Tuesday, April 29, 2014

12 Oz. Mouse

Recently I had an awesome experience witnessing the magic that is 12 Oz. Mouse. This show ran on Adult Swim from 2005 to 2007, and was created by Matt Maiellaro (creator of Aqua Teen Hunger Force). It is an insanely weird show, and is known for it's signature style, something that I would call a mix of awkward, passionate, western, mysterious, dark, and humorous all at the same time. The show centers around a mouse named Fitz who goes on various adventures so he can buy more beer. Over time, Fitz begins to recover lost memories of a child and wife he once had that have now vanished.

Maiellaro jokingly states that he convinced Adult Swim to produce the series by telling them it would cost 5 dollars and they could just use some of the paper in the copier to produce the images. This does not seem like such a stretch, because the animation in this show lacks so much, but in doing so gains a great amount and develops its own signature look. Maiellaro also stated in an interview that he chose the people in his writers office to play the characters, with himself voicing the main protagonist.

The animation studio who helped create the show, Radical Axis (based in Atlanta, Georgia), has animated for shows such as Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Robot Chicken, and the currently airing Archer. They have offices all over the world, and may even be something I will consider looking into, so I can give people coffee and make no money. However, it's really amazing to see the style contrast from 12 Oz. Mouse to a show like Archer which I am also currently in love with!

Once you watch, you'll understand that the show sort of takes on a life of its own, first starting out sort of dark and dreary, and then gaining life and humor as Fitz embarks on his adventures. It's awesome!

Here is a clip from an episode!

Also, here is the site for Radical Axis.

And The Survey Says... After Effects!!!

So in my random search amongst YouTube, I happened to stumble upon a really cool YouTube Channel of a foreign studio who has made videos of different movie clips. So the one that I watched the most recently was a Fast and Furious RC Car chase.

The use of After Effects in this video was quite clear and quite obvious. But the cool thing is, it's subtle enough to not know that it was an RC car race, besides knowing or clearly seeing that they were RC cars.

The use of smoke for the burning rubber in the very beginning was really cool, but I have to say that the two coolest FX that were in the video were being able to see the heat coming from the tailpipes when the cars were lined up at the line waiting for the green light. And also the fire at the very end of the clip.

The entire video featured After Effects to help enhance that feeling of being able to trick the mind into thinking you were watching a real car chase. I know that I have learned enough to be able to do some of these effects, but I hope to strengthen my knowledge of After Effects to be able to know much much more.

Unnoticed VFX Vs.Big Budget VFX

 Everyone always blogging and talking about the big blockbusters with huge budgets and amazing special effects that really stand out to the audience. But what about the smaller budget movies that have visual effects that people don't notice. The visual effect that are subtle that are hidden from the viewer. Wes Anderson  does a great job of this is "The Grand Budapest Hotel". For the people that don't know who Wes Anderson is, a American director and screenwriter. His films are known for their distinctive visual and narrative style. You might know him for the academy award for best animated feature for "Fantastic Mr. Fox" back in 2009. In the video below it shows the small sets that they went through from green screen to miniature sets but it shows more than just the miniature sets that went into this movie. 

For a big blockbuster like gravity it is no surprise that it has won seven awards and was such a hit in the box office. Alfonso Cuarón’s 3D space epic "Gravity" leads the 86th annual Academy Awards with seven wins, including the prize for best visual effects. Gravity has taken in $704.9 million globally including $270.5 at the domestic box office and $424.4 internationally. The video below talks about the film from script to screen and it really shows the narrative behind the dramatic story. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Title Sequence: My haves and have nots

As everyone currently taking this class (Motion Graphics and Animation) already knows, we are all currently working on our very own title sequences. Some of you are "done", some of you are "almost done," and some of you are beginning to panic that there's no way your project will be handed in on time. The reason for having 'done' in quotes is due to the fact that no project is ever actually finished. More can always be done.

For my project, I decided to make an opening title sequence for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. The film doesn't actually have its own opening sequence, so accidentally copying the original hasn't been an issue at all. The image above is actually a screen shot taken from the end of my sequence. I don't mean to toot my own horn or anything, but it looks pretty good if I do say so myself. Just like a movie trailer, though, I really only like to highlight the best aspects of my work. What I really want to do is put out my successes and failures with this particular project in writing. Why? I have absolutely no idea.

Let's start from the beginning. Now, I'm writing this post on Monday, but the project is due on Wednesday. Some faults I write about may be fixed by the time I submit the title sequence (probably not). As I was saying, the first noticeable issue with my sequence spans over the first 30 seconds--yes, it's a pretty big problem. The problem is that there's simply too much empty space. As the production companies' names are displayed, there's probably about five seconds of black between each of them. It's a bit boring and needs to have something there to kill the time. The idea of somehow incorporating the bat theme into this section of the sequence was given to me, but I'm not quite sure how I'd do that. Maybe just some audio? I don't know. The good part about the opening is that it's clean and simple. It looks good and it gets the job done.

