Thursday, December 17, 2009

INSPIRATION 5 - “ Branding is for Cows ” – Excerpt from speech by Roy E. Disney (March 3, 2004)

{ thank you to Merlin Jones at Cartoon brew for this post }

“ Branding is for Cows ” – Excerpt from speech by Roy E. Disney (March 3, 2004)

“The Walt Disney Company is more than just a business. It is an authentic American icon — which is to say that over the years it has come to stand for something real and meaningful and worthwhile to millions of people of all ages and backgrounds around the world.

This is not something you can describe easily on a balance sheet, but it is tangible enough. Indeed, it is the foundation on which everything we have accomplished as a company — both artistically and financially — is based.

I believe our mission has always been to be bringers of joy, to be affirmers of the good in each of us, to be — in subtle ways — teachers. To speak, as Walt once put it, “not to children but to the child in each of us.”

We do this through great storytelling, by giving our guests a few hours in another world where their cares can be momentarily put aside, by creating memories that will remain with them forever.

This is the core of what we’ve come to call “Disney,” and to my mind, our single biggest need is to get back to that core.

In my view, the essence of who we are lies in the business of film — especially animation — and the stories, characters, music, and humor that well-made films generate. This is the engine that drives the train, and everything we do as a company basically flows from it.

You will note that I refer to our film work as a business. Whatever else it may be, it is always that as well — a business that needs to be run on a sound basis by people who are sensible as well as sensitive.My Dad was quoted once as saying, “It’s easy to make decisions, once you know what your values are.” Unfortunately, our corporate values have been compromised in recent years.

In large part, this is the result of a cynical management’s belief that, in the absence of ideas, the road to success is to cut back on everyone and everything that once made you successful, that you don’t really need to give your guests value for money, that creativity and originality are luxuries you can no longer afford … that art and artists are commodities to be bought and sold like any other office supply.

To me, the wrong-headedness of these beliefs is self-evident.

The creative process is the lifeblood of the Disney Company. If it is to thrive, we must do everything possible to establish an environment in which it can once again flourish.

Creativity is a funny thing — difficult to quantify, but obvious when it’s missing. It’s a living, breathing force with a life of its own, and it tends to flower among individuals or small groups. It doesn’t always show up on demand … or at convenient times or places. And it often gets killed by committees or by something called strategic planning. So we need to always be on the lookout for ways to nurture it, and not let it be trampled by a lowest-common-denominator mentality.

One of creativity’s worst enemies is something I call “Institution Think.” This is a very tricky issue. After all, Disney is an institution. But that doesn’t mean it has to think like one.

Let me tell you about the danger of Institution Think: It is often said that our company’s most valuable asset is the Disney name. You’ll get no argument from me. I kind of like the name myself. But, in recent times, there’s been a tendency to refer to it as the “Disney brand.” To me, this degrades Disney into a “thing” to be bureaucratically managed, rather than a “name” to be creatively championed. And lately I’ve been seeing Mickey receive this treatment too, as well as Pooh and a lot of others.

As I’ve said on other occasions, branding is something you do to cows. It makes sense if you’re a rancher, since cows do tend to look alike. It’s also useful to lots of businessmen, and they brand things like detergents or shoes for almost the same reason as ranchers. Branding is what you do when there’s nothing original about your product.

But there is something original about our products. Or at least there used to be. Our name already means something to consumers.I really believe that if we keep thinking of Disney as a “brand,” we will lose all the meaning that has been built into those six letters for more than three-quarters of a century. We need to get back to thinking of it as a “name” that needs to be prized and enhanced, escape the clutches of Institution Think and resume our trajectory of creative and financial success.

How did the Disney Company create enormous shareholder value in the past? Two ways: first by trusting the talents and imagination of its creative people — and then by supporting them with the resources they required.

I don’t care what current management may tell you.

The plain fact is, you can’t fool all the people all the time. Nor can you succeed in our business by trying to get by on the cheap. Consumers know when they are getting value for their money, and they know when you’re trying to sell them second-hand goods.

So what kind of change do we need to make? It’s really quite simple. We need to install a new management team, one that understands and believes in the enormously valuable legacy that’s been entrusted to us.

