? Only very recently have things in the independent film making world and the world of animation really opened up.1 soundtrack and master it DVD or ready it for output to film all from your desktop.
In fact. Are we going to let a system set up in 1908 keep us from realizing dreams? Satoshi Kon. as many of these distributors have merged with the studios. Or do they? In the old days. Universal Studios. studios produced big films and those films were taken to the people via distributors who handled all the promotion and marketing and took the lion's share of the profits. This is the price of entry into their world. the anime director responsible for the movie Paprika. If you truly want to get your independent film seen. We know from the Pixar/Disney clashes before the merger. Disney and many others have their own distribution and if you want to get in. it's gotten worse. which is gained much notoriety on the festival circuit.Animation on a Shoestring 60
That's still one aspect of the puzzle the major studios have a handle on. It's almost the end of 2008. that Disney ended up owning all of Pixar's characters and creations and took the largest percentage of the profits. "should be" in the opinions of some. based on a concept of "what is" as opposed to what can be or perhaps. This hasn't really changed.
. Studio Ghibli thought the same thing. YouTube phenomenon LonelyGirl15 showed that finding a large audience entirely in the wired is not only feasible but potentially profitable. In some of these interviews he makes some great points about the influences on his work and the process of creation of both films like Paprika and his TV series Paranoia agent. or make your own anime and have total creative control. was being interviewed everywhere in connection to this masterful work. On the desktop. of course. Yet so many indies still want to walk right in it. Even a animation powerhouse like Pixar needed Disney to get their movies seen. you have to pay to play. consider finding your audience the same way you make your movie. His thoughts are. Warner Brothers.
" That's what he said in a TOKYOPOP interview at the time. Right after doing my first film. and the production company that I was in talks with actually went out of business and it never came into fruition. in manga you can create what you want to create. Those who saw Makoto Shinkai's Voices of a Distant Star and it's extra features may remember than in his interview he talks about how technology has literally brought the creation of anime into the realm of manga. the staff gets together and creates together." "Tokyo Godfathers" and "Paranoid Agent"—the works that I was doing were original pieces that were developed. "Perfect Blue. In anime. but those of us who desire to change the very nature of the industry may see things differently. from his perspective he is quite correct. that you can only do what you are capable of.Animation on a Shoestring 61
"To create manga takes a great effort and it is a personal work. Of course. I am attracted by the idea of a team making the best work possible. No one wants to be dependent on a company which might go out of business to get their project made.net. where it is possible for one artist to create what they want in total freedom. I also remember how manga artists like Ghost in the Shell creator Masamune Shirow. In another interview with Satoshi Kon on Coming Soon.
. a lot of the works I did—"Millennium Actress." That's not freedom." I really wanted to do a film adaptation of "Paprika" next. I think some of the production houses had expected or were anticipating me to do more original works. having seen works like Urda or Kakurenbo. but at the time. decided he wanted to delve into that world of CGI creation because of the opportunities offered there. he wrote: "I read the novel of "Paprika" right when it was first published years ago. That is a good point. But the opposite can also be said. it was just as an idea that was floating around. What I am basically talking about is technology opening new doors. Afterwards.
Today. you can have an idea and just start making it. characters. they are often only in the mind of the creator. You can really make anything and believe there is an audience for it. but I was still stuck "in the box". lengths and scenarios. a 3 minute animation for cel phones is as viable as a feature film with the hope of theatrical distribution. I mean without limits. When it comes to forces that might prevent one from creating what they want. You can create what you desire right now and there are no forces that will prevent you from doing that. When I say create what you desire. because of the tools available. it wasn't until recently that it really hit me that I can create what I truly desire right now. I knew there were no real world barriers preventing me from creating. Because there is. in the belief that I had to create certain types of shows. Even though I knew for years that the technology said we can create what we want without the need for millions of dollars or major studio backing.
.Animation on a Shoestring 62
There is no longer a need to spend years with your idea floating around or looking for some studio to develop it with you. so to speak. In today's world with a multitude of markets and delivery systems.
Anime has not escaped monotony either. Animation is supposed to be like a dream. it's not necessarily the creators of the individual works that decide this. can be very difficult. The dream world in ‘Paprika’ is quite the opposite — frightening and horrible. highly promoted and twice released Spirited Away. This applies to the current state of the anime industry as well as to Hollywood animated feature films.
. Akira is twenty years old. "I make them with the intention of being for a general audience. more inspired by serious science fiction writers like Phillip K. many cannot shake the notion that animation must be some particular thing.but they tend to get perceived as much more artistic.Animation on a Shoestring 63
To this day. a surprising notion coming from a cartoon. no film that has been brought to America has grossed more than $3 million at the box office except the Oscar winning. Mamoru Oshii and Satashi Kon started a movement that changed the face of anime beginning with films like Akira. We all know that Hollywood currently seems to be in a talking animal rut. Dick and William Gibson than the works of Walt Disney. pretty and nice. Director Satoshi Kon makes this somewhat clear in a New York Times interview at the time of his film Paprika. especially across borders." Should such a thing really be surprising in this day and age? That very article goes on to talk about how directors like Katsuhiro Otomo. In this "new movement" in anime. anime in general is a very niche market product. but the system as a whole. Still. Although there is a general lack of risk taking in the anime world. Breaking out of this notion of what animation should be. so from the mainstream perspective. When you see a Disney cartoon. there was very little perception to be changed in the first place. you’re in a dream world of sweet animals and pretty flowers. (My God how does that make you feel?) How long does it take for a perception to change? Well. a mainstream audience.