The second part of the title sequence is a bunch of Sure Target. Again, it's really simple. I find that totally OK for this section, though. Each name that appears is matched to the music. They come and go on beats and no name sits there for longer than two or three seconds. The pace is certainly much faster than the opening. I was also able to work with a light that really added to the feel of the sequence. I parented the light to the Sure Target camera, which gave more of a focus to the field of view, and added a blue tint to it to match the color scheme of the film. I also messed around with the depth of field to give a greater sense of focus for viewers. This part of the sequence is definitely simple, but it has a bit more artistic value to it than the opening of the sequence.

As the sequence comes close to the end, I needed to find a good transition to move from the name credits to the movie title and bat symbol. Since, after all, the guy's name is Batman and the character's disposition largely stems from his phobia of bats, I figured there must be a way to incorporate the creatures into the sequence. What I ended up doing was using the bats as a sort of wipe transition. I keyed out the background of the video I found on YouTube and colored the layer so the bats were a dark gray instead of black (don't want them disappearing into the background, now do we?!). I have yet to add any bat sound effects--which will definitely add to quality of sequence--but I'll get to it eventually.

The closing of the title sequence is certainly my favorite part of the entire project. As you can see from looking at the first image in this post, it's clean and just looks really damn good. The bat cleanly drops from off screen and the actual title fades up on a beat (which is pretty awesome). The best part about the closing take place in the last couple seconds. What I basically did was made the title and bat become engulfed in black. It's pretty awesome if I do say so myself. To really make it look like it was disappearing into the blackness, I added a quick blur with a couple keyframes to the title and then dropped the opacity once the bat was completely covered so the text would completely disappear. It's a simple concept, I know, but that didn't make it any easier for me to figure out, so I'm quite proud of it.

Overall, I'd like to say I'm proud of this final project. It's not perfect, by any means, and it needs a lot of work. I'm happy with what I hope the final product will be, though, because it really showcases what I've learned this semester (which is a whole lot more than I knew four months ago).

Friday, April 25, 2014

Source Filmmaking

Technology is constantly trying to reach new heights in every aspect of filmmaking; that includes animation. I decided to do some research to see what I could find. The most interesting article I came across, described a new animation tool from Valve called the Source Filmmaker (SFM). This is a program that allows you to make films by using the world of a video game. The video below does a great job on describing this technology, but what I thought was the most interesting was that SFM allows the animator to create scenes from action, camera, to lights, instead of the typical order, lights, camera, then action. Even after they have created the whole film, they can pause a scene and play with lighting, camera angle and even change facial features in order to tell a different story. The facial feature aspect was the most impressive, since the technology allows for subtle nuances. 

Though I can't see this technology becoming a huge hit in the professional world of animation right now, I think it offers a lot of opportunities to viewers, especially since new audiences are starting to lean towards stories and environments they can influence. Look at how many reality shows rely on audience tweets or participation to determine the outcome of the participants (ex: Opposite Worlds). They have already done this with some chapter books. At the end of the chapter, the reader can decide which action the character should take and will be told which chapter is the next one to read based on that action. There are even websites that allow you to create shorts where the audience can decide what will happen to the characters. All of these are in the beginning stages, but just think what this could mean for the cinema experience. Instead of being drawn into a story, we can decide how the story should end, which defeats the whole purpose of watching a story unfold in my opinion. I'm not saying that this is what SFM is trying to do, it's just the concept of always being able to manipulate a story in anyway that is growing. I think SFM is actually very interesting and can't wait to see where it takes the industry, although I think most animators will stick with traditional methods for now. 

Here is a link to the SFM website for more information. Here is the article I first used as a reference.

By Amber Capogrossi

The Making of Small Soldiers

So many of us 90s kids know the movie Small Soldiers. Well if you don't I definitely recommend you watch it, its a pretty entertaining movie! After taking this animation class I have really been watching movies in a different way. I now need to watching all the behind the scenes so I can learn how they created what they created. This blog I am going to spend time explaining how they created the Small Soldiers.
Just for the people who haven't seen the movie here is a little back ground information. Small Soldiers revolves around two teenagers, who get caught in the middle of a war between two factions of sentient action figures, the Gorgonites and the Commando Elite.
(Link to more back story)So obviously the creators of the movie had to figure out how to make these action figures move like action figures but also make them seem more alive. Since CG was still in its expensive infancy, Stan Winston Studios was called upon to create puppet versions of the sentient action figures in the film. Controlled by rods and cables that would later be digitally removed in post production, the characters required carefully choreographed performances from the studio's puppeteers to create lifelike motions.
Here is a video that just show you the puppeteers controlling the action figures. It is pretty impressive how life like these characters are created! Check it out!

The Steam Machine

     The steam machine is a new gaming console coming out 2014. It developed by Valve Corporation, the creators of many popular games such as Half Life, Team Fortress, and Portal as well as the digital game distributor Steam. To understand the Steam Machine first we have to know what steam is. 
     Steam is a digital distribution, digital rights management, multiplayer, and communications platform developed by Valve Corporation. It is used to distribute games and related media online, from small independent developers to larger software houses.As of January 2014, there are over 3000 games available through Steam and 75 million "active" users. In February 2014, it was announced that Steam had surpassed 7.5 million concurrent users.In October 2013, it was estimated that 75% of purchased games downloaded for the PC are through Steam.

