I think that the original version of Disney's Dumbo is a unique and unsung masterpiece in filmmaking history. One of the most gorgeously crafted pieces of animation art ever conceived. It is not a mere story to be retold through a big budget visual effects loaded live-action Hollywood blockbuster, it is a timeless work of art. Why pick on this incredible piece of animation history just to come up with a story? This is clearly a shameless grab at producing a 'product' they KNOW people will go see, because of their built in love of Dumbo, already planted there through the genius and vision of the original animated film. With all due respect to Tim Burton, he has had his go at a couple of Disney masterpieces now, Alice and Sleepy Hollow, and he did alright, they didn't stink. But please Tim, leave dear little Dumbo alone....
When I was working at Walt Disney Feature Animation at the turn of the century, we were just finishing Lilo & Stitch. After that film came out, Disney went public saying that box office returns were just not good enough to justify making any more films like Lilo & Stitch. No more '2D' animation AT ALL in fact, sadly for everybody, they had there minds made up to shut it all down.
HOWEVER.....Lilo & Stitch's budget was $80 million, and its total domestic total gross was $145,794,338.
Compare that to 'Minority Report', the blockbuster science fiction feature film released the VERY SAME WEEKEND as Lilo & Stitch, directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Cruise and Colin Farrel that cost 102 million to make.
The domestic total gross? $132,072,926.
So, CLEARLY there would have been no market for another big budget science fiction film starring Tom Cruise...or a Steven Spielberg science fiction film for that matter. I mean, it cost more to make, and earned less, so CLEARLY it was an abject failure. Right? NOT!! We were sold up the river, for whatever reason...it was all fabricated. It baffles me.
The math is extremely simple.
It noteworthy as well, that in international markets Lilo & Stitch also did extremely well, eclipsing Minority Report once again at the box office. Additionally it spawned a couple of successful TV series for them, and multiple relatively successful sequels, AND it made billions off of toy sales as well. Minority Report? Nada.
Hmmmph. I think there should be an investigation, and the pin headed executives that made all those short sighted decisions should give us our studio back....
This sounds interesting for sure....."a mix of
animation and live action" yeah?
Director Brett Morgen has given an
outline of the Kurt Cobain film
he's been working on for the past five
"We're hoping the Cobain film, that'll hopefully
be released in 2014, will be this generation's The Wall – a mix of
animation and live action that'll allow the audience to experience Kurt
in a way they never have before. It's very ambitious. "
When I saw this film for the first time, I was stunned. Deeply moved. It was the first thing of its kind, it took insane hours and exacting calculations on an optical printer with staggered exposures done with exquisite timing.....and it is just as beautiful as ever today. Thinking of good old Norman McClaren...whom I was lucky enough to meet almost daily for some time, at the NFB in Montreal, mid 70's.
I have started compiling a variety of visual effects experiments, many of which are actually
science based fluid dynamics experiments that are continuously being created by students of physics. Remarkably, I have taken my Elemental Magic animation workshops down the exact same path that science has taken, engaging my participants in dynamic, real-time physics experiments in order to better understand the dynamics we wish to achieve in our animated visual effects. At Harvard and MIT they are doing the exact same thing in their fluid dynamics physics studies, in order to observe and prove the various theories and that have been previously developed and observed around flow and turbulence. I think it's fantastic, that through both hard science, and through the flowing creative vibe that I try to generate in my animation workshops, we have arrived at the same process of understanding the world around us, rolling up our sleeves and engaging with the real stuff of life, real physics, the way things work....we study the exact same thing, as animators, or scientists.
Got to love that!
As you'll see, some of my student's visual effects experiments are just a little bit more 'on the fly' than a well put together Harvard graduate science experiment. But we learn just as much, sometimes with the most rudimentary of experiments. At the same time, my workshop's experiments are increasingly becoming slickly put together, with quality high speed cameras, good lighting, and some pretty solid fluid dynamics experiments are being put together. I am compiling more and more of the fantastic experiments from my workshops, soon to be posted.
Another old favorite of mine, I'm so glad I caught this rare video, this guy used to hang around all the time, don't even know his name, I couldn't get rid of him when there was fresh caught wild salmon around. Serious freak this dude, but pretty entertaining, so we'd let him hang around.....
An oldie but goodie of mine, a rather unique use of Adobe Flash, taking pre-animated effects 'symbols' that I animated by hand on a Cintiq, and repositioning them as abstract elements....almost, working with vibrant colours, and a vibrant and unique soundtrack...courtesy of...(still waiting to officially receive permissions) Aphex Twin
A very dear friend of mine, Thomas Haegle,
who has been the director of the world famous
Filmakademie School of Animation in Ludwigsburg,
Germany for many years, is leaving his post.
Thomas has been an absolutely pivotal person in my life,
his input and encourage led to my entire
Elemental Magic journey, my books and workshops.
Between him and dear friend Ed Hooks,
I was practically led by the hand,
to get myself published and start
a whole new way of life.
This slow-motion fluid effects reference is beautifully shot. With hi-speed cameras widely available
and affordable these days, I have begun implementing them into my Elemental Magic Workshops with great success. This is a very slick example! Thanks to verticalhold! Gorgeous video.
