"It's Alive"
Work Journal

A little background

July 27th, 2002

Back in 1987 I was watching the original Frankenstein movie with Boris
Karloff and then immediately after that, I watched the Gene Wilder / Mel Brooks
"Young Frankenstein". An image of a weird laboratory popped into my head, so
I ran downstairs to my studio and drew the first design for my film.

I didn't know it was going to be a film at that time... it just sort of grew into
that. Well, 15 years later, it's about to be completed. Originally, I was going to
do it in 2D animation, after all that was my background. So, I just plugged away
at it, here and there.

Check out the boards here.

I started teaching at Sheridan College and since teaching takes up a lot of time
and energy what with having to write curriculum, teach and grade and all that
stuff, plus the fact that I had just started to write my first book; Layout and
Design Made Amazingly Simple, I didn't get much done on it other than the
storyboards and character designs.

In 1992, I decided to start doing some more work on it and I did the layouts and
some of the background paintings. I started working on my second book; Designing
Cartoon Characters for Animation Vol. 1 and another 2 years went by.

My daughter was born in 1993... anyone who has a kid knows that when I say I
didn't have much time for the project, I mean I didn't have much time for the

1995 and The Advanced Layout and Design Workbook was begun. Not much time
to work on animation.

In 1996, I did a few scenes in animation. Scene 2 where Fritz is at the window,
scene 7 where Igor runs up the stairs and scene 8 where he comes out the door.

In 1997 my son was born. Two kids are more fun than one and take up as much
time as three.

1998 and Layout Examples... are you noticing a pattern here?

In 2000, I had some problems with the direction that the Classical Animation
program was taking and resigned as the coordinator. As things got weirder, I
left the college in April 2002. I moved over to Seneca College the day after I
was finished at Sheridan and things have been much more sane and happy
since then.

Taking the Maya prgram has opened my eyes to the possibilities of computer
animation. I have always been a very staunch 2D animation advocate. Sure, I
like watching the stuff from Pixar, etc. but I had always felt 2D was the
most expressive and artistically free way to animate. Part of me still feels that
way but I seem to be slipping more and more to the digital side as the weeks go by.

I still maintain that the computer is a tool like the pencil or an air brush, it just
gives you a different "look". All through the course, I kept saying to myself,
"Just give me some paper!" All of the planning is done on paper, the locations
are drawn on paper, character designs... paper, thumbnail animation... yup,
on paper.

There were several times where just setting up the locations, modeling the
environment, setting the lights, rendering the elements, texture mapping,
bump mapping, fixing the UV's on the various elements and on and on and
on, I thought, "How is the computer saving me time?"

In the long run though, I'm extremely happy with the final outcome of all the
work. I feel like I was able to plug a jack into my brain and output almost exactly
what I had envisioned.

Now, a few words about Seneca and the instructors. When you are looking
around for a program to take at any college, find out what the instructor's
background is. The instructors are the key feature in any learning situation,
they're the one's passing the information on to you. My experience at Seneca
has been amazing! Our instructor, Mark Schmidt really knows this program.
There were many times when I ran into some weird problem (of my own making)
and Mark was able to come up with a solution to it.

Now I'm not trying to suck up here... I'm just telling you what happened.
Throughout this course, Mark has been helping me with all sorts of things.
Solving skeleton problems, modelling, set building, sound work, special effects.
The list just goes on and on. When I had some problems trying to figure out
how to do certain things, Mark was there to help me out. After class, he
would stay late to work on something with me, there were times when I had to
take off and do some home stuff and Mark would stay late at the school or do
some of the work at home, then come in the next morning with a surprise for
me. This is a guy who was doing this not just for me, but for all the other
students as well.

This is the type of instructor I want to be. This is the type of instructor you
should be looking for when you apply to a program. Seneca is an amazing
place to be. The atmosphere is light but very professional. Having worked in
a few studios in my time, I can say that Seneca is as close to being in a
studio atmosphere as you can get. Everyone is extremely helpful, from
Larry Deflorio, the coordinator with his honest evaluation of your work to
Martin Kumor and "big" Steve Lin who are always there to help with the
technical stuff (as well as showing me lots of neat video games).

Check out the 3D website at www.dmc3d.com. You can view faculty bios,
see the facilities and check out some neat student work.

So, that's the background of how this all got started. Read on and enjoy the
painful process...

Next entry - Introduction to the course

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