Speaking as someone with the last name of “Disney,” it is my firm belief that we are not a commodity. As long as we continue to believe in the power of creative ideas, then our best years still lie ahead.”

– - Roy E. Disney

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

2009 Annie Award Nominees

2009 Annie Award Nominees by Category


Best Animated Feature

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs – Sony Pictures Animation
Coraline – Laika
Fantastic Mr. Fox– 20th Century Fox
The Princess and the Frog – Walt Disney Animation Studios
The Secret of Kells – Cartoon Saloon
Up – Pixar Animation Studios

Best Home Entertainment Production

Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas – Universal Animation Studios
Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder – The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Green Lantern: First Flight – Warner Bros. Animation
Open Season 2 – Sony Pictures Animation
SpongeBob vs. The Big One – Nickelodeon

Best Animated Short Subject

Pups of Liberty – Picnic Pictures
Robot Chicken: Star Wars 2.5 – ShadowMachine
Santa, The Fascist Years – Plymptoons
The Rooster, The Crocodile and The Night Sky – Barley Films
The Story of Walls – Badmash Animation Studios

Best Animated Television Commercial

Goldfish: In The Dark – Blur Studios, Inc.
Idaho Lottery “Twiceland” – Acme Filmworks, Inc.
Nutty Tales – Blue Sky Studios
Spanish Lottery “Deportees” – Acme Filmworks, Inc.
The Spooning – Screen Novelties /Acne Media

Best Animated Television Production

Glenn Martin, DDS “Korean Opportunities” – Torante, Cuppa Coffee Studios & Rogers Communications
Merry Madagascar – DreamWorks Animation
Prep and Landing – ABC Family/Walt Disney Animation Studios
The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror XX” – Gracie Films

Best Animated Television Production for Children

The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack “Candy Casanova” – Cartoon Network Studios
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – Disney Television Animation
The Mighty B! “Catatonic” – Nickelodeon/Polka Dot Pictures/Paper Kite Productions
The Penguins of Madagascar “Paternal Eggstinct” – Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation
SpongeBob SquarePants “Pineapple Fever” – Nickelodeon


Animated Effects

Alexander Feigin “9” – 9 L.L.C.
Eric Froemling “Up” – Pixar Animation Studios
James Mansfield “The Princess and the Frog” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Scott Cegielski “Monsters vs. Aliens” – DreamWorks Animation
Tom Kluyskens “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” – Sony Pictures Animation

Character Animation in a Television Production

Kevan Shorey “Merry Madagascar” – DreamWorks Animation
Mark Donald “B.O.B.’s Big Break” – DreamWorks Animation
Mark Mitchell “Prep and Landing” – Walt Disney Animation Studio
Phillip To “Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space” – DreamWorks Animation
Tony Smeed “Prep and Landing” – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Character Animation in a Feature Production

Andreas Deja “The Princess and the Frog” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Eric Goldberg “The Princess and the Frog” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Travis Knight “Coraline” – Laika
Daniel Nguyen “Up” – Pixar Animation Studios
Bruce Smith “The Princess and the Frog” – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Character Design in a Television Production

Bryan Arnett “The Mighty B! – Catatonic” – Nickelodeon/Polka Dot Pictures/Paper Kite Productions
Ben Balistreri “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” – Cartoon Network Studios
Craig Kellman “Merry Madagascar” – DreamWorks Animation
Bill Schwab “Prep and Landing” – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Character Design in a Feature Production

Daniel Lopez Munoz “Up” – Pixar Animation Studios
Shane Prigmore “Coraline” – Laika
Shannon Tindle “Coraline” – Laika

Directing in a Television Production

Bret Haaland “The Penguins of Madagascar – Launchtime” – Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation
Pam Cooke & Jansen Yee “American Dad: Brains, Brains & Automobiles” – 20th Century Fox/Fuzzy Door/Underdog
Jennifer Oxley “The Wonder Pets: Help The Monster” – Nickelodeon/Little Airplane Productions
John Infantino, J.G. Quintel “The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack: Candy Casanova” – Cartoon Network Studios
Rob Fendler “Popzilla” – Animax

Directing in a Feature Production

Wes Anderson “Fantastic Mr. Fox” – 20th Century Fox
Pete Docter “Up” – Pixar Animation Studios
Christopher Miller, Phil Lord “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” – Sony Pictures Animation
Hayao Miyazaki “Ponyo” – Studio Ghibli
Henry Selick “Coraline” – Laika