One of the greatest barriers to breaking notions of what animation should be is cultural. from the Christian point of view. Spawn creator Todd McFarlane once said that simply showing a graveyard full of crosses in animation could up the MPAA rating to an R.Animation on a Shoestring 64
Most gross less than $1 million for their time in theatres. It takes a very westernized Pokemon to make any real money in American theatres. "I understand that. When it comes to foreign cultural or religious concepts it gets even worse. I think that’s something that contributes to world cultural conflicts and problems. I don't think there should be some grand movement to break these perceptions nor do I think anime is going to flood the mainstream. and more specifically. or see more acceptance of a certain type of film. Why not? There are many gods. But I don’t think that is a reason to oppose any other country’s culture." So spoke Satoshi Kon in the aforementioned interview. Shintoism acknowledges the Christian God. Niche markets are what they are. If we want to see change. though. then we must make more animation for older audiences. I get a little bit sad. or what the system believes they can accept in animation will always hinder what can make it into the mainstream. In Hollywood films. Shintoism is a polytheistic religion in which you believe in many different gods for many different people. I think he makes a good point. In animation religion and its associated symbols are very rarely even hinted at. What the audience can accept. it is almost always Catholic. Personally. While he was likely being sarcastic. If we want to see more animation for older audiences. But when I think about how that respect doesn’t go in the other direction. In Japan. there simply needs to be more of those type of films. animism — where you give a soul and spirit to all sorts of objects — is wrong and incorrect. when religion is touched upon. the religious ideas on which that culture developed.
seeing as they previously created one of the best looking all CGI anime projects around. in fact. I remember reading some time last year that YAMATO Morita.
. but I did not know that Shuhei Morita was. the director. I was not surprised they worked on it. but their rates are far more friendly to the end user. I haven't seen the entire series. creator of Kakurenbo and the director of the new Katsuhiro Otomo project Freedom. It's been a pretty nice rise from the day of their independent creation to one of the most talked about projects in the anime world. I noticed the big YAMATO WORKS credit in the end titles.Animation on a Shoestring 65
If we want to see more cultural diversity in animation. release back in June. He sent me a few screen grabs of Lightwave 3D in use on the project. They were two months away from completion at the time. When I saw the first episode of Freedom. was going to be speaking at Anime Expo 2007. Any independent creator can be up and running with their title for as little as a $15 investment. to make films. leaving the creator to focus on promoting and selling their product. Freedom is 6 episodes in total and the first saw U. Their manufacturing costs are also considerably lower. a DVD on demand service from the makers of Amazon. I remember when a friend of mine turned me on to Custom Flix. The Japanese DVD release of episode 3 was #6 on the top ten anime titles list. even in the anime world. and make films of all types and expand the perceptions. Custom Flix only takes 5% for titles sold through your site or theirs. We must also find our own roads to get those films out because the system will not do it for us. When I first heard about Kakurenbo. The solution is. What they offer service wise is no different than Lulu.com. I started to import them. then we must make those films which show that diversity. as I am impatient.S. I contacted Shuhei Morita through their YAMATO WORKS website to ask about thew tools they were using. and can only be. but never finished as I gave up on DVD as a format around the same time. To this day. While Lulu takes 20% of the revenue remaining over the manufacturing cost. I actually know personally some people that are doing that.
Animation on a Shoestring 66
This is really getting to the point where doing it yourself is starting to pale by comparison. Although you can get DVD's made for as little as $1.29 per disc at Discmakers, with a bulk order, you would have inventory to stock and have to handle shipping, customer service and returns yourself or hire another service to do that. It may cost $4.95 per disc on Custom Flix, but you are left free from all that comes after that. Custom Flix also allows you to list your title on Amazon, though for a considerably reduced chunk of the revenue, and have access to one of the largest online markets in the world. Apparently, some of their top users have had considerable success with this. This makes it well worth considering what road to take when getting your project out there. Obviously, there's nothing stopping the indie creator now. Since many of these services are non-exclusive, it may be that the best road is to do a little of bit of each. We all know that the tools are out there. I have talked about them quite a bit on my blog, in Anigen, in forums and anywhere anyone would listen. I talked about iClone, offering machinima style creation, in realtime, to hundreds of thousands of users for a very low price. I talked about Poser 7, which I myself am really getting into and enjoying the benefits it adds to the cretive process. And then there is Vue 6, which offers creative power far beyond anything I have seen recently (I haven't upgraded to Vue 7 yet). Now these tools have all sold many tens of thousands of copies. They are in the hands of the people. All that's left is for the flow of great creations right? Well, a quick search on Youtube may show you something rather interesting. The creating is certainly happening. There are people who are taking these tools and making stuff. It seems there are those that are even just having a good bit of fun with what the tools offer. There is a common thread among the vast amount of creative efforts out there, though, and it has nothing to do with the tools. Many who have the desire and have the tools and the motivation to do something are running into something else.
Animation on a Shoestring 67
Many of those creating with these tools have no idea how to shoot, light, pace or cut an engaging animated project. In many of the projects I am seeing out there, the camera is just all over the place. It's like the freedom given with a CG camera was too much to comprehend and so because the camera can do anything, it does. Many of the scenes are just flooded with light, often to the point of becoming flat and boring. Rarely is there seen lighting that really separates characters from the backgrounds or that is used for mood. Then, many of the pieces I am seeing just drag on and on too slowly, and many who watched my work know that I am generally a fan of slower paced, talky, shows, but these projects are too slow to me! Proper cutting, including proper coverage of a scene is another issue. The viewer must gain an idea of where everyone is placed and how the action flows based on how the piece is cut. Often the pieces I am seeing out there leave the viewer in confusion. Now I don't want to make it sound like there isn't good stuff out there. There is. A lot of the stuff I am seeing, though, isn't lacking in ideas or story, and certainly not in good tools. It is the execution that leaves much to be desired. I never really thought about this aspect in detail before. When I made Anigen, or previous projects, I often thought from the point of view of the use of tools and the techniques to get something created based on a toolset in 2D or 3D. I never put much emphasis on the fundamentals of visual storytelling. More and more I am realizing that the tools can be learned from the manual, help in forums and many places online. These fundamentals, such as shooting with interesting camera angles, lighting for mood and emotion or pacing to keep a viewer attached, are the real roadbloack to our seeing a wealth of great indie content out there filling the many pages of the net. This needs to be the focus of the next stage of instuctional material. In fact, this may be the most important stage! The tools themselves are clearly delivering as promised.
