Sunday, November 30, 2008

Faux Movie Production Logo Animatic

So earlier in the summer, I had the idea to do an arrangement of the Super Mario World "You defeated a koopa kid" victory song, and the more I thought about it, I started to get the idea that it might work perfectly as a movie production logo, if Nintendo ever had some sort of in-house movie studio or something.  So, I decided to do a MIDI version of the arrangement, and put together a quick animatic of what it might look like (watch in High Quality if possible):

So there it is!  Turned out allright, I think.  The next phase, if I decide to keep going with it, will be 3D layout/previs to see how the camera animation will play out in full 3D.  Hope y'all dig it so far.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cheetah DS Crash Drawing

Over the years, my DS has gotten more fragile especially when playing games off my M3 Lite, and sometimes it will just randomly crash in the middle of a game, evoking this momentary feeling of "wtf!" This drawing started out as just a head-sketch I was doing at work, which then evolved into this upper body image, which I decided to splash color on. Overall, a boring pose, but I thought I'd post it anyway!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Cat!

This past Wednesday was my friend Cat's birthday.  She's a music teacher at several schools in the area, and in addition, every so often she does music performance gigs.  The week of her birthday, she's going to be doing percussion with the Beach City Symphony, which is sweet, but also means she has to spend her evenings at rehearsal all week, even on the night of her birthday.  When she told me this, this image came to mind.  At any rate, Happy Birthday Cat!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Lights Out" animation clip

Towards the end of the summer this year, I was part of a small animation team whose purpose was creating a short film for the Project 21 Film Festival; a Festival that challenges filmakers to produce a film in 21 days.  A friend of mine, Simon Stahl, was the director on the project, which is how I got involved in the first place.  He's a member of the popular online animation school Animation Mentor, and so most of the team consisted of AM members, with a few outsiders including myself.  I served as an animator, technical director, lighting TD, and render wrangler for the duration of the project.  The story is basically a neurotic guy who has a clap-activated light in his bedroom, and a noisy neighbor whose television is causing complications with his sleeping arrangements.  Below is my shot from the film.

We had about 2 weeks for animation, and an additional week for lighting, rendering, and working out miscellaneous problems.  I'm not completely satisfied with my shot, but I think it turned out allright for the purposes of the film.  Which, by the way, ended up winning Best Animation in the festival, so how about that!  So there you have it, actual new animation to show on my blog!  Goodness!  If I'm not careful I might just actually post new drawings here too!! That would be something!

Friday, October 10, 2008

LA Times Article

Hey y'all! I know it's sacrilegious for my first blog post in a long time to be not-artwork, but I promise some is coming very soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share a piece of microscopic publicity. I was interviewed relatively recently by the LA Times about my university art school experience, and the article came out a few days ago with my name mentioned briefly. Click below to see the full article image.

They got my educational info a little wrong, but still a cool mention. Which also reminds me, new season of South Park has started up again, so I'm sure my art-dedication time will be limited. But, new posts coming in the next few days I promise.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Journey Towards Illustration Greatness: An Observation

     Part of the experience of being an artist is constantly being motivated to improve and aspiring to expand your abilities and craftsmanship. I personally feel like I didn't really start to improve as an illustrator until I entered Graduate School and was able to not just practice my skills under incredible instruction, but also have the added bonus of being in an environment now saturated with fellow artists, all with different styles and skill levels.
     After being in the program for about two years, and pulling my draftsmanship out of the world of embarrassing and into somewhat-acceptable, it was then that I could see just how much further I really had to go, and started to observe a general pattern of stepping stones for really great illustration. I say observation only, since not only is this just my own thoughts and opinions, but also if I knew exactly how to become great, I would probably be closer to getting there myself. At any rate, I like to think of these phases as three general stages:

Stage 1: Static, Flat and Constrained

We've all been here before. This is the phase when the artist will be interested in illustration, and making valiant efforts to render the images in their mind, but lack the knowledge of anatomy, composition, silhouette, and directionality, let alone the ability to push the forms into 3D space. The result then, is work that generally comes out flat, constricted, and generally unappealing. Though, in the artists defense, they are making a valiant effort to improve. Or even if they aren't, they are at the very least putting in some good mileage towards improvement though experience.

Stage 2: Good Yet Boring

At this phase, the artist has now become instructed in the ways of form, composition, anatomy, and their illustrations are now starting to resemble the shapes and images they are attempting to communicate. The problem here is, the illustrations in this phase are usually rather stale and end up looking the same. They may be well-constructed, but the artist is still roaming around within their comfort-zone, and are focusing mostly on the technical and academia aspects of constructing the image, rather than variation in style or experimentation in different ways to communicate visual ideas. In short, the illustrations become good, but not particularly interesting.

