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Preview: Animation Blog

Animation Blog

Blogging about the tools and techniques of creating animation. Plus, reviews of shows and movies. Covering 2d and 3d!

Updated: 2015-09-16T12:08:09.889-04:00


Wonderful animation for Kyle Kinane


Kyle is a brilliant comedian, but I just love the retro look in this animation. All comedians should have this sort of thing done. I don't know who the animators are (yet), but they nail facial expressions, which is key when recreating stand-up jokes.

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A lovely animation project on Kickstarter


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This is a really worthwhile project. StoryCorps has been a regular feature on some NPR programming, and I feel like audio histories come to life in this way make them relevant for kids.

That's critical, because kids otherwise might not listen to some of these stories!

10 Racist moments in animation


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See Sonic run


There's few more exercises in animation more well-known than the walk cycle. Here's a tumblog (tumblr blog? anyway, a freakin' list on Tumblr) of Sonic in various run cycles, looking silly. Great creativity and something to learn from!

Witness an animator's first stop motion to a great song


By a local band here in Knoxville called Senryu, the song is great but I'm truly impressed with the animator's skill at telling this story (a story invented by Senryu band member Will Wright). The animator is Kathleen Block, of Greensboro, NC.
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Help Wanted!


I'm actually looking for animators to help me with a project. Ideally, the style should be Klasky-Chupo or something akin to what you'd see on Squidbillies.

Animaniacs re-imagined as South Park animation...


Frankly this shows how awesome Animaniacs was as an animated series and how much South Park relies on writing.

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The beauty of Pixar


This lovely tribute is making the rounds today. Had to share. Pixar not only makes things look amazing, they are an amazing company inside as well. I'm sure people bitch about policies, make bad decisions or even have issues with working there, but overall I have heard wonderful, wonderful stories about working there.

In another lifetime I would have worked there as well, but fate intervened. My life ain't over yet!

Regular Show is awesome


Starring a couple of cheeky slackers named Mordecai (a blue jay) and Rigby (a ring tailed coati) who live at this house full of weird characters, Regular Show is a treat for kids and adults. My kids are maybe a skosh young at 7 and 8, but the show is mindless popcorn fun.

One episode starts with the guys assigned to setting up chairs for a party, but winding up fighting a giant retro arcade devil head destroying everything in its path.

Wacky scenarios and rock montages in many episodes appeal to the Gen X-er in me. The boys' slightly foul-mouthed lazy diatribes provide the engine that keeps this cleverly-animated (almost sticklike) show moving. Mordecai is the chilled-out rational one whereas Rigby is neurotic and slightly irresponsible. In the end they balance each other out, like a great comedy duo should.

The show is a tight 15 minutes or so, but the stuff that happens in that time is perfectly suited to this type of animation.

I love that there's an awesome wiki already dedicated to Regular Show.

Highly recommended.

Re-watching Beavis and Butthead


I guess our standards were lower in the 90's, but Beavis and Butthead... I wonder how it'd do today, competing with YouTube and the rest of the web. It hasn't been that long and the show is almost quaint. Contrast it with Plympton's cartoons and...

But of course, Mike Judge was never about innovative animation, he was more into characterization. It's fun to see the early genesis of Hank Hill and even the Goode's in B&B.

FIRE! FIRE! Heheheheh. Animation is cool.


So, what do you think? A product of Ashton Kutcher and his producer buddy, launched during TechCrunch50 in a room full of nerds. (Full disclosure: I'm a nerd)
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100 years ago today


Can't believe this almost slipped by my radar, but 100 years ago today the field of filmed animation was born. Émile Cohl, working class son of a rubber salesman and seamstress, wound up creating "Fantasmagorie"-- the very first filmed animation feature in history.

Done in chalk on a blackboard, the film is obviously primitive, but like cave drawings, it set the mold for later innovation by guys like Disney, Avery and Lasseter.

To read more about Cohl (a name he actually adopted, it wasn't his given name), there's a Wikipedia article and this succinct but moving biography.

To view the film and additional commentary, check out this post at

Now imagine going from chalk to photorealistic CG animation in just 100 years-- and think about the next 100!

Stop motion on the iPhone?


Once Apple opened up the iPhone (and iPod Touch, which has no camera, mic, speakers, GPS or cell radio) to 3rd-party applications, the flood of new apps has been dizzying.

For example, there are two hand-drawn animation apps: FlipBook and Flickbook. MacRumors has a brief note on those, and TUAW has a hands-on review of FlipBook.

More interesting to me is Watch It Change (which I think is a terrible name, but whatever)-- a stop-motion animation app. Using the iPhone's decent (but not spectacular) camera, WIC allows you to easily snap and assemble a sequence of footage. Naturally, you're gonna want to mount the iPhone in some secure way. The makers of the app realize this, and provide a clever stand for sale on their website. TUAW has a video of the app in action.

With more cameras like the N95 getting video and application capabilities, it'll be interesting to see if any of this catches on for animation. As we know, "The Corpse Bride" was shot using still cameras, so I don't see why not, save for the fact they are tough to mount reliably.

I miss Brad Dharma


Any animation fans who were around in the 90's will remember the semi-popular "Liquid Television" that aired late at night on MTV. As you may also know, the biggest thing to come out of that was the serialized "Aeon Flux." However, I always felt the tongue-in-cheek "Brad Dharma: Psychedelic Detective" had great potential. Cool lead character, neat mythology, and witty puns and references... The animation wasn't the greatest, but the mix of photos (like Ralph Bakshi would do in some of the LOTR movies) and cultural references were sublime.

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I've tried to track down the creators but ran into several dead ends (I know who did it, but can't locate him). Boy I'd love to resurrect this!

