Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
It was suggested in the comments that I might make t-shirts of some of the images here. My first reaction was excitement - that would be very cool. I went browsing through the archives and it went something like this -
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I find cover versions often lead me to bands I otherwise wouldn't have known. For example, my most recent search has been 'Running Up That Hill' by Kate Bush. Of course most people will know Placebo's version, which I love. But I also found a version by Chromatics, which I really like, and a version by some goth-by-numbers band called Icon and the Black Roses.
And while calling it 'goth-by-numbers' could be seen as an insult, I checked out the album and it's actually really good. There's not a damn thing on it that you wouldn't have heard before but they do it so well it's hard to fault them. And that's how Kate Bush led to me finding an album I otherwise would have missed.
I was going to illustrate this post with a doodle of me as Charlie Brown or something, like a remake. But I had this image in a notebook and, for some reason, went with this instead. It just kind of gets across the current mood yet looks far more cool than the reality. I wish I has an Astro Andy shirt.
And a cup of coffee.
Actually, I think I'll go make a cup of coffee. That would be nice.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
If I can get internet access there, I'll let you know what I've seen and what looked good or, more likely, what bored me to death. The only times I've been at the forum before, I saw a serious amount of cack. I saw some great stuff too - that never got made. I saw a presentation for an animated cookery show from Passion Pictures that looked good. I wonder what happened with that?
So, yes, if I'm still alive and don't have to drop out for some reason, I'll report from the Cartoon Forum (somewhere in Germany this year) and let you know what's going on.
Actually, it was in Germany last time I was there too - in 2001, just after the Trade Tower attack. The only radio station in English I could pick up was one for a local US Army base. They had a news story saying that the US Government had found definitive proof that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the attack. I came home wondering why nobody at home seemed to be reporting this - the Army radio seemed so sure. They weren't reporting it as speculation. It was fact.
It was only years later that I realised the Army radio station was priming their troops for an attack as far back as then. They had always just been waiting for their excuse to put the invasion in motion. And they found it.
I wonder if I'll hear anything juicy from the radio stations this time...
Oh, I added a few more links I like. Check them out and tell 'em a grumpy old animator sent you.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Maybe it's that, as I get older, I feel the earlier parts of my life slip away into unexistence (is that a word?). Before long, everything that was normal to me will be gone and I'll be redundant and the next to go. Unless this heart attack kills me a lot sooner, that is.
But Russell Crowe playing Bill Hicks in a movie? Now that is heart attack inducing stuff. Poxy pain in the ass, slighty-twisted-face Russell Crowe? Playing the late great should-have-been-a-messiah Bill Hicks? That's just wrong. It's just wrong.
Russell Crowe never should have made it past that awful futuristic film he was in with Denzel Washington.
I'm not usually one for YouTube linkage but this calls for a Bill Hicks clip. It's not a funny clip, there are plenty of those all over. No, this one is a message - a message of hope. He always came across as angry and pissed off at the world but it seems to me that was only because he believed we were capable of so much. He was hope.
Not Bob Hope, of course.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Sure, it's possible that it's anxiety related.
But it's also possible that I have been having heart attacks and the big one is coming to kill me any day now. I must get these checked out so they can fit me with a pacemaker or give me a portable defibrilator or something. I'd be really pissed off if I died of a heart attack this year.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
I got more spam in the comments this morning. Poxy spam. If there's an afterlife, I hope there is a special hell for spammers.
In other news, I got a URL. Yep. If you go to www.mymedicatedcartoonlife.com, it should bring you here. Why? I'm not altogether sure but I went and did it anyway. Nothing's actually going to change here. But... I felt the need. Is that weird? It probably comes with the realisation that in about a month's time, I'll have been blogging for a year.
Man, I'm tired today. A totally unproductive Saturday.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I like it.
It reminds me of when I was a young, single, professional woman in Boston. Though the work/life balance of these people seems way off. They're in the office all the time, constantly working late and only socialising with those they work with, not even leaving the building. Is that living?
Well, it must be because I feel I can live vicariously through these characters. That's probably the hallmark of good television - that I can feel like I'm living while watching a show, all the while shutting out the reality of the situation.
