The SaltMarsh is my second animated short. It is a work in progress, between assignments. The backgrounds shown here are first composed in storyboard form. The boards have enough detail to serve as a decent shot layout. From there I work on rough, cold press watercolor paper. I produce a black and white tonal painting with Japanese stick ink and traditional brushes. Next, I scan the painting on a large, high quality flatbed scanner. The painting is digitally colored, and eventually composited using a virtual After Effects camera.
After traveling in Nepal, Japan, Peru, Hawaii and a lot of the American west, mostly with dusty boots and a backpack, I sat and pondered the pile of film I’d shot. I had worked in-house so much at agencies, production facilities and networks, that I’d never had time to animate something for myself. This was the time to start. The first thing I did was start drawing environments. Below are a few of the results.
This is a really fun project. I was given a list of characters and then put on a very long leash. Actually, I even came up with the idea for the surfing Sumo. I did surf for several years, and then paddled a whitewater kayak. There is a small amount of overlap in these experiences, giving me a wealth of ideas.
The friendly creatures of Snuff Mountain, Tennessee decided not to be left off the reality TV bandwagon. Never mind that the wagon was never going to pull over and let them on. Is it the most humble expression of pop culture you’ve ever seen, or an apt metaphor for our time?
All the art started as pencil illustration. The animation was spline based, made with Anime Studio Pro. The audio was produced in-house, using studio built foley props and echo chamber. It’s all very straightforward. I looked at a lot of old Termite Terrace shot layouts, and staged these shots with that attitude of ‘getting it done’.
Promoting child literacy and literature can only be a good thing. I figure kids have seen enough unicorns and teddy bears to hurl chunks, so I took a different path. Good literature gives us wild imaginings our whole life. I have no trouble imagining wild things, already.
I animated the ‘book reading’ scenes with Anime Studio Pro. The vector and IK tools make for smooth, calm movement. The real action, what is figuratively between the pages, has a rough line from being sketched out in Pencil open source software. That was animated straight ahead almost as fast as I conceived it. The color fills are in a back layer, so the sketchiness is intentionally preserved. Backgrounds were painted simply in Photoshop. Shadows, spotlit accenting and composites were in After Effects.
Amos Tutuola is about as unique a storyteller as the modern world has known. His creations are unimaginable, yet he did thus. I have done several preliminary versions of these drawings. This is a small sampling. One day I plan to illustrate a complete portfolio of this tale.
Like a lot of people in America, my first exposure to any concept of Bush of Ghosts was the joint project by the same name between Brian Eno and David Byrne. This was one of the first albums to use sampling as we understand it today. I was curious about the source of their inspiration and eventually found a copy of Tutuola’s book. It is a hallucinatory experience with roots in ancient beliefs of the Yoruba people. I don’t know what impact western culture played on Tutuola’s convictions and beliefs, but what manifested from this collision is probably quite beyond what is germane to either western Nigeria, or especially England, the fading colonial power of his childhood.