Saturday, June 29, 2013

AV Recipe: How to Make Panda Shaped Rice Balls!

AV: Panda Rice Balls


- 2CUPS Japanese Sticky Rice (Brown Rice Works Too)
- 1TBS Rice Vinegar
- 1TSP Salt
- 1 Package of Sushi Nori (Dried Seaweed Wrap)

Optional: Filling For Pandas (Thinly Sliced)

- Salmon
- Carrots
- Cucumber
- Tuna
- Spinach
*Anything that you like with rice truly works just make sure it is cut to size*

Prep Work
Step 1: Have a bowl of warm water next to the cooked rice to dip your hands in.
Step 2: Make sure all the ingredients you want inside the rice balls are near by and ready to be used.
Step 3: Have a clean plate available to put your rice balls on.

Step 1: Gently scoop a half-handful of rice into your hand. Start to softly mold the rice into a shape of an egg.
Step 2: Use your thumb to create a deep crevice in the center of the ball. Start placing your favorite ingredients into crevice. Do not over fill! Use a pinch of each ingredient.
Step 3: Gently fold the rice ball so that the crevice comes together.
Step 4: Take a little more cooked rice to cover up the seam of the crevice.
Step 5: Smooth the rice with the palms of your hands until the rice ball looks like it was never disturbed. Do not compact the rice.
Step 6: Cut 2 tiny domes, 1 small triangle, and 2 skinny rectangles from seaweed wrap. Cut another piece of seaweed wrap that is 1 inch thick and 4 inches long.
Step 7: Wrap the middle section of the rice ball with the largest piece of seaweed that you cut. 
Step 8: Place the 2 dome shape pieces on one end of the rice ball and about 1 inch apart from each other. Place a small rectangle under each dome but a little closer together so they look like eyes. Place the triangle in the center below the eyes so it looks like a nose.
Now its time to NOM NOM NOM and ENJOY!    

AV: Photo Instructions: How To Make Panda Rice Balls

Monday, February 13, 2012

AV: Paper Toy

Looking for a fun craft? How about cut, fold and tape a familiar face! 

- Click Drag or Right Click and Save the AV: Paper Toy Template Below and Print! 
- Then Carefully Cut, Fold, and Tape together! (Easier then Glue) 
- Silly Photo Opportunities? I would love to see them!  Keep checking back for mine and for:
  "How to Make AV Magical Lotus Flower"

Friday, November 26, 2010

In-Depth Look of Hayao Miyazaki “Spirited Away”

When I watch Hayao Miyazaki “Spirited Away” I not only get tingles of excitement from the amazing illustration and animation but the cultural richness of his storylines. Based on his IMDB profile he has a “trademark style” to take people and experiences from his real life and incorporate them into his animations. Solely focusing on his film “Spirited Away” there are many cultural ties that are evident throughout the film. For example, in the first scene, Chihiro’s dad takes a wrong turn into the woods and the car passes by these little stone shrines. Chihiro spots them and questions to her mother what are they? Her mom kindly responds “those are where the spirits live.” Traditionally Japan is an animist religious society. Animism is defined to be a belief that every piece of nature has a soul. In that belief system is said that everything from the trees that stand around us to the rivers that flow between them have a spirit. The cultural meaning behind the story and the style of drawing in its own right is considered traditional Japanese animation.  Looking at Hayao Miyazaki and the traditional cultural aspects of Japan, it is then recognizable the genius behind his animated films.

Hayao Miyazaki is known to be a naturalist. It is evident in the work that he produces and the words that he speaks in “behind the scenes” interviews on varieties of his works he reveals the meaning behind many of his stories. In the “Spirited Away” bonus feature DVD Studio Ghibili opens its doors to the world. The studio, which is based in a small suburban town outside of Tokyo Japan, still practice traditional hand-drawn animation and it has only been recently that the studio allowed CG or computer generated graphics be involved in some of its projects. According to IMDB the project that do indeed have computer generated effects only make up about 10% of the overall project. The animators still practice traditional methods of hand drawing the animations to put the full feature together.
The traditional traits of that “Spirited Away” contains, are prevalent throughout the film. Looking at the storyline and the illustrations you can see that the film is based on traditional Japanese culture. Bathhouses are found in Japan with the same type of ornamental decoration that is found in the movie. The main customers of the bathhouse are those of the spirits. It is obvious that this bathhouse would be crowded because in animism, every element of this earth has a soul or a spirit. The most common and appreciated spirits in the movie were river spirits. In the special features DVD Hayao Miyazaki reveals that the first apparent “stink spirit” that Sen apparently tended to was actually a polluted river spirit. In real life Hayao Miyazaki helped clean up a local polluted river and as they cleaned out the bottom of the water bank things like bicycles and garbage came out like one clear string as he and the team continued to pull and clean the river. This hidden message that this “river spirit” could no longer fly or function because of the polluted elements that weighted it down to fly freely in its dragon form.