Music in a Television Production

Guy Moon “The Fairly OddParents: “Wishology- The Big Beginning” – Nickelodeon
Kevin Kiner “Star Wars: The Clone Wars “Weapons Factory” – Lucasfilm Animation Ltd.
Michael Giacchino “Prep and Landing” – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Music in a Feature Production

Bruno Coulais “Coraline” – Laika
Michael Giacchino “Up” – Pixar Animation Studios
Joe Hisaishi “Ponyo” – Studio Ghibli
John Powell “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” – Blue Sky Studios

Production Design in a Television Production

Mac George “Prep and Landing” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Andy Harkness “Prep and Landing” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Janice Kubo “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” – Cartoon Network Studios

Production Design in a Feature Production

Christopher Appelhaus “Coraline” – Laika
Ian Gooding “The Princess and the Frog” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Tadahiro Uesugi “Coraline – Laika
Christopher Vacher “9” – 9 L.L.C.

Storyboarding in a Television Production

Sunil Hall “The Mighty B!: Catatonic” – Nickelodeon/Polka Dot Pictures/Paper
Brandon Kruse “The Fairly OddParents: Fly Boy” – Nickelodeon
Robert Koo “Merry Madagascar” – DreamWorks Animation
Joe Mateo “Prep and Landing” – ABC Family/Walt Disney Animation Studios
Kite Productions
Adam Van Wyk “The Spectacular Spider-Man: Final Curtain” – Culver Entertainment

Storyboarding in a Feature Production

Sharon Bridgeman “Astro Boy” – Imagi Studios
Chris Butler “Coraline” – Laika
Ronnie Del Carmen “Up” – Pixar Animation Studios
Tom Owens “Monsters vs. Aliens” – DreamWorks Animation
Peter Sohn “Up” – Pixar Animation Studios

Voice Acting in a Television Production

Danny Jacobs - Voice of King Julien - “Merry Madagascar” – DreamWorks Animation
Nicky Jones - Voice of Chowder - “Chowder: The Dinner Theatre’” – Cartoon Network Studios
Tom Kenny - Voice of SpongeBob - “SpongeBob SquarePants – Truth or Square” – Nickelodeon
Dwight Schultz - Voice of Mung Daal - “Chowder:The Party Cruise” – Cartoon Network Studios
Willow Smith - Voice of Abby - “Merry Madagascar” – DreamWorks Animation

Voice Acting in a Feature Production

Jen Cody - Voice of Charlotte - “The Princess and the Frog” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Dawn French - Voice of Miss Forcible – “Coraline” – Laika
Hugh Laurie - Voice of Dr. Cockroach Ph.D. – “Monsters vs. Aliens” – DreamWorks Animation
John Leguizamo - Voice of Sid – “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaur” – Blue Sky Studios
Jennifer Lewis - Voice of Mama Odie – “The Princess and the Frog” – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Writing in a Television Production

Daniel Chun – “The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XX” – Gracie Films
Kevin Deters, Stevie Wermers-Skelton – “Prep and Landing” – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Valentina L. Garza – “The Simpsons: Four Great Women and a Manicure” – Gracie Films
Billy Kimball and Ian Maxtone-Graham - “The Simpsons: Gone Maggie Gone” – Gracie Films
Billy Lopez – The Wonder Pets – Save the Honey Bears” – Nickelodeon Productions/Little Airplane Productions

Writing in a Feature Production

Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach – “Fantastic Mr. Fox” – 20th Century Fox
Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy – “Up” – Pixar Animation Studios
Timothy Hyde Harris and David Bowers – “Astro Boy” – Imagi Studios
Christopher Miller and Phil Lord – “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” – Sony Pictures Animation


Winsor McCay Award – Tim Burton, Bruce Timm, Jeffrey Katzenberg

June Foray Award – Tom Sito

Ub Iwerks Award – William T. Reeves

Special Achievement – Martin Meunier and Brian McLean

Certificate of Merit – Myles Mikulic, Danny Young and Michael Woodside

Winners will be announced at the 37th Annual Annie Awards ceremony on Saturday, February 6, 2010, at UCLA’s Royce Hall, in Los Angeles. For tickets and information, visit the Annie Awards website.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My latest student's comments :

