In keeping with a very busy and interesting summer this year, I just got finished working on a short pixilated film called “Speed Dating”. What is pixilation, you may ask? Well, it is a stop motion technique in which you ‘animate’ real actors and/or objects on a live film set. It is very intense, as I found out, as it combines both the labor and setup required on a live shoot with the patience and planning necessary with animation. My official title was Assistant Animator, although I did everything from helping to build props (I actually made fake cigarettes that appeared to burn down), to Assistant DIT (Digital Imaging Technician) duties to driving people to the train station at night. We filmed at Cinespace in Chicago, a professional film studio currently housing some pretty big-name movie and TV productions. It was great to be around all of the activity and get a taste of Hollywood right here.

I made a lot of friends, learned a LOT about live action productions while refining my animation skills and gaining more experience on a professional studio lot. I hope the film will have a website up soon that I can share. In the meantime, I did manage to snag a few behind-the-scenes photos from one of our producers. As an unreleased work, I can’t share too much more right now, but I hope to soon!

The Director Meghann Artes (green shirt) overlooks the Animators on the bar set.

The Director Meghann Artes (green shirt) overlooks the Animators on the bar set.

A little behind-the-scenes of the Sports Guy shot on the bar set. These poor actors had to hold their poses for so long!

A little behind-the-scenes of the Sports Guy shot on the bar set. These poor actors had to hold their poses for so long!

The lead actress on the bar set being directed by Meghann.

The lead actress on the bar set being directed by Meghann.

The interior of our Cinespace area between stages. This place is HUGE!

The interior of our Cinespace area between stages. This place is HUGE!

Wrap cakes! The "capture" one is kind of an in-joke and the needlepoint one will make sense when you see the film. ;-)

Wrap cakes! The “capture” one is kind of an in-joke and the needlepoint one will make sense when you see the film. 😉

“Grandpa” Shot

Posted: June 20, 2013 in stop-motion, WIP

 

This is an excerpt from my stop motion “Grandpa”, now in post-production. I particularly like this shot, so I am sharing it as a tease. I hope to have this completely done within the next couple of months, if not sooner. So excited!

Some people have asked to see what my homemade stop motion setup looks like, so here you go. I built the stage from pegboard mounted on 2x4s (so I could reach underneath) cut to size and then glued and nailed together. The board was then topped off with some fine velvet to simulate carpet for this shoot, which is held on with spray adhesive for easy removal later. This is also a green screen shoot, so the cardboard screen is behind there. My lights are the clip-on variety you can find at any Home Depot, attached to laundry poles, of all things. They’re great, though. As you can see, they have multiple “arms” so I can attached several lights as well as being fully adjustable. I have my DSLR attached to my laptop, which is shooting in wonderful, little ‘ole Dragonframe.

A simple setup that obviously doesn’t match what the pro studios have, but it works for my smaller scale projects, and I don’t have the budget of a studio. 😉 I’ll be sharing the footage from this short soon!

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This has been receiving some attention lately, so I thought I would share it here. It was done as a final project for an animation art history class, and represents one of my first serious forays into the realm of experimental animation. If you’re in the mood for something a little different, enjoy!

Inspired by the work of experimental animators such as Robert Breer and Jordon Belson, this is an abstract piece exploring geometric shapes, colors and sounds, which are normally logical processes in Maya, on a more visceral and subconscious level. In short, it is an attempt to take a very modern program and use it in the fashion of experimental animators who have come before.

Created using Maya with Mental Ray’s contour shader and fluid deformations and finished in After Effects with audio edited in Audition.

“Grandpa” Continues

Posted: March 27, 2013 in stop-motion, WIP
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It’s been a little while, but “Grandpa” pre-production is finally just about to wrap up. There are some odds and ends to address, but I’m pretty ready to dive into animated bliss. I’ve encountered lots of challenges on this piece so far, and I’m sure they’ll be more before it’s done, but I’m determined to make it the absolute best it can be. Hopefully, my next post will be some shots in-progress. For now, here are a few pics of the finished Boy and Grandpa puppets (with some temporary clay shoes). If you’re not on WordPress and you cannot see the slideshow, click on the link in the post’s title to go directly to my blog. Take a look and be back soon!

Building "Grandpa"

Posted: November 30, 2012 in stop-motion, WIP

The “Grandpa” project is coming along and I have other images to share down the twisty road, but here’s the start on the Boy character’s head sculpt in plasticine. He looks kinda scary right now. 😉 The ball-and-socket armatures are from kits that came in about a zillion pieces and had to be cut to size with a hacksaw and then assembled. Fun stuff! The frumpy suit top in the background is for my reference and is… well… too frumpy for the character. That’s more costume fun for down that twisty road I mentioned earlier.

