Saturday, 24 March 2012

Animator Profiles: Michel Gagne

"Wherever the inspiration takes me is where I try to be." Gagne, Michel. (2005). Gagne International. Michel Gagne's Long Biography

Fig 1: Michel Gagne

Michel Gagne was born in a town called Roberval in Quebec. Ever since he was a child, he was deeply fascinated by the art of film making and animation. When he watched the Star Wars films and Walt Disney's Lady and The Tramp (1955), he decided that he wanted to base his career around film making and animation.
At the age of 18, he began to study classical animation at Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada.
At Sherdan, he completed two short films which he later sold to HBO and Show Time.
It was Gagne's dream to work at Bluth Studios. After completing his education at the Sheridan, he went to Bluth Studios and dropped off a demo reel with the receptionist there. A few days later, he received a call from one of the lead animators, ,John Pomeroy, asking him to join the studio.

Fig 2: A Still From The Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet

 During his time at Bluth, Gagne learned a lot about the production of feature films. He put that knowledge into use by working on his short film Prelude to Eden by working on it during his free time at Bluth Studios.

After Bluth Studios, Gagne moved on to Rich Animation and Available Light Studios before finally striking gold at Warner Brothers Animations.
At Warner Brothers', Gagne dabbled in the art of abstract painting and sculpture. He managed to sell a decent number of his artwork during an exhibition that was held during his time at Warner Brothers'.

In November 2004, Gagne put together a compilation of animations called Insanely Twisted Shadow Puppets. These were aired on the Nickelodeon TV channel Halloween Shriekin Weekend. These were later made into a game for the Xbox Live gaming console. According to reviewer Adam Pavlacka,"Gagné's pedigree as an animator is immediately obvious as soon as you boot up the game, as the Xbox 360 floods your mind with visuals that look very Tim Burton-esque" Pavlacka,Adam. (2011). Reviews. XBLA Review: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet.

Fig 3: A Still From Sensology
The artists that inspire Gagne are Jack Kirby, Eiji Tsuburaya, Steve Ditko, Picasso, Kandinsky, Yves Tanguy, Yerka, Oscar Fishinger, Osamu Tezuka, Miyazaki, Don Bluth, Walt Disney, Ishiro Honda, George Lucas, Moebius, writers such as B R Bruss, Richard Adams, H G Wells, Jack Williamson, Edmond Hamilton, M A Rayjean, Philip Wylie.

He also created the animation for Disney Pixar's Ratatouille where the protagonist Remy tastes different foods and those tastes are represented in the form of image using light and colour. 
This technique is similar to the animated short that he created, titled Sensology(2010). This is a hand drawn animation that took Michel Gagne four years to create.
Gagne states,"Back in June 2006, Nancy and I were invited to the Vancouver International Jazz Festival by Coastal Jazz’s manager of artistic programming, the amazing Rainbow Robert. That’s where I heard piano improvisor, Paul Plimley for the first time. As Paul played, I closed my eyes and had an intense synesthetic experience. When the show ended, I immediately started feeling a compulsion to express in animation what I had just experienced." Allen, Andrew S.(2011).Short of The Week. Sensology.


Gagne, Michel. (2005). Gagne International. Michel Gagne's Long Biography. Available online at:

Allen, Andrew S.(2011).Short of The Week. Sensology. Available online at:

Pavlacka,Adam. (2011). Reviews. XBLA Review: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. Available online at:

Geronimi,Clyde.(1955). Lady and The Tramp.

List of Illustrations:

Fig 1: Gagne,Michel.

Fig 2: Gagne,Michel. (2004). Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet.

Fig 3: Gagne,Michel. (2010). Sensology

Animator Profiles: Norman McLaren

When asked how he would like to be remembered, Norman McLaren said, "With characteristic modesty, as 'an innovator of new techniques, some of which led to a few distinguished or interesting films"
A master in experimental film manipulation, Norman McLaren pushed the boundaries of moving images.
He has created a number of films that play with colour and form to create motion pictures to portray an image. As Marcel Jean states,"painting directly on a frameless filmstrip as if it were a long, thin canvas." Jean, Marcel. ONF NFB Key Film Makers. Norman McLaren Overview of Work.
Fig 1: Norman McLaren
 He was born in the year 1914 in Scotland and attended Glasgow School of Fine Arts. His work appears to be highly influenced by the works of Einstein as his films include the mixing of different chemicals to react with film in order to produce patterns that create images. He went to Spain during the Civil War to film the events that occurred.

