Tag Archives: Animator

Sijia Huang shows the importance of music in animation

When Sijia Huang animates a film, she sees herself almost like a choreographer. She aims to make every movement as seamless and fluid as possible, almost like an infinite tide. This is her priority with every project she takes on. She always ensures she has the perfect balance between tension and looseness, generating the ideal rhythm for all of her films. She does not limit herself to one type of animation, and as long as the audience is moved by her work, she is happy. It is this mantra that makes her one of China’s best animators, and why she is taking the industry by storm.

Huang’s style is evident in every one of her films and is perhaps best displayed in her award-winning film Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil, a film conveying the struggles of humanity. Since then, Huang has seen continued success. Quitting Brave Victory, a film about warrior who begins a journey to find his strongest opponent, has over 2.6 million views online. BoxHome, is a story of a couple who live in a box, went on to win several awards. Breakfast, a fun film about a child’s imagination, made its way to several prestigious international film festivals.

“As an animator, I work for a variety of fields including film, television and commercials. I animate characters based on designs and stories. I would like to say animators are like magicians who bring things to life,” she said.

Huang’s flair for animated choreography is exemplified in the collaborative film for the event Measures & Frames. A partnership between a group of filmmakers and a group of composers, Measures & Frames featured the internationally renowned Pendrecki String Quartet performing five pieces of contemporary classical music paired with original visuals projected against a three-screen display for an unforgettable pairing of image and sound.

Measures & Frames aimed to create a conversation between the pictures and the music. They made something more like a painting: a world that embodies a story-like idea or emotion. It’s an audio-visual experience that gives the audience a new entryway into the music. Suddenly, audiences see structure and form that we couldn’t see before. What seemed impenetrable and unfamiliar can suddenly become inviting and enjoyable, especially with a very conceptual, sophisticated piece like Arcadiana, the film that Huang worked on for the event, which was a main part of the entire production. Music is a large part of Huang’s life, and this project gave her the opportunity to showcase this passion. It was also her first opportunity to animate to the music of a strong quartet.

“I was so happy that I could be the animator for this project. It made me want to make more music related projects. If an opportunity comes up to work on a music video in the future, I will jump all over it,” she said.

When the Director of the project, Michael Patterson, was looking for an animator to bring such a unique film to fruition, he thought of Huang’s work on her film Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil and knew she was just who he needed, knowing she was capable of choreography, which was very important to Arcadiana. He invited her to take part, and she immediately said yes. Patterson is famous his work on the animation for the famous A-ha music video “Take on Me” as well as creating the characters Stray Mob and MC Skat Kat, who appeared in Paula Abdul’s music video “Opposites Attract”.

“Music is abstract and invites the audience in—the visuals have to do this too,” said Patterson when speaking of why Huang’s animation was vital to the project. “The multi-sensory experience invites the audience to understand the form of the music in an expanded way. If you’re depicting the music too literally, you’re limiting the freedom to personally engage.”

Huang designed the main character that was used in the film and did the stop-motion animation. At the beginning of the production, she wanted to shoot the animation using the down shooter with paper cut puppets. When she showed the director her work, he asked me if she could also try to animate another 2D version using After Effect. In order to create a more defined looking for the skeleton puppets, she used the latest character pin and created the dance for two skeletons. With each revision, Huang got closer and closer to their vision, until finally she achieved perfection.

“I had the opportunity to collaborate with Sijia on a project titled Measures & Frames Sijia created the portion of the show that featured two skeletons dancing with one another. This part of the production was crucial to Measures & Frames, and Sijia was the only animator capable of combing choreography and animation to make our vision a reality. Her mastery of a variety of animation techniques made her indispensable to the project. Specifically, her utilization of Adobe After Effects, a digital visual effects, motion graphics, and compositing post-production application, was key to finishing the animation on the project. Sijia’s high skill level in using the latest animation techniques, as well as her remarkable versatility and distinct style, vastly elevated the visual portion of Measures & Frames,” said Michael Patterson, Grammy Award-winning filmmaker and Director, specializing in TV spots and music videos.

