Musa Brooker 10/5/16

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Musa Brooker (that’s ‘moo-say’) is a Los Angeles based Director, Animator and Producer. Specializing in Stop Motion, the Philadelphia native holds a BFA in Animation from University of the Arts and an MFA in Experimental Animation from The California Institute of the Arts where he was a Jacob K. Javits Fellow.

His directing resume includes the short film The Story of Pines for Participant Media, the web series Laurie’s Stories inspired by the TBS sitcom Cougar Town, and the recent Bratz web series produced by Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and based on the iconic doll brand. In addition to producing much of his own directorial work, Musa has also served as a Producer on several of projects for other filmmakers, including the short film ‘I’m Scared’ based on the work of acclaimed visual artist Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins, and a series of advertising shorts – Transformers VS. G.I.Joe: The Commissary – created for the popular Loyal Subject/Hasbro brand toys.

He has served as Animation Director/Supervisor on commercials for McDonalds, PayPal, Bike Long Beach and Verizon, music videos for Jane’s Addiction and Foo Fighters and was CoAnimation Director during season 8 of the award winning stop motion series Robot Chicken. As an animator, his television credits include The Simpsons, SpongeBob Squarepants, Community, and the award winning Amazon original series Tumble Leaf. Musa helped bring to life the stop motion characters in the Will Ferrell holiday classic, Elf and his commercial work includes spots for Acura, Bacardi, Google, Honda, Kellogg’s, Nationwide Insurance, and Target.

Since 2010, Musa has also been a faculty member at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in the John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts. He has been published in Animation Journal and contributed to The Society for Animation Studies Annual Conference. Prior to his time at USC, Musa taught stop motion in the Experimental Animation Program at CalArts. In his spare time, Musa enjoys listening to Hip-Hop and NPR, visiting Disneyland and voting. He is a nearly obsessive Beatles fan and is still mourning the loss of new episodes of 30 Rock. Despite being allergic to cats, Musa presently finds himself living with three of them. He hopes you brought a sweater.

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29 thoughts on “Musa Brooker 10/5/16

  1. Musa’s speech lets me definitely will including his stop motion class into my Spring elective list! I love stop motion and have been looking forward to make a stop motion shot when the first time I touch the animation. But as always focus on 2d hand draw animation, I do not have chance to try, but I think next semester is the time. I am really appreciate how the puppets are elaborately made and how the characters vividly perform. I reckon that control the character directly by hand in the natural world is kindly hard than paint or control it in CG world(even Musa says both of them are still need strong imagination and many crew to make it in the end of the speech). Cause I know when I animate in Computer, it is easy for me to immediately fix the problem and directly see what I generate by frame by frame painting. But when the stop motion shot is going, it is hard to know what will be create, especially when so many stuffs are need to be animated in each on shot. And there are no that convenient way to fix the problem it create. And also, expect the excellent performance of character, I think Musa also tries many different way to make the stop motion, like the advertisement about the wine, I think the tinfoil woks so nice to be the fire and floating air. and of course the “WineRocket ” itself. The materials are so abstract, but at the same time are also so readable, I think perhaps that is why some experiment technology can be used even into a commercial advertisement, Because it is so readable to the audience. As long as it is very readable, the information contaning on the advertisement can be clearly read by the customs.
    It is so glad to enjoy his film and look forward to take his class in the Spring!

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  2. I have heard many great things about Musa Brooker when I was doing my undergrad in CalArts and when I was interning in Chiodo Bros. I have had many recommendations to take his course so It was great that I finally got a chance to hear him talk. Even though I don’t focus on stop-motion I find one of my biggest struggle as an animator is timing. I feel like a strong understand of timing is crucial in stop-motion since it also so unforgiving in which you can’t do multiple passes. I was amaze how Musa seems to be a master in timing, his performance in stop-motion is so on point. His portfolio of work is very diverse from doing food commercials to Christmas specials. One of my favorite pieces that Musa shared was the live size paper animation where he simulated a room in a cruise ship. It seemed like it was a lot of work but it was so successful. His story how he became a stop-motion animator is encouraging. It was interesting how he first was planning to do 2-D but someone find a love in in stop-motion. Musa seems like such a wonderful professor and animator, I definitely want to take his class later on.

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  3. I really appreciate Brooker coming from a professional industry background but always insisted on directing/making his own films, I think that it is great to have found one’s own voice and to have it heard, that one’s gonna benefit from it even if he works in the industry. It is a creative business after all. I think he has been working on various different projects where the theme, the style and the way it was done all seemed so different, I really appreciate him finding works that let him experiments with different stop-motion techniques and styles, which I see influenced his personal works quite a lot. The fact that he tried to do a bit more CG work but ended up going back to Stop motion only seemed natural to me, I think it is always better to do the work/use the method we truly loved and there will always be opportunities open up for us if we just keep at it.

