Sunday, 27 February 2011

Final Stretch

Here's the last batch of stills from "Chicken Chokes You" before the finished film goes up (knock wood it'll be done in the next day or so). I'm in the last-stretch, sleep-as-little-as-possible stage of production, which will inevitably lead to a crippling anticlimax depression once I'm finished. Nature of the beast, but this has been a real blast the last few weeks.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Studio Time

More stills from "Chicken Chokes You", the O&A animation I'm barreling through these days:

The action alternates between Jim Norton (with Opie and Anthony) in studio, and the story he's telling in which he, as a farmer, is thwarted by poultry. It's like a very condensed "Chicken Run". The main visual references for putting together the studio assets and backgrounds come from Opie's Youtube channel where he posts segments and appearances he films himself. This one, in which Jimmy presents his idol (and mine) Ozzy Osbourne with 18lbs worth of birthday gifts is possibly the greatest thing that's ever happened ever, in the history of ever. Enjoy!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Render Farm

I'm aiming to have my O&A animation done by the beginning of March and things are looking good, schedule-wise. Unexpectedly, given that I started it as kind of a goof, looking at the finished shots as they come in I'm happy to say this has some of the best animation I've ever done. I know I'm still in the adolescence of my career but there are shots here and there that really seem to be a tremendous leap forward visually. It's a good sign for the feasibility of my next planned traditional animation short 'Everything Esther', which is a long way from even beginning production but this experience has rendered it considerably less daunting. Here are some stills:

Friday, 18 February 2011

Pitched Out

It's been a mostly sleepless week living off cornflakes, yoghurt and instant coffee (my digestive tract is both anxious and befuddled) as I'm gathering pre-production materials for two short film pitches. Hoping to stick with my pattern of producing one short of my own per year, I'm leaning toward the more developed, easier-to-pull-off "Bullies". I have a script and a large chunk of the storyboard done, plus I can get on the asset building while I wait to hear back from potential backers. That way if I don't get any bites I'll have enough material in place to pursue other opportunities or possibly just take more time to knock it out myself.
I'm really excited about this one as it's shaping up to be a completely different visual experience than my previous films, relying more on the production processes of certain commissions and slightly more contemporary character design work. To that end I'm torn between showing off or keeping under my hat the proposed designs I have now. So here's my concession:Speaking of short films (which I guess is pretty much all I do on here) Sophie Klevenow's 2009 short "Noesis", for which I did the sound mix, just got accepted into the AG Kurzfilm German Shortfilm Catalogue, which is excellent and well-deserved news. It really is uniquely remarkable for a student film and has been very well-received with good reason. If you've yet to see it I'd recommend you check it out.Some screening news to end on - "Ground Running" will be getting another showing at this year's Skepto after its inclusion last year. It's part of a 'Best of 2010' pre-festival screening on the 25th which is pretty flattering.Elsewhere - Tamil Nadu, specifically - "The Naughty List" will be part of the 2011 International Short Film Festival of India which starts on the same day. Given the country's increasing relevance within the animation industry it's very encouraging to get a screening over there.
Now to prepare for a weekend of scanning and compositing, fueled by my 18th Müllerlight of the day...

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Li'l Jimmy

Everyone who's familiar with Jim Norton knows he's just adorable. He's the only person on Earth who can pick up trannies or engage in watersports and make said activities seem cute and endearing. He's also known for projecting a dysmorphic self-image that makes my own seem buff and masculine by comparison (which is no mean feat). So the Yimmy character design is more a visualisation of this grotesquerie than an actual caricature of the man himself. Anyway, here's the lovable scamp in action.
The last couple of shots are a nod to Chris Reccardi, one of the more visually daring post-John K "Ren & Stimpy" directors.
That's all you get for today. I'm sure you'll find the emotional resources to muddle through.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Chicken Licked (AKA how the hell did my scanner get so dirty?)

Here are some line tests for "Norton & Friends", my O&A animation. As with my three prior shorts I'm going the longer route of pencils-on-paper rather than tablets. I just prefer the process and I don't have to compromise my style this way, plus I don't really have a deadline so fuggit.Here are a batch of atypical walk cycles. Right now it kinda looks like they're skating but it'll hopefully make sense in the final composited shot.Again, out of context this one's a little hard to fathom but it's strangely hypnotic.
Some quick cutaways:

The last one I'm really happy with, especially given that I have no idea how chickens move and I can't dance for shit. I rarely animate on 'ones' (25 frames-per-second as opposed to 12.5) but in this case I reckon the fluidity of movement suits the pacing of the short.
More, less chicken-ey, more Jimmy-ey tests next.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


