Brett McCoy (idragosani) interview

1. I see you are a member of SCA. For the people here that don’t know
what that is, tell us about it.

SCA stands for Society for Creative Anachronism — http://www.sca.org
— an international educational and historical organization whose
purpose is to teach medieval and Renaissance history through living it
by wearing the clothes, wearing the armor, eating the food, and so on.
While the SCA tends to focus on Western Europe, there are also sizable
groups who focus on Middle Eastern and Far Eastern history as well.

> 2. You have an extensive music background. Can you summarize that for
us?

Well I have been studying music since I was in high school, although I
have never been a professional musician. I have studied many different
musical styles, including jazz, blues, Middle Eastern, celtic,
classical & symphonic, heavy metal, and so on. I play guitar also, but
can compose for other instruments and have been studying film scoring
and sound design for the past couple of years.

> 3. Can you give us a music tip for our animation shorts?

Ummm… hire me to write your music?

If you want to be good and avoid copyright infringment, I recommend
using royalty free music if you can find it. The Classical Music
Archives — http://www.classicalarchives.com/ — has tons of MIDI
files you can download and use for music. You will need audio software
for recording the MIDI into audio files. If money is tight, I
recommend Reaper — http://www.cockos.com/reaper/ — which is free for
non-commercial use, and can do a lot of the same things Sonar or Pro
Tools can do for a lot less money. It’s great for mixing sound FX as
well!

> 4. What goals do you have in stopmotion animation?

To help keep the art alive! I have loved hand-made animation since I
was a kid, meaning stop-motion and hand-drawn 2D, and have been active
the past couple of years in both activities. My goals are to
independently produce short films that are great art and are also
entertaining (the two don’t always go hand in hand!), and also show
that you don’t need Hollywood and millions and millions of dollars to
do it. Most of what is coming out Hollywood is stunningly photographed
crap anyway. ;-P

> 5. What is your biggest weakness now in this craft, and how do you
work around it?

Mainly experience and lack of time. I have much of the gear in place
that I need, including software and cameras, now it’s just fitting it
all into my schedule (my “day job” is as a software engineer, and that
can sometimes intrude into leisure time). I tend to be a perfectionist
and don’t want to just slap stuff together for the sake of getting
stuff on YouTube. I’d rather spend 3 years making one great film than
crank 10 crappy pieces in the same amount of time, ya know? But this
can be a hindrance as well, because it leads to impatience and
frustration when things don’t come out the way I want.

> 6. With more and more people having access to computer programs that
work for animation, how do you think it will affect this art form?

I think it makes it more accessible, especially for those who are
doing hand-made animation. Unfortunately, it makes animation too
accessible and a lot of people use the software tools and think it
will do the work for them… and now witness how much lousy stuff
there is out there (especially when Flash is involved). Unfortunately,
the same attitude has hit the music industry… someone thinks they
can get Pro Tools or Reason and expect to have these things do the
work for them. The result is manufactured art that all sounds or looks
the same with very little ingenuity or creativity behind it.

> 7. What draws to you to stopmotion as compared to 2-d drawn
animation?

Well, as I said earlier, I also love handmade 2D animation and have
been hard at work studying that and trying to get my skills to a level
where I can produce it the way I want to produce it. I have always
loved stop-motion since I watched King Kong and the Sinbad movies as a
kid growing up in the 70s, and even through the present day it still
fascinates me. Sure, CG animation is amazing, especially the stuff
coming out of Pixar or Weta Digital. But as a pure artform, CG just
does not have the character or feel that a stop-motion animation has.
CG is too slick looking for me, everything looks ‘plastic’ and
everything moves too fast.

> 8. Few of us have professional studios, how can we improve our music
quality?

Well, as I said above, having a decent DAW (digital audio workstation)
is a good start. A lot of people have Audacity, which is good for some
things, but an application like Reaper or Sonar will really help with
mixing and syncing audio and video. Most, in fact, provide timecode
and fps settings so you can break down your audio frame by frame,
which is essential for foley and lip-synch work. There is a bit of a
learning curve for DAWs, though, but it is worth the effort.

Another application that was designed for film work is Sony Cinescore
http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/cinescore. It provides thematic
loops of music that you can piece together without having to do any
composing. I’ve played with it a little bit, it’s pretty neat.

> 9. What would be a great compliment after seeing your work?

“That made me cry” or “I laughed so hard I peed my pants”

> 10. write and answer your own question.

10. What animated films do you have in the works?

Well, I am in the pre-production stages of a short animation called
‘Tulk’ which will be very ‘Czech school’ in tone (and indeed, the
music will be based on Czech polka music as well as some of the works
of Smetana). I have a couple other things in the works (one is a
collaborative project for which I am writing the score). I also want
to produce a series of very short animations (less than a minute)
called ‘Tales from the Perilous’, which will be more one shot gags in
the style of Gary Larson, Charles Addams, etc. I had originally
intended these to be 2D animation but may do both 2D and stop-motion
(and when I say 2D, I *always* mean traditional hand-drawn 2D).
Actually, for ‘Tales’, I was wanting to do it more as a collaborative
thing, with lots of people providing ideas, music, animation, etc.

— Brett
————————————————————
“In the rhythm of music a secret is hidden;
If I were to divulge it, it would overturn the world.”
— Jelaleddin Rumi

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