     Now within the year valve will be releasing its Steam Machine. The machine is basically a computer that runs an open source Linux based operating system called Steam OS. The machines will come pre-built and vary in size and hardware depending on the price of the machine. Like PCs however most of the machines will allow the owner switch out the parts with higher end hardware later on. The device is also going to come with a new style of controller that will give the user the same high level of precision and accuracy that PC gamers are used to with keyboard and mouse controls

Halifax Projection Mapping

It appears as though projection mapping technologies are making their way to sports arenas. Last month, the Cleveland Cavilers unveiled a new intro that brought the court to life by using it as a giant projection screen. Following in their footsteps, the Halifax Mooseheads, a minor league hockey team, created an intro of their own. As seen in the video above, there are a large array of possibilities with this technology. At one point, it appears as though all the ice breaks apart, leaving a pool of water before freezing over. In contrast to many similar attempts in the past, what sets these projections apart is their realism. If this trend continues, people may start showing up to games for the intros rather than the sports.

An Effective Yet Chilling Video Game Promotion

It has been said that the things we search for on the internet leave a trail. By going to a certain site, that  generates certain ads which follow and display products based on the type of person the internet thinks you are, and markets accordingly.

Recently I came across a video-game called Watch Dogs (PS3, PS4, X-Box 1 & 360) which involves hacking other people's phones and computers for information. One of the things I've find interesting about this game, is the promotional campaign used.

The website I included takes your Facebook account and analyzes it and calculates several things about you.
  1. Your approximate net-worth
  2. Stalkers in your life
  3. People that could be used against you 
  4. Pawns in your life
  5. People you'd run to in the event you were ever pursued by authorities  
  6. Possible internet passwords 
  7. How well you can be identified 
  8. What type of person you are and how easily can you be manipulated 
  9. The times you you most uses Facebook and what times you'd be most vulnerable for an attack
While I realize that this is only part of a game I'm surprised at how surprisingly accurate some of the things this app mentioned about me, and yet I'm not. Ever since I first got my hands on an internet accessible computer, my parents continually warned me about the dangers what particular information I put out there for the world to see, since that data is never truly deleted. 

The game itself takes place in an alternate version of Chicago where the entire world is connecting by a smart phone internet like operating system. With this world wide internet system it is possible to control just about any function of the city through a smartphone.
Functions including:
Traffic Lights
City Block Power
Subway Systems
Amazing what we can do with our phones

A lot of this potential ability to access and control different internet connected functions reminds me a lot of the TV series and video game franchise of Rockman EXE (MegamanNT Warrior for you American-folk), where things were not only connecting to an all-ecompassing internet system but people were able to battle with their smartphone equivalent avatars or NetNavis. 
NetNavi Rockman/Megaman

TV Series

Not only used as a phone an for internet access, but also for
fighting computer viruses and other malignant programs that
appear is this world.
Megaman Battle Network 6
…Wow, had not idea of the connections between these two things myself.

Sunny and Steve

Since Easter was this past weekend, I thought this adorable short was ever so appropriate. Now I know most of my posts are mainly shorts that I made for kids but this one I just could not resist!  This short reminds me of all my favorite clay-mation christmas movies that are normally played on ABC Family as part of the 25 days of Christmas special every year. Sunny and Steve is my favorite animated short for more reasons than one. MPC created the short and used many techniques to give it a distinct look.

MPC created the set by hand. Only the characters were created digitally. Each character also embodied the feeling that was given from the hand built set from scrap clothes and styrofoam. 
This short is quirky and cute. I think it is funny for all ages. Check out Sunny and Steve!

Anti Bullying Animation & Spoken Word

A friend of mine showed me this amazing spoken word animation on YouTube and I instantly wanted to watch more videos like this.
First I'll talk about the animation in this video:
-the animation is very relax with calm colors but also has a serious tone to it
-without audio you understand the story
-the drawings are cartoony and engaging
-great transitions
-typography is used and matches the audio

This video has a very powerful message, it talks about being bullied and what that does to a person.
The poet has a very soothing voice that makes it easy to listen to and understand. The music added in at about a 1:30 is also fits perfectly. It sets the tone and mood for this part of the video. The music, the words, the art..all makes you feel like you are in the shoes of the poor person who is getting bullied. The story is real and is a situation that a lot of people can relate to.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Frozen Common Sense

Continuing with my recurring theme of cynicism and get-off-my-lawn-you-whippersnappers style of posts (due to my lack of ability to create a well worded, well educating one), I saw a video recently that kind of pissed me off (WOW, alert the press). Shown below, it's an animation of characters from Disney's Frozen doing shot-for-shot Thriller dance. Now of course, in traditional internet style, this video got worldwide acclaim over the past 24 hours or so. Now of course, anything Frozen-related is bound to be popular because it's the law. It's officially written in the law books that all abiding citizens MUST gawk at ANY mention of Frozen on the internet, laugh at it for hours, and share the hell out of it on social media and NEVER, EVER shut up about it in class/at work/while having sex/while on the bus/etc. You must sing Let it Go at all times, even while sleeping. And you NEED to take every Buzzfeed quiz you see to see which Frozen character you are.

