adventure and absurdity in making an animated short

Friday, March 10, 2006

Making a short -part 2- The idea

First of all, I just want to thank everyone for the great comments. They are very kind and encouraging, just the fuel you need to keep at this thing. Heard from a bunch of old friends, "Hi back, everyone is doing great."

this is an early concept I had in '96 using a totally different character.

Okay, let's talk about ideas. Where do you get them? What do you do with them? An idea for a short should be just that an idea for a short. I mean you are not going to make War and Peace in a short. Though that could be funny to boil it down to 3 to 6 minutes. Chuck and the boys squeezed the 100 hour Ring Cycle into 6 minutes. But I guess that's my point, they knew they had 6 minutes. They started from what they knew. You see staring onto the blank white paper and trying to think about an idea is madness. It's a void of infinite possibilities. You need limitations. Orson Welles said, "The enemy of art is the absence of limitations." Now making an animated film in your spare time provides you with a great limitation. Time. So don't make a film, that's 6 (or 8) minutes long in full animation, unless you want to spend a decade making it. Just a word of experience. I wouldn't do it again. You want to take a hard look at how much time you can realistically spend on your unknown film. Then think of how you can make it - hand drawn, stop motion, cut-out, computer and your ability to do it. Then forget all that and think about what you really love, what you would like to see in a film. You have to pull the idea out of something you love to think about, makes you laugh, really gets your brain a firing because you are going to spend a lot of time on your own doing this thing. This idea, of Leonardo, came about because I have always loved the idea of somebody putting on a pair of homemade wings and trying to fly. It is idiotic but full of perseverance. It makes me laugh. I mean look at this guy-

At first I tried to develop the idea with a character I had from another idea (see top) but it was too open ended. This led to Leonardo da Vinci (as thinking about flying with a pair of homemade wings will). This gave me a character, setting, etc. I knew it would be an extra pain to record and animate dialogue so I'll just put it to music. The music dictated length. Then I began to draw in this large sketch book. I would draw anything I could think of about da Vinci and then I began devouring books. Research is everything in generating and then formulating ideas into something truthful and concrete. We at Pixar do it extensively and it shows in the films. The idea then started telling me what it wanted to be.

this is, I think, the first doodles I did with the idea using Leonardo. Totally unreadable but I never thought I'd put them out here for the world to see.


Blogger BrianB said...

Hahaha! The leaning tower with the flight machine on it is brilliant imagery. That's just a fantastic concept. That, along with the seemingly pompous, arrogant, and sophisticated men walking with their chests out - that in combination with the reckless and elementary ideas of that day is great comedy.

I definitely like the 2nd page of doodles better. It feels more fun.

1:41 AM  
Blogger Rok Andic said...

Hi Jim, just encountered your blog on cartoon brew and thought to drop by :)
I'm also in the process of making a short film and what you wrote here is just plain beautiful and very inspiring. I agree with every point you wrote.

PS: you sketches are great :)

Keep it up,

3:30 AM  
Blogger Rok Andic said...

Hi Jim, just noticed your blog on cartoon brew and thought to drop by :)
I'm also working on a short film and what you wrote is just plain beautiful and very inspiring. I agree with every point you wrote there.

P.S: your sketches are great :)

Keep it up,

3:34 AM  
Blogger Victor Ens said...

Very nice sketches !
I always loved the rough stuff

3:36 AM  
Blogger RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

There it is!! That "Capobianco energy" I remember so well!
Good stuff!

8:09 AM  
Blogger Gabriel said...

Great food for thought. And hopefully thought will trigger action. I liked this post.

5:23 AM  
Anonymous Paul said...

Great post. --When you take out the specifics of your own film what you have here is some very sane advice about how to approach making a short film.

Keep pluggin' away!

10:48 AM  
Blogger Cale Atkinson said...

Great blog Jim!
I have to thank you for the great inspiration and excitement these posts fill me with. As someone more or less just beginning their journey into animation, reading and hearing your thoughts just further verifies my love of animation. I find myself fidgeting while reading your posts as the more I read about your reasons and ideas for creating a short, the more eager/excited I become to get drawing!
I look forward to more of your posts as well as progress updates on Leonardo!


12:44 PM  
Anonymous elisa said...

oh, this is great for me to think about right now, thank you. your project sounds wonderful. i have my first animation project on hold just now, haunting me. meanwhile i'm working in the daily blog structure, and reading your process is encouraging me to work on that animation project in a similar, everyday practice kind of way.

1:36 PM  
Blogger JmC said...

thank you all for your encouragment and kind words about the drawings. i'll try my best to keep up the posts. but in the mean time - you have no excuses, between my posts get out there and make your art.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Hi Jim, beautiful sketches! Thanks for sharing your thought process and film development. My film will be finished for December and I definately agree with you about keeping it short. I think mine is about a minute... but my short gag film makes it difficult to dig in deep and develop a situation with real heart. Fortunately for me, I have alot of time but it's talent(or lack of talent) that's my real hindrance. It's always amazing and inspring to see great work! Congratulations with your successes so far!

10:48 AM  
Blogger JmC said...

jeremy - talent is subjective and we are our harshest critics. just keep doing your own thing and your way ahead of everyone else. thanks for coming by.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Ooo.. that came out a bit too intense. All productions have challenges and that's probably what makes it fun. Though the most enjoyable aspect to animation is meeting and working with great people as well as seeing their brilliant work. Fortunately blogging has made that very easy. Thanks again, Jim, for posting your progress and sharing your thoughts.

6:04 PM  
Anonymous robin said...

Hi Jim,

nice production you got going and great to read your thoughts. Keep up the good work!. On art and limitation, if I am not wrong, didn't Da Vinci quoted this himself?

"Art lives from constraints and dies from freedom"?


9:47 PM  
Blogger JmC said...

hey robin

thanks for the quote. I am stumbling on quotes of his all the time. he definatly lived by it. he had to.

thanks for checking in, come by again

10:45 AM  

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