Thursday, December 14, 2006

Early Disney CG

This is some work that John Lasseter did at Disney before leaving to form Pixar back in the eighties. This movie probably wont stay up on YouTube long, so enjoy it while you can!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

More great pencil tests

These are courtesy of 1 on 1 Animation, a pretty cool looking animation school. Scroll down this page for a bunch of pencil tests from Disney and other animators. Thanks to Bobby P for the find.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Glen Keane talk on YouTube...

...In 17 parts!

Recorded back in 1990, but still relevant.

Milt Kahl pencil tests

Thanks to James Hull at Seward Street for this one:

And this one from cartooncolin:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ye Ol' Cars Reel

Here, as promised, is a highlight reel of my work on "Cars" and the DVD short, "Mater and the Ghost" Light, as well as a couple shots I did for the commercial I directed for State Farm. It's an 18 mb Quicktime movie, and you'll need Quicktime 7 to view it.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cars on DVD

Okay, you probably knew this already, but I've got to represent! The Cars DVD features the short "One Man Band" as well as a new short, "Mater and the Ghostlight", which I had the pleasure of working. And, of course, you'll find the teaser for Ratatouille, the next great film from director Brad Bird. This is a single-disc edition, and as far as I know there are no plans for a two-disc set (bummer, yes).

I'll be posting a highlight reel of my work on Cars soon, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy the movie!

P.S. A few people (Hans, Noah) have noted that there is a two-disc set available exclusively through WalMart, the second disc being called "Geared Up: Bonus DVD Disc". From what I can tell this second disc is just music video stuff, and likely doesn't contain any original Pixar content. Personally I avoid shopping at WalMart anyway, but if you're a Rascal Flatts fan then maybe you'll enjoy the extra disc.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Image courtesy of thehaysoj
And from last year:

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

New Scrat short online

Nevermind, it got pulled down. Look for it on the Ice Age 2 DVD!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Long time no post

Sorry this blog has been so quiet lately. I was on vacation for a bit and then I got REALLY busy at work. I think I blew my wad on that last tutorial, too! Things are calming down a bit so I'll try to get some content up next week.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

New Tutorial Up!

Here is my first (and possibly last) attempt at an animation tutorial. I break down a 10 frame shot from The Incredibles to show how I used squash and stretch, etc. in a facial take. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Caricature Dump

Over the past two years I've been drawing a lot of caricatures for fun, mostly of my friends at Pixar. I figured it was time I scan them and post them for posterity. If you don't work at Pixar then you probably don't know if the likenesses are accurate, but hopefully the drawings will be enjoyable on their own! There's a self-portrait at the end, for what it's worth.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Burning Man 2006 photos

Wild and wacky images from this year's festival on the playa. This is what kept me too busy to post to the blog. I still haven't finished unpacking yet, and it will take me all year to get the dust out of my stuff...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Is it Animation or Performance Capture?

You decide. Either way, it's super cool. I remember doing experimental photography with long exposure times back in college, but the Japanese, of course, have taken it an order of magnitude further.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bruno Kirby, 1949-2006

Actor Bruno Kirby, 57, died of leukemia today, and like so many people you don't realize how great they are until they're gone. I always thought of him as just a funny character actor, but looking back I see he's been in some great movies, like "Donnie Brasco", "When Harry Met Sally", and even "The Godfather Part 2", and he's always given a memorable performance.

So why am I posting this here? I was listening to an interview with him recorded back in the 90's and he had some great things to say about his acting process and creating characters which, of course, applies directly to animation. I suggest you listen to it too, but I'll paraphrase some things here. He said you should never play a character for the end result. For example, don't try to make a character funny or sad or frightening. Play the character honestly from his specific point of view, and hopefully this will elicit the desired response in the audience. Every character should believe in what he or she is doing, and should not act "negatively". No one wakes up in the morning and says, "I'm going to do something bad today". Instead they decide to do something that will satisfy their goals, be it love, money, power, celebrity, salvation, etc. He explains it more elegantly than I do, and it's good to keep in mind as you develop an animated performance. I don't know about you, but I'm going to be adding some of his films to my Netflix queue.

