Project Twenty1 Holiday Picks, Part 1: Gifts for Animators

November 14, 2010 in Newsletter by admin

Project Twenty1 2010 Holiday Picks
A series by Stephanie Yuhas, artist and chronic comparison-shopper.

Animators are an unusual bunch, but don’t let the stereotypes fool you – we’re not all party-animals that like to wear Hawaiian shirts and goofy socks with sandals. The following is a practical Holiday Shopping List for that Walt-wannabee:

College can teach you a lot about the theory, history, and technology of animation, but when you’re at home wondering just what the heck a walk cycle looks like, most animators need REFERENCE. Preston Blair’s Animation got me through college and is a must-have for any newbie animator.

Don’t forget to package your new book with an Artograph Light Table and a pegbar to hold down your drawings. I suggest purchasing at least two round plastic pegbars for beginners (one to tape onto your board, and another to stick to your scanner). You can use a heavy-duty 3-hole punch to punch your drawings at home, but many schools and studios still use an ACME pegbar, which requires a special, expensive hole punch. It might be worth it to grab one or two ACME pegbars, just to try them and see which ones you like. Most schools and some studios have ACME punches available, but be prepared to stand there punching paper for at least 5-10 minutes. TIP: Write your name in sharpie on your pegbar. People like to steal them.

For the “I-drink-Wawa-coffee-and-OJ-all-day” animator, Richard Williams (animation director, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) has a fantastic book called The Animator’s Survival Kit–Revised Edition: A Manual of Methods, Principles and Formulas for Classical, Computer, Games, Stop Motion and Internet Animators. The title is long because well..the book is long! It contains a TON of helpful information, especially for folks that dabble in almost every medium of animation.

For folks that want to get their own series on the air, Animation Development: From Pitch to Production is an no-B.S. explanation of what it takes to get that idea you had in the shower to a room full of TV network executives and decision-makers. While there are tons of books about pitching in general, this book is possibly the most relevant animation-pitching book out there because writer/animation director David Levy is actively in the ever-changing animation industry (check out his crazy resume).

If you’re not sure what type of animator you’re dealing with, a high-quality moleskin sketchbook and a Faber Castell Pencil Giftset pair nicely. And don’t tell me your animator “only draws and animates on the computer”; the key to being a good artist of any kind is to observe life. Tell them to stop Facebooking on the subway about the creepy hobo that smells like a sandwich and start DRAWING him!

Don’t get me wrong! Software is still an extremely important part of animation in today’s modern world. It might be worth it to ask the animator what he/she needs before purchasing packages like ToonBoom, Flash, or 3-D Studio Max. Sure, it might ruin the surprise, but since computer systems vary so widely and most software is non-returnable, it’s worth the discussion. Who knows, your animator might already own a copy and desire an upgrade, which can save hundreds, and in some case thousands of dollars.If software is too expensive, software tutorials are often affordable and very helpful. Find our the version and type of software your animator runs and browse the internet.

In general, most animators define themselves as such because they love animation! I highly suggest Mary & Max, from Academy Award winning writer/director Adam Elliot , a bittersweet claymated feature film based on a true story about a pen-pal relationship between Mary, a goth 8-year-old in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, and Max, an obese 44-year-old New Yorker with Asperger’s Syndrome . I saw this gem at the Ottawa International Animation Festival a few years ago, and while this animation is fantastic, it has not yet received a wide theatrical release in the U.S. (Click to view trailer)

Another one of my personal favorites, Sita Sings the Blues, an independently-produced, award-winning musical, is fantastic for animators and animation enthusiasts alike.  Click to view trailer. If you can only purchase only one gift this year, PLEASE purchase a copy of Sita Sings the Blues and share it with your friends, your family, your animator buddies, and your pet bird to watch while you’re at work. This talented young woman faced severe hardship when a major distributor sued her for using what was perceived as  “public domain music from the 20′s”. You can read more about the struggles of this indie animator on her blog, http://blog.ninapaley.com.

A great gift for an animator, is a Project Twenty1 2011 Membership. Sure, we’re totally biased, but can you blame us? Members  enjoy exclusive member-only events,  discounts on film and animation tickets & merchandise, and access to special raffles, giveaways, and annual gifts. New for 2011, Members receive access to Project Twenty1′s 21-Day Filmmaking Competition Film Library in a private Member-only gallery. Membership also comes with the satisfaction of knowing that you’re supporting a volunteer-run organization, so we can continue to provide inspiration, connections, exhibitions, and promotion to help our artists evolve their hobbies into successful careers. Family/Business and Premium Memberships are now available, too, on sale until Nov. 25!

If you really, really love your animator, which means you either gave birth to them or decided to marry them for some reason, you might want to buy them the HP TouchSmart TM2-1070US. Powerful enough to handle most high-end animation software, this smart laptop has a long battery life and easily flips into a tablet that’s comfortable in your lap. $1000 for a laptop might seem like a lot of money, but you’re saving your animator thousands of dollars of carpel tunnel surgery (+ pain and agony).

Another animator favorite is the Walcom Cintiq, which also allows animators (and any graphics artist, for that matter) to draw in a more natural state (And at $2000+, it will  leave their arms open for hugging. LOTS of hugging.)

Anything I missed, animators? What’s on your list?

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Stephanie Yuhas is the Executive Producer of Project Twenty1, a non-profit organization that works with hundreds of “undiscovered” filmmakers and animators with productions that have not yet hit main stream markets. She gained her knowledge about art supplies and animation tools from her studies at the Philadelphia University of the Arts, as well as her experience at Utrecht as a dealer, and at J&A as an Art Director. Her art has been in exhibited in respected galleries, her films and animations have been screened around the world, her TV series pitches have won international contests, and her writing has been published in several newspapers and magazines.

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