Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June Cartoons

I am just getting back and settled from a 6-day fishing expedition and being relatively "off the grid" for a while in the sparse regions of Ontario (Wow, that was nice.  Like my father-in-law says, it is better to take a little time away and spend a little money on an activity such as fishing, then to spend money on a regular basis to lay on a couch and tell someone all of your problems, when you get about the same results.)

However, upon returning, I found that the rain had continued on for days while I was gone, and further hampered progress on my construction site with a July 1st deadline.  Ugh!  While I have been doing this for a good 13-14 years, and I know that this is a fact of life, and I know that this kind of thing "just happens" in an outdoor business that requires next-to-perfect weather... it still irritates me and brings on the stress to no end.  It is also a good thing when the client does seem to understand this fact and phenomenon as well.  I am lucky to have such wonderful clients to work for on regular basis. 

On Father's Day weekend, the big event in my household was seeing Toy Story 3, the long-awaited sequel to the movies that have become a rainy-day (or snowy-day) mainstay in our house since a short time after my son was born, which my younger daughter has also fallen in love with.  I remember seeing Toy Story on VHS not long after it came out, and being thoroughly entertained and perplexed at how all of the "characters" and "rooms" in a cartoon have now taken on 3D shape and are casting shadows on the ground, and are seen moving through a room with realistic camera angles while the room stays still.  It was revolutionary! 

It is also one of those premises and evolving story lines that can evoke the imagination and entertain the young and old kids-at-heart alike.  The premise of toys coming to life, having relationships, and living out complex scenarios on a day-to-day basis behind our backs and behind closed doors, toys all longing to be played with, having rivalries, and looking out for their owners... How ingenious! 

John Lasseter is truly one the most creative minds, best story-tellers, and most innovative animators in the history of film making.  Buzz, Woody, Jesse, Bullseye, Ham, Rex, and Mr. and Mrs. Potatohead have been prominent pieces of our kids' toy collection.  They are loveable.  And in Toy Story 3, the characters live on, and find their way to a new loving home, leaving a glimpse that the story line might still have yet to unfold.

It also just so happened that tonight, on CNBC, there was a biography on Lasseter and co., and the creation of Pixar into the Disney-Pixar Animation Studios that exist today.  It showed the course of Lasseter, Dr. Alvy Ray Smith, Dr. Catmull, Steve Jobs, George Lucas, and the sequence of events that lead to pioneering computer development and software creation which lead to groundbreaking animation techniques, to CGI graphics, and to the pilot landmark film that was Toy Story, back in 1995. 

It was pretty fascinating.  But standing out in the group was the artist, cartoonist, and unique story-teller that is Lasseter.  It was amazing to see how a creative mind and artist, and a man with an active child inside, can take on the next technology and develop it in order to further excel his ability to articulate his ideas.  He, like me and others that I know, was the guy doodling caricatures and story lines in a notebook instead of taking notes in math or history class.  He later was compelled to find ways to revolutionize the process of bringing his caricatures and stories to life, and reveal them in a way that has never been done before.

A guy like me can easily be inspired from somebody like Lasseter.  Just 15 years ago I graduated from the 6-8th best Landscape Architecture program in the country, and learned it all the "old fashioned way" with hand drawings of pencil, ink pen, color pencils, watercolors, and markers, as well as doing physical models and collages.  Just 5-6 years ago, I was still drawing and designing landscapes that way.  While there really is nothing wrong with that, and it is a good way to come up with the best design as you work through a hands-on process, it might be an ineffective way to articulate the imagination that is in the design.  The recent softwares offered can further enable that articulation, and it has been a challenge to sort through and come up with some techniques when largely doing it on my own.  But I have figured some things out.  And an inspiration like John Lasseter definitely encourages me to do and learn more, whenever possible, to advance that to the next level.

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