How come none of the characters have children? Is it because nobody in their right mind would want to picture themselves with children? Is it that we all lament the passing of our young, free and single days?
Shame they brought Bon Jovi into the show. He's a big girl's blouse.
Some of you may notice I added some links over there on the right. It's the done thing on blogs to link to sites you like so it's about time I did. Some of them are the ones everyone visits, some aren't so, if you're bored, check them out and tell them a grumpy old animator sent you. I'll be adding more as I think of them. Also, I added some subscribe buttons. Having never used them myself, I can't tell you how they work. Feel free to ignore them or try them out if you like and let me know what happens.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I picture it to be something like when Kirk and Spock had to fight each other to the death. That image defines the director/producer relationship.
There should be some kind of public register for animation companies that provides a sample of the style they currently work with and a seconds-per-day figure, so that animators can know if they're just slow, or having the piss pulled out of them.
Are people paid per second any more? We're on salary but, back in the day, I was paid on footage (does anyone use the term 'footage' any more?). I was a really fast 2D animator back in the day - I spent quite a while figuring out what I wanted to do with the scene, then I bailed it down as quick as I possibly could. It's how I got things to flow. I flipped like crazy and pretty much tried to animate in real time. My pages were a mess by the end and clean-up people hated me but animation directors and clients were usually happy with the results.
So one particular job, a feature in Europe that nobody will have ever heard of, was being paid on footage. Really, really well paid. So, not doing the clever thing and trying to amass as much cash as possible, I worked out that I could work from 10am to 4pm, with a big chunk off for lunch, and still make a really good wage. So I did.
Those were good days.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I remember looking at the numbers and deadlines with the director way back in preproduction and it all seemed pretty realistic. Something has changed and I'm not quite sure what it is. Technically, it's not my place to wonder such things but I think a scam has been pulled somewhere. I can't remember what the original plan was but I think it may have contained one more animator than we've got and a shorter running time on the episodes.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
He was embedded in an animation company when he created the show so, now, they own all the rights to it but he got a really good deal on paper so who knows what untold riches it could lead to. It's also the studio's first actual success story, and they have been trying to get shows made for years.
And here he is, telling me that he's not feeling the love.
Not feeling the love. What, are they nuts? He's made a bucketload of episodes that children love and now he has got a great new show that's really well-developed and looks to me like it's an obvious hit and he's not feeling the love. I had to find out more.
Turns out it's not that the producer isn't looking for new product. No, every now and again he brings in something one of his mates wrote for their kids. Usually barely legible, about fairies, and utterly dull. One even written by his mate's child, that went something like this - I saw a bear, it was nice, the end. And he's prioritising these over the one person he has who is a proven success and shows he can connect not just with his own children, but children across the world. I have to ask again - what, are they nuts?!
So he's feeling alone with this show. He's feeling alone in his studio. Unsupported.
It's tough - I know what it's like. It is next to impossible to get a show off the ground at the best of times. Getting access to anyone without a producer really pushing hard for the show really doesn't happen. Having a producer that takes the show to a broadcaster or funder and doesn't put his all into it is as bad as not having a producer at all. Possibly worse because it can sour the show. Usually, creators, writers or directors don't have the type of head it takes to pull together fincancing, co-productions, legal whatevers and so on. Some do, but then their energies are split. It's not the best scenario. It's not that shows aren't getting made. This particular guy is seeing shows all around him getting pulled together with local funds where he is (seem to be pretty good there), co-productions (usually with Canada - good public money) and broadcaster pre-sales. But the chances of him doing it without a supportive producer?
I'd say slim to none.
Personally, I think it's nuts but I can't imagine it's an isolated incident. Something just seems very shortsighted about it.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Even when it's not raining, it's grey, depressing and generally a shithole. The cost of living is stupidly high and there's nothing but poor public transport in return. It's so dull. It's dirty. This place offers me nothing except that it's where all my stuff is.
I really would love to get out of here.
The truth is, I have a good work position here. I'm higher up than I could ever expect to walk into in any other company, so moving would invariably be a big step down. But that may be something I'm now willing to do.
