We’re wrapping up the first season of Cartoon Brew TV today with a spectacularly animated student short called To the Moon (2008) created by Jacob Ospa at the School of Visual Arts. The dialogue-less film follows a British adventurer’s journey to the moon (which bears a striking resemblance to Ralph Kramden). Ospa’s amazing grasp of cartoon animation, with shades of Tex Avery and Bob Clampett throughout, is made all the more incredible by the fact that he was only twenty-one years old when he made the film. We expect to be hearing a lot more from him in the coming years.
If you have a question for Jacob, he’ll answer them in the comments section. And if you’d like to find out more about his work, visit him at JacobOspa.com. Below are some notes about the film from the director:
I first got the general idea for this cartoon back in my third year at SVA (School of Visual Arts) when I read an article about The Great Moon Hoax of 1835, in which the old New York Sun published a series of articles claiming that an astronomer had discovered fantastical life on the moon when he looked through a powerful new telescope. I thought, “Gee! What if the newspaper articles were actually accurate and someone was actually intrigued enough by the discovery to actually go to the moon and actually make contact!”
At first I wanted to think of a somewhat scientifically plausible way to get fictional 19th century explorer Professor G.H. Emerson to the moon, but when it came time to storyboard I decided to throw reality out the window and have him use a hot-air balloon. I also altered the “life on moon” angle. I think I finished the first storyboard some time in August or September ‘07, but I really don’t remember. What I do remember is having a tough time coming up with a good beginning and ending. It was difficult to reconcile the differences between the explorer and the moon.
For the look of the film, I wanted it to have a somewhat dreamlike quality, especially in the scenes in space. At first I intended to draw everything on paper and scan it in and color it in Photoshop, but I just wasn’t happy with the line quality I was getting. Instead, I decided that I would ink everything in Flash. I soon realized however, I would never finish it that way and decided to draw everything directly into the Flash using my Wacom tablet. It was very tempting to use all of those wonderful tricks and shortcuts that Flash offers, but I resisted as much as possible. Daniel Neiden (a friend of the family, a composer, and a Cantor) came up with the idea of using Holtz’ “The Planets” as the basis for the musical orchestrations. He brought in Charles Czarnecki to do the arrangement and composition. Charles and I worked together on timing the animation to the music, and vice-versa. Doug Crane was a great advisor who gave me good advice and lots of encouragement.
Looking back on it, there are a ton of things I wish I’d done differently, but I won’t go into too much detail with that. The biggest one is that I wish I’d kept it shorter and simpler with quicker pacing. I had only managed to finish coloring everything on the actual day of the screening. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to transfer it in time. I can’t tell how embarrassing it was to look up at it on that big screen with every single jagged edge (due to not working at a higher resolution) blown up to gargantuan proportions for all to see, seeing unfinished20lo-res rough animation, quite a bit of sloppy inking and background rendering, the limited animation in many places, and so on. I always intended to work further on it and really finish it, but after not working on the film for over half a year I want to move on. Despite all of that, I’m still proud of what I did accomplish, and of how much I learned.