Sunday, August 04, 2019


It's been forever that I have posted to this site, and the last thing was about my personal short animated piece called Philo.  It was a cathartic experience that let me recapture the joy of animation and find the things that attracted me to the art form originally.

Since childhood I watched cartoons and was moved emotionally by the imagery and the music.  I  saw the potential to touch people in a way that live action movies could not.  Animation seemed then, and now to be the culmination of all the arts: Cinema, music, dance, painting, writing, etc.

As I was making Philo I tried to pay homage to the studios and individuals who influenced me.  I am an admirer of Walt Disney of course, but also the renegades, who broke away from the emulation toward realism, that birthed the stylized look of UPA.  Artists like Art Babbitt, Jim Tyer, Chuck Jones, and writer Michael Maltese, along with John and Faith Hubley, Ward Kimball, Bobe Cannon, were and still are reasons why I became an animator.  Another early influence for these people as well as myself were the works of the early silent comedians like Charlie Chaplin and the great Buster Keaton.

If you are familiar with any of these, you will immediate see the influence.   

Philo from Joel Brinkerhoff on Vimeo.

Monday, August 27, 2018

My Short Film Again...

I have always loved looking at animation production art.  A strong background designer like Maurice Noble who worked with Warner Bros. brought great sophistication to the classic Chuck Jones films.

Design, like animation, is a discipline that people devote their entire careers to, but it has never been a strong skill set for me.  Color and composition are further considerations important to good backgrounds and I'm so glad to be able to work digitally doing much trial and error but not burning through materials and supplies as I grope along.

Making my personal films show how indebted I am to others who went before me and also why the studio system works the way it does.  The burden of all those specialized skills suddenly left to me reveals great weaknesses and areas of insecurity, but it's also an opportunity to explore and grow.

As I make this particular film I'm seeing the influences of individual pioneers such as John and Faith Hubley whose playful loose style still feels fresh, fun and exciting to me.  Like UPA breaking the push toward realism that Disney was doing at the time, I see my film as a departure from the photo-real look of modern C.G. although it too is getting freer in style and more cartoony.

It wasn't intentional but I seem to be reliving my childhood and rediscovering my love of animation and the fun and wonder of it.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Will Vinton Turned 70

I don't know how I forgot to post this but my old boss, Mr. Will Vinton had a 70th birthday celebration this year that I was not able to attend.  I did however paint this portrait for Will with a sculpture of Mark Twain from the celebrated Claymation feature film The Adventures of Mark Twain as my present.

Will is one of the nicest people I've been fortunate enough to meet and so many opportunities were given to me at the Vinton Studios.  I hope Will enjoys many more happy birthdays!

  UPDATE: Unfortunately this was Mr. Vinton's last birthday:

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

New Short and the Graphic Influences

I’ve been working on some pretty stylized character designs for another personal project.  Why I do these things is not rational and is the same reasons, I suppose, an artist does anything.  But, I’m learning what I’m doing is heavily influenced by what I enjoyed as a child and the awe I felt watching animation: moving drawings, imagine that!  My films are stylistically different from each other, each having a graphic look I discovered while growing up in a family of artists.

I can point to individual artists that imprinted me, and with this new project I can see this style grew from the work of designer Ed Benedict who populated Hanna Barbera Studios cartoons from the late 50’s.

The backgrounds are influenced by the rebellion, that sprang against Disney’s realistic literalness, that began with the UPA studio and their embracing of modern art. The high styling of both characters and backgrounds was so popular that even Disney had to incorporate it to appear fresh and relevant.

The animation style I’m trying to work in comes from the Disney artist Art Babbitt who was able to mesh the fluid motion of classical drawn animation with the high stylized designs that was happening at the time. Unlike the limited animation that Ed Benedict's designs were subjected to at Hanna Barbera, Babbitt frequently animated on ones, meaning 24 drawings for every 24th of a second film required, instead of the 12 drawings shot twice which is a common practice, ( it is still recommended that ones be used on very fast actions).  A great example of Babbitt’s integration of fluid classic animation and high styled characters would be his work in Richard William’s The Thief and the Cobbler.

This new project may take some time to finish because I don't have any help on it,but I am having fun drawing just as crazy as I want.  Animation has become play again instead of work.

Below is a clip setting up the conflict between characters.  It's nothing too original but I hope it gets the story going.

Animation clip with scratch track and no sound effects.  

Saturday, March 17, 2018


The trouble with doing a personal film is they can take forever to do.  Real work and real life have a way of eating time and energy from projects that you may want to do, and this short film is one I never thought would be stretched out over years.  The short was fraught with troubles which made it easier to shelf and neglect.  But technology progressed and I was able to solve some of the problems I couldn’t when I first started.  One I’ve never quite fixed is the narration which was completely unusable.  I tried rerecording many times and never could match the inflections and feel of the first tracks.  After filtering the heck out of them, this is the end result.

I’ve always loved Wilhelm Busch and his quirky style.  He reminds me of Edward Gorey to some degree but Busch pioneered some visual jokes which have become cliché standards in cartoons from the golden age of animation.  I wrote about them in this earlier post:    

Here is my faithful adaptation of Wilhelm Busch’s Ice-Peter.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"Welcome To My Daydream" a New Documentary

At last, the whole story of Will Vinton and Claymation is going to be told by filmmaker Marq Evans in the new documentary “Welcome To My Daydream”

This link from Cartoon Brew goes more in depth about the film and its importance in animation history:  

I’m not sure where I first saw “Rip Van Winkle” but it touched me emotionally with that strange beauty good animation has.  I remember these surreal moments in the film where Rip is dancing in the sky with pulsing color blobs set to the beat of the music, and how affecting the song Rip sang to his friend at the end was.   Later, I ran across a 16MM print of the early documentary made in the 70's about Claymation and saw a young Will Vinton with long hair and a full beard, along with Barry Bruce, and I think, Bill Fiesterman, and Joan Gratz.  It must have been during the shooting of “Martin the Cobbler” because it had this great scene where a clay crew of stage hands is frustrating the clay actor playing Martin. The door to the miniature set opens and the giant head of Will himself peeks in to ask how things are going on set.  I knew then and there these were people after my own heart and wanted to work for them one day. 

Not only is Will one of the sweetest people I know, but so many good things have come from the opportunities he made possible for me and many others.  Thank you Mr. Vinton, I look forward to seeing your story continue.  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Best Workstation Yet

It's been awhile since I've posted anything which means I've been busy, but here's an update on my search for ergonomic working in the digital age.

I ran across a workstation that is very similar to mine using the same software, Cintiq and monitor configuration.  The big difference is that I don't have to reach over my drawing to get to my keyboard and that surprisingly makes a real difference.

You can see my system, on the left with the yellow sub on the monitor, can dock menus on the large monitor and leave the Cintiq free for drawing.  My Cintiq is elevated and at a comfortable height and angle for drawing and my keyboard is mounted underneath which is ergonomically better and keeps me from stretching over my drawing to get to.