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!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
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.
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?
Monday, October 22, 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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 :(.
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.
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.
Then it was off to ride Pirates.
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.
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!).
And that's about it for our MNSSHP adventures for 2007!
Hope to see you all next year!
Oh... and here we are in our secret identities!
(L-R, Ezra, Phineas, Gus (me), Bride, Pickwick. Prudence is taking the photo!)
Saturday, September 15, 2007
On the morning of September 4th, 2007, James and Oliver Phelps, who play Weasley twins Fred and George in the Harry Potter films, visited the offices of "Adult Swim" over at Williams Street in Atlanta. The actors were in town over the Labor Day weekend at Dragon*Con 2007, the huge Atlanta Sci-fi, Fantasy, Comics convention, along with their co-star Matt Lewis (Neville Longbottom). So, on the morning before they were scheduled to head to the airport, an impromptu tour of the Adult Swim studios was put together for the Twins. They looked to be thoroughly enjoying themselves as I and fellow animator Darrell showed up to meet them. They were visiting Adult Swim Senior VP Mike Lazzo when we stumbled across them at William Street. The Twins are fans of Adult Swim, having seen some of the shows on the Bravo Channel in the UK. They didn't know "Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law" though, which is the show we worked on, or "Stroker and Hoop", another of ours, but they were still very pleased to meet us and talked with us for quite a while about the animation process.
They were snapping photos all around the studios, and the above shot is of us posing with a standee of one of our "Birdman" characters "Bear".
We ended up tagging along with their tour for about 10 minutes. It's not often we get to visit Williams Street ourselves, as we work at Turner Studios which is across the highway. They were given huge bags of swag, which included some "Birdman" DVDs as per my request, and then they were on their way.
I'm a big ol' geeky "Potter" fan myself and meeting these two super-nice fellows was a real treat. It's too bad Matt couldn't make the tour. He wanted to, but his schedule didn't allow for it. I did get to meet him at the Con, though. Hopefully there was enough swag in the bag to share.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Turner Studios was recently tasked with production of four Lara Croft Tomb Raider shorts for Gametap.com, part of their ten-part "Re/Visioned" animated anthology series.
This "Re/Visioned" series is best compared to the "Animatrix". It's a group of cartoon shorts with various writers, story ideas, and design styles, with the only common thread between them being Lara Croft as lead character. They are unique in that they don't particularly relate to the original Tomb Raider video game, or to each other for that matter.
I was given the chance to Animation Direct one of the episodes, "Revenge of the Aztec Mummy". This episode is a cartoon romp, more like an episode of Scooby Doo than anything we've seen Lara in before. It was written by Brian Pulido with character designs by David Alvarez. All of the animation was done here in Atlanta at Turner Studios.
There was also a nice write-up about this episode over at Aaron Simpson's Cold Hard Flash, a great Flash animation blog.
The other episodes we did at Turner Studios are "Legacy", which has a great campy, late 60's action cartoon feel, and "Angel Spit - Parts 1 and 2" with a more traditional comic book look. I also did animation for both of these episodes, with the majority of my work on "Legacy".
Go to tombraider.gametap.com to watch these episodes, and the others in the Tomb Raider "Re/Visioned" series.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Well, here it is. After 4 fantastic years of working on a show that I loved, the final episode is out there for all to enjoy. We really wanted to kick it up a notch and make sure that Harvey went out in style. I am so proud of the work we did on the series and all the accolades we've received. Enjoy the episode and buy the DVD on the 24th!
Harvey Birdman is dead... long live Harvey Birdman!
Friday, July 06, 2007
Ahhhh, The Shemp Meditation Tapes. A must for any Shemp fan!
I found Shemp Meditation Tape #1 more than 10 years ago, quite by accident. A guy I worked with used to live in Northern New Jersey and was constantly spouting off about this great radio station he used to listen to back home, WFMU. So we looked them up on the web one day, found our way to their online catalog, and discovered this cassette tape for sale called "The Shemp Meditation Tape". The sound clip on the site was hysterical, so I ordered one. Here are the liner notes:
WINDEM SLIME TAPES PRESENT - THE SHEMP MEDITATION TAPE-
Recommended for new age nitwits and chuckleheads alike....scientifically mixed in SHEMP-A-RAMA for your enlightened casaba-banging pleasure. Soar the Horowitz Heavens and become One with Shemp's karma on the "HEEEEE BEEE BEEE BEEE BEEE side. Transhempify your mind and cook your chakras on the life-infirming "AHH HA HA HA HA HA" side. Produced under armed guard for WFMU by Mahavishnu Dave Thespazzyrama in the palatial Spazzintologist Compound.
