IWR Interview - Animator and Artist Edgar Beals
[Edgar Beals is the creator of the award winning Flash animation series, Plickey and Muto. Ed's Plickey and Muto, and many of his other works of animation art, are featured on Wired's Animation Express. If you haven't viewed any of Ed's Flash Animation works [See Links Below] , check them out! You won't be disappointed. This interview was conducted using standard email on 10/23/2002.]
How did you get interested in doing computer animation?
I was working full time as a freelance illustrator and designer in 1998 when I started seeing material on the internet created with Flash. At that time it was mostly fancy interfaces, but I figured I could use it to tell stories. As we now know, tons of people had the same idea at the same time.
Your award winning characters Plickey and Muto remind me of an Alexander Calder mobile come to life. Were you inspired by Calder at all? If not, who or what was your inspiration.
Of course inspiration comes from everywhere and you never know what will come out in your work. I must admit I was only vaguely aware of Alexander Calder's work until you mentioned it. I looked him up on the web and recognized his work right away, so yes, I have seen it. But no, it was never a conscious influence.
Plickey was a design for a paper Mache sculpture that I never made. I had been looking at a book called The Art of Mickey Mouse. It was a collection of work by various artists all doing their own take on Mickey. I wondered what I would have done and sketched my robotic version. He sat there in my sketch book for a couple of years and then one day I looked at him and thought it would be fun to animate him in Flash. I had no idea what he was going to do, but I just dove into Flash to see what would happen. He walked sideways onto the stage and opened his mouth. It was not until that moment that Muto was born, and Plickey got his name.
Have you (did you) ever considered doing a traditional movie animation short of Plickey and Muto or your other computer works?
I have been messing around with animation in various forms since I was a kid. I drew flip books, I made 8mm stop motion films, live action video, and finally 2D computer animation. I'm not sure that TV is ready for Plickey + Muto, but I have worked as a character and background designer for an animated TV show for kids in development called "Crafty Cow" and I am currently working with a producer and a co-author on material for an animated show for grown-ups that we hope will get made some day.
Are your Flash animations easily transferable to film?
My Flash material was all created for the web, (except for a TV commercial I made) and that is where it looks best. There are things you can do to make it more video and TV friendly. As for film, I have no idea.
Has your work ever been on exhibit in museum of modern art anywhere? Do you know if any Flash animations have been on exhibit at a museum yet?
Well, Drive Thru ( http://www.usersinc.com/drivethru.html ) put on a show at a gallery in Chicago. They showed Plickey + Muto along with work by other Flash animators. That was exciting for me.
Several of your works, e.g., Sexxxy Doll, Hey Neighbor and Wenchell Bogum are collaborative efforts. Did you like collaborative efforts or do you prefer to work alone?
I like to collaborate, but I am also a control freak. It's a tricky balance. Some people I just click with and I have no problem working with them and egos don't seem to get in the way. It's amazing when that happens. Mostly, so far anyway, I have worked alone.
From a high level, how do you create your Flash animations? For example, do you draw and then scan your images or do you just use a drawing tool?
I like to get things done as quickly as possible. Drawing on paper and scanning slows things down. I tend to work right in Flash and sometimes I import material from other 2D and 3D drawing applications.
What software do you use to create your music sequencing and artwork?
CoolEdit is my favorite sound editing software. More and more I am drawing directly in Flash, but I also use CorelDraw and a 3D program called Rhino.
Are you a fan of Anime? If so, which series and why?
Not really a fan, no. I missed all that. When I was a kid, it was the Warner Brothers and Hanna-Barbera that ruled the cartoon world. Anime came along later. I have watched a fair bit of it and have often been blown away by the beautifully drawn images. The stories are often a bit too grand and convoluted for my tastes, however.
What projects do you have on the horizon?
I have not done much lately in Flash for myself. I have made a few commercial pieces because I was getting kind of poor doing the art stuff. But I hope to be able to do more of my own work again soon. I have this strange little project going on right now called "Talepipe", which is sort of an open collaborative art web site. It's still taking shape, so I have not really promoted it at all, although there is a link to it on my web site on the "Other Projects" page.
The work I did for That 70's Show was only online for 7 or 8 weeks. It was part of a sweepstakes they had going and they took it down when the contest was closed. Basically it was a 70's style comic book with a bit of animation and sound. Another artist actually drew all the images and I made it all work as an interactive piece.
Are we going to see any more in the Plickey and Muto series? (Please say yes!)
I hope so. I don't feel like I am finished with them yet. I have a few more adventures planned for them. It's just a matter of finding the time and being motivated.
Why on earth were you doing a web search on the “Hilarious House of Frightenstein”? Are you a classic monster movie fan?
Hahaha. Well, as a kid growing up in the 70's in Canada, I have lot's of memories of that wacky show. I always felt sad for Igor because the Sloth would never let him keep any of the pets that Dr. PetVet brought over. My friend Mike (a.k.a. Mr. Mumps of the Urban Surf Kings) and I have often discussed the finer points of HHOF over a drink or two. I was just looking around on the web to see if anyone was doing anything to commemorate the show. That was how I found your site which led me to www.frightenstein.com. It was a real flashback for me! The web is a funny place.
Some of Edgar Beals Animation Stories
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