I've been pretty busy recently working on the new adult dragon animation for the game I work on. I put together a pencil test and I've cleaned up the key drawings and finalised the timing based on that. Unfortunaly I cannot share this work in progress until the art is live in the game. But I've been taking notes as I go and I plan to put up a big blog post about my process! So for now, I'll keep working away and when my work is done I'll have a boatload of stuff to share.

Here's how the corner of my desk currently looks:
I'm using a combination of physical and digital media. You can see that there is paper, pencils and a pegbar, but also a scanner and my cintiq.
AuthorAndrea K Haid
I'm not sure when I first heard about Me and My Shadow; an upcoming animated Dreamworks film. But when I heard about a CG feature with hand drawn elements to play the parts of the character's shadows, I was instantly a fan. What a great idea!!! Here is the poster that's been released by Dreamworks:
This is the only visual to the film that I've seen thus far. The film was first announced in late 2010 but currently it's not to be found on the Dreamworks slate of upcoming films. Though I've read that it's scheduled for a March 2014 release, I'm pretty sure that in reality this film is on hold.

The plot as I understand it: Stanley Grubb is the world's most boring human. His frustrated shadow Stan longs for adventure but is stuck with Stanley, a very timid guy. When a crime takes place in the shadow world which puts both their lives in danger, Stan is forced to break the very rule of shadow land; "they lead, we follow", to take control of Stanley. They go on an adventure to solve this crime and stop the shadow villain from taking over the human world. Along the way some heart warming lessons about life take place as they tend to do. The voice cast currently includes Kate Hudson, (Almost Famous), Josh Gad (The Book of Mormon) and Bill Hader (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs). Written by Tom Astle and Matt Ember. Directed by Alessandro Carloni.

What a great idea! Mixing CG and hand drawn animation seems thrilling. The human world will be animated with CG and the shadow world animated with hand drawn animation. There will be incredible flexibility and I believe this mixed medium choice is going to help make a lot of creative descisions. I'd love to see that on the big screen in a feature film format.

I'm pretty excited about the path that Dreamworks is taking with their animated features. The Croods was fantastic. And they've been making a lot of really great films of late. (I loved Megamind too! And How to Train your Dragon!)

A few related links:

What does the future hold for Dreamworks?

Dreamworks drops Me and My Shadow from schedule

First look at Dreamworks Me and My Shadow
First thing I thought this past Saturday when I woke up was; "I want to make a feature length hand drawn animated film." Which is a pretty crazy thing to want to do as an independent. Especially when I already have a 3 minute short film on the go and I'm struggling to find the time to work on that. But I felt that urge and I've felt it before... It was a burst of inspired energy.
I felt this burst of drive in response to the news that broke this past Thursday that Disney had "gutted" it's animation division and laid off many staff including numerous veteran animators. My reaction was basically; "Yeah, they've done that before". When I heard this news it was via an email sent around at work. My co-workers responded to this email with sadness and surprise. The general response of people to the news of the layoffs and discontinuation of hand drawn animation seems to be disappointment that these masters of animation are being let go and that the art form is "dying". People feel that Disney artists spent a lot of time honing this craft and they would then pass on their knowledge to artists who could keep nurturing the system. And then it feels like the whole set of knowledge and expertise was basically dumped. I'm definitely saddened that there aren't more hand drawn features on the big screen but it's my belief that hand drawn animation cannot die. It won't as long as artists continue to create animations of their own. And these days it's easier than it ever has been to produce and distribute animation / shorts independently.
Adam and Dog
It's hard to know what to think of the Disney layoffs. It does suck. I remember feeling sad and fearful when I was still in college during the days of regularly hearing bad news for 2D feature animation. In the early to mid 2000's Disney theatrically released: Fantasia 2000, Dinosaur, The Emperor's New Groove, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Lilo and Stitch, Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, Home on the Range and Chicken Little. In 2003 Disney animators were told that the focus was going to shift to making CG animated films. Please check out this fantastic article that discusses the history and frustration of those times. I graduated college in 2005 so things seemed bleak for the future of hand drawn animation.
From Up On Poppy Hill
I think it's important for hand drawn films to be supported. I suppose that mediocre films aren't going to be blockbusters and they shouldn't be. But if reception is lukewarm, it's just doesn't seem to be enough for the big studios to feel that investing in hand drawn films is worth their time. I think it's important for artists who care about the medium to keep practising and creating in their own time. You just can't wait to see what a studio such as Disney is going to do and hope for the best. We're not always going to be in a golden age. If we let our skills deteriorate, it will be even harder to get hand drawn crews together in the future. And having a knowledge and practise of anatomy and hand drawn animation is very valuable for any animator, including CG, stop motion and cut-out style animators. Critically valuable. I'm not saying that "everyone should be able to draw". There are lots of folks that can't do hand drawn but are great animators. But an understanding of the principals is pertinent and hand drawn animation is great way to practise/learn/refine those skills. Having a copy of Flash or Toonboom to practise digital hand drawn animation is a great idea. You can use the brush tool and draw up a pencil test and be able to watch it back instantly and learn from that.
Black Sunrise
Some animators / studios currently or recently doing 2D hand drawn animation:

*Studio Ghibli - From Up on Poppy Hill is the newest Ghibli offering, directed by Goro Miyazaki. Go see From Up on Poppy Hill in theaters, it won't be in theaters for much longer! It's a damn lovely film.
*Bill Plympton - He recently finished a new Simpsons Couch Gag, a reimagining of Windsor McCay's The Flying House and is soon to release the pencil test and a production blog for his upcoming feature Cheatin'
*Nick Cross He's been hard at work making an entire feature called Black Sunrise. His Tumblr. The trailer for Black Sunrise.
*Minkyu Lee just finished working on the beautiful Adam and Dog which I was fortunate enough to see on the big screen at the Animated Oscar Shorts Screening this year
*Imaginism Studios (with Bobby Chiu ) just successfully wrapped up a kickstarter campaign to make a fully animated comic book called NIKO and the Sword of Light
*Sylvain Chomet - I'm not entirely sure what Chomet is up to these days. According to Wikipedia he wants his next film to be 3D or live action wheras his last 3 were hand drawn

Are you a hand drawn film maker or animator? Please leave you name in the comments and let me know who you are and what you do and put a link to your work!
I just created a job posting on Craigslist for 2d hand drawn animators interested in helping out on Pickled. It's located in SF bay area > craigslist > san francisco > gigs > creative gigs and I'm curious how many eyes it's really going to reach. I will wait a bit and if there are no bites I may try posting in some animation groups on linked in. Does anyone have any suggestions for finding creatives to help on personal projects? The work is unpaid. It feels like whether the position is paid or not, finding hand drawn animators is tricky! At least the way this project is, an artist could take on work and not feel pressured by a heavy deadline. I do believe that there are some real benefits to collaborating with fellow artists on a project like this. Let me know if you or someone you know may be interested in helping with hand drawn inbetweens/cleanup/animation! Here is the craigslist ad.

EDIT: I don't feel great about seeking animators to help me out and not pay them. I paid my character designer and singer/songwriter for their contributions. At this point, (writing this on June 12, 2013) I cannot afford to pay any artists. A dream of mine is to have a small studio and be able to pay artists fairly and for the work environment there to be highly collaborative, trusting and creative. I would like to put together a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign at some point for this film and that could help cover the expenses that I've personally put into this film already and who knows, maybe even hire an assistant animator. That would have to be a highly successful campaign though! I don't think it's a great idea to work for free. I've heard that it's not a great idea to sink your own money into a project either, but if I wasn't paying for the expenses related to this film it wouldn't get made. It's a passion project so if anyone did help me out on it, they would have to be very passionate about the art of animation as well and be willing to possibly not get paid. This film serves as a vehicle for subtle human character design. I already did all the pre-production work, the characters are just waiting to be animated.

Email me if you have any questions: andreakhaid@gmail.com
AuthorAndrea K Haid