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  4. Musa is an indomitable spirit. Despite his rigorous schedule and consequential lack of sleep he still gave us an entertaining presentation. His love of craft is definitely relatable as I am a huge fan of the new craft movement but nerdy hipsterness aside, Musa does some stellar work. He’s worked on a lot of shows that I grew to love, (‘Robot Chicken’, ‘Community’) and been able to maintain a healthy portion of personal projects. I found myself at the emotional poles last night as he shared his comedic television work in contrast with his more touching personal work. It’s nice to have such a talented, positive spirit on our faculty and our side.

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  5. Musa is such a cool and talented guy. I love that he just kind of fell into stop-motion initially. It just goes to show that you should always be open to trying out new things an not be afraid to follow work opportunities. I also appreciate that he made a point of encouraging us to work on personal projects. I think that’s important for us as artists to be able to express ourselves from time to time and it can be difficult to do that when you’re working on other people’s stuff. Of all the projects Musa showed us, I was absolutely floored by The Story of Pines. It was so beautiful and heartfelt, and it felt completely different from anything else he showed us. Kudos to Musa for having such a broad range of talent and artistic styles.

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  6. Stop motion animation seems to be a rare sight these days. In a world where the animation business industry embraces the crispness of 3D CG animation, other animated forms are left little room then there was previously. Of course, that is not to say 3D computer films are bad for the animation industry. However, Musa Brooker does leave me wondering when not only stop motion animation will have time to bask in the sun, but other forms of animation will. I would like to see a reemphasis on diverse animation styles within the industry, and Musa Brooker’s work in stop motion is an argument in itself that diversifying animation would broaden animation interest.

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  7. Musa is a very warm and awesome person to be around. I’m very happy that he is producing more personal work these days and I thought that ‘The Story of the Pines’ was both heartwarming and informative in it’s story-line. The piece from LACMA blew my mind. I can’t imagine working on a stop motion piece of that magnitude and it looks so flawless in relation to the movement. I was also tickled pink to hear about Robot Chicken and the other wacky stuff that he has animated, directed and produced. And the car drift/dismantling was out of control. Musa I can’t wait to see more of your work.

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  8. I was sitting right next to this amazing animator at that day and didn’t know he is the next speaker until he told us don’t leave LOL. Amazing stop motion pieces and really professional work! I can see that the true love for stop motion of the artist even he said that he was struggled to not to fall too deep into a kind of animation that he loved and good at. It’s normal that a man find something they can do and quickly doing all of their work by that. But the experimental spirit of Musa really inspiring and encouraging. I often doubt myself that if I was good at something or if it’s good for my career or life. But it doesn’t hurt to try, does it? I guess by Musa’s wonderful speech, I got the courage to do the things that I want to do and let it happen. Just wait and see what gonna happened next after real trying and great effort.

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  9. I really appreciated having Musa Brooker’s speech tonight. He is so talent. Nowadays, animation industry around the world embrace the thriving technique in CG world. What surprise me is that Musa still choose to be stop motion artist. In his works, I can see lots of delicate movement in the animation and also his unique style. Especially the music video that combine live action and stop motion is really interesting. I was surprise that these both two artistic methods can blend with each other so perfectly. Another work, The Story of Pines, describing the story about giving and receiving is really charming. And I really like the voice over and art style in that animation.

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  10. Musa very much seems like a sort of animation nomad, traveling from place to place following where the work is, having a hand in a variety of stop motion projects. I very much respect stop motion animators, because I simply find myself not having the patience for that kind of work, instead favoring the ability to “make endless revisions” in CG (a CG practice that Musa isn’t as fond of). However, that isn’t to say I don’t sometimes crave the immediacy of getting something accomplished in one take like stop motion, though. Musa’s advice that it will be more difficult to make our own work post-graduation and that we should take advantage of our time here to tell the stories that are important to us was a reminder I needed to hear – for me, learning new animation techniques, it’s been tempting to make “fun” work for the assignments this semester as opposed to work that has depth and real meaning. Made me realize I needed to re-center myself. I was blown away by the beauty of “The Story of Pines” that Musa directed; seeing a piece of stop motion like that that captures a different kind of magic than CG can is awe-inspiring.

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  11. Stop motion animation class with Musa is one of the classes that I am definitely going to take during my years in USC. I have always been interested in stop motion animation but never really had a chance to experience or get to know much about this technique. I have heard so many great things about Musa, his works and his class and after the seminar with him, I have to say I was really moved by his works. I was blown away by how he is able to bring out the fun in every piece of his work, not matter how simple the story is, from shorts to series to commercial and even music videos. That is the strength that I really want to work on. I really appreciate his sense of humor. Musa’s works really show that animating or character performance plays a big part on supporting the mood and tone of the story. A fun story line can really be supported by some fantastic performances. His sense of timing is perfect. He pays attention to the small details that can help adding more fun to the film. I completely agree with him when he encouraged us to use this time in school to work on our personal works because it really is the best time when we can really be and express ourselves through our animations. I am thankful for the wonderful sessions and looking forward to be in his class later on.