I'm getting off topic.

BUT, take the entity that is Frozen and combine it with Thriller -- WOAH!! Nostalgia!! 90's kids!! Combine something from when everything was awesome (because nothing bad happened in the 80's) and something cool on the internet from the present and you have THE BEST THING EVER. It's amazing what people see as the BEST THING EVER. This is not the BEST THING EVER. Here's why:

As pointed out in the comments of this video, chances are, this video ITSELF came to be in probably under 20 minutes. When you watch it you think, "wow! this must have taken foreverrrrr!" but no. Some guy with basic MMD knowledge took pre-made models and pre-made dance moves, downloaded them and inserted slot A into slot B, then took all the credit. The real skill, however, lies in the people that actually MADE the models to look exactly like the characters, and the people who spent hours, days, maybe weeks, tweaking the models to do each dance move motion for motion. But those people don't get the credit. There may be a small grouping of the public that knows where all of the work actually came from. But it pales in comparison to the amount of people that think one guy did all of this. Hell, some people probably credit THIS website for making it. Now this guy DOES give credit to the people that made the stuff, but that's not what I'm getting at. It's that the general public's tunnel vision sees right past all of that. Credit is never fully given where it is deserved. That's the problem of the internet-well, one of millions. It's so easy to let other people get the credit for your hard work.

So, is this video cool? Sure! Is it legendary? No. STOP OBSESSING OVER FROZEN.

Masters of Sex

While I was once again browsing Art of the Title for some inspiration for my title sequence (no Arturo, I'm not done yet) I stumbled upon the intro for Masters of Sex. Despite what you might think, the show is not a straight up porno, but rather a dramatization of the research done by William Masters and Virginia Johnson in the early sixties. So, yes, the show is about sex, but it's much more subtle and witty than the title would lead you to believe.

I haven't actually watched the show, but since it's on my - very long - list of things to watch, I thought I'd check out the title sequence. I was not disappointed. While the sequence doesn't give you a complete idea of what the show is actually about, what it does present you with is pretty hilarious. Without knowing the title of the show, a normal audience member might be tricked into thinking that they're just seeing a montage of stock footage: some animals, food, a bit of medical equipment. With the right mindset, however, it becomes...well...see for yourself. 

The sexual innuendos just keep coming. In an interview with Art of the Title, art director Leanne Dare of Elastic (the same company that does the title sequences for HBO's True Detective and Game of Thrones) said that the concept started with the question "how can we show sex without actually showing it?" and gradually grew from there. The answer to that question? Nailing the audience with a barrage of implied sex, from beavers to time-lapsed mushrooms to trains hurtling into tunnels. It's brilliant, really, and keeps with the general tone of the show. After realizing what they wanted to do with the title sequence, the creative team did what they do best and got - surprise - really creative. To see some really hilarious, really dirty gifs of rejected ideas (and to read the rest of the interview with Dare) head over to Art of the Title right here

The last bit of the sequence is pretty interesting as well: the two teenagers sitting on a bench. Dare explains that Masters and Johnson - the two scientists who studied sex in the 60s - broke up the Human Sexual Response Cycle into four stages: excitement, plateau, orgasmic, and resolution. If you look closely, that's exactly what the teens are doing at different points during the credits. First they meet. Then they hold hands. Then - woah, PG13 alert - they start to kiss. And finally, in a slightly sardonic turn of events, we see the girl smoking a cigarette while the boy sits, exhausted. What a nice way for the creators to slip in a little bit of science when you're least expecting it. 

What's that? You want one last, very appropriately timed gif? Well, ok. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Using After Effects in all the right places

This is not going to be a post that blows your mind, nor will it be a well-articulated post (continuing the pattern of all my others). My goal today is simply to highlight an excellent job one of my editors has done using After Effects. I guess I should give you all the proper context. I'm currently in charge of post-production on the upcoming ICTV show Working Title. With this position comes the responsibility of overseeing the work of three individual editors working on six episodes throughout the semester.

The show is a simple one. Its style strongly represents those of The Office and Parks and Recreation. In a minimally complex show such as this, one would expect there to be very little to do in post-production other than cutting together the footage and tweaking the audio a bit. At least that's what I thought, and to be totally honest, that's mostly what our post-production has consisted of. That, and color correction.

For those of you who understand the basics of color correction (that's the extent to my knowledge), you know it's not usually a particularly complex process; some color adjustments here and there, mess around with the exposure and saturation a bit, nothing too complicated. That's just the foundation of the process, I know. It's enough to understand what I'm discussing, though.

Everyone say hello to Erin! Erin is a wonderful cast member of Working Title and also happens to be one of the editors of the show! While she's doing a great job on her two episodes, she is, unfortunately, not the editor I'm going to showcase this evening.

What do you think of this shot? Pretty good, right? Well lit, in focus, nicely framed. It's a great looking shot for not having any color correction done to it if I do say so myself. The image takes place at the Golden Bell Film Festival (the festival which Erin's film was submitted to). Oh, did I happen to mention this shot actually takes place during the showing of her film? Everything about this shot is wonderful, minus the fact that it certainly doesn't look like a film is showing. Now look at this:

Much better, right? I'm going to be totally honest, this was none of my doing (surprise!). I never thought to ask Eric, the editor behind this spectacular transformation, to make a change like this. He though of it all on his own, and did a phenomenal job. It's a bit difficult to see exactly what he did in this small image to the right, so I recommend clicking the image to see a larger version. I'm now going to try to remember everything Eric did to make the changes you can so clearly see.

