This minute-and-a-half short film took nine months to create and was the culmination of my two year animation program. It was intended to be a demo reel—that thing you send to studios that’s supposed to get you a job—but, as with many best laid plans, that intention went somewhat awry.
A demo reel is supposed to show action that’s meant to demonstrate that you understand the sort of principles of animation that would make you a good prospective hire to be an animator. I however couldn’t resist the notion of trying to tell a story with my first big (little) animated film. Thus Sir Stumpy was my attempt to create a story that incorporated good ‘demo reel’ type activities like Stumpy straining to climb the cliff and wobbling under the weight of his overly-large sword.
You can’t be Pixar all by yourself — I’m still good friends with one of my former instructors from animation school and the other day we were talking about the classic blunder that many students make when they come to animation school. They show up and they all want to be Hayao Miyazaki or Brad Bird, thinking that those guys not only conceived and directed the film but did all the modelling, texturing, lighting, rigging and then animated every single frame of their film all by themselves. The truth, of course, is that those guys have a whole studio with hundreds of people helping them make an animated film.
I had it in my head that because I wasn’t attempting a full 90 minute film that, with enough hard work and stubbornness, I’d be able to pull off what few (if any) animation students had ever pulled off before. According to my friend the instructor, there’s one nut like me in every animation class—and it never goes well.
What I lost sight of in my quest to be a one-person animation studio is that this was a little film that was supposed to get me a job as an animator and all the time I was spending on creating my character and my sets was time I wasn’t spending on learning my craft which was supposed to be animation. As a result, the modelling and texturing is mediocre and the animation is not nearly as impressive as I wanted it to be.
Sir Stumpy was supposed to get me a job in an animation studio, but in trying to be a studio all by myself, I missed the mark on my original objective.
Software: Softimage XSI, Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects
Finished: September 2004