Monthly Archive for January, 2008

Ice Age

I just saw Ice Age on DVD last night. It was my first time seeing it since its theatrical release in 2002. I remember enjoying it then, but there was a lot I forgot and a lot of new things I think I noticed this time around. The thing I remember enjoying about it in 2002 is its cartooniness. It has a goofy playfulness I love that hearkens back to those Saturday mornings, savoring every second I could of Bugs Bunny and Daffy. It’s character-driven comedy, most of it physical. Some of that is pure slapstick (guy-steps-on-a-rake kind of thing) which isn’t too specific to the character, but the majority of it is derived from and defines/reveals the character in its unique circumstance. Though the comedy may be physical, it’s really telling us something about the mind of that character — something funny.
Which character am I thinking of in particular? Sid, of course! The sloth (pictured above) so geniusly voiced by John Leguizamo. He’s the star of the picture. Not only is he the primary source of comedy in the film, he’s the one driving the whole story forward. What a goldmine of a character. He’s the most manic sloth you could ever imagine, which gets a tad annoying at times, I’ll admit, but heck that’s one of his key character traits. He’s incredibly annoying. The thing is he’s just so funny and endearing while he’s being annoying that we tend to forgive him for it. Also, thank goodness, he is tempered by the cool and down-beat qualities of Manfred the Mammoth and Diego the Saber-toothed Tiger (voiced by Ray Romano and Denis Leary, respectively — wow, Denis Leary down-beat. Who knew?). Also, Sid starts to even seem a bit normal set against the character and running gag of impossibly-manic Scrat the Saber-toothed Squirrel (voiced by the film’s director, Chris Wedge), who is thankfully used just as a sort of seasoning, appearing only for brief periods throughout the film (and making it all the more hilarious).
Leguizamo is so terrific in this role as Sid the Sloth. He seems to really understand what it means to act for a cartoon and the animators really eat it up! I can’t remember what scene it was, but there was this one awkward kind of nervous laugh he does that had me cracking up. There’s so much in the sound of that laugh alone and the subtle little head and eye movement the animator provided are just the perfect micro-storm example of the kind of collaborative performance you can find in animation. Mo-cap has nothing on this stuff! I mean, this is magic. This is the power of raw imagination and talent and a lot of hard work! It’s a joy to watch.

Sketchcrawl 17!

I spent the most recent Sketchcrawl (#17) in San Francisco’s Chinatown. It was one of those tricky days in SF. The sun was out and shining brightly, but everything was cold everywhere. If the sun’s rays hit you directly, you could get a little toasty, but as soon as you were in the shade… brrrrrrrr! I sketched as fast as I could, trying to keep my hands warm. The plus side, I suppose, is that it was not raining.

So here are my sketches from the crawl.
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The gamers/gamblers were a popular subject:

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Little comps:

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One of my favorites from the day is the one on the left here with the lanterns:

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I really slapped this one onto the page fast. Not too happy with the colors, but I do like the way it looks in grayscale!
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And of course, Chinatown would not be complete without Peking Duck.

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The crawl was great. There were about 65 sketchcrawlers there, in all. I finally got to meet a few people whose blogs I’ve been following for a while. Namely, Pixar artists Enrico Casarosa and Ronnie del Carmen, and Martha of Trumpetvine Travels. There were new people as well, and lots of great sketches from everyone. Many different tools, techniques, and styles, and lots of inspiration.

Visit the forum to see work from others at this sketchcrawl and crawls all over the world.

Trapped in the Grapevine

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This photo was taken with my crappy camera phone. I had a grueling drive back to L.A. from San Francisco yesterday. Left at a little before 11am and got into the Grapevine area of I-5 just shortly before it was closed due to snow. I was trapped on a snowy and icy slope alongside cars and big rig trucks for over 8 hours. The snowplows and evacuations finally made it through the 20-some miles of stopped vehicles and reached us at almost 2 o’clock in the morning. I went through a wide range of emotions while stuck there. First it was panic, which gave way to caution, and finally acceptance mixed with a whooole lot of patience.