Stage 3: Dynamic and visually interesting

Finally at this phase, the artist has achieved a level of illustration prowess where issues like form, shape, and line are no longer technical concerns or problems for the artist. The focus at this level can now be purely on the communication, adapting whatever style or technique is necessary to properly render the image in a way that it will be most effective.
Usually at this stage, the artist's work consists of a large variety of styles and experimentation, ranging from the realistic (above) to cartoony (below)... flat graphic and highly stylized.
All of these stage-3 illustrations were done by the same artist. An extremely wide range of style but yet all with extreme confidence and deliberate line work, definitely a product of proper foundation and lots and lots of mileage/practice.

I think it's also worth mentioning that not everyone needs to go through these 3 stages in order to be a successful illustrator or artist. It's possible to jump straight from stage 1 to stage 3, and develop an interesting style that doesn't necessarily rely on form or shape to communicate ideas. Of course, by doing this the artist risks not only limiting their style to only one possible look, but also risks that style being appealing to only a very select audience.
Squidbillies is a perfect example of what this kind of style might look like. Of course, the Squidbillies animation team can actually draw incredibly beautifully and just happened to design this particular look for the series (which I personally find very unappealing), but exemplifies that it is possible to make that jump without being a master draftsman; even though it might be very limiting for that artist in the future.

So, there are my idle thoughts on the journey towards becoming a great illustrator. I know I've certainly got a long way to go myself, and my next blog post will probably be yet another boring illustration from my amateur wrist, but I hope this article provided an interesting read, and in terms of how to get there, all I can do is quote my brilliant drawing instructor: "Draw! Draw, Draw, Draw!"

Saturday, August 9, 2008

How NOT to animate

This week's post is a piece of humor for all you 3D animators out there currently fighting with splines. A friend of mine recently had the super-fun duty of cleaning up keyframes on some of his animators shots for a project he was involved with. Apparently some stuff was very clean and required little fixing, but some stuff well, he sent me a screenshot of one of the animators Graph Editors just to get a taste of the horror. Those of you with weak stomachs may want to shield your eyes.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is not motion capture data you are looking at, it is keyframe data. I don't even know how something ends up looking like that. A colleague of mine said "maybe he thought he had to key the hell out of it to keep the spline looking straight". At any rate, hilarious and hideous. If you're ever feeling bad about your own GE looking dirty, you can now have a piece of schadenfreude to look upon and feel better. Enjoy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mouse Lady

Recently on my way back from a trip to Washington D.C. my plane was grounded on the runway for an hour or so, so I decided to sketch some random junk. I started doodling a mouse head and it turned into this mouse-in-dress thing. I imagined that she had won some bet against a fellow companion and was requesting that she get her fair pay. So anyhow, I decided to ink it up in Flash since I hadn't tried that before and throw some color on it, and here it is. Wee.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Meanwhile, on YouTube...

Amidst my random sketching I'm doing (which will be uploaded here soon), I thought I would share a random discovery. So I've been intentionally avoiding posting Jungle Gym to youtube because I was waiting for the festival run to end, and even then was a bit hesitant to share it on the online-video nebula. However, recently I was at a friends apartment and wanted to show them something silly that I had recently saved to my channel favorites. So in order to find this, my sub-intelligent brain thought the best way would be to search for my user account name and maybe it would show up in the listing. Yet instead, when I did this, what came up but my very own film, Jungle Gym, apparently posted 6 months ago now by someone else!!

Almost 100,000 hits, over 100 comments, 300 favorites, ridiculous! All of this happening without my knowledge. I suppose I am happy for the added exposure, but a bit blindsided that this could occur under the radar. I of course realized that in my contract with Aniboom, they reserve the right to re-distribute / re-encode my film in any medium they got their hands on, so theres not much I can do about it, but I suppose this is a cautionary example of what happens when you don't think about what the fine print actually means. Anyhow, I promise more drawings soon.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Summer begins

Well, May has begun and summer has arrived. For me this is a very big summer since I have several weddings to attend, and possibly several projects to help complete. I'm sure some of these projects I'll be posting things about here, but in the meantime I find myself occupied with all kinds of fun and recreational events! Besides getting some continued use out of my Disneyland annual pass, the South Park crew visited Las Vegas this past week to both celebrate the end of the run and to spend some quality intoxicated time with a beloved member of the crew who will be leaving us. Upon return, I decided to take a moment to practice some typography and do a title treatment, since I hadn't designed one in a while.

This is what came out. Clearly it has been some time since I've designed title treatments, but I suppose that's what practice is for. Anyhow, hopefully more artwork to come in the near future!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The End of a Super Phun Time for now

Well, tonight marked the mid-season finale for South Park, and the end of my first run ever at South Park Studios! Overall it was very challenging and a bit stressful at times, but always fun and exciting with each new episode we got to work on. I was officially invited back for "season 12.5", so I'm of course very happy to be coming back this fall! I imagine this will be the last post regarding working at the studio for a while, so I thought I would show a tiny slice of what I get to do at the studio.

