Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Welcome to the X Sheet

Hi, I’m Michael, and this is my reel.

When I’m teaching an animation class, that is generally how I start the first day. The reel is not to show off, but to answer the question “does this guy know how to do something I would like to do?” While there are already some great blogs out there to present you with examples of fine stop motion animation, my goal is to present video tutorials that explore the methods and principles of how this animation can be created on a minimal budget.

I also give my class a quick review of my career: After graduating from San Francisco State University with a degree in film, animation emphasis, I worked at a stop motion animation studio called Matthews Productions for five years. We made shows for PBS, ABC, and the Disney Channel. The daily quota of footage was pretty high, but it was a great opportunity to develop a bold animation style under considerable creative freedom. This job was followed by eight years at Pixar. Smaller quota, less creative freedom, but I learned a lot working for masters of animation. After that I worked in freelance, games, mocap (Imagemovers Digital), teaching, and video production.

Then last year I thought it would be interesting to apply what I have learned while working in CG to stop motion animation. I started with a couple entries in the 11-Second club. I then started in on a series of shorts for Copic Markers. Now I find that there is an audience for video tutorials on the subject, so as I work through these projects, I will make detailed videos about the production process.

I hope you will consider this blog to be not just a site to view these videos, but also to interact with the stop motion and clay animation community. Post links to your work in comments. Ask questions. Answer questions. Request subjects for future tutorials. Share your recipe for microwaved baked potato and beans (who has time to cook while working on animation?).


  1. you've had such an interesting career, and your work is so varied and brilliant. I was just wondering as a teacher, what advice you would give a student soon to be going into the industry what would be the best way to get started. I still have a year left of my degree which means i have time to create some work with freedom...what areas or techniques do u believe would give employers the best impression of my employability ... here are some links to my blog and vimeo https://vimeo.com/user5480518


    any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated..but i understand your time is precious. Thank you

    1. Hi Laura,
      Very nice collection of work, also varied and brilliant. Studios looks for creativity, which is will covered in your portfolio. They also look for a good grasp of the principles of animation, so I would spend some time getting down the basics of timing and physics. Stop motion needs to be very smooth as well.