Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Princess and the Frog Q&A

A few times a session Animation Mentor has question and answer sessions with animators from specific movies or projects. Last night I had the opportunity to listen to T. Dan Hofstedt, an animator on The Princess and the Frog. I'll admit now, I have yet to see the movie, but it's on the "must buy" list when it comes out on BluRay in March. Anyway, T. Dan is a mentor at AM as well as so he was pretty familiar with the process and made sure he gave people plenty of time to ask questions (all of which were really good!). He gave some great insight on the 2D process, how he made it to where he was (his dad was actually a caricature artist for Disneyland in the 60's) and his work flow. Pretty cool.

A great section of the Q&A had to be the drawings he was showing us and the final sections he worked on. He was responsible (lead animator) for the band in the movie and the character designs and animations. It was cool to see the evolution of the characters as well as the process in to how they would move, the traditional techniques used for motion blur (drawing several drumsticks instead of one, smears, "dry brush", etc).

I think the best part was the inclusion of Frank Thomas, one of Disney's Nine Old Men, as the piano player in the band. It seems to be a cool homage that animator's love to do, previously showing up in Pixar's Incredibles (Frank and Ollie, to be specific) and the Iron Giant. It's something that "those in the know" will get, but I don't think of it as an inside joke as much as these guys have a real love of these guys and what they gave animation. It's their way of showing that because, well, these guys are why we get to do what we love.

"That's the way to do it. That's old school."
"No school like the old school."

Anyway, it was enlightening to see the process, inspiring to hear that what I'm going through is "normal" (or called learning!), and that 2D animation is very much alive and people will embrace it. *sigh* :D

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