Monday, December 1, 2014



      WOW - It's December already! A new animation video was dropped on the interwebs that I'd like to share. Not because it's about animation but because it's individuals like these that help bring animation to potential artists in new fresh ways. Not everybody learns the same so I'm happy to see other animators try different approaches introducing animation! ...and having fun while teaching!

Enjoy this animation intro to: ARCS

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Things animators say at Disney


Animators are always talking: we trade tips, talk art, make each other laugh.
We're family behind the scenes
  I think the best kind of advice and life lessons come candidly. Sometimes the things people say when the mic isn't on, get right to the point and is more truthful than any prepared speech can ever be. These quotes below are some I found on the internet. If you are looking for more: Andreas Deja has tons of quotes on his sight and so do a whole bunch of other blogs. So this is a short list of some things the 9 old men use to say. (who were the 9 old men? -They set the bar and raised animation's status in art. They were Master Animators that worked at Disney a long time ago.) I have to remind myself that not everyone knows who these guys are! If you're an animator and you say, who's Ollie? You might get stoned. haha

     Seeing this list makes me think of all the things animators say today here in the studio about computer animation and the films we work on now. I mean I'm not sure how much substance our quotes might have, we can be a bit silly when we talk to each other in our offices... like really, really off topic, nsfw, 2 oclock in-the-morning-rants-about-nothing silly! But I think I will start to write things down when someone says something of note. Who knows, maybe you guys might want to know what we talked about behind the scenes 20 years from now! 

This quote is a fundamental step when starting to animate a character. Every movement, decision, and pose MUST have a purpose in our animation. This keeps a performance believable and natural. 

1970 book, "Composing pictures" is a book that gets as close as ever to the teaching style of Don Graham

Poses Matter = Appeal

When you observe life, you are mentally building a library of reference in your mind that soon will become second nature in your animation. 

subtext > action


We all know artist from different studios, and we all respect each other's films, but sometimes you just have to call it what it is. Even if it's not politically a great choice, speaking your mind with your friends is a way to observe, criticize and ask yourselves, "How would I do it better? What is it that is missing from their film/work so that we can add that x factor to our films?"


       I hope this list was a unique insight or at least entertaining. You underestimate how much you learn by talking to your friends and colleagues. You can't learn everything by studying animation. sometimes you must dig and hear what the artist is thinking to understand how they reached their final product.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A close look at BAD ACTING and GOOD ACTING


"bad acting"
is subjective - but there are certain repeating concepts that always seem to come up when ever we see bad performances on TV, animation, paintings. plays etc. Here's a short list of a few things I believe can be the difference between good acting and bad acting. I've been reading some great stuff about acting in articles around the web, I thought I could share! Enjoy!

Emotional armor.
When I watch actors, I want to see vulnerability. I am not necessarily talking about wailing and crying. Take a look at Anthony Hopkins in "Remains of the Day" for an example.

      Some people have too much armor, the biggest hurdles some actors have is portraying the uglier sides of human nature. Others have certain feelings they'd rather not explore; some simply don't want to look unattractive, others can't imagine ever PRETENDING to hurt a child. Bryan Cranston is also great because he drops his armor, it is so good (see "Breaking Bad") because he'll do scenes in his underpants literally and figuratively.

Pushing. Stanislavsky,'s_system the great Russian acting theorist, helped us understand that acting works better when actors pursue goals rather than try to emote. Bad actors think their job is to emote. See Mel ("Give me back my son!") Gibson and Nicholas Cage. They EMOTE and force their acting.


Lack of confidence in your delivery. If you are an animator this relates to the confidence of your acting choices and execution. If you are a painter or drawer: it's the confidence of your lines or brush strokes.  The key to not fall apart when something goes wrong is confidence! If one night your file crashes and you lose 4 hours of work, confidence can be the difference of falling apart or saying to yourself, "Nah I can do it again... AND BETTER." Confidence is when one feels like "I actually know what I'm doing, I enjoy doing it, and I can do it any time, anywhere, under any conditions, and I can recover from mistakes."

Understanding the power of words. They are your main tools when acting. Animators and actors can emphasis words as weapons or even aphrodisiacs. 

Own the way you/or your character looks. be comfortable with your body. and if you are animating, use the characters body in their personality! Skinny, fat, tall, short, ugly, or even beautiful - these body types can influence a performance/personality. 

Planning! The purpose of prep is so your mind is ready to let go and explore in the moment of execution. Unplanned situations will have you running back to comfort zones and boring choices.


A short collection of some Great Scenes

1.  Taxi Driver -- Travis talks to Wizard, a fellow taxi driver, trying to convey the growing rage and dangerous thoughts building in his head.  ...feels so very real...

2.  American History X -- Derek sits at the dinner table with his girlfriend, his mother, his little brother and sister, and his mother's Jewish boyfriend, as they all discuss the then-recent L.A. riots in the aftermath of the Rodney King case. Edward Norton delivers an incredible performance... Also take notice how the camera shows the growing influence he is having over his little brother and the lose of control the parents have. 

The Dark Knight -- The Joker, captured by Gordon and the police, has arranged the kidnapping of DA Harvey Dent and Dent's girlfriend, Assistant DA Rachel. But the Joker doesn't know Rachel is the love interest of Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, as well. But he's about to find out. Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning performance is among the best villains in cinema history. Take a notice of Christian Bale's under appreciated performance and see if you could spot the moment he snaps. 

On The Water Front -- Marlon Brando influenced acting for everyone who came after him. Schooled in Method acting he was able to fuse vulnerability and ferocious rage (like how Ryan Gosling does in DRIVE, James Dean also had a similar style.) Check out how he listens and pursues her in this scene from "On The Waterfront."

A Single Man -- NO EMOTING EXAMPLE FOR THE WIN :) "starting the scene in one emotion state and finishing in another" is how Colin Firth said he tackled this scene. George Falconer (Colin Firth) is a closeted gay college professor in Los Angeles in about 1961. In this scene, he takes a phone call. His partner Jim has died in a car crash in Colorado while visiting his family, and a sympathetic cousin calls George to let him know. Jim's parents had not wanted to contact George, and he is not welcome at Jim's funeral. In this scene George experiences enormous emotion, and Firth conveys it while not really visibly emoting at all; he holds it together completely until he loses it completely. It's incredibly powerful. Also listen to what he has to say about his thought process through that scene. Check it out below.

Dark Victory -- Betty Davis plays a socialite, who has a brain tumor. She tries to live as much life as she can. This scene begins when she goes blind. She knows the absolute last stage of the tumor is when she loses her sight, and at that point has only minutes to live. I like how she shows hint of her subtext while her supporting actors are not. Wonderful contrast. 

Michael Redgrave's final speech in The Browning Version. His performance is simply devastating, and it comes together in this scene. The whole film is a work of genius by Redgrave. :)

The interview about the performance and acting

Lord of The Rings -- GOLLUM :)

Colonel Drummond (Spencer Tracy)'s closing speech in the courtroom scene from Inherit the Wind (1960) THIS IS A PERSONAL FAVORITE that set the bar so high, all court room dramas still strive to get an ounce of what was captured here. 

GIANT -- James Dean

^Coolest Exit ever..

        I have many more clips, I guess I'll have to do a Part 2 of this post pretty soon. I hope you guys liked all these great insights and clips I've gathered from around the internet. Remember I didn't do the raw studying of these clips and I didn't come up with these acting theories myself. I'm just passing along information and I hope it reaches who ever is looking for it. Enjoy the rest of the week!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

BIG HERO 6 and CalArts

Maybe a blog post can help me procrastinate from doing my syllabus :) 

  I haven't been posting because so much has been going on. I've been preparing for my trip to Costa Rica which I leave for in 2 days!! Also I just completed animation on Disney's current film BIG HERO 6 and that comes out in theaters NOVEMBER 7th! 

    I can't wait for everyone to see all the hard work that has gone into it. People are going to fall in love with Baymax just like how many did with Olaf. Maybe theres something to be said about them both being similar white talking marshmallows... hmm


     Some more big news is that I start teaching at CalArts in September! 

      I am teaching 2nd year 2D animation and to be honest I'm pretty damn excited. I had never been to CalArts before my interview and don't know much about it. I do know that Walt Disney created and founded the school in the early 1960's. I am surprised and happy to say that quite a few other Disney Animators are teaching at CalArts as well. You might recognize a few:

-Eric Goldberg who has worked on many memorable characters, including the Genie from Aladdin, is teaching 4th year students.

-Dale Baer is another amazing 2D Disney Artist will also be there.

-Jorge Ruiz and Wayne Unten are teaching 3D first year!

-Jen hager who is supervising on Disney's next film Zootopia is teaching 3rd year students.

     Many more amazing teachers work there but these are the ones from the Disney Animation Department. You can expect a few updates about my teaching experience at CalArts as the year goes on :D I remember being in college since it wasn't too long ago that I was in college myself. Maybe thats a bad thing or maybe thats a good thing I don't know. But whatever I bring to the table, I can guarantee its not going to be like the rest.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Why a bouncing ball?


