Since we launched Animation-ish in 2008, it's been exciting to see how it's been used in creative ways. It's been especially awesome to see internationally published author, storyboard artist, and Hollywood animator Jason Lethcoe take to it so professionally. His studio, Wizardtree Animation, calls themselves "an animation studio that spreads the joy of what we love through original content creation." A perfect match for FableVision software, don't you think? We reached out to him to see a little bit more about him, his work with Animation-ish, and beyond. Watch: Jason Lethcoe's Mr. Mimbly.
FableVision (FV): Tell us a little bit about your background -- what made you want to go into animation?
Jason Lethcoe (JL): I've loved animation since I was a little kid, especially the old Disney cartoons. As an adult, it was a real treat to get to work at Disney and several other studios and to get to draw Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and many other characters I grew up with when I was young. I got to work with some of the artists that actually knew Walt Disney! They really taught me a lot when I was there.
Now, I have my own studio, Wizardtree Animation, and I get to draw and animate the things I love every day. I also write books for kids!
FV: What are three cool things about yourself?
JL: (1) I once slid down the French Alps on my belly while wearing a Hefty trash bag. Kids, don't try this at home. (2) I've spent the night in a haunted hotel and lived to tell the tale. (3) I'm a member of a secret society called the Brotherhood of Thaumaturgic Cartographers and we went on a real life search for Sasquatch. I won't tell you what we found... But let me just say it was amazing.
FV: How did you find out about our Animation-ish software?
JL: I really like Peter Reynolds' illustrations and stumbled upon his FableVision site. Being an animator, the Animation-ish software looked so fun to try, I had to download it. I've been hooked on it ever since!
FV: What makes Animation-ish a unique software?
JL: There are many professional grade programs out there that are so filled with "bells and whistles" that they don't focus on the most important part of creating traditional animation... the drawing! Animation-ish has such a friendly, easy-to-use interface that it makes it easy for beginners or even pros to sit down and start making cartoons. I absolutely love it and prefer it to some of the vastly more expensive programs I've worked with.
FV: Who is Mr. Mimbly?
JL: Mr. Mimbly is an ambassador of goodness, a little magician with a magic mustache that tries to help everyone around him with his unique abilities. He's a character I came up with for a book series I've been writing and he really came to life when I started to feature him in short, 30 second cartoons that feature positive and encouraging messages. His design style is similar to the cartoons I loved growing up as a kid in the 1970's, borrowing heavily from cartoony approaches like Rocky and Bullwinkle.
The philosophy at Wizardtree is to promote the positive people, places and things we love. Our motto is, "An acorn, lovingly planted, will produce a mighty oak" and we try to put love and goodness at the forefront of our business.
Sometimes we create what we call a "FAN-vertisement" about a product just because we think its great. This is done purely to promote and share something awesome with others and give something back to the company or person that inspired us.
So, I'm currently directing several projects for classrooms and also doing some work for Hollywood. But Mr. Mimbly is our character mascot, Wizardtree's "Mickey Mouse," and his good hearted reminders about a positive way to live keeps us centered on the reasons for what we do.
FV: What kind of art inspires you?
JL: I love illustrations that feature lively line work and simple, judiciously placed color. Most of the work Wizardtree does reflects this style.
FV: What kind of projects are you working on now?
JL: There's a longer Mr. Mimbly story I'm animating, all with Animation-ish. I also recently finished creating a bunch of Tom and Jerry animatics and some work for DreamWorks on an undisclosed project.
We've done several projects for Wireless Generation and are also hard at work on many new and inspiring short cartoons and commercials. I've found that in this fast paced world of social media and tweets, 30 seconds is often the perfect length to tell a simple, thought provoking story or concept.
All in all, I'm having fun every day and I really love what I do!