Friday, April 30, 2010

What the hell is SNORFIN?



TBS has a new animated series premiering in June called "Neighbors From Hell". At Turner Studios, we are animating commercials, promos and shorts advertising the launch of this new series. I've animated and boarded a few of the on-air commercials, but the main project I've been assigned to is a series of shorts for the SNORFIN.com website. The first short we did is online now at www.snorfin.com.

Wait... you don't know what SNORFIN means? Well Satan's new video series will help you learn all about it! Go check it out!

Read More... After the Jump!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Steve Whitmire Lecture and Workshop at the Center For Puppetry Arts

My wife Liz and I had the great fortune of attending a once-in-a-lifetime event for any Muppet fan. On January 9th and 16th, Steve Whitmire, the Muppet performer behind Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat, Wembley Fraggle, and many others was giving a lecture and holding workshops to teach the Muppet way of puppetry for video. Having this chance to hear Steve's thoughts on the Muppets, and to watch him work his magic with puppetry was tremendous. It was truly an amazing experience that we will remember always.

There was absolutely no photography, videotaping, or recording of any kind allowed, so what follows here is a combination of mine and Liz's notes having attended the lecture twice, and scribbling and doodling as fast as we could. And there's still so much more that will not come across by just reading these notes. Steve is a very funny and engaging speaking, and he is a fantastic teacher. We learned so much in such a short time, and we laughed and had so much fun puppeteering along side the master.

And be sure to listen to Steve Swanson's excellent "Muppetcast" podcast for so much more coverage of Steve's appearance, including a round table discussion of the lecture with special guests... us!

Muppetcast Episode #146

So, without further ado...

Steve Whitmire: Perspectives “The Sentient Puppet”
The Center for Puppetry Arts
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010


LECTURE - Facts and Theories of the Muppets

What clues indicate consciousness in people? It’s the way they move. And can be they way they don’t move. Muppets are sentient because they move when they have a reason to move. Movement can be subtle or exaggerated, acting or reacting.

Clues to life (How do you instinctually know someone is alive?):
Motivations behind movements. Respond and comprehend. Individual reactions to surroundings. CONSCIOUSNESS!

When Jim Henson was originally going to sell the Muppets to Disney, one of his main reasons for the deal was that he wanted the Muppets to live on forever and have a legacy, and he felt Disney was best at this. He also was going to be assuming a Creative Head position for Disney (much like John Lasseter) and was thinking that he wouldn’t be able to perform Kermit with all of his new responsibilities. So, unbeknownst to Steve Whitmire, he talked with Frank Oz about Steve taking over Kermit. So after Jim’s death this was how they knew that Jim saw the Muppets continuing on without him.

Kermit was such a strong character that when Steve put on the puppet, it was as if he suddenly was supposed to have all the answers. It was as if he were at the center of a wheel with all of the spokes pointing at him.


Puppetry - Manipulating an inanimate object in order to give it the appearance of having movement not inherent to its own mechanism.

Muppets are not the Energizer Bunny. They have an appearance of actual life, an organic existence. They are a conscious inanimate object.


The Anatomy of a Muppet:
The Muppet’s body is the puppeteer’s forearm.
Elbow – Feet
Lower Forearm – Waist
Upper Forearm – Shoulders
Wrist – Neck
Hand – Skull
Fingers - Mouth


Hierarchy of consciousness:
The Triune Brain (3 part brain)
1. Reptilian Brain (Pre-conventional) – Natural functions, breathing, heart beat, fight or flight reaction. Can be associated with the color red. The character Animal fits in this category. Frank Oz described Animal’s motivations as only 3 things: Drums, Sex and Food.
a. Famous psychiatric test for very young children. A paddle is held up with one yellow side and one red side. The child is shown both sides and made to understand that one side is yellow and the other is red. Then the child is shown the yellow side and is asked what color do you see? The child says yellow. Then without changing the paddle is asked what color do I see? The child will still say yellow, as they cannot yet take the point of view of another.