Once again I received some feedback
from my students at Animation Mentor.
I teach class 5, which is story.
I help the students with their ideas for their short
films to be completed in class 6.
The process being that of having them come up with
3 original ideas to develop, then over the weeks,
narrow it down to the 1 idea, storyboard
and then create a layout pass for the film.
{ with camera moves and sound if needed }
At the end of the week 12, they will be able to jump into
just animating the performances of
their films characters {class 6}.
It's been another positive class and I'm proud to
have been a part of it, being able to help guide.
Here are some of my students comments:


Mark's ecrits are always super helpful and makes me think of my assignment
in a whole new light. He gives lots of ideas on how to approach a certain situation
and lets us choose the path we like to take, without making it a requirement to
do any one thing. We still have plenty of artistic freedom to take our
short films in the direction we want =)

Mark is great. He makes sure everyone gets camera time, and gets their thoughts
in for the assignment of the week. Some things I really like that he did a couple
times was when he drew examples of whatever he was talking about on his
cintique for students to better understand him. All in all Mark is doing a fine job.
If i were to ask if a cherry could be on top, I would like to hear more stories
about his career as animator. They're just fun to hear on top of the lectures we get.

Overall, Mark has been great. It's a different class, since it's story and most of our
Q&As have just been saying Hi to everyone and answering any questions
about our shorts. He has gotten our crits done in a really quick manner.
The truth of the matter is, Mark is pushing us like we would be
pushed in the studios.

Mark is simply brilliant with what he does. He really takes the time to see how each
of us is doing and would devote his time in helping each of us to acheive what we
are trying to do. His q&a's are very informative and fun at the same time.
The crits have been great because Mark can spots problems really quickly and is
able to give us solid advice on how to go about it. He is extremely friendly and
professional and it has been a blast to have him as a mentor. Simply a great guy!

His concerns are Valid and handles every situation with at most care and strictly
adheres to the school curriculum, his comments have been very helpfull in
understanding the showreel requirments, and also prepared us well in advance
for the next term. it is really great to be mentored by a great human being and artist.

Think my mentor gives good and informative critiques.
Helps me seeing new ideas in my short.

He's been very good at taking a kernel of an idea an helping me develop it.
This process is new to me, and he's doing a good job of breaking it down
into manageable steps. I like how he gets everyone on camera during
each Q&A and gives individual attention. We get a lot of information and help,
but always seem to stay within the timeframe. He gets his ecrits done early
in the week, sometimes Sunday night! This is much appreciated!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

20 Animated Features for 2009 Oscars

As reported from Beverly Hills today :

20 Animated Features Line Up for 2009 Oscar® Race

Beverly Hills, CA (November 11, 2009) — Twenty features have been
submitted for consideration in the Animated Feature Film
category for the 82nd Academy Awards®.
The 20 submitted features are:
“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel”
“Astro Boy”
“Battle for Terra”
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”
“Disney's A Christmas Carol”
“The Dolphin – Story of a Dreamer”
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs”
“Mary and Max”
“The Missing Lynx”
“Monsters vs. Aliens”
“Planet 51”
“The Princess and the Frog”
“The Secret of Kells”
“Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure”
“A Town Called Panic”
The 82nd Academy Awards nominations will be announced on
Tuesday, February 2, 2010, at 5:30 a.m. PT in
the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2009
will be presented on Sunday, March 7, 2010,at the Kodak Theatre.
( btw, my bet is for Coraline to take the gold } -mark

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

'How to train your Dragon' - trailer

Here's the latest release from DREAMWORKS. The 'How to train your Dragon' trailer.
Very excited about this next Chris Sanders directed film. I have some good friends { and poker players ... when I lived in LA} who are animating on this one. Very good comments from them regarding the story. No details, only to say it is VERY emotional. NOT a crazy paced gag-filled film, but a very emotional film. They love the whole production. As one of them mentioned to me, " I haven't been this excited to animate on a film in years. Because it's so good! "

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Princess and the Frog - opening 6 minutes