Animation on a Shoestring 68
Have you been checking out the galleries on some of the sites related to Vue or Poser lately? There really is a revolution going on and it seems to be going on quietly outside of those communities. The creative power put forth by these latest tools or versions of tools is really changing things. Think back for a moment. Remember a time when we looked at the best of game intros from Capcom or Konami, seeing the cinematic scenes of Soul Blade or the movie style opening of Onimusha. We knew that a major effort went into the creation of them, requiring enormous manpower and highly skilled artists, usually using very expensive tools. Today, images of equal quality are found in the daily gallery on the Vue 6 Website. There are equally telling images on the Cornucopia 3D galleries. This is the future! Not done by large teams or by using extremely expensive tools that have been around for over fifteen years, but done by the artist at home with tools becoming more and more accessible to everyone everyday.
I find myself in search of time. If you haven't been looking at what's going on in these galleries. a trip through some of these galleries might be the inspiration you need to remember that there are no limits today! It's really matter of how you apply the tools. When I think of what I want to say. Even now. create shows like Anigen and even do original dramatic work. The next generation characters in the IClone realtime machinima creation software are starting to look rather amazing. Still there are ways to circumvent this issue as well. take a look at what's out there. The price of machines is such that a small 5 unit render stack can be put together for the price of one main machine a few years ago. They now have really nice scenery generation tools as well. in IClone you pretty much have everything to create complete machinima movies in one package. single top of the line box as a render engine and keep working on their current machine. I want time to play with ideas I have for Poser or to look at some of the new characters released on their content site. before IClone allows one to hit Final Fantasy quality. And then there is IClone 2. I asked this question in the Daz forum a few months ago and got some interesting answers. It's only a matter time. If you ever find yourself limiting your creative desires because you are worried about what's feasible. They are much higher res and will only continue to improve as computers become faster and more powerful. I want time to write books like this one.Animation on a Shoestring 69
One thing that is as yet telling is that we don't see enough animation at this level from the home artist. as we can see from the latest XBox 360 or PS3 games. Where does all this time go?
. Or one can get a second. Render times can be a deterrent even with some of the faster computers today. organize your ideas and find the time. Some of this stuff is more than worth keeping an eye on. When I think about Vue 6 I want to time to play with and explore Vue 6. Remember.
Animation on a Shoestring 70
When I look back on the days when I created Understanding Chaos, I now wonder how I ever found the hours to do such a project on my nights and weekends. Does life get more complicated? Is the issue really time at all or is it energy? There are a dozen things that I want to do right now and what's worse is I fully have access to them in terms of ability and technology. The only thing which keeps me from them is time. One day, while still at UFO FIlms, me and a couple of guys from work went to Guitar Center on our lunch break. We got keyboards for use with Garage Band, the music creation software which is part of the iLife suite in OS X. I got the keyboard, pictured above, which is often seen advertised or set up in stores in connection with Garage Band. One of the guys hooked his keyboard up at the end of the work day and I got to see first hand what I was missing out on by not having a keyboard attached to Garage Band all this time. With this in mind, I had every intention of playing with my keyboard when I got home, but then I remembered something that I didn't have time for the day before. I picked up a copy of a book I had heard about some time ago. It was Range Murata's Robot comic anthology which features full color high quality art from a variety of manga artists, pro and indie alike. That night, instead of pulling out my keyboard, I had the opportunity to go through it and I have to say I was amazed at the work. Of course, I expected nothing less than the best from some of the names attached to the project, but I was pleased to see such an attempt to break from the mold or the tradition of how manga is done come out so well. It also seems, from what I read, that it is quite successful and spreading across the world little by little. There was something more interesting that I found in those pages though. It went beyond the amazing drawings of femme fatales with swords, eiree science fiction worlds and beautiful artwork. I saw hints of fractured time. Like with typical manga publishing in Japan, some of the stories are of decent length and appear to be continuos, which will pick up in the next volume.
Animation on a Shoestring 71
Other stories, however, break from typical manga convention and are exceptionally short, 3-5 pages and they end... completely. This really made me think of how I work. Often times there are things I want to say or show which do not require the length of a full feature film. Some do not even require the length of a short like Understanding Chaos, but I still want to say them. Usually, seeing no place for such ideas, I just drop them. Why is that? With limited time, one would think these tiny things would be ideal for self expression and to keep the skills up. I recently read a book which liberally quoted Joseph Campbell, and it got me thinking about the whole "follow your bliss" thing again. I mean, if you already had all the money you wanted and were creating your dream project with no thought of financial reward, no thought of sales, just doing it for your enjoyment, how different would it be from what your are making right now? Would you follow the structure of a feature film? Would you make it the length of a TV show? Would you include things that you currently think might not sell well or go over with an audience? What audience? Would you care what other people say you should make? Are you truly making the show that you want to make right now? I find these questions to be really motivational. I think Range Murata must have asked similar questions and the answer was Robot. When I get down to the many things I want to say with my work and do with my time, I find these questions make me look at what's really mine and what is little more than a holdover of thinking someone else's way. I mean, you're just going to be spending your time right? You shouldn't be spending any money! It has been mentioned to me before that not everybody can go out and spend the money on the latest greatest tools and software out there to make their movie. As I brought up in one episode of Anigen, you don't have too, and realistically you probably shouldn't.
Animation on a Shoestring 72
I know I have spent my share of money on tools and software that I didn't get equivalent use value out of. When it comes to Vue, I originally got it as part of a bundle with a Lightwave upgrade, so it was really like getting it for free. I am sure this was good for E-On Software because it probably greatly expanded their user base and gave them reach into the pro world. I was able to then upgrade to Vue 6 Infinite for a very low price. The point, though, is that you don't need the "Infinite" version to create great artwork. There will always be people who will tell you with convincing reasons why you must use some expensive tools like Maya or don't bother. These are likely the same people who will tell you their movie must be on the level of Pirates of the Caribbean or a Pixar film or it's not worth doing. They don't want to make their "El Mariachi" and build up to their "Once Upon a Time in Mexico." They want to skip the small, cheap movie that many great directors started with, like Raimi with Evil Dead or Cameron with Piranha 2, and get right to their Spider Man or Titanic level films. Well don't listen to them. You can have everything you need, computer, software and all, for less than the cost of one copy of Maya Complete (the cheap low end version). With time and effort you could make a dazzling movie for the cost of one copy of Maya Unlimited (The version needed to do anything great). Now I have nothing against Maya. We have all seen great things done by studios like ILM using those tools, but I think most of us are against spending $6000 for software and so we can't allow ourselves to think that way or we join the group who will go to their graves saying it can't be done. So what then do we think about? Well take a look at the images in the Vue gallery done with Vue 6 Esprit, the $159 version of the Vue product line. Now I suspect some will immediately complain that it lacks the features of Vue 6 Infinite, but really look at the images done with it. I think many of them are really cool.
I know that Vue 6 Infinite contains a lot of advanced functionality that I will never use. This is made even greater by the fact that it works so well with Vue products. which is the better choice? You can always upgrade down the road. do we really care about the negative attitudes? You don't have to aim for the top in hardware and software. more importantly. If we get our projects done and have a great time doing it. would laugh at Poser. There are always going to be bad attitudes. such as seen on some art sites. chances are its not the pros that did it. Poser has gone up in price to $249 but it is still very much worth the money. Aim for what lets you create now and. Most of us are very familiar with the open source 3D package Blender. Another tool I have been giving far more serious consideration lately is Poser. and that's if you need to. There will always be people who feel like you didn't struggle enough to create something great because you used great tools. Some may choose to go the machinima route with iClone.Animation on a Shoestring 73
The real key is what are you going to let hold you back? If you could be doing something right now today because you can afford Vue 6 Esprit or you have to wait for months saving for Infinite. have fun doing it! That's really what the indie way is all about. because the defaults are usually more than good enough for me. Poser 7 actually blew me away. It's some artist at home. thinking it was a toy and nothing good could ever come from it. Some of the cheapest tools out there can do amazing stuff. They have come a long way since that time. The thing is. On top of that. which has grown more and more competitive with each revision. when you go to those galleries and see a great image. The number of options available are staggering and the quality of low price software impressive. It was Poser 6 that first attracted my attention enough for a revisit. I still remember the days when pros. there is the growing popularity of Open source. probably just having fun! There's absolutely no reason to break the bank to get your project made.
. myself included. against low cost software. with both Poser and Vue.
Animation on a Shoestring 74
you could enter into a good company at a young age. but at the turn of the century. but that's another book)
. My parents grew up during the industrial era. Some even gained a stake in the corporation itself. anywhere a pen and pad could be found. I used to draw comics and sell them to other kids in the school yard for a few bucks. This was not without its consequences. people flocked to jobs in factories and huge corporations overtook the economic scene. at home. small business made up the bulk of the American economy. in class. my parents really frowned on that idea. People were genuinely interested in what I created.Animation on a Shoestring 75
Inspiration & Motivation
I was once asked "What did you love as a child?" It made me think back to what made me really happy as a kid. work your way up and eventually become very prosperous or even rich inside that company. "What did you pretend when you played make believe? What games were your favorites? Were you a creator?" I don't know where I got the idea. but I was all about small business when I was a child. (it wasn't by accident either. In that day. Before the industrial era. so why not make a few bucks off it if I could? Well. I was drawing all the time.
you can start. Start this instant.
. firewire and DV. The key is to start right now! Don't wait. it means finally getting that first movie done. the thing you would do for hours on end even if there was no pay involved. not unlike on the schoolyard. I never really lost my taste for enterprise. Does your past show you the right track? The great thing is that it's never too late. what do you see yourself doing? Are the seeds of your future business to be found there? This is one possible road to your true passion. Certainly don't make it a new years resolution. Just me. Job security is but a myth. Don't use the upcoming holidays as an excuse. self published it on DVD and sold it off my own website with good results. If you aren't following your dream. As I write this we are approaching the end of 2008. Most of the time they involve losing weight or getting that better job or even finally writing the great American novel. I created an animation called Understanding Chaos. I am in the Philippines trying to actually DO those things I write about. I was drawing all the time and I loved to draw with people and help them draw. no investors needed and no major studios helped out. These days if you want to make your way in the world. you can get on the right track. I see my passion from my own past. New years resolutions are usually about fixing the things that did not go right the year before. No venture capital was involved. Today we live in what is called the information age and he who controls the information becomes an island unto himself. it was through the magic of the latest computer technology. though. If you aren't yet on the right track. in the year 2000. but for a select few. small business is a serious consideration. As detailed in the forward.Animation on a Shoestring 76
Well that day is over now. So if you look back into your childhood. Companies really caring about and taking care of employees is a rarity. just like with a pen and a spiral notebook. This time.