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  12. Stop motion animation is one of the field that I like very much but unfortunately I am not talented enough to make one so I admire stop motion animators very much. It was my first time watching Musa’s work and I think he is fantastic. The thing about his work that attracted me the most was using all the abilities of a puppet to animate. I really enjoyed the Community episode that he showed us, the gestures and facial expression of the characters was incredibly good.

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  13. Musa is one of my favorite professor here. It’s the first time that I have the chance to take the stop motion class and it is great! It’s nice to see he goes through different styles from different cases. He even shows us the first stop motion he ever made! It’s nice to see how he started the thing he loves so much. From clay, puppet, paper cuts to daily use objects, he made great performance on every of them. He also shared every important experience to us and opens up for us to ask any questions. I’m totally agree with the reason why he loves stop motion. Sometime it feels more accurate while you can actually touch the characters and perform them with your own hands. It is an initial and quiet experience to make the stop motion. It’s hard to clearly explain the feeling but I think I got the idea.

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  14. Musa’s speech has inspired me to explore stop motion a little further and take a chance at his classes. The power of stop motion is not only the ability to physically control every aspect of a shot, but also the tactile feeling of the paper or cloth or clay used in the animation. The texture of the material brings so much extra personality to the character that one really needs to consider these design choices when making characters. The most surprising piece is the one with all of the large paper furniture. I never knew that could also be considered to be stop motion. I also really appreciate that he showed the Lone Pine short film he directed. It’s really nice to see how he grew from a stop motion animator to a director.

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  15. I’ve heard a lot of about Musa from my classmates, and It was very interesting to listen to his presentation. It was happy t know that his works were featured in the movies and TV show I like, Elf, Spongebob, and Robot Chicken. And I liked the music video of Plain White T’s.
    It is fantastic that he can animate characters so vivit and cute, his works are very likely accepted by mass audience which connect them to art of stopmotion animations.

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  16. Musa Brooker makes me want to take the stop-motion classes offered at USC. I’ve heard good things about Musa and so it was great to finally put a face to the name while also seeing the breadth of his portfolio. I was impressed by how Musa always seems to be evolving within the medium of stop-motion, as he changes techniques and styles to adapt to the diverse goals of different projects, from the Honda commercials to the surprisingly funny Bratz web series. The most memorable portion, however, was when he discussed his part in creating a stop-motion commercial with an actual car. As someone who is interested by the role of scale in art, I would love to learn more about the logistics of that project.

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  17. I’ve been so curious to learn more about Musa and his ideas because I’ve understood that he has a history of converting students to stop motion. I can definitely see why. The case he made for stop motion being perfect for the “age of artisan bread” really struck me. In an age of increasing smart phone and computer obsession, it makes sense that there would be a big movement to see work that conveys real-world weight and tactility. I was REALLY amazed to see that fine art piece he did. I failed to write down the name of the artist who led that project– did anyone catch his name? That project looked incredibly intense!

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  18. I enjoyed Musa Brooker’s presentation, and I admire how much talent he has. His stop motion animation give me a super impression, the interaction between characters are smooth and life like. The characters are funny and attractive, really makes the audience feel they were alive. The piece “The story of Pines” is very touching. It is gorgeous, beautiful story with very well crafted paper cut animation. I wish to see more of Musa’s impressive works in the future.

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  19. I was happy to see an artist who is actually working in stop motion company because stop motion is such an unusual area to work for. Also, I thought stop motion is always set on table which is small size of art work, but he showed me how stop motion can be done without limited size of place such as the commercial for the car company(I forgot the name of the company). We all know how hard making stop motion animations is, but I was happy to see he likes working for it. I am looking forward he shows us more fun and great works!

    Thank you!

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  20. Listening to Musa Brooker experience through Stop motion gave me a whole new perspective about the hassle of the animator’s live outside the School, and also an idea about how hard it can be to pursue your own particular point of view. Nevertheless, watching Musa trajectory until his latest personal work, served as a prove that every work experience in animation is also an learning experience that could be use later in your personal work. On the other hand, was pretty cool to see the work of one of my classmates on the big screen.

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  21. Musa!!!

    Oh man. Where do I start with Musa. Musa is such an inspirational artist and animator. He is also a fantastic and encouraging professor. I was very luck to work with Musa on BRATZ and the Verizon shorts. I learned a lot about the stop motion studio process and I, of course, learned a great deal about animation. The greatest thing I learned from Musa was to learn to stick with what you love to do and not mold yourself to what is big in the business right now, although I feel that stop motion is making a strong come back. And Musa is just awesome because he’s a huge Beatles fan and that makes working with him that much better! There is so much more I can say about Musa, but its difficult to put down all of these thoughts. I really look up to Musa and I hope to work on some future projects some time!

