My Top 3 Animation Moments (okay, 5 (or 6))

So on the RubberOnion Podcast this week, the audience question asked Stephen and Rob to list their top three moments in animation. They gave their answers, and then encouraged their listeners to submit their own. Turns out, I had a lot to say about it…

Here’s my top 3 animation moments (and 2 honorary mentions):

1) Transformers was my cartoon growing up. I loved how quickly they would transform (and I loved the sound!), and was always frustrated that I couldn’t transform my toys at the same speed. I also remember a sage piece of advice Optimus Prime gave Ironhide: “There is a thin line between being a hero and being a memory.”

2) Princess Mononoke – The scene where she wipes the blood from her mouth was a major feminist moment for me – she’s such a badass. (1:15-1:22) Also, the design of the Forest Spirit is just so exquisite.

3) A tie between a piece of character animation in The Incredibles, and a moment so perfectly captured in Ratatouille. In the Incredibles, Syndrome does this crazy little shimmy dance when he’s saying “Oh man! I’m still geekin’ out about it.” I must have watched that 500 times on YouTube to catch all the motion, and how it added up to such a great moment of character acting.

In Ratatouille, I will never forget when Anton Ego ate a bite of Remy’s ratatouille for the first time. The scene is freaking perfect. I love the lighting, the pacing, the extremely subtle use of sound, the super-zoom into his mind and then his childhood, and feeling the comforts of home in that bite of food, watching him come back to the table, dropping the pen… basically watching this guy who’s been such a fantastically hilarious prick the whole movie melt into his humanity because of an experience. It’s just the perfect climax for a movie, the whole thesis of the film is perfectly captured in this moment. And the “Defense of the New” monologue that follows is something I cling to as I try to make my own way in the artistic world.

Two other films/moments that made an impression on me:

1) Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and specifically, Jessica Rabbit’s song, “Why Don’t You Do Right”. I mean, it’s just hot (creepy old dude vibe aside). I was also obsessed at how perfectly all the live action pieces meshed with the animation. I really love live action/animation blends, and I think my love for it started with this movie.

2) Prickles and Goo was my introduction to all of the animations that Matt Stone and Trey Parker have created to the talks of Alan Watts. It was so cool to see the super simplistic style of South Park work with such philosophically profound content.

The Acts of Paul and Thecla – Finished!

This film is entitled “Meet Thecla”, animated by me and narrated by three live actors. It’s 12 seconds into this sermon video by John Rogers – which is a great sermon, and may I suggest sticking around for the whole thing? 🙂

This was a whole new level of character animating for me. I learned a great deal working on this project.

Unmade Holiday Special #rubberonionbattle

Here’s November’s battle entry! I made this right after the election. Many thanks to my excellent voiceover crew: Jenna Popham, Loretta Graceffo, Simona Graceffo, Julie Korgen, and Emerson Pentecost!

This particular battle entry was really interesting for me… It was an actual battle – at least internally – for me to release it. The idea came to me quickly and I was able to execute it quickly, but when it came time for me to publish it to my YouTube page, I balked pretty hard. It’s darker than my previous work, and for some reason, that stirred up a lot of resistance in me. Now that it’s out there, I’m very glad I faced my fear and published it anyway.

The Acts of Paul and Thecla!

For the past month or so, I’ve been working on a piece commissioned by the Tanho Center based on The Acts of Paul and Thecla, an early Christian text that wasn’t included in the Bible. The Tanho Center is pretty awesome. From their website:

The Tanho Center is dedicated to the exploration of the many discoveries of texts from the earliest Christ movements. By incorporating recently discovered texts into contemporary practices, we hope to signify exactly what tanho means in Coptic: “to make or be alive.”

Check out their website and Facebook page here. Their October launch is happening on the 20th, and I am flying out to Boulder with my filmmaking partner John Rogers to both debut our film, “Meet Thecla”, and present a workshop on the role visual media can play in exploring these ancient texts. Needless to say, I am super excited about this opportunity.

Below are some screenshots from from my work on the film.


Thecla hears Paul preaching



Thecla asks Paul to baptize her


Thecla confronts Alexander


Thecla baptizes herself

Exciting Trailers for Boring Subjects #rubberonionbattle

Not gonna lie… when I heard what the topic was for August, I was like, WTF am I going to do? Luckily, my wife is really good at thinking up stuff like this, so I turned to her and said, “Hey, the battle topic for this month is Exciting Trailers for Boring Subjects, help?” And she said, “Watching paint dry.” Boom. Done.

So, whose paint dried faster? Answer: They tied! The paint dried at exactly the same time. Purple is happy with sharing the victory. Orange wants a rematch. Perhaps we’ll see them again in a future battle.

One thing that I’m still not sure about with this one: In the video, the orange paint goes on the left side of the wall, and the purple paint goes on the right side of the wall. After the timer starts, there is a cut to the two painters watching their paint dry. Since it’s a point-of-view shot, the color scheme is reversed: Purple on the left, Orange on the right. I didn’t know if I should have kept purple on the right and orange on the left for consistency, or switch them for an accurate POV shot. I ended up switching them because watching it back with them un-switched made me feel funny. I wonder if that determines other people’s editing decisions.

I’d be curious to know if this made things confusing for viewers, or if it mattered.