The bathhouse served as a spirit world oasis for the spirits who were being “beat up” by humans in the real world. Coming to the bathhouse in their home realm of the spirit world, the spirits relaxed, recharged, and rejoiced when they finished their time at the bathhouse. Even Haku, who was later discovered to be the lost river spirit with no formal home in the “human world” because he was the spirit of the now cemented over Ohaku River. He was so easily brainwashed and over powered by Yubba because he has no more formal purpose as a spirit in the human world. Though the love and the determination that Chihiro had through the whole traumatic experience she had with loosing her parents and being trapped in the spirit world, she herself grew as a person and helped Haku and the spirit people around her realize that not all humans are bad. Like they all assumed in the beginning when trying to trap her and just turn her into a pig and get rid of her and her family forever.

What makes Hayao Miyazaki films so powerful and beautiful at the same time is his attention to detail. From storyboard to character design to musical background Miyazaki builds his imaginary world from the ground up allowing his viewers to have an experience. IMDB collected a lot of great quotes from this animation master and the one that speaks to me the most is:

“When I think about the way the computer has taken over and eliminated a certain experience of life, that makes me sad. When we were animating fire some staff said they had never seen wood burning. I said, "Go watch!" It has disappeared from their daily lives. Japanese baths used to be made by burning firewood. Now you press a button. I don't think you can become an animator if you don't have any experience” - Hayao Miyazaki

This quote directly relates to my peers in my generation and profession because immediately, we are taught the animation medium on the computer and not in a traditional manner. Do we really appreciate what the computer creates for us? For a lot of us I do not believe so because we have not stepped backwards in time to learn the historic craft of hand animation to appreciate the tools that we have in current times, which is the computer.

Works Cited:

"Hayao Miyazaki - Biography." The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 24 Nov. 2010. <>.

Spirited Away. Dir. Hayao  Miyazaki. Studio Ghibili-Walt Disney Company, 2001. DVD.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Kirikou and The Sorceress

Kirikou and The Sorceress was a fun and exciting animation to watch. Based on African folk tale. Michel Ocelot was the chief creative director transforming the traditional folk into his own by adding a few more elements to the story to expand and enrich the tale for a viewing audience. According to the official English website for Kirikuk, the animation took five years to complete. Artistic elements were taken from ancient Egypt, Africa, and France. The animation was made and produced in France. Producer, Didier Brunner observed the animation process as an investor knowing that the projects time of completion and financing was greatly underestimated. When the final product was complete and released Brunner was amazed by the colors and detail that were displayed throughout the film.

In a design perspective, both the character and set design were breath taking in that the people were so realistic. I really liked the wizardry and mystical elements that both the Sorceress and Wise Man of the Mountain had. The dark shadows, mechanical minions, and fiery background that surrounded the Sorceress, compared to the cool holy glowing appearance of the wise man. These surroundings helped heighten their characters purpose in the movie. It brought them out of the realism of the other tribe members and into the realm of magic and adventure. Even Kirikou had a major feature that made him stand out, his size. Yes, he is stated to have been born premature on his own terms, but throughout the progression of the story he still remains small compared to the characters that surround him.

