Oakley – Capturing the Light

Hello everyone!

I must apologize for not posting very much lately. I know the site is new and keeping it updated has presented a slight challenge for me. However, I’ve been quite busy getting ready for my education at the University of North Texas and it’s kept me quite occupied. I tell you what though, being here has me so excited! There’s so much being offered here, so many opportunities and so much potential I almost don’t know what to do with myself!

Although I still have a few more basic courses to get out of the way this semester, I hope to take as much advantage of the situation as possible. I’ll have plenty of reading to keep me busy and this will be a perfect time to generate some great ideas for all the productions I’ll be working on in years to come.

Meanwhile, I’m still  trying to get some of my course work situation and living situation under way I’d now like to introduce a special guest who was a fellow stundet of mine while I studied at Houston Baptist University. His name is David Matthew and is disciplined in the traditional arts with a BA from the university. Currently he is working on his portfolio to be evaluated at the California Institute of the Arts (or Cal Arts) in the pursuit of  a career in animation.

From what some of you may have already read on my blog, I have a particular passion for animation myself. Although I am strictly working in photography and film at the moment it is one of my many dreams to one day work in this “medium” of communications and story telling. So with that, David, take it away!

Why I love Animation

Some of you may have noticed the slight obsession with cartoons I have (constant cartoon profile pictures, my Perry the Platypus shirt, applying to CalArt’s Character Animation program). I’m like the kid who is super excited about Saturday morning cartoons and never grew out of it. The first and last paragraph here is taken from the artist statement I submitted to CalArts.

The way to convey reality through gesture, contour and model rendering is to follow the story of the light. This is the essence of drawing reality: understanding the nature of light and dark, movement, and proportion. While this might sound like strict defense for realism, I am in fact using it to defend more. Cameras are machines that capture the light for you. But I believe that stylization, in its many forms, takes this many steps further. Capturing only the light that is visible to the eye only tells one story. But stylization is essential to telling a different story: a more engaging one. Stylization eliminates non-essential visuals to promote and enhance aspects of a story or character that cannot be conveyed simply through photographic imagery.

I can take a picture of someone smiling, but it certainly doesn’t capture all the moods and feelings of the moment. But I can draw a caricature of him that exaggerates his smile. A few simple lines and bam! I have successfully captured the moment more accurately than a camera.

This is why I want to work in animation. I have experience in painting and drawing, and if a picture tells a thousand words, a moving picture must tell a thousand per frame. Like stylization is to realism, animation is to live action film. I have experience in drawing for most of my life, and began oil painting in college. To me, the mediums were never powerful enough, as my inspiration always came from the motion and progression of story that is found in animation.  Animation can convey moods, feelings, emotions, thoughts, etc. that are difficult, if not sometimes impossible to fully convey in live action. Stylization and stylized animation also convey a unique visual aesthetic that would otherwise never been seen in this present reality.

I tend to like children’s animation more than adult. It is true that sometimes the lack barriers can promote different kinds of stories. But most often, the lack of barriers just makes people feel like they can do whatever they can get away with. And when people can get away with anything, they will do anything. “Hey, I get to make a cartoon on prime time so I can make as many dirty jokes and chop off as many limbs as I want!” Wow, you’re ssoooooooo creative. I totally couldn’t have come up with that. I’m blown away by your cleverness and innovation. In children’s cartoons, creativity and content is often forced out of the production team because of the standards that must be met. (The good ones at least. It can still be easy to just follow a kiddy formula, but most animators also want to make something that’s entertaining to them as well. Otherwise the tedious work involved in animation can become boring and mundane.)

“Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
— C.S. Lewis 

The characters of Phineas and Ferb vs. their sister Candace are great examples of this. Who doesn’t wanna be like Phineas and Ferb? How awesome would it be to wake up every day and say, “I know what we’re gonna do today!” and then proceed to have the best day ever?

The Truth is my ultimate standard for what I do. My work hinges on iconic imagery; the kind which the viewer always knows when he sees it. These archetypes are recognizable to those who are unfamiliar with it. While this sounds like an oxymoron, it is true that many have had the experience of seeing an image that makes them feel like they’ve known in their whole lives. This can be experienced in a painting, a movie, a book, television show, song, or anything that is art. Like Plato’s allegory of the caves, it is the reality behind the shadows. My ultimate goal is to bring out the Truth that is the story of the Light of Men.

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2 responses

  1. Nice read. I’d love to see a followup as to why you’re specifically interested in traditional animation over 3d. :)

    January 13, 2011 at 23:42

    • Thank you Seth for your comment! And I’ll be sure to send a note to David and maybe he can elaborate on that at another time. It’s a great question! I personally like all forms of animation both CGI and traditional hand-drawn animation. Both have their strengths and limitations.

      January 13, 2011 at 23:48

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