2. Limbic Brain (Conventional, Mammalian) – Form relationships (Communities, Groups, Towns, Nations). Emotions. Care for their young. Solve problems. Can be associated with the color blue. Sam the Eagle falls into this group. Patriotic to a fault. No weirdos. No Canadians.
a. Children experience the “terrible two’s” when they reach this stage. They suddenly “get it” that they are not the only ones who matter and it upsets them.

3. Neo-Mammalian Brain (Neo Cortex or Post-conventional) – Learn abstract thinking, symbols like numbers and letters, form relationships, reason, empathy. Worldview. Can be associated with the color green. Kermit falls into this group. Humans use this brain 85% of the time.

Furthermore:
4. Post, post-conventional brain – Considering all things. A whole universe view.
5. Conflicted brain – Instinctual parts fight with the relationship parts.

Moral development – Your level of morality
Cognitive development – How intellectually smart you are.

States of Consciousness
1. Waking
2. Dreaming (Meditation, realizing you are dreaming within a dream)
3. Deep Sleep (Nothingness)

Big 3 Perspectives: I, WE, and IT.
I – Subjective
WE – Inter subjective
IT – Objective

Each Muppet is a combination of all 3 perspectives at once.
For example:
- Steve and Kermit is “I”. Steve is Kermit, Kermit is Steve. They are one and the same.
- Steve and Kermit are also a “WE”. Steve and Kermit are 2 separate living perspectives.
- Steve and Kermit are also an “IT”. Together they create Kermit as a tool to play characters that are not he. Kermit as an actor playing roles.

Burr Tilstrom referred to his puppets as “the kids”.

Definition of a Muppet:
Each and every Muppet character consists of two differentiated components; A puppet and a performer.

Muppets are real. They are actual, rather than imaginary or fictitious. Unlike animated characters and most fantasy characters, their particular physicality allows them to exist in the real world in exactly the same form as they appear on screen without any imitations of any kind. There are no needs for alternate versions. They can show up anywhere the same as any celebrity. They are physical, not illusory – original rather than imitation.

Muppets can look you in the eye and have a first person conversation about anything. They are never at a loss for words because they respond consistently with the same tangible subjective mentality as any living, breathing individual you might encounter. They are coherent.

Muppets have a point of view, an opinion. They can discuss current events, politics and each other’s good and bad habits in character, both seriously and humor. They fully and lucidly exist both in and out of their on-screen personas.

Muppets have a consistent recollection and memories of events. They can talk with you about something you did together 1 week ago, 1 month ago or 30 years ago. They have consciousness. Muppets cannot be VHS copies. Kermit cannot have 12 different people performing him, each bringing a subtle difference. That would make him 12 different characters. Kermit must have his own life.

Muppets are real individuals and relate to each other and the world with their own individual perspectives. They can’t be duplicated or doubled. There is no project so small or insignificant that the Muppets would not show up fully and originally intact. Kermit must be Kermit in the movies, and at a grocery store opening. The Muppet character must always be genuine, not counterfeit.

Muppets are motivated by real feelings, memories, thoughts and emotions. The fact that they are puppets does not figure into who they are. Who they are is what the Muppets have always been about, first and foremost.

They are not a “what”, but a “who”.

They have always existed as much more than a brand. That explains their ongoing connection to their audience. Frank Oz said, “Muppets are not puppets, they are characters.”

Interesting facts:
Working on the “Dark Crystal” brought more subtle movements in performance to the Muppets as a whole.

The Muppets in the new Disney Parks parade were built 20% larger than normal in order to be more visible. This caused a specific problem with Kermit, as he has no skull per se, only the performer’s hand is inside his head.

Unlike an actor who plays a role temporarily, individual Muppet performers are permanently cast, virtually for life. This is one major part of the Muppet’s success, as that performer can build and enrich that character throughout his/her lifetime.

The performer is responsible for both the voice and the movement of the character – The soul.

Puppeteers are responsible for much more than the normal actor. Puppeteers are performers, casting directors, puppet builders, writers, producers, directors, musicians and publicists.