Be in the mindset that your first film is just that.Animation on a Shoestring 77
This is the time to forget about all the forces that are against you and lay to rest all the reasons. here's 5 steps to get your movie done now. why you can't do it. What this means is that if you don't have millions of dollars to play with or major studio backing. "Just do it." is far easier to say than actually making film.
. and they conclude because of this that they can't make a film. Some of the biggest names in Hollywood started out with a cheesy horror film. 1. why can't that be their third or even fourth film? Don't kill your project before it even begins with this type of thinking. No matter how true the statement. My question is. you are not going to make a "Lord of the Rings" level epic your first time out. Some people tell me about their dream project and it is so big that it has to have millions of dollars behind it to get off the ground. your first and not your last film. especially from others. Now is the time to take positive action. I've read forum posts from many accomplished animators who are convinced their movie must compete with the works of Pixar or not be made at all. Be in the right mindset. I am saying work your way up to big dreams. To that end. I am not saying don't have big dreams.
He and his friends who acted in the film had day jobs.Animation on a Shoestring 78
2. You're given complete camera controls and simple editing tools that allow you to record soundtracks. Create a real schedule. If you cannot afford the expensive tools. If you're sitting in your room and all you have available is a laptop. or low cost tools like Poser. This would be classified as the digital film making technique called Machinima. Start with what you have. Many film makers have the tools and the talent. It should also be noted that he made this and other small movies before his epic "Once Upon a Time in Mexico". the project never gets done. make a commitment to work on your film at least one hour per night and full time on weekends. building up a virtual studio. but they went out every weekend and got a little bit more of the film done. give serious consideration to free. a DV camera and some decent editing software. 3. add music and finish a virtual movie in just about any genre. If Machinima is all that is available to you right now. "Following".
. and around this he crafted "El Mariachi". a bus and some areas in Mexico he could shoot in. a turtle. but build a schedule and stick to it. known today for the new Batman movies made his first film. you unlock features that give you a plethora of sets. Some even create bits of their project here and there. build a schedule around them. If you have other commitments. characters and costumes. it's not time to make Star Wars. karate class or anything else. such as family. What could be better than getting it done? If you have a day job. Decide from the start how much of the film should be done in three months. Create milestones and set out to reach them. do that! You can still tell your story and show your skill as a film maker even in an entirely virtual world. Some friends of mine recently bought a video game called "The Movies". on weekends. in six months. Chris Nolan. open source animation software like Blender. Robert Rodriguez had a guitar case. they move on to some "better" idea. but failing to craft a real schedule. Before long. in nine months and work to reach these milestones. Once you play your way through the game. The same goes for animators who think they must use software like Maya or work the Pixar way.
. This is a surefire setup for failure. When your vision gets in the way of getting it done. People are going to change hairstyles. It may be frustrating on the day. Let it go if you have to. and do it properly. technology can change right out from under you. you don't stop the film. Let them try their ideas and have a voice. they also want to get something out of the project. grow beards and even get sick and you are going to have to work with it. but computers do die. If you are doing digital film making or animation. Edit your vision. Even the big guys who have millions of dollars rarely get there. but in editing realize it just doesn't work. it's time to make some cuts. You will have to work around such things. Be prepared to compromise. 4. Your actors have ideas too. you change the vision. It happens all the time. You may have to lose some scenes or ideas you really love when it comes down to really completing your project. Many big directors who can do anything often lament that they were at their most creative when they had nothing. Be open to input from all quarters. If your vision sees you shooting in a particular location and it turns out you can't get it. The next computer you get may not run your favorite software properly. it is better to find a work around. If you're not contracting SAG actors and paying big money. Never get stuck in the idea that it has to be one way or not at all. but changing your vision can still result in magic. gain weight.Animation on a Shoestring 79
Create smaller monthly milestones to reach and check them off so that you can be inspired by seeing progress. If you can't afford to realize what is in your mind on screen. You may think you shot something masterful on the day. and if they're not being paid. Chances are your first independent film isn't going to be what you saw in your head. I don't recommend upgrading computers and software in the middle of a project. If you're using your friends as actors. you can't have the control of the major studio. they have lives and commitments too. 5.
but you got it done. starting out. Now you can watch it as a movie and start to really work on making it great. fix some digital FX. than to fail trying to get it done right.
. make a new scene here or there. the most important thing is not story or character development. you should get your first pass on the film done as quickly as possible.Animation on a Shoestring 80
Many independent film makers will tell you that. it's getting it done. Now you're just perfecting it. they just get released. You already got it done. you say? Well. they often say movies never get finished. You may not be finished. You can do anything because it's small by comparison to starting from scratch. Make sure to stick to your deadlines though. In fact. After all. Odd as it may seem. How can this be. You can plan a re-shoot or two. it is better to get it done. even if it is horribly bad. it is far better to have a film you can fix than to have nothing to work with at all.
. The unsuccessful arrive at decisions very slowly. Old media no longer guards all the doors nor holds all the keys. consciousness often takes over and begins to second guess inspiration. Inspiration strikes like lightning. as needed. "What's really stopping me?" Any of us can take a look around and see that we have the technology. the negative sense. That's what ANIGEN was for me. that's when it usually hits. change them frequently and rarely get anything finished. When you have a definite plan and conviction of purpose. I know that I myself have been a victim of that "better idea" syndrome many times. These reasons are usually based on worrying what someone else will think. Few obstacles stand in the way of any dream in this day and age. if at all.Animation on a Shoestring 81
Those who have big dreams must at some point ask themselves the question. especially compared to any other. Unfortunately. with but a bit of effort. We have a vast network which allows. That first idea was probably "The One". to reach masses with a message. Consciousness begins to ask "what if" questions in the wrong sense. It's because consciousness lacks imagination. I heard it said of old time that the successful make decisions promptly and change them very slowly. Consciousness begins to create barriers in the form of reasons why you can't or shouldn't do the idea.
