Filed under Falling Lizard

Falling Lizard 2013

I once again participated in Falling Lizard, the UCLA weekend-long animation party / marathon. I created another installment in the adventures of the Aviatrix. It’s really just a vignette, far from a full story, but I could see it fitting into something bigger. It once again makes me think about doing a regularly updated animation project. Wouldn’t it be cool to produce like five seconds of animation every week and post it to the web? I would probably keep it pretty rough, but I could gradually build up a story with that, and potentially build interest along the way as well.

Anyway, here’s my Falling Lizard film for 2013. I may clean it up in Toon Boom (SO much better for ink and paint than Flash!) and post that subsequently, but we’ll see. In the mean time, be satisfied with this humble offering:

The First Falling lizard

As I’ve said elsewhere, almost every year I participate in Falling Lizard, the annual let’s-make-a-film-in-a-weekend party at the UCLA animation workshop.  The first year I participated was a year and a half before I actually started in the program.  My theory was that if I showed my face and enthusiasm enough then they’d have to accept me into the program.  I guess it worked, since I was accepted on my first try in 2003 :)

The first Falling Lizard I attended had the theme “creation myths”. I put together a happy little film about what the first day might have been like. From concept to completion I created this piece in about 52 hours, completely analog and old-school. Presented here is a modest update, remastered in Flash and converted to widescreen. Enjoy!

I Can’t Do Anything Half-Assed

I’m only speaking slightly hyperbolically when I say that I can’t do anything half-assed. I always feel that if I’m going to do something that’ll be a lot of work, I might as well do it right. Take, for example, animation.

It can be frustrating to have that attitude sometimes. It means I do a lot less stuff.  It would be great to be able to just jump in and start animating something, but I think I’d end up with a bad result if I did that.  Why make it if it ends up being so bad that no one will want to watch it?

In the case of animation, story is vitally important.  That’s the real stopping point.  I have to sit down and make a good story to animate, otherwise it’s not worth creating the animation.

I’m thinking about this in relation to my Cats in Space series idea.  I made a very short animation based on that recently.  If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look:

I did that video in a super-rough style for the sake of getting it done fast.  I got an interesting comment on the Youtube page for that video, suggesting that if I did an episode like that once every two months and gave it some higher production value then I might actually be able to get some people following my Youtube channel.  That’s a pretty exciting thought to me.  I love the idea of people who I don’t know actually being interested in the stuff I make.

How hard would it be to do something like that?  Well, that’s where we get back to the basic premise of this post.  If I were to do a series then I’d want it to have a good overarching story.  Serialization, that is.  I should be able to string it together and have it be coherent as a whole presentation.  You know, because it should be something that new viewers can go back and watch sequentially and get the whole story.

To have a good story there has to be some planning.  You can’t just jump in because that’ll create a mess of a story.  You get more short-term gratification but in the long term you get a bit of a shoddy product.

For the last few days I’ve been messing around in Word, working on story ideas.  It’s hard.  There are good specific steps you can take to make a good story but you still have to have some creativity.  Maybe that’s obvious, but it’s something I need to remind myself of.  I need to come up with something good to make it engaging.

So yeah, that’s what I’m working on.  I’m excited to make it happen.  I guess we’ll see where it goes from here.

Keep on Plugging

I keep on plugging away on Don’t Fear the Sitter.  It’s slow work.  On average, since I last reset my accounting in April, I’ve gotten through about one character-second of animation per three days.  That is, if there’s one second of footage in which two characters are moving the whole time, that represents two character seconds.  Keep in mind, though, that I probably only average between half an hour and an hour of work per day.

According to the spreadsheet I keep for tracking my progress I’m set to finish all the animation in DFtS at the end of January.  It’s a little weird to have that goal actually approaching after all this time.  I first started working on this thing in the Summer of 2005, so I’ve been at it for more than five years.  It’ll be almost six by the time I actually finish (assuming I finish when I’m planning to).  It brings up the question in my mind: What Next?

I suppose first I’d like to take a little break from having a project that I’m always working on.  It’s a little wearying to always have to come back to the same tasks every night, working with the same assets.  It helps, in a way, that I have several characters in my film.  Switching between them keeps things fresh.  That would suck if I was only animating a single character the whole time.

I really like Falling Lizard, though — the yearly party at UCLA where everyone makes a complete (though admittedly minimal) film in a single weekend.  It’s a weekend when I know I’m going to be able to work on something a little different for a change, despite whatever other big project I might be working on in the rest of my free time.

As an example of something I might do at Falling Lizard, I present to you the film I made at Falling Lizard ‘09.  It’s a little snippet of an idea I’ve been kicking around for a while for a TV series, movie, or graphic novel:

But back to that question: What Next?  It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that I’m going to start a new personal project after I’m done with DFtS.  The question is, what?  Here are some of the possibilities:

  1. Start a new animated short.  Nice and simple, going down a path I’ve been down several times before.  This option doesn’t require much risk on my part.  Right now this option doesn’t seem that appealing to me, either.  I mean, yes, it’s satisfying to create stuff, and it’s awesome seeing/hearing the audience reaction to a freshly finished film, but it takes so freakin’ long!  It’s a little distressing to have to wait five years to see the fruit of my creative effort come to completion and finally be shown to the outside world.
  2. Create a graphic novel or web comic.  This one is a little more appealing.  There’s potential for getting an actual audience going if I were able to either get a publisher or draw a web audience.  That said, I’ve never done this sort of thing.  I’m sure it’s fraught with its own perils that I would find out about along the way.  It also has potential, though, assuming I could draw an audience and craft a good story with strong characters, of leading to TV development or maybe even a movie (witness: Scott Pilgrim, perhaps my favorite movie so far this year).
  3. Write a screenplay.  This would probably be in the NaNoWriMo vein, sitting down and hammering out 120 pages of something – doesn’t really matter what.  It’s that whole thing about getting through it being the important first step – worry about whether it’s any good later.  It’s hard to imagine that writing a screenplay would take me where I want to go, though, which is really toward more of a creative leadership role in narrative animation.  It’s also a path that I’d be breaking new ground in for myself, so I would be putting myself at a high risk of no one ever seeing the result of my efforts.
  4. Try to develop a TV series.  This one is probably the one I’m leaning toward most right now.  I really like the idea of creating a whole new setting and being able to follow my own vision of how a show should be developed.  I have a couple ideas I’ve been toying with for several years, never taking the time to really develop them.  Whenever I think about working on them some more I say to myself “No, David, if you’re going to work on something then you should work on Don’t Fear the Sitter.”  Yeah.  Tell it, self.  But anyway, TV is also what I’d like to get back to eventually, so this would be a definite trying-to-move-forward-in-my-chosen-career maneuver.