Tag Archives: 2d

Layered glass

Nate Barham describes iOS 7 as layered glass:

“The best developers will see iOS as an operational model, not a visual one. Imagine a Tapbots app that, instead of removing the cute ‘I’m a twitter robot in your phone!’ aesthetic, doubles down on it. Zooming metal plates, ratcheting gears not shadowed from without but appearing from within the device, only now it isn’t a robot-esque layer over the stock controls, the UI becomes the character that the developer envisions—even more so than it has ever done before.”

I really like this post, but I’m not totally sold on the paragraph quoted above. Done right, it could be brilliant. But this is a very difficult thing to pull off, keeping the playful spirit of Tweetbot with a lighter, minimalist iOS 7 UI.

And related, if you missed Christa Mrgan’s recent Macworld essay, she also covers how iOS 7 will use depth and motion to switch from “faux 3D to real 2.5D”, with an example from Adobe’s After Effects. Makes me wonder if designers will need new prototyping tools.

Animation roundup, Richard Williams to Brenda Chapman

Richard Williams turned 80 years old last month. Although his body of work is extensive, including Roger Rabbit and the unfinished masterpiece The Thief and the Cobbler, I think he will be most remembered many decades from now for the extraordinary book, The Animator’s Survival Kit.

I referenced this book all the time when I was working on a little hand-drawn short film several years ago. Now an iPad version of the book is available. Floyd Bishop, writing for Animation Scoop:

“The timing of the animation examples in the book have always been hard for me to get my head around. This app shows the drawings come to life through animation. You can loop playback or scrub through the animation. I found this feature to be the most useful thing about the app.”

Nowadays, I’m too busy with software side projects to have time for animation as a hobby, but as a huge fan I’ll occasionally catch up on news and all the beautiful work artists are doing.

A few of my favorite short films over the last year:

  • Chipotle’s stop-motion video. I was really happy to see it run during the Grammys last year. When I had showed my kids the video on YouTube earlier, they immediately fell in love with it. Kudos to Chipotle for giving it some high-profile national airtime. And don’t miss the amazing Flickr set of the production.

  • Disney’s Paperman. You’ve probably seen this by now, and behind-the-scenes similar to this profile from Fast Company. Disney hadn’t innovated much in combining 2D and 3D since deep canvas on Tarzan and the character work on Treasure Planet, both over 10 years ago. It’s great to see them back on the cutting edge.

  • Mickey Mouse in Croissant de Triomphe, supposedly the first in a series of new Mickey shorts. I would’ve preferred this to be more in the 1930s style, but this is still a lot of fun, and captures the spirit of the old Mickey shorts well.

And finally, I was really excited that Disney’s Pixar won an oscar, and to see the reaction from director Brenda Chapman. Circling back to Richard Williams, she actually worked early in her career on Roger Rabbit, and then as a story artist at Disney and director on Dreamworks’s Prince of Egypt.

Brenda said on her blog, about the Oscar win:

“And when I was fretting over having just one guest ticket, my husband, Kevin Lima, insisted that I take our daughter, Emma, with me. ‘You should share this with her,’ he said ‘it’s a mother and daughter night!’ Having Emma with me that night not only let me share with her one of the most wonderful nights of my life, it allowed me to tell the world how very much she means to me.”

So incredibly well-deserved. Animation is a painstakingly slow art form. The work of all these artists, from Richard Williams to Brenda Chapman, isn’t a 3-month mad dash to ship the next gimmick app to the App Store; it’s work that is measured across decades. Taken as a whole, I view it as an inspirational story of perseverance — a reminder that creating something great takes time.

Leonardo tips

Leonardo calendar Every year my New Year’s resolutions look about the same: draw more, journal more. (Blogging more is never one of my resolutions, but I’m nevertheless off to a good start this year with a goal of about one new post a day.)

This year I knew I needed some inspiration to keep drawing more. I ordered a calendar of drawings from the in-progress short film Leonardo and pinned it to the wall above my desk. My idea was pretty simple: every day I will see this calendar, and I will mark off the days that I actually draw.

The calendar is still blank. Guess I’ve failed, so far.