If I had a visa, I'd go to Hawaii.
Actually, my ideal would be to get into what I'd really love to do - children's books. But that is pretty much an impossible dream. The system is set up to make it ridiculously hard to get a book on to the shelves. Agents, publishers - they're walls. But if I could sell children's books, I wouldn't need a studio. I'd be a one-man production house.
And that would mean I could live anywhere I wanted. Wouldn't that be nice?
Yeah, an impossible dream.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Another old post that got lost in time. I quite like this one and have no idea what took its place that meant it never got posted. It was probably simply what I'm referring to at the end of the post. Anyway, here it is -
I think a relationship is in a good place when you can admit this. Although it's best not to reveal the words, "other girl's", that really should go in front.
See, guys like variety. It's that simple. Get a guy who loves huge breasts, give him a huge breasted girlfriend and wait just a little while and then show him a pic of Selma Blair and he'll be Googling pics of her that night. Not the one from that film she had with the fake boobs that nobody ever saw. The ones where she has close to none. Or none. Now his general preference will likely always stay. In fact he may see just how absolutely huge breasts can go but the basic point is - men like variety.
No, actually, the point was just that men love boobs.
Actually, I didn't really have a point.
I got distracted thinking of boobies. Really big ones.
Friday, August 15, 2008
On the overnight guy with low productivity, it certainly seems he's working - it's not that he's taking loads of breaks or procrastinating or anything. He's a busy boy. No, it seems to be the confidence thing. He's good enough to know when a scene is ready (good judgement is something sometimes lacking in animators with great ability) but he just can't get it right the first time. Second-guesses himself, the lead animator and the director. And overcomplicates things.
I think he spends as much time undoing stuff as he does doing stuff.
I've seen a lot of lazy animators (some days, I'm one of them), I've seen animators who just aren't good enough (it's tragic when these turn out to be the people who most desperately love animation) and I've seen animators who just have too many bad habits, that were fine on one production many years ago and they haven't been able to rid themselves of those habits. There are a lot of reasons why people can underperform in animation. So it's actually a little frustrating watching someone flounder like that when they're actually pretty good and work hard.
On a totally unrelated note, Star Wars fans are scary. I love the originals and grew up with them but there's a section of the community that, well, I think there's something just not right with them. I was curious about reviews for this animated Clone Wars movie. I don't know if people saw what was going on over at Aint It Cool News but basically they posted reviews and then told they had to take them down again until the film was released. In one of the talkback posts, it mentioned that a copy of Harry's review was on theforce.net message boards so I headed over to take a look.
And what I found scared me. It's almost too much too talk about but the rabid psychotic nature of some of the posts there were just terrifying. Almost like if you said one bad thing about Lucas, they'd find out where you lived and kill you. Or beat you with a plastic lightsaber or something.
There was an anger there. A notch above or below (whichever) any rational thought.
After reading those boards, the next morning I took the Mr.PotatoHead R2-D2 that was on my desk, along with the other Star Wars stuff and stuck them in my drawer, in case anyone might think I'm one of them.
Anyway, the reviews are back up on AICN and it seems they think it's rubbish. No surprise there then.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
You'd think they'd provide transport for these lads.
Perhaps he wasn't really in the army at all and was just camoflaged because that's his thing, his look. There was a bush behind him actually. Maybe he thought we wouldn't see him. Like a ninja or something. Maybe he stocked up on fatigues during the Millennium Bug fiasco, thinking he'd need to defend his turf in the post-apocalyptic hell, and he thought he better get some wear out of them.
Speaking of which, I knew a guy whose brother spent ten grand on a wind generator because he thought the Millennium Bug would shut down all the power stations. He thought he was being really clever. What a tit.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I've seen that happen a few times with people. Usually it comes down to confidence and just getting it right first time. Nervous, often new, animators can dive straight into a scene, work like blazes, then they find a snag. That snag causes them to rethink, change or dump what they've done already and try a different approach.
And then they find another snag. And it goes on.
Making changes to scenes in the good ol' days required more work, in theory. You'd have to dump bunches of pages and redraw from scratch. A whole new animation. With Flash, which we're working with now, you can modify things easier. You don't have to dump everything. You can go in and change symbols and amend timing seemingly with ease.