Animation on a Shoestring 82
"Imagination is everything. Some may need to flesh out an outline or treatment. Now the internet is vast and open and opportunities are everywhere lying in wait for the imagination that will claim them. You should watch it just as though you were sitting in a theatre staring at the big screen in all its glory. There is a mindset which mst drive the entire effort if it is to succeed. Seeing the movie can come about in differnet ways for different artists. Inspiration said it was the thing to do and so he did it. That same imagination must also be used in getting it done and in the devising of ways to get it out to our audience. and making new Anigen episodes. even through many failures and over two years." You have to see your movie before you begin. He didn't worry about what other people thought. It is the preview of life's coming attractions. Others may want storyboards or even a storyreel. So what's really stopping us? For the last couple of weeks. It's like the dawn of radio all over again. like an 8 cylinder engine block cast as a single piece. were foolish and impossible. Those who went beyond the simple comedian or news show became stars of their time. Great fortunes possibly lie right behind them. where someone who has the ideas and creates programs that can capture audiences can command huge sums of money. How far do we get in our projects before the first obstacle turns us around? We live in an internet age full of immeasurable opportunity for the one with imagination. but how often do we limit our imagination to our stories and characters.Animation on a Shoestring 83
We are creators of our art. and make shots into sequences and make sequences into a completed story. Some may need a complete script in hand. Henry Ford was told by his own engineers that his imaginative ideas. My focus has been on my mind. In my case. my focus has been somewhere else.
. I want to see the movie in my mind. though I have been moving forward creating characters and ideas for my next project. Creating a web series project or an OVA seres is more than just going through a series of technical steps to build shots. Albert Einstein once said.
I am getting into that mindset that removes all technical barriers from the creation of images. It is the emotion associated with it. For the past couple of weeks I have been doing a lot of reading about that very mindset and its application in all aspects of life. I can know of a surety that they will soon be on the screen. which brings power to the project and its possibility for completion. turns on a fire of motivation that makes it necessary to get those images out onto the screen.
. that lead to the perfect execution of plans.Animation on a Shoestring 84
Watching scenes from the movie in my mind builds an excitement. I am in getting in that mindset which lets me know that because I see the images in my head. images which are really felt. I have reading about visualization and the creation of powerful mental images. more than the images themself.
that fire is nowhere to be found. you write a list of things you enjoy giving to people (like laughter. I may visualize them and get excited or think they are cool. basically I like everything about it.) and in the other column. So I did a little exercise to discover the answer. Only recently did I find an important lesson here. I played with some ideas and scenes involving giant robots. the actual doing.Animation on a Shoestring 85
Inspiration can come in a lot of ways. In the days of the Amiga computer. singing etc. Many of my industry peers will tell you that it was the original Star Wars movie in 1977 that inspired them and that's why they are here doing what they do today. playing piano. of them that excitement. making them feel good etc. By putting as much as you can in each column you can then begin making combinations to find what may be a perfect business idea for you. You may find two things from the first column that go with something from the second column and they combine into a million dollar idea!
. Ghost in the Shell is and has always been one of my favorite shows. but we should be prepared to understand its meaning. I once learned an exercise to find your purpose. knowledge about something. but when it comes down to making. you write the things you truly enjoy doing (like drawing. I like the movies. material gifts. but on the whole. The method is that you take a piece of paper and on it make two columns. I was inspired by a syndicated animated series called Robotech. at first making no attempt to relate the two columns. wish I could play the overly difficult game on Playstation.). In one column. it's not something I really desire to do. This is why I was quite shocked to learn that I have no real desire to make this kind of show. I decided I wanted to find out why. the TV series. That is not the case for me. When I think of science fiction ideas along these lines.
is the way ideas started flowing once I realized this! I had something of a revelation in that time. and I came across something. I love watching science fiction like The Matrix or Blade Runner. I wrote: "A year ago. There are many types of movies and shows that I love to watch. It goes beyond just knowing what you want to create or the types of shows you want to make. my favorite software. I remember looking through some of my old blog posts from about four years ago. What's really interesting. You see. I did many interviews and a few magazine articles. but it has no bearing whatsoever on what I want to actually make. I made a list of what I truly enjoy creating or drawing.Animation on a Shoestring 86
Anyway. I released Understanding Chaos and Shadowskin on DVD. Since that time I finally decided to push forward wholeheartedly into the realm of independent animation. I found that many things related to the kinds of shows I like to watch did not make the list. I did a variation on this idea to get to the specifics of what I want to create. I moved to LA where I started interacting in different circles and becoming a bit more known. though.
. You might say this was life transforming. including what tools I use. I was even invited on a trip to China and Japan to promote both my work. some surprising things things started to become very clear to me. but I haven't the slightest interest in making them. Back then. What it comes down to is I want to create the worlds in which my characters live. I was laid off from the last studio job I had doing computer game work. and a list of what I want to show or say in my work. I love watching The X-Files type of supernatural mystery/government conspiracy shows. on November 5th 2002. I also hooked up with PBSO and began the J4A project. and Aura Video Paint. but the type of science fiction I want to make is the total outer space adventure. promoted them through various avenues. It includes everything else. to this very day. In search of the kind of fire and excitement I found creating those things seen in my recent gallery. As each list got longer. Lightwave 3D.
I wanted to do it and so I did it. though I saw no way to achieve it.