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  22. Man, how do I follow that Espe?! I guess a good start would be, I couldn’t agree more!!

    Musa is such an encouraging professor and helped me realize that your standards of success should never be based on other people’s standards of success! It’s honestly a breath of fresh air when I’m reminded not to compare myself to others, which in an industry where competition for jobs is high, is sometimes hard to remember – so thank you Musa, never get off your soapbox because it genuinely helps!! It’s so much fun and so entertaining to watch Musa’s animations!! His character’s personalities are extremely appealing and the performances of those characters are so expressive and brilliantly executed (even with/especially when those characters are inanimate objects)!! It was great to hear not only about Musa’s success in the industry, but also how he navigated the more unpleasant (MTV) experience. Hello, CTAN 551!!

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  23. I like this style of cartoon animation very much. So this seminar was given me a deep impress. Because make this kind of animation can always give many people good mood. Bring happiness to everyone is a holy things. I was impressed by the film of the tree and the birds. The song in the background is nice. He use stop motion and vividly tell a good story. I was surprised by the water in the stop motion film, it looks real. At last, thanks for sharing!

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  24. I really enjoyed Musa’s presentation tonight. I was impressed by how he is evolving within the medium of stop-motion, and the method he changes and adapts to diverse projects, it seems that he always let himself experiments with different techniques and style. Besides, I was impressed by how great he can manipulate timing. His character’s personality are very convincing and appealing.
    Thank you for sharing and looking forward to see his work in the future.

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  25. I heard about Musa a lot from classmates who are stop-motion animators. I have a little bit stop-motion experience before, for me animating a real character is harder than draw them out. And sometimes the mistakes of animating would make artist going crazy. But Musa has talent on stop-motion, he is really good at performance. His works are so impression and convincing. When I watched the film he showed, I really on journey with the character he made. I’m a craft person as well, I like making some little cute and pretty stuffs. I know how interesting it is, so when he showed every different technique like clay, paper-cut or just the real object in our life, I can feel the passion of making them alive! Thanks Musa for sharing so much fun with us!

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  26. I also have heard so much about Musa from the stop-mo students, and was lucky to meet with him briefly in person/via email before his presentation, so I was really excited to see this. I always love seeing an artist early works, so I was glad he started with his first film and continued to his current work. It was really fun seeing the change and growth in his technique, but the feeling I got from all of his work was his passion and how alive he makes his characters. Even with the stop-motion of the room swaying back and forth, you really got a sense of weight and as if you were on a boat or experiencing that event.

    The film he showed, that he worked on with A Fine Frenzy, made me tear up at the end. I bought that album a few years ago and love the songs, so it was such a pleasant surprise to see Musa’s film – I didn’t know they had done that. The paper cutout animation worked so well with the story and the music – he really breathed life into them and made a wonderful film. I left the seminar feeling inspired, wanting to make things, and to experiment.

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  27. Musa’s presentation of his work was great. I love to see his work, and that he is always so open to share his journey. Such an inspiration to all students and professionals. I appreciate that Musa teaches and informs in such a warm and open setting. I have had the honor of taking Musa’s class. I can not say enough great things about his stop motion classes, except that anyone interested in animation should take them. That is my soap box. One thing I gathered from his class and his presentation is that Musa has a self confidence in who he is as an artist/ animator. This is hard to put into words. I think Yu Yu, and Sequoyah touched a little on this in their above statements. Musa will share his early work with everyone, because it shows where he came from artistically, but this isn’t what I mean by confidence. Something Musa said to me once. My question was… as a professor how do you feel about training potential competitors in your field? I am not sure these were his exact words, but Musa’s answer was, “I am not really competing”. This sounds like a cocky attitude as I read my own writing, but be assured Musa confidence does not come from a false front. It is my understanding that Musa does his work in animation through sheer passion for his craft rather than competition with others. This is why his teaching style is so effective.

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  28. Musa is such an encouraging professor and helped me realize that your standards of success should never be based on other people’s standards of success! Nevertheless, watching Musa trajectory until his latest personal work, served as a prove that every work experience in animation is also an learning experience that could be use later in your personal work.It’s nice to have such a talented, positive spirit on our faculty and our side.

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  29. I am a big fan of “robot chicken”, and I feel Musa’s talent in this “colorful youth violence and humor and Satire” show. Today, a large number of CG animation flooded all platforms, stop motion animation “golden age” has gone. But he found a suitable content, so stop motionin the type created a new genre. To tell the truth, I always wanted to do some show like “robot chicken” in China

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