McLaren's films Colour Cocktail (1935)and Polychrome Fantasy(1935) were films that are examples of his experimentation with pixillation effects, superimpositions and animation. Jamie Sexton describes this as "(A film) which interweaves dancing with colour abstractions." Sexton, Jamie. (2003). Mclaren,Norman (1914-1987)
His film 'Animation Motion' which is a film in five parts, is a work that showcases the basic principles used in animation.

In 1939, McLaren moved to America where he created films for The National Film Board of Canada. He was lucky enough to have a liberal artistic license to create the kinds of films that he did. This gained him a great reputation as an artist. He collaborated with a man named John Grieson, who provided McLaren a job opportunity with the GPO in London. He was recognized worldwide when he won an Oscar award for his short film The Neighbours (1952)

Fig 2: Pas de Deux (1967)
In 1968, Mclaren created a film that involved a ballet dancer whose dance was affected with a reduced frame rate and multiple exposures to create strange effects. As Graeme Hobbs states in his article ‘Every Film is a kind of Dance’: The Art of Norman McLaren, "From constant movement, showing what movement looks like at different speeds – 32, 64, 128, 256, 512 frames a second for example, they then take in accelerating, decelerating, zero and irregular motion as well as change brought about through colour and lighting." Hobbs, Graeme. (2010) ‘Every Film is a kind of Dance’: The Art of Norman McLaren. 

Fig 3: Colour Cocktail (1935)

Noran McLaren considered animators to be artists who controlled every bit of their production. His works such as Begone Dull Care(1949), Blinkity Blank (1955)are examples of his experiments with creating images directly on film. Rhythmic(1965) and Le Merle(1959)  consist of stories portrayed using paper cutouts whereas La-haut sur ces montagnes (1945) contains a series of drawings made in chalk.


Sexton, Jamie. (2003). Mclaren,Norman (1914-1987) Available online:

Jean, Marcel. ONF NFB Key Film Makers. Norman McLaren Overview of Work. Available online at:

Hobbs, Graeme. (2010) ‘Every Film is a kind of Dance’: The Art of Norman McLaren. Available online at:

List of Illustrations:
Fig 1:

Fig 2: McLaren, Norman. (1967). Pas de Deux.

Fig 3: McLaren, Norman. (1935).Colour Cocktail.



Sunday, 18 March 2012

The Forms of Story


A spinning-top discovers his ability to spin, only to learn that everything has it's consequences.


Tilt the spinning top rolls horizontally into the frame. He stands up and tries to move about. His first attempt at locomotion is to hop. He begins hopping around and punctures a region on the frame.

He gets stuck in the puncture and tries to get himself out. He twists and turns and then shoots out and lands on the surface whilst spinning. Suddenly discovering that he can spin, Tilt is overcome with joy. Some might even call him ecstatic.

He spins around the frame. Going in and out of the frame. Finally, whilst spinning over the puncture that he created earlier, he gets stuck in it again. He begins spinning rapidly in order to get out but instead, he causes the paper to be swallowed and he gets stuck there.

Step Outline:

The frame is empty and white.

A spinning top enters the frame from the left. It is horizontal and rolls in.

The spinning top stops in the centre of the frame.

It stands up.

It tries to move.

It begins to hop.

It hops around the frame towards the right.

It exits the frame and enters from the left.

Returning to the centre of the frame, the spinning top keeps hopping.

It punctures the floor upon which it hops. (The floor is the paper upon which it is drawn)

The spinning top is stuck in the hole in the paper.

It tries to wriggle out but fails.

The spinning top begins to twist itself out.

It's speed increases.

It shoots out spinning.

