Rolling Our Own

Well, Roll Yer Own was a big hit last week. There were reportedly about 100 people there at The Red Chair in Midtown Thursday night, and I do have to say that I was quite impressed by the three huge screens in the restaurant area, where Roll Yer Own commensed. Thank you all for showing up. Lou was a happy man.

A very eclectic mix of work was shown, ranging from student work (pencil & 2D, computer, stop-motion), some independent stuff, and ended with recent work from local animation studios. Oh, and an episode from Harvey Birdman was shown as the big finale, courtesy of Birdcage Studios. (Hard to hear because of the low audio levels on that episdoe, but very very funny, nonetheless.)

I really don't mind watching student work. Even though I'm a big fan of nice, fluid Disney-style animation, and often enjoy the limited style of UPA and HB (when it's executed right), I can turn off that animator-purist alarm in my head and just sit back and watch newbie animators try their best at figuring out this artform. (Good luck guys, as the rest of us are still trying to figure that out.) To me, there's something endearing in watching young artists try their hand at character design, timing, pacing, storytelling and overall design and layout, as I was there at one point in my career. Sure, there were some faulty pieces shown during the student section of the evening, but I didn't mind. What I enjoyed was the intentions behind these pieces. The students worked hard on their shorts. Sometimes it paid off, sometimes it didn't. Hats off to the Atlanta College of Art and Savannah College of Art and Design students for willing to showcase their work to the animation community here in Atlanta. Best of luck to you all.

There was some great work shown by local animation studios, from the likes of Cartoon Network Domestic & Latin America, Dagnabit!, Turner Digital & Turner Productions, as well as Primal Screen, proving that the the animation scene here in Atlanta is definitely not dead. At least not yet.

And now a rant (you know it wouldn't be The Ward-O-Matic without one):

The evening was momentarily marred, in my opinion, by a series of horrendous shorts by some online animation studio. (Not from Atlanta, I might add.) Loud, humorless, and downright ugly to look at, I had the hardest time sitting through this mess. I'm not even going to say what the company's name was for that would give them far too much credit. I hate to be such a poo-pooer on the work done by this company, but geez - in my opinion, it was the most sophomoric, idiotic, insipid stuff shown that night. Really. Lou, I know that these guys might be nice and all, but for the sake of ASIFA-Atlanta's credibility, please hold off on showing any more of this company's work in future Roll Yer Owns. Nobody I talked to after the show liked their work. And it certainly didn't help their situation any further when one of the guys kept whoo-hoo!-ing drunkenly throughout the evening. Whatever. I am terribly sorry for those who were new to this screening and had to witness such dreck. End of rant.

Be that as it may, I don't feel that the evening was a complete loss. Oh no. I really and truly enjoyed the evening and it was great to see some kind faces, most of whom I've had the great privilege of working with in the past. And that is the great thing about working in the animation field here in Atlanta: that a big city can still feel like a small town, where everybody pretty much knows each other and that you're bound to be working with them at one point in time.


Illustration Friday: Sorrow

It's taken me practically forever to finally get around and find the time to actually work on a piece for Illustration Friday, and of course it's a heavy one. The theme is "sorrow," and although I probably have not gone through the exact same situation as the subject in my piece is going through, I've experienced grief and sorrow to some extent. Haven't we all? Quite a universal theme for our times, I would have to say.


Ava Thursday: Happy Halloween!

Yes, I know, this is February but this drawing by Ava back on 27 October 2004 was too priceless for me to wait any longer in posting. I love this one, as there's so much energy in how Ava drew the face and how the different lengths of the arms convey action. Ava tells me that this is her saying, "Happy Halloween!" and you can just sense how much she loved the holiday (is it an official holiday?).

And for the record, she went as Cinderella. Ezra was Gus Gus, the mouse. Quite the cute couple, I must say. Maybe I'll post a pic of the two later on.

Remember: ROLL YER OWN tomorrow

Just a gentle reminder about ASIFA-Atlanta's annual screening of local animation talent screening tomorrow, February 24th, at 8pm. Lou Hertz sent this out today about the screening in one of his emailings:

Hey everyone, only one more night until ASIFA's "ROLL YER OWN" local and regional animation screening.
Tomorrow, Thursday, February 24th at 8 P.M. at The Red Chair.
Over two hours of great stuff. More than 80 entries, 2D, 3D, claymation, stop-motion. This is the best yet.
Door prizes too.
Three giant screens in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.

Directions: The Red Chair is located in the "Amsterdam Walk Shops" on Amsterdam, just west of Monroe Drive.
From 10th Street at Piedmont Park, turn left on Monroe Drive and left again at the 2nd traffic light on Amsterdam.
From Piedmont Road near Ansley Mall, turn toward town/Piedmont Park on Monroe Drive and then turn right at the 2nd traffic light on Amsterdam.
From I75/85, exit at 10th Street, and turn East toward Piedmont Park (see above directions).
Once on Amsterdam, go to the bottom of the hill and The Red Chair is on your right. Park in front. Come on in. It's FREE !

(If you'd like to be placed on Lou's infamous email list, just contact him.)

Hope to see you all there!


Updating Links and such

For all you new-comers to The Ward-O-Matic, there are some past posts that clue you in on who in the heck I am. The best bet is to go HERE for a brief background on me as well as how I got into animation. And for those who are curious as to what I do as an animation director (myself, included), I'll be writing something about that later on. For the uninitiated, I work at Primal Screen, an animation and broadcast design company in Atlanta, Georgia. We do work for broadcast, most notably for Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and PBS Kids, to name a few. We also do commercials from time to time, as well as the occasional music video. If you check out our site, there's loads of Quicktime movies for you to view and to get a good idea of what we do.

Soooo, I did catch up on my sleep this weekend, and was even able to check out a movie or two. The main movie that I've been meaning to go see for quite some time was...THE POLAR EXPRESS? Yup, no joking here. I saw that movie for the second time, but this time it was the IMAX 3D version. I've been hearing (and reading) about seeing the film in that format from so many people, that I just had to go see for myself what the hub-bub was all about. So yes - expect a follow-up to my now world-famously long-winded two-part commentary on the film (Part 1 and Part 2). It'll be fun, believe me.

A couple of things, I've added a pull-down menu for Ava Thursday over there on the right, to make it easier to choose your favorite drawing by your favorite 4 1/2-year old, Ava. It's a joy to behold.

Also, I've been adding some links in the Linky Links and Atlanta Animation/Artists section and I'm sure that some of these fine people would simply love for you all to check their sites out. Some of the newest links are:

The World According to Ron Lim: a very cool designer with some great links.
Tyson McAdoo: comic book artist (DC, Marvel) who's done some excellent inks for me. He likes tattoos. And girls. And girls with tattoos.
Sanithna Phansavanh: graphic designer/artist who did a slam-bang-up job on Primal's site.
Andre Moore: animator/inker who freelances for us frequently. He likes girls.
Jo Davidovich: very promising animator on the traditional side who is finishing up school at SCAD. She has an innate ability to animate, which is saying a lot these days. She knows her stuff.

I've added a section titled, Atlanta Connections, listing artists and companies who have at one point lived here in the ATL and now have moved onto greater pastures. From this list:

House of Ingri: Ingri freelanced at Primal for quite a while before she moved to NYC, making her famous collection of dolls. She had a fun habit of leaving little doodles and sketches around here of her quirky and wonderful little characters. She's definitely missed here at Primal.
Saxton Moore: once a director here at Primal, now in Cleveland working for American Greetings doing some more of his fantastic character designs and animation.
Graphic Havoc: Yes, these guys originated from the Deep South. Represent.

Curious to know what I'm listening to right now? Check out my Audioscrobbler page, or better yet, my Last.fm page (looks better to me). I have thing for hip-hop. And Prince. Don't hate.

More soon....


Late night working

Good grief, look at the time. Yes, it is 5:30 in the morning. I've been up all night working. Sometimes there'll be jobs where the deadline is incredibly pressing and you have no choice but to work like a dog to get that one particular scene done. Ah, the glamorous life of an animation director. Are you sure you kids want to get into this line of work? If you do, then expect nights like this. It's almost second-nature to me now. Especially when it comes to broadcast animation, as the deadlines tend to be even more pressing than say, agency or commercial jobs. Broadcast is pretty much a quick-turnaround business. These deadlines can work for you sometimes, as the client is not so willing to make any last-minute changes. Well, not as many changes anyway.

