Disney making some more shorts

And I don’t mean pants.

I hate posting a link like this, since they go out of date so quickly, but it looks Disney is bringing back the shorts.

Perhaps they are following the tradition of Pixar, or perhaps John Lasseter made them, but I’m hoping there’ll be one of these shorts before Tangled and one before… er… is anything else coming out from Disney Feature Animation anytime soon?

Right now, they’ve got clips of a computer animated short called Tick Tock Tale, which looks great, and How to Hook Up Your Home Theater, bringing some nicely animated Goofy to the modern world.

I also noticed on their feature projects page, King of the Elves is no longer listed. Too bad, since that looked like the most interesting one, but then again, they might’ve completely messed up the story. I don’t think they’re cancelling the project, just putting it on hold for now.

(Speaking of shorts, it was also nice to see that Looney Tunes short before Legend of the Guardians. Hopefully the habit will continue! Now they just need to put shorts in front of live action movies as well, bwa ha ha ha! Create more animation jobs so I can have one!)

A few animation blogs…

There are, of course, a ton of animation blogs out there, but here are a few random ones I’ve been visiting recently:

Pencil Test Depot – This has a lot of great pencil tests, as the name might suggest. 2D animation, yes, but the principles of animation don’t change. Lots of great stuff there. I came across this blog some months ago before getting into Animation Mentor, but it came up again last night during my Animation Mentor Q&A and I was reminded of its goodness.

Blue Sky Disney – More of an entertainment business blog, but still lots of interesting animation news there.

The Pixar Blog – What Pixar fan hasn’t come across this blog? Dedicated to Pixar news, with a dash of its parent, Disney.

Good stuff.

Animation Mentor semester 1 reel

Here’s my reel of animation assignments after completing the first semester of Animation Mentor.

It was a tough 12 weeks; you have to get used to the busy workflow (especially if you have a part-time job), and there’s just a lot to learn. I had never done any serious animation before, and even though I had read some books on animation, actually working with the software and applying all the principles take a lot of time to get used to.

Anyway, there’s the reel. There are definitely some things I would change if I could, especially with those walks. But I’m not going to use any of this stuff on my final reel of superb quality, the one I’m going to use to try to get a real job, so better to focus on the current Animation Mentor assignment and nothing else…

Skribit… for your suggestions

I don’t think I get enough blog traffic for this to be that useful, but with the changes in design, I thought I should just go ahead and add Skribit.

On the right, you’ll see a tab that says “Suggestions?”

By clicking on that, you can either suggest something for me to blog about, or vote for (“follow”) someone else’s suggestion.

Not sure anyone will use it, but I’ve been watching the tool for a while. It seems like a fun idea for a tool (for blogs that get more traffic than mine), but I’m not sure how well its makers can monetize it. It looks like on their website, they’re selling “premium” accounts for about $25 a year. I wonder how many are really interested in that? It’s better than having ads all over the place though!

Theme tweaking…

As you can see (if you’ve been to this blog before), I’ve tweaked the theme a bit, moving some things around, changing the font from Tahoma to Verdana, and widening the width. Hope you like it! If you don’t, well, too bad! Please let me know if something looks wrong in your browser. Seems to look fine in the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome.

That’s all. Bye.

You could’ve been great!

Maybe it’s a sad thing to think about, all the things you could’ve been… if only you had practiced more, applied yourself more, not have had to go to school which made you waste your time… but you’re not dead, so it’s not too late!

There are a few books that are centered around the idea that “genius” or “greatness” is not some inborn element that only a lucky few are born with; it’s something anyone can achieve with proper (albeit sometimes difficult) dedication. Those books are The Genius in All of Us, The Talent Code, Talent Is Overrated, and Bounce. (Each book does look at the issue from a different angle, so it’s not like the authors just copied each other.)

Anyway, I’ve already blogged about that issue several times, so I won’t again. I just wanted to mention a funny twist on the issue. On April 27th, while reading one of these books, I tweeted:

There once was a brilliant artist who never bought paint and never practiced, so no one ever knew. The end.

Ha ha, I’m so funny. Anyway, The Onion recently stole my idea for an article, 97-Year-Old Dies Unaware Of Being Violin Prodigy:

Retired post office branch manager Nancy Hollander, 97, died at her home of natural causes Tuesday, after spending her life completely unaware that she was one of the most talented musicians of the past century and possessed the untapped ability to become a world-class violin virtuoso.

OK, it’s not a completely original idea anyway…

But it’s funny, and it has a point. So, get to work, you can be great! Or don’t… you won’t be missed if people don’t know you exist.

Uh oh, I don’t want to write a tragedy

I’m still slowly but surely continuing to plot my novel The King of Diaden. I have an outline which details the main events of each of the 45 chapters I think I’ll have, and now I’m going through and writing a little outline for each chapter, which I’m hoping will make writing easier.