Two puppeteers performing one character is the pinnacle of performance (right hands Muppets). The two can lock to each other like SMPTE (time code).

The lecture finished with a short montage of Kermit’s development over the years. We started with some clips from “Sam and Friends”, Jim’s first show in Baltimore he created while in college. Here Kermit was very primitive. He wasn’t named Kermit yet – he was just one of the ensemble characters, and he usually appeared in drag. They almost always pre-recorded the audio tracks and lip-synched, or just lip-synched to popular records, particularly Stan Freberg comedy albums. So sometimes Jim’s wife, Jane would perform Kermit. Next we saw a bit with Kermit and Yorik on the Steve Allen show. This was their second national TV appearance lip-synching to “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face”. Here Kermit was progressing but still without his collar or webbed feet. The inside of his mouth and upper palate was very intricate, possibly because of the lack of color TV. Moving on, we saw Kermit singing “It’s Not Easy Being Green” on Sesame Street. Here Jim was singing live while performing, as the lip sync was spot on. He was looking more like the Kermit of today with his collar and feet, but his eyes still weren’t quite focused properly. Kermit had a double collar in this iteration. Next was Kermit in “The Frog Prince”. Kermit still had “broken”, floppy fingers, but he now had much better eye focus and more subtle movement. Then we came to the Muppet Show with Kermit performing “Happy Feet”. Here Kermit was tap dancing with his performance progressing enough to simulate legs and feet on the ground dancing. Kermit’s fingers though were still just floppy fleece. Next was “The Muppet Movie”, where Kermit needed to be more refined and subtle in movement. His fingers were given more structured, human-like form and more mechanical mechanisms were devised to have him playing the banjo. Moving on, we saw Steve’s first performance as Kermit in “Muppet Treasure Island”. Here Kermit was playing the role of Captain Smollett (Kermit as an actor portraying another character. Steve said he was playing Kermit as if he were Patrick Stewart). Finally we saw the most recent performance of Kermit with Tiffany Thornton, a Disney Channel star, singing a Christmas song called “I Believe”.

PUPPETRY WORKSHOP

Each class consisted of twelve participants. Steve talked to the class a bit about the camera, the video monitors and the importance of eye focus. Then each group of three had five minutes of on-camera time to practice eye focus exercises with hands-on instruction from Steve. When you are performing in front of the monitor, the image is backwards, unlike performing in front of a mirror. Basically you are seeing the audience’s point of view from your own point of view. It’s very disconcerting when you do this for the first time. The person to your left in front of the camera is on the right side of you in the monitor’s image. What helps you here with eye focus is to have your puppet looking directly at you. If your puppet’s eyes are looking directly at your own eyes, you got it. The puppet is held as straight as possible at a slight forward angle. Bend your elbow slightly – do not lock your elbow. Hold the puppet close to your body so your shoulder muscles are doing most of the work. You will hurt more and tire faster the further away from you the puppet is.


The puppets were numbered 0-12, with Steve using the #0 puppet. They were all identical, made by him and even signed and copyrighted inside. They were covered in pink Antron fleece, and Steve openly joked about their slightly “naughty” appearance.

For the next exercise, each group returned to the camera and monitor for another five minutes to practice lip-synch. Here Steve talked about how to open the puppet’s mouth correctly while still keeping the puppet’s eyes focused at the camera. We just lip-synched to some well-known nursery rhymes. The goal here is to open the puppet’s mouth by holding your top fingers as steady, and relaxed as possible while opening the lower jaw with the thumb. The camera should not be seeing the upper part of the inside of the mouth. Imagining the puppet’s upper jaw on a table and that it must remain level helps a lot. This is how an actual mouth works. The upper jaw is an extension of your skull and it’s the lower jaw that is on a hinge and moves. Moving the mouth this way helps to keep the puppet’s eyes focused on camera while speaking. Another technique used is the “attack”, which involves moving the hand forward, pivoting at the wrist, and dropping the thumb. The puppet’s head will move forward slightly while the mouth opens to help keep the upper jaw level.