Thanks, Bruno.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What I want for Christmas

Sorry there haven't been more posts lately. I've been busy with lots of stuff, including preparations for Burning Man.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I Met Gromit!

Or to be more precise, I met Aardman animator Merlin Crossingham, who brought along some of the characters from "Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit". I was so busy geeking out on all the goodies he brought that I didn't get a picture of him.

Anyway, it was fascinating to hear him talk about the stop-motion animation process, which I find both intriguing and intimidating. I love the idea of being able to manipulate real models with my hands, but I can't imagine trying to animate a performance straight-ahead, one frame at a time. Much less trying to hide the rigs and not pushing the clay characters off-model. Merlin and his fellow animators have my utmost respect and admiration!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Forget animation - Puppets are the next big thing

And by "big" I mean BIG. I wish I could have seen this in person - it's mind-blowing. The perfect confluence of art and engineering. More info here, and some more photos here.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Glen Keane

So if you're into animation like me you likely know who Glen Keane is. And if you know who he is you've probably already seen the Art Of Glen Keane blog, as it's been linked in plenty of other places. This is a fan site, mind you, not his personal site. Anyhow, his art has always blown me away (see above image) and he's a great animator to boot. I referenced some of his animation of Ratigan for my work on Syndrome in The Incredibles. And he seemed really nice the one time I met him, but I digress.

Recently I had to drive from San Diego to Oakland alone, which is about 500 miles, and thank Jobs for the iPod and, by result, podcasts. Listening to podcasts made the trip a lot easier, especially the wonderful Animation Podcasts by Clay Kaytis, in which he interviews working animators and directors. My favorite so far is the Glen Keane interview (back on topic!) where he talks very frankly about his animation experience and process. He's very inspiring to listen to. One of the things he said that I really latched onto was that when you come across an animation problem that you can't solve, it's not because you're not good enough, it's because you've reached the limit of your knowledge. The solution, therefore, is to seek that knowledge outside of yourself. For him this meant going to art museums and being inspired by classical works. It's reassuring to hear that even someone of his stature hits the wall once in a while and has to work through it and keep learning.

So that's my post about Glen Keane. I hope I don't come off like a fan-boy, but... He rules!

Friday, July 21, 2006

TMNT trailer online

You gotta admit, this looks pretty cool! Well, except for the guy in the dumpster.

Friday, July 14, 2006

NFB Animated Shorts online

The National Film Board of Canada has posted a bunch of animated short films to their web site. Among them are such Academy Award nominated films as George and Rosemary, The Big Snit, The Cat Came Back and Flux. The films span from 1942 to 2002. This ought to keep you busy for a while!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Pixar Zoetrope

Looking through my files I stumbled upon this movie of the 3D Zoetrope from Pixar's exhibition at the NYC MoMA earlier this year, and I realized that it probably hasn't been posted anywhere. So here it is! It's a 4.2 MB mp4 movie, and of course it doesn't approximate in the least how cool this contraption looks in person. This is real 3D animation. There's plenty more information on the Zoetrope and the rest of the exhibit (which I believe is in London now) at the Luxo Blog.

You can see more of my personal photos from the exhibit here.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

SIGGRAPH 2006 Computer Animation Festival

Trailer now online (19.6 MB). Some cool stuff in there; too bad I'm not going! Here's a link to the site.

Friday, July 07, 2006

What Recruiters Are Looking For

A good article on VFXWorld featuring interviews with recruiters from major animation and effects studios:

What Recruiters Are Looking For

Sunday, July 02, 2006

9 Old Men Videos

"Disney Family Album" postings on YouTube. Delicious Old-School Flavor!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

"Arthur et les Minimoys"

Luc Besson throws his hat into the animation ring:

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Friday, June 30, 2006

More French Student Animation

These kids at Gobelins have got it going on. Their film Pyrats has great physical animation, nice staging, it's entertaining and it's got a healthy dose of GBO*. And it's it 2D!

