Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Well... at least it's not Loonatics.

I was told back when my favorite movie that I've never seen came out that they played this brand-new CGI Warner Brothers cartoon featuring Wile E. Coyote & Roadrunner before the show.  Well now it's on the internet and I watched it, and... I guess I'm not sure how I feel about it.  I don't really have any ill-will to the transition from hand-drawn to 3D (I mean it's not a process that I particularly care for to begin with but it could be worse), I just think they could've picked a more interesting cartoon to make.  Take a look for yourself:

Okay!  You've seen it.  Glad you did?  Good.  Me too.  Our relationship will only grow because of it.  Let me break down my own personal opinion regarding this cartoon.

What I liked:  I think they did a great job of avoiding the stiffness that you see a lot of in CG.  These characters stretch and bend and come as close to their hand-drawn counterparts as I've seen.  I think the general mood of the short is pretty spot-on too... I mean I guess it'd be pretty hard to screw up a Wile. Coyote cartoon.

They got that swooshin' animation down!  Mmmm...

What I ... didn't like:  I mean I guess if you don't laugh at the Coyote being hit by a truck the first time you're probably not going to laugh the next fourteen times it happens (I counted).  Is that really a great idea to bring to the table for a new Wile E. Coyote cartoon?
WRITER:  "Ok, remember sixty years ago when we had that gag about the coyote getting hit by a truck?  Let's do that again, but...
DIRECTOR: "... I'm listening."
WRITER:  "But we do it 15 times in 2 minutes.  That's 30x more laughs!"
WRITER:  "... and we'll make it in THREE-DEEEE."
DIRECTOR: "Sold.  We'll call it Coyote Falls for some reason." 
Also, what better screams 3D ANIMATION better than opening on a particle effect?

Living up to the original's particle effect scripting.  Oh you cad, Chuck Jones!
I think what really bothers me about this cartoon is I have no sense of caring what happens to the Coyote.  I'm not trying to say that he was ever that relatable of a character and they ignored the depth of his intrigue or anything, he just never gets HURT.  He just takes one hit after the other after the other after the other after the other and never shows any sign of slowing down or even a scratch on his body.  I know he never technically got hurt in older iterations, but he'd at least have something to show for being blown up or being crushed by a boulder.

It's not like I want to see him get beheaded or anything, but give me a little payoff and a chance to breathe in-between all the bumper denting.  Here's what we get instead:

"Who else looks as bored as I do right now?" 

A sad-faced reaction shot and a black eye are all I'm asking for, folks.  I guess it's harder to render realistic-looking charred coyote fur than it is just to draw it in a cartoon.  Maybe they should've just stuck with that.

DISCLAIMER:  If I seem to hold Looney Tunes on a pedestal, it's generally because I try to ignore everything that happened with the brand after the early 60's when they moved production to DePatie-Freleng Enterprises and beyond.  That includes all the weird and cheap-looking Looney Tunes from the 70's, Space Jam, That Other Movie they did with Brendan Fraser, Loonatics, etc.  However, I do have a special place in my heart for the likes of Tiny Toons and Tazmania.

Loonatics.  Because we're out of ideas.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Yesterday I Fulfilled My Dream of Animating Meat

I'll upload the video once it's all done.

Work's been picking up again lately but I'll do my best to keep everything around these parts reasonably updated 'til things slow down again.

Also, I've started seeing this poster pop up around subways and bus stops around the city lately, and they wonder why it's hard to get people to respect animation as an art form...

"Toemeo... Blowmeo... Glowmeo... Growmeo... Gnomeo?  EUREKA!"

Okay, realistically is there any other way to come up with the idea for that movie other than mispronouncing the word "Romeo?"  Do we really need to word puns on one movie poster?  What does "a lawn way" even mean?  Is that how some people raise their pets?  Who was the clever little scamp who also figured out they could fit the shape of a gnome inside of that title's logo?  Their mother raised them well.  You can tell they paid more attention to the texture on the gnome's feet than they did on the whole concept of this movie.  

At least it will follow proudly in the footsteps of other such CGI fare.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Coming Soon: My Personal Favorite

Very soon I'm going to breakdown shot-by-shot one of my favorite animated scenes of all time.  I've been wanting to do it ever since I started this blog and I'm super excited to finally sit down & put my appreciation to writing.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lost & Foundish: College Animation in 2003

This animation, "The Breakup" was done for my first animation production class back in 2003 with Barry Young.  Since it was all shot on film and there was no easy way to preview the animation paired up with the audio, I didn't have any idea how it'd look or work until the day before the end of class.  I think it still retains some charm, but like much of my animation at the time I'm not really sure where I was going with it.
I can't even remember the name of the old-timey analog device they had us record the audio on, but I remember there was a phone jack in it (in case you wanted to tap someone's phone?  Maybe?) so I just plugged in my house phone & called my roommate's cell to record the audio for this project.  I can't remember how I came up with the sound that the eye makes just before it pops out.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Behind the Scenes: Bounty Storyboards

Here are the original boards I drew up for Bounty back when we started the project.  Some of them are pretty close to how the final turned out while others.... notsomuch.

