Write up in advance of my visit to U of M

Write up in advance of my visit to U of M

I’m about to do my third annual visit to the University of Michigan’s Screen Arts & Culture program.  I’m thrilled to be able to talk to the students and pass on any tips I’ve accumulated over the years since I graduated in 1992.  The Michigan Daily, the University’s daily newspaper, did this great write up on me to help promote my visit.  The pressure is on to perform now!

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It’s a great time to not be able to afford art school

It’s a great time to not be able to afford art school

Two years after I moved to LA, I decided that I wanted to work in animation.  Too bad I didn’t figure that out when I was still in college!  But it didn’t matter.  I really wanted to work in this field, so I had to find a way to sharpen my art skills and learn everything I needed to work at an animation studio.  And quick.  I was running out of money.

I decided my bachelors degree in Film/Video from University of Michigan actually was helpful, because my education consisted mostly of watching loads of films from all different genres, directorial styles, countries, and time periods, analyzing them and writing papers on them.  These powers of analysis that I developed at U of M served me well when trying to decide how best to shoot a scene or when deducing why a sequence isn’t working.

For the sharpening of art skills and learning about animation processes, I did a lot of gesture drawing at cafes, animal drawing at the zoo, and inexpensive animation classes offered by the Animation Guild (which included a figure drawing class with Glenn Vilppu.)  While these classes were helpful, there are so many more education options open to today’s aspiring artists.

The article I linked to in this post touches upon some of these options.  The author writes about the increasingly out of touch costs associated with an art school education.  I’m not sure I agree 100% with ruling out an art school education.  But I do agree that $50,000/year or more for art school is probably too much.  There are just too many great cheaper options out there.  An artist can custom create a very good art/animation education a la carte from a myriad of different sources.

The best part of this article describes a “$10k Ultimate Art Education.”  There are some great ideas in here.  Figure drawing taught by Glenn Vilppu will immediately impact your drawing and the way you see the human figure.  Gnomon is a fantastic repository of workshops covering all things art, animation or VFX.  They are very up to date with current software packages.  And the author’s suggestions in the “free” category are right on the money.  Can’t afford to go to life drawing classes?  Just do gesture sketches of people at a cafe or in a museum or any other place where lots of people congregate.  Finding a peer group to get constructive feedback is a great way to get that feeling of being in art school, surrounded by other talented artists, inspiring one another to create better and better art.

Bottom-line:  the options for an art/animation school education are limited only by the artist’s imagination.  Not their budget.

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Recess Animation Camp

Recess Animation Camp

A friend of mine just dug this up from the dark crevices of youtube and brought it to my attention.  It’s a video extra that Disney did for the release of the Recess:  School’s Out dvd that explains and breaks down just how an animated tv show is made.  Yours truly is featured in the storyboard section at the 6:07 mark.  The other nice tidbit is that most of the storyboard samples they show are ones I created.  It’s good for a laugh.  You can tell how old it is by the massive boom box I have next to me on which I played an audio cassette of the track.  I’m sure there are those of you out there that are young enough to be saying right now…”Audio cassette?  What the Hell is that?”  My friend and fellow director extraordinaire, Howy Parkins, is also prominently featured throughout the video.  Fun stuff!

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