It is out now, ready to ship from all major bookstore warehouses, and Amazon's got a crapload ready to go too! If you are anywhere near Vancouver or Vancouver Island, drop me a line when you get a copy and I'll arrange to meet you sometime and sign it and give you a custom drawing on the title page too. Alternately, drop me a line from wherever you may live, and if I ever chance to meet that destination in my many travels, we'll do it that way, wherever that may be!
I have been digging into painting with acrylics, working like a madman around the clock almost, and although I've been coming up with some pretty cool and weird stuff. I still feel like I am still searching for my style a little bit, although the one thing I don't want to do is get 'stuck' in a particular style. Some of the pieces are safely within what could be considered 'my style' of drawing and colouring special effects like water, fire and stuff. But I am branching out into other styles as well, some heavily influenced by the tattoo culture's styles, that I have been studying and trying to learn for a couple of years now. Still others are purely decorative in nature, but still leaning towards an 'Elemental Magic' kind of a look, focusing on elemental energies as the driving force behind the paintings.....
This simple arrangement of branches was as much of a test as anything, to see how I could reproduce the complex and twisted bark of a gnarly tree, one of my favorite things to draw, and a beautiful decorative element always. I hypothesize in my second book that much of the art deco decorative artwork that flourished in the mid-twentieth century was heavily influenced by a study of nature, and natural elements such as smoke, fire, water and all things moving.
This water study on a black background was another exploratory painting, as I intend to create quite a few of these watery studies, as a part of my purely 'Elemental Magic' influenced pieces of artwork, which I hope will be popular and successful as paintings people will want to own. their smaller size makes for a more affordable price and they are easier for me to paint than brand-new subject matter. Watery effects are, after al, my thing. On this painting as well, I built up a lot of layers of clear and slightly blue tinted glazes, really popping the water up and off the canvas. The background has no glaze and is a flat black and thus absorbs all the light helping the water to pop out even more.
My sister brought over a cheap wooden frame as I had mentioned I'd be interested in painting objects like frames, lamps, you name it, just anything I might be able to decorate with Elemental Magic effects, or something like that. So I started a sketch on this simple pine frame, with Earth, wind, Fire and Water represented as it was on the cover of the first Elemental Magic. I think it looks absolutely amazing, and I am working feverishly on it, in fact it is already far more finished than the version here that I photographed this morning. I really love the way the elements are blending into each other and creating one image that is very integrated and whole.
The rising wings in this painting are a portrayal of a dream I had. The theme is rising up out of chaos, fear and danger, and flying into the ether on white gossamer wings, high above the suffering and pain of lost and angry souls bent on destruction. I used many. many layers of glaze, with a tint of blue in it, and several clear layers too, as I slowly built up the layers of light and energy. It was a hard one to stop working on, I always wanted to add another touch up here or there, but I have finally stopped myself.
This one started out as an experiment with wetting the canvas first and doing a sort of water colour style for the background of the painting. I did this with a blue wash, that dripped and blended beautifully, creating a canvas that just screamed at me to fill in the gaps. i had no idea what I was painting going into this one, it just sort of emerged from the abstract watercolour shapes that I had created with my wash. I see it as a look inside at the structure of the soul, as it goes through it's difficult trials and tribulations of life. The colours dripping of of the chin of the face represent the full light spectrum, from infrared dripping as if blood from the mouth and then up to the ultraviolet at the pineal gland in the center of the brain.... through the chakras, the spectrum of our visibly perceivable world.
This one as well was done first as a water colour wash on the blank canvas, done with two different hues of blue. Again the image just sort of emerged from the shapes in the background. I was very divided on this one, whether or not to continue going with it and create a deeply glazed, magical piece, or to keep it simple and more raw. I decided to keep it simple and not embellish it too much, because I really liked the shapes that first emerged and just wanted to leave it on its own.
A sort of self portrait. This was one of my first paintings, but it sort of fell on the back burner for now, as it seemed to be getting over-worked and I wasn't sure what direction to take it in. I am waiting while I learn from the subsequent paintings I've been doing before I revisit this one. I think I will probably put a lot more work into it eventually, I still have a soft spot in my heart for this one. Think I need to make the eyes blue though..
Hear Ye, Hear Ye! I have finally finished with my end of the work on Elemental Magic Volume 2! It has been an arduous task, months of isolation and hard work, but it is done, and now the editing process is underway. There is no exact release date yet, but as soon as I know for sure I will let everyone know. I will be having a book launch party in Vancouver when the big day finally comes, and it will be greatly advertised here and on Facebook, to ensure that everyone who wants to gets a chance to attend!
Thanks to all for your overwhelming support and interest in the second book. I hope it does not disappoint. We had initially thought there would be a DVD included with the book, but it will be a website instead. The website will contain lots of video footage, tutorials, and various film clips from my workshops, and of actual animated effects sequences, mostly rough animation, so people eager to learn can watch me animate 'live' and also look at the final product. A great advantage of the website will be that it can be continually updated, and I can address people's specific requests for tutorials on specific effects animation questions. so please, if there is anything you want to know, drop me a line and I will address it whenever possible....