To begin, Eric placed two masks over the shot. One around the outside of Erin and the seats in the first row, and another one directly over Erin and the seats (everything else). He darkened both these masks drastically and then added a slight blue tint to both of them to give them that dark, movie theater feel. He then feathered the edges of both the masks to have more of a fade in the exposure change rather than leaving a clear cut between the two masks. After that, Eric added a solid black layer over the entire shot and then simply dropped the opacity to approximately twenty percent to make the shot just the slightest bit darker.

Here's the best part of the whole thing. What you probably didn't notice (which is, in a way, an indicator that he did a great job with it) is that Eric also added two lights to the shot as well: one over to the left and one to the right. The one to the left acts as a light source that one would expect to see from a movie screen. The one to the right behaves as the light that would come from the projector in the back of the auditorium if it were turned on. The lights don't make any major changes to the overall shot, but they serve to give a much more natural feel to the scene. It just goes to show that After Effects doesn't have to be used for animation, but can be used merely to change to look of a project.

I would have never thought to do what Eric did to this shot (or at least I wouldn't have put forth the effort to do it). It's well-rounded editor's like him that we need more of in this field. Interesting fact: Eric is only a freshman. Booyah! Kid's got a bright future ahead of him.

Side note: If at all possible, come to the Working Title premiere this Friday in the Roy H. Park School of Communications auditorium at Ithaca College! Doors open at 4:30pm. Here's the Facebook event. I'm sorry, my producer made me do that...

Friday, April 18, 2014

NAB 2014: What They Don't Tell You

Due to some lucky connections, I was presented the chance to attend the 2014 National Association of Broadcaster's trade-show held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. I worked as a videographer for Avere Systems, a distinguished company known for it's breakthrough work in NAS (Network Attached Storage) Optimization. For those of you unfamiliar with the annual NAB conferences, one-hundred thousand (ish) technology savvy individuals gather together in the enormous Las Vegas Convention Center to promote their own products and/or peruse the newest technology in Entertainment today. It's a big deal. If you want to learn more about the atmosphere and/or companies that present at NAB, check out an older blog of mine that discusses it all here The following material presented in this blog reflect my own personal observations of the 2014 Las Vegas NAB Show, not a re-cap of the most popular new technology. You've been warned.

The 2014 NAB Las Vegas Show-- Central Hall.
When it came to packing for the show, I got the same advice from no less than 5 different female sources: "Don't bring your cute heels. Find some memory foam sandals or un-assuming tennis shoes instead." I ignored the advice the first three times, it was the fourth and fifth plea that finally had me switching out my hot 5 inch heels for the pair of comfortable black "old lady shoes" I usually reserved for funerals. This proved sound advice. Any negative feelings I had towards the kooshy sandals melted away quickly as I walked miles upon miles through the thousands of exhibitor booths. The women's bathroom buzzed with complaints about blisters and pleas for extra bandages. More and more men too, I noticed, began substituting their narrow dress shoes for those of the athletic variety as the show progressed.  

On the first day of the conference, I grabbed lunch around 2 from an Indian-to-go restaurant. There were some tables scattered around the show floor, so I plopped down next to a couple of pretty women and an asian couple. I only had to exchange a few words with the asian couple before I realized that they didn't speak a word of English. I had better luck with the women. Olivia and Brittany were both tall, lean, and gorgeous. These two were classic examples of what most people referred to as "booth babes." Brittany and Olivia both make their living off of conventions and trade-shows. Booths hire beautiful ladies to lure men in close enough to swipe their information badges-- a great way to get the emails of potential customers. While I realize NAB is held in Vegas, I thought that such a large concentration of intelligence would know better than to promote such low-brow business techniques. One booth, run by a big-name brand whom I won't mention, had a girl up onstage presenting raffle prizes dressed only in paint. Really NAB? I expect a higher level of class from such a respected convention. Unfortunately, when it comes down to it, media and technology is still a male-dominated field. Until we see more competent women in suits and polos, the hot painted babes are here to stay.

This is me in a polo.
Business cards are still used in most professional industries as a simple method of exchanging information inter-personally. However, due to the magnitude of the event, NAB has adopted a scanning system that allows exhibitors to collect and organize prospective customers’ information more efficiently. Every exhibitor, convention employee, and exhibitioner is required to wear a badge with a bar code. Each bar code holds the contact/employment info of the individual. This means, instead of trying to organize a forest’s worth of business cards, each booth receives a comprehensive digital copy of all of the customers that were scanned that day. Many booths also keep record of who they scan on a chart somewhat reminiscent of a filmmaker’s shot list. They may, for instance, note the scanned individual’s name, company, area of interest concerning our product, and how valuable that individual would be as a customer. The more interested a company, the higher number they receive on the “scan-log.” Especially at first, I found the whole scanning process very strange. Perfect strangers would shake hands and then present their badges to be scanned. Many companies send mass emails to those who get scanned, so unless genuinely interested in a product, I would suggest steering clear from trigger-happy booth babes.