." Now both of those were concious choices. Who was it who decided that a lone artist could not make a quality animated film. It is in fact belief that is the central issue here. Even so. I hadn't yet encountered the egos. but it also took something away. I believe it is a necessary part of the way of Chaos and essential to doing a long term project. the crushed spirits and broken dreams that so pervade the industry. I started to believe I had to use certain tools. I wrote: "I am going back to work. I am thankful that I started out with but a goal and. you wouldn't take advice on fine jewelry from a brick maker. I hadn't yet worked on "real films". As independent animators we are often faced with doing the impossible by industry standards and we need to always remember that those standards are not our own. as time went on my beliefs fell into corruption. but I'd take it over that studio job any day!" Just over two years later. As it is written in The Richest Man in Babylon. and when was this decided? People whose minds are stuck in the industry will tell you with conviction it can't be done and give you many convincing reasons why this is so. I would say they were both right based on what I believed. the attitudes.Animation on a Shoestring 87
It hasn't been the smoothest ride I'll tell you. I hadn't yet worked at the studios. I started to believe I had to follow certain processes. In fact. but we have to remember that this is their experience and not ours. I also saw no barriers against it. We have to really be careful what we allow ourselves to come to believe. I read books by masters of the trade and veterans in animation and this was good. I stared to believe I had to live up to certain expectations. I learned a lot being in the industry. I'm not going to say that either one was right or wrong at the time. in my 2004 year end review.
once said. I could see the meaning in each lesson learned. so many doors did open.Animation on a Shoestring 88
I started to even believe I had to travel a certain road. I didn't just see clearly at that moment. I got a deal with a major publisher. my favorite studio." I can see now that when I did that. When the revelation hit me. If we really want to create animation. You don't have to have the best software. that we are on the right path and that the film will be done because the doors will open and the obstacles will fall out of the way. or that there was some purpose I had to fulfill or things just wouldn't go right. There are things that exist in everyone's life that one can let be an excuse not to go after the dream. Everything doesn't have to be perfect right now. I traveled halfway around the world to speak in China and Japan. I could finally see my purpose. I had never before seen so clearly. right now.G. I wrote articles for major magazines and did many interviews. Suncoast or Borders and see my products on the shelves. I saw raw drawings of characters like Batou and Major Kusanagi on the desk of an artist so great as Hiroyuki Okiura. we have to just start creating it and believe. but its only a pale shadow of an excuse. waiting for nothing. I could see the importance of each turning point. Those doors did open. you are tasked with nothing else but to follow your bliss. you have something to say and to not get that message out would be a shame. but into my mind and into my history and I saw clearly so far back. It was like traveling through the Stargate. and watched one of the greatest anime films ever done in the making.
. You don't have to have the perfect computer. I got to stand in stores like Best Buy. even know. As an artist or creator. It would be like a crime for you to do less. "Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls. You don't have to have a dream team of artists.. I have come to realize that if you truly want to create. we have to be free. Nothing should stand in the way of your dream. Joseph Campbell. I stood in Production I. famed and venerated author of The Masks of God. If we really want to be free. I could see what I gained and what I traded away.
Just start down that road.
. You will be surprised how many things just move out of your way.Animation on a Shoestring 89
You don't have to have anything but your desire and your belief that it will happen.
Animation on a Shoestring 90
it seems. ".. You see. Photoshop and Deep Paint.. at The CGSociety.Animation on a Shoestring 91
Let it be Easy
The CGSociety galleries are a place where you often see incredible artwork. I can see a lot of work there.well deserved 5 stars. Those who are in are in and those who aren't well. the attitude around the CGSociety can sometimes be a little cliquish and inclusive. That aspect is the struggle to get there. I guess they feel you didn't earn it. Those that struggle are met with comments like. while the other used Poser and Vue. but if it was too easy for you. They matter so much so that I would venture to guess that if you had two nearly identical images. but one artist used Maya. is that there is an aspect that is more highly valued than the art itself." Well.. Unfortunately.. The reason for this... the tools certainly do matter. ZBrush. there are a lot of artists out there who will look down on that work and scoff. I am not of that school. One thing I have personally noticed is that even though there are other galleries that have equally stunning and high quality artwork.. you could create the greatest image in the world.
. the crowd would sing the praises of the former and the latter would be largely ignored.
It still takes some effort to get great things out of them. I think it is a cultural thing in the US. the good does come a bit easier when the tool is learned. Go to any gallery for these tools and you will see good and bad images like anywhere else. "No pain no gain" and all that. how much faster is it than modeling trees and leaves in a 3D modeling package? The tools must be leveraged to vault the user to the goal. inking and coloring? If you use Anime Studio. Luckily. scanning. we can't know just how much one artist can do when the right tools are leveraged. throw down some paint and it's there. And why not? Why would anyone want to struggle and suffer to reach their artistic goal.
. That same kind of thinking makes it impossible to do 10 minutes of anime in a month working part time. How could it not? Until we break the chains that limit ourselves. when I have an image in my head. We tend to think that if it comes easy it can't be worth it. And yes. I wish I could just visualize it on canvas like Isaac Mendez.Animation on a Shoestring 92
Personally. That is what should be respected. leverage is what it is really about. Used unwisely they can just as quickly create horrid results as they can beautiful. The reality is that tools like Vue 6. how much faster is it than drawing the same thing frame by frame? If you use Vue. struggle and boring aspects of creating the images you might want to create. Poser and Daz take away a lot of the monotony. they're merely tools like any other. Still. how much faster is it than drawing on paper. If you use a Mirage Nomad and draw directly to your final frames. the guy who could paint the future in the hit TV show Heroes. That kind of thinking is to our own detriment.
