Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More Wilderness Adventure Layouts

The reason to do layouts here (in America or your homeland) is so you can create custom acting.
By "custom" I mean creating original poses and expressions that only fit the particular scene and story you are working on.
If you are just gonna use stock prefab model sheet poses and expressions, then there really is no reason to do layouts in the country. You might as well just send the script directly overseas. It's a lot cheaper and all that matters is what the characters say anyway, right? Not how they say it or how they think?
This is not exactly what layout was created for. It's really the animator's job to create the acting, but since animation is all done overseas (or in flash) this is the best solution I could come up with to at least have some directorial control over the performances in the stories.
It's a bandaid created for TV production. However, TV practices and philosophy have largely been adopted by many full animators too. Meaning that most animators these days are expected to not really vary much from the model sheets or even the limited house styles that exist today. I see characters in every major studio making the same expressions and moving the same way they have moved for 25 years. Maybe some move smoother or have more overlap, but the acting seems to be out of the can.
I've found that even really good animators have trouble adapting to different styles and especially breaking out of stock expressions, actions and poses. Too many artists do things the way "it's supposed to be done".
So layout is also a way for me aid the animators in getting the customized acting I like.
Chuck Jones used to do a lot of his own poses even back when he had great full animators at WB. I think he said not all them could draw well and needed detailed poses from the director.
The ideal to me would be to have animators who not only can move things smoothly, but who also have their own individual styles - and an ability to break from formula - to be able to think on their feet. To be able to feel the emotions of scene and have the chops to translate those feelings into distinct and confident drawings and animation.
FORMULA THINKING VS FEELING
Instead of approaching a scene with thoughts like "Let's see, how is 'happy' supposed to look?" or "How many frames does an anticipation and overshoot take?" Or "How much overlapping action can I squeeze into the scene?" "How can I get some 'tude into the pose?" I much prefer artists who understand the characters and story and the specific scenes they are working on. Then they naturally from the depths of their loins custom craft all the drawings and timing to milk the maximum impact and surprises out of the context of the story.

That's one of the things I love about Clampett. He encourages his animators to customize everything rather than just repeat actions they have already done a million times. That's true creativity as opposed to being merely smooth and professional.

More poses? You'll probably have to put up with another lecture; sorry about that.

44 comments:

Brett W. Thompson said...

Yeah!!! More poses please! They're amazing and SO expressive, it's delightful :)

Mak said...

Yes, please.

So the layout was something that wasn't always around from the early days? That's pretty interesting. It's a shame that we've had to add an extra step that wouldn't be necessary if the studios weren't trying to save a penny in weird places.

Thiago Levy said...

I found a way to enjoy today's cartoons. John you should try my technique. This is what you do you:

You open the cartoon and press play, then you open a window on top of it blocking all the picture. It is not better than music, but is much better than watching it.

Man I love your work!

Geneva said...

More more more, please!

Paul B said...

Yeah! more of these MAGNIFICENT drawings!!!

Then (back in the old days), in the Layout originally you only draw the main poses of the action?

I would love to see this cartoon!

K-T said...

Great expressions and poses, I wish this was made!!!

Frank Forte said...

great drawings

Rothello said...

I find the lectures to be as informative and useful as the poses themselves.

Shawn Dickinson said...

MmmmmORE

POSES!!!!!

Ken said...

I enjoy the lectures as much as the artwork!

Scrawnycartoons said...

On the contrary! You're rants are welcome because they have so much good information in them.

What you said about breaking formula is true. I'm working on something right now and am usually ok with expressions but have struggled so far to come up with custom poses for the characters.

Might try your theory of taking Harvey Kurtzman (or someone with good poses) and drawing the character in some of those poses to loosen me up and learn what makes poses work.

John Rouse said...

You draw the funniest goddamn mouths. I have noticed myself obsessing over the details of people's grills since I started reading this blog. I met a girl at the bar last night and we came back to my place. I'm not sure I'll recognize her if I see her again because I was fixated on her mouth the entire time we were together. She had these little Chiclet-like, overlapping incisors, like Kirsten Dunst, and an extra eye-tooth that grew from her upper-gum on one side. I don't even remember what color her eyes were, but I could pick out that mouth in a police line-up. Dammit...now I have to start drawing and it's nearly 3 in the morning. Thanks, John.

Trevor Thompson said...

Dammit... you're gonna make me beg?

Erik B said...

If you scroll down very fast than you can see the layouts move :P they fit perfectly.

Very handy for the animators who can't visualise the directors vision.

Did you use them for the keyframes too?

Gad said...

great posses
love them

it something i have heard many animators say, you have to provide the acting in the layout, so even if the animator is really bad, the basic posses would force him the way you want.

about flash, it gotten a very bad name, mainly because it is always used in the wrong way. but actually it is not that bad, when used for very specific purposes, and once you force yourself to ignore some of it's "time saving" features.

Damiano D said...

Oh God John! You really ruined me!...in a good way. I've been spoiled by these amazing poses throughout your entire career. No one beats you in the animated acting game! I'd love to see more poses, it's great inspiration.

Scott said...

More poses please. Hearing your lectures really makes me think that you should be running the show in the industry these days. Here's hoping at least Adult Swim gives you a chance eventually.

Amir Avni said...

Love the lectures too!

Some crucial things you raised awareness of:

1.Create the story by drawing Storyboards, not writing scripts

2.Timing to musical beats

3.Customized layout poses

Are there other very crucial elements to making TV animation feel more like classical/golden age animation?

I understand that every level like color scheme and sfx add flavour and specificity. But I suspect the top 3 maybe most crucial, no?

Nick said...

Hello John,I was just wodering if you are still using the MISTERCARTOON@AOL.COM email address? I was trying to get into contact with you about getting a commission. Thanks so much.