Minimalist Comic Art Style

This week I decided to take a slight detour from talking about movies, to discussing another popular visual medium, comic books. One artist that has recently come to my attention in the Marvel sphere is Javier Pulido. Based on what I've been able to find about this artist was he originally worked as an artist for the Incredible Hulk back in the 1990s at Marvel. Later he worked on titles The Batman Chronicles and Robin Year One at DC.

The main thing that I found interesting about this artist was the style he employees for some of his comics. This art style seems minimalist and for me was a little bit of shock to see considering I was mainly used to the highly detailed comics I often have come to expect from Marvel.
Incredible Hulks #635
Tom Grummett

New Avengers

Here are a few examples of what Pulido has done. 

Black Cat
She Hulk #1
It was mainly Pulido's art in these new She-Hulk stories that I found interesting. Not only is his style sort of minimalist in comparison to some of the more detailed books these days but also this style reminds me of a comic art style from an earlier era. But the thing that drew me the most this comic was a combination of the water color style cover art and the way Pulido makes use of the space in the pages of the book.

She Hulk Regular Issue Cover
Kevin Wada

She Hulk #2

In this particular set of pages as She-Hulk and the woman and yellow move across the hallway the full immense scape of the area shown, as well as other bits of action going on in the background as well.


Here is a short Disney Animation Studios made in 2012. It is meant to be in 3D, but this will suffice. The story, so simple, is told beautifully with amazing animation. It was directed by John Kahrs, who is also known for his work on some of Disney's most popular films including Frozen, Monster's Inc., Wreck It Ralph, to name a few. 

Here's the director, talking about the inspiration of the short.

Some of My Favorite Pixar Shorts!

I have talked about Pixar in many of my blog posts before! Well today I wanted to share with you my favorite Pixar animation shorts. They do an amazing job with these shorts! They tell a story within a fairly short period of time and many of them don't have dialog which makes it even more phenomenal! Not having dialog allows the viewer to view the real message without words getting in the way. Also it allows people from all over the world to understand what the story is. So here are my top three favorite shorts from Pixar!
(La Luna)

(Day & Night)

(Blue Umbrella)

"Spirited Away" into the World of Miyazaki

I couldn't possibly go this whole semester without talking about my favorite animated film: Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki. I believe someone else wrote a blog on a similar topic, but these films are so good it is worth repeating. When people think about animated films, they usually think they were just created for children. In many cases, this has been true, but not Miyazaki's films. Sometimes, my friends and I will have Miyazaki nights and watch Spirited Away or Howl's Moving Castle or Princess Mononoke. These films are filled with a thrilling storyline, unforgettable characters, and a feeling of adventure that resonates with the viewer for several days to come. This is all accomplished through Hayao Miyazaki's attention to detail, not just of elements in the environment, but behavioral details of characters and a deeper emotional detail in relationships within the story. How he conveys this through images is a truly impressive and beautiful gift. The stories themselves are filled with metaphors and deeper meaning than what is on the surface. It takes a contemplative and imaginative mind to decipher all that is in these films. Every time I watch them, I see something new. I was curious on how Miyazaki makes his films. I focused on Spirited Away:

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                                       PART TWO --------->

I was blown away to discover that Miyazaki writes, directs and animates his own films. It is literally his vision that audiences see when they watch the films. To discover that Pixar and Disney use his films for inspiration says a lot about his abilities to tell stories, and to tell them in a very real way that absorbs the viewer in a new, complex, and surreal world. Here is a true animator and storyteller whose stories resonate from the very young to the very old.

By Amber Capogrossi

Clash of Clans Live Action Trailer

     Clash of Clans is an online mobile game that allows you build and deafened a village from other players. You can upgrade your troops and defenses to be able to attack or defend better. You can also form a clan with your friends. I don't typically like mobile games, but clash of clans is pretty fun. One of the best things about the game is the commercials that are made.

 Possibly even better than the official trailer for the game is the fan made "Movie Trailer" made by Bellpond Films       

Glassworks showing some class

Glassworks is a post production company based out of the U.K. Glasswork designs awesome graphics and animations for a ton of top name brands. Every year Glassworks makes a reel of all their favorite animations that they have made so far. This showreel is absolutely breathtaking!


Glassworks also released a Character Showreel of all the characters they have recently created. All of these characters are so creative. I love the paper towel animation, it shows that it is soft and strong at the same time! I am not a fan of the Crocks animation, personally because I hate feet and think Crocks are meant only for children, but hey to each his own.


Help support Charlie Kaufman's new animated film!

Charlie Kaufman, writer of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, and Adaptation, is teaming up with Starburns Industries, Inc. to create his first animated film. Starburns industries are responsible for their signature claymation look, and have even branched into computer animation with Adult Swim's "Rick and Morty." The film has raised well over it's intended goal, actually almost doubling it, but if you guys are fans of Kaufman's work you should definitely support it! Because, the more money they have, the more they can do! I have personally been a huge fan of Charlie Kaufman ever since I saw Eternal Sunshine, and it is still one of my favorite films to date.