How to draw Batman-- the quick way!


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Neat, how to draw Batman in a pretty fast way.

Wall-E may be the best animated film ever


We took the entire family (2 kids + 2 adults) to see Wall•E a week or more ago. The hyperbole heaped upon the movie isn't just hyperbole. So what makes it great?

1. The homage to the silent film era. Much of the film has little dialogue, forcing comical sequences that are all physical comedy. Not only is this a treat to watch, it must have been a lot of fun for the animators.

2. The clever jab at our consumerist culture. Without spoiling the real surprise, there's no question those piles of garbage left on Earth are signs we did something stupid over and over again!

3. There's a real love story. As with all Pixar films, the movie has heart and clever jokes. A powerful story told with care and skill.

The 28 Principles of Animation


Since I'll be teaching 2 animation classes for the next 12 weeks, this blog will take a look at the methods and tools for making animation, instead of the usual gut reaction posting.

So to start, here's a link to the 28 Principles of Animation. I found this via the Wikipedia entry on Animation.

Normally I distill the principles down to 11. In fact, I use John Lasseter's 1987 presentation to SIGGRAPH that distilled the principles to a tight 11, perfectly applicable to computer animation. You see, computer animation is normally stiff. Mathematically precise, yes. But the precision breeds the stiffness. Look at the original "Mind's Eye" video-- most of the animations are rudimentary, like exercises on a computer. Fluid, natural animation is much easier by hand. To combat the stiffness inherent in computer-generated animation, John presented these principles, which traditional animators knew for years, to the computer nerds... The result? Well, you've probably seen "Toy Story."

Of course, we trace the lineage of modern animation techniques to the masterful artists hired by Walt Disney way back in the day. The techniques Lasseter presented were based on the techniques from Disney's 1930's studio, and the 28 linked above are also from Disney's folks (see Tigger?).

But no matter what method you use to create animation, if you want better results, study these principles. lets you be the star


If you're looking to store your masterpiece of animation, check out There are a ton of animated works to browse for inspiration as well. I've got a couple of Brick Films (made using LEGO bricks) on my cell phone, in fact.

You'll need to log in or joing, but honestly, these guys aren't going to sell your info. Their archive of the web is astounding. I'm not sure how they managed to squeeze copies of iVillage and Yahoo from 10 years ago into their capacious drives, but I'm happy they do it.

Anyway, the animation... There are some rare gems in there, lots of students films, and a lot of fun stuff. Be sure to check out the "game videos" which include time trials and ads for games gone by. My kids love watching the "Boogerman" TV ad from the 90's.

You know you're out of ideas when...


You make a show around animated body parts. Specifically, just one body part. See, I could see a show about a bunch of parts, like Slim Goodbody or something... But coming soon to an empty brain near you are TWO shows on TWO different networks that center around a body part (although one is plural by default). Funnier still (or unfunny, as I'm sure we'll find out), they are predictably found below the belt.

Assy McGee hits Adult Swim soonish. Can you guess the body part? Yeah, an ass acting like an out-of-control cop. Or something. Who cares? It's a butt shooting a gun. Jeez.

Next up, "Baxter & McGuire" is an online show for Comedy Central featuring a pair of testicles. What's with the Scottish surnames anyway? Oh well, this is from the creator of "The King of Queens." That was a decent show, so maybe it's funny.

It should be funny that there are these two shows on in some regard at the same point in history. Last time I drew naughty bits and wrote comedy sketches for them I was in middle school. I guess that market research would come in handy now, huh?

Aardman does it again


Last week we took the whole family (2 kids included) to see "Flushed Away" from Aardman... Wow. Great writing, excellent animation. It was really neat to see how they have transitioned from stop-motion to CG animation, but kept the look and style they are associated with. ILM tried to duplicate stop-motion in "Mars Attacks" but it wasn't that great. Aardman hit the nail on the head with "Flushed Away," which looks just plain good. But of course, I can only imagine has simplified things in many regards (all that water? no fun with stop-motion).

I'm hoping the DVD will have some extras that'll explain more :)

Where in the world IS Butch Hartman?


OK, I'm an idiot. Well, actually, just ignorant. Oh to have a second life (not the game) to absorb it all... Here's the Frederator team:

Wait, .kz? What's that? I have no idea. I see Frederator has something to do with a Butch piece or two, see that thing he did waaay back with Seth, and jumped to conclusions.

Sorry folks! From now on I'll stick to what I know: whatever animation I see!

To whit: there's a great Frederator podcast episode with a Butch Hartman and Seth MacFarlane project.. it's called Zoomates. You really see elements of both of them.



Butch Hartman is a slick animation dude, and his company has been cranking out (with the help of some hilarious interns, it seems) Channel Frederator, a clever podcast that reminds me of the old LiquidTV. I still want to do a Brad Dharma, Psychadelic Detective movie!

Blender's Open Movie: Elephant's Dream


It premiered late last month, and the DVD should be landing soon. This looks stunning! Can't wait to order mine. I should have paid up front and sponsored part of the movie, but now I'll just have to settle for a post-release fun fest... Check it out at the Blender 3d site.

"House of Cosbys" is pure genius


I haven't seen something this funny since I don't know when. If you like South Park, you'll love it. If you don't like South Park, you'll love it. Unfortunately, Bill Cosby is trying to shut the whole thing down. Last time I checked, parody was protected under the constitution. Sad thing is, Cosby's lawyers can force a brilliant, but modestly solvent, young man to stop making great comedy because Cosby can outspend him.

And I'm a big Cosby fan.

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Be sure to read more about this tale at