Artist’s Notebook:
Don Hertzfeldt

08.13.12 Marina Galperina

ANIMAL’s new feature Artist’s Notebook asks artists to show us their idea sketch next to a finished piece. This week, Don Hertzfeldt, cult hero and creator of hand-animated films like Everything Will Be OK and the Academy-Award nominated Rejected, shares the final still of his film I Am So Proud Of You.

Since turning on a generation of YouTube-addicts with dark, humorous shorts years back, his oeuvre has grown into something incredibly emotionally complex, experimental in form and devastating. Go deep. Go a bit insane. Learn a trick. Peek into Don Hertzfeldt’s notebook.

the scribbles there are all designed from the perspective of a camera pointing straight down at the drawings.

most of the movie was framed and shot through little holes in black construction paper, so the big scribbled circle was an approximation of what the shape of that would be for this shot.  the numbers are mostly timing notes:  how long each beat would last,  how long each word would stay on screen, and obviously, how long the entire shot would last.  those numbers in the top right corner are notes on the camera’s actual position on the animation stand, so if i had to reshoot the scene i would know exactly how it had been framed before.  those numbers probably won’t make sense to anyone though because i made up my own system for keeping track of that.

the sun is supposed to be setting throughout the shot,  so you can also see notes on colors scribbled here,  the order in which the colors changed.  those colors were little theatrical gels taped to pens that in turn were taped to cassette tapes to make little flagpoles out of,  and slowly stop-motion animated in front of the lights off screen.

and finally, there’s a pretty big note here about vaseline,  which i smeared sort of strategically on a cel just under the lens to blur a few figures. you can’t go wrong with vaseline.