The backgrounds in which Kirikou travelled ranged from the barren desert to the rich lush forests. In the characters section of the official English website of Kirikou, they stated that all shrubbery that was shown in the film were not all native to Africa. They were based loosely on Egyptian drawings as well as those of the Douanier (Henri) Rousseau. Looking into the Rousseau style of drawing the Guggenheim website gave insight on the life and work of Henry Rousseau. He was a Post-Impressionist French painter based in Paris in the late 1800s into the early 1900s. Though he never travelled outside of Paris his colleagues and friends inspired him with their descriptions of their international travels to tropical places. He is noted for his jungle environmental pieces. Michel Ocelot stated, “He wanted each plant in the film, even those hidden in the forest, to be a small masterpiece.”

Overall I truly enjoyed every aspect of this animation from the design elements, traditional African music and historic/mystical/romantic storyline. Kirikuk is ranked number thirty-two on Time-Out’s 50 Top Animated Features. Looking at Kirikuk and other features that made the list, aspiring animators can pick out and observe what elements are needed to make a list like this later in their developing careers.

Works Cited:

African Folk Tale - Kirikou and the Sorceress (folklore, Folktales). Web. 22 Oct. 2010. <>.

"Guggenheim Collection - Artist - Rousseau - Biography." Collection Online. Web. 22 Oct. 2010. <>.

"Time Out's 50 Greatest Animated Films – Part 2 with Time Out Film - Time Out London." Time Out Worldwide - Your Guide to the Best Things to Do in the World's Greatest Cities including London and New York. Web. 22 Oct. 2010. <>.

"WebMuseum: Rousseau, Henri." - Storytelling. Web. 22 Oct. 2010. <>.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Integration of a Variety of Mediums Within Animation

When I watch an animation I am usually fixed on the movement and style of the characters. Unfortunately, I do not recognize music and sound effects as another important aspect of the work. For some reason I just naturally embedded the music and sound effects into the work that I am watching. The list of animations presented this week revolves around a piece of music. The music, the tempo, and the lyrics are what make the story, while the animation carries out a supposed meaning of the song visually. I found that all the animations were amazing in their own right but based on versatility I found the Monkey Movie the most inspirational.

What I liked most about the Monkey Movie is that the storyline and overall message stuck within the cultural lines of China. They have such a rich culture that one can draw from ancient stories and their style. The basis of the story is that the characters are located at different spots and come together at the Beijing’s Olympic Stadium also known as the “Bird Nest.” They go on an epic adventure to reach this place to represent their section of China in the Olympics.

The animation has a wide range of different mediums within it. The background has a realistic look with the mountain ranges and panning valleys. The characters had a two dimensional appearance within this three dimensional world which was intriguing to look at as they interacted with other two dimensional characters then getting hit by a three dimensional bolder. Some elements of the story have a collage look to it. For example, the water in the passage where the dragon was leaping each wave had a popped out appeared because of the drop shadow effect that was applied to it.

The music was just as eclectic as the animation mediums. In the first instance of the animation you are given the clue that the story takes place in China because of the traditional music but then as the main character becomes more active the music is mixed with a wide range of techniques found in other parts of the globe. A heavy beat is added from what I could decipher seems to have picked up the lyrics to follow more of a rap style. The soft of the traditional music and the heavy beat of a rap or hip-hop song are then slowly integrated with a techno gaming like sound that loops in the background. As a viewer, I saw this as a way to symbolize the integration that occurs at the Olympics. Countries from all around the world come to compete against each other at this event. The same type of thing occurred for the creation of this project. The combination of different mediums and sound styles within this animation made the viewers want to watch over and over again the catch the different aspects that are within this project and how they successfully fit together as a whole.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Cat Came Back

Cordell Barker’s 1988 animation, “The Cat Came Back” is his own visual rendition of the Henry Miller’s original 1893 folk song, according to a blog by D Wheezy. In its transformation to a visual story, Barker uses multiple animation techniques that make his animations rich with style and entertainment. Looking at his animations as a basis, there are many elements that can be drawn from his style to be aware of to enhance the two-dimensional medium of animation.