These outrageous tapes are the brainchild of WFMU DJ Dave "The Spazz" from his "Music to Spazz By" Radio Program. I originally wrote about these tapes over on my Shemp website wallofshemp.com. Imagine my surprise when after about 2 months of having my Wall of Shemp webpage out there for human consumption, I get an e-mail out of the blue from "The Spazz". He told me about his latest Shemp Meditation #2 Tape. Needless to say, I begged him for a copy of it! Thanks again, Dave. Although the second tape is about half as long as the first, I think #2 is even funnier.
Once again, the Shemp Meditation Tapes have entered my life. I just found MP3s of all 4 Shemp Meditation tracks over on WFMU's "Beware of the Blog"! Here's what I found last night. A write-up and MP3s of Meditation Tape #2:
And a link to Meditation Tape #1:
And a link to purchase the long unpurchasable tapes for you very own. But, with free MP3s available? Still, I bought one... you should too!
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Here's some freelance work I recently completed with my buddy Les Harper of Lightbox Studios for Producto Studios out in California. Producto Studios was commissioned by Intel to create this series of Flash cartoons to promote their new processor. Producto wrote the scripts and did the storyboards, created character designs, sound fx, and original music while Lightbox handled the animation. I had a great time helping Les out with the animation on these and I think all 4 of them came out fantastic and look great. Les did the majority of the work, building the Flash models and doing most of the animation himself, but since this is my blog, we'll only be concentrating on my meager contributions. Click the text links to view the cartoons.
Power and Performance - I did the animation of the Weakling.
Wireless Connectivity - I handled the animation of the 2 kids.
Manageability and Security - Animated the Security Guard except for this overhead wide shot where he first wakes up.
Energy and Efficiency - Did the animation for the office worker in her "frazzled" state.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Here's a montage of all the Birdgirl scenes I animated for the episode of Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law "Birdgirl of Guantanamole". This episode won an award for "Best Animated TV Series For Adults" at the 2005 Ottawa International Animation Festival. 100% of the animation was done in Flash.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Over the years, Eric animated on such feature films as, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Fantasia," "Bambi," "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," "Peter Pan," "Lady and the Tramp," "Sleeping Beauty," "The Jungle Book," as well as nearly 20 shorts and six television specials. Later, he served as a consultant on "The Black Cauldron" and "The Great Mouse Detective."
In the late 1970s, Eric expanded the Studio's Talent Program to find and train new and talented animators from colleges and art schools across the nation. This program, which still exists today, came at a crucial juncture in Disney's history, when many veteran animators were stepping down from their drawing boards. Subsequently, through his close work with young animators, Eric helped preserve the integrity of Disney animation for generations to come.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Woolie contributed to more than 30 Disney shorts including "Water Babies," "Mickey's Fire Brigade" and "Donald in Mathmagic Land." He also contributed his animation skill to such classic animated features as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Cinderella," "Peter Pan," "Lady and the Tramp," "101 Dalmatians," "The Jungle Book," and more.
In 1963, Woolie became the first animator in the history of the company to be given the directorial reins of an entire animated feature, beginning with "The Sword in the Stone." He also directed the cartoon featurette "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day" which won an Academy Award® in 1969.
After Walt Disney's untimely death in 1966, Woolie helped unify the Studio's stable of egos and talent. As fellow animator Frank Thomas recalls, Woolie was a "very strong leader" during that unsettling time. After nearly 50 years with the Studio, Woolie retired in 1981.
In June 1934, Milt applied to The Walt Disney Studios and was hired to work as an assistant animator on such shorts as "Mickey's Circus," "Lonesome Ghosts" and "The Ugly Duckling," which won an Oscar® for Best Animated Short. Over the years, Milt contributed to such Disney features as "Melody Time," "The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad," "Cinderella," "Lady and the Tramp," "101 Dalmatians," "The Jungle Book," and "The Rescuers," among others.
Because Milt was so good at his craft, he was often assigned the toughest of Disney tasks: animating human characters, such as Peter Pan, Alice of "Alice in Wonderland" and the Prince in "Sleeping Beauty." He was just as adept at animating animal characters, as well, including Bambi, the snooty Llama in "Saludos Amigos," and Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear in "Song of the South."
Monday, February 12, 2007
Marc joined Disney in 1935 as an apprentice animator on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and moved on to story sketch and character design on "Bambi" and "Victory Through Air Power." Over the years, he animated on such Disney classic features as "Song of the South," "Cinderella" and "Alice in Wonderland," as well as shorts, including "African Diary," "Duck Pimples" and "Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom."
He later transferred to Disney's design and development organization, today known as Walt Disney Imagineering. As one of Disney's original Imagineers, Marc contributed whimsical story and character concepts for such Disneyland attractions as the Enchanted Tiki Room, It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion and The Jungle Cruise.
On January 21, 1935, Ollie joined The Walt Disney Studios as an apprentice animator, working on such early Disney shorts as "Mickey's Garden" and "The Tortoise and the Hare," which won an Academy Award® for Best Cartoon. He went on to work as animator and directing animator on more than 24 feature films including, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," "Fantasia," "Song of the South," "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," "Lady and the Tramp," and "Sleeping Beauty," among others.