Oh well, I've got to get back to it. I've got to get this scene done to pass off to my inker later on this morning. Fun!


Ava Thursday: Mommy and Daddy with car

Ava says that this is Mommy and Daddy getting in the car to look for Ava - although it looks as if Ava may be in the house, anyway (see her silhouette up in the window). Notice that there are word balloons next to Mommy and me. I'm not sure where she got this, but the one thing I've noticed about the way Ava draws is that she pays close attention to anything that you draw if you draw with her. I think I drew a character saying something one time, with an accompanying word balloon, and Ava asked me what that was. She's now picked up on the fact that if one of her characters say anything, then they must have a word balloon. The house and car are objects that she's picked up from her very talented cousin, Matt. When Matt and his sister, Naomi, came to visit during the holidays, Ava sat on the floor with Matt and drew page after page of people, houses, cars and alien spaceships. It was quite an experience for my girl. Ava produced some very elaborate and very creative artwork for several days after her cousins' visit. Expect to see more of this artwork soon!



As promised, here are some sketches out of my blackbook. They were done in March of 2004, so Ava's grown quite a bit, and of course, Ezra's been born since then. The first couple are of Ava playing with her highly-adored Polly Pocket collection. Ah, Polly Pocket - If Andrea and I had only known, we would've put stock in Mattel for their diminutive-sized money-sucking doll racket. But that is a rant for another day.

It's amazing to watch kids as they'll locate the most minute of puddles on the most arid of days and go stomp and play in it. Gotta love that.

You just have to know Ava to understand...

Looking back on this sketch, I think I gave Andrea a happier look than what she was really experiencing at the time, as Ezra gave Mommy absolute fits inside her tummy. But from my end, she looked absolutely beautiful. Ignorance is bliss, indeed.


Ava Thursday: Guy on many-legged thing

Most of the time Ava has a story to tell with her drawings. This one, however, is a mystery. There is no story, for when I asked her what is happening in this picture, she just shrugged and said, "I don't know." That's cool with me. Hey - I'm not going to push her. No pressure, right?


ROLL YER OWN: FEB. 24th 2005

As mentioned earlier, this year's annual ROLL YER OWN will take place on Thursday, February 24th at 8PM. It will be at the Red Chair, in the Amsterdam Walk shopping district, in Midtown, Atlanta. Looking forward to seeing all the latest from students, independents, as well as professionals. Primal Screen will be showing some of their work, as well as Turner Studios, from what I've been told.

Here's the updated poster:

Click on image for a much larger version. If possible, feel free to print up the poster and distribute around your area or workplace. Lou will thank you for it. Again, if any questions, call Lou at 404-808-7157, or email him.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Jim Flora For Sale

How did I miss this one? I simply LOVE Jim Flora. His work encapsulated the wit and whimsy of jazz, his syncopated imagery gracing many an album cover during the 40's and 50's. He eventually went on to illustrate for children's books and even got on a ship and oceanliner jag, but during his later years (during the 1980's and 90's - he died in 1998) he found himself coming back to that same illustrated wildstyle that was evident in his earlier works, with a nice twist.

His son, Joel (an artist as well), has set up a site where the public can buy these wonderfully delightful later paintings, most of which no one outside of family has ever seen. This is quite a sight/site to see. I highly recommend checking it out. I just wish that I had enough money to purchase one of these fun and colorful paintings, but ah - you know how that goes.

Already with a site filled with Flora's Columbia heyday work, along with a book by Irwin Chusid filled with the same and more, it's nice to see this once overlooked and underappreciated artist get noticed finally.


A couple of things

Hope everybody's weekend was swell. Mine? Well, it felt like work days to me. Crazy stuff going on. But I digress....

First of all, the date has been set for ROLL YER OWN: FEBRUARY 24. That's a Thursday, at 8PM at the Red Chair in the Amsterdam Walk area off of Monroe Drive, Midtown. I'll work on updating the poster/flyer tonight so everyone will have that to post up around town or what have you.