Below is a new clip of Disney's newest traditional film
'Princess and the Frog'.
The directors John Musker and Ron Clements ,
who I had the pleasure of working for on
their movie 'hercules', opens the clip
with some words regarding the movie.
As they note, this is the opening 6 minutes of the film,
some in colour, some in pencil test form.
Here it is posted from YouTube:

Came across this collection of rough traditional animation for
Disney's next feature 'Princess and the Frog' on Youtube.
Thought I'd post it for people to see.
It's nice seeing this art-form again. Instead of all those shiny textures ;-)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

FLASH - my 1st animated scene using FLASH

Here is my 1st scene I animated using the program FLASH.
It's still not completely finished but here it is.
It was while I was at Renegade animation studio in Glendale California working with Darrell Van Citters and crew.

This scene was for their animated series called 'The Mr Men Show'.
This show is wildly popular in England and is being shown at various times in America on the Cartoon Network.
In this scene, I have MR Grumpy settling into his chair as he starts to watch his television. I had to have a bird fly into the scene { as we see though the opened window } and land on the branch. I decided to have fun and make it look UPA-ish ... having the bird just rotate in a complete circle before he lands.
The one thing with shows that have limited time to create the work.... as long as you are making it look good, it's pretty open for ideas.
I really liked the change in look, as an animator. It flooded my thoughts with ideas for animated shorts that i could now do working with FLASH. Maybe quick little moments of just fun animation.
It really was interesting having the scene, once I was done with it, be pretty much what the audience will see on TV. I was really finishing the entire shot. Note that there was a ton of work done by other artists creating all the libraries of 'symbols' or layouts, characters, props etc. that were completed BEFORE I started animating.
But once I was done animating and the scene was approved by the director, it was finished. Only to be edited into the reel.

It really felt like I was making a real CARTOON. Very simple shapes, going into and out of poses...holding the pose, hitting accents with little actions within the main body holds. It wasn't 'FULL' animation as we do at Dreamworks/Disney etc ... but it was using the same principals to make the animation look natural and 'real' even though it was a limited project.

Really thinking out the action, blocking out the main holds and any accents to create the scene. Using such graphic shapes and colours to animate with, in a limited style yet hopefully entertaining way. And I found this to be a shot in the arm creatively, putting fun back into the job. I was really making a silly cartoon.

And having my kids laugh at how 'dumb' the bird looks was only an added bonus :-)

This scene, being my 1st FLASH scene, was at the beginning of my 'learning curve' of learning the program. Knowing the 3D animation program ' MAYA ' and also animating at Dreamworks with their own 3D program ' EMO ' { emotion } , I had a good start with learning another software.

I find each program to be somewhat similar in style, each having their own ' hotkeys ' to creating a ' KEY ' for a certain item { body part or 'symbol' }.

Each program has it's own version of a ' Graph Editor ', where you can adjust the speed of going into or out of main ' KEY ' poses.

BUT, with Flash, that I found to be unique from the other programs was it's way of how it organizes it's different layers of items. With MAYA, EMO etc.... each numbered and keyed body part was numbered and connected to the 'time frame', meaning a 'KEY' on frame 14 WAS meaning that on frame 14, that 'key' body part was 14 frames into the scene. The numbering related to the timeframe.

In FLASH, the 1st level known as the STAGE was also in relation to the timeframe.... BUT once you 'click' into a characters body, the numbering of the different body 'keys' { or as the say in FLASH, 'symbols' } the numbering becomes it's own having NOTHING to do with the scenes 'timeframe' used on the STAGE level.

I know this may sound somewhat confusing, BUT I found that once you simplify the way to look at how FLASH is organized, it is easier than it looks.
It just takes a clear mind to wrap yourself into how it it organized, how it is set up.

Once you start understanding the set up, you'll be moving around the program quite easily.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Memory Lane 4 > Dreamworks Shrek 2

A few of my photos taken during my time at Dreamworks Animation Studio while animating on the feature 'Shrek 2'.
These photos were taken during a quick break as i walked down the hall to my friends
Kevin O'hara and Jim Hull's room. This is a typical moment....

ROOM 166. Where all the chaos took place. Enter carefully

Kevin explaining to Jim what Jim should do to his scene.

Kevin responds { once again } that Jim is completely ignoring him.

