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» AnimationNation   » General Discussion   » Passing the craft down.

Author Topic: Passing the craft down.
IE # 234
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Icon 1 posted      Profile for tstevens   Author's Homepage   Email tstevens         Edit/Delete Post 
...As I flipped the pages I couldn't help but feel like this was something cool, something that was being handed down from one generation to the next. It took a few minutes to get my eyes to adjust to the flip and for my fingers to move the pages right, but once I got it, it was something close to magical: lines suddenly became objects moving in space across the page and individual drawings turned into animation. At once the process became real and ceased to be mythical.

Back in the mid nineties my Dad sent me out to Santa Cruz California for a week so I could learn a few things from an animator he had worked with since the fifties. His name was Dan Bessie and he got his start inbetweening and assisting on Tex Avery cartoons. As a favor to my Dad, who owns a small studio, Dan let me peek over his shoulder for a few days too, "...Learn a few tricks!" At that time I hadn't the vaguest clue what to do with animation. I understood (fairly well) how to paint, xerox, and shoot on camera, but the actual act of animating was a mystery. I could spend days looking at the Preston Blair books or The Illusion Of Life and never be able to glean even the slighest bit of know-how from them. Fortunately though, Dan took the time to give me a look into his world as an animator (or as he referred to it, "...Sitting on your ass for 18 hours a day!")

I felt fortunate that this sarcastic curmudgeon who learned the craft working on Tex Avery shorts would give me a few bits of information. It made me feel like I was in some way part of a lineage: He learned how to do it from some guy in the fifties who learned how to do it from some guy in the forties, and that guy learned how to do it from some guy in thirties and so on and so on. Animation was passed down through the generations from person to person wether it be through an old guy letting you into his studio after he had finished his scenes, or in a school focused on the craft.

I can't say I learned from Frank Thomas or Eric Larson, but I can say that I learned bits and pieces from people who may have been lucky enough to get a few minutes with them. With the passing of Joe Ranft you can hear how he helped to hand down the craft to others so they could stand on his shoulders. Unfortunately his presence will not be there for future generations. But those who were fortunate enough to have worked with him and the other greats can pass that knowledge down so it can live on and on.

While I sit back and reminisce about the first time I saw the lines animate from page to page, I have to wonder how that knowledge made it to me. Was it some guy from Disney's - maybe a New Yorker - maybe someone from Hollywood? I'll probably never know. What I do know is that I will always be grateful that someone took the time to show all of those who came before me how it was done.

In the spirit of Joe Ranft and all of those who came before us, try to pass that knowledge down the line so the next generation can stand on the shoulders of those who came before.


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Icon 1 posted      Profile for monkeydad   Email monkeydad         Edit/Delete Post 
Well said, and right on target...
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Icon 1 posted      Profile for Ganklin   Author's Homepage   Email Ganklin         Edit/Delete Post 
here here.


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Icon 14 posted      Profile for SoleilSmile   Author's Homepage   Email SoleilSmile         Edit/Delete Post 
What a marvelous essay. I totally agree with sharing. When I was an R.A. at one of the freshman dorms at my current college, I used to help the first years with their storyboard finals. I really wanted them to know about screen direction and give them a little "extra insight" into their professors assignments. I'm happy to say the students I helped all received "A's" on their projects consistently two semester in a row.
My point is, I wanted to share my knowledge and not keep it to myself like so many competing students do. These kids may very be my competition in the industry but, I think giving them the sense of camaraderie is far more valuable than low balling them for job and pulling a seniority trip. With the demise of Disney Hand Drawn Feature Animation, I get the sensation that professional animators have stopped sharing knowledge and started to turn against one another for the sake of survival—-and that mentality is nastier amongst students. Furthermore, it makes attending school very lonely. As a result, the side effect is an unknowledgeable cache of artists who will someday replace the current masters with a resentful paranoid chip their shoulders.
Thoughts? [handball]

HipChick Comics and Animatress Blog

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Icon 1 posted      Profile for monkeydad   Email monkeydad         Edit/Delete Post 
It makes me very sad to hear that's the tone in school these days. I haven't run into that very often in the professional ranks, but I'm sure it exists.

I tend to be a sponge and soak up whatever information I can, but I find you really don't know what you know unless you occasionally squeeze the sponge to see what's in there.

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Icon 14 posted      Profile for Trondheimfan   Email Trondheimfan         Edit/Delete Post 
Share the fun, wherever!

I like sharing my knowledge with other students. Though I've encountered many a student who didn't want to learn anything from me. Stubborn brats! Think they know/ the computer will solve - everything!
But I never see them as potential future competition. Something inside me just makes me want them to be better.
There's just this sense of fulfillment you get when someone takes your advice, and you see them improve, thanks to you.

I had to learn about the technical aspect of animation mostly by myself, and by reading the animator's survival kit. Some people take pride in teaching themselves, but it's a lot harder and it takes a helluva lot longer to learn how to animate on your own, and in the end, you get the same result!
Thank god I met a lot of people at my intership who share their knowledge with me about writing descent stories. I wouldn't know what I'd do without them.

Tekenen is schrijven en spreken tegelijk.

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