    I found this wonderful post on Cartoon Brew-ED that I feel all animators need to see. It illustrates how all 12 principles of animation are used in animation. If you are a student and you're thinking, "why am I learning how to do a bouncing ball?? WHY!?" This hopefully answers your question. If you can animate a flour-sack well, you can animate anything. The only thing standing in your way are probably technical skills such as drawing.


Post by Cartoon Brew-ED.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


     I've been there and done that. We've all made mistakes and that isn't news. The sad part is when people make mistakes and don't realize it. They then ask why weren't they given a chance or why did they get fired. You don't have to make these mistakes just to learn and build character. I made a list of a few to help you out! Take a look at this list and learn from the mishaps that others have done before you. 50% of the fight for finding any job is how you hold up as a person, the other 50% is the quality of your work. Always keep that in mind


1.  Acting entitled
Do you feel your work is going to revolutionize the art world? Do you feel your work is so unique that you can't see why anybody WOULDN'T want to hire you? IF so don't act like everyone should treat you like a king or queen with out proving yourself first. ALSO If it's your first day, Don't ask to leave early to get an oil change for your car. Hopefully it'll dawn on you that it's inappropriate and sabotaging to your career
2. Starting the process too late
In a perfect world, college students should start looking for meaningful internships for summer break after their freshman year. Most students assume they will get a job after they graduate with out too much effort and wait too long to begin the process.
3. Under-utilizing the alumni network
"Yea Danny, I know a friend who knows a friend that has a sister who he met once... that'll totally hook me up" Though parents and their friends can provide good contacts, the network of professionals that comes through a college or university should be one of the first places you tap.
4. Using a resume that’s sloppy and too self-centered
Resume basics: like clear, tidy layout, careful proofreading for grammar and punctuation, and use of keywords from the job description. don't make it about what you want from an employer but rather what you could do for them. For example please do not say this, “entry level position where I can use my skills, ideas and enthusiasm and I can learn a lot.” Instead, the emphasis should be on what they can contribute to the employer.

5. Writing cover letters that repeat the resume
Don't regurgitate your resume. Make it short and to the point and say something about yourself that your resume does not.

6. Doing poor research
Know who you are applying for. Read everything on their site, search for news clippings about the company, and track social media information, like Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. Get a look at their culture and vibes.
7. Failing to clean up their social media profile
"BUT DANNY! They need to know i can be fun too!" lol, All of those piss drunk, yolo pictures on Facebook should be kept on the low with privacy settings. Everyone needs a polished LinkedIn profile. We're in the future now, adapt! 
8. Not showing enough appreciation for the interviewer
Say thank you for your time! Always thank the interviewer in person, make it clear you would consider it a privilege to work at the company and ask about the next step in the process. Then follow up soon. 

9. Failing to show generational deferenceNow this one is debatable but maybe that's because I'm still in my 20's but it is important. Be respectful to how things are done and go with the flow. Its a very modern concept that all parties have a voice and that's a good thing but tread carefully. Its very natural for us younger ones to want to just go up to the boss after our summer internship is finished and say,  “Could I give you some feedback on my internship?” We are are so used to being included in conversations, we fail to grasp our position in the pecking order. PLEASE don't think I 100% agree with this note but it is a reality and you will find yourself in workplaces that love their pecking order. Choose your battles carefully.
10. Relying too heavily on listings and job fairsThis habit is an epidemic, almost on par with "the thirst." Whether its looking for a job or looking for an apartment. Spending too much time applying to online listings, and through anonymous job fairs wont cut it anymore. Remember: Most people find jobs through people they know, rather than through advertisements. People find jobs by looking up companies and searching for their 'contact us' webpage. If you see a listing for a job, try to find a personal connection to the employer and use that as your entry point.

Thanks for reading! Hope that it helps you out!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014



  I came across an article that talked about perspective that I'd like to share with all of you. I believe the person who wrote the piece was someone named Martina Cecilia and she has a blog named Its a great site I highly recommend it :) 


     Perspective was one of the first things Davinci would make his students learn. I believe he made them learn it before he introduced them to proportions!
      A lot of people think perspective is very difficult but little do they know perspective can be easy if you know a few rules. If this is your first time hearing the word perspective. It means 'point of view.' It's when an artist can draw objects and you can tell exactly how far, tall, and big they are.
      When I first was learning how to draw in perspective in elementary school it made me feel as if I was creating a window into another world. That feeling is a great one and I hope that this post can help you feel the same if you just starting to learn how to draw. 

