• Planning

    Tom Gately and animation interns discuss a pose during a field trip

    Tom Gately Shows Anim Interns a Strong Pose

    The nine old men would say “spend half your time planning and the other half animating. While this idea is hard to uphold, the basic idea is true. Going into a shot blind is like not studying for a test or stretching before a race. Clear planning, forces you to really think about what is important in the shot. Every time I animate straight ahead, I fall flat on my face and waste a lot of time figuring out what I set out to do in the first place. It really must become part of your routine. It is so important because it creates a foundation, something you can fall back on. I was always amazed at the planning that Doug Sweetland went though before he animated. He drew so many different ways of doing the same thing through thumbnails. Then he went off to record himself. Most people do video reference these days. It’s no big secret. The hardest part is to not rely on it to closely. You want to use the best parts. Another thing I have seen animators do is to write down what the shot means to them in a sentence… Where is the beat change? What is the most important thing in the shot? You always want to be asking these questions. If I have a character sitting in a room and the point of the shot is for them to be upset, I want to create a back story as to why. Maybe he is lost, maybe his his heart has been stepped on. How do I relate that to something I experienced?  What is the deeper meaning? If you animate simply the cliche of upset, there is not heart or pathos. Dig down deep and pull out something personal and it will show up on the screen…. Follow a ritual of solid planning and you will add a new layer of complexity to your work.


  • People Watching

    Have you ever sat down in a coffee shop or restaurant and just watched people? I know, it sounds creepy but it’s so different to look at people and do it though you were studying them. Years ago, I sat in on an acting workshop. The teacher asked the students to go out and observe 3 gestures and incorporate them into a scene. One student took a girl combing her hair, combined it with foot tapping and gum chewing. Yes, this may sound a bit cliché’ but it was taken from life and used in a different way. There are so many observations, good and bad that we can look at and learn from. A director did cool bit of reference that he showed the animator’s years ago. As I remember it involved a conversation between two people at dinner. You couldn’t hear what they were saying but everything was told with body language. It was staged perfectly. The situation was so clear. If you can see the acting without the dialogue, then you are in good shape. Coming up with good ideas is hard. As a student, or professional it’s so important to always be storing the moments you see in our heads. Some animators keep a notepad in their back pocket. I wish I did that. Try it for one day and see how many ideas you get. Many good ideas have been forgotten or watered down. The great scenes always stick out because they make you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”  Observation is the animators tool for building good ideas and believable acting.


  • CTN Expo Noc 20th – 22nd

    There will be a really cool event going on in the Los Angeles area called the Creative Talent Network Expo. It has been organized by Tina Price. Many animation artists will be speaking about their craft. I hope to make it down there as well and give some sort of talk.  Here is the link…


  • Animate – on your iPhone!

    A fellow pixarian named Josh Anon, wrote a really cool i phone app called flipbook. I have been having alot of fun drawing and animating on this really cool application. It has onion skinning, it has multiple layers,  and its easily the best paint program available for the iPhone. It really is an amazing program.  After you are done creating your masterpiece, you export it to the flipbook site and you can download the quicktime movie of the work and share it. Think about it, you are sitting in a coffee shop, or on the train. You can thumbnail out your whole scene on this thing. I recommend getting some sort of stylus. Its not easy to draw with your finger. For a version 1.0 app, its great and will only get better. (especially with my feedback)


  • Oscar Nominees Blog

    I was lucky enough to meet the nominees of this years oscar for animated short film. Ron Diamond of Animation World Network is bringing them around to all the studios to show their films and give them the royal treatment. I think its great that he does this, because animators quietly do their films with out all the hollywood glitz. Its nice to see them get the star treatment.

    Check out the blog he has posted

    AWN Oscartour