Monday, April 06, 2009

goals of a shorts program 7 - Create experience in house by bringing animation back

Sorry that I haven't done much writing lately. I have been madly putting together a George presentation for a pitch tomorrow, so have only had time to put up some pictures.

Here's a truncated version of the next installment of the shorts program series:

To Give Cartoonists Real Experience

A sensible shorts program wouldn't be sweeping the nation looking for the next inexperienced kid who has a an executive worthy idea. Yet this is what the networks do over and over again and never learn from it. They purposely look for people with little to zero experience. They think that these young prodigies will be untainted by knowledge so will therefore be more freely creative.

I say Hogwash! Let's do the most sensible thing, the THING that we have been avoiding for the last 35 years. The thing our business is called: Animation

Bring Back The Goddamn Animation

People in America need to learn from the ground floor up. They need to assist, then animate, then do layout, storyboards etc... until they gain enough experience to know how cartoons and their various departments work together.

And I don't mean animating it in flash. I mean drawing the stuff. For real.

The argument against this is that it's too expensive, and that may be true at some small places, but not at the majors. They have tons of money that doesn't ever make it to the screen. They just toss it out the window by spending it on too many execs, market research, bureaucracy, development departments, executive trips around the world, retreats, indecision, rewrites, too many department heads etc. etc.

Take that money and start a unit system. Put it directly on the screen with no waste and into the crews so that they can learn to make cartoons well.

Hell, HB made shorts for $3,000 when they started. With the budgets the big TV studios have today, they could do much better than that (although with less experienced animators). But that's the point!

Let's give them some experience. The shorts program IS the development budget. Start with the funniest most experienced director you can find and let him hire the artists he wants and start making cartoons. This is pure logic. There is no mystery science to this. No Hippie thinking. It's the quickest cheapest road to success and domination of the field.

Build Crews and let them get used to each other (Director's Teams)
Experiment Through Trial and Error, and Learn from mistakes and successes.

Crews should be able to remain together for stretches of time and over a bunch of cartoons as they try out assorted characters, not just one set.

More to come...


John Young said...

Your dream is my dream. However, for all the enjoyment i get from your blog the feeling i'm left with most is one of indignation. It's infuriating to sort of be doing what i love for a living but not be given the opportunity to improve. It's my responsibility to hone my skills to a certain level of professionalism but at a certain point i'm limited by other people's lazyness. On flash shows it truly doesn't matter how funny the board is because there's no way in hell it will survive past "layout" and animation. This is a recipe for apathy because the natural inclination is to then think, why should i care if nobody else does? And you become as guilty as everyone else of just pushing things along to meet rediculously tight deadlines.

Niki said...

have you ever tried pitching at a station that doesn't show cartoons regularly? Maybe a group really naive to the process would help, and you could tell them whatever you wanted. When you start making cartoons better than cartoon Network and Nick, they take notice and imitate and fail. but you may have to try and keep it up for a while.

Brendan Body said...

Good luck with the pitch! I think we'd all like to see the results of you putting your theories into practice.

JohnK said...

Thanks, but that will be a whole different story!

Bill Wright said...

Is animating in Flash all that bad a thing? I respect all the hard work that goes into hand-drawn cel animation, and the foundation laid down by people like Tex Avery and Chuck Jones in the classic animation of the 40s and 50s, but it's not like there's nothing "for real" about animating in Flash.

You give very sound advice about learning as many aspects of the animation process as possible (storyboarding, layouts, etc.) and as a one-man animation studio I've actually done a lot of them. I would agree that learning every stage of the process in a studio would be the ultimate animation training experience. But when you can't make it to LA or Orlando, sometimes you do the next best thing. In the hands of the right person, Flash can be pretty good.

Here's my Flash cartoons:

I don't think I've done too bad for myself.

And I consider your daily insights into the process of animation a goldmine of information. Always something new to learn.


Jizz Wad said...

It's weird that these studios seem rigidly stuck in their ways, yet what you're suggesting, the 'radical' artist, is actually an older system, one which was cost effective.

If we want another Chuck Jones it does make sense.

It's incredible how fast the standards of animation slip and no wonder if there is no way to pass on the years of knowledge and experience.

It's ironic that your preaching animation fundamentals, highlighting a gap in cartoon education, and it mirrors perfectly the gap in the industry.

Do you know any good animation directors that would argue with what you are saying?

Good luck with the pitch.

Alex I.R., Esq. said...

"They purposely look for people with little to zero experience. They think that these young prodigies will be untainted by knowledge so will therefore be more freely creative."