Have your lines reach a vanishing point

     This is the most important rule to know.. Notice in the image that all the yellow lines all go to one point (the vanishing point). Always make your lines go to the same point. Notice how the red line does not go to the same point as the yellow lines. Its an awkward line and it's wrong.

"But DANNY, its such a minor mistake, the image looks fine to me!"

- True, the red line's mistake is a very subtle one, but drawing is all about the details. The more effort you put in double checking your work, the greater the quality will be. People will notice the time you put into your work, they might not be able to tell you why your work looks better but they will FEEL it. So grab a ruler and always check your perspective.

LOOK! Even the little details such as doors still follow the Yellow lines...

      When more than one line isn't following the rule and doesn't line up with the vanishing point, things can start to look confusing. There are times when you have to draw something that makes you break this rule, it's rare but it does happen. But 9 out of 10 times, You need to follow the vanishing point rule. 

The red lines do not go to the vanishing point

Objects look smaller the farther away they are
     Look at these two images of 'buildings'. The second image feels correct bc the closer to the vanishing point the building is, the thinner it gets. 

-"Danny, how do I know how thin to make the building, should I guess?"
      No, there is also a rule on how thin/smaller to make an object the closer it gets to the vanishing point. This one seems complicated but if you do it once, you can do it all the time. Make sure you use a ruler! 

Lets say you are drawing columns - set up your vanishing points and draw your first two columns how ever you want. 
Look at the 3 Horizontal pink lines. The most important one is the Pink Line that goes through the middle and cuts the columns in half. 
Draw a diagonal through one of the squares (RED LINE)
At the end of the red line, you will draw a new column!!
Keep drawing diagonals (RED LINES) to draw as many columns as you like!
Now you can use this rule as a guide to correctly draw columns perspective.

TIP: The closer the object is to the viewer, the thicker the line should be
      This is not a rule, this is just a tip that can help add depth to your drawing! If you have ever seen some mountains that were far away, do you ever notice the ones further away are harder to see? You should do the same to your lines in your drawings! If nature does it, you can do it too. You can even start to leave lines out when they start getting too close to each other. Simplify when you can without breaking the rules :) 
lines are all dark...
Far away lines are lighter :) 

Don't be lazy! Find reference and use it to make your drawings better!
       Take this window for example! The quality is in the details :) It'll bring realism to your drawings.

     Last but not least, remember perspective applies to people as well. A lot of people will draw figures and not CHECK to see if they are the right size when compared to the other objects in the drawing. Grab your ruler and never forget to check your drawings :)

     I hope this helps you out. I know the internet is a big place and it's hard to find good advice. That's why I sometimes post things I find from other sites here for you to read. Remember, I didn't invent perspective, so my way isn't the right way or the only way. All I do is share what I know. Drawing is fun and it shouldn't be hard, if perspective is really difficult for you, keep practicing and don't be afraid to ask people for help.


Monday, July 7, 2014

How To Improve Your Creativity 101


It's been a while. I wont make a big deal about this being my first post in almost half a year, obviously my clavicle is healed so lets just get right back to business :)

Staying creative is one of many things an artist must do to be successful

      It takes a lot of motivation and drive to continue making art. You will read MANY things that insist that they are the key to retaining your momentum and increase your drive. They are all a little bit true and a bunch of bull at the same time. Every person is different and will have different ways to get motivated. For example some people like it rough with the stress of deadlines while others enjoy a slower, thought out pace. It makes sense to me that what might motivate one person will not motivate another. 

      Today I read something that I felt spoke directly to me and gave me tons of energy inspiration. I read 4 tips about creativity by the creator of a comic strip called "Calvin & Hobbes" (Bill Watterson) I'll share them with you:

1) You have to lose yourself in your work
     Make your art and your thought process should be one. Inject your opinions and how you see the world into your work and let it inspire your imagination back. 
(I'm always thinking about my animation and even during stressful times, dream about it! This small tip I can relate to a lot)

2) Create for yourself

     Once in a while forget that you have an audience and just do what you like. Aim to make yourself laugh or a close family member. 
(I especially like this note because when you enjoy the work you are doing, you don't mind working hard and putting a 110% into your art)

3) Make it beautiful

     I'm going to quote the exact words bc it hits it right on the nose: "My advice has always been to draw cartoons for the love of it, and concentrate on the quality and be true to yourself. also try to remember that people have better things to do than read your work. so for heaven's sake, try to entice them with some beauty and fun."
(always do your best!)

4) Every medium has it's power
     Whether its the power for a few seconds strung over 10 years or a national anthem being sung at the World Cup Finals, video games, or crafts... Every Medium has a way to connect to people that is unique.

The internet never stops being creative

         These four tips have helped me out, I hope sooner rather than later you also find what you need to stay pumped about your work

Thursday, February 27, 2014

ONE ARM, a NEW FILM, and a Q&A

Danny, why haven't you posted any thing in a while???????

I'm sorry! I fractured my clavicle not too long ago and life with one arm is very hard. For instance, who knew that eating cereal could hurt you so bad!? I learned the hard way that chewing recklessly uses a lot of neck muscles :(  And forget about laying down and getting up on your own! I'm so lucky to have my girlfriend around taking care of me, though being taken care of makes me feel like a gimp. But I still super appreciate everything everyone is doing for me,

How did I break my collarbone?
by being awesome and playing softball! I dove for a ball while playing the outfield and landed tremendously hard on my shoulder. I had so much adrenaline it took me a few minutes to realize there was a bone sticking out of my neck :)

BUT DANNY, you are an artist! can you still animate??
That is the question of the hour, and yes, with one hand, foot pedals and tiny finger buttons I have found a way to animate at a snails pace. Crunch time is coming and we need all hands on deck. I am not dying or sick, so I am determined to join my friends in the trenches and pull my weight :) The great thing is, I can heal as soon as 3 weeks from now. The bad news: It's such an awkward bone to have broken, they cannot put it in a cast! So with a sling and painkillers, I have to let nature do its thing and wait for my bone to heal.

Now for some Juicy Stuff:
Danny, What are you working on now??

the image above is our crew shirt that everyone receives for working on the film! BIG HER 6 is a Marvel property that we are making into an animated film. You heard right, a MARVEL and DISNEY collaboration :D Animating princesses was a lot of fun, but it is really cool that now we are to animate a super hero movie. I can't elaborate much about the film but if you really want to find out more then go out and read the comic!

Usually my post are impersonal lectures that reveal very little about me. I'm going to shake it up a bit and post here a real time Q and A I did on my twitter. I hope you find it interesting and that it helps you mentally attach a personality to the person responsible for all these posts :)

STUDENT LIFE TIP: pregame before class so your participation grade goes up

  1. favorite power ranger and why? :)
  2. . white ranger bc it will always be the coolest halloween costume ever

  1. Advice to your younger, student self? (aka, give me advice)
  2. . time management is essential
  1. Which shots were yours?? :)
  2. hmm. One of my shots: olafs final note of his song "in summer!!" Where he finishes as funs off with ana and sven
  1. what's your favorite part of the animation process?
  2. . blocking! And polish :)...and getting finaled.. damn, I think I just like it all!
  1. Was there any particular, "ahhh-ha!" moments that you felt improved your work significantly?
  2. . yes. I was very green and a senior animator sat down with me and destroyed my work and taught me how to layer. Thank you Angus!
  1. And finally, favourite beer?
  1. I have looked up California College of the Arts, why should I go there and not somewhere else? oh and thank you for the answr
  2. bc that school is awesome. but really tho, its a school that will make u into a well rounded artist
  1. When doing anim exercises like the 1s on ur blog, when is it good to call it done? should we take it all the way thru polish?
  2. . give your self a specific amount of time to finish and stick to it!!
  1. When do you not use a layered approach? I cant figure out how someone would use it in an acting shot.
  2. . I pose to pose super physical shots. I like controling my shapes. I layer chest up shots or close ups!!
  1. what tips do you have for future animators? :)
  2. . your personality is 50 of your resume. Be nice to people!And master the 12 principles. They're principles for a reason
  1. Is an animator life amazing? Interesting?
  2. . Animator life: you end up seeing your anim crew more than your family or friends ?
  1. what made you want to become an animator and how did you start working for Disney?
  2. I worked at pixar before Disney. I originally went to college bc I wanted to be a painter. Animation.. just happened :)
  1. Somebody has gotta ask. Fav flavor of ice cream?
  1. Almost every animator has at least one post-it on their monitor to remind them about something anim related... any favorites?
  2. . I have a post It from my gf that says "I love u" That's my favorite one
  1. Will we ever find out about Hans's childhood? He's such an interesting character (and a total jerk but :/ )
  2. . I think your imagination will cook up something better than anything we can confirm
  1. How do you ensure you have good rhythm and texture in your shot?
  2. animate a bouncing sphere to the beats/movements in your shot. If the bounce timing is intersting then ur usually golden
  1. which Disney animator inspires U most and how much access do U get to study/view archived Disney work at the studio?
  2. full access! But don't eat cheetos and try to grab original animation.. they get angry