Friday, April 30, 2010

MAPA 2010 Summer Schedule

1. May Meeting:
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Plaza Library Small Meeting Room (not the Large Room we had before)
7:00-9:00 P.M.
We will judge our contest, “The Hand of Midas.”

2. Post Finals Fun Night
Saturday, June 12, 2010 (tentative based on interest)
Location TBA: This could be a bar, miniature golf course or whatever.
As about 1/3 of our members are in school, this will be a chance for everyone to help them by blowing off some steam together.

3. June Meeting
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Rockhill Room at KSHB-TV, NBC Action News
7:00-9:00 P.M.
Contest TBA

4. July Meeting
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Location TBA
7:00 – 9:00 P.M.
Contest TBA

5. August Meeting
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Location TBA
7:00 – 9:00 P.M.
Contest TBA

Throughout some Saturdays this summer, we aim to hold at least 3 fundraising events. We could hold a Caricature Car Wash with some making drawings and other washing cars, a bowling tournament for dollars, etc. Let us know your ideas so we can start raising some $$$.

Make sure to keep up with our Facebook page, our Blog (you're here) and our emails. If you would like to be added to our email list, please send an email to

Cutting Out Their Niche in Animation

Thursday night, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a presentation from Soyeon Kim and Todd Hemker of YellowShed, a freelance animation firm working for nearly a decade in the commercial market… And, I must say, from the very start I was humbled.

Sitting together with the mixed audience of students and professional animators, we began our evening in the lecture hall of Kansas City Art Institute’s Irving building. But shortly after the lights dimmed, our real journey began into YellowShed’s world of spinning color and motion.

We opened with Kim’s 1996 first feature, “Circus.” According to the blog description, the brilliant ‘undergraduate thesis film won an award and has been screened in many international film festivals.’ To our audience, it was a parade of deep blue clowns, acrobats, fireworks and animals elegantly dancing for our entertainment. With delicate precision, Kim brought the pointillism school to life. Soon, we all mirrored the animated audience in the film with the same looks of wonder. It was clearly evident why it took Kim a year of pain-staking work to design.

After a brief pause and a few words of explanation, Hemker took his turn at the podium. He prolonged our animated expedition with sepia images from his 2001 first feature, “Seven Corners.” His hand-drawn figures masterfully moved through an urban jungle indicative of Hemker’s architectural background. The film accurately depicted the grit of human nature using playful transitions between light, shadow and the silent, serious communcation between characters.

From these humble beginnings, Hemker and Kim have since built a reputation in commercial design. Their clients include the Mall of America, the New York Times, Comcast and Nickelodeon Movies.

Through simple evolution of their craft, the YellowShed team is particularly sought out for its “cut-out” graphic style. However, the pair continues to develop new methods, to take on challenging assignments and to devote what time they can to experimental projects.

From their blog: YELLOWSHED is a collaborative effort between two artists, Soyeon Kim and Todd Hemker, whose specialties are in various animation techniques, illustration, and design. Since 2001, the two have been involved with a broad range of projects, working professionally in the world of advertising and film production as directors, art directors, designers, and animators.

You can also check out the rest of their work on their website:

Dylan Dietz is a MAPA member and Associate Producer at NBC Action News in Kansas City.  He can be reached at or feel free to check out his website:


Here is a response we got from Todd Hemker of YellowShed:

I wrote:

Dear Todd and Soyeon,

I wanted to write you after having the unique and wonderful opportunity to see your presentation at KCAI last night. To say the least, it was stirring.

Thank you so much for taking the time to bring your masterful art to our community. Speaking for both my fellows and myself, we have been inspired.

I wish you all the best success in your future endeavors and thank you again for the opportunity.


Dylan Dietz
Midwest Association of Professional Animators (MAPA)
Cell: 816-267-0719

Todd Replied:

Hi Dylan,
Thanks for your kind words! We were honored to have the opportunity to share our experiences with everyone, and it was super gratifying to feel such support from everyone.

We really enjoyed coming to KCAI, and were inspired ourselves, today, by all the great work the students are doing there. It was a great reminder to us that animation is supposed to be fun - which is what the students seemed to be having!



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Animation Definitions

These animation definitions come courtesy of Wikipedia article by Jon Anderson.  It does not reflect a comprehensive listing of animation styles to date but does give an accurate overall view of the medium.  Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Follow this Website link to find the original article.

Traditional animation (also called cel animation or hand-drawn animation) was the process used for most animated films of the 20th century. The individual frames of a traditionally animated film are photographs of drawings, which are first drawn on paper. To create the illusion of movement, each drawing differs slightly from the one before it. The animators' drawings are traced or photocopied onto transparent acetate sheets called cels, which are filled in with paints in assigned colors or tones on the side opposite the line drawings. The completed character cels are photographed one-by-one onto motion picture film against a painted background by a rostrum camera.

1. Full Animation - refers to the process of producing high-quality traditionally animated films, which regularly use detailed drawings and plausible movement. Fully animated films can be done in a variety of styles, from more realistically animated works such as those produced by the Walt Disney studio

2. Limited Animation - involves the use of less detailed and/or more stylized drawings and methods of movement. Pioneered by the artists at the American studio United Productions of America, limited animation can be used as a method of stylized artistic expression, as in Gerald McBoing Boing (US, 1951), Yellow Submarine (UK, 1968), and much of the anime produced in Japan.

3. Rotoscoping - is a technique, patented by Max Fleischer in 1917, where animators trace live-action movement, frame by frame. The source film can be directly copied from actors' outlines into animated drawings, as in The Lord of the Rings (US, 1978), used as a basis and inspiration for character animation, as in most Disney films, or used in a stylized and expressive manner, as in Waking Life (US, 2001) and A Scanner Darkly (US, 2006).

4. Live-action - is a technique, when combining hand-drawn characters into live action shots. One of the earlier uses of it was Koko the Clown when Koko was drawn over live action footage. Other examples would include Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (USA, 1988), Space Jam (USA, 1996) and Osmosis Jones (USA, 2002).

Stop Motion - Stop-motion animation is used to describe animation created by physically manipulating real-world objects and photographing them one frame of film at a time to create the illusion of movement. There are many different types of stop-motion animation, usually named after the type of media used to create the animation. Computer software is widely available to create this type of animation.

1. Puppet - typically involves stop-motion puppet figures interacting with each other in a constructed environment, in contrast to the real-world interaction in model animation. The puppets generally have an armature inside of them to keep them still and steady as well as constraining them to move at particular joints. Examples include The Tale of the Fox (France, 1937), Nightmare Before Christmas (US, 1993), Corpse Bride (US, 2005), Coraline (US, 2009), the films of Jiří Trnka and the TV series Robot Chicken (US, 2005–present).

2. Clay Animation - or Plasticine animation often abbreviated as claymation, uses figures made of clay or a similar malleable material to create stop-motion animation. The figures may have an armature or wire frame inside of them, similar to the related puppet animation (below), that can be manipulated in order to pose the figures. Alternatively, the figures may be made entirely of clay, such as in the films of Bruce Bickford, where clay creatures morph into a variety of different shapes. Examples of clay-animated works include The Gumby Show (US, 1957–1967) Morph shorts (UK, 1977–2000), Wallace and Gromit shorts (UK, as of 1989), Jan Švankmajer's Dimensions of Dialogue (Czechoslovakia, 1982), The Trap Door (UK, 1984). Films include Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Chicken Run and The Adventures of Mark Twain

3. Cutout - is a type of stop-motion animation produced by moving 2-dimensional pieces of material such as paper or cloth. Examples include Terry Gilliam's animated sequences from Monty Python's Flying Circus (UK, 1969-1974); Fantastic Planet (France/Czechoslovakia, 1973) ; Tale of Tales (Russia, 1979), The pilot episode of the TV series (and sometimes in episodes) of South Park (US, 1997).

4. Silhouette - is a variant of cutout animation in which the characters are backlit and only visible as silhouettes. Examples include The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Weimar Republic, 1926) and Princes et princesses (France, 2000).

5. Model - refers to stop-motion animation created to interact with and exist as a part of a live-action world. Intercutting, matte effects, and split screens are often employed to blend stop-motion characters or objects with live actors and settings. Examples include the work of Ray Harryhausen, as seen in films such Jason and the Argonauts (1961), and the work of Willis O'Brien on films such as King Kong (1933 film).

6. Go Motion - is a variant of model animation which uses various techniques to create motion blur between frames of film, which is not present in traditional stop-motion. The technique was invented by Industrial Light & Magic and Phil Tippett to create special effects scenes for the film The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

7. Object - refers to the use of regular inanimate objects in stop-motion animation, as opposed to specially created items. One example of object animation is the brickfilm, which incorporates the use of plastic toy construction blocks such as Lego.

8. Graphic - uses non-drawn flat visual graphic material (photographs, newspaper clippings, magazines, etc.) which are sometimes manipulated frame-by-frame to create movement. At other times, the graphics remain stationary, while the stop-motion camera is moved to create on-screen action.

9. Pixilation - involves the use of live humans as stop motion characters. This allows for a number of surreal effects, including disappearances and reappearances, allowing people to appear to slide across the ground, and other such effects. Examples of pixilation include The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb and Angry Kid shorts.

Computer animation - encompasses a variety of techniques, the unifying factor being that the animation is created digitally on a computer.

1. 2D Animation - 2D animation figures are created and/or edited on the computer using 2D bitmap graphics or created and edited using 2D vector graphics. This includes automated computerized versions of traditional animation techniques such as of tweening, morphing, onion skinning and interpolated rotoscoping.

2. 3D Animation - 3D animations are digitally modeled and manipulated by an animator. In order to manipulate a mesh, it is given a digital skeletal structure that can be used to control the mesh. This process is called rigging. Various other techniques can be applied, such as mathematical functions (ex. gravity, particle simulations), simulated fur or hair, effects such as fire and water and the use of Motion capture to name but a few, these techniques fall under the category of 3d dynamics. Many 3D animations are very believable and are commonly used as Visual effects for recent movies.

  •  Photo Realistic Animation - used primarily for animation that is wanting to resemble real life, using advanced rendering that makes detailed skin, plants, water, fire, clouds, etc to mimic real life. Examples include Up (2009, USA), Kung-Fu Panda, Ice Age (2002, USA).
  • Cel-shaded animation - used to mimic traditional animation using CG software. Shading looked stark and less blending colors. Examples include, Skyland (2007, France), Appleseed (2007, Japan), The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (2002, Japan)
  • Motion capture - used when live action actors wear special suits that allow computers to copy their movements into CG characters. Examples include Polar Express (2004, USA), Beowulf, 2007), Avatar (2009, USA).
Other animation techniques

1. Drawn on film animation: a technique where footage is produced by creating the images directly on film stock. For example by Norman McLaren, Len Lye and Stan Brakhage.

2. Paint-on-glass animation: a technique for making animated films by manipulating slow drying oil paints on sheets of glass.

3. Erasure animation: a technique using tradition 2D medium, photographed over time as the artist manipulates the image. For example, William Kentridge is famous for his charcoal erasure films.

4. Pinscreen animation: makes use of a screen filled with movable pins, which can be moved in or out by pressing an object onto the screen. The screen is lit from the side so that the pins cast shadows. The technique has been used to create animated films with a range of textural effects difficult to achieve with traditional cel animation.

5. Sand animation: sand is moved around on a backlighted or frontlighted piece of glass to create each frame for an animated film. This creates an interesting effect when animated because of the light contrast.

6. Flip book: A flip book (sometimes, especially in British English, called a flick book) is a book with a series of pictures that vary gradually from one page to the next, so that when the pages are turned rapidly, the pictures appear to animate by simulating motion or some other change. Flip books are often illustrated books for children, but may also be geared towards adults and employ a series of photographs rather than drawings. Flip books are not always separate books, but may appear as an added feature in ordinary books or magazines, often in the page corners. Software packages and websites are also available that convert digital video files into custom-made flip books.

A Little Guide to MAPA: Who We Are

WELCOME TO the Midwest Association of Professional Animators

We are very proud to have you with us. Your experience brings a fresh and unique perspective which can benefit us all. Your input is invaluable. Since we are all collaborators in our respective fields, you know any great production is dependent on the particular contributions of each and every member.

MAPA offers an exceptional opportunity for you to network, share ideas and learn along with other dynamic artists in your area. We pride ourselves in showcasing the best of the Midwest. With that in mind, we invite you to bring your finest critiques and allow other members to equally push you in your own work.

As artists in a world of competitive business, we understand each one of you are involved in developing “trade secrets” which you cannot share with other members. In fact, you may see designers at our meetings you directly compete with in your job. However, each one of us has specialized skills, techniques or “tricks” learned during projects which have already been unveiled. These are the unique contributions we all can benefit from. We cheer each member’s successes and hope you will share those experiences with your MAPA brothers and sisters.

Who We Are and Where We’ve Been

Part I: Building the House of Mouse

In May of 1922, a young, would-be animator pulled together $15,000 with the help of his banker brother and built a Kansas City animation studio. The new studio, Laugh O’ Gram, was commissioned to make six shorts based on fairy tales to a company which soon after went bankrupt. Among the employees on the series were several pioneers of animation: Ub Iwerks, Hugh Harman, Rudolph Ising, Carmen Maxwell, and Friz Freleng.

The animation company fell into a financial slump. By the end of 1922, the owner was living in the office and taking baths once a week at Union Station. He gained some comfort by taking care of tamed mice at his drawing table.

The owner described the experience in a later interview:

“They used to fight for crumbs in my waste-basket when I worked alone late at night. I lifted them out and kept them in wire cages on my desk.

I grew particularly fond of one brown house mouse. He was a timid little guy. By tapping him on the nose with my pencil, I trained him to run inside a black circle I drew on my drawing board.”

Financial troubles spiraled for the studio. After creating one last short, Alice Comedies, the studio declared bankruptcy in July 1923.

The owner’s brother consoled him. He said animation was booming in Hollywood, California. So the owner sold his movie camera, earning enough money for a one-way train ticket; he brought along an unfinished reel of Alice's Wonderland.

Five years later in 1928 during a train trip to New York, the former Laugh O’ Gram owner showed a drawing to his wife Lillian Marie Bounds. Directly inspired by the tame little mouse from his now closed studio, the man said he was going to call his new character "Mortimer Mouse." His wife replied that the name sounded "too sissified" and suggested Mickey Mouse instead.

Part II: How Far We’ve Come

MAPA is nothing new. Animation has surged through the heart of this community since many of the first cartoons were inked. We celebrate our artistic heritage, embrace Midwest creativity and are at the threshold of new techniques in content creation. As design evolves, we evolve along with it to stay in the forefront of commercial production.

Kansas City is home to more than 20 production/post production houses, dozens of graphic designers, and many of the top animators in the country.

Local designers have worked with many high-profile clients including Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Microsoft and Universal Studios.

Fundraising Team / Treasurer

Money makes the world go around and, in our case, sends new worlds spinning. As much we would like to avoid it, our programs, events, trips and ultimately our film festival depend on finding creative ways to raise a club treasury. So we encourage those interested to volunteer for our fundraising team. A Treasurer will be elected to head up this subset of MAPA. However, ALL club members will need to participate in the fundraising events put together by this team. All the money raised will be used directly for our club evolution.

Group Events and Trips

There are a number of fantastic events, both local and across our nation, which are beneficial to all animators. Some of these include:

• Local

1. Kansas City FilmFest 2010: April 14-18 (Still looking for volunteers)

2. KCAI Student Animation Festivals in May

3. The District Art Annual...Downtown Kansas City Art Fair (3rd Annual): Friday - Sunday, June 25 - 27, 2010

4. PLAZA ART FAIR 2010: September 24, 25 & 26

• Abroad

1. The National Association of Broadcaster’s Convention: Animator’s Ball

2. Photoshop World Conference and Expo

3. SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival

4. Annecy International Animation Festival

Members are encouraged to attend and volunteer for as many events as possible. Each year, we hope to attend one or more as a group. Our fundraising team and Marketing team will work hard to get the best deal for the dollars we raise.

Refer to or for more events and also feel free to submit events to the club roster.

Film Festival

Tentatively set for Fall 2010, our all-animated film festival will be the first of its kind in the Midwest. We concede that the KC Jubilee, now part of the KC Film Fest, has an animation category in their program. However, our annual event will bring to the Kansas City area an exclusive showcase geared specifically for both still artists and animators, regardless of technique. (See attached list of animation techniques for ideas).

As this will be OUR film festival, we have the unique opportunity to craft it in whatever image we see fit. We can list a number of categories of our own choosing, which will culminate together in an overall, “Best of Show” competition.

Now even though we are listing animation styles elsewhere on the blog, let us not forget our still artists. Our festival will also have similar listings for Frame Cartoonists, Canvas Masters, Photographers, etc. We embrace all artists who further the realm of design.

Webmaster and Internet Team

As any working designer will tell you, without a website we have no identity. This blog is step one in fullfilling that need.  It is the job of our Webmaster and the MAPA internet team to keep our identity in cyberspace.

As our club progresses, we aim to continuously reinvent our web presence.  Expect new and exciting versions as we grow!
Mentorship Team and Non-Profit Status

A primary advantage of any club is establishing a marketplace of ideas. Sharing thoughts and visions should be at the very heart of everything we do. We are collaborators, innovators and the creators of new worlds.

We understand that many of our members compete in the professional world. Our intention is not to compromise that competitive spirit. But by sharing ideas and techniques, when appropriate to do so, we all grow as artists.

With that in mind, our club must mentor to the aspiring talent of tomorrow. We are committed to helping local design students achieve their goals by sharing our experiences with them. Whether you develop stationary for weddings, run Chyron for a newscast or build new environments in Cinema 4D there is a young mind hungry the unique knowledge you can give.

As we fulfill our mission over the next year, club administrators will be working with the Kansas City Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts to secure our non-for-profit status. This will secure our club within the community and the perpetuation of our annual film festival by allowing us to apply for state grants.

If you are interested in being a mentor, please let one of us know. We will be pairing you with students to share your knowledge with. Mentorship is not required, but strongly encouraged.

Logo Design Competition and Monthly Contests

A wise man once said, “We never achieve so well as when we compete against each other.” In that spirit, MAPA will host a monthly design competition to show different approaches to problem solving and have a little fun.