And no trying to figure out what’s on my shelves and walls in the back, either! I’m watching you! 8-o

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Posted: November 13, 2012 in update

This has been an active quarter and my poor blog has been neglected again. 😦 There is some good news, however. “Treasure Dogs” has been accepted to its first festival -The Roseville Animation Festival- and awaits notification on a number of others. I have also snagged a small position at DePaul as a Grader Assistant on undergrad classes and been accepted as a Graduate Student Ambassador for the animation programs. I’m rather proud of those because it means the school both trusts me and thinks I am good enough to represent them.

As for projects, I have been learning professional audio skills (including recording dialogue and foley) in Pro Tools, but unfortunately, I cannot share them here due to creator rights for the videos being used. It’s a shame really, because I’m pretty happy with some of what I’ve done. If anyone’s interested, I can share them privately.

My other *massive* project has been creating the stop-motion version of “Grandpa”. Yes, I have switched from CG to stop-motion, although I am using the CG assets as models to fabricate the puppets and props. I am custom building ball-and-socket armatures from kits (since I don’t really have access to a workshop) and sculpting the heads, hands and feet. They will then be made into molds and cast in silicone. The bodies will be covered and sculpted with foam, since they will be under clothing. This will help prevent the joints from getting gummed up and allow easy access for loosening or tightening. I also hope to give them ‘wigs’ of hair instead of silicone, although I still have to research how to do that. I am working towards animatable faces as opposed to replacement pieces, since there is no dialogue. Needless to say, all of this requires quite a bit of careful labor and reference, and I haven’t even started explaining the props yet!

I will post in-progress images of all of this nifty stop-motion stuff in the very near future, as I am sure at least some of you are curious. It truly is a labor of love, as this story has personal meaning to me. I will work at it until it gets to where I want it to be.

Thanks everyone and be back soon!

Finished Animation!

Posted: August 20, 2012 in animations

The short team project I have been working on with two other students from DePaul is finished! – well, as “finished” as any animation can ever truly be, anyway. It’s entitled “Treasure Dogs” and if you don’t know anything about it yet, it was conceived to look like a ‘paper cutout’ animation, only it was actually done in Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects with editing work done in Premiere. It’s an interesting little piece that required a lot of adaptation and learning of new skills (especially in AE), but it was a great experience. As such a small team, we all had our hands in pretty much everything, but we gave ourselves credit for a few main tasks. So, without giving anything away, here it is. Take a look!

Also, I just recently did a stint as a student volunteer at the DePaul booth at SIGGRAPH 2012. While we were there, we did some “guerrilla” stop-motion replacement animations with this crazy character modeled in Maya and then printed out and assembled out of matboard. It was really fun and we got some cool animations to show off (not to mention all of the buzz we created on the floor) to boot! Check them out here:
So, now it’s off to create the next thing! Until next time, animation fans! 😉

A Short Update

Posted: May 7, 2012 in update

I’ve finally got a few minutes to post, so I thought I would let everyone know what’s going on. I’m busy – as usual – but this has been an especially busy time. I’m actually working on a VERY small team creating an animated short tentatively entitled “Treasure Dogs”. It’s being done in 2D and animated with After Effects. We’re going for a “paper cut-out” look, which I think could produce some very interesting results. For my part, I have worked on the animatic, sound, character rigs and layout/blocking, but the story and character designs are not mine, so I don’t want to arbitrarily post here what we have so far. However, as soon as I have something solid to share, I certainly will. I’m very excited for this!

On the other end, I have been accepted to both DePaul’s MFA in Animation and the DePaul Quarter in L.A. program this coming fall, so I’m prepping for that as well. It will be my main goal to secure an internship during that time, but just being in L.A. again (even if I will be taking classes at the time) will be fantastic. I’m hoping I will have a little more success with the internship hunt than I did this summer, but then again there is a TON of competition from folks already in the L.A. area during the summer months. Onward and upward!

There you go. I’ll try not to leave such a pause between posts next time…. however, the work comes first, right? Right! 😀

Final "Grandpa" Animatic

Posted: March 23, 2012 in animatics, storyboards

The title says it all. After much more reworking, here is the final “Grandpa” animatic as it currently exists. The old saying goes that ‘nothing is ever truly done, you just run out of time’, but I like it. Once it goes into production I’m sure a few minor things will change here and there, but it’s all part of the process. This version has a scratch track (sound) obtained from Freesound.org, a wonderful collection of free audio contributed by a large community of users for non-commercial use. I would recommend checking it out if you’re looking for sound for student or personal projects.

I will begin the production process on “Grandpa” soon and post updates. Thanks again guys and comment as you see fit!