This part got cut from the final which I was totally fine with.

This section also got cut which I was pretty disappointed about.

Having the chance to animate King Kong and a Godzilla-like monster would've been a lot of fun.

UGH the sumo wrestler was my favorite part and I was super bummed they killed him off.

I was proud of my tiger drawing in the second frame.

The Chilean Miner character eventually got changed over to an MMA wrestler.  'Probably for the best.

I mean c'mon it was going to end with them riding that flying sumo wrestler!  It would've been like poetry but that's life sometimes. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Behind the Scenes: Bounty

More photos from the Bounty project.

We took a lot of test photos to test the perspective of the lenses.  The cardboard in my hand is a car placeholder.

We had to make a couple of trips to the fashion district for fabric.  Fish out of water.

Man and Mannequin.

Originally we were making the set green until we found out they wanted it to be white.

Working with canned snow is frustrating.  There's no better way to put it without using the [other] f-word.

"Aerial" view of the set.

The snow tiger's mouth.

Luke Rotzler doing some animation tests.

We built our own camera rig for shots that required panning.

Different tree variations

Monday, January 10, 2011

Time for some 'LAPSE.

Here's a time-lapse video of us working in the LFS Studio from around mid-November to mid-December.  There are a few days missing here and there because we were a little too busy at times to check and see if the camera was working, but I think you get the gist of what went down.  Weekends are for the weak after all!

... oh and the Kevin Rudolph video made it into the latest edition of STASH!  Hell yes.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It'd probably be best not to leave Hans Bellmer alone with your kids.

Despite the fact that I attended and graduated from Columbia College Chicago back in the mid-aughts, I managed to learn and retain a few bits of information that I found to be useful later in life.  During a drawing class I learned about and revered two artists from the last century, in particular.  One was Chicago-area artist Ivan Albright (whom I'll write about later) and the second was Hans Bellmer (1902-1975). 

From Hans Bellmer's Art Directory biography page:
In the post-war era Bellmer succeeded in rendering the subconscious aspect of sexuality in intoxicatingly hallucinatory dream pictures, working with the precision of the Old Masters and soon supplementing this approach with an infusion of Mannerist influences and beautiful, fluid line which recalls Jugendstil/Art Nouveau.
In Hans Bellmer's mature late work, line is refined to a filigree tracery, the eroticism is even more pronounced, partly because death is now included as the opposite pole of lust.
Like most Americans who enjoy videogames nowadays, I was unwittingly introduced to Bellmer via Silent Hill 2 back in 2001 in the form of these disturbing monsters that moved and groaned erratically.

I chose this over not eating only ramen for two weeks when I was a freshman.  So worth it.
Oh, four legged mannequin monster... it wasn't until the following year in art class that I learned it was all inspired by Hans Bellmer.  Say what you will about Hans, but thank goodness he pursued art and not something like childcare or social services. 

... now go enjoy your Saturday morning cartoons.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sid Seed, Everybody!

What I really do enjoy about working at Lifelong Friendship Society is that it gives me the opportunity to meet and work with some very talented animators and designers from all over the place.  Sid Seed is a fellow animator on staff that we hired on from Brazil last year and he does amazing work.  Seriously, the guy isn't even old enough to legally have a drink yet and he's cranking out music videos like this, starring himself and his yo-yo.

I'm not kidding about that yo-yo.  Sid has some SERIOUS talent.  The man is internationally ranked in the art of the yo-yo.  Just to show you that I'm not hyping the lad up, here's a great video of Sid working his magic out by the East River at dusk (shot & edited by the equally talented, if not in yo-yo's, Pastor Alvarado)

Watch out.  Sid's comin' through and he's going to be BIG.

Sid, Mark ...  and Bridgette.

Armature & Prop Designs for Bounty

These are the original designs I did for the Bounty spot I posted a few weeks back.  Designing the characters wasn't anything new since I've had to make character sheets for animation in years past, but the car was definitely a little trickier since I'm not much of a 'technical' guy.  Maybe I shouldn't say trickier, but technical drawings to me are boring to work on.  There.  I said it.  Wait no... maybe I shouldn't say boring. How about, "not as fun"?

... sadly the Chilean Miner never made it into the final piece.

Props to Erika Bettencourt who did a fantastic job of making all of the armatures and being the personification of glue that held the project together.

You may have noticed that the chinchilla was Shake Weight®-less in the final version.

Props to Craig Grigg who blew our minds with making the car look better than I modeled it.  The man is a living legend when it comes to props, folks.

More behind-the-scenes to come!