Monday, November 12, 2007

Birdman Finale Clips on

I was just looking around in the video section on 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.


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.


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.


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?


Matt Jones said...

Hi Steve just stumbled upon your February post on the Disney Family Album TV eries. Did you ever post the Ken Anderson episode on YouTube?

Brett W. Thompson said...

Wow what an amazing post!! I love hearing about the different shots you and Darrell work on :)

I'm always amazed at what you guys do with Birdman!! I'm so glad Rich let you redo the X shot to be even crazier, hahaha!

Wow 12 hour days.. You guys work so hard, and it shows! :)