Marvel Motion Comics Finalist Eric Hunn

We return with our final Marvel Motion Comics Competition Finalist Eric Hunn, the animator whose Motion Comic "The Worst Part About Getting Your Memories Back" is our Community Choice! Watch it and read our interview!

Where are you from and where do you work (city, studio, or home studio)?

I'm originally from Central New York (the Syracuse area), but currently reside in Marlboro, MA with my beautiful wife, Kristen. Currently, I teach animation classes at Mount Ida College (Newton, Ma), and am also an artist & animator for Tom Snyder Productions (Watertown, MA). In addition, I work in freelance illustration, animation, and video editing.

When did you first become interested in Motion Comics?

I think the first time I saw something in the vein of a motion comic was on The Incredibles DVD. Pixar included some of the animatics they had constructed for the film. These animatics include such perfect timing, and such a variety of motion, detail, and special effects that it almost feels like watching an animated feature! I have since become aware of some of the great motion comics work out there, which I have really enjoyed.
My gold standard, however, still remains those Pixar animatics; they were a large part of the inspiration I used for my submission.

What do you like about Motion Comics?

I really enjoy the minimalist approach one can take with this medium! It feels really freeing to focus on pacing, as does being able to work effectively as a one man crew without getting bogged down in intricate, traditional character animation.
All the same, you’re still challenged with using all of those Disney-refined animation principles – anticipation & follow through, ease in & ease out, secondary motion, etc. – that help the characters naturally come to life. Thanks to the wonderful work of the comic artists, we have been provided with some beautiful artwork that captures the height of an action or emotion – I love finding out how to bring that out through movement.

How did you get started in animation/Motion Comics? Did you have any kind of formal training?

I'm a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology's School of Film & Animation. While there, my main focus was on traditional, hand drawn animation. I was also afforded the opportunity to learn about After Effects, which in turn lead me to explore the finer points of cut out animation. I was highly intrigued by the idea of taking an illustrative approach to my animated images (cut out pieces), while still being able to use traditional animation techniques. In fact, my senior thesis was described as a “moving graphic novel.”

As a professional, cut out animation has been a constant part of my repertoire, especially in situations where I’m the only animator working on a project. It has really become second nature to me, which makes working on a motion comic feel as natural as can be.

What techniques did you like to use in your Motion Comic?

Adobe After Effects is one of my favorite programs, and I used it heavily on this project. One of the things I love using AE for is the ability to add a wiggle expression to your images. It gives things a hand- held look that can really add some flare to an otherwise stationary shot. Keeping things dynamic was also important to me. Holding the view static for too long detracts from the experience, so it became a rule to move the camera every few seconds, and to use effects to break up additional visual monotony (snow, frosty breath, flickering lens flares, etc).

I also wanted to use depth of field to help accent things in certain shots, such as when Wolverine makes that dramatic point at the Hulk ("I'm THE Wolverine!"). I cut up Wolverine's arm so that his hand, forearm, and bicep were different pieces, turned them into 3D layers, and then staggered them forward in space. That way, when the camera moves in it looks more like it's moving past his arm rather than toward a single, flat image (adding varying degrees of blur to the different parts of his arm as the camera moves further enhances this). Those are just a few of the many techniques I employed for this project.

What works of animation, comics, film, or books inspire you and your work?

Wow... too numerous to count! I have wonderful parents that provided me with classic animation at a very young age, which gives me a real appreciation for the “old school.” In particular, I am a huge fan of the old Fleischer Bros. work - Popeye Meets Sinbad the Sailor is one of my favorite cartoons! The innovations that the Fleischers made - particularly with their tabletop setbacks and rotoscoping - are techniques I'd personally love to explore in the future. I am also a huge fan of Chuck Jones - his timing and the subtlety of his animation are skills that I strive to master. I also love the work of Brad Bird, and really take to heart a lot of his philosophy about animation as an art form. And, I am taken with the snappy animation style of Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends - I can't get enough of the way those characters move, pose, and gesture!

As far as comics go, I absolutely love the work of Alex Ross. His paintings are a huge inspiration to me, as is his cinematic style (for similar reasons, I have always loved Norman Rockwell paintings). I also really enjoy the work of Toshiaki Mori, Adi Granov, Jim Lee, and Adam Kubert - their line art is just breathtaking.

What is your ultimate dream?

Honestly, it has felt like a dream to be able to work on this motion comic! I have been in love with superheroes forever; starting around age three, some of the first images I drew were of Spider-Man, Captain America, the X-Men, and the Hulk. To be able to work with them in this capacity brings out the excitement of that three year old again! If I were to get the chance to work with one of the major comic studios - particularly if I were to be on the cutting edge of helping develop this wonderful field of motion comics - I would consider that a dream come true.

I would also love to contribute artwork & animation to the resurgence that's happening in the world of 2D video games. The work that is coming out of companies like Vanillaware is really jaw dropping. As far as long term goals go, my wife and I would love to start our own animation studio - something we've been talking about for years.

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