Friday, December 5, 2014

Greenscreens: Swipe Left or Right

It’s fascinating just how effective greenscreens can be when used in filmmaking. It seems that nowadays almost every movie uses a greenscreen at some point. And the unique thing about watching these movies is that we aren’t necessarily taken out of the moment, nor are we completely convinced that what we see is real. It’s a strange mix of wonder and confusion, with a hint of skepticism.
And luckily I was able to stumble upon a wonderful article by Buzzfeed, called “27 Before and Afters That Show the Power of Special Effects.” Put together by Tanner Ringerud, it’s basically a list of 27 films that have heavily used greenscreen in their production process: from The Avengers to King Arthur. But the thing that I recommend most about reading this article, is playing around with the sliding option they have on the before and after pictures. Sliding left or right will reveal exactly what was greenscreened in and what type of effects were put over the final product.
You can see where lighting is set up, and with a bit of staring you can kind of piece together why exactly they chose to go with the choices they made. Likewise, you can see what kind of characters were put into the movie in post. Such as Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s a saying that goes around that claims you can learn a lot just by watching how something is done. Be it from behind-the-scenes to production stills, there’s always something we can learn even if it’s just from swiping back and forth on a picture.
I definitely recommend this article to anyone who’s interested in seeing how important a skill with greenscreens is, from lighting, to blocking, and far beyond. Greenscreens can create galaxies, giant creatures, blood-thirsty zombies, and much more. They are the unrecognized characters in the film-production process. Ones that shouldn’t be overlooked. Because they build worlds. And that’s what filmmaking is all about.

WURST - Stop Motion

Found this amazingly creative video on Vimeo called "Wurst." It's a clever title because it's a german film and wurst serves two meanings.

It actually took me a while to realize this video was stop motion, and the cinematography was so animated, I figured it had to be green screened. It's quite a cool story as well.

The website has a "how it was made" page which is such a cool behind the scenes aspect.

Openly Gay Characters in Children's Cartoons

This week Cartoon Network featured a same sex couple in an episode of "Clarence".

The show follows Clarence and the various other people in his life. It's a slice of life comedy that boasts a well-rounded cast of characters.

"Clarence" featured openly gay characters in an earlier episode, but they were background characters.
Apparently it was originally going to be a mouth kiss, but the network said no

Where "Clarence" really shines, is in its diverse characters. Clarence himself is from a non-nuclear family, consisting of his mom and live-in her boyfriend, Chad.
 This week's episode "Jeff Wins" centers around one of the main characters, Jeff, and the annual cooking contest he has trouble with each year. In it, we get to meet Jeff's moms!
It's so important that we get openly gay characters in children's media. Jeff having two moms was by no means the focal point of the episode. It's little things like that that make the biggest differences. There are all sorts of families, and there's nothing wrong with that. At all.
If you're interested in seeing the episode for yourself, you can check it out here

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

For the final blog I chose to look at Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 because I just watched it on Netflix and found myself marveling at the animation.  I think what impressed me most was the different textures that the animators created - from the wild tufts of hair on the main characters head down to the patterns in the antagonist's lab vest. 

I also enjoy how the animators use subtle things to convey the characters changes in emotion - the pupils getting bigger to show excitement, or the eyebrows furrowing to show disappointment and sadness.  Overall, I thought this was an impressive, and hilarious, movie that everyone should take some time to watch!

Over the Garden Wall

Over Thanksgiving break I got a chance to binge-watch a couple of shows. One of those shows happened to be an animated short series on Cartoon Network called Over the Garden Wall. It tells the tale of two brothers, Wirt (voiced by Elijah Wood) and Greg who become lost in "The Unknown", a dark forest that is filled with all sorts of mysteries. They must find their way home, but they are completely lost. Through their journey back home, they befriend a frog that sings show tunes and a blue bird with an attitude. The four of them make an unlikely and often argumentative group, but they have to stick together to make it out of the forest.

The show has a overall dark tone to it, which is atypical for a kids show, but it still is filled with laughs, smart dialogue, and intrigue. This short was the first miniseries that Cartoon Network has developed and as far as I would say, it was a great success. Patrick McHale, the creator of the show, put together a show that appeals to a wide variety of people. Once I started watching it, I couldn't stop. In fact I loved it so much that I made my friends watch it as well. The show is has only 10 minute episodes so it is definitely binge-worthy. Over the Garden Wