A technical question for Peter Chung

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Mr. Chung, I just discovered this web page, I wasn't able to read everything, so I really hope this isn't the hundredth time you've been asked this question. I was drawn to Egon Schiele's line work before I first watched Aeon,so I was instantly in love with your animation style. Everytime I watch the Liquid television short episodes, I'm totally amazed with them, I have no concept how you do it.

Every single frame is like a perfect schiele drawing, seemingly pulled out of thin air. It's amazingly fluid linework, with all these tiny nuances. I don't have a clue how you do it. I guess my question is, what would your advice be to somebody who wishes to be able to draw in this way? I know the most likely answer is "be born a genius and practice like hell", but do you have any tips as to what to pay special attention to with drawing, or any tip in this direction?

It occured to me that even Egon Schiele needed to have a model in front of him to base his drawings on, did you ever use filmed reference of live people for the Aeon animation? Aeon Flux is the animation I respond to the most, visually and stylistically. I hope you won't mind answering me, I understand if you don't want to divulge your secrets.

David Meng

-- David Meng (davidmeng_2000@yahoo.com), August 05, 2001


um, I don't think Peter would have drawn the pencil sketches that were used for the cels for Aeon, that is too big a job for any 1 person. The actual show was produced by a studio.

-- William (stateofflux@yahoo.com), August 05, 2001.

Yeah. I realize Peter Chung doesn't pencil an entire animation by himself. The creator of an animated feature has to do some amount of preliminary work to set the visual style and movement in the animation.

There's this amazing subtlety to the line work in the Liquid TV Aeon shorts you don't often see in other people's work. It's a unique thing Peter Chung brought to Aeon, obviously since he created the show. I was hoping to find out what artistic processes Peter Chung goes through in order to be able to do the incredible feat of marrying expressionist line work with his intensely dynamic animation. For instance, I'd like to know, when he or his animators constructs the line drawing of a figure, does it start by drawing the lines of thrust, and draping these with the muscle shapes, or are the characters rendered as a series of contour lines? How is it done with the grace and mind-boggling balance of angles and curves that it has, frame for frame? I realize one person doesn't do an entire show by his or herself. My question wasn't how one person can produce a show like Aeon Flux.

-- David Meng (davidmeng_2000@yahoo.com), August 05, 2001.


It's really impossible to answer your questions in a few words. It's a bit like asking a guitarist to explain in words the key to his technique and style.

I can say that we never used live models or photographic reference during the production.

It's also true that I personally did a great deal of the layout and animation on the LTV shorts. I had to, there was no money for animators! In fact, I was the sole key animator on the episode "Tide". I did the animation for that four-minute short in four weeks (I barely slept). As usual, some clean-up work and all the in-betweening was done by assistants. As for the half-hour episodes, "The Purge" contains the largest proportion of my animation.

Of course, William is right, that many artists contributed to the animation overall. You'll notice wild inconsistency in the quality in the half-hour episodes. The great thing about working on T.V. shows is that everything has to be done very fast. There's no time to shoot tests and refine the motion. It forces you to sharpen your instincts and trust them. Ask any artist, and he'll tell you not to think too much about what you're doing as you're doing it. It's the surest way to stifle spontaneous expression. (That's not to say that a great deal of thought doesn't go into the writing and planning stages.)

-- Peter Chung (neo830holy@orgio.net), August 06, 2001.

Peter-Thanks very much.

-- David Meng (davidmeng_2000@yahoo.com), August 06, 2001.

"Tide" has always drawn my eye more than the other shorts -- I suppose this is why. And, of course, "The Purge" is visually stunning. I have to agree with David in saying that there's something intangible about your style, Peter, right down to the most 'insignificant' movements, that makes it irresistible. Great work.

On lack of sleep: I have to wonder if sleep deprivation somehow fuels creativity (or caffeine, but that's for another thread). I find some of my best work on late nights, and sometimes it flat-out prevents me from sleeping.

-- Mat Rebholz (loquat@csranet.com), August 06, 2001.

or you think it is the best work you have done......until you have got some sleep and realise what it is really like ;-)

-- William (stateofflux@yahoo.com), August 08, 2001.

Sleep-deprivation definitely impairs judgement, William. I remember at the architecture studio some of the world's worst decisions were made at 4 AM. Course, a few of the best were, too...

-- Charlie Princeton (bebop432@hotmail.com), September 26, 2001.

Speaking of sleep deprivation and Tide and the Purge and all reminds me, I have this great cel from the Purge, and it has the best coloring and inking. The lines are very well done and her face is actually shaded in parts, whereas I haven't seen any others that were. Also Aeon looks extremely dynamic. A sure sign of Chung if you ask me. Any chance Peter himself ever did these?..he says he did most of the work on the Purge.

-- Barb e. (Suesuebeo9@cs.com), September 27, 2001.

You know now that you mention it, the animation does resemble Egon Schiel! I love his work too! Especially "The Family". I can see how Schiel might inspired some of the images.

-- Euphoric Industry (brian@bbmail.co.uk), December 10, 2001.

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