Archive for the ‘Animation Art in Film’ Category

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The Little Prince, 2015

March 31, 2016

It was a pleasure to have been asked to work out some visual problems for the animated film, The Little Prince. The stop motion sequences were being produced by Duck Studios in Los Angeles and directed by Jamie Caliri. Following are a few samples of before and after shots; they include notes from Jamie.

The problem: “[This scene] doesn’t look epic.”

Screenshot 2014-11-20 11.29.37

Digital paint-over solution: I tried to give the illusion of expanse by repainting the surface of the sand. Then I placed the characters on a kind of ridge, at a seemingly higher elevation. The long shadows were added to bring more visual weight to the characters’ plight.

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The problem: “…too much pink.”  This scene is from the point of view of the aviator, who upon nearing the  wall with seated boy, realizes the little prince  is speaking to someone or something on the other side.  To his dismay, the aviator discovers it’s an asp. The scene is ominous, but the little prince remains unafraid.

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Digital paint-over solution: Pink sky replaced with yellow. A yellow sky may indicate a dusty atmosphere and can be associated with threatening weather events–even apocalyptic. I tried to emphasize the light on the character’s backside, so when the aviator turns the corner of the wall, the scene would be in shadow, dark and moody, and hopefully increase the element of surprise.

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The problem: (Characters are crossing the desert); “[these scenes] don’t look hot enough.”

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Digital paint-over solution: Instead of an overcast look to the light, I gave the colors and tones more of a sunlit effect. Below are stronger and hotter highlights, reflected lights, and illumination; and a more flushed face for the aviator.

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Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 11.04.18 AMFix

 

 

 

 

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Venice Biennale Project, Austrian Pavilion 2013

March 31, 2016

Film director, Mathias Poledna won the distinction of representing his country for the 55th, 2013 Venice Biennale. His film, Imitation of Life, can be seen at the Austrian pavilion and the exhibition runs from June 1- November 24.

Mathias worked with Duck Studios in Los Angeles to produce the film. Much of the director’s work pays tribute to 1930’s films, and in keeping with his personal vision, requested that a number of traditional Disney artists come together and make an animated film reminiscent of, Snow White, Bambi, and Pinocchio. In order to achieve that goal, it was important the background art be done in like manner. After a number of test-runs the studio conducted a more extensive search for a background artist skilled in watercolors. I had the good fortune to land the opportunity. Once there I recommended two phenomenal painters to see the project through: Xiangyuan Jie and Kevin Turcotte. We completed the work in record time.

Following are  a couple of my background production examples used in the film as well as digital keys designed to establish mood. Imitation of Life puts forth the existential question of why we are here, in a historical context of a culture involved in war and economic depression.

Links:

http://moussemagazine.it/55vb-austrian-pavilion/

http://labiennalevenezia.at/en/exhibition/

http://ourgodisspeed.blogspot.com/2013/06/secondary-action.html#more

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Disney Feature Animation Backgrounds: John Henry

November 6, 2011

John Henry backgrounds used two environment styles to fit the story, one technique used Scratchboard on an acrylic painting (they were digitally composited) and the other was acrylic paint meant to look like handmade quilts. We studied the “Krazy Quilts” and the art of the Harlem Renaissance.  The film was a lot of fun to work on and since it was a short, it wasn’t in production for very long.

Scratchboard paintings:

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Acrylics: (Disney didn’t use this title screen, Bob Stanton, who art directed the film painted a new one lighter in mood and therefore more appropriately Disney-esque.)

© Disney Enterprises, Inc.

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Disney Feature Animation Backgrounds: Tarzan

November 6, 2011

Due to its labor intensive backgrounds Tarzan required more painters than any other Disney film, about 50 total. A number of especially beautiful paintings were made in the Paris studio where more time was given to complete each picture. Lucky for them! Here are a few of my scenes of the jungle in moonlight or illuminated by red ‘flares’.

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

© Disney Enterprises, Inc.

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Disney Feature Animation Backgrounds: Mulan

November 6, 2011

Mulan was my first experience in film. I was hired while the movie was well under way and painted approximately 30 backgrounds, fewer than the standard 100 or so. Immediately following is and image of the Emperor’s palace, an establishing shot (first in its sequence). Believe it or not, there were some 24 layers to paint on acetate, above the illustration board. The foreground wall moves to reveal a massive staircase.

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

© Disney Enterprises, Inc.

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Disney Feature Animation Backgrounds: Lilo & Stitch

November 6, 2011

While at Disney I worked as a traditional background painter at a time when so many other artistic jobs were becoming electronic. I was happy to be working with a paintbrush and am now ever more grateful for having been a small part of a particular legacy. It was the Disney studio that pioneered techniques in staging and mood for animation emulated by other studios today. But they took their cue from the past, from old masters such as Claude Lorrain. (See Origins in Staging for more on this.)

Director Chris Sanders wanted the background art in his film, Lilo & Stitch to be painted in watercolors. At the time no Disney film had been painted in watercolors since Snow White. As the story goes, Chris took his idea to the background department in Los Angeles where he was informed that such an undertaking would no longer be possible. We, in Florida took him up on the challenge, and the rest is history. Needless to say, painting backgrounds on Lilo & Stitch was special. As a medium, it’s exciting because it’s unpredictable, difficult to control, and almost impossible to correct.  Building value while keeping a clean edge around the forms (such as the painting below where the outline of Stitch meets the sky) is also tricky.  I like what John Singer Sargent had to say about watercolor, “Make the best of an emergency.”

The following images are reproductions of paintings I crafted by hand– from start to finish. But keep in mind, the character designs, story concepts, layouts, and time of day were created in a collaborative setting in the studio following a specific production pipeline. This pipeline is comprised of very skilled Disney artists, under two directors and a producer. If you’d like to learn more about that pipeline, I recommend Hans Bacher‘s book, Dreamworlds.

I like what animation author, Tony White, has said about background art: Since the environment takes up most of the screen, it’s in the hands of the background painter to make it look like you’ve spent millions on the production.

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

“With watercolour, you can’t cover up the marks. There’s the story of the construction of the picture, and then the picture might tell another story as well.” David Hockney

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

© Disney Enterprises, Inc.

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Disney Feature Animation Backgrounds: Brother Bear

November 6, 2011

The aspect ratio of Brother Bear was widened to give the feeling of ‘big country’, and it was effective. Xiangjuan Jie was the production stylist and the background artists were required to learn to paint like him. Not an easy task, it was amazing how it worked in the end.

Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Feature Animation

© Disney Enterprises, Inc.