Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Duncan Studios & Deviant Art


Where this all started:
I meant to post this a few months ago, but forgot because I was a bit busy :/ .
Anyway, the image below is of a blog post of someone I've been following on Deviant Art.
The artist/blogger is the lady who created the 'Lady Ice' film: [Link]
In May, she posted an entry about a studio called 'Duncan Studio'. The post itself is about Duncan Studio in need of funds from the public to keep it open. But that wasn't what caught my interest.


During the second year of my course, I went with my college to London to visit three studios: Momoco, Trunk and Double G. 
What intrigued me about Li'ron's post was 'discovering another studio from networking' and 'the fact that it was in America/California'. I was like a little kid when I read this and immediately went on their website and facebook page: [Link]


The studio itself was set up by Ken Duncan in 2007, a world renowned animator who created character animations for Disney, e.g. 'Meg' from Hercules.


  • On facebook, there are a few videos of the animations they have produced. They are amazing (I think)! I'd love to put the videos on here, but I can't because 'they're not blogspot videos', so I'll put up screenshots and when you click them, they'll directly take you to them:
  • Watching these clips, I was speechless. I didn't know Duncan Studios made them! The first clip is from the film 9, created by Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov. I just assumed Burton & Bekmambetov independently made this themselves, like got their hands dirty in the paints and colours. But I keep forgetting that it takes a team to make big films and assemble many things at once. Not to mention acquire the help of skillful computer people - which also fascinated me because I wondered which programme this was made in - MAYA! Or at least parcially:
'We have developed an “Digital Inbetween Tool” within Maya. We can assign charts to any part of the character. This is a different way interface for the Graph Editor. Once the charting is done, the Inbetweens are generated. They only affect the Spacing of the character between one Key and the next.Overall this whole process is very similar to the way a 2D animation workflow is done.' [link]

  • These animation clips below are from the film 'How to train your Dragon: Gift of the Nightfury.' This also surprised me because the first film was made under Dreamworks, was it not? Fair enough if your acquiring the aid of an independent studio if your an independent artist; but isn't Dreamworks a company that can utilize the talents of it's employees? Or were they after Ken Duncan's talents and stylistic imput (with these clips being 2D animation, unlike the 3D version) within the pieces? Whatever the reason, I intend to give Duncan Studios an inquiry on this.

  • In terms of examples from youtube videos, this was the only one I could find that features some animations from the realms of either Duncan Studios or Ken Duncan's imagination:
'The video was animated by former Disney animator, Ken Duncan, of Duncan Studio.' [link]

Images from Duncan Studios:
On the Duncan Studios Facebook Group, there are many albums of artwork that Ken Duncan has created, some of which he did whilst working in Disney:
e.g. Storyboard - Film Hercules, Meg being the damsel in distress in the arms of a giant centaur.
These images below are character designs, concepts and experiments of Meg (Megera) from Hercules.
You can tell a lot of thought has gone into our perception of her. 
e.g. The two images, one of Meg, the other of pots - the pots served a purpose in her build. They used references of greek pots to create Meg's body shape.
Image 1: 'Meg's body shape. Another example of the use of vases for her basic forms.' [Link]
Image 2: 'Meg's basic Design.' [Link]
Here are hair style experiments and drawings of where Meg's hair would fall and lift whenever she would move her head. 
Image 3: 'Meg's hair. This is an example of ow Meg's hair would move. It was important to see this as a graphic shape that would drag, squash, stretch, etc.' [Link]
Image 4: 'Meg's hair in motion. During the making of "Hercules" we had a small crew of animators at the Disney Paris studio. We would review their scenes and give notes. This is an example of a note that was "faxed" to them. Meg's hair had to be approached as a simple shape, that was slow moving at the back. You can see the basic drag notes, and the "slow out" and "slow in" spacing at the bottom.' [Link]
In these pictures, there are several drawing designs of Meg's face and how it would appear when positioned at various angles. Meg's design has clearly been taken into consideration, e.g. Where her hair falls on her head. The compression and expansion of her face when expressing her emotions, as well as her facial features.
Image 5: 'Model Sheet drawing: Head Shape.' [Link]
Image 6: 'Model Sheet drawing: Hair. This drawing discusses the way the hair looks from different angles. The front of the hair is a 'cheat', much like Mickey's ears.' [Link]
There is so much on the facebook group of Duncan Studio, it's practically an endless resource, they are always uploading something. 
I just wish I found it sooner. I've been working on character designs too, they're for my cousin's music group: Coldside [Link]
It's part of my work experience for them, normally I've been referring to artwork from Gorilaz because that's the style they would like their' cartoon themselves to be. 
Now that I've found Duncan Studio's group, I can refer to the artwork from there also to help my art get to a better standard.

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