*Gratuitous Breast Overlap

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


No, not THAT Nemo. This is Studio Ghibli's version of Little Nemo in Slumberland from a 1984 pilot. This clip is amazing:

Here is some information on the production and how it died.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Good article about Ed Catmull

Here's a good story in the LA Times about Ed and Pixar's reinvigoration of Disney Animation.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Q&A on

I'm doing a Q&A on the forums at right now. Feel free to drop by and ask a question. I'm way behind on answering email, so this may be a better venue for answers.

My shots on "Cars" - UPDATED

I've had some requests to list the shots I worked on in Cars, so I'll try to remember and describe them below. Of course I can't actually include the clips here, but when the DVD comes out I'll put together a reel. Anyway, here are some highlights:

Winner's Circle - I did two long shots of McQueen talking to Cori Vetta about how "there's a lot more to racing than just winning". I also did his pit crew team to the point where they storm out and say "we quit Mr. One-Man-Show!" These were really hard to choreograph because of all the characters and the changing tires (lots of constraint switching). I like how the pitties turned out, but I'm not so sure McQueen is pushed far enough.

Traffic Court - I did some McQueen shots where he's talking to Sally ("I'm sorry, did I scare you?" and "Do what you gotta do baby. Oh but listen - be careful. Folks 'round here are not firing on all cylinders..." I also did some Mater stuff in this sequence, like when he's playing with his side mirror and blinds himself, and when he's blowing the spit bubble. McQueen was really fun to animate here because he was being sleazy. I had a really hard time animating the Mater mirror shot. I think I started over twice, and I still can't tell if it's funny or not.

Racing Doc - Some shots of Guido and Luigi just before the race - "My friend Guido he dream of giving a real race car a pit stop" and the little happy pee-pee dance that Guido does while McQueen explains he doesn't need a pit stop. I also did the shots at the end of this sequence where Mater flings his tow hook into the canyon, hooks McQueen and hauls him up. "I'm startin' to think he know'd you was gonna crash!" "Thank you, Mater, thank you." Lasseter wanted Mater to use his tow hook like a fly-fisherman, which meant the I ended up sculpting the shape of the rope on every frame for about 48 frames. I actually had to do some posing between frames, too, to get the motion blur right. Ugh.

Doc instructs McQueen - a couple shots of Doc Hudson ("I'll put it simple... You'll find yourself turning right"). These were pretty straight-forward, but it can be difficult to get good mouth shapes on Doc because of his long bumper. We tried not to make it look too rubbery or curly.

Best Friends - the first 6 shots of Mater driving backwards through the Cozy Cone Motel, starting with the shot shown in my Disney interview in the previous post. These were the first shots I did on Cars.

Doc is a famous race car - I did Mater's spit-take ("He did WHAT in his cup?") and the reactions of the other cars at Flo's (Sheriff "Well you are looking a little peekid"). I also did Doc Hudson watching from his window as the other cars doubt his racing past. A lot of characters to handle but still fun. It's always nice to have a great punchline to work with, too.

New Tires - I did some shots of Guido and Luigi ("Gratsi, Mr. Lightning, gratsi!" and Luigi raising McQueen up on the lift). Guido and Luigi are always fun to animate. I came up with the idea of Luigi sort of hugging McQueen with his front tires, and I wasn't sure if Lasseter would buy it (he did).

Goodbye - I did a few shots of Sally talking to McQueen just before he leaves ("No, it was much more than that"). It was nice to do some serious acting for a change.