J C Roberts said...

Ah, now the process is a lot clearer as to how it works. I had been lumping it together as all being part of the storyboarding phase, but it actually breaks the process up in a more sensible way. Adding in the more refined acting after establishing the broader story beats.

Still not sure where I got the idea layouts were more like full color "mock ups". Probably from some behind the scenes material, the kind of stuff that usually gets the fine points wrong while attemting to show the audience "how it's done".

I'd like to see more layouts from some of the classic episodes. I seem to recall with the ones Bob Jaques worked on that he added more stuff in the animation phase, though.

Carmine said...

More poses, please. And lecture us! Sir, please, LECTURE US. :)

talkingtj said...

great acting!

Elana Pritchard said...

Love your lectures- you are like the Howard Zinn of animation...

One important note: to be a good actor you must have LIFE EXPERIENCE to draw from. You must make mistakes, get angry, have triumphs, have hard times, fall in love... If you spend your entire life hiding indoors behind a computer screen or television and never go out and experience the world to the fullest, your acting will reflect such a lifestyle.

Can't wait for you to see my next comic... it comes out on Saturday...

The Butcher said...

Man it's like getting to watch some new Ren and Stimpy.

The Butcher said...

Is Stimpy the easiest for you to draw?

akira said...

would you have let that tooth with the hole in it go through to the finished product?

zmerrill said...

"Chuck Jones used to do a lot of his own poses even back when he had great full animators at WB. I think he said not all them could draw well and needed detailed poses from the director."

If he did say that, then do you think that it is because he wanted to show his "signature style" out of ego rather than Bob Clampett allowing for variations that cause creative sparks to flow, or what do you think?

antonio said...

hi man
ill be learning stuff here

Jonathan said...

Yes, more pose lecturing! Since reading your blog, I've learned so much about my approach to comics, I honestly don't know how formulaic comics (especially on the web) get away with being so ... well, formulaic.

It's not just about who can draw the goofiest face, or who make the cleverest reference to an oft-used Internet meme to the point of sterilization and redundancy -- it's about engaging with the widest audience that has ever been available in the history of mankind, and to make it relevant.

So yes, this is my way of thanking you, Mr K, for your blog and all the fantastic lectures/rants you post here. If it weren't for you, I'd probably jumping on the bandwagon with another goddamn Pokémon comic. Instead, I've decided to create my own characters, with their own personalites, gaits, methods of speech, and of course silhouette, and make sure I'm doing it well, always yearning to improve.

Sven Hoek said...

Amazing acting. I am missing Mike Pataki again.

wade said...

Thanks again for sharing these with us!

I definitely want to see more! I'm especially curious as to how the layouts coincide with the storyboards. I understand that the layouts are an elaboration on the boards but where do the meet and expand? Maybe a side by side would be nice.

So is it that the layouts haven't reached the point in the boards or did some of the acting change in the layouts? For instance, in the boards George has Ren by his collar is it that we haven't got that far or did the acting change it so that he grabs him differently? IE the second image on the first post versus the last image on the second post.

Pedro Vargas said...

No way, this awesome! I wanna get into some more layout learning! So please, keep those lessons coming!

Eidenbrock said...

Hey john, I tried to do an ink!
whaddya think?
And sorry I'm not sure how to make it clickable link!

http://owencartoons.blogspot.com/2011/04/johnk-inks.htm

Alberto said...

I don't mind the lectures one bit, I enjoy reading them!

HemlockMan said...

Well, Hell! The lectures are one of the main reasons I come to this site! This is a Thinking Man's blog!

Sandra Rivas said...

So many cute drawings of Ren! I'm going crazy here!!! Spoil us more with more poses please!

Jeff M said...

Keep 'em coming! These layouts are beautiful. And bring on the lectures too! It's fun and educational.

patrick sevc said...

Another lecture, would be great!

Arielle P. said...

Yes! MORE! More, I say!

... Because these are just beyond awesome, John. I really wish these could be made, but they are still virtual-eye-candy in layout form, nonetheless! :)

Steven M. said...

I don't mind the lectures, I enjoy as well as the drawings.

David Germain said...

I've read that Chuck Jones almost fired Lloyd Vaughn for not being as good an animator as the others. But, thankfully for Lloyd, Ken Harris stepped in and gave him some pointers. From then on, Lloyd did some fine animation for Chuck (that is until the brief shoutdown in 1953 when he left the studio).

After more than 5 years of blogging, NOW you're worried about your rants? ;) No big deal. With this particular rant I completely agree with everything said. Animation definitely needs to be produced entirely in house again. Now, how to make it economically feasible so that brainless and spineless executives will go for it.

Martin Juneau said...

There is others R&S episodes who was unfinished at the table? Those layouts are very great and the George's actings is incredible!

Troy said...

i think layouts are essential for cartoons its like if you don't want to draw then go be a plumber or somthing jesus...


i love the drawings in this blog a little to much ,


hey john when i was a kid like 16 i wrote you a letter an you sent me back a letter saying i was the 1st kid from australia to write to you ,

i met you at the kaboom exhibition in australia which was a blast with bob clampetts son etc etc..

an when i came to la as a kid your secretary gave me a tour of spumco studio ...you were not there you were in new york......

fast forward i am now 30 a cartoonist .
i publish an draw underground comics which i have been drawing writing for years im comming to the united states tommorrow let me know if you would like to meet a big fan for lunch or beers my shout mate .


have you seen the cartoon online ''burnt face man ''?
the drawings are fucking shit but the characters an dialogue is fucking hillerous i like how he paces the gags.


troy

69screwfest@gmail.com

zacko1995 said...

This looks amazing and it sucks that it NEVER got made! But if it were to be made today, George Liquor wouldn't be the same without Michael Pataki doing the voice! Still, these pictures are neat! =)