The problem is that, when you make quite a few changes, your Flash file can get really messy. Too many symbol changes, too many joins, pieces of animation that don't fit with others. It soon begins to show. Then the director doesn't approve the scene and it requires even more changes.
Sometimes it's better just to throw them out and start again, like the old days.
But in terms of working approach, this is not how most animators work anyway. They don't dive into a scene without knowing what they are doing. They look at it, feel it, figure out how it should work, look at what comes before and after and then, when they know what they're doing, they animate it. And, mostly, they get it right first time.
I suspect that's what the overnight guy isn't doing.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Most of them come down to fear. At key moments, when opportunities presented themselves, I was crippled by fear. I didn't act. Or I withdrew. Leaving me wondering just what direction my life would have gone in had I had the courage to act.
This is especially true for my early twenties. At that time, inside, I was still a nervous teenager, with no idea what I was doing and very aware of that. I was self-conscious to a damaging degree and made a complete dick of myself on a regular basis. And yet my life was going in a particular direction, a good direction. A fun direction.
Then I backpedalled.
And the rest of my twenties passed me by. Just floated away and I have no idea what happened to them. Suddenly, I was in my mid-thirties and settled. Settled, having never been unsettled. It's like a whole piece of my life is missing and it's because I was too young to have the nerve to just go get it.
But if someone said to me now that I could rewind, do it all again and change each and every one of those things, I wouldn't. When you get older, you get attached to things. Things that become very important. There are elements of my life now that I would never risk losing and I guess that's a good thing. These are things that outweigh all else. People mostly. They are that important.
And, yet, they are still just a part of my life overall. For all the years I have lived, they're technically a small part. So, even though I wouldn't rewind and risk losing those things, they don't make the regrets go away. They don't stop me wondering just who I could have been had I led my life differently.
I suspect I'll probably always have a hole there in my life. That hole is who I'm not, but could have been.
Monday, August 11, 2008
My laptop blew up a few weeks ago. Okay, it didn't blow up exactly but the hard drive died. So it cost a bunch to get the hard drive replaced and I've been battling with a fresh install of Vista ever since. It's all these poxy updates. It downloaded and installed about a thousand and four crappy updates, each one with the sole purpose of trying to break my system.
And they succeeded.
It took another fresh install and a careful series of updating bit by bit followed by a huge trip through the system restore to get it working. And I'm still having to look at that 'your system didn't shut down properly screen'. The system stutters with a ridiculous amount of processes running, most of which are totally pointless. It has eaten up far too much time. All I want is a laptop that works.
It's easy to blame Vista but I have an XP desktop machine that is a magnet for spyware, malware and every other kind of ware they're is. I don't know if someone is secretly downloading shit the second I turn my back but I have every protection programme on the planet running on that thing and I still end up spending hours cleaning that piece of crap every time it gets infected - which is several times a day.
It's a constant battle.
Even at work, with corporate strength virus protection and firewalls, it turned out someones USB key was infected with a trojan and they were happily passing it around the studio.
I just hate computers. They take up far too much time than they deserve. Are there any computers anywhere that actually work as they should? That don't crash? Don't get broken by system updates? Actually, you know, work?
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Seeing as I offloaded an old unused image yesterday, I thought I'd see what else I had sitting in the drafts section. I think very few people read blogs at the weekend so I hope those few won't mind me using a weekend post to show you some of the dregs of my blog. Scraping the bottom of a very shallow barrel.
I hadn't written anything to go with this image but it's clearly about my elbows. I have to moisturise my left elbow because just brushing past someone could take their face clean off. It's that dangerous.
I remember reading that, in ancient Japan, would-be Ninjas would sit at computers for hours on end to turn their elbows into deadly weapons. Of course, this tactic became common knowledge and could be easily countered by attacking a Ninja on his right side. And that is how the left-handed Ninja became the most feared of all assassins. True story.
Friday, August 8, 2008
But then I found this post sitting in the Drafts bit and I thought it was worthy of posting so here it is, an old long-lost post. Can you tell the image was done a while back?