Kevin responds happily that James Baxter { our supervisor on the film } comes in and breaks up the fight. Kevin calls Jim on the phone to tell him that they can still talk to each other.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

another project ....

As I wait to still settle from my move from LA to Vancouver Canada, I just thought I would post some images from another project that I am on.
Just some character design and rough layout.

The color piece is some first passes with my painter10 program.
I'm very much a novice at using it.
Being somewhat colorblind makes it a bit more interesting as hey, trying my best :-)
I'm thinking of signing up with to learn through the step by step videos how to get around the program. So far, I love what i can do with it.... I just need to know HOW to use it.

Friday, August 7, 2009

moving to Canada

Just a quick note to the blog to say that I am moving to Vancouver B.C. Canada.
This is beginning of day 2 of our drive north from L.A.
Myself and my 2 boys and 2 cats.
I'll be able to post more once I cross the border and settle.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Darrell Van Citters ' Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol' book

As I posted here on Cartoon Brews website :



Having a room that faces Darrell Van Citters office at Renegade, I can say first hand how passionate he has been in regards to his first published book.

He put his efforts into creating a very detailed ‘art of’ book that should gain respect from any artist that is interested in the history, the art of design, and the first hand stories and photos from artists who created the show.

I truly hope that another project comes forward that causes him to dive in once more to take on another book.

If it is as interestedly detailed and well thought out as his first book,
from the stories, to the photos, to the artwork, it will be yet another success.



Darrell will be at the San Diego Comic Con, at the Van Eaton Galleries Booth #501.

He'll be selling signed copies of the book there.

Below are some images, some pages from the book.

Click the image below to see a larger view of what John Lasseter, Brad Bird, John Musker, Chris Buck, and Michael Giaimo have to say in regards to Darrell's first book.

You can order your copy here: STORE


Thursday, July 9, 2009

featured ' Mentor '

I was recently asked to be the 'featured mentor' for the July 2009 newsletter that Animation Mentor releases to their school each month. The newsletter has various articles along with a featured mentor and featured student.
If you are not familiar with this on-line school, you should click the link I have posted on the right side of my Blog.
It's a great school for people that want to learn the full 'feature' style of animation in 3D. A great choice also for people who are limited with not being able to attend an animation school in person but want to learn from professionals.

And the people in charge of this school have been so extremely nice for the last 2 years I have been working with them. I find a lot of positive encouragement from my friend and co-founder of the school Bobby Beck.
Click his name to go to his Blog.
Also the main person that keeps all of us mentors in line is Cathleen Hodgson.
Cathleen could not be more helpful and I'm sure other mentors would agree when I say that she is just a peaceful soul who makes it so easy to work with.
I teach 'STORY' in class 5.
Very fortunate to be with them.

Animation Mentor:
What inspired you to learn character animation?

Mark Pudleiner:
Honestly, when I really think about this question it would have to start
with my love of drawing.I spent huge amounts of time sitting at a desk
as a kid, pencil in hand,being lost in my own internal world.
Back then, with no worries of deadlines or feedback slowing me down,
with nothing in the way of total creativity, it was an
amazing freedom.
I drew all the time.
In high school, I created various comic strips to try to get
syndicated in the newspapers.
I am still drawn at times to create another strip.
Once you start, it really does take on a life of its own.
The characters become real with their own personalities.
This amazing feeling of actually bringing something to life,
something that you create with a pencil on paper, was what
led me to join the Sheridan College animation course in
Oakville, Canada, back in 1980.
I didn’t have any experience of actually moving something,
but in my mind,as I drew my characters, they were moving.

So when I first started my
early assignments in college and began to see things moving across
the screen, coming to life, having weight and seeing how I could
adjust the timing to give emotion I was hooked.

Animation Mentor:

If you could do one thing differently on your 
journey to becoming an animator,
what would it be?

Mark Pudleiner:
Not be so proud. I’m not sure if this is an ego thing or not, but it
has taken me a long time in this business to not worry about
how my rough tests are looking, to not worry if some other animator
sees my drawings or poses are weak or if I am struggling with my work.
This insecurity can have a huge effect on your
learning curve as an artist.
Never wanting to show something or letting anyone see anything until
you think it’s perfect – or close to that.