As a Technical Director, I create and rig lots of sets, characters, props and effects animation, which 99% of the time we're given specific approved guides from Art Department to follow. Yet, every once in a blue moon, a montage will happen that has a lot of mini-bgs within a larger bg, such as a location within a background that has been pre-designed, but needs a specific angle for a shot. Art Department has more important backgrounds to create than to spend time creating angles that aren't as critical, so this responsibility will pass directly to a Technical Director. Such a case occured for me on our mid-season finale "Super Fun Time" in the "Super Phun Thyme Montage" sequence. I was asked to create a POV within an arcade machine for a video game Butters and Cartman are playing, so I sketched this up at my desk quickly:

On the top is the initial layout, and then some variations simplified for our Animation Technical Supervisor to take a look at. Once it was approved, I went ahead and created / rigged the final setup, which ended up looking like this in the final show:

Hooray, I'm helping! This may seem super minor, but it still gives me great pleasure and excitement to see something I created displayed on network television, assembled with the rest of the fantastic work of my talented colleagues at the studio. Anyway, it's been a blast so far, and I look forward to busting out the remainder of Season 12 when new episodes are in October. Until then, it's time for some sleep, vacationing, and thesis work!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Wacom time

Working the long hours during the South Park run gives me very little time to doodle anything, and I've been wanting to draw some stuff since I bought that new Wacom tablet for home, but yesterday I got a chance to practice using it a little. Often times I'll stand in front of my mirror and make various facial expressions and poses to study how they look and feel, and this was one of those poses that I figured would be a good one to get more used to the tablet on.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fast Times at South Park Studios

Hey y'all (whoever reads this thing). It's been over a month, so I think I really ought to give an update! Sorry no artwork this time, I've been super busy at the world of South Park for the past several weeks! So far I've helped with cranking out the first two episodes of season twelve, and it's been an exciting experience. I was so stoked to see my name in the credits of a show that I'm a fan of, that I took a pic and wrote a nerdy net-slang excited statement on it:

Of course, somehow somebody at South Park found this exact image and posted it in a visible area in the studio. Then, apparently whoever saw it mistook "OMFG!!1" for "Look how awesome I am as #1 on this list", and decided to play a prank on me for the following episode by taking my name out of alphabetical order and tucking it on the very bottom:

I of course had to respond with the above image, since I'm excited just to be in the credits at all, regardless of placement! (But still, very funny guys ;P) It's fascinating to me to see how the show operates from the inside out, and while I don't think I'm allowed to mention anything about what that entails, I can say that the team works incredibly hard, and it's awesome to see them doing what they do best at top-speed now that the run is in full swing. Personally I'm still ramping up my speed a little bit every day in hopes to become on-par with the rest of the Technical Directors soon since speed is definitely a major factor in working at South Park, but I feel like I'm getting the hang of things and am finding my place in the pipeline as my supervisors continue to give me more responsibility with each episode.

On the whole, the experience has been a fascinating one thus far. It's hard work, but rewarding with each episode that rolls out, and getting to work on a new script every week keeps things fresh and fun. More updates to come as the experience continues, and hopefully more drawings!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Yup", it's official!

The end of my second week at South Park Studios has a much anticipated and fitting ending. Everyone at south park, from the PAs to the Animators to Matt and Trey themselves, has a nametag with a South Park character of their choice depicted on it. There can be no repeat characters, so everyones tag is unique. In the first week I was asked to write down a desired character for nametag purposes. And then today at the end of the day, as if reward for surviving the first two weeks and making it to the official run, the Production Assistants came around with all the new tags and affixed them to the appropriate cubicles. I attempted to take a picture with my sucky cameraphone, as seen here:

As you can (sort of) see, I chose Thad Jarvis from season 11's "Guitar Queer-o" episode. This choice made because it was not only an episode I had watched a particularly huge amount of times before going in for my interview, but was coincidentally the animation file that was shown to me in my interview, while I was being explained the production process to. So yes, seeing this outside of my cubicle just makes me even more excited for the run to begin, and to knuckle down and make some South Park!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Headin' on down to South Park...

So, a while ago I mentioned that I was overseeing some potential job opportunities at several companies, one of which was South Park Studios. Well, in early December I ended up interviewing at South Park and they asked me back in January for a competitive training program, during which time I would be trained at South Park while competing against 2 other potential candidates for the Technical Director position. Well, after the 2 weeks, they decided to choose me, to which I of course said:

The company went on vacation for another 2 weeks, but now the show is back in production for season 12. So for the last week and a half I have been working there as the new Technical Director on the TD team! I drew the above image after I found out the news, but haven't had time to flesh it out until recently since I've also been moving to a new apartment. So anyhow, unless I get canned for being an idiot, I shall be working on the first 7 episodes of season 12!