This is also helpful just to get the characters and the tone of the story pounded deep into my subconscious. I’m not sure if that’s something readers will be able to recognize, but I think it will surely make writing easier.

Currently, I’m outlining chapter 7, but I’ve already hit my first little snag… the overall tone of the novel isn’t working for me. It’s too tragic. It’s as if one of my themes is: “Life stinks!” And I don’t really want it to have that theme. At the same time, I don’t really want to change the tragic elements of the ending. So I’m really struggling trying to figure out how to make the tone of the novel more positive, while not changing what actually happens plot-wise.

My first idea is to change how the characters respond to certain events in the plot; they should be more optomistic. Their spirits should be more positive, even though certain plot events are understandably tragic. Not that they don’t feel sad, but they shouldn’t let that sadness stop them from feeling good about other plot events; it shouldn’t get them down in the dumps.

This idea is somewhat dangerous, however, as I certainly don’t want their attitudes to seem too sugar-coated, or just too plain apathetic. I don’t want their reactions to seem like a silly lie. So I think this will be a tough balancing act.

My second idea is to separate the narrator and the viewpoint character at some points. I like the idea (and have used it before, mostly in my unfinished novel attempt The Game of Gynwig) of adding in [a little dark] humor by having a narrator who describes tragic events bluntly, because he is apathetic.

(That isn’t to say the narrator has to state: “Hello, I am your narrator” and be some defined character, like Lemony Snicket. It just means there is no viewpoint character at that point, or it’s a very limited viewpoint.)

Again, that will be another balancing act, because if I overdo it, it will be much more of a comedy book, and it won’t be that funny.

And, lastly, I suppose I should try to keep the tone of the novel focused on the wonder of the magic in the book. Overall, it’s still a character driven story, it’s not just a portrait of magic. In other words, the theme of the novel shouldn’t be just how wonderful the magic is. But it should have an effect on how the story is told.

Not sure if I’ll be able to keep all those ideas in my mind while I write, but I hope I can pound them into my subconscious so I can start understanding the story as an overall positive story, and not a big gloomy tragedy, which is kind of how it seems to me now.

Is cyberbullying real?

Here’s an interesting blog post from someone who doesn’t like the term “cyberbullying.” As he writes:

It’s important to note that blaming technology for horrendous, violent displays of homophobia or racism or simple meanness lets adults like parents and teachers absolve themselves of the responsibility to raise kids free from these evils. By creating language like “cyberbullying”, they abdicate their own role in the hateful actions, and blame the (presumably mysterious and unknowable) new technologies that their kids use for these awful situations.

Some articles might be written as if the writers and parents and school administrators do wrongly place too much blame on technology, but I’ve never inferred that in the phrase “cyberbullying” itself. To me, it’s always meant bullying using the Internet and mobile phones. That doesn’t mean I blame the Internet for bullying anymore than I blame a gun for murder. The Internet has brought about new ways for students (and adults) to bully each other, and the phrase “cyberbullying” is simply a way to recognize that. I honestly don’t think anyone invented the phrase as a way to dodge responsibility. The word instead reminds us that this problem can’t be dealt with in the same ways as physically-present bullying, which has been around for much longer.

I do agree that we shouldn’t blame technology for these bullying issues, but I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that that’s what all uses of the phrase “cyberbullying” do.

Some classical music for your soul

In my continuing efforts to enlighten the masses with an appreciation for the fine arts…

No, no, I didn’t mean it! Come back!

I just heard the 3rd movement Franz Krommer’s Oboe Concerto, Opus 37 on the radio earlier today, and it’s become quite stuck in my head.  It’s quite catchy and a lot of fun:


Banned Books Week is stupid

From tweets and Facebook comments, it seems to be “Banned Books Week”!  What is Banned Books Week?  Maybe it’s actually a commercial ploy to sell books.  However, according to BannedBooksWeek.org:

Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries.

During the last week of September every year, hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. The 2010 celebration of Banned Books Week will be held from September 25 through October 2.

The purpose of this Web site is to help the public join the celebration of our freedom to read.

What, as if censorship is always bad?  As if the content and messages of certain books being challenged is bad in and of itself?  Of course disputes will arise in any society full of people with different beliefs and values.  That’s not a problem, and it’s not bad, as long as we can deal with it civilly.

But I don’t think anyone disagrees with me on that.  So I guess Banned Books Weeks isn’t really about “the problem of censorship” or an attempt to stop books from ever being challenged.  I think it’s just about getting people to talk about books and their moral issues.

What it turns into is more of a: “Hey!  Pat yourself on the back for liking this book that some other group dared to say was bad!  Can you believe it?!  Some people!  Hooray for freedom of speech at the level that most of us agree it should be at!”

I think it’s great to encourage people to think for themselves, and not accept censorship blindly.

But I think if we need a “Banned Books Week” to remind ourselves of that, then we’re awfully stupid.

Hmmm… Banned Comics Week anyone?