That's all I can remember right now. I also did some shots for promotional material (including my commercial) and some other stuff that I can't talk about yet (you'll see it on the DVD).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Infamous Interview

Alright, here's my interview from the Disney Channel. It is what it is:

A few notes:
  • No, this is not really my office
  • My eyes look all droopy because we shot this early in the morning
  • In real life I don't begin every sentence with "Well..."
  • Well, you may recognize the smaller kid, Moises, from his role in "Nacho Libre". I didn't recognize him at the time, but I wish I had. Na-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
  • Most of the rendered shots of Mater are done by Carlos Baena or other animators. They only show one of mine, which is on the monitor.
  • That's "menv", Pixar's proprietary animation software on my workstation. Dig my rainbow-colored spreadsheet interface! Luckily my real workstation has a much larger monitor. Note the second monitor on the left which has its own computer (called a "xenon") dedicated to playing back Quicktime movies.
  • I improvised the line about "The eyes are the windshield to the soul". Oh yeah, I'm that good.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My new favorite kids' show

Pocoyo! I've only seen one episode (on YouTube, of course) but it's really cool. Super simple characters and surprisingly good animation. Not something you expect to see in a kids' show. The duck character absolutely rules! Unfortunately it's only showing in UK, Canada and Japan right now. I found out about it from Angus Maclane who saw it at Annecy. Hopefully they'll start playing them in the US soon, or at least make them available on NTSC DVD. Here's a sample episode:

Some more vintage animation

This time: student films from John Lasseter and Jim Reardon (ex-Simpsons story guy, now working for Pixar). Here's John's "Lady and the Lamp":

And here's Jim's "Bring Me The Head of Charlie Brown" - warning: contains graphic cartoon violence!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I'm back

Just got back from vacation today. So why am I blogging already? Because I am a pathetic geek. And because I don't feel like unpacking or going to bed. Anyway, I don't have time to talk about my work on Cars right now (hope you saw it!) but here's a link to some of the fluffy documentary stuff on the Disney Channel:

YouTube clips

I'll post my interview too, when I get a chance.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Ratatouille trailer online!

Wow, big day for animation, or at least for my blog.

Here's the teaser trailer for Ratatouille, the film after Cars, due next summer. I'm not working on it (I'm working on the film after Rat) but I've been watching their progress and the animation is crazy good. So is the lighting. So is... Everything! This movie is going to blow your mind. But you'll have to wait another year!

I'm going on vacation for a week and half, so these posts will have to hold you for a while.

Amazing student animation from Annecy festival

I just found this amazing student film called "Burning Safari". Wow. I'm glad I already have job. Those french schools like Gobelins and Supinfocom sure churn out some awesome students. You can see more of their stuff here.

P.S. Go see Cars!

"Cars" opens today worldwide!

So, what are you doing this weekend? Anything fun? Well... If you, you know, get bored or something, why not go check out this little movie I worked on? What? You haven't heard about it? Well, go see it anyway. Better see it twice, just to be sure. And then come back here and let me know what you thought of it. Unless you hated it.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Steven Seagal Live!

Last night a bunch of us animators caught a live performance of Steven Seagal at the Fillmore in San Francisco. He pumped us up with classics like "Love Doctor" and "Alligator Eggs", and then really brought the house down with the funky "Feet Don't Fail Me Now". Surprisingly, he got through the whole show without killing anyone! Truly a monumental evening for blues enthusiasts, Buddhists, and action lovers alike.

P.S. His band really does rock.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Banned Cartoons

You can find some interesting stuff on if you type "banned cartoons" into the search field. One of my favorites is this commercial that the Flintstones did for Winston Cigarettes back in the 50's:

Most of the others involve really racist material, so I wont link them here. There are some great WW2 classics, like "Russian Rhapsody" and "Der Fuehrer's Face". Hey, Nazi's are always fair-game for satire in my opinion.

Friday, June 02, 2006

I'll be on the Disney Channel tonight

Okay, I'm taking a risk posting this, as it's likely I'll end up looking like a complete idiot. During a broadcast of the movie "The Parent Trap" on the Disney Channel at 8pm tonight there will be a series of interstitials in which characters from the show "Hannah Montana" make a trip to Pixar to find out how we made "Cars". I am one of the animators they "meet" and I try to explain the process of 3D animation in very simple terms. I haven't seen any of the footage so I really don't know how it turned out. The kids were cool and the experience was fun, but don't look for a whole lot of enlightening information or deep drama. You may get in a good laugh at my expense, though.

