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Johnny Chew

Animation Blog


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Reader Question: What Is Cutout Animation?

Monday May 28, 2012
Ray writes:
"Hey, so, I was wondering, what do you call the kind of animation they do on South Park? It's not like Disney, is it, where they draw all the pages and everything? It looks different, I was wondering what it was because it's kind of cool."
Well, technically everything South Park does is mostly 3D animation at this point, but the style remains consistent with the early days when the show first started - and they used a technique called cutout animation to produce and animate everything, only to later duplicate that style first in digital 2D and then in 2D-rendered 3D.

Reader Question: What Is Silhouette Animation?

Monday May 28, 2012
Izzy asks:
"yo so i saw this spooky totally creeptastic like animation with like black stuff and they were puppets i think but they were flat and it was jsut black and white like the old silent films dude whwat was it it totally gave me nightmares"
I can name a few things that, like, totally give me nightmares too, dude...but silhouette animation isn't one of them. The marionette comparison actually wasn't too far off, considering the old-school methods for animating dark silhouettes against a light backdrop.

New Glossary Entry: Animation Stand

Monday May 28, 2012
You know, it's funny, you never really think about the little things in animation that need explaining - but without those little things, the job couldn't get done. One such little thing that often isn't so little is the animation stand, which is a crucial part of making sure each frame of an animation - whether traditional cel animation or stop-motion animation - gets properly captured on camera. Despite its essential nature, however, animation stands themselves are about as simple as they can possibly get. In fact, it's really not that hard to build your own.

Reader Question: What Is Drawn-on-Film Animation?

Monday May 21, 2012
Jensen asks:
"I was watching this sick, totally trippy old school Norman McLaren thing the other day and I want to know how he does it. Like, can I learn how to do that? It doesn't look like normal animation. It looks weird. It's really simple and stuff, but it just looks kind of scratchy and weird, you know?"
Yes, I know; yes, you can learn; and no, it's not normal animation. Much of McLaren's iconic work was drawn-on-film animation, which takes the cels and cameras right out of the picture to put you directly on the film reel.

Reader Question: What Is Sand Animation?

Monday May 21, 2012
Sue asks:
"Last night on YouTube I watched this woman paint with sand for half an hour. It was so awesome and she made this picture that looked like it was done with real paint! She had some fifty jars of colored sand and it looked like she was just flinging it everywhere, but it all landed just right and I thought it was so cool. I asked my friend later and she said it was called sand animation. What do you know about that?"
Well, I know technically that wasn't an animation, though people often call the performance art of sand painting "sand animation." Actual sand animation is something a bit different.

Reader Question: What Is Pin Animation?

Monday May 21, 2012
James asks:
"This animation I saw once looked like it was drawn with black ink pens and it was kind of stark and weird and a little wobbly, but then when they pulled back they showed it was this thing that looked like a bunch of nails, and they moved all the nails and it made the picture. What is that? What is it called?"
This technique is known as pin animation, or pinscreen animation, and is the basis for those fun pin art toys that let you create an impression of your face...only on a much, much larger scale.

Poll: What's Your Take on the Creative Cloud?

Monday May 14, 2012
Now that Adobe's Creative Cloud has launched in full, I've been giving their subscription service a try and overall, it's not too shabby; I'm working up an overview of the subscription service as a whole and an in-depth look at Flash CS6 and what it means for animators who rely primarily on Flash for their work. But overall I'm having fun playing with the synching features and cloud storage, even if the price point makes me twitch. I'm upgrading from CS5.5, so I get a discount on my monthly cost...but only for a year. After a year, it jumps up to $79.99. Ouch. That doesn't seem like much now, but over the next year or two? That'll add up. Still, at the moment I'm fairly pleased not only with the functionality, but the service as a whole. But what's your take on the Adobe Creative Cloud offering?

Adobe CS6 Launches

Monday May 7, 2012
Adobe CS6After a lot of talk, a lot of hype, and a lot of anticipation, Adobe Creative Suite 6 finally launched yesterday (note: for purchase only; the Creative Cloud SaaS subscription service is scheduled to launch on May 11th, though there is a preorder option available). CS6 comes with enough new features to break your mind, but of particular interest for animators is the upgrades to Flash: from HTML5 support to sprite sheet generation and cross-platform compatibility. Personally, I'm still waiting for the subscription service go to live--but for you early buyers, it's time to cash in and try it out. If you've bought it already...do you think it was worth the upgrade?

One of the Most Exciting Features of Adobe CS6: Subscriptions

Monday April 30, 2012
One of my biggest gripes with newer versions of the Adobe Creative Suite has been the price. Even with the new features, the new functionality, and the great new enhancements with every version of the software suite, the cost of upgrading every 1-2 years can get a little steep and a little frustrating, and result in a tendency to cling to old versions that manage to get the job done, even if it's not as quick or as easy.

With CS6, though Adobe will be introducing their own version of SaaS in the Creative Cloud. For those who aren't familiar with the term, it stands for "Software as a Service," and allows subscription access to the full creative suite for a monthly subscription price - $50 a month for a yearly subscription, $75 a month on a month-to-month basis, with certain apps available for individual licensing for much less (as long as you pay on an annual contract). One obvious benefit is this allows content creators, who previously may have felt forced to pirate by the price point, to legitimize and use a legal version of the software with a more reasonable monthly expenditure.

The down side? Adobe isn't Rent-A-Center, and there is no rent-to-own option. You could pay on a monthly basis until you've completely covered the price of the software suite, and the software still wouldn't be yours; the second you cancel your subscription, you'd lose access. But this is rather a moot point, when it would take years to completely pay out the cost on a month-by-month subscription. By then we could be on CS7 or CS8, and can simply transfer the subscription without having ever paid full price for the CS6 suite. With cloud storage included in the package, that's not too bad at all.

I know I'll definitely be using the subscription service when I upgrade from CS5.5, though I haven't decided if I'll use it just for Flash and Photoshop, or go for the full suite. What about you? Do you intend to subscribe to Adobe CS6, pay full cost, or let it slide entirely?

What's The Difference Between Japanese and American Animation?

Sunday March 4, 2012
Ask the difference between American and Japanese animation, and you may get a fairly ugly response depending on whether the person you're asking is particularly invested in one or the other. I, personally, have no preference, and I'm not about to get in the middle of a hair-pulling fight over what's basically a difference in stylistic preferences...but I can provide a little insight into the visual and stylistic differences, and how you can easily tell the two apart regardless of your own preferences. Whether you think Japanese animation is lazy or think American animation is flat, there are reasons behind those characterizations - just as there are reasons why some find Japanese animation to have more depth, while others think American animation is richer and truer to form. Make your own decisions. I'm staying out of this one.

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