Being an animator

When I was a young boy my mom wanted me to be an artist. I wasn't always so sure. My mom used to love to tell everyone about when I was 5 and someone asked me what I was going to be when I grew up. My answer was "a clay man in the army".

Now what that is exactly, I'm not quite sure but it was obvious to my mom that I was going to be an artist. It wasn't, however, so obvious to me. In fact I once had the belief that I never wanted to be an artist because I didn't want anyone to be telling me how to draw. I was just going to draw "my own way" and not listen to anyone about how to do it the right way. Kinda stupid when I think back on it.

Still, I kept drawing and never stopped. An old teacher of Harry and mine told us we had to rack up a lot of pencil mileage before we were good at animation and he was right. You can see a smattering of old animation Harry and I made here

We had a ton of fun on these old cartoons and I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's this stuff that helped me on my first job as a Character Layout artist on Tazmania starring the Tazmanian Devil where we used a process called Character Layout which involved blowing up the storyboard and adding subtle nuances and drawing every key frame that you see in the final film. It was like "Animating Lite" and I really loved it. Some shows still use this method such as The Simpsons and King of the Hill. It's one of the reasons the shows are so successful. Quite a few old Warner Bros. cartoons were made employing this method such as Animaniacs, Tiny Toons, Tazmania, Batman the Animated Series to name a few. Disney used this method as well on a few of their shows, primarily Around the World with Timon and Pumbaa and The Shnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show

It's too bad that Character Layout has all but disappeared because it allowed newcomers to learn how a film was made by making you figure out camera moves and staging. Sadly quite a few artists today in the Animation Biz know nothing of these core elements and as such animation suffers with bad cartoons as a result.

Today I work on a show called Xiaolin Showdown and I must say IMHO that it is an exception to bad cartoons. The characters are well designed, the action is first rate and the storyboards are excellent. The Direction is kinda nice but then I'm too partial to really comment on that, as that's my job. ;-)
It runs on Kids WB at 8:30 on Saturdays so check it out if you get the chance. It's a great lil' show!

I love animation and if it wasn't for my mom I might never have even become an artist! Quite often they know a lot more than we think!

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