Sunday, August 27, 2006

Immersion

... the past several weeks have been absolutely gorgeous here. The temperatures are comfortable, the sky is clear and blue, and most important, the sun is shining. It would be a sin to let these precious days go to waste so when I am not working, I am out on the new bicycle. When I go out riding during the day, I always have my backpack strapped on. It's sort of a "traveling studio" that I load with a sketchbook, a pencil pouch, a folder (containing a fresh legal pad), a digital camera, and something relevant to read.
... when I say "relevant reading material", I mean something related to the animation process. Usually, the subject matter is something tied to the "non-drawing" element of animation, such as storytelling or film making. I have several great reference books related to that subject and I'm devouring them in the cafes and parks along my route. It's not unusual for me, at some point during a ride, to end up on the campus of the University of Michigan to take advantage of the endless resources available there.
... The Museum of Natural History is a favorite destination and I visit often. Here is an interesting photo essay about a restoration project involving the Puma's that grace the museums entrance. In fact, I visit the museum so frequently that I was able to watch staff members put together a Mastadon skeleton on the first floor. Don't even try to get near the dinosaur exhibit on a weekday during the regular schoolyear. You will be fighting for a view with hoardes of schoolkids from all over the state! This is even more interesting because they recently uncovered another Mastadon skeleton in a field within walking distance of my childhood home.
... I also enjoy visiting the University of Michigan Museum of Art. It has become my habit to explore the exhibitions, become enamored and obsessed with the display and return to view it again. I discover something new on the next visit and it becomes my new obsession! There is enough inside this museum to keep me content while the Detroit Institute of the Arts undergoes a much needed renovation!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Craig's List Rulz...

... once again, I got a wonderful deal off of Craig's List. Back in March, I found a beautiful drawing/drafting table up for sale at an extraordinary price and I bought it. This weekend, it was my good fortune to find an equally exceptional deal on a mountain bike. I picked it up early this morning.
... the bike is about 10 years old, but in incredible shape. The owner told me that he only rode it a few times before it ended up hanging on a rack in the garage. The speedometer confirms this, with a grand total of 38 miles recorded! Other than needing some lubrication on the chain and sprockets, the bike appears to be brand new. I jumped on the bike when I got home and took a short ride to just to check things out. I'll adjust the seat, oil the chain, and start riding seriously again.
... now, notice that I said "riding seriously again". The fact is that this bicycle is actually the fourth one I've owned. I arrived in town with an old Raleigh "English Racer" 10 speed that had already seen better days when I got here. After replacing bent rims a couple of times, I sold the Raleigh and got a new "all terrain" bike. Late one November night, under very suspicious circumstances, all the bikes in the yard were stolen. We have ideas about the who, what, when, where, how, and why, but the bottom line is that those bikes were never seen again. Anticipating a similiar theft, I replaced the stolen bike with a cheap generic model that I never liked very much. A perfect example of the axiom, "You get what you pay for", the bike fell apart, rusted out, became unsafe, and was disposed of. At long last, it's replaced.
... I figure that I'll start out with some short jaunts around the neighborhood after my morning coffee. I'll do the nearby errands that I'd normally just jump in the truck for by bicycle. A week or two of that should build up some kind of endurance and leg strength. Don't get me wrong, I'm not an invalid by any means, but by the end of my little test ride this morning, I felt some burning in my legs and know better than to go at this full force all at once. I want to put more than 38 miles on the bike, after all! I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I found the previous animation...

... on "YouTube" when I entered "calarts animation" as the keyword. Of all the animations I watched, this one really grabbed my attention. I was looking for rough material, projects that would provide a deeper look into the process of producing an animated short. There are a number of elements in this one that I found interesting and helpful.
... first, the drawing grabbed my attention. While there were some complex drawings in the film, such as the tree in the beginning and the tree with the cicada, the rest of the drawings were relatively simple, clean lines. They showed what they needed to show to convey the message without being overly detailed. I loved seeing the way the girl moved, partly transparent at times, showing her motion and movements. Second, I loved the way the story flowed, a perfect example of graphic storytelling or visual narrative. The story didn't need dialogue to carry it. The viewer understands the idea and words aren't necessary to convey the idea.
... anyway, I hope I find more projects like this as I study and learn. They're not only educational and enlightening, they're inspirational as well!