World Magazine, Issue 3.1, April 1998
Noble Profile Was Fascinating
Dear Mr. Cohen,
I really enjoyed your article on Maurice Noble (Cohen 2.12, March 1998). I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Noble last summer at the Seattle Art Museum where he screened some of his famous works and spoke about their creation. Your article certainly picked up on his character. More importantly, you highlighted Mr. Noble's strongest feelings about the need to return to more visual scripting and "proper" production methods. Very good article indeed. I wish I could enroll in your animation history class in San Francisco.
Patrick Calistro, Jr.
I Told You Paper Was Exciting!
I read with great interest your recent article on the importance of paper for quality artwork "Paper: There's More to It than You Think" by Steven Hagel (Issue 2.12, March 1998).
Mr. Hagel is quite right, this wonderful material is taken for granted and is extremely important in the execution of artwork, as well as to the longevity of the artwork that resides on its surface. His research into the manufacture of wood-pulp papers and virgin wood-pulps vs. recycled was also accurate. Unfortunately, his educators must have a remarkable bias for wood-pulp, because they neglected 2,000 years of history and 400 other plant materials which are used for paper making.
PAPER WAS INVENTED 2000 YEARS AGO BUT HAS BEEN MADE FROM TREES FOR ONLY THE PAST 100 YEARS.
Paper making is a physio-chemical process which uses water to bond cellulose fibers to each other, creating a hydrogen-bond and a stronger material than the plant fiber alone.
Paper was invented in China about 200 BC, which is the earliest date of various paper specimens found. (The "official" Chinese date is 105 AD.) The materials used were mostly hemp, mixed with some other fabric fibers. There are many papers which still exist that are more than one thousand years old.
The secrets of paper making came to the West at the beginning of this millennium. The invention of movable type and the printing of books created a new demand for paper, which was made from "rags." People often sold their old clothes to the paper mills. [Hence the terms ragman, ragamuffin and rag-picker. Even "stuff" is an early paper reference.] All paper in the West was made from hemp, linen and cotton.
It wasn't until the early 19th century that it was even known that paper could be made from trees. The pressure of the industrial age, along with the lack of cotton caused by the American Civil War, created a furious search for other fibers. One guy in California was even determined to make paper from cow dung! During the mid-19th century, paper making machines were being invented and tested. Previous to this, all paper was made by hand, by dipping a screen-like mould into a vat of fibers suspended in water, otherwise known as pulp.
Quoted is Dard Hunter's Paper making: The History and Technique of Ancient Craft. 2nd ed. 1947 which is still considered the definitive book on paper and available in print from Dover Publications. According to Hunter, the first commercially produced paper from ground wood was in 1863. "It is claimed that Augustus Stanwood and William Tower produced ground-wood paper in their mill in Gardiner, Maine in January of this year."
Many of the first mills built to use wood pulp went bankrupt, as the paper was considered inferior and the concept weird. Most of these papers made at the end of the 19th century crumbled years ago.
The deforestation of the world can be traced to using trees for paper. Equally terrible is that the paper isn't very good. It basically eats itself. By using "alpha cellulose" virgin wood pulp, you can get a paper that will last a few hundred years but the chemical process involved is quite nasty. Hemp, cotton, linen, kenaf, bamboo, mulberry, esparto, corn, etc. make much better paper and many won't change for 500 to 1500 years, are made without creating dioxins, grow in eight months to two years (some even without pesticides), and can be recycled easily three times or more (wood pulp can only be recycled once because the fibers are too short and weak).
Sorry for the lecture but I worked with rare books, documents and art for years. I saw paper hundreds of years old in perfect condition. I also saw mottled artwork on crumbling papers made this century which is really, really sad, but they just didn't know better at the time.
We now know what happens when art is executed without attention to materials and techniques. It falls apart, crumbles, cracks and goes away. Here's a simple test, which is called accelerated aging. Just put the material out in the sun for a few weeks and you can get a good idea of what will happen over the next 50 years.
Most high quality "art" papers are made from cotton. Most Asian papers are made from mulberry. Hemp or kenaf makes a great "hard" paper. Translucent papers are always a problem in terms of archival properties; the additives and length of beating makes it break down fairly quickly. Cotton is the material used in better tracing papers. Cotton rag papers with a hard sizing are sublime when using pen and ink. I've seen papers from Europe made from corn stalk and bamboo that are some of the nicest drawing papers imaginable. So, there are archival, environmentally wonderful fibers out there that can be used and have been used for thousands of years, which can be created in commercial mills, instead of trees.
Fine Paper Company
The Rankin/Bass Uproar
I must say I am puzzled by your review of my book The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass (Tiger Mountain Press). Five seconds into reading it, I felt like I was on trial for a crime I did not commit. It is clear that any reader of your magazine would be totally mislead if they believed the comments that were made by your reviewer.
Here are some of the early comments/reviews the book has received thus far:
"I was totally blown away by The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass (Tiger Mountain Press)...what an incredible tribute and what a wealth of information it contains. It's clearly a labor of love and I'm genuinely impressed."
-Leonard Maltin, Entertainment Tonight
"It is an animation reference guide that I had to have."
Jerry Beck, Animation Author
"I was totally absorbed in it for weeks! It's a great book!"
Lane Smith , Character Designer, James and the Giant Peach, The Stinky Cheese Man
"This is the essential Rankin/Bass collection. Everything is contained in the book."Monsterscene Magazine
"What a tribute to Rankin/Bass. I am so proud to have been a small part of this book!" Corky Quakenbush, MAD TV animator
"We may have been the guys who made these films, but it took Rick's persistence and monumental efforts to bring them all together and for that we are eternally grateful. We are very proud to have this book."Arthur Rankin, Jr. & Jules Bass
When I set out to do this book, Arthur, Jules and I decided on what direction it should take and what should be included and discarded. Several years of hard work went into refining the book into what it has become. Arthur and Jules were completely involved in going through the rough pages and the blueline and there were many text additions and deletions on their part. Arthur, Jules and I are all very happy with the way the book came out, not to mention Paul Coker, Jr., Jack Davis, Phyllis Diller, Maury Laws, Don Duga, Dorothy Ives and the long list goes on and on. I think you are doing your readers, particularly fans of Rankin/Bass, an injustice printing a review that does not accurately portray the book that was completely assembled by not only myself, but the entire Rankin/Bass cast. I feel the review was a personal attack on my character and I am really not sure why. The reviewer focused on a small fragment of material he felt was missing and ignored the overwhelming amount of material that is in the book (much of which is printed for the very first time). Please help me to understand this review.
Author, The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass
I have just completed reading The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass. I have also just completed reading the review in your on-line magazine written by a rather bitter fellow named Scott Maiko. I am not a professional in the field, or a historian like Mr. Maiko must feel he is, but I found this book to be, from a fan to another fan perspective, informative and entertaining. All writers must write from a personal perspective. Love of subject and a personal feel are sometimes reason to celebrate, not attack, a writer. I would admit to some small holes in this edition of the book, but I would venture to ask what qualifications does Mr. Maiko have to so firmly judge this work? I also found Mr. Maiko's review to be borish and bit to the bitter side. Hmm...who reviews the reviewer?
Las Vegas, Nevada
3-D Animation Book Advice
I have been working in computer animation for some years and I enjoy reading your magazine very much. I have just read the article about Digital Cinematography (Fleming 2.11, February 1998) and found it to be very useful. It is difficult to find books of quality on this subject where I live and after reading Bill Fleming's opinion of the book I would like to know if he could tell me about more sources of information for the same problems covered by Digital Cinematography.
Thank you very much,
Bill Fleming replies:
While there are many books on the subject of 3D graphics, there are few worth mentioning. Most seem to be nothing more than a rewrite of user manuals. This is something I sincerely hope will change as the industry matures. The good news is that there are some new books coming out that will be very detailed and focused on specific topics. One in particular is the 3D Photorealism Toolkit, published by John Wiley and Sons, which features a very deep exploration of photorealistic modeling, surfacing, staging and lighting. It shows a great deal of promise. The book should be available in May. Of course, I'm rather biased since I'm the author. [Editor's Note: Don't worry folks...we'll be reviewing it...]
It's difficult to elaborate on some of the more insightful books coming out since it will seem more self-promoting than anything. I will say that there are a couple of books coming out in late Spring that will go into some very nice detail on 3D topics. One is the 3D Creature Workshop, published by Charles River. This book covers intermediate/advanced creature modeling and surfacing. If you've ever had a question on the subject of 3D creature/character development this book likely has the answers.
You'll also find a book entitled, Animating Facial Features and Expressions. This book covers a great deal of depth on the anatomy of facial expression and how to bring your 3D characters to life through facial emotions. If you're interested in getting started with 3D graphics, Academic Professional will be coming out with a series of books on getting to know 3-D. The first of which will be available in late summer.
It's tough to recommend a book without a specific topic in mind. If you, or any other reader, are interested in specific 3-D topics don't hesitate to contact me through Animation World Magazine at email@example.com. I'd be happy to point you in the direction of the best book, or source of answers to your questions.
Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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