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The “On-Model” Debate

When the powers that be at the new Nickelodeon Channel were trying to convince me to try out an animated series , they said “Think of it as your independent films in a series going out to millions”!

Hmmmmm. What became Rocko’s Modern Life was not so much like that.

What I wasn’t educated on (among other things) was volume animation and the outsourcing of such. We couldn’t afford in-house layouts, so we had to rely on the overseas studio to deal with them and the various poses from our storyboards. What I soon found out was that the really cool character drawings we did in our boards got destroyed by the effort to “put them on model”. I grew to hate model sheets. One of the joys of my independent films was conveying the emotion and storytelling moment in a drawing that we all knew was our character, but was stretched, exaggerated, funny, overly sad, overly happy. The Rocko pilot ( which I animated half of) was all over the place in the sense of model.

Of course, feature animators have this luxury, and in an outsourcing environment, I found it depends on the studio you use in regard to them using your storyboards as layouts. My last show was done in Toonboom, and the pre-rigging often led to negotiation on how often we can “Break a rigging” to achieve awesome posing. It’s always a compromise between volume budgets and great animation.

But now I’m back to working on my own films ( with breaks for outside projects) and I love not worrying about how “on model” I am. Just like actual human personalities, animated characters have different energy at times that should come out in the spontaneous drawing moment. Agree? Or no?

The short of it, is that an animated series is not like making a lot of independent films. Although I value my attempts at the art of the animated series, I’m really loving getting back to my own animation. But who knows what else is in store.

2 Responses

  1. Hello Joe!
    First of all I would like to ask an apology for my bad English. It’s not my first language and it’s always hard for me to express myself in the right way. But I wanted to leave a comment.

    This quarantine was difficult for me. My grandmother passed away last year, I lost friends and have not been able to stop working. There were days when I felt bad about all this, and that was when I remembered shows I used to see in my childhood. Rocko was one of the most important ones, so I decided to see the whole show again. I ended up with Rocko, and went on to see Lazlo, which in the end also took me to see Luna, which I always see after my hard days at work. I’ve bought every season I found online, and I’m waiting for the new chapters to come up. In general all your shows have helped me a lot, and have served me as therapy to not fall into depression, and it was almost a duty for me to let you know. I want to thank you for helping me and other generations with your shows. They are indeed my joy, and I know that they are also the joy of many more people. Even encourage me to draw and I hope someday to do it as well as you do. I recently bought your book, and I read it every chance I get. That helps my English to be even more fluent (my mother tongue is Spanish) and in general continues to help me a lot not to fall into depression.

    The quarantine had repercussions for all of us, and we all looked for the best way to cope with it. And I found it with your shows, so thank you very much. Words will never suffice.

    I hope you are having a good time and that you are safe with all your family!

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