It lands on the side of the puncture, spinning.

It is happy with it's newly found  ability to spin.

It begins to spin about the frame towards the right.

It exits the frame to the right.

It re-enters the frame, spinning from the left.

This repeat twice, rapidly.

The spinning-top spins towards the puncture.

It gets caught in the puncture.

It tries spinning out again.

Instead, it causes the paper in the frame that it is in to be swallowed in the puncture while the spinning top is still spinning in it.

The spinning top is stuck in the puncture and cannot get out.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Animator Profiles: Winsor McCay

Winsor McCay is known as the father of animation. His work has been the starting point for many works of animation that are iconic today. As Maria Popova, "Cartoonist and artist Winsor McCay (1869-1964) is often considered one of the fathers of true animation, pioneering the drawn image in film and influencing iconic creators for generations to come" Popova, Maria. (2011). Brain Pickings.Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo: The First True Animation, 1911
Fig 1: Nemo in Slumberland

McCay began his life in a family who looked down upon the arts as a profession. His father enrolled him into a business school in hopes that he would take to a 'proper profession'.
During his time studying, Winsor McCay struggled to achieve high scores and dreamed of a life away from where he was.
The first earnings that McCay was subject to in terms of art was at The Dime Museum where he drew portraits of people for 25 cents each.
He was later taught by teacher who was skilled at perspective drawing which is what taught Winsor McCay.

Fig 2: Gertie The Dinosaur Comic

In 1903, McCay was offered a job in the city of New York at The New York Herald. He focused his time on making cartoon. McCay really developed his skill of drawing during this period of time. He created comic strips. His break into the comic strip artist 'community' was Little Sammy Sneeze in 1904 which lasted for 2 1/2 years.
At around the same time, Dream of a Rarebit Friend had begun taking shape. The thing about these two comic strips was that the scenarios in which they were based, required constant re doing. There was no continuous flow to the story. As a result of that frustration, Little Nemo is Slumberland was born.
The New York Herald was home to the best printing press and colour printing staff. This is what made Little Nemo magical.
When Little Nemo hit broadway, McCay began drawing as a chalk and talk artist- an artist who would draw for an audience whilst telling a story. During this time, he also began work on an animated film called How a Mosquito Operates.
In December 1913, Winsor McCay showcased his work Gertie The Dinosaur to an audience where he joined the dinosaur in a finale on screen.

Fig 3: Gertie The Dinosaur Animation Still

This film involved a dinosaur named Gertie who interacted with the voice of Winsor McCay himself.
McCay also created an animated film called The Sinking of The Lusitania. The drawings of this film are detailed and tell the story of the sinking of a ship that facilitated the Second World War which according to John Canemaker " it was the first to use cels." John Canemaker, Winsor McCay, His Life and Art (New York, Abbeville Press, 1987) 
The scene when the ship is hit by a missile and the smoke is escaping from the chimneys, captures the true nature of smoke. It dissipates dramatically and in a beautiful pattern.
Winsor McCay was an artist. He lived to draw. He wanted to make the world better with art.
He died in 1934, leaving behind a legacy of revolutionary images that led to the creation of the animation industry in existence today. As Jim Vaderboncoeur states, "While he wasn't the first person to make an animated cartoon, he was the man who defined the industry" Vaderboncoeu, JVJ Publishing.


Vaderboncoeu, JVJ Publishing.Available online at:

Popova, Maria. (2011). Brain Pickings.Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo: The First True Animation, 1911
Available online at:

John Canemaker, Winsor McCay, His Life and Art (New York, Abbeville Press, 1987) 


Fig 1: McCay Winsor. (1911). Little Nemo in Slumberland
Fig 2: McCay Winsor. (1914).Gertie The Dinosaur

Fig 3: McCay Winsor. (1914).Gertie The Dinosaur|G%3AHI%3AE%3A1&page_number=51&template_id=1&sort_order=1

Object Morph

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Check Out My Spinning Top

This is a video I took of a spinning-top for reference. Or I animated this entire sequence from scratch. You decide =P

Ideas That I Have For My Story For Unit 5


Adjective: Feeling or expressing overwhelming happiness or joyful excitement.