Huang stands by famous composer Veronika Krausas, who once said, “For some audiences not familiar with new music and it’s their first time hearing not one but five new works, it’s tough. I think that the added dimension of the video helps smooth that out a bit. This is a way for audiences to actually experience the music more and become more familiar with it. The video helps acclimatize people to the sounds, and then they’re more able to appreciate them.”

Those who attended Measures & Frames on March 28th, 2015, were wildly impressed with both Huang’s animation and the event as a whole. Experiencing music in a visual way was captivating, and Huang thinks it is of great importance.

“If the diverse crowd that delivered a standing ovation at the evening’s conclusion is any indication, this type of visual music experience has opened the doors of classical composition to a newer, younger crowd than the form has seen in quite some time,” Huang concluded.

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Art is life for Iran’s Tooba Rezaei

When Tooba Rezaei picks up her pencil, she feels her sense of purpose. For her, art is much more than simply making something pretty. Art is about creating. It is a sense of escapism for both herself and the people that see her work. Every single thing she paints or draws tells a story, whether it is abstract or not. She shares herself with the world with each stroke of her paint brush, and is not afraid by this notion. Originally from Iran, Rezaei captivated her country with her talent, and now, she is taking the world by storm.

As both an artist and an animator, Rezaei’s work is both stylistic and intricate. In animation, she is a leader in the field. Her award-winning contributions to SilverFit, a virtual therapy system to train gross motor skills and ADL tasks during rehabilitation sessions or supervised exercise programs specifically for older people, revolutionized the company. After having the roles of background designer, background painter, character designer and character animator, her style was adopted by the company for all of their future endeavors. She even ventured into filmmaking with her animated short A Sweet Dream, which tells the bitter-sweet allegorical look at the desires of little girl who wants the world to see her talents shine through the difficulties of her life. The film went on to win several awards at many prestigious international film festivals, and Rezaei’s versatility was known to the world.

Despite this success, it was her work as a visual artist that started Rezaei’s career, and where her passion that she has had since her childhood lies. Her creations have seen public praise, and she was even selected to paint a display for Westland City Hall in Holland. The painting, titled Variety and Unity, displays symbols from various countries and cultures incorporated into Rezaei’s own style. It has gone on to receive acclaim not just from the employees of the City Hall, but all those who see it.

“Without art, life would be very hard for me,” said Rezaei.

Rezaei’s artwork has garnered so much attention throughout her career that she has been published in several books. One of these was the book Gods and Goddesses, published by Michael Publishing. The book contains 126 paintings from 23 different mythologies, as selected by the participating artists. Each mythology is arranged with a summary write-up of the culture and followed by the subject write up of the painting, artist’s biography and artist’s discussion of the art; the facing page displays the painting. Each artist had to select a god from ancient mythology to portray in their work. Rezaei’s work, titled Anahita, is in the Gods and Goddesses gatefold of the book.

Rezaei was contacted by the owner of Michael Publishing, Michael C. Phifer, to participate in the book. Very few artists were selected by the publisher. As the artwork started to come in, Phifer immediately recognized Rezaei’s style in her piece. He believes her work greatly improved the quality of his entire book, directly contributing to its commercial success.

Tooba made an incredible painting for the book, and it is easily one of my very top favorites of all them. The color pallet is exquisite; the pose is tantalizing and the image is breathtaking,” said Phifer. “Tooba delivered a knockout piece well ahead of our deadline and it was one of the pieces that helped inspire other artists raise their game. Her piece delivers a very sensual feeling without being blatantly sexy. That is a difficult thing to do and do well. Craftsmanship is an art form in itself that is partly learned and partly instinctive. Tooba is a craftsman.”