Ever wonder how we evolved beyond our instincts? Developed our minds and our emotions? Created language, art, pizza and all the other wonderful things we take for granted?
Here's the answer:
Yep, a good ol' hand shandy.
You see, we're just animals. And animals are normally governed by instinct. It's all based on gene survival but it amounts to feeding and having sex. Feeding keeps us alive so we can then go and have sex. That's for reproduction but, in an interesting bit of programming, it's the act itself that seems to have been coded in, like one will always lead to the other.
So those two instincts drive animals. Eat. Sex. Of course, in the wild, eating isn't always that easy. You might have to spend days foraging or hunting. And having sex, well that's a battle to be alpha male. It all takes a hell of a lot of time. Too much time to do anything else. But we were given opposable thumbs and that, in turn, gave us the means to crack one off.
And crack one off we did.
Suddenly, that sex instinct was satisfied for a short time. What would we do with all that newfound spare time? Well, it seems the answer is - we began thinking. We used that time to work out better ways of dealing with the first instinct and built tools to hunt and then began farming. And so now both instincts are satisfied. And man finds he has quite a bit of time to sit around, write poetry and paint beautiful pieces of art. Oh, and look for better ways of destroying and ripping off their fellow man.
All because they just reached into their loincloths and gave a good tug.
But, like everything in life, it requires moderation. You see, the bonobo monkeys are all about feeding that sex instinct. But they just don't know when to stop. They're consumed by it.
With porn being so readily available on the internet, I wonder if it will herald a new phase of human evolution or if we'll turn into bonobos.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
For me, that was a good thing.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Not that they can succeed just living in the past but I think it will take one good movie that treads old ground to put that 2D style back on the map, even though it was retreading that old and very battered ground that probably took it off the map to begin with. I'm confusing myself with map/ground metaphors.
I'd love to see a return to quality 2D (you can debate the merits of the Disney style and whether it's 'classical' until you're blue in the face but it always was the poster boy for quality animation, deserved or not). I'm bored with 3D for the very same reason I was bored with 2D many years ago - everyone is just trying to make the same sort of film. Actually, Wall-E looks different but I haven't actually seen that yet.
But as for me burning my computer and Flash along with it, I would love to do that but the last time I set fire to the computers, they took it out of my pay and I need the money right now to feed a Walnut Whip addiction. And I don't even like walnuts.
Also, whether this film does well or not, it's not going to really impact on us poor saps working on television animation. Flash is just too cheap. We have priced ourselves too low and reset all budgets to a figure that will barely pay our rent (or for our Walnut Whips). For my feelings on Flash and what it has done for us, click the Flash tab below and hopefully it will bring up my posts on why Flash rocks, and why it sucks.
Though the film being a success may prompt others to try similar things and start a whole new boom of traditional 2D animation. I began my career on a traditionally animated tv feature. Then a proper feature feature. Those methods brought their own crap but the work was usually of a higher quality than we accept as the norm now. It was easier to take pride in it.
I'd like that.
Thanks for sending me the link, Andy. You never know, you may get to work on a traditionally animated feature yet!
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
And, secondly, we have these really crappy heaters that basically work 24 hours after you turn them on. You can't just turn them on and get heat. Oh no, that would be too much to ask. Some might even call it greedy. No, you wait your 24 hours and gauge the next day whether the setting is to your liking. It stores the heat overnight or something. Not really sure why but, for wet pants, they are no use to me.
But it seems everyone in here has wet pants too so I can't even pull rank and force someone to switch with me.
Seen the trailer for that Star Wars Clone Wars film? Looks absolutely stone cold dead. Completely lifeless.
Friday, August 1, 2008
I wonder if that's racist?
I think it's more that the culture is a little more alien to me, and so there is less of a safety net. I am out of my own environment and it really is the unknown. Good horror, for me, relies on putting the audience at a disadvantage. And in Siren, with its poxy camera angles and fiddly controls, I really am at a disadvantage.
It's scary stuff. I used to want to go to Japan but if this is an accurate representation of the country (and I can't see why it wouldn't be), I think I'll hold off on that trip.