For a story I thought of having a spinning top that enters the frame rolling in horizontally. It gets up and doesn't realize that it can spin like crazy so it begins to hop. However, as it hops, it creates dents in the paper and then ultimately, it creates a hole in the paper and gets stuck there. He tries to get out and like a cork, he tries to twist himself out of the hole in the paper(ground).
He shoots out of the hole and lands on a flat bit of paper (still spinning) and stops. He is extremely happy with his newly found spinning ability and he spins around the page like crazy. He gets caught in the hole again and twists the paper (the white background) into the hole. This causes him to get jammed and he can't get out.
So he just gives up and sits there.


The other idea I had was the same as the first idea up until the part where he gets stuck in the hole for the second time. Instead of that I thought that the spinning-top would spin around a lot, going in and out of the frame and finally, he turns into TAZ from Looney Tunes (Image reference below)

I don't know if that's okay to do though. Do let me know what you think about this idea.

Thank you!  =D

Monday, 5 March 2012

Unit 5: Animation

So for this new unit the brief demands that we create a one minute, traditional hand drawn animation.
We are given an object and an adjective to portray the way the object is meant to behave.
I have 'The Ecstatic Spinning-Top'
Now, as fitting as the adjective might be for the object, it is still a challenge in terms of producing something original.
However, I already have an idea of what I am going to do and I shall keep this space updated with more brain matter.

Keep watching!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Maya Tutorials: Pendulum

Film Review: The Birds (1963)

The Birds (1963) can be interpreted in two ways- Literally and metaphorically.
This film fits into the category of a 'disaster movie'. It starts off with a woman (blonde, of course.) named Melanie Daniels who travels to Bodega Bay to drop of a pair of love birds for a man's sister. She meets this man named Mitch Brenner in the city of San Fransisco. When she arrives at this island, she notices the strange behavior of the birds that inhabit it. They appear to be getting more and more violent as the time progresses. As reviewer Boseley Crowther states,"Mr. Hitchcock and his associates have constructed a horror film that should raise the hackles on the most courageous and put goose-pimples on the toughest hide."Crowther,Boseley.(1963).The New York Times Film Review. The Birds (1963)

Fig 1: The Birds Film Poster
 There are classic 'Hitchcock' elements present in this film. One would be the creation of tension amongst the audience. The scene where Melanie is waiting on a bench outside a children's play park and the crows are silently assembling on the climbing bars behind her. The main reason for this is because the audience is aware of what is going to happen before the character in the film. The audience feels helpless and frustrated with the character for not noticing any sooner. As reviewer Gary Panton states, "one of the most memorable coming when the crows gather at the school gates like common lunch money-stealing bullies while the oblivious kiddies inside belt out some atrocious song or other." Panton, Gary.(2004). Film Review. The Birds. 

Fig 2: The Birds Assembling On The Climbing Bars
 There are also close up montage shots to depict an event. The scene where Melanie goes to a room in Mitch's house when they are hiding from the birds and opens the door only to discover that part of the roof of the house has been taken apart and the birds have entered the room. They attack her as soon as she opens the door and trap her there. Her attack is shown with close-up shots of the parts of her body that are being attacked by the birds. This is reminiscent of the shower murder that takes place in Psycho (1958). According to reviewer Christopher Null,"Hitchcock aimed to do for avians in The Birds what he did for showers in Psycho, and by and large he succeeded." Null, Christopher.(2004). Film Review. The Birds

Fig 3: Melanie Being Attacked By Birds In Mitch's House

Throughout the film, the lovebirds never attack. They remain calm and non-hostile. That is an aspect of the film that can be perceived as a Metaphor. That love always survives in the end.
The end of the film shows the characters of Melanie, Mitch, his sister and mother and the two love birds driving off to the city while the birds sit watching.
The story never thoroughly concludes. It leaves the essence lingering. It is up to the audience to decide the fate of the characters and how they would tackle the birds. Maybe they are messengers of Earth and are trying to depict a message to the humans to stop ruining the planet. Or maybe they're just a bunch of crazy birds.


