Coming in 2018 is Disney’s next fairy tale mythology animated feature film, set amongst the South Pacific islands, rendered in a ‘painterly-style CGI’ (think the Paperman short): and y’all are going to LOVE IT:
The main character will be Moana Waialiki, a sea voyaging enthusiast, and the only daughter of a chief in a long line of navigators. When her family needs her help, she sets off on an epic journey. The film will also include demi-gods and spirits taken from real mythology.
Welcome to the very first episode of The Keyframes Podcast!
Who are we?
We are just lowly first year students at Sheridan College getting our Bachelors in Animation, and we all decided to share our exciting journey with you! So join us on all the ups and downs, struggles and successes, and all the craziness that goes with it, as we try to jump start our Art Careers and break into the Animation Industry. Who knows where we’ll end up, but we’ll have fun getting there!
The first episode of The Keyframes Podcast is up and ready for download here!
Or you can listen it on our youtube page TheKeyframesPodcast
On this episode we recap our first challenge we took on together as a team, and share the crazy events that lead to the creation of our first film we made for Sheridan’s 24 Hour Film Festival, Murder at Mongoose Manor! You can watch it above, or check it out on our youtube channel!
We have all of the fun highlights of the day at our StudioMongoose tumblr, where we will be uploading all of our creations!
Matthew Ramirez: http://ramirezart.tumblr.com/
Melissa Cho: http://cheeeesu.tumblr.com/
Marc Lefevre http://maclefame.tumblr.com/
Marco Rivera: http://artofmarcorivera.tumblr.com/
Raymond Dunster: http://raymonddunster.tumblr.com/
Kennith Concelos: http://kennith-concelos.tumblr.com/
Kathleen Martin: Blog coming soon!
Ahhhh… so awesome!!!!!! :D wish I could join you guys!
My old student portfolio for Visual Development (Character Design) based on “Wicked” - PART 1 -
Because I often receive questions about portfolios, I thought, well, maybe it would be helpful for some to share my own personal experience accompanied by some visuals. Namely, my own portfolio I submitted to transition from the Animation department to the Visual Development department of Disney Feature Animation.
Now one thing that I will mention here as a disclaimer, and something that will probably be reiterated through out this post is that this is only my personal experience, and there is definitely not any sort of “formula” to make a portfolio for the Disney’s Vis dev. Portfolios that look nothing like this, share no common element, is just as likely to get you into the vis dev department. The acceptance is made by a committee of people, and not just one person’s personal taste or criteria.
Way back in the summer of 2007, I was an artistic intern at Disney. (Mainly 2D character animation, but also some story and vis-dev on the side.)
I was having lunch with one of our mentors at that time, Claire Keane, in which she gave us some advice on structuring a visual development portfolio.
One of her suggestions that stuck to me was to take one story, and dedicate the entire portfolio to it, as if you were developing that into a feature film.
This idea sounded good to me, because it made sense. It’s a semi-simulation of the kind of things you would be doing as a professional artist at Disney anyway, (which gives the reviewers a much better, reliable idea of how you would perform as a contributor) but it also gives the spectator a slightly more immersive viewing experience, as they are taken through one continuous story, with characters they understand, rather than having to adjust to brand new content with the turn of each page.
The many times I have reviewed portfolios, I have also found it a slight handicap to have to ask the artist, “Now, what is this thing from?” 4 or 5 times in one portfolio.
So in 2008, while I was working on Princess and the Frog, (still as a full time student at Calarts), I started on this visual development portfolio. I chose my story to be Wicked, the musical, which I am sure many of you are familiar with.
When I look back at this portfolio, obviously I see so many flaws in terms of draftsmanship, design choices, character choices, taste etc, and I want to fix them all. But again, the purpose of this post isn’t to show who I am as an artist right now, but to dig up my past and say “Well this is how it happened for me in the past.”
Here is part 1 of the portfolio. I know for some it may be frustrating to have this divided into 2, but the nature of tumblr posts seem to want things kept short. So I’ll try and post part 2 of the portfolio as soon as possible. I want to say within the next day or two, but there’s just never knowing with when I’ll get another free moment.
I think what is probably most important to show in your portfolio is a strong draftsmanship, a good taste in design choices, and a special intuition for characterization.(I’m speaking for my own criteria when I review portfolios, and I don’t claim to represent anyone else’s.)
As you can see I also tried to pay attention to the presentation of the portfolio, which is why I tried to design the layout of it with the theme of “drawer of a Shiz student”.
I’ll probably try to address some of those things that I mentioned in future posts perhaps.
I hope this old student portfolio of mine gave you a better idea on who to shape your own. One thing I would recommend is to not copy exactly the method I used to form a portfolio, but see it more as a solution that will hopefully help you come up with your own solution on how to structure a portfolio.
Next up is Part 2, with some development designs of Fiyero, the Wizard, the Flying monkeys etc
How about a blast from the past?
Frozen just came out, and ”The Art of Frozen” book is also available for purchase, but since I haven’t seen what is included of my work in the book yet, I’ll post a few things I gathered from the work I’ve done on the movie.
The work I did consisted mostly…
Norm’s Frozen story board.
