An animator, an illustrator, and a screenwriter meet a painter in a bar...

And it's all the same person. He picks the crust from his eyes, hangs his coat dejectedly on the back of an uncomfortable swiveling stool, looks around at some much-loved old friends and says,"I've worked thousands of unpaid hours this year. Anyone want to buy me a pint?"

Man, it's rough out there. It doesn't help the self-esteem when the likes of Bill Plympton, Pat Smith, Don Hertzfeld, The Vaccese Twins, Signe Baumane, and practically every animator known to man seems to be releasing their film and visiting fests, or announcing their new film and getting underway. More power to 'em!

But... Dammit! In the time it's taken me to develop and storyboard and begin production on my animated short, people have made entire shorts, built animation/motion graphics portfolios, even started companies. Granted, I cut an HD feature, PA'ed for Bridezillas, relocated twice, and volunteered videography services to countless individuals. But... Just the same. Point is, this film is huge, it's still huge, and it's not getting any less huge. It's not a music video, it's not stick figures, it's not under ten minutes. It will never be any of those things.

In any case, my film is on hold- this is a terrible, terrible thing. Every day that I don't touch it feels like sacrilege. But the money must flow. I can't find any editing work, despite having a solid pedigree. And while my last job was pretty great for a service gig- it ate up most of my time. So. There's this webcomic that could, in fact, bring some small amount of income. Therefore, finishing issue 1 before the year turns is a major, major goal. The faster I get this finished, the faster I can get back to the film. Either way, I'm not seeing much pay for any of this.

Dear universe: I'd like to do my fucking work now, please.

In the meantime, I am going broke laboring on amazing projects that won't pay off until question marks. Wanted: a new day job or any available sugar momma.


Sept. 2011

I am still alive, and I apologize for not posting. The job situation in my life has changed recently, allowing me more time for my XL friend (the month of August in particular brought some grand developments, including the best animation to date,) but with this change also brings a threat anew: poverty. I have been working on M since July of 2008, and as of July 2011 I've set a soft deadline of April, 2014. With everything going on outside of the project, I am unable to justify spending immediate time making the latest work available for viewing. Nevertheless, there are those interested in helping- and I am soon to enter a recruiting phase for scanning, cleanups, and color flatting. In the meantime, enjoy a pic from my secondary project [hopefully a moneymaker to free up some time and funds for this ongoing pachyderm epic] the unearthly graphic novel Bloodless.


Update May 2011

Working hard, working well. More time needed, but it's coming along nicely. More to come soon.

Mutwale : Timelapse 01 from Jeff Martell on Vimeo.


Inspiration/Influence: Richard Williams

I've been tackling a couple of title sequences right at the outset, and I'm reminded of something Richard Williams says time and again. "Sophisticated use of the basics." An important phrase for an animator that isn't doing Tex Avery style BOINGS or hard takes, but must instead focus on subtle anticipation and soft accents. Knowing the basics and how to apply them in a sophisticated way is one of the most effective methods to keep things organized while retaining a working sense of freedom.

Since my lead character weighs a couple of tons (his head alone could be up to 800 lbs.,) I'm going to execute a traditional human walk cycle separately just to cut my teeth again. Steps on 12 and 24, passing position at 6 and 18 all on ones, loop. Totally basic. Timing and spacing is paramount for mobility and believability in action. The only reason I even know the true difference between timing and spacing is Richard Williams. Everyone knows the man- he's responsible for integrating cartoons with live action in Roger Rabbit, (part 2, part 3,) the famous Pink Panther introductions, thousands of commercials, and the mostly completed 24-year endeavor Thief and the Cobbler (or The Princess and the Cobbler, or The Cobbler and the Thief, depending on the cut you get.) I could go on for pages about the man and how much he's helped me understand the art of animation. Animation at its simplest is translational math without numbers. Even more though, it's performance. Animation is acting. Richard Williams can cite Art Babbit (one of Disney's "9 old men" responsible for the Queen in Snow White) and Ken Harris (the classic Warner animator known for the Coyote) as masters, employees, and friends. He remains one of the only comprehensive encyclopedias of traditional animation technique on the planet. Any animator will point you to his book, The Animator's Survival Kit. There also exists a 16 DVD set called the Animator's Survival Kit: Animated, which is a lecture series compiled with over 400 animated exercises and illustrations of the most common animation techniques and mistakes. If you lack a mentor as most of us seem to, I can honestly say both of these are invaluable resources. If you can somehow get your hands on it, the animated lectures are fantastic.

Don't overthink. Anticipation. Action. Reaction. Work it until it works.


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