Rezaei was also selected to create a piece for the book Inner Vision. The Inner Vision book is made for the Inner Visions show called Contemporary Imaginative Realism at the Abend Gallery in Denver. Rezaei’s painting Anahita shows the ancient Iranian Goddess of water and fertility. It was displayed in both the show and the book, and was a great honor for the artist.

She was also selected to create a piece for The Journal, a collection of masterful international artists from various genres and industries. This book goes beyond a simple art description, as it reveals the creative process and genius of each of the artists themselves. Rezaei was contacted by Jon Schindehette, the owner of ArtOrder to participate. ArtOrder is curator of fine limited edition prints for Beautimarks, educator with Bethany School Applied Arts, and creative director for ThinkGeek Denver and GameStop. Schindehette has more than 30 years of experience in the creative industry and has worked for such companies and brands as: Disney, Fox Entertainment, Warner Brothers, Hasbro, Wizards of the Coast, Harley-Davidson, Microsoft, Kodak, Price Waterhouse, Atari, Activision, Sony Entertainment, Bioware, Bethesda SoftWorks, Crystal Dynamics, and many more. He clearly recognizes an exceptional artist when he sees one, and he saw that in Rezaei.

“I am so honored that my artwork has been published next to all the amazing artists in the industry, such as Ian McCaig, who is an artist, writer and filmmaker. He was involved in the Star Wars franchise and many other iconic film and book projects,” said Rezaei, when speaking of being published in The Journal. “Seeing my work printed next to wonderful artists whose work I admire is a great feeling.”

With the book Spectrum 24, the selection process worked a bit differently for Rezaei than in the past. Previously, she created a specific piece for each book she was published in. However, with Spectrum 24, Rezaei submitted a piece she had previously created from her imagination for her own enjoyment. Only after finishing the piece did she think to submit her work to the book’s contest. Among thousands of entries, her piece was one the few artworks that was selected by the judges.

The book is part of the best-selling Spectrum series, which continued with this twenty-fourth lavishly produced annual. Challenging, controversial, educational, and irreverent, the award-winning Spectrum series reinforces both the importance and prevalence of fantastic art in today’s culture. With exceptional images by extraordinary creators, this elegant full-color collection showcases an international cadre of creators working in every style and medium, both traditional and digital. The best artists from the United States, Europe, China, Australia, South America and beyond were gathered into the only annual devoted exclusively to works of fantasy, horror, science fiction, and the surreal, making Spectrum one of the year’s highly most anticipated books. Rezaei’s artwork Sunset at the Dragon Breeder’s Castle was recognized by the judges as one of the best. These judges included Christian Alzmann, who has worked as an art director on numerous film projects including Star Wars, Star Trek, Pirates of Caribbean, and more.

“It is very important to have your work published as an artist, especially being published alongside among other famous artists. People who already know these artists see their artwork next to mine and they realize that my work is at the level of these other artists. Familiarity and notoriety are very important for an artist. They are a big part of how much work an artist gets and how much recognition they receive,” Rezaei advised.

There is little doubt that Rezaei is one of the world’s most talented contemporary artists right now. Be sure to check out the aforementioned books to get a glimpse into her extraordinary style.

 

Cover Image “Sunset at the Breeder’s Castle” by Tooba Rezaei, featured in Spectrum 24

BEBO’S CIRCUS IS ANIMATOR SOYEON YOO’S MESSAGE OF HOPE

Animator Soyeon Yoo wants to achieve something with her creations. She’s not focused on becoming rich or get millions of “shares” on social media. She wants to create stories that touch those who view them. It’s important to Soyeon that she create empathy between the stars of her animated films and everyday people. By witnessing the struggles and accomplishments of the characters she presents, it’s her hope that she’ll create some tenderness that the public can retain from the experience. Yoo’s film “Bebo’s Circus” is a delight to the eyes and brings tears to them at the same time. While the story is exceptional, it’s far from what she originally had in mind. She explains, “I wanted to make heart-warming and dramatic animated film. Originally, I had the idea of a bunny that has big teeth saving other bunnies when they were in danger but I wanted to make a film more relatable to people.” This is when the idea of an older clown who has fallen on hard times and forgotten about his passion. Soyeon wanted everyone to understand that even the most joyful of us experience trying and depressing moments in our lives. Recalling the struggles of her time in art school and how she had lost the enjoyment and curiosity of creating art, Yoo formulated the idea of a clown who struggled and then reignites his own joy…with help from a friend.

