• Looking Forward to 2009

    As the year comes to an end I wanted to give an update of what we I want to do in 2009. 2009 will be all about the Spline Cast. Now that I have found a smart way to record interviews, I’d like to do a bunch more. There are so many people at Pixar that would be great to interview. Also, from time to time, people like Richard Williams visit and we snag them in for a quick interview. It would also be fun to cover techniques.  We also want to continue doing posts, but as you can see from the lack of them, people are just swamped with work. In the new year we will be adding a new Spline Doctor. More on that in 2009. If you have any comments or thoughts about the site, ideas for interviews please make a comment. Also, economy and work permitting, I will hopefully teaching more classes this year with all new updated materials. Please see the Teaching page for more info. Also, you can sign up for a twitter. Thanks for the continued support.

    -Andrew

    9 Comments |
  • Academy of Art and the Pixar classes

    Many students have been asking what happened to the 3 classes at the Academy of Art in San Francisco that were taught by Pixar animators. I wanted to talk a bit about it, having taught there for 7 years and having many students of the program working here. I cant speak for Pixar, or the other teachers. What I am saying mostly comes from how I saw things. The basic problem is that the students that were coming into the “Pixar classes” were supposed to be the creme of the crop of the Academy, which in itself is a problem. The fact that the students were not getting a good education in animation unless they hit those classes really bothered me. I had the opportunity to teach all three levels of the class. One thing I have to say about the academy students is that they are driven. I have seen many students with loads of talent, but no drive. I never really had a problem with a student not doing the work. They were hungry.  The problem was that we were teaching basics which they should have already had.  It seemed to me as if many of the students coming into the class just wanted to be “shot animators” Animators who could be trained and then put on a film. Students that just wanted to work for Pixar.  That’s fine, but we felt they were missing out on making their own films. Taking a pre-built character and doing exercises is important, and we have amazing animators here that were hired based on those assignments. The big issue is more about how the rest of the curriculum supports the student to not only be an animator but a film maker. We were not seeing those skills taught. I think a place like Cal Arts supports this. I have also  heard from Calarts students that they wish they had more classes where they could learn more advanced 3d character animation skill, like polish and so forth… The good thing that has come out of this is that the Academy has taken notice and wants to fix things. Alot of it comes down to the quality of the teachers. I’m not sure how long it will take or when and if the “pixar classes” will return. In the end, we care most about the students. For me, I wanted to teach at a place where I could know every student, which is one of the reasons why I went to CCA. I personally also got a bit burnt out from teaching 3d. I can’t speak for the other teachers, but I have a feeling that some of the guys just needed a break and also wanted to see things change for the better. The thing that I miss most about teaching at the Academy is the students and the great work that was produced by them. They inspired me. All I want is the best for the students. I expect things to change for the better soon and look forward to helping them in any way I can.

    -Andrew

    This email does not reflect how Pixar or the other teachers feel about this issue and is only the opinion of Andrew Gordon. I would love to hear any comments students have about the program and things that could make it better or general comments…

    77 Comments |
  • Richard Williams Spline Cast

    Richard Williams stopped by the studio the other day. Myself and fellow animator Holger Leihe, who worked with Richard interviewed him in the Lucky 7 Lounge. It was a pretty short interview but really turned out great. It will be available on iTunes. Richard Williams just finished the DVD version of the animators survival kit which can be found here. Enjoy the interview.

    Richard Williams mp4 with chapters

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    32 Comments |
  • New Stuff Soon

    Sorry its been a while since a post. Things are busy this time of year at the studio and in general. I hope to have some good stuff coming soon and a new Spline Cast.

    please stay tuned.

    -Andrew

    12 Comments |
  • Fear

    These days with everything that is going on in the market, all I see in the news are pictures of stock brokers stressed out. People holding their head in their hands. Brokers with scared eyes looking up at a  sinking ticker. Yes, the economy is melting down a bit and people are fearful. The media wants to show clear images of people freaking out which only adds fuel to the fire. As an animator, how do we show fear or that our character is stressed out? Mostly it is by using gestures that reflect this. Self Touching is something that we humans do a lot when we are listening, under stress, or fearful to name a few things. In the book “Man Watching” Desmond Morris explains why this is and what it means. If you don’t have this book, find it. When we make our characters look fearful, we have to explore different ways of doing this. A good thing to do is to act out 10 different ways of doing the same thing. Another thing to do is to look at what other people do when they are scared or stressed. They may have a different way of expressing this emotion. What is an interesting choice? In animation or acting, it’s all about the choices that are made for the performance. Obviously, we want to avoid the cliche’ or transparent choices. We need our characters to have depth and to look interesting. The other day I was able to watch the new film “Ponyo” Some of the choices the character Ponyo makes when she finds the person she has been looking for were so sincere. I love that about Miyazaki’s films. There are moments that always seem so true. In essence we should all be searching for the truths in our characters and how they act. Whether its fear, longing, love, hate etc, etc.. we need to make it sincere. Hopefully, all these images in the news of fear will be of celebration…. In the mean time,  we Animate!

    -Andrew

    6 Comments |