Also want to announce that I am officially open for tattoo business. Elemental Tattoos offers high-end tattoo designs and finished tattoos. I am starting with simpler work, no huge back pieces or highly complex tattoos for the first couple of months, but my skill level has definitely reached the point where I am more than comfortable tattooing a wide range of designs. Just let me know what you are looking for and I will get back to you soon! Check for updates and news on my tattoo blog!
Well, after all the deliberating, it looks like this is the final cover design for Elemental Magic Volume ll, 'The Technique of Special Effects Animation'. I can't thank all of you enough. I received a great deal of feedback from a lot of people, and it was extremely helpful!
Believe me, I considered every comment I received. A lot of people really liked the black cover designs, as I did as well. But the final consensus was to go with something very close in overall look to the first Elemental Magic cover, rather than go for contrast. To create continuity in what will now be a book 'series'.
Elemental Magic Volume lll? Well, it's too early to say. I am at work on a couple of other book ideas that don't necessarily have anything to do with animation, but that's for another blog I suppose!
Right now I am deep into completing Volume ll in time for my deadline. And it is looking stupendous! I will post a sneek peek at some more images before the final release date. Look for ELEMENTAL MAGIC VOLUME ll to be available this spring! I have added a couple of images from the new book below...
My voyage to Burning Man this year was epic. From the moment I left Vancouver on my motorcycle, and headed East into the BC interior, I felt transported 100% away from the daily routine that most of refer to as 'life'. With the wind in my face and the promise of new roads in my heart, I felt released....free!
Burning Man involves a LOT of burning. The largest most impressive structures are lovingly handcrafted and built almost entirely of wood, and on the last two nights of Burning Man, the 'man' and the incredible Temple (different and unique every year) are burned to the ground. On top of that many art installations in the desert are set ablaze on the last two night.
An amazing dance party in the middle of the desert at sunrise...
On top of that, there are pyrotechnics galore. Every year the fire experts try to top what they came up with the previous year, and there are a dazzling array of fire belching, computerized machines of all kinds here and there around Black Rock City and out in the desert (on the 'playa' as they say). Just down the street from the camp where I stayed, they let me handle an incredible kind of explosive propane fire throwing gun that was absolutely incredible! Pulling the trigger released a tremendous explosion of flame that mushroomed out like a special effect from a Bruce Willis movie! It was such a rush. I only wish I'd gotten some film of me firing it off.
An incredible rainbow appeared after a
rainstorm on the first afternoon that I arrived
Although I did take quite a few photos, Burning Man is primarily a participatory event, and walking around taking pictures turns you in to an observer, not a participant. So I frequently left my camera behind, and just got right into 'being there' and absorbing as much as possible. From a special effects viewpoint, I can't recommend Burning Man enough. If this kind of stuff sounds interesting to you, then GO! Buy your ticket and set your sights on being there next year, and I'LL SEE YOU THERE!!
The sunsets on the first night of Burning Man
Pyrotechnics seen through the swirling dust
The 'man' burns...
The 'man' burns...an amazing fireworks display precedes the burning
I just got delivery of 'Elemental Magic' translated into Japanese! It looks pretty amazing, to see my book in a beautiful language like this that I can't understand. I can't help but wonder how they interpreted some of my more imaginative text. Hopefully I will get a chance to go through it with Japanese friends!
I spent two days painting with my friend Autumn Skye, near Powell River. I have not painted anything since I was in art school back in the seventies, but it is something I have always planned on doing when I get 'older'. Skye is an incredible artist, and I was humbled to work next to her, but she is a generous and enthusiastic mentor. She was happy to answer all my questions patiently and turn me on to her painting 'tricks' of the trade. It was an amazing creative session, we worked outdoors under a large opened tent. Many, many thanks to Skye! Check out her phenomenal and inspiring artwork at:
Since posting this painting on Facebook, I got an overwhelming number of positive comments, and I am extremely enthused and excited to launch into a painting career....on top of my tattooing work! Egads, will I have time for fishing?
The painting is as yet unfinished, and untitled. I will post it when it's finished and properly photographed. It was really just a practice run, I was playing and learning, and I didn't expect to come up with something that I actually liked. In fact, there is much about it that I do NOT like, but it still fills me with excitement, just to see all that glorious colour and texture come to life under my wiggling brush. Super fun, cool, beautiful medium. Hooked on acrylics! (Now I just need to buy my own paints!, Thanks Skye!)
Here a a few possible designs I've come up with for my next book, Elemental Magic Volume II 'The Technique of Special Effects Animation'
I'd like to get as much feedback as possible, so please, tell me your favourite picks, tell me which ones you hate, or fresh ideas! You can leave a note here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your 'vote'.
I have no problem filling the inside of the book with animation goodies, but designing a cover is really hard. It's what everybody sees, and it should make an impression. I got very mixed reviews on the cover of the first 'Elemental Magic' book, some love it, some hate it. Of course I'll never make everyone happy, but you all matter to me, and I'd love to hear what you think of these. They are just preliminary designs, and I might end up going in a completely different direction, but the size and title and the font is pretty much the way it will look....So, send your thoughts, OK? Thanks!