Next we were called up in pairs to lip-synch, with Steve, to some well-known song snippets. There were 6 songs: Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall, Part 2”, Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up the Sun”, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son”, Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Business”, and “The Time Warp” from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Here we were taught some more subtleties of lip-synch, such as holding the mouth open during a long note, but having the puppet remain alive with subtle moves, and being conscious of the spots for breathing to either have the puppet’s mouth close during a breath or to actually take a breath if the dialogue is slower.

(I went ahead and made my own versions of the 6 song edits we worked with in the class to continue to practice. The songs were edited in such a way as to make each clip last about 1 minute each. I made my versions from memory and I think I got them pretty darn close. I loved the way each song was designed to add just a little something else to the instruction. First was "Another Brick In The Wall" which was pretty straight forward lip sync. Then "Soak Up The Sun" added some longer held notes. Each subsequent song added a little something more for the puppet to do while singing. Check them out here.)

Finally, we went up in groups of six to have a go at all six song clips in a row! This was true Muppet mayhem, trying to have all seven adults with puppets, all trying to stay in frame.

(Coincidentally, the 1/25/2010 episode of the Henson.com podcast actually is a short video describing how the Henson Company puppeteers use monitors to help them perform and gives instructions on how you can do the same thing at home with a television and video camera. This is basically what we did in the workshop, only we had Steve Whitmire live and in person performing with us! Henson.com Podcast for 01/25/2010)

UPDATE - My wife Liz also posted about the workshop on her Puppatoons Blog, and she got quite a comment from none other than veteran Muppeteer Jerry Nelson! I copied the text down below, but go visit Puppatoons to see the real deal.

"What an informative post. All wanna-be puppeteers should see this because Steve has given an encyclopedic amount of information in a succinct and very clear form.
You also deserve credit (and your husband) for being so concise in your reportage.
The only thing I would add to this is that after you have absorbed all this you can properly begin your studies of people and animals.

Good luck to all,
Jerry"

Read More... After the Jump!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Avery Matthews

We were fortunate enough last year to be given a chance to animate a pilot for Cartoon Network called "Avery Matthews". I was Lead Animator for the show that was created by Stuart Hill and Rich Ferguson-Hull. The 2D character animation was all done in Flash.



"Avery Matthews" is screening at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA on Friday night July 10th as part of the Georgia Animation on Our Mind: An Animation Screening curated by ASIFA-Atlanta. The screening is presented as part of the 21st Society of Animation Studies Conference, July 10—12, 2009.

Georgia Animation on Our Mind: An Animation Screening
July 10, 2009, 8 p.m.
Rich Theatre of the Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree Street NE

Reserve your free ticket.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Got the "Expandable Post" Thingie Working

Just testing some functionality. I wanted to get the "Read More... After the jump!" business working.

All of the other codes I was trying kept giving me the "Read More..." link on EVERY post, not just the ones I wanted to use it on.

Well, I finally got it working after following the instructions posted here.

And I figgered I'd post a sketch just to make this little exercise all worth while.


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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Blobby

Blobby is a little monster character that started as a doodle on my notebook at work. So, on a slow day I decided to draw him in Flash and build him as a Flash model. After searching the net for a monster-ish sounding sound clip to animate to, I did this quick little animation. As a result, this ended up defining his character as someone with big ideas and who tries hard, but ultimately can't do much without limbs.

I think he'll fit in well as a regular part of Puppatoons, a soon-to-be powerhouse of Internet Puppet and Animation entertainment.

video

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Muppet Performers Dave Goelz and Steve Whitmire at the Atlanta History Center November 16th, 2008

Wow, an opportunity like this doesn’t come along too often, especially for Muppet fans!

On the weekend of November 15 and 16th at the Atlanta History Center, Muppeteers Dave Goelz, best known for performing Gonzo and Steve Whitmire, performer of Rizzo the Rat and the current performer of Kermit appeared at an intimate (and I do mean intimate) screening of rare Muppet clips, Muppet Show sketches, and a screening of “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth”. It was billed as "Muppets, Music, & Magic: Jim Henson's Legacy".


Muppeteers Steve Whitmire and Dave Goelz at the Atlanta History Center.


We were able to go on Sunday the 16th. My Wife’s friend and her sister came down from Nashville the night before and the four of us headed downtown Sunday morning. The screening started at 12:30 pm with the Harry Belafonte episode of the Muppet Show. This was followed by the “Visual Thinking” skit from Sam and Friends, Jim Henson’s first TV show. Then a portion of an appearance by Jim, Frank Oz, and Don Sahlin
on “The Dick Cavett Show” where they demonstrated how a “Whatnot” puppet works. This was followed by an episode of “The Storyteller” called “The Heartless Giant”. Then the lights go up and up to the stage walk Dave and Steve for a casual Q and A session with the audience. It was so special and amazing!

Dave Goelz sits with The Great Gonzo!

Steve Whitmire and Kermit! THE REAL KERMIT!

They answered questions for a good long time. Then Steve went backstage and returned with a big trunk. I was holding my breath. They sit down and Steve reaches into the chest and pulls out Kermit. Holy Mackeral! The ACTUAL KERMIT was right there 10 feet from me! Dave reaches down and pulls out Gonzo. This was an absolute first for me. This was the first time I had ever seen these Muppet superstars in person performing live! They continued to chat and perform for a while, and then Steve packs Kermit away and pulls out Rizzo the Rat. Three Muppet Superstars!! Woohoo!

Dave and Steve take questions from the audience.

They sat and talked and performed and continued to take questions. Then they stood up and demonstrated how they have to hold the puppets over their heads while they perform, how since Steve is a few inches taller than Dave, he has to crouch down while Rizzo and Gonzo are working together.

Gonzo gives Rizzo a hand with his hand.

Steve demonstrating his height compared to Dave's.

Steve explaining the subtle nuances of Rizzo.

All of this was a good 2 plus hours, and then it was time for the screening of “Labyrinth”. We actually took this opportunity to sneak away and take in the Smithsonian Jim Henson exhibit currently at the History Center entitled “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World”. This exhibit is fantastic! It includes many drawings and sketches, storyboards and hand-written scripts, actual Muppets on display, videos of commercials and short films, and clips from Muppet TV shows. And… worth the price of admission alone are life-size recreations of Wilkins and Wontkins from the Wilkin’s Coffee commercials that Jim produced in the 50’s. They are GORGEOUS and I wanted them! Damn… no photos allowed in the exhibit! I couldn’t even take pictures! AAAH!

But, photos were allowed with Dave and Steve at their presentation. And I took a few videos as well!


video
VIDEO: Dave and Steve hamming it up with Gonzo and Kermit.

video
VIDEO: Dave and Steve discuss their favorite characters to perform.

video
VIDEO: Dave and Steve discuss performing problems.

So, we returned to the theater where “Labyrinth” was finishing up. We caught the last 15 minutes or so of the film and afterwards, Dave and Steve came back on stage for another round of questions and answers. This time they sat down right on the edge of the stage for the chat. We didn’t want it to end but apparently THEY wanted to see the Henson exhibit, too! Hehe! They signed autographs and posed for pictures. It was truly amazing and a once-in-a-lifetime thing!





This appearance wasn’t advertised very well and I would say only about 25 people were there on Sunday. I don't know about Saturday. This was fine with me. We had them practically to ourselves for the entire afternoon!

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Friday, October 24, 2008

New Sketch

Here's a new Flash sketch:

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Flash Sketch

Here's a new drawing I did inked and colored with Flash.


I had some downtime at work, and I've been perusing all of the sketchbooks I brought back from Comic Con, so I started doodling. I'm not the greatest at coming up with poses without a model so I Google searched and found this life drawing online.


I used the pose to do a more cartoony, stylized drawing. Just a doodle on a notebook with a regular ink pen. I took this photo of it with my crappy camera phone in order to get it into Flash to finish up. The finish came out nice, but I always like the sketches better!

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Biker Scout Banner

Here's a little something I whipped up to use as a banner for some of the specific forums relating to my Biker Scout love. I have to use the GIF version:



... but here's the original SWF version:

http://wallofshemp.freeservers.com/ASWCCBanners/scout.htm

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Behold......

My Sideshow Premium Format Biker Scout figure.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Ken Anderson - Disney Family Album

Walt Disney often referred to Ken Anderson as his "Jack of All Trades." Indeed, over the years, Ken used his masterful skills as architect, artist, animator, storyteller and designer to pioneer many different areas of Disney's broad entertainment spectrum. Always focused on challenge and growth, Ken once said his desire was not so much to achieve, as to "be able to constantly improve."

Among Ken's character creations are the villainous Shere Khan in "The Jungle Book" and the playful dragon, Elliott, in "Pete's Dragon." His impressive roster of Disney credits also include story contributions to "Melody Time," "Cinderella" and "The Jungle Book," while his color styling greatly influenced "Alice in Wonderland." Ken's layouts were pivotal to the staging and design of "Peter Pan" and "Lady and the Tramp," and led to his production design of "Sleeping Beauty," "101 Dalmatians" and "The Aristocats."






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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Jane Henson in Atlanta!

Center For Puppetry Arts invites you to...

Look Both Ways & GO

Jane Henson, co-founder of the Muppets and wife of the late Jim Henson, will present a behind-the-scenes look at creating a cultural phenomenon featuring seldom-seen video clips from the Jim Henson Archives. Stay after the presentation for an exclusive showing of Time Piece, the rarely seen Oscar-nominated short film produced, directed and written by Jim Henson.

When: Sat., Feb. 23 @ 8pm
Where: Center For Puppetry Arts, Downstairs Theater
Admission: Free!


Holey mackerel, what an evening!

The night started with a screening of 12 Sesame Street counting films that were all made by Jim Henson. Then Jane was introduced to the intimate crowd of about 250 folks. She talked for a good bit about the early days of meeting Jim at a Puppet class in college, and then working together on Sam and friends.


Then we watched a short documentary called "The Sam and Friends Story". Got to see many early skits, a recording of Jim reading a hand-written script, lots of great behind the scenes action.


Then Jane opened the floor to questions. I don't know if this is news to the long-time Muppet die-hards, but it was news to me. Apparently when Jim and Jane were working together, they were each both engaged to other people! We then watched some early Sam and friends appearances on the Steve Allen show, including the very first Muppet appearance for a national TV audience. Then a hilarious "mock" documentary about the creation of a Wilson's Meats commercial.



Then the presentation was finished with a beautiful tribute video to Jane that was made for her for her 60th birthday. Priceless viewing! I would have given anything for a DVD copy of the evening's presentation!

Jane then left the theater to a reception area with food and drink and met and talked with all who wanted to meet her. We paid our respects and had our photo taken with her. My Wife brought along a rubber duck that Jane signed for her about 20 years ago at a puppetry convention to see if she remembered it. She didn't... hehe. That duck is also signed by Frank Oz, Carrol Spinney and Frank's Dad. Then back to the theater for a screening of Jim Henson's Oscar nominated short "Timepiece".



We then went back to the reception to have some food and mingling some more. We then said goodnight to Jane and thanked her again.


What an unforgettable night!

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

JibJab Sendables

Those JibJab guys are awesome! They have holiday cards set up where you can add in your own photos of family and friends, and you star in the cartoons. Like the "elfyourself" website, only better!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Birdman Finale Clips on AdultSwim.com

I was just looking around in the video section on adultswim.com and discovered that there's loads of clips from the Birdman finale "The Death of Harvey" posted there. So, I'm gonna link to some of them here, and include some riveting commentary relating to my part in their animation.

WE'LL BAG 'EM, YOU TRY 'EM!



This was the first shot I worked on for this episode, and I did 90% of the animation myself. We open on the recently released villians reaking havoc on the city. So, in this one scene I got to animate Magilla Gorilla choking Squiddly Diddly, Speed Demon, the Ant Ape robot from a classic HB Birdman episode, Pa Rugg from the Hillbilly Bears, the little green aliens from the Harvey episode "Shoyu Weenie", Hokey Wolf, plus some garbage cans. There was a lot of fun acting here from Birdgirl, and from Peanut. Some of the funniest stuff we got to do was with Birdgirl's Birdlocator helmet. This is the first shot that we see it in action and it was here where we decided to make it so ridiculously huge. My assistant, Darrell animated the helmet view with the old school vector graphics, and Birdgirl punching out Squiddly. Then I finished up with Birdgirl returning the purse to the Old Lady. Her cigarette was not in the boards, I added that myself.

THE BIRDTEAM RETURNS



This is a great sequence, and not just because I animated most of it myself. Haha! This is the big moment in the episode when Harvey returns to his superhero roots and once again becomes Birdman. And we get to see Peanut for the first time in his Birdboy persona. And of course, Birdgirl as the true Birdgirl. These run cycles were re-purposed and embellished from run cycles that I did for the final shot of the episode "Birdgirl of Guantanamole". I had to slow them down, re-tween them, and re-draw the models for the superhero outfits. My assistant Darrell handled most of the re-drawing of Harvey here, while I did Peanut and Birdgirl. Then new animation was needed to get them out of the cycles and into the held "hero" poses. We then cut to Eliot, the Deadly Duplicator, watching the action from the sidelines through the copy shop window. This bit was also animated by Darrell. Then it's more of my animation of Eliot shouting and gesturing and interacting with the female customer. Eliot is voiced by Lewis Black, and the customer here is voiced by Paget Brewster, the voice of Birdgirl. The clip finishes with some of my favorite animation that I did, X's over-the-top take when he is surprised by Eliot. We had such a tight deadline on this episode and I had originally animated this a bit more straight-forward, thinking more about getting it done fast than it's comedic value, or how good it would look. Thankfully, my director, Rich, had me redo it much more over the top. So, for the remainder of the episode, I made sure I gave each scene the attention it deserved, no matter the deadline. Needless to say, that involved working some 12 hour days for 2 weeks straight, but it was damn-well worth it.

SAVING THE CITY



The action is really kicking into high gear here. I animated the opening 2 shots in this clip. I particularly liked how the profile run cycles turned out and think the shot looks great with the depth of the scrolling backgrounds. I also really enjoyed animating the next scene, Birdman flying up to confront Nitron on the building tops. Even though Nitron was animated in 3D, I still had total control over how I wanted the character to behave and what the final animation looked like. The 3D animation was vector rendered out of Maya and then imported directly into Flash. I then hand-drew the animation of Nitron's bulging muscles. The final bit I animated here was Birdgirl's capture by the Defcon12. Needless to say, it's always fun to animate Birdgirl, and I had a good time drawing her funny face in this shot.

SUPERHERO, DEPRESSION



I include this clip mainly because I had so much fun animating all of the crazy action going on outside the window on the street. Now, where else can you get paid for animating Huckleberry Hound clobbering Squiddly Diddly and Magilla Gorilla with a 2 by 4? I ask you?

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Hitchhiking to the Haunted Mansion - MNSSHP 2007

Here's my big report about our costuming experience at MNSSHP 2007!

Sunday the 14th was our first night in costume. We ended up being very late after a mix up with our lunch dining reservation and we did not arrive at the Party until about 10:30pm. We made a mad dash towards the Mansion and got stuck on the wrong side of the Boo To You Parade in Liberty Square. We sure took some folk's attention away from the parade! We actually got there right when the Haunted Mansion float was passing. After the float passed, we went on to the Mansion and our first ride. It was pretty empty so we asked the Foyer CM if we could wait for the next Stretch Room. He agreed and left us alone to surprise his counterpart CM working the other room. She was quite surprised to find us waiting in the Foyer after resetting her Stretch Room!

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We had fun talking with her, and also the other CMs in the Load Area. They took some photos of us with their own cameras, and then we got on the ride. Afterward, a Mansion CM set us up in front of the Mansion and took some photos of us. This is when other party guests started to want pictures with us, and another CM came by and told us we couldn't take photos here. He also was extremely nice about it and took us into the backstage "Servant's Quarters" door and took us right into the Stretch Room to have another ride. We then wandered around Liberty Square until just before Midnight when we returned to the Mansion for our traditional midnight last ride of the evening. We then spent some time outside the Mansion taking separate photos of ourselves with the Mansion gate plaque. Here's me!

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Now well after midnight and our slow walk back towards Main Street is when things started to happen for us. Main Street is basically devoid of guests and just the Photopass folks and Cleaning CMs are around. Well, they all immediately stop us in our tracks and insist they take our photo, and insist they jump into some photos themselves!

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We had some Photopass pictures taken and the CM in yellow wrote us a slip and said we could get 4 free 8x10s of these photos! So, we head on down to Exposition Hall to get our prints, and the CMs working in here all start to go nuts! So much so that the Manager CM in here insists we have professional studio shots taken in one of their on-site studios! Check out some of this action!

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Once again we were given free 5x7s of these shots and we were on our way. One last fun moment happened on our way to the buses. A CM named Steve stops us at the turnstiles and recognized us from last year! It turned out he was our bus driver and drove us in costume from our resort to the Party last year! He radioed and requested a bus for the Bride and the Hitchhiking Ghosts. We had our own bus back to our resort.

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After realizing how much time we needed to get in costume and makeup on Sunday, we made sure we got an early start on Thursday. We made it to the bus stop at our resort at around 8pm, and for the first time we were seen by a whole lotta folks at the stop and on the bus. We made quite scene. We were through the turnstiles at 8:30pm and decided to head to Tommorowland. This would be the first time we had ventured to any other area of the Magic Kingdom in costume.

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We stopped on the bridge to Tommorowland to take a photo with the Castle and were overrun by other park guests wanting our picture and to get pictures with us. We were honestly stuck there for a good 10 minutes! Then a Dream Squad CM came over basically to see what was happening. I told her we were trying to get to the Peoplemover. She laughed, and then escorted us to the TTA. She asked us where we were from, basic chit-chat during the walk and we said thanks, got on the ride and didn't think much more of it.

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We finish the ride and head back down the ramp and there is our Dream Squad CM waiting there for us with a big bag of Halloween candy! She gives us the candy and asks us if we were fans of Space Mountain. We all were of course and she said she wanted to give us a Magic Moment and take us all on a backstage tour of the Space Mountain control tower and then go for a ride! Well, we all took the tour, but our costumes would only allow 2 of us to ride, Pickwick and Prudence. It was awesome, and I wish I talked with Prudence before writing this since she knows our Dream Squad CM's name, while I forget :(.

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We then headed on to Fantasyland for a ride on Small World. We were surprised and stopped by a Haunted Mansion CM on her off night there with her family who saw us on Sunday. We talked with her for a bit, then more pictures with guests and we finally got to Small World for a ride.

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Then it was off to the Mansion for our first ride of the night. The only disappointing thing about our Mansion rides in costume this year was none of the Mansion CMs we met and became friends with last year were working the parties we went to. But we met some really great new friends this year.

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Then it was off to ride Pirates.

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On our way back to Liberty Square for our traditional Midnight last ride of the night at the Mansion, we ran into Jesse and Bullseye in Frontierland, and an awesome CM who was playing a creepy Night Watchman near the Riverboat. We also got his contact info and made another new friend this night.

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So we once again finished our night as the final riders of the day on the Haunted Mansion. The night was over except for our slow walk back to the main gate. We stopped for many photos, including this one in front of the Hall Of Presidents. This is the best photo we got of our Bride's beating red heart (She had beating heart sound, too!).

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And that's about it for our MNSSHP adventures for 2007!

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Hope to see you all next year!

Oh... and here we are in our secret identities!

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(L-R, Ezra, Phineas, Gus (me), Bride, Pickwick. Prudence is taking the photo!)

Read More... After the Jump!