the Plausible Impossible

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

Rusty works in the animation industry doing Storyboards, Timing, Animation and Directing. Recently he has worked at Disney TV Animation and Universal Animation Studios. He's best known for his Directing and Producing for Warner Bros. on "Animaniacs" and "Pinky and the Brain".

Friday, May 25, 2007

Weight in Animation

One of the most difficult things in animation is to give the true feeling of weight. This seems to be especially true in 3D where characters often feel like they float rather than have any effect from gravity. The particular pencil test presented here was done for a promo for a show called "Sherlock Holmes in the 21st Century" that Filmation was pitching back in 1986. The assignment, as it was explained to me by the director, was that this was the climatic scene in the show. It had to play well and give a true feeling of struggle and doom. This is Moriarty dragging Sherlock Holmes, who is unconscious, to the edge of the top of a large tower in order to throw him off to his death. At the last minute a beam of light shines down and blinds Moriarty who drops Sherlock and he himself trips and falls off the tower.
I acted the scene out many times trying to imagine how I would drag someone about my own size. The idea that having him pull, twist, and hesitate because the weight kept pulling him back down seemed, to me, to give more of a feeling of desperation and dramatic build up. I also thought that having Moriarty hold him up and talk right into his face just before he was about to plunge him over the edge gave a nice revengeful feeling to Moriarty's character. Having the cape blowing in the wind also added to the drama.
Though I had done plenty of scenes where weight needed to be considered this was truly the most difficult scene I ever had to do where not only did it have to be considered but it played a crucial roll in how effective the scene was. It also was one of the rare times when a director told me to take the time I needed to get it right. I worked on this scene for 2 weeks (10 days) and when I turned it in the director was thrilled and personally took it to the assistant department to be sure it was handled by the best people.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Greedy as Daffy Duck

I've been reading so much about the Summer box office lately that I finally had to write my commentary about how greedy studios are getting. Sure it was pretty funny when Daffy Duck was claiming all the riches for himself in "Ali Baba Bunny" but that was because he brought out that inner greed we all have inside us. But these days studios greed for more and more money is only rivaled by the oil companies. I can't believe all the stories I'm reading about how Spiderman 3 dropped 62% in box office take in it's second weekend. I don't know maybe it's just me but I think most anyone should be happy with making $60 million in the second weekend regardless if it was a drop or not. Has anyone ever considered that since it made so much in the first weekend most of the people who wanted to see it saw it then? I mean come on people let's have a reality check here. So many naysayers are claiming that Spiderman 3 brought down the rest of the box office with it...WHAT? I'm sorry but I don't know of anyone who thinks to themselves, "since fewer people are going to see that blockbuster movie this weekend I'm not going to go to the movies a all". Give me a break. Sure, I like the next person understand the need for movie to make a profit but the one thing studios seem to miss so often is the notion that keeping your budget under control in the first place will result in more profits at the box office. I also know that you have to spend money to make money. Believe me I've dealt with productions that had high budgets and even went over budget but there are ways to plan the production in the first place so they will stay closer to the original budget. Here are some sure fire ways to do that.
1. Let the creative people do their job and quit trying to second guess them.
2. Involve the creative heads (directors, producers) in creating the budget.
3. Design the production around the budget.
4. Hone your story before you begin production.
5. Coordinate so no one is sitting around.
6. Make sure everyone in the production knows that throwing up a red flag because of a problem will not cost them their job.
7. Lastly keep salaries reasonable but not undercut.

Sure there are other things that can help but from what I've observed these always work well. So let's stop attaching box office intake to whether a film is good or not and just rejoice when it does do well. It seems to me that it is true that whenever someone is on top there's always someone else who wants to drag them down. And Studios, if you can't be happy with anything less than $100 million perhaps that money should be shared with the rest of us who would like to be making a film for millions and you can only get what the picture makes once it hits that magical mark.

Oh, and as for Spiderman 3 I haven't seen it yet so I have no comment about how good or bad the film is.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Progress is Inspiration

It's been a while since I've uploaded much of my film I've been steadily working on. So upon some proding from various friends and viewers of this blog I put together three of the more recent scenes I've completed in rough animation and am presenting them here. The second scene you might recognize as one I wrote about several posts ago. It was a nice acting scene that I could sink my teeth into. I enjoyed working it out and especially enjoyed seeing it all in-betweened. One item of note in that scene is what the little guy is doing. I've always had the philosophy that you shouldn't over animated secondary characters unless their movement is imperative to the main character of the scenes action. I feel it distracts too much. Especially when you really want the audience to watch the main character. I works very much on the same principal as a magician's act. Guide your audience to where you want them to look. I've often shown students of mine this principal with a simple disappearing coin trick where it looks like I take the coin out of one hand and poof it's gone in mid air. Put when I do this trick I am really leaving the coin in palm of the hand that originally holds it. When I do it for students I leave the coin clearly visible yet strongly direct my look at the other hand. What it demonstrates is that even though the coin is still visible I, as the performer, guided my audience to where I wanted them to look. So enjoy the scenes. I will try to post more as they get done.