Also, a big CONGRATS to James Palmer for his fantastic work on CHASING THE SWAMP FOX. a documentary on the Revolutionary War figure Francis Marion. It was shown on South Carolina's Public Television channels recently and will be aired in constant rotation. I got a chance to see the doc this weekend at Hollis Gillespie's loft with a good group of friends and it was fascinating. History can be captivating if it is done well in documentaries and James and his cohort, Wavy Davey (I'm sure he has a real name), succeeded wonderfully here. It was a load of time and energy and effort put into the thing and I'm sure that James is happy that it's done and will be able to move on to other things now. James and I met through Ava's preschool as his wife, Mandy, is Ava's teacher. We struck up a conversation early on and have become close friends ever since. It's great too, as we can talk art-shop and we both don't have to dumb down our conversations with each other. Refreshing. His portfolio can be seen HERE, along with some of the work showcased on SWAMP FOX. art smear is his blog. Check it out as he puts up some great digital sketches and paintings on a continual basis (unlike me).

Gotta run. Some of my sketches soon!


Announcing Ava Thursday

Since I'm too busy and/or too lazy to do anything for Illustration Friday I've decided to start my own weekly creative outlet for this blog. But it won't be me showcasing my own work. Oh no, that'd be too easy. And narcissistic.

Announcing Ava Thursday! Where each week you'll be graced with artwork by my sweet and adoring daughter, Ava. She's got quite an eye for things, so hopefully it'll make your mid-week seem a little more fun.

Here's the first installment:

This is Daddy at work. There's my sunburst clock on the wall there, along with my lamp on my side table over on the left, and my work chair on the right. She's even added the 50's fuzzy area rug in front of me. Notice, too, that she's drawn my soul-patch-gone-wild, my glasses, and my "crazy hair," as she likes to call it. Another interesting detail: those squiggle lines on my shirt are similar to my guayabera shirts that I wear all the time. This kid is destined to be an animator. (A dad can dream, can't he?)


Whut up, homies?

(You can blame my wife for the title of this post there. She thinks it's funny. I think she's delusional.) It's been rather hectic for me lately, but now that I've been able to finish up on some projects, I can now focus on providing you guys with some of my fabulous writings which, at times can be labeled "confused and babbling." Yes, an actual quote from someone out there, but hey - that's what these blogs are all about, right? I'm not a professional writer, I've never purported to be one, but I do love the fact that what you get when you read blogs is real, honest-to-goodness opinions, unedited. That's the joy of blogging.

And can I say how deceptively difficult this blogging thing is? I thought that posting something, anything would be a piece of cake, but I find it very hard to actually find the time to sit down and really devote my time to this. Of course, when I do post something, I can't just type something and leave it at that. No, I have to add images and links galore to the smallest of posts, which, with html tags and all, doubles the time it normally takes. I can't help it, though. That's the part in me that wants to leave the reader with something substantial.

So, enough with all that rambling. I've got some fun links for you guys.

(First of all, congratulations to the kids at Pixar for a sweep at the Annies. Big props to all the winners. You can check out who won HERE.)

Atlanta is not particularly known for respect of its own history, but thanks to Greg at Atlanta Time Machine, you can view old photos that are a part of Georgia State University's Pullen Library photo collections and view "then and now" shots of various Atlanta landmarks, buildings, houses, etc. It's quite an undertaking, as he's chronicled a good amount of homes and businesses from around the city by taking the "now" shots in the exact same position as the original. Sadly, I would've done the same if I had the time.

Continuing on the Atlanta front, there's an all-city gallery event going on. Didn't you know? Me neither. So it goes in the art-anemic ATL.

When I grow up, I want my blog to be as cool as these guys': What Do I Know? and The ByrdHouse Review, two Atlanta designers doing the blog thing.

Even cooler, Methane Studios makes pretty images for bands and things. Yes, they are in Atlanta, too. (More hip cool rock posters: Aesthetic Apparatus.)

Continuing on the design front: Check out these designs for barf bags. The problem is, if I get sick 30,000 feet in the air, why would I bother booting into a designer bag? And I recently found this fun book at the bookstore: Design for Impact, an entire book devoted to airline safety cards. The book even has a web site.

What to expect in the next couple of weeks on The Ward-O-Matic: a follow-up to my Polar Express commentaries (Part 1 and Part 2) once I get a chance to see the film in IMAX 3D, weekly inspiration from my daughter, more artwork, and exclusive interviews with distinguished artists and animators. (Here's hoping I don't pull a Chris Farley during these interviews.)

All that plus more confusion and babbling, here at The Ward-O-Matic.