Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mail Bag!

Welcome to the first ever Mail Bag posting on Jim Lujan.Com. Each week I'll pick an email and answer it to the best of my human ability. It can be a question, comment, request, etc. Whatever floats your boats. For our inaugural letter we have an email from Krishna Sadasivam (creator of PC Weenies).

Krishna asks:

How long does a typical animation project take for you? What is your process like? Do you start with a script? Or is it largely improvisational? How important are storyboards and animatics to your animations?

The simplest answer is I don't start with a script, I start with an idea, I'll take that idea and make a storyboard with notes. I use those notes and thumbnails to do the audio track. I edit the audio track and get it just right and then I import the mp3 into Flash.

Doing the thumbnails is helpful for me to decide what kind of voice to give the characters and what tone to use for different emotions. Doing the audio first helps me to assure the picture flows and works in a "rhythm" if that makes any sense. The dialogue is largely improvised, but I always have an idea of key things I want to say. I realize if I worked in a more traditional animation environment, I'd conform. For now, Im having fun doing what I do. I love the freedom and the spontaneity of my current method. Below is an example of a storyboard.

I hope that helps, Krishna. Hope to see your animation soon too!

Feel free to email your questions to:


Luis said...

Traditionally, animated movies and shorts didn't have scripts. They were done in a very similar way to what you use. Scripts in animation is a very modern invention.

Jim Lujan said...

I KNEW I was on the right track! I experimented with scripts but found it was more fun if I just recorded without them. Since its just me, I figure whatever works, right?

Anonymous said...

Cool post. So how long does it take to make a film. You never said. Let's say "Day of the Unicorn."? 25 hours? 45 hours? Do you build the movie as one timeline in Flash or do you break it in scenes? Do you break the audio into parts also? Now that you are in I-movie, are you exporting scenes and building the final movie in that app??

Anonymous said...

Being a one man show has it's advantages when it comes to film production. You are smart to simply "cut to it" and make the audio track first and build the movie around it.
You can move fast when you are working alone. Establishing the rythm of the story is the deal.
Once that works it's just doing it.

I challenge you to do a "all music" no words-- animated film this year. And nothing simple. Tell a story, just as you usually would. I would love to see you do a music only movie. That in itself is a unique challenge.

Jim Lujan said...

An all music cartoon? Well, I think the opening credits for Seven Smiles should cover that.

Jim Lujan said...

Quick answer for the filmmaking bit:

Day of the Unicorn: I did that all in one timeline, one audio file (mp3) in Flash. No iMovie. My mistake. I wont do that again. Not for a movie that long. It took me about a month or so off and on. The art takes the longest (coloring/scanning-etc)

Calmplex said...

definately cool to hear about this process... i don't have flash but i look forward to doing what i can and making an animation... probly with a flash imitation program... or windows movie maker... don't know... guess i gotta use that resourcfullness... im fiending for another podcast too... ive listened to all three 2wice... cmon!!! i keep sayin "Ghettomation" in that voice yall do and my wife is allways scratchen her head like huh?

Jim Lujan said...

GHettomation episode 4 is almost ready to go....real soon!

Anonymous said...

Maybe you could interview someone that creates animated movies? Tedd Secko was good, but he seems to be isolated in his part of production (clean up and story board). It would be interesting to talk with someone that makes animated films for a living (or not). Details like timing, film construction, scene building and so on. Maybe we could gleen some details on actually making an animated short film. After you build an audio track..what the heck do you do next? Storyboard..then what?