An avid train enthusiast, in his spare time, Ollie created a backyard railroad at his home and was instrumental in helping stir Walt Disney's own personal interest in trains.
Over the years, Frank worked on nearly 20 animated features including, "Pinocchio," "Peter Pan," "Sleeping Beauty," "Cinderella," "The Jungle Book," and "101 Dalmatians," as well as numerous shorts. He also accompanied Walt Disney and a select group of artists on a goodwill tour through South America, in 1941, on behalf of the American Government, which inspired the animated features "Saludos Amigos" and "The Three Caballeros."
In his spare time, Frank played piano with the internationally famous "Firehouse Five Plus Two" jazz band, along with fellow Disney artists, including Ward Kimball.
After nearly 45 years with the Studio, Frank retired in 1978. He went on to co-author four books with life-long friend and fellow animator Ollie Johnston, including the definitive "Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life," "Too Funny For Words," "Walt Disney's Bambi: The Story and the Film," and "The Disney Villain." He and Ollie were also the subjects of the 1995 documentary "Frank and Ollie," which chronicles their unique friendship, which began at Stanford, and creative relationship at Disney.
Ward Kimball joined The Walt Disney Studios, in 1934, and contributed to most all of its beloved animated features up until his retirement in 1972. Among the many memorable Disney characters he brought to life were Jiminy Cricket in "Pinocchio," Tweedledee and Tweedledum in "Alice in Wonderland" and Lucifer the Cat in "Cinderella."
Ward also directed two Academy Award®-winning short subjects including, "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom," which was the first CinemaScope cartoon, and "It's Tough to Be a Bird," which featured both live-action and animation combined. During the 1950s, he produced and directed three one-hour space films for the "Disneyland" television show.
I'm currently in the process of posting on Youtube all of the Disney Family Album documentaries relating to Walt Disney's fabled "Nine Old Men". The Disney Family Album series aired on the Disney Channel in the eighties and included documentaries on 7 of the 9. There's much on the net about Frank and Ollie, Marc Davis and Ward Kimball. There's precious little about the remaining five. Milt Kahl, Eric Larson, and Woolie Reitherman all were subjects in the Family Album series and it's a joy to hear from these gentlemen, in their own words right from their own mouths, about their lives and careers. Les Clark and John Lounsbery had passed away before this series.
Each episode is 30 minutes long and is split into 3 parts. Frank's and Marc's were previously posted by someone else, along with parts 2 and 3 of Ward's. I posted the missing part 1 of Ward's, along with the complete 3 parts of Milt's, Woolie's, Ollie's and Eric's.
Another episode I have posted is on Ken Anderson, Disney Art Director, Character Designer, and Imagineer.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
This year's Animation Show was in Atlanta at the Carter Center on Friday and Saturday February 2nd and 3rd. The Show is the brainchild of Mike Judge (of Beavis and Butthead fame) and Don Hertzfeldt.
A group of us from the Studios hit the Friday night showing at 9pm. I wasn't originally keen on attending since I thought last year's show was a bit underwhelming, but Mike Judge was in attendance this time around and was doing a Q&A afterwards, so I went along.
I must say that I really enjoyed this year's show. It was a solid offering of entertaining animation. A few of my favorites: "Dreams and Desires" Directed by Joanna Quinn, "9" Directed by Shane Acker, "Game Over" Directed by Pes, and "Rabbit" Directed by Run Wrake.
So after the show and before Mike Judge's Q&A, they had a quick trivia contest to give away a couple of Animation Show Box Set DVDs. The final question was prefaced with "Now here's a question that no one in any previous city that we have been to has gotten correct". Hmmmm, must be hard. So the question is "In Animation Show 1, we showed a clip from the Disney Short "Mars and Beyond". Who created this short?" which of course I knew the answer was Ward Kimball, even without ever having seen Animation Show 1! So I shout out the answer, but was a split second too late as I hear "WA..." just as I shouted the same! It turned out that the guy who beat me too the punch was my fellow animator Mike who I work with at Turner, so I wasn't too upset. But, the MC was so flabbergasted that TWO people knew the answer, he hooked me up with a poster! Sweet!
Mikey with his DVD and me with my poster! Thanks to Darrell for the photo!
Then Mike Judge came out for a short Q&A, some photos and autographs. It was a really great evening.
Today, I decided to check the Animation Show website to see just which cities they had been to previously and to marvel at them for not knowing this answer. And here they are:
Santa Barbera, CA, Seattle, WA, Boston, MA, Portland, OR, Tucson, AZ, New Brunswick, NJ, New York, NY, San Francisco, CA, San Jose, CA, Berkeley, CA, Hartford, CT and Washington, DC.