We cannot wait to see it again. So proud of Norm and everyone in Frozen team.
Character Designs from The Blue Umbrella
Now, I don’t normally put my opinion up on here. But I think of this as a bad example of character design. I was not a fan of this short. It was very cute, but extremely trite and unoriginal. The designs were as well.
This short, about two umbrellas, felt the need to make it explicitly clear that one was a girl umbrella and one was a boy. The design sheet even says “her” and “him”. Let’s just go ahead and assume that these are cis umbrellas (that’s a sentence I never thought I’d be typing), because there’s absolutely no evidence to the contrary and this short wasn’t ambitious/creative enough to attempt something as new or “radical” as trans*/genderqueer umbrellas.
Here’s how they identified the female umbrella as female:
- rounder (they’ve scribbled down that she’s rounder and he’s straighter) and curvier
- unusual shape indicating that she belongs to a woman
Here’s how they identified the male umbrella as male:
- standard umbrella
Do you see the problem?
This is lazy design work, pure and simple. It falls back on ridiculous tropes that’ve existed since cartoons were first born, and not in a good way. Did you know that on average, men’s eyelashes are actually longer than women’s?
The fact about men’s eyelashes is true : )!
BUT ANYWAY- I feel like your anger is misdirected here. Is it fair to crit the character designs when the material was so narrow to begin with? What could they have honestly done? The umbrellas HAD to read masculine and feminine INSTANTLY because the story called for it. Sometimes design choice isn’t about re-inventing the wheel but getting the point across in mere seconds. Sometimes that means playing on (admittedly tired) tropes and symbols because they read instantly.
I’m not saying it’s right, but I think the problem isn’t really in the designs, and you know it too . Societal standards of masculine and feminine, sexuality, etc. at the macro level, of course, but honing in on the problems for this short, the story and artistic direction didn’t leave much room for new and fresh thinking in the character designs.
Pixar plays it safe- it’s a well-known critique of the company, so the story of this short is basic and expected. Thus, what else would you expect from the symbols they used to portray masculine and feminine qualities? The realistic look to the short meant the umbrellas still had to look like regular umbrellas people actually use so there wasn’t much playing to be had in shapes or style.
So just don’t call the character designers lazy :/. Call Pixar lazy for playing it safe and not daring to have a Gay Umbrella or something for the designers to work with from the start. But I feel like you shouldn’t chastise people on facts about men’s/women’s eyelashes when you KNOW if they gave that blue umbrella eyelashes the general populace would ask “is that a girl?” And, unfortunately, that is not the question play-it-safe Pixar wants to have asked. And the designers work for Pixar.
TL;DR: This is a fine example of character design because those umbrella design choices use shape, color, and symbols to instantly communicate what they need to within the constraints of the story, style, and the client’s (Pixar’s) needs. What you’re underwhelmed with is the broken societal standards of gender and sexuality and Pixar’s play-it-safe mentality.
I’m really sorry for the spam, everyone. We’ll be back to your regularly scheduled program shortly.
Just to be clear, I never said the designers were lazy. The design is lazy. The story is lazy. I said as much. But honestly, I think this is kind of an absurd stance. Design is part of the story, and to say that “they did the best with what they had” is sort of…sad? I know that character designers are capable of more than this.
I’m not saying Pixar has to have a gay umbrella? They can be cishet and that would be fine, what’s completely ridiculous is the intense need to label inanimate objects with genders, and to then assign them traditional roles and appearances.
You do not need an umbrella to read quickly as female. It’s not a necessity to the audience. You say Pixar is known for playing it safe, “thus, what else would you expect from the symbols they used to portray masculine and feminine qualities?”
I really wonder why you don’t feel the need to criticize something just because it’s what you already expected. I know you’re not apologizing or excusing the company, but it sort of reads like you are.
I think you might also be missing the point. This design falls back on the nice, safe, male-gaze driven symbols of femininity, which are kind of baseless but have been pushed onto us so much that we accept it. “Women are made of round shapes and curves, women are red, women wear makeup.” For the male umbrella, they made no distinction from a regular umbrella. They didn’t give him male features. They made a regular umbrella. “Women are outside of the norm. They are a deviation from the norm.”
On top of which, there’s some other evidence that this is lazy design that I didn’t mention before:
- everything else
I was so fricking annoyed when I saw their faces. The animation in the rest of the short was beautiful, and creative, and I loved the faces they made out of other objects. It almost made up for the ridiculous music and the ridiculous plot (which, wow, was about a boy pursuing a girl while she remained oblivious). But it didn’t make up for the ridiculous faces they stuck on the umbrella. Animating a hyper-realistic umbrella and then sticking a 2D cartoon face, the kind you’d find on a child’s drawing, seems lazy to me. Especially given the way the rest of that world looked. What was the point of animating the umbrellas? You might as well have animated the faces onto live action footage. It would have looked identical.
I know character designers have to work within crazy restraints. But on this blog, when I’m talking about professional studio designs, I’m criticizing the studio as a whole, not every individual employee. I can’t know who was responsible for what.
Yes, the design reads quickly, and that’s important. It’s also static, uninteresting, and unoriginal. Those things are also pretty important.
On a hot summer day