Category Archives: buddha

Secondhand News

Turns out we’ve been using our Twitter feed as a newsline: www.twitter.com/asteriskpix.

Most of it is non-Asterisk animation stuff.  Here are a few stories from the past few days.

BLAKE EDWARDS PASSES 

Blake Edwards, of course, wrote and directed the Pink Panther films.  In what has become a rare show of good faith towards fellow creators, he allowed the copyright of the Pink Panther character to reside with DePatie-Freling.  As a result, an independent studio was able to flourish.

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SATOSHI KON SHOW AT LINCOLN CENTER

Without question  the saddest passing of the year was Satoshi Kon.  It’s impossible to quantify the loss to film and animation in particular.

The Walter Reade theater will be showing “Perfect Blue” and “Paprika” on Wednesday, 12/22 at 6:30 and 8:15.

I wish “Tokyo Godfathers” was also showing, but we should be thankful the best venue in Manhattan (one small step up from the MoMA) has smarts enough to commemorate this great artist.

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Coincidental to this screening, my pal Lou Underwood shared this link comparing “Black Swan” to Kon’s “Perfect Blue”.
I haven’t seen Aronofsky’s film, but it’s just another example of what a great talent was lost to us.
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On an Asterisk note.  The Buddha will begin it’s second run on PBS Wednesday 12/22.  All of you who can’t make it to “Paprika” should tune in.
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Variety is reporting on a new stop-motion feature on an old idea.  It’s news, I guess.

Things Happen

Someone should have told me not to leave the Final Cut Pro machine on for 9 months straight.

Apparently it isn’t good on the inner bits.

We have another machine with Final Cut installed -I loaded it when the main machine was buggy and we were on deadline with an editorial job.

So I swapped the CPU and – voila! -functionation!
 

On the hard drive were color models from The Buddha.


Appropriate -I appreciate the time with computer knowing that it is already broken.

Gettin’ Abstract Wit’ It

David Levy wrote earlier this week about a new trend in broadcast animation away from the hard-edged “CalArts” style towards a more idiosyncratic “RISD” style.

There’s something to this shift away from the geometry seen in kids programming.  In part, its production artists becoming more adept at the tools producers are providing (Flash) and squeezing more juice from the lemon.  It’s also part of the cultural pendulum that design swings through -look at the classic “50s” style exemplified by UPA.  That was overtaken by the ornate graphics of the 60s Pushpin school which, in turn, lead to the softshell 70s designs we know best from The Electric Company and Sesame Street.

In my mind, a lot the product he writes about is warmed over “Krause”.  Fran and Will have created a series of distinct, intelligent films which have trickled down certain sensibilities we’re seeing broadcast today.  It’s no coincidence that their pilots flopped with arrows in the back, while similar shows have gotten picked up by the same execs a few cycles later.

In any event, the purpose of this post is dual 1) to talk about how brilliant Fran Krause is, 2) to brag about working with him on The Buddha for a little segment.

This is strength of the education I’ve seen from RISD.  While producing students who have distinct styles, they also equip (or at least try to) them with the tools they need to be successful professionals in a diverse field.

Honing quirky storytelling skills is important for a student, but more important is learning how to be an animator.  That’s someone who can rattle out some neat personal films as well as make a string sing.

It’s important to remember that even in animation, there is a Middle Way.

I Can’t See No Reason To Put Up A Fight

We posted Ed Smith’s animation from The Buddha’s “Fire Sermon” a little while back.

I wanted to look at the simple way he achieved a fairly rich elemental animation with just a few drawings.

Three cel levels of 8 drawings a piece.  That’s probably why I like this cycle so much.  I love things to  happen in 8 drawings.

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If you look at  Joseph Gilland’s book -and you should it’s easily one of the best technical animation books written -you’ll see how he says many animators gravitate towards “effects” animation like fire or water where others excel in  character.  Often the greatest at one, struggles with the other.

I won’t claim this is great effects animation on the level of what Joe does, but for an economic, small screen presentation, this fire is nearly perfect.

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The animation here works with the design which featured textured fields of color in an graphic depiction of flame.
That’s really the key to great animation -appropriate approach to the style illustration or character.  How something moves is dictated by what it looks like and what it sounds like.
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Above is the top layer.  Click the link at the top of this post to see it in motion.

Fire Sermon

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while.

The “Fire Sermon” sequence we produced for David Grubin’s film “The Buddha”.

Ed Smith animated it.

His work was seemingly piecemeal, but just following the exposure sheets it all came together. Christina and Liesje did some assistant work to fill in the blanks, and make some creative revisions.

Ed has a way with this loose kind of animation, especially the morphing transitions.

Pay Per View

Brian took this shot with his phone off the TV.

Time Warner Cable, renown for it’s one-of-a-kind synopses, makes a questionable attempt at giving credit where credit is due.

Sometimes people get Brian’s name wrong so I guess it all evens out.

Leveling. Animation Leveling. With, Like, Cels and Junk. But Not Color Leveling -That’s a Whole Different Story

This is an outtake from The Buddha.  The great Doug Compton did the animation.


It’s a fairly straightforward shot that illustrates the concept or “cel levels” pretty well.

We’ve got four levels of animation plus the background. Each level is a cohesive series of drawings which run in sequence to make the illusion of movement.  The background is stationary for the length of the shot.

BACKGROUND:

This a stationary piece of art.

TB LEVEL:

“TB” for thought balloon.  This is a sequence of 14 drawings that animate up then cycle as a hold.

G LEVEL:

G for god.  After the balloon animates up, this figure morphs on.  This level has 16 drawings.

WL LEVEL:

WL?  wavy lines!  This is a sequence of 11 cycling drawings that make a glowing halo around the figure.

D LEVEL:

D for dancer.  This is a 10 drawing cycle.  Unlike the others, it’s not in registration -you can’t just layer over and VOILA! perfect scene.

The dancers are mention to be duplicated and repositioned so we have several surrounding the god.

In the olden days this would be done in inking and with the photocopier.  Today, it’s a piece of cake in the animation composite in After Effects.

The composition looks like this:

You can see how the layering mimics an animation stand.

If you want your animation to resemble the movements of traditional cartoon animation, it’s best to mimic the process as much as possible.

Again, this is a very simple scene with mostly effects animation and some generic dancing but the procedure is well illustrated.

Some Housekeeping

Here’s where we ask for your money.

If not your money, your clicks.  Unfortunately, we don’t actually get any of your money either way.

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First, please vote for our panel at SXSW.   I’d love the glamour of a free festival pass.

CLICK HERE to vote.

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Congratulations to John Pirozzi and Linda Saphan.  Their Kickstarter campaign for “Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten” doubled their goal.

We’ve been working hard on a few minutes of animation for this remarkable film.

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Also on the Kickstarter front, our friends at Arts Engine are in the last week of a funding drive.

A few dollars can help finish this interesting film (and let them contract us for some graphics!).

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Netflix subscribers can stream The Buddha on demand.

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Moment of Death is now available on DVD from National Geographic.

We’re currently in production a similar film for National Geographic, hopefully it’ll turn out just as well.
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Another film we contributed to The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is available on DVD

Darwin Be Damned!

Monkeys evolved into cows.  At least that’s what happens here.

This is one transformation in a sequence Doug Compton animated for The Buddha.  No inbetweens, all Doug’s drawings.

You’ll see two nice four legged walks and a simple morph between the two animals.

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Below is the test.  Drawings are held for exposure where there are no inbetweens.  Ultimately it’s exposed on twos.