Here is an interview with Kaufman on one of his later film, Synecdoche, New York, Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. This film, is truly brilliant and does some amazing work in terms of Set Decoration. It is about a man who creates a play within a play within a play within a play within a play and so on..As the play progresses, sets have to be built within sets within other sets. I'm very excited to see what he can do with an animation team, as his live action films have beautiful imagery as well! Check out the trailer below.

The Triplets of Belleville

The Triplets of Belleville
is a 2003 animated comedy film by Sylvain Chomet. The completely bizarre plot and unique style of animation has made it a film I've returned to again and again and recommended to others countless times. I enjoy films that employ a variety of types of animation, especially hand-drawn with computer generated aspects. I've listed a few shots below that exemplify this strange style.

Here is the film's original trailer:



The image above is hand-drawn, but the digitally blurred background image adds a sense of depth that you won't find in earlier hand-drawn animation. Additionally, if the image above were in motion, you would see the way in which the character's head in the foreground moves from side to side, giving the impression of a three dimensional sense of space.


The image above, from a sequence in the introduction of the film, exemplifies a different style than the remainder of the film. Showing the triplets in their earlier days, this part is a combination of hand-drawn and computer generated imagery as well. Additionally, a filter is employed to make the footage seem archival.

The video below is a making-of by director and lead animator, Sylvain Chomet:

If this film seems like something you're interested in, I recommend checking out The Illusionist as well, a film Chomet made in 2010:


And just for fun, here is a super strange music video made to accompany The Triplets of Belleville theme song with some fun German impressionism:


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Imagine your favorite movie without special effects...you'd see a lot of green screens, 3d models, plain backgrounds and etc. Your favorite movie would most likely not be profitable. I found a YouTube clip of movies with and without effects.
Though I already knew adding an effect to a clip makes it look much better it still baffles me how much detail goes in to special effects as well as, how much time goes into it.

So much detail also goes in to how clips are shot as well. Technical issues like a wire showing can cause massive amounts of problems in post production. Close attention must be paid to the placement of actors. If an actors arm reaches outside of the green background that can lead to hours of rotoscoping.
It's small details like that, that make me appreciate movies a lot more. (Even if it has a crappy story.)

The Inverse of Progress

We as a society seem to be a living paradox. In the present, technology is at an all-time high level of advancement. Every day, more and more things are discovered/invented and one can looj back one week and say "I don't know how I survived back then without x". But, at the same time, the general public seems to have lower and lower standards every day.

You would think that with the level we're at, people would demand technological marvels lije holograms, jetpacks and futuristic things of the sort. But, in 2014, the most downloaded iPhone app was a game with primitive graphics that involved mindlessly and repeatedly tapping the screen. That is all it takes to demand peoples' attention. On the internet, anything is achievable. But, people continue to gawk at trivial things like memes and vague pictures that can refer to anything. The level of intelligence on the internet gets lower and lower with each passing moment. Now of course, I'm no better. I often find myself laughing at memes and reaction faces. I'm just as human as anyone else but I do realize there's more internet beyond memes and there are more technological wonders than Flappy Bird, and I try to broaden my horizons. But sadly, the foreground of the internet is cluttered with the same things rehashed and reposted over and over and over again. Standards for quality material sink lower and lower.

And the biggest offender, of course, is this asshole.

Our Current Projects

So clearly working on these projects have been a lot of work and taken a lot of time. But after all of the work that we have put in, it has most definitely come a long way. The insert yourself into a movie project has honestly been the most difficult one. I feel as though it required the most amount of work just to be able to find a scene that it was even possible to insert yourself into.

Me doing Ferris Bueller, I thought that it wouldn't be too difficult. Clearly I was wrong when I chose a scene that was just about 5 minutes long. But that's not the point. The point is that learning to roto-scope yourself into a project will be able to help me out much later in life. Especially if I am able to possibly get a job working in post.

The name project and the intro project are also very time consuming, however, I felt as though we would be able to be much more creative and show our style and show what we can actually do and what we have actually learned in this class. The name project that I did was difficult and time consuming, but I feel as though it came out really good for the amount of information that I know.

The Dexter project that I'm doing is taking me the longest because I have my own footage that I am trying to adjust to make it fit into the intro. Being able to put cool effects into it also is time consuming because putting an effect that doesn't exactly fit can really hurt you and throw off the whole aura of your project.

Anyway, the point of this post was to talk about the projects that we are working on in class. Once they are done, I can't wait to show all of my friends that I was able to accomplish such a thing.

Inspiration to a career into graphic design and motion graphics CMYK+White

"White" represents education and the endless possibilities of a clean slate.
They are committed to sharing skills with the next generation of designers
in both the academic setting and through workshops. A white canvas represents incredible potential, which they at CMYK+WHITE, INC. aim to develop and push as far as they can.

The K represents the motion graphics that they bring to life. Black is a reference
to the early days of the motion picture before color technology was available.
Their motion graphics capabilities and include animation, interactive media and web design. Motion is the strongest visual pull to attention in humans. In all of our work we strive to create something that is visually appealing and meaningful.