Animation on a Shoestring 93
. When I say finish it I mean finish anything. I saw a preview for this film called Recon 2020. No effort made to make it look like real film. But you know what? They got done. This year I have seen more than enough proof that if you finish your movie. This movie epitomizes cheap. and can be found on the shelves at Best Buy. is that it is shot on video. in Netflix and many other sites where there are movies so bad it is hard to imagine they made it on the shelf. But it got done. My point. There is no end of proof of this in Best Buy. The CGI effects look like that of a dated video game or a TV show from the Seaquest era. no matter what it is. I mean movies shot on video where it is clear the people on screen never acted a day in their life. somebody's going to buy it. it got sold.Animation on a Shoestring 94
Getting it Done!
If there is one thing I have learned this year it is the importance of finishing your movie. The armor suits are clearly homemade. however. I have heard some things though. Many who would speak ill of this movie probably wish they were there. on shelves at Blockbuster. I don't mean to say that this movie is bad as I haven't seen it.
you may want to change your thinking with that in mind. I am not saying you should do this if it doesn't interest you. where you started? I mean. though. of Titanic fame got his start on Piranha II. None of it matters. There are people out there shooting cheap horror films on video. Aside from the web and what you can do on your own site. James Cameron. Start where you are and believe that if you finish it. Sam Raimi started with a super low budget 16mm film with Bruce Campbell and a few guys in a cabin in the woods.
. and they are getting sold for good money. He worked for low budget king Roger Corman before that. if you don't get it done. telling you what I am doing next. The concept of building up to the big stuff is nowhere in them. you're already 99% there. Lord of the Rings level epic? I think it gets even worse when it comes to animation. So why is that so many would be film makers want to start with their multi-million dollar. You have to first do what you love and love what you do. in fact. but if you're possibly looking at something too big. in ten days. You many ways to get your dream project out to the people. You have the iPhone and the PSP and other mobile devices you can create for. they want to make their Once Upon a Time in Mexico without making their El Mariachi first. I have heard so many capable artists take a "this or nothing" attitude about their project. you have to start with what you can finish. at length. Why is this? I have never heard of a storyteller with only one story to tell. but I would rather do it than write or talk about it. Like I often say. a cheap low budget horror film. many of the creators of the latest blockbuster films didn't start out so big.Animation on a Shoestring 95
Is it possible that the thing which is keeping you from finishing is. If you want to finish your project. Things are expanding. I could go on. you have tons of video sharing and social networking sites. The opportunities just keep getting better. Spielberg started in TV and made his mark with Duel a film that seems so much larger than what went into it. Many think you have to compete with Pixar from the get-go.
Animation on a Shoestring 96
There will be obstacles. The rewards that follow will likely astound you.Animation on a Shoestring 97
Look around you.
. Give your audience that dream. Go around them. You have a dream to get out to he people and no one else can do it exactly like you can. Take stock of what you have and where you are. Don't give up at the first sign of adversity. Walk through them. Start there and keep moving. but keep going. Walk over them. Think from that reality and consider what you want to make and what you really can make. You will be surprised at how things work out and you can have a project ready to show before you know it. Think big. but don't be outrageous.
. It even earned him a visit and tour of his favorite anime studio. in Japan.G. Understanding Chaos. this new effort gained him notoriety on the internet and in the CG community. Followed by the independent production Shadowskin. This started his career down a new path. Production I.APPENDIX A
Animation on a Shoestring 98
About the Author
The Dawn of the new millenium gave rise to Terrence Walker's first foray into the realm of independent animation and the release of his ground-breaking anime project.
widescreen. iTunes/Quicktime format this groundbreaking series is yours to keep! Get started creating your dreams now! Visit http://www.studioartfx. hit series from Studio ArtFX and independent animation creator Terrence Walker in this Anigen Bundle! Following from and expanding on the successful Anime: Concept to Reality DVD released by TOKYOPOP. this new series looks at the latest tools and techniques that can help you create the animation you want. without the need for millions of dollars or major studio backing.com today!
. You will see how standard computers available to anyone and off-the-shelf software can give you the power of a studio! Now for the first time in 640x360.APPENDIX B
Animation on a Shoestring 99
Anigen Series Bundle
ANIME GENESIS: HOW TO MAKE YOUR ANIME DREAMS INTO REALITY! Get all 18 episodes of the original.
. The perfect settings for great cell shaded. Get the Ultimate Model Bundle and start seeing your dreams come alive on screen now! Visit http://www. Characters come rigged with easy to use bone setups for quick animation. You don't need millions of dollars or major studio backing to create your anime dreams.APPENDIX C
Animation on a Shoestring 100
Ultimate 3D Model Bundle
EVER WANTED TO MAKE YOUR OWN ANIME? Now the tools to do it are here! With the Ultimate Model Bundle you get 18 anime style character models in Lightwave 3D object and scene format. runs.studioartfx. cartoon rendering are included! THAT'S ONLY THE BEGINNING . This animation rig even includes a motion library giving you walks. jumps and action moves for easy reuse! The mesh is simple enough that you'll be altering it into your own original characters in no time! DON'T WAIT! The tools and technology are here now.This set includes the "Ken" default character with a simple animation setup which you can easily apply to other characters.
step-by-step complete course. There are a lot people who have created great products. you will learn the very techniques I used to skyrocket my website traffic in a very short amount of time. and are still not seeing the traffic they desire. but are troubled by a lack of visitors to see them.000 readers to my blog each month. You will learn how I bring nearly 100. and how I achieved page one search engine rankings on Google and Yahoo. In this course you will find the tools you need to get valuable eyes on whatever web content you are creating! Visit http://www. GETTING INCREDIBLE NUMBERS ON YOUR SITE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A WALLET-CRUSHING HASSLE! In this four part. Many have become burdened with expensive pay-per-click ad campaigns.APPENDIX D
Animation on a Shoestring 101
Get Eyes on Your Prize
It’s a shame that some of the best original content on the internet goes unseen.com today!