Animation World Magazine, Issue 3.4, July 1998

Rankin/Bass Rehash
I'm really glad I read your review of the Rankin/Bass book (Maiko 2.12) before plunking down some cash for it.

I was really hoping that it would contain some behind the scenes material, as well as information on the puppet fabrication, etc. I can't believe that these puppets were thrown out! I love Rankin/Bass stop-motion animation, and the very thought is revolting!

Where the heck would someone get more information on Rankin/Bass animation? There isn't any significant information about their shows on the web, at least not that I've found. I know that their productions were done in Japan for the most part, but there's got to be somebody out there with the information.

All of the elements which you indicated are missing from the book are the exact ones I was hoping this book would have. Again, thanks for the review, it saved me some money.

I still can't believe they threw those puppets out!

Thank you,
Travis Cutbirth

More Roto Info Please
Today I received my update on the contents of the May issue and immediately went to the "Rotoscoping in the Modern Age" article by Marian Rudnyk (
Rudnyk 3.2). As a future roto artist, it was particularly helpful to me as to the exact type of work I will be expected to perform in a "real world" post-production environment. It is exactly the type of information (tips/specific techniques) I need to learn/hear and I commend Mr. Rudnyk on his article. I hope more articles of this nature are contributed to AWM.

Thank you,
A Future Roto Artist

P.S. Does he have any tips for rotoscoping hair extremely accurately against a not-so perfect bluescreen?

Marian responds:
Thank you for the kind comments.
AWM has indeed run some fine articles on a variety of interesting aspects of the animation industry. I was pleased to add my article on the often neglected and/or forgotten field of rotoscoping. Also, I wish you well in your new rotoscoping career. It's a very tough market out there with so much of the new 3-D software encroaching on our "turf."

As for rotoing fine details of hair against a not so perfect bluescreen... I have to tell you: you're lucky to have even that. More often than not, in my experience, you are rotoing a matte within a semi-finished shot so you have all manner of background and foreground clutter, and even blurring of the to-be-matted subject, confusing and challenging you. My advice is practice makes perfect. The more you do it the easier it will become. Knowing where to set up your key-points to get the precisely moving curves to create that "perfect" matte is still an art in and of itself.

I can tell you this though: for most software you will use, such as Matador, it is better, when doing complex fine detail, to use B-Splines rather than Bezier curves because the "handles" get in the way and clutter your work. Also, the B-Splines offer better control if you set up your points in clusters around key areas. Take the time to get the feel of working with them, at first they may seem slower to work with, but in time you will "fly" with them! For large simple mattes however, go with Bezier. For me, this has worked best.

Good luck to you!

Marian Rudnyk
Digital Artist
(Titanic, Armageddon)

Vacuums Anyone?
I am working on a project that requires knowledge of classic gags in animation. One area in particular that has risen to the top of my list is Vacuum Gags. I currently know of a few old Warner Bros. treatments, the Roger Rabbit gag, and a gag used in a classic Tom & Jerry episode.

Could you please help me with any information that you may have or point me in a direction that could help me? I appreciate all of your time.

Christopher Malnar

Editorial assistant Katie Mason did some research and responds:
Good luck on your cartoon gag searches. Some cartoon vacuum gags that occurred to me were in
Compressed Hare, Mouse Placed Kitten, and It's Nice to Have a Mouse Around the House, all classic Warner Brothers cartoons. For summaries of these and other Warner Brothers cartoons, see Jerry Beck and Will Friedwald's Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons.

Under the Digital Radar
In response to
Laybourne 3.3.
Dear Mr. Laybourne,

Although you bring up many fine and thought provoking points, I wish to respond to your question, "But aren't computers their own art form?" Here at Modern Cartoons we specialize in real-time animation driven with motion capture from body suits and face trackers. Everyday we create animation that is truly the art form of the computer. It has its roots in rotoscoping and therefore traditional animation and a bit of puppetry and plain old human performance, but the animation we produce takes a rather unique form and is enough unlike its ancestors to be its own.

During a taping session, we get impromptu performances, directorial spontaneity and especially hilarious outtakes -- things that the computer affords. The imagery that we create is truly cutting edge, not so much because it is on the forefront technologically but because it walks that edge between what you've seen and are familiar with and what is fresh.

I'm sure that you could site many projects, from Toy Story to South Park, that use the art form of computers in a new way, but I found your questions to be a definite and celebratory yes and would prompt you to think of some additional queries.

As to where the medium's breakthroughs may go, Modern Cartoons is currently following a path towards TV -- not exactly one that leads "below the radar."

Conor Libby
Creative Producer
Modern Cartoons Ltd.

Kit responds:
You're dead-on that motion control techniques are clearly emerging as a form that goes well beyond the technique's roots in 3-D, puppetry and stop-motion. The alchemy of digital form always seems to breathe fresh life and startling new dimensions into its own source materials. In that process what you guys at Modern Cartoons are doing will, in due course, become the source materials for a next wave of innovators.

Editorial note: To find out more about Modern Cartoons read "
A Conversation With....Chris Walker and Corky Quakenbush," in our February 1998 issue, where Chris Walker, President of Modern Cartoons spends an afternoon with outrageous animator Corky Quakenbush.

Whose Golden Age?: Canadian Animation In The 1990s
In response to
Robinson 3.3.
Dear Mr. Robinson,

Thank you for your excellent article. I wanted to comment that I recently graduated from Vancouver Film School, Classical Animation, and I certainly agree with what you said about such industrially-oriented programs. I did survive however, and to my knowledge, I am the only person who has come out of Vancouver Film School to have made, or is in the process of making, another film independently. I have been joined by another woman from my particular course and we have set up "Pigpen Pictures" in a garage here in darkest Wiltshire, U.K. We are really doing this for the love of it and we have much to learn and relearn. So, I just wanted to say that these intense vocational courses don't beat the art out of everybody, though they sure give it a try, and for me it was also a beginning.

Maita Robinson

Jared Doesn't JUST Sing!
In response to
Jackson 3.3.:

If you let the "about" box in Macromedia Director 6 go on long enough, Jared eventually appears, bouncing around the screen, singing away......

Brian Nicolucci

Thanks Brian. This editorial staff is sure to try it out soon!

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