Bebo is an older clown who still performs to audiences. He reminisces about the old days when things were easier for him as an entertainer. The crowds were larger and more accepting. When he makes mistakes on stage these days, some individuals react very rudely and this disheartens Bebo. The sad clown flashes back to one particularly enthusiastic girl who loved Bebo’s act. Inspired, he returns to the stage with new vigor. Upon completion, Bebo hears a lone fan applauding. He strains to see who it is and finds the same little girl, now grown up and still holding a juggling ball from his clown act all those years ago. The woman throws the ball back to Bebo as if metaphorically returning his love of performing and being a clown to him.

The story is touching and endearing but Soyeon needed a look that would enhance the message and tone of her story. The style of the animation she used for this film is 2D traditional animation, which is all done via computer using the tablet called ‘Cintiq’.  Using computer 2D animation software called ‘TV paint’ for the animation required drawing every frame to create each sequence for the film. Soyeon would first draw a test animation to see how many frames would be needed for each sequence and then move on to drawing the entire main key poses. Following this, in-between drawing for the characters were created and then a final clean-up of all the animation. A few sentences are all it takes to describe but many weeks to manifest.

Her malleable skills were also required in regards to art direction because this was Soyeon’s self-produced animation film. One of the main uses of this was in making the “Color Script” for the film. Color script is the early stage of mapping out the color, lighting, and emotion for the story of the film. Choosing different colors according to story arc are essential to delivering the emotional impact, especially in animation. For example, Yoo decided to apply de-saturated green/grayish tones for the first arc when the main character was having a hard time and then later placed warm brown/yellowish tones gradually toward to the end of the story to convey a happy ending.

One of the most pronounced characteristics of her style is Soyeon’s use of music with animation. The two seem intertwined in a dually productive correlation in virtually all of the productions in which she has created and is involved in. It’s obvious that she feels that music and the visual aspect of animation are twins. She describes, “The role of music is one of the most important elements for this film. The music was definitely a huge part of the film that helped to enrich the story. It helps to imprint and translate the mood for the film. Instead of dialogue, the music represents old clown’s emotions. The cornet part sounds like old clown singing. I wanted the music to lead the story like a narrator.” Yoo worked with composer Steven Van Betten to create the sonic landscape that complemented her visuals. Betten declares, “I am honored and proud to have composed the score for Soyeon’s film Bebo’s Circus.  The film takes a simple and universal theme of overcoming challenges and presents it in a compelling, genuine, and heartfelt manner. I was Inspired by her creativity and ability to take artistic challenges and turn them into fuel for pushing through her creative boundaries. The finished product of the film is both strong technically and artistically inspired. I sincerely hope that I have the opportunity to collaborate with Soyeon again in the future.”

“Bebo’s Circus” received great recognition including inclusion as an official selection at the Golden Bridge International Film Festival, the Mindfield Festival (Los Angeles), in addition to receiving the Best Jury Choice Award at the Direct Monthly Online Film Festival and the Best Animation: Diamond Award at the LA Shorts Awards. While these are all appreciated by Yoo, the most important to her is that of the person who first gave her the idea of the clown…her own brother. Soyeon explains, “I’m so happy that many people in the industry enjoyed the film. While that means a great deal to me, I really created it for regular viewers to find inspiration. My brother suggested the idea of a clown. His enjoyment was so important to me because I hope it will prove to him that you can have an idea and literally create something from that idea that other people will be positively affected by and will be inspired by. That’s the real reward and my original intention.”

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