The Y represents the branding, editorial and packaging that they design.
Yellow is said to have a stimulating impact on our memory, which is
extremely important to the success of branding. Yellow is also the color
of inspiration and energy — all of which motivate the visual experience
in each logo, magazine layout or package that they create.

“C” represents the interior and exterior spaces that they create. Cyan is a color
prominent in our natural environment — in the sky and sea. They aim to create
environments that reiterate the brand and message in a memorable way. With each space they aim to engage people with the environment and the sensory experience of moving through the space.

This is an inspiring graphic design company that everyone should strive to work for. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Where the Wild Things Are

People are still going crazy over Spike Jonze's latest film, Her (ok, maybe it's just me), but I'd like to take a moment to step back from that OS-dating, high-waisted futuristic flick and talk about something a little more 2009: namely, Where the Wild Things Are. While people were pretty mixed on the overall plot (I'm a huge fan and think that Jonze did the best he could have done, considering he adapted it from a children's book with very few words) but something that most people seem to agree on is the use of special effects. The 'Wild Things' in this film are sometimes cuddly, sometimes terrifying, but alway visually striking. 

I was surprised when I first learned the the Wild Things were not entirely CGI, but rather real-life actors in giant animal costumes. In retrospect - and in line with Jonze's vision - this makes a lot of sense, as computer generated Wild Things would have involved a lot of greenscreen work and would make Max's reactions seem less sincere, dulling the overall emotional impact. All of the costumes, however, had static faces, since it was next to impossible for people to control the facial features of such large creatures. This is where things get interesting. 

Working closely with Michael Eames, the Animation Supervisor at the London-based Framestore, Jonze motivated a team of artists to get exactly the final product that he wanted. It started with projection mapping, but quickly moved on to something much more. Character suit performers were filmed, and their heads and faces were tracked in 3d, so that the appropriate emotion and tone could be recorded for each line. Then these images were projected onto 3d models, bending to the appropriate curves and angles of each unique face. Finally, hair and other textures were added, giving the final appearance that you can see in the film. You can read all about the entire process, from start to finish, in this article from Animation World Network

The final effect is one that has stuck with me a long time. I think it's a great example of what can be done when you combine CGI effects with good ol' fashioned practical costumes and what basically amounts to full-body puppets. It's a beautiful film, and the Wild Things never once look fake or unbelievable. Their bodies are real; giant costumes made of fake fur, but real nonetheless, and their eyes are something that only computers could generate. It really sets the tone for the whole movie, and I am always in awe of how perfect they are. 

Last but not least, the film has one of my favorite trailers of all time. Take two minutes to watch it. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Did Michael Bay actually do something right?

The Transformers trilogy is absolutely awful. Like most of Michael Bay's 'films' they are one-dimensional action flicks trying to disguise themselves as something more meaningful. Sorry Bay, but you're not fooling anyone. There's not a single Bay film that I have found cinematically pleasing, nor have I ever found a reason to commend the director, except for one exception.

While I do not necessarily agree with Bay's style of filming or directing, there is at least one thing he's done right all these years (besides managing to perfectly resemble Michael Bolton): hiring an excellent team of visual effects specialists. More specifically, I'm talking about the Transformers movies. While I find them to be terribly painful to watch, there is certainly something to admire about the films. The visual effects behind the absurdly complicated alien robots is simply breathtaking.

To start off, Destroyer, an enormously impressive creation found in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, took 72 hours to render...per frame! Pretty crazy, huh? Let's be honest, though. Anyone can make something that takes weeks to render. That's not the impressive part. The impressive part is that the single Transformer was put together by 6-8 individually created, incredibly detailed vehicles. Imagine how long that would take you to create. Now, imagine how long that would take you to create a second time once your director told you it wasn't good enough. I can only assume you'd be pretty upset with that news. Essentially, the animators were instructed to go back and make the machines twice as detailed as it already was, and THEN to reconstruct the final robot with all 6-8 individual pieces.

Another kudos for Bay goes to his ability to bring in practical visual effects. On the set of Transformers 2, Bay was able to bring in a sizable number of military vehicles (tanks, bombers, F16s, you name it) to fly over set, drop flares, and just add some level of believability to his otherwise ludicrous film. Bay is also a fan of on-set explosions. They're dangerous, yes, but they make for one hell of an effect. It also saves quite a bit of postproduction time and effort. Speaking for anyone who's ever worked postproduction on a film, we all greatly appreciate it.

Bringing it back to postproduction visual effects, the aircraft carrier scene of Transformers 2 is also quite an impressive feat. I never really gave it much thought, but much more than most people would ever expect went into this scene. The team shot actual burning miniatures and debris with blue screens that were later composited into the completed animations. The people on the carriers were a mix of animations and people who were shot tumbling and falling. The aircraft were created by the animators as well. Basically, thousands of pieces were created for this scene simply to be destroyed over the course of a minute. It's like being a kid again after taking hours to build a LEGO model just to have your younger brother completely and utterly demolish it.

Animation is a crazy field to go into. It's often the defining point between a film's success and it's downfall. In Michael Bay's case, it's really the only thing he was able to do correctly.