greetings friends!

once again, I’m sorry that my blogs have been less frequent over the last couple months. it’s a curious thing having a “normal” job again. I’d really gotten used to the freelance lifestyle of editing, writing, and snowboarding… and not always in that order.

so, what you may wonder is keeping me busy on the day-to-day? well, I’m editing an animated movie! it’s part of a long running series of films that was kicked off by a film that I remember fondly from my childhood.

yes, it is The Land Before Time!

the series has quietly been going on with direct-to-video films for the past twenty years. our film is the 14th in the series… which is like, almost James Bond level. in addition the joy of getting to work with characters I grew up with, I also get to work with one of my favorite directors, Davis Doi.

Davis and I first worked together in 2007 on the series “Care Bears: Adventures in Care-A-Lot.” that was my first experience cutting animation and I really enjoyed the humor of a kid’s show, the quick turn-around, and the puzzle-fitting problem of getting an episode to an exact run time. plus, I really enjoyed all the delicious lunches we’d get. working with him again has provided the opportunity to learned a lot about animation, getting performance from characters, and how best to visually tell a story. I’ve been consistently impressed by what an amazing artist he is. with a simple sketch he can quickly convey the emotion of a scene, or if need be – he can complete redraw it!

my job has changed a little from the Care Bears days, because on LBTXIV, I am not cutting finished animation – I am cutting the animatics. but what is an animatic? well, the simplest explanation is a “storyboard edited to time.” image reading a comic book with a radio drama of that comic playing at the same time.

I take the storyboards, add the character’s dialogue, then time it all out. this creates something almost like a “flip-book” of the movie.

but heck, I can show you an example of someone else’s animatic.

often I will add sound effects, temp music, and title cards to help convey what exactly is happening. for example, if there’s a shot where Littlefoot falls down, I’ll add a “thump” sound effect for the moment where he lands. this helps us get an idea of the timing and a sense of the rhythm of the edit.

getting to edit an animatic is really fun creatively. if this were live action, it would be like editing with a time machine. because if there is ever a shot that is missing, or a way to show a story moment better – we can ask the artists to draw a new version. almost anything can be done at this stage in the film! of course, we are going to make shots that fit the style of the movie… and that best serve the story and emotional arcs, but the freedom and ability to creatively solve problems is incredibly exciting.

it’s been a real treat to work with a group of talented artists. it’s pretty amazing what they can do by adjust the expressions and poses of the characters. there was one shot where a character seemed to be acting rude (bonus points if you can guess which one!). by changing her facial expressions they changed it so instead of being rude, she was now teasing! it’s a subtle change, but just like with live action acting, the emotional moments are often conveyed not only through the dialog, but also the performance.

I’m really looking forward to when we start getting the final “color” animation in. it’s going to be a lot of fun to see the movie take shape.

and I’ll leave you with this… a “fan” film review of our movie… from more than two years before it was started.

feel free to ask any questions about the animation process and I’ll do my best to answer!


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