When you start having relationships with other artists that you
respect and can share your work from the beginning,
middle and end of an assignment or scene, you will be amazed how
much better your work will be.

I just think it’s such a healthier way to conduct
yourself as an artist.
I know it’s very easy to want to close the door and not come out
or let anyone in until it’s all done, but it will only reduce your
ability for growth.
You’ll grow and you will learn, but at a slower pace.

Animation Mentor:

Who is your favorite character that
you've animated and why?

Mark Pudleiner:
There are a few, but I think the one that stands out would be Mulan.
I was one of the few animators that worked on the Florida feature
here in Los Angeles. I loved what my supervisor Mark Henn had done
with her character. I just found her to be so appealing at times.
And I really do love animating females. I had just finished animating
on Meg from Hercules and Esmeralda from The Hunchback of
Notre Dame
. There is a subtlety with their movements, usually
with overlapping hair or outfits, that I love to use as accents
with my animation. Some of these include the movement of a
girl’s head with her hair following through and covering her eyes
somewhat or the challenge of creating a pose that looks
appealing or cute.

On Mulan, Mark Henn really let me do my own thing.
It was a great experience as an animator. And the nice part is
that I really enjoyed the finished film.
I was proud to have worked on it.

Animation Mentor:

What was your
first animation job?

Mark Pudleiner:
It was working at the Toronto-based company Nelvana
on a TV special called Strawberry Shortcakes Meets the Berrykins.
My first assignment was to in-between clouds – lots of clouds.
Man, I worked hard making sure those clouds were the best clouds.
Ahh, the skeletons in the closet that we have ;-)

Animation Mentor:

Who would you
consider your mentor 

to be in animation?

Mark Pudleiner:
There have been a few. From my college friend Ken Duncan to
Mark Henn on Mulan.

Ken has always been amazing to just talk with in regards
to story and acting.
He has helped me learn how to simplify my animation so that
things are not so busy and that the acting choices are well
thought out for entertainment.

Mark Henn was so clear with any direction. He made
things full of appeal. He wanted you, as the animator,
to come up with the idea for the scene.
Not the supervisor, but you the animator.

My friend John Pomeroy has had the most influence
on my animating.
The seven-plus years I spent at Bluth Studios were
under his artistic leadership. He is an amazingly talented
artist who just makes it seem so easy while watching him draw.

He’s very strict and disciplined. He leads by example, has been
a very good friend in my personal life, and has encouraged
and helped me out in many different ways. He and his family
moved away a year ago and I miss having our lunches together.

Animation Mentor:

What is your favorite 
Animation Mentor tool ?

Mark Pudleiner:
I would say the best tool for teaching is the eCritique®.
Being able to draw on the images while the student can see you
and what you are talking about is an extremely valuable part
of this whole course. I love how it can enable things to be
cleared up or made certain so that both parties are on the same page.

Animation Mentor:

What do you enjoy the most 
about teaching at
Animation Mentor?

Mark Pudleiner:
I really enjoy the Question & Answer time as well,
but it’s more informal and I tend to go off on side stories
or examples as the discussion takes place. (Sorry!)

I love hooking up with all the different people that
also have that creative drive and that passion.
That’s what makes it interesting and worthwhile.

Animation Mentor:

How has the Animation Mentor 
experience been for you so far?

Mark Pudleiner:
Animation Mentor has been a great experience.
One of the things in the back of my mind as I was going
through my career was teaching – I thought maybe I’d teach
at Sheridan College.
After being with Animation Mentor for a while now, it has been
so convenient to teach while still busy with production work.
Every class has its own feeling, with all the different
people coming together from all over the world. The internet
truly has made the world so much smaller.

I love being
able to help out with a student’s assignment and hopefully
have them feel that they are glad I am able to work with them
as well. I am serious about their time and mine.

I am very passionate about the art, this job,
and basically this life.
Why not go through it with passion?
If you’re going to do it, do it well!
Get emotional. Make a mistake. Ask for help.
Get passionate about making that scene look just a
little bit better.
Make that object overlap so it feels real.
If not quite right, stay until it is. Redo it.
Get passionate about it.
Feel good when things are working out.
You work hard for those moments so be proud.

We are artists. We are geeks (deal with it!).
We are animators.

And that is not a bad gig.