Ren & Stimpy Creator Sends Awesome Letter to Kid

Today, another awesome Letter of Note, this time from comic artist John Kricfalusi, best known for his work on Ren & Stimpy. Letters of Note writes:

In 1998, aged just 14, aspiring young cartoonist Amir Avni decided to get in touch with the creator of Ren & Stimpy, John Kricfalusi. Being a hardcore fan of Kricfalusi's work, Amir sent him an introductory letter along with a few cartoons he'd drawn, some of which contained relatively unknown characters of John's. To call Kricfalusi's response 'generous' would be an understatement, and when I asked Amir about the reply he said the following:

'I think John puts a lot of faith in the younger generation of cartoonists, and wants to make sure they are well educated. He sees the younger generation as the future of cartoons, and that's why he's so approachable and good willed.'

Kricfalusi responded to Avni's letter with an eight-page handwritten, illustrated letter, and also sent along an original illustration for Amir and a book on animation. Today, Avni is studying animation at Sheridan College, and has worked with Kricfalusi professionally. After the letter was published on Letters of Note, Kricfalusi began answering questions on Reddit, leading to a massive comment thread reaching 24 printed pages. Here are some snippets from the letter:

... Your comics are pretty good, especially your staging and continuity. You might have the makings of a good storyboard artist. I'm sending you a very good how to draw animation book by Preston Blair. Preston was one of Tex Avery's animators. He animated 'Red Hot Riding Hood' and many other characters.

... Good drawing is more important than anything else in animation. More than ideas, style, stories. Everything starts with good drawing. Learn to draw construction, perspective.

Ok, now it's up to you.

Oh, by the way - OLD cartoons (from the 1940's especially are better than new cartoons. If you copy the drawings in new cartoons you won't learn anything - except how to get bad habits. Look at Tom and Jerry from 1947 - 1954 or Elmer Fudd + Porky Pig from the 40's + early 50's.)

Read the rest for an inspiring letter from a successful animator to a young man who wanted to learn the craft. Follow the Letters of Note blog for tons more where this came from.


Stephen Hawking's Big Ideas, Made Simple

On March 14, 2018, visionary physicist Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of 76. You know his name, and may have even watched a biopic or two about him. But if you've ever wondered what specifically Hawking's big contributions to science were, and you have two and a half minutes to spare, the animation below is for you. It's brief, easy to understand, and gets to the point with nice narration by Alok Jha. So here, in a very brief and simple way, are some of Stephen Hawking's big ideas:

If you have more than a few minutes, we heartily recommend Hawking's classic book A Brief History of Time. It's easy to read, and it's truly brief.

[h/t: Open Culture]

Warner Bros.
See What Paddington 2 Looks Like Without the Bear
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

For the average moviegoer, a film like Paddington 2 might seem like a cinematic wonder. Not because of the quality of its story or acting (which, for the record, are amazing) but because of one simple fact: How do you film a live-action movie about a talking bear without ever bringing in an actual bear? Neatorama alerted us to this fun visual effects breakdown from Framestore, the effects company behind the animation in Paddington 2, which takes you through some of the key ways the film makes the impossible come to life.

First, there’s the 3D animation itself, dictating how Paddington (who is voiced by Ben Whishaw) moves and how his facial expressions should change depending on the emotions he's feeling. The animation occurs in multiple steps, creating a smooth virtual outline of Paddington, then overlaying the photorealistic fur and colored clothing.

When it comes time for a shot that only has Paddington in it, animators can put together the whole thing using a mixture of live footage and special effects, allowing him to ride on the back of a running dog, bolt down the roof of a moving train, or dash around the prison dining room.

But there are other shots that require Paddington to interact with the people around him. For those, there are stand-ins who carry out the actions that Paddington needs to—like setting a cafeteria tray on a table or rubbing mustard on Knuckles McGinty’s apron. Afterward, these people will be scrubbed from the shot, replaced by a furry CGI bear. Once the visual effects magic is finished, Paddington looks as natural in a scene as any human actor.

See it for yourself in the video below.

[h/t Neatorama]


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