One of the benefits of getting my MFA from AAU is the chance to work directly with so many important and influential people in the industry. Very few rival the academic and professional stature of my directed study mentor for this semester, Tom Bancroft. Tom, as you probably know, was the designer and lead on Mushu in Mulan, and has been an animator, designer, and artist for Disney for many years, as well as owning his own production and illustration company. Of course, you may also know him from his incredibly successful (and excellent) character design books; Creating Characters with Personality and Character Mentor. If you haven’t seen it already, Character Mentor has a great website as well.
This first week I am working on revising / refining my main character designs and editing my animatic. Based on the notes I received during my MidPoint Review, I asked Tom to watch the animatic with an eye for cutting it down closer to 2:00, and then just give me any general notes that he felt like sharing.
Tom did a great job of pointing out that the beginning was a bit too abrupt, and he gave me some excellent ideas on revising the ending. In addition there were some great notes on shortening / speeding up sections here and there. He was not a fan of the “eye spitting” gag from previous versions, and though it was the first gag I came up with, and I came up with it before the short even had a plot, I decided I needed to cut it for time more than anything else. This will be my final edit of the animatic, and I received some great final feedback from Tom:
John, I reviewed the changes (new boards and revised timing/cuts) and this new version is MUCH improved! I really like the pacing now and the story clarity is really heightened. I like your new ending also. The only suggestion I have is that if you can find a way to work a sign that says “Spicy Nacho Chips for sale” either in the park with an arrow (that could help start the pan) or at the booth itself, that would be helpful. Your hot pepper is pretty clear, but think the sign would really make people notice the pepper/nachos even more. This is not a change for the animatic, but something you can add to the drawing of the layout when you get to that phase. I say continue forward and the animatic is strong. Thanks, Tom
Needless to say, I’m pretty thrilled.