"Promises Promises"    [ 02 ]   
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Jan 2010

My grandfather was a great man . . soft-spoken, but strong in his faith and work ethic, greatly respected by all in our family, yet humble to the last. He was 50 years older than I, almost to the day. Years ago, I asked him for the most practical advice he could offer this young man. "Well," he said, "since you've got to work pretty much every day, you ought to find something you like to do because you'll be doing a lot of it." A contemporary spin puts it this way: "Do what you love as your job, and never work another day in your life!"

book: "Making Things Move"

 

book: "ActionScript 3 Animation"

 

ToonBoom 5

We returned to Phoenix in 2002 to support my grandfather during his latter years. I took that year 'off' from the Corporate Scene to teach piano lessons all around the valley of Phoenix. At the same time, I took his advice and plowed through a number of self- and vocational-assessments. Turns out I had already stumbled into my ideal vocations by this point in life: Adult-level Training, Multimedia Design, and Teaching/Performing Music.

For all this wonderful Life direction/validation, I had neither received nor pursued any formal computer programming instruction - ever. My all-too sketchy ActionScript skills atrophied in 2002 as I taught kids how to read music and play "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "Sk8ter Boi" on portable electric keyboards.

book stack

One day, I found myself perusing the latest Flash & ActionScript books at a Borders bookstore, lamenting my 'glory days' in the industry back in 2000 and 2001. All facets of Flash & its programming language grinned at me from the shelves like colorful rows of Cheshire Cats: Colin Moock's exhaustive "Essential ActionScript" tomes, the latest "Flash Bible", offerings from Peachpit Press, the Dummies and Idiot Guides — all the greats! I clawed at them, one by one, like a forgotten bony fossil.

Not much given to maudlin mood swings, however, I clapped shut the undecipherable book in hand, shoved it back in place, and set my resolve then and there to become one of those 'code guys'! I mean, Why Not? They did it... and I'm sure they weren't Rocket Scientists either. (Not all of them, anyway) I traced my fingers across the titles as thought the spines were bars protecting the knowledge within from my amateur gaze. What creative and professional opportunities lay dormant in these pages, just awaiting discovery? It was simply a matter of allocating time and money to study and practice -- not far removed from just another college track! With dedication, someday I too could achieve the impossible and become like them: a *real* Flash Programmer!

Since that day, I have owned probably over two dozen of these books, and have run through maybe five of them properly —( family man : takes time )— and even now can only dream of conjuring up the sort of brain-bending MAGICK the leaders in this industry flaunt around the globe. But a happy side effect resulting from that decision years ago led to a lucrative Flash job, then another, and eventually to the *sweetest* full-time Flash position I can possibly imagine! And so I consider this long-arc exercise nothing short of a raging success!

On top of this, I found myself attending Flash conferences on a regular basis. Quite amazing things, these conferences.. . It was at the Seattle FlashForward (FF2006) where I met the disarmingly amiable Aral Balkin (URL) who declared in his all-day workshop that if you weren't using ActionScript 3.0 and external .as classes to build and run pretty much everything in Flash, YOU'RE WRONG! What a super-nice guy . . but man, I thought my head would *asplode* while trying to wrap it around this Lofty New Wisdom. Meanwhile, the room chattered away as code-geeks hammered these precious procedures and methods into laptops, their collective Creative and Professional Potential swelling tangibly with each passing hour. ~ If memory serves, I scribbled things like "import" and "function" on my yellow analog notepad and drew some cool-looking 3D logos, attempting to appear as non-drooling-baboonish as possible.

The next day – feeling like a certifiied moron, my hopes as a designer dashed – I attended an animation session presented by Sandro Corsaro. At the end of his wildly entertaining presentation, someone asked how much ActionScript he employed in his Flash animations. "ActionScript? What's that? I think I've heard of it... Isn't that some kind of programmy-code thing?" Of course he was being funny, but his point was well made. Except for a few scant  stop(); controls, EVERYTHING he built was based on Flash's nearly-forgotten frame-locked GRAPHIC-type symbols. (By the way, Sandro Corsaro is now the Creative Director for Disney Online currently releasing his own cartoon series "Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil")

Programming / Animation = Two disparate operations using the exact same program to excel!  How incredibly cool . .. !    As a side note, a day later I was approached by a couple of noobs begging me to teach them more about a Swift 3D development technique I had asked about during an earlier presentation. I shared what I could with them while they requested my contact information, acting for all purposes like I was some kind of code-guru blessing them with my knowledge from upon high . ..   ha ha . . kids these days

After all this, I am currently (at long last) learning the latest incarnation of ActionScript 3.0 (and requisite XML), looking forward to the release of what will essentially be the 11th version of Flash ('CS·5') later this year. I'm diving headlong into those Tomes o' Knowledge once again -- some pictured around this very page. Though a couple of animation books (below) may seem 'dated' now, the principles are sound, and in most cases, the animation methods they describe have stood the test of time, regardless of one's preferred medium. Of special note is the 500-page [!] manual I printed out for 'ToonBoom 5' ◄ This animation program is so widespread, probably half of all animated material seen on TV and movies these days has bounced through it at least once on its way to the big screen. And hey, if it's good enough for the fantastic Adam Phillips (even above Flash!) then I'm all over it !

Lynx!
 Lynx

Meanwhile, until I've got something to Actually Show for all this study time, I'll just stick more globs of clay to this website here and there.. like these snazzy new features: a 'Lynx' page, and the Bold And Exciting New TomboBlogs Index Page, accessible by clicking the YEAR in the upper left of these blog pages! ...Granted, it's not much to look at ·now· . . it is by nature a work in progress and will build up over time.  :-)  And since ANIMATION is the name of the game, I thought it only proper to include a quick photo of the very first 'storyboard' my kiddo & i crafted last weekend! If all goes well, we should be able to produce this and get it posted under 'TomboToons' in a month or so. Of course, I have to learn how to lip-sync animate to our as-of-yet unrecorded audio tracks . ..

 

Storyboard #1

 Storyboard #1
     
     
     
     
book: "Flash Cartoon Animation"
book: "The Animation Book"
   
book: "Animation Now!" (2007)
book: "Elemental Magic"
book: "Dream Worlds"
book: "Foundation Flash Cartoon Animation"
book: "Ideas for the Animated Short"
book: "Hollywood 2D Digital Animation"
book: "Directing the Story"
01  (2010)
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