In better news, animator Jim Capobianco is nearing completion of the film. He’s been posting some excellent tips on his blog about what he’s learned during production. I saw a rough cut of his film at the 2D Expo. Even in storyboard form you could tell it would be great. I blogged briefly about the trip to California for the expo and WWDC back in 2004.

His day job is at Pixar, where he’s been responsible for other hand-drawn efforts such as Your Friend the Rat (on the Ratatouille DVD) and the WALL-E closing credits.

Cars

There are a lot of computer animated films out this year. It was inevitable, with Disney shutting down its 2d division a few years ago and all of Hollywood getting on the 3d bandwagon. Some will be successes, some failures — just like their live-action counterparts — and that’s fine.

I’ve seen Cars twice now. Perhaps it’s because a certain 2-year-old I know says “zooma!” more than any word in his limited vocabulary, but this little Pixar film is really growing on me.

Meanwhile, it looks like “2d is officially back at Disney”:http://www.laughingplace.com/News-ID510530.asp. Can’t wait.

Comic-Con, Scanner, and independent shorts

Comic-Con San Diego has started. For a humorous look at the kinds of people you might see walking the show floor, check out the excellent series of “recent sketches on the Story Boredom blog”:http://storyboredom.blogspot.com/2006_07_01_storyboredom_archive.html. I’ve never been to the convention, but have some friends who go most every year. Some of those people also worked on “A Scanner Darkly”:http://www.scannerdarklymovie.com/, which opened last weekend in wider release, banking an impressive $5000 per theater with a #9 opening at the box office. I saw the film last weekend and enjoyed it, especially the last half which seemed less burdened by unnecessary Linklater-ish dialog. In general I’m not a big rotoscoping fan, but the style held my attention and was well-executed.

In other animation news, the National Film Board of Canada has “put many of their classic films online”:http://www.nfb.ca/animation/objanim/en/films/ (via “Peter Merholz”:http://www.peterme.com/archives/000758.html). Also see “this beautiful little film”:http://www.skyvu.net/film/tree_qt_lg.htm by CalArts student “Ian Worrel”:http://ianworrel.blogspot.com/. Despite what the big studios do, I love that traditional animation is thriving at schools and with independent animators.

More gaming, year 2

At the beginning of last year “I wrote about my new Game Boy Advance”:http://www.manton.org/2005/01/new_year_gaming.html and how it was finally the system that pulled me back into gaming, something that consoles and computer games could not do. A year later, the PSP is out, the DS is selling well (I own one), and the Xbox 360 is off to a solid start. So what happened with the questions I raised, in particular in regards to 2d games and Game Boy Advance games?

Sadly, earlier this year Nintendo hinted that there may never be a successor to the Game Boy Advance. Their “three pillar” strategy sounded good last year, but the DS turned out much better than anyone had hoped. With the DS Lite fixing all the major design problems with the original DS, it now seems more likely that Nintendo will focus on the Wii and let great DS games drive the handheld market until a next-gen DS becomes needed.

2d games, on the other hand, have seen something of a resurgence. Sonic Rush for the DS has the same feel as the Genesis games. New Super Mario Bros is also fantastic. The PSP has a beautiful if quirky 2d game coming soon in the form of “RocoLoco”:http://locoroco.com/index.html. Even the Xbox 360 has its share of 2d games on Xbox Live, and at E3 Nintendo announced a “2d GameCube game set in the Paper Mario universe”:http://www.n-sider.com/articleview.php?articleid=515. Nintendo’s Wi-Fi Connection has breathed new life into that original Game Boy game, Tetris; 4-player internet play with “items” is a completely new Tetris and more fun than I would have imagined.

Peterb’s essay “Design of Everyday Games”:http://www.tleaves.com/weblog/archives/000637.html has some great insight into game design complexity, using Advance Wars and other 2d games in several examples.

From the October 2005 Nintendo Power, Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi says:

bq. “2-D gaming can provide such a great game design–games with definite and solid gameplay. From a presentation standpoint, it may lack what 3-D can do, but let me yell once again, what games need are fun and exciting elements! 2-D games offer these things.”

No question, 2d is here to stay, and it’s only getting better. The Game Boy Advance had a good run, but now it’s time to say goodbye. See Modojo’s “The GBA’s Last Stand”:http://www.modojo.com/features/20060524/77/.