Crowther,Boseley.(1963).The New York Times Film Review. The Birds (1963). Available online at:
Accessed 2nd March 2012

Null, Christopher.(2004). Film Review. The Birds Available online at: Accessed 2nd March 2012

Panton, Gary.(2004). Film Review. The Birds. Available online at: Accessed 2nd March 2012

Hitchcock,Alfred. (1960).Psycho.

List of Illustrations:

Figure 1: Hitchcock,Alfred. (1963). The Birds Accessed 2nd March 2012

Figure 2: Hitchcock,Alfred. (1963). The Birds Accessed 2nd March 2012

Figure 3: Hitchcock,Alfred. (1963). The Birds Accessed 2nd March 2012

Maya Tutorials: Sideways Bouncing Ball

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Maya Tutorials: Rig Shot

Maya Tutorials: Pitch Shot

Maya Tutorials: Roll Shot

Film Review: Vertigo (1958)

Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958) is about an acrophobic detective by the name of Scottie, who is required to spy on his friend's wife named Madeleine because she is believed to be possessed. In the process of doing so, he falls in love with her. However, he is tricked into believing that she is dead and is grief stricken by that idea. After her 'Death', comes across her doppelganger who turns out to be the same woman who was staging as his friend's wife and the one Scottie fell in love with. As reviewer Laurie Boeder rightly states, "(It is) a dreamlike tale of obsession and the hopeless search for lost love."Boeder, Film Reviews. Vertigo.

Fig 1: Vertigo Film Poster

Scottie is a character who tries to recreate his lost love. He tries to change the new Madeleine(who's real name is Judy. He forces her to become someone whom she is not. He displays the characteristic features of a highly manipulative and self obsessed male. Judy obeys as she is led to believe by Scottie that he will love her once she physically transforms into someone that he is in love with.
There is quite a sense of the Uncanny when the character of Scottie sees Judy for the first time. Until that scene, Judy is a pale, blonde woman who wears a rich array of clothing made from fine fabrics. Judy is an average, working girl who is a brunette. The audience can witness her transformation as she changes from Judy and back to 'Madeleine'. That aspect of the film is rather uncanny.
The ending is a characteristic Hitchcock ending. This film maker appears to favour the endings that make the audience think. There is never a clear halt to the story.

Fig 2: The Real Judy

There is also an element of horror in this film as Scottie witnesses the death of his lover twice. One can only imagine how disturbed his character would be if this film were to document his life after the incident that takes place towards the end of the film.
In terms of story, this film has a lot to offer. Many might relate to the character of Scottie as his reactions seem to be driven strongly by his Id.
There are twists and turns aplenty in this film.  This is another characteristic feature of Alfred Hitchcock's film making. As reviewer Boseley Crowther states,"Vertigo" is performed in the manner expected of all performers in Hitchcock films."Crowther, Boseley. (1958). New York Times Film Review. Vertigo (1958)

Fig 3: Judy as Madeleine

This film was one of the first of it's kind to be created and has been emulated throughout film history.
Hitchcock gains control of the audience's mind by involving strong and relatable characters in the plot.
This film is one of Hitchcock's masterpieces. It can be viewed numerous times and is always entertaining. As Reviewer Martyn Glanville states, "(Vertigo is) an enjoyably duplicitous film, full of artificiality in both the film-making (lots of back projection) and the story (things not being what we thought),"Glanville,Martyn. (2000). BBC Film Reviews. Vertigo.


Glanville,Martyn. (2000). BBC Film Reviews. Vertigo. Available online at: 

Boeder, Film Reviews. Vertigo. Available online at:

Crowther, Boseley. (1958). New York Times Film Review. Vertigo (1958) Available online at:

List of Illustrations:

Figure 1: Hitchcock, Alfred. (1958). Vertigo.Available online at:

Figure 2:Hitchcock, Alfred. (1958). Vertigo.Available online at:

Figure 3:Hitchcock, Alfred. (1958). Vertigo.Available online at:

Maya Tutorials: Pan Shot