When “The Cat Came Back” was made, the animation industry was doing frame animation with paper and pencil similar to flipbooks. The same math applies twenty-four hand-drawn frames to complete one second of the film. The terms we use today like key frame and tween come from this method of animation.  Key frames were the frames that had the major movements of the animation drawn on them. For example, when Old Man Johnson answers the door at the first key frame, he is standing up looking down at the basket then proceeds closer to get a better look at the cat. The key frames would be the start frame of him looking down and then the close up of him cooing at the kitten. It was the job of the in-between artist to take these key frames or main frames to make the frame in between each key frame. That is where the term tween comes from, claims George Maestri of’s 2D Character animation tutorial series. When we tween an element within flash, such as the bouncing ball, we only define the key frame positions we want the object to go. Flash is our in-between animator that takes the task of creating those in-between frames for us. Though, it is covenant to click a button to have this option, it is hard to control the final result. For example, the scene where Old Man Johnson is zooming across the sea, the computer generated tween would be great for that scene, but when it gets to the point where the boat is twisting and sinking into the sea. Retracing and movement with the frame-by-frame method is the only way to achieve this type of look.  Comparing the computer generated tween to the traditional hand drawn frame-by-frame method I see the loss of personality. As the animator, he has a stronger connection to each scene because he constructed each element by hand giving the cat a custom sway and Old Man Johnson a frustrated scowl.

The story, as a whole, was enjoyable; reflecting on his style of animation, there are recognizable elements that followed the “swash and stretch” rule. According to the tutorial series, 2D Character Animation by George Maestri, the swash and stretch rule can be tied to Newton’s Law of Motion in that for every force, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This applies to animation specifically because it is not a realistic medium. However, to become believable, as well as entertaining, animators need to become aware of movement in the realistic term to Newton’s Law of Motion to be able to portray their character's movement in an exaggerated form; this is what makes cartoons funny. In the beginning scene, Old Man Johnson is struggling to blow on the trombone; the swash and stretch of his cheeks were exaggerated but a true action in real life. Another instance was when Old Man Johnson being whipped around by the air balloon he released; the action of being pulled and whipped around utilized Newton’s Law of Motion but exaggerated it in a way that it was comical.

When it comes to character and background design, I appreciated the simplicity of the outdoor scenes compared to the detailed interior of Mr. Johnson’s home because a lot more events were happening within his home compared to outdoors. Inside, the cat was destroying everything the couch, blinds, rug, while outside he was just being dropped of or abandoned somewhere. Using both the home and other outside places gave the animation more variety in that the audience is not just stuck staring at the same surroundings but excited by the new destination to which they might be brought. Another trick that he used in his backgrounds that should be noted was his use of hills and trees to give the flat surface of the stage more dimensions. Also, the camera movement of panning helped him create more distance and rapid movement in his external scenes like chasing the cat out in the forest to the end scene of him being launched into the air after the explosion.     

Being introduced to Cordell Barker’s work and looking at it with a more perspective eye as a developing animator was inspiring. Animators need to go beyond the “just observing but recognizing” movement in a different form. There are methods that two-dimensional animators can follow to convey their story and appeal to the audience in an effective and comical way.   

Works Cited 

Barker, Cordell, Dir. The Cat Came Back. Dir. Cordell Barker." National Film Board of Canada: 1988, Film. <>.

Falcone, Michael. "Canadian Animated Films - The Cat Came Back: Oscar-nominated Animator Cordell Barker Revisits Classic Feline Tale." Online Magazine and Writers' Network. 5 Nov. 2009. Web. 25 Sept. 2010. <>.

Maestri, George., n.d. Web. 25 Sep 2010. < >.

Wheezy, D. "Why Not: The Cat Came Back- Cordell Baker." Blogger, 22 May 2008. Web. 25 Sep 2010. <>.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Character Animation

When it comes to character design, the animator should create a character they feel comfortable animating. Looking at other animations in main stream television, I notice that each character has specific features and movements that bring their personality to life. When I think of an example, SpongeBob Squarepants comes to mind; besides his distinctive laugh, he has an exaggerated stroll that brings his corky personality to life. Looking at my character, his construction was simple with many circles and squares reworked to get his horsey appearance. Though I am not experienced enough to make him realistically do a show horse trot; I am happy with how he looks. The thing I learned most with animating him slightly were the differences of each tween. I used to only utilize classic tween in my animations. This assignment has branched my understanding of the use of other tweens like shape and motion tween. My character is based on the first horse I ever rode, whose name was Sugar Bear. I made his nostrils with  a shape tween to make it appear like he was snarling and have the eyes darting back and forth in search of his favorite treat, a sugar cube.