Cartoonal Knowledge: Plympton's School of Animation
A week later Plympton, beach sandals on his feet, explains storyboarding to the class ("the place where your film comes to life -- the more detailed, the better your film will move along") before asking to hear his students' cartoon concepts: Illustrator Tom Cushwa wants to do a follow-up to his Edison vs. Tesla cartoon he screened last week, praised by Plympton for its "great colors and good timing… a good job making Tesla's head spin --that's hard to do." The next student presents a storyboarded vignette of a woman reflecting on her divorce. "What's her motivation?" Plympton asks. "You could do this in live action. Make it more magical, more animated." The ideas continue: mothers and daughters…city life is tough…a cat and a cuckoo clock…a guy wearing too-tight shoes…Bliss presents a pair of animal con artists, Ticket Ted and Toad (inspired by an airport warning that illegally parked cars "will be ticketed and towed")… a commercial for Dietrich's New Jersey college… a commercial for a church…a music video that doesn't have a song yet…an explosive soda bottle that leads to unforeseen consequences… a lesson in counting to a billion…
Plympton asks the students to come to next week's session with their chosen idea storyboarded out. In the remaining weeks the class will focus on both the technical aspects of animation production (layouts, pencil tests, timing, visual and sound effects and music) and the business end of the medium: real-world, need-to-know information on budgeting, publicity, promotion and distribution that most art school and university animation programs never quite get around to covering. (Plympton's long-time producer John Holderried will cover the ins and outs of copyrights, comic conventions, festivals and internet screenings.)
Once again only five films were ready for screening, several of them still in mid-production. If Plympton is disappointed he doesn't show it; he's well aware his students have career and personal obligations outside the classroom.