More on my radio show animation project, with the working title "Chicken Chokes You". The clip I'm animating is from "The Opie & Anthony Show", undoubtedly SiriusXM's best program in terms of relevance and unfiltered humour. Growing from borderline-unlistenable roots as a 'shock jock' double act, it's morphed into a uniquely authentic outlet for political debate, social satire and theoretical musings interspersed with molestation humour and ridiculing the less fortunate.The duo consist of former nice-guy-doormat-turned-embittered-sociopath Greg Hughes (Opie) along with former tin-knocker-turned-casually-racist-cradlesnatcher Anthony Cumia. Their third mic is standup comedian Jim Norton, with whom I'd been vaguely familiar through his collabs with Louis CK and Lewis Black when I first saw him perform at a charity benefit at Gotham in New York a few years back. I subsequently became a huge follower of his books, performances and O&A in general.I'd say the show's initial appeal was its ability to hit nerves with me that I'd assumed a quarter-century of bitter douchebaggery had eroded, but the more I listened the more I felt a legitimate affinity with what they were doing. It's the same fundamental comfort that I take from hearing performers like Doug Stanhope (as well as the aforementioned CK and Black) that beneath the unending bullshit we're fed by the media in all its forms there are a small handful of people who are scathingly honest. Or, more likely, their opinions and thought processes just happen to coincide with mine, which of course makes them geniuses. I think that's how it works.
Ironically the audio I picked to animate is Jim Norton's 'light' side at work, hilarious when juxtaposed against his usual brutal tirades and confessions of sexual deviancy. I'm not entirely sure how the short will play out of this context, but here's the original audio (thanks to kennethjohnali for uploading the clip):

The show has previously shown a lot of enthusiasm for fan-made animation, holding their own animation festival back in '08 and encouraging some really gifted creatives such as Allthingsmedia and the staggeringly prolific, Terry Gilliam-esque Cokelogic. So if I'm gonna follow through on this I really want to be proud of the result beyond just having some new showreel footage. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Happy Wanderer

The Victoria Film Festival is now a-happenin' until the 13th. "The Naughty List" is being shown on the 12th as part of the pretty unique, quasi-interactive program 'Converge', which begins at 2pm and is spread out among a number of different venues across the city. I can safely say it's the first time anything of mine has been screened at an undersea garden.
Here's the description from the program:"Everything is fair game as ConVergers take to the streets and unique spaces of Humboldt Valley to see how far the Festival can push the new technology. We've searched the world for wonderful short films. Then we found some terrific, unusual and sometimes odd places to show them. After that we got crazy with the technology. You'll watch films on a projector you can hold in your hand, we'll play with video walkmans, portable DVD players, and we'll even take you back to the past with hand cranked players. You can wander the streets and venture into unusual places and catch the ones that take your fancy. Locations will be as stimulating as the films and in many cases reveal a side of Victoria seldom open to the public. The Festival has created an afternoon of play just to demonstrate the explosion of changes in how, where and what we're watching. And so we ask you again: Where do you like to watch?

Starting Point: Go to a Box Office (Oyster Bar or Parkside Victoria Resort & Spa) after 1:30pm to turn in your ticket for a USB Flashdrive wristband that contains short films (yes, even you become a venue!). The wristband will identify you as a ConVerge patron and give you access to all the venues. Also pick up the ConVerge Program with map to all our venues and away you go. But remember to keep a sharp eye out because we've also got some surprises along the streets as you go between venues.

Yes, for those who can never ConVerge enough, we've got a little thing called a party going on after ConVerge is over. Come to the Oyster Bar on Humboldt Street (Between Government and Gordon Streets) for 5 PM enjoy a complimentary beverage and some appetizers to build your strength up after all your wanderings. In addition, all the films will be playing so that you've got another chance to catch any shorts you missed."

That honestly sounds awesome and it's kinda rubbish that I can't be there to participate. But any British Columbians out there who have the time should definitely check it out.
Book online.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Chicken Scratch

Thrown into the mix of day-to-day work, funding applications and self-promotion I'm working on a micro short that'll hopefully scratch my itch to keep on with the traditional 2D stuff. Given that my next short 'Bullies' will be far more contemporary (read: economical) and less in the vein of my usual style, I wanted to take something on that would keep me practiced and possibly give me an excuse to venture into looser, Kricfalusi/Clampett-esque animation. I'll elaborate further in the coming weeks but for now I'll just say it's set to audio from a radio show that I listen to a lot when I work so I figured it'd be logical to tie the two together.
Here are some rough sketches and layouts: