Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fred Gardner: Layout artist

So this past Friday my teacher the very kool and talented Cris Sasaki had his past co-worker and friend Fred Gardner come in to speak to His (my) Advanced Character Design class at the AI.
Fred is currently working on a Tom and Jerry cartoon that will be coming out for the new Sherlock Holmes movie that has Tom and Jerry living in Mr. Holmes' house. Fred is the led Layout artist on the project and for those of you who don't know, a layout artist creates all the backgrounds for a cartoon. And some would say, "hey, thats easy", but there is a lot more to creating Tom and Jerry backgrounds than i would have thought. For instance, the WB wants the style of this Tom and Jerry cartoon to be more in the style of the Tom and Jerry cartoons made during the 1940's when it was produced by MGM. At the same time Fred uses photos take at the Muesum Sherlock Holmes house in england as a reference when designing the layouts for the cartoon. And if you have never seen the Sherlock Holmes meusum you should check it out; but in this case i will say that it is full of stuff. All kinds of crazy stuff that would make a steampunk pee his/her pants. But that doesn't work for a Tom and Jerry cartoon. The next time you watch a Tom and Jerry cartoon, check out the background at some point. Theres is very little in those backgrounds- no matter who is animating that cartoon. So Fred had to not only make this look ike sherlock Holmes apartment, but also keep the backgrounds becoming overloaded with too much visual information.
He was showing us he's process with a few of the backgrounds and it just amazing to see how someone like him thinks. And how he works out this problems that i spoke about. Unfortinately, i don't have a photos of the project he is working on to show or i would. There just awesome. And there all designed on sheets of paper that measure something like: 4ft x 1ft in length- mostly for pan shots designed to follow Tom and Jerry back and forth across the screen during a chase scene.
he had also showed us some of his past works like some of the backgrounds he did for movies like the Iron Giant and back grounds for the animated Hercules TV show.. Which apparently, was created at the same time as the movie- which seems a bit weird to me.
He also gave us a lot of great advice: such as if you are ever offered a job doing anything- just say yes and figure out how to do it later. So if you are offered a job to animate something and have no animation experience- take the job anyway and figure out how to animate later.

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