Of note: the office we filmed in is NOT really my office. They dressed up a different room, and the photos on the desk aren't my family.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Here's the commercial...

In case you missed it during American Idol or Lost (wow, State Farm must have spent a bundle!) here is the ad I directed:

It's a 3mb Quicktime movie, and you'll need Quicktime 7 to play it.

Shannon Tindle's Blog

Some amazing art here from artist Shannon Tindle, who designed characters for "Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends", among other things.

Thanks to Noah Albrecht for the link.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

My commercial premieres tonight!

If you happen to be watching American Idol tonight (and I wont hold it against you if you do) keep an eye out for the commercial I directed for State Farm insurance featuring characters from Pixar's "Cars".

Okay, it's a commercial, not high art, but it was a lot of fun to work on and I think it turned out really well. My first directing gig at Pixar and all the talented people around me made me look good! I wasn't involved in the story development but I directed the layout, animation, lighting, fx, editing and sound, and I animated a couple shots in there, too. I'll post a Quicktime of the commercial to this blog sometime after the premiere.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Doggy Poo

"Sometimes dreams really do come true."

Yes, this is for real. Another oldie-but-goodie. Check out the rest of the web site if you don't believe me.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Big Snit

Yes, more classic animation. I know, I should post some "new" stuff, right? But it's so great to see all this old stuff again! Here's one of my fav's from the old Spike and Mike festival:

The video quality is pretty crappy but you can still appreciate it. Thanks to Hans Ranum for the link.

New "Flushed Away" Trailer

I'll let you be the judge of this one.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

More classic animation: The Monk and the Fish

This film competed with "The Big Story" for the Oscar in 1995 (both lost to "Bob's Birthday", which I haven't seen). Beautiful, simple, entertaining animation and a soulful story - typical for Michael Dudok de Wit. See his other shorts, including Oscar-winner, "Father and Daughter".

The Monk and the Fish

Monday, May 15, 2006

New Interview

There's a new interview with me on by Tim Linklater. Note the manic photo of me in the header.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Vader calls the Emporer

This is funny. Some decent stop-mo animation, too:

Major web site overhaul

I've redesigned and updated my whole web site to coincide with the start of this blog. Look for new content in all sections, which you reach through the links at the upper right ->. This blog is now the hub of the site. Enjoy!

P.S. Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Big Story

Just saw this on Brett Schulz's blog - an old Oscar-nominated stop-motion short in which all the characters are caricatures of Kirk Douglas. Created by Tim Watts and David Stoten. I hadn't seen this in years (1995?), and now it's on (of course):

The animation in this is just amazing, even though it's all on two's.

Le Papillon

Here is a beautifully animated 2D short by Antoine Antin called "Le Papillon" (The Butterfly).

I know, it's not new, but if you haven't seen it (or haven't seen it lately) it really holds up. Great story and design, too. I get goose bumps!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Some newish animation

1.8 MB Quicktime Movie (Quicktime 7 required)

Here is shot I animated a few months ago as part of a lecture on workflow for The audio is from the film "Coming To America".

Friday, May 05, 2006

Another Alien Song "Homage"

Even the credit screen for the music is identical! For reference:
Alien Song

Thursday, May 04, 2006

It begins...

Here it is, my blog. I suppose it's about time. I've been terrible about updating my web site, and I'm hoping that this will make it easier for me, and therefore more interesting/useful for you, the visitor.

So I recently got to direct my first commercial at Pixar! It's a promo piece for Cars and State Farm Insurance. The commercial premieres on May 22 during American Idol. Last week we did the sound mixing at Skywalker Ranch (pictured above). It's a beautiful place, and the rain let up just in time for us. Here's me with our Sound Designer Juan Peralta and Producer Liz Gazzano: