By: admin                Categories: AnimationGeneralInspiration

At Focal HQ, we are busily recovering from the sheer excitement of Comic-Con and gearing up for a great SIGGRAPH show in Vancouver.  Stay turned for the update on the great experiences we had at Comic-Con. 

For Focal Animated Short Friday, we were particularly enamored with Isaac King’s “Second Hand” short.  Isaac is a freelance animation director, animator, and designer, most recently having worked at Head Gear Animation.  

Second Hand from Isaac King on Vimeo.

This short develops rather innocently enough leading you to believe this is another PSA for environmentalism that aims to bring your attention back to your carbon footprint, but through some dynamic and unique animation styles, a pounding soundtrack and story dichotomies, “Second Hand” really develops into a complex, multi-layered short. Focusing on waste, be it a general waste of time, efficiency, or the accumulation of personal waste, King presents characters that are simultaneously well developed and flawed in their own pedagogy.  

As busy professionals, we are almost always clamoring for one more second of time, a jujitsu style efficency in handling our day to day tasks and second hand rocking chairs and fuzzy red socks for those quiet moments.  The short’s animation style only further conveys this message with an incredible balance of stop motion techniques and hand drawn animation.

Enjoy and Happy Friday! Hope to see you at SIGGRAPH Focal Press booth #747!

 Posted by Katy, Associate Acquisitions Editor, Animation and 3D.  Interested in writing for Focal Press, reviewing a proposal or just chatting about all things animation?  Visit Katy’s Linked-In page.

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By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneralInspiration

By Bryan Tillman 

Let’s talk about the most important part of character design: story and storytelling.

You probably are tired of hearing this, but it is very important and essential to good character design! Everything can and will always point back to the story. No matter what character you look at, you must try to figure out the story behind that character.

It is human nature to try to pinpoint which category of archetype a character fits under. I challenge you to look at any character and not try to label that character a good guy, a villain, a monster, a sex symbol, and so on. It is nearly impossible—unless you are not at all interested in what you are looking at. In that case, the aesthetic is all wrong for you, and, well, that’s another chapter in this book.

Take a look at this character. Stare at it for a couple of minutes.

Did you find yourself trying to figure out if this is the hero, the trickster, or any of the other archetypes? Or did you find yourself trying to figure out what his back-story is, what makes him tick, or why he does the things he does? Why do you think that is?

A. Because, we just got done talking about archetypes, and you know this article is about story.

B. Because that’s what I told you were going to be doing.  

C. Because, as human beings, we are very inquisitive and want to know as much as possible.  

 If you answered C, then you are on the right track. The main reason we become engaged with a character is that we generally want to know as much as possible about a person. Science established a long time ago that it is people’s nature to be inquisitive. If we weren’t inquisitive, we would never have had so many advances in science, we wouldn’t have the works of Shakespeare, and perhaps colonized the new world.

This is even more evident when dealing with characters like elves, characters with super powers, people in history, or any character who has captured your interest. Most character designers and storytellers use this to their advantage. How many times have you felt compelled to watch an entire TV series or read an entire book or comic series, only to ask yourself:

The answer, once you finally break away from how pretty the character or characters look, is that the designer or storyteller has given you something, be it information or an illustration, that is causing you to ask questions that remain unanswered. So you stick with the character or characters and hope that your questions will be answered. 

 Excerpted from Creative Character Design, by Bryan Tillman. © 2011, Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


Bryan Tillman is currently the academic director for Media Arts and Animation, Game Art and Design, Visual Game Programming and Visual Effects and Motion Graphics at the Art Institute of Washington, DC. He has an MFA with a focus in sequential art and a minor in drawing.  Bryan is the owner and CEO of Kaiser Studio Productions, a production studio for comics, toys, animation, and games and published author of Creative Character Design, Focal Press, 2011.  For further inspiration, visit Bryan’s website:  www.kaiserstudio.net or follow him on twitter: @kaiserstudio.


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By: Cedric                Categories: AnimationGeneral

Guess what’s happening next week? Comic-Con! Are you as excited as us at Focal HQ? Focal Press’ Anais and I will be in sunny San Diego with the other 130,000 Comic-Con fans, animators, and maniacs. This will be the first Comic-Con for both of us and we can’t wait.

In honor of Comic-Con 2011, we are featuring The Walking Dead by this year’s Wondercon Special Guest Robert Kirkman. First, let’s highlight this User Generated Content by Daniel Kanemoto. It is a pretty slick animation opening for AMC’s The Walking Dead series. The quality and care that Daniel produced this piece with amazes me. It’s fans like him that make Comic-Con the amazing phenomenon it has become.

User Generated Content inspired by The Walking Dead comic/television series from Daniel Kanemoto on Vimeo.

Next up is a cool The Walking Dead motion comic. The motion comic was inspired by the television series, which was inspired by the comic… Still with me? It doesn’t matter because you can never get enough zombie action right?

AMC presents The Walking Dead Motion Comic.

I’m sure I’ll see a zombie or two in the convention center. Anais and I hope to run into a few of you faithful Focal fans at Comic-Con as well. Those who won’t be in San Diego next week should stay tuned for our man/woman-on-the-street coverage of Comic-Con 2011. Pictures, videos, tweets, and Facebook updates on all things Comic-Con. Maybe, a contest or two – all in celebration of the biggest comic book/animation fan fest I’m aware of.

If any of you lucky attendees recognize us, run up waving that red and white logo’d book – we’d love to meet you. You’ll recognize us as we pass out our ultra cool Focal Press buttons. Be proud and wear them loud; you never know what you’ll get from Focal HQ if your spotted at Comic-Con, or on Twitter and Facebook showing that Focal pride (sounds like a contest is in the works to me…).

Focal Press buttons

F-Yeah! you can giggle now...

Lastly, a quick shout out to our friends at Animation Magazine and our author Bryan Tillman. Stop by the Animation Magazine booth #1535 on Friday, the 22nd from 11:30am – 12:30pm for a signing of his new title Creative Character Design. He is also hosting the Comic-Con How-To: Creative Character Design on Sunday, the 24th from 11:30am – 12:30pm.

See you in San Diego!


Posted by Cedric, Marketing Manager, Animation, Gaming, and Web.

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By: Lauren                Categories: AnimationGeneralInspiration

Happy Friday, Focal fans!

This week we have decided to dip our toes into the pool of “banned” animated shorts, films, etc. Today, we bring you a classic Betty Boop short from 1934, banned for its comedic portrayal of Betty and co. using laughing gas. We bet you a five-spot that you’ll be tittering all weekend!

Posted by Lauren, editorial project manager at Focal Press.  Follow me on Twitter @FocaLauren.  It will be the single best thing you ever do in your life.

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By: admin                Categories: General

Sorry for the late post, faithful Focal-ites!

This week we bring you a very sweet animated short entitled “Starless Night” by the animation studio AniBoom. With the powerful combination of 2D animation and adorable animals, this short will have you stargazing with that special someone in no time.

Happy 4th to all!

Posted by Lauren, editorial project manager at Focal Press. Follow me on Twitter @FocaLauren

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