Well now wait a minute: I've been trying to obtain an animation internship (required), and so far, no studio has accepted a pseudo-experienced student like me. They say my qualifications are impressive, but there's naught available for me.
So, obviously they want EXPERIENCED PEOPLE.

Anonymous said...

Good luck Mr. K!

Trevor Thompson said...

Alex, I think John is talking about people who are pitching the shows... the creators and directors.

Obviously they want people with experience to work in the crews. That'd be stupid even for the executives.

- trevor.

Geneva said...

I love this series, can't wait for the unabridged version!

Good luck at your pitch! I know you'll knock 'em dead (I just hope that they have the sense to pick it up!)

Williaint said...

A friend(s) and I want to do sketches, not just animation, but live stuff, as well.
I realize we have a long way to go, and it's not as simple as making a simple cartoon in Flash, and making a simple 3 minute live sketch, and composing it in iMovie.
I happen to like Flash, better than classical animating, but am trying to emulate it through rough steps (ie; rough animatic - smoother character design, animation) and it seems to work better for me.
The hardest thing to accomplish, in flash, is colour that doesn't look like Flash-- Flat.
Though, it might be good, if you're making shorts that look like a Jay-Ward cartoon.

MLP said...

Have animation studios animate? John, you radical reactionary you, what wacky thing will you say next? I suppose you think governments should govern, too. Of all the outlandish notions...

the plummer said...

Hahah, bring animation back! I may laugh, but it is kinda sad that it comes down to that a lot of times.

I've been re-watching WB shorts by the truckload recently, and had a great revelation: There's simply nothing "outstanding" about them, if we apply industry "standards" to them today. They're so simple, yet focus on the fun of cartooning. Simple as that. Between one even seemed to draw exactly the same or married to a strict, selling, "style". A Bugs in one short looks and sometimes acts very different from another. But why are they all still so good regardless???

I read an article recently about how some investors are starting to (or becoming more) antsy about Pixar's "artistic" edge in their films, instead of focusing on their pictures with branding and merchandise in mind. God forbid we just make films or shorts anymore for the sake of animation...even if it's good animation.

:: smo :: said...


This has been one of my big goals since college; possibly before...i have some really big views and angles on this, but i don't feel like posting them just yet.

that being said i'm currently between gigs and devoting some time to traditional study again. i think with a traditionally planned workflow and handling revisions the way they did when they had to wait for film to be developed to make fixes [ie. do it right the first time and don't mess with the boards once they're passed on etc.] workflow WILL be affordable.

sometimes i feel like i'm the only one that got into animation TO ANIMATE. this industry is insane sometimes.

Steve A said...

Hey John K. Lots of luck with the pitch! Also, I am on board for any team you may put together of "inexperienced" animators. I went to school for a degree in Computer Animation and didn't learn a lick about how to actually animate. I know how to use 3-D software though (big stinking deal!). I should have just read your blog religiously (which I do know) and learned a whole lot more and saved tens of thousands of $. I am unemployed with no signs of a steady job on the horizon, so I'm ready to go John. I am more than willing to work my ass off to learn from a modern animation master.

Either way, thank you so much for this awesome service you are providing. For anyone that is new to this blog, follow it and you will learn tons about cartooning and animation...

Dan szilagyi said...

I'm totally with you on this John and i fully agree, and i wish from the bottom of my heart that this would really happen but somehow as sad as it seems it probably won't and if it does it won't be on a level where it could be really useful to lots of artists/animators, but perhaps a few ( i'm thinking people in South Cali or something )
and i'm with you 100% on this flash idea as well, bring back REAL cartoons! hell all flash does is take away from style and turns everything into a bland and shitty moving puppet show.
I refuse to believe that it's "too expensive" to animate a short or TV series with the amount of money they pump in.

I really hope this does catch on though and we start to see some real 2D cartoons again.

Thank you so much for this series of posts John!


Eddie Fitzgerald said...

This is music to my ears! If a philanthropically inclined millionaire is reading this I hope he'll consider putting a billboard up on Sunset Blvd, that says "Bring animation back!"

farting robots said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JohnK said...

What ARE your services?

farting robots said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JohnK said...

Yeah send me some links. I would love to have an expert at all those programs.

farting robots said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
farting robots said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
farting robots said...

ooh - the ai pen tool comment was a joke...fwiw ;)

Raff said...

>> hell all flash does is take away from style and turns everything into a bland and shitty moving puppet show <<

Maybe this will convince you otherwise:

And I know I haven't posted in a while, but I'm reading and I'm excitedly anticipating the new George Liquor program.

farting robots said...

John - as promised here's a link to something not related to web work...

Any & all feedback is appreciated - I spent about 30 minutes on the lines & 1 hour on the paint... thanks again!