Saturday, December 30, 2006

Knuffle Bunny and (my) animation history...

The fine folks at Weston Woods have posted a clip from the animated Knuffle Bunny cartoon. Weston Woods has been making animated versions of picture books for the school and library market for ka-jillions of years, and were a joy to work with.

The voices are provided by my family and myself and the animation done by the talented Maciek Albrecht, who I worked for on my very first paid animation job in the late 1980’s.

At the time animation legend Tissa David took time out every Thursday night to teach a handful of animation students the fundamentals.

The classes took place at Bob Blechman’s Ink Tank Studio and consisted of wrangling drawings out of young bucks working at Michael Sporn’s studio and a few of us NYU scamps.

The classes were exhausting, and the homework frustrating for my talentless hands, but I learned more about animation there than anywhere, including the virtues of patience.

Occasionally Tissa would also regale us with stories of which legendary golden age animators were nice drunks (Art Babbit).

From that class, I was hired to do a few days of freelance at the Ink Tank, so they could assess my talent. Judging by the fact that I never worked there again, except as a stint as an actor for a commercial (which, I'm told, is still on their reel), they assessed my work correctly.

But I was hired to animate for Michael Sporn (on a version of Bernard Waber’s Ira Sleeps Over among other stuff) where Tissa animated many difficult or important sequences. So I finally got to see Tissa’s drafting skills close up.

Years later, Maciek did some work for me on the first Off-Beats cartoons for Nickelodeon, mostly because he lived a few blocks from me in the (then) deserted Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

Almost immediately, he moved to Pennsylvania where he began a successful studio that became a mainstay for Weston Woods.

So, we’re back to Weston Woods. They’re currently working on a funny version of Leonardo the Terrible Monster, narrated by yours truly with animation by the outrageously talented Pete List (who I first worked with five years ago when he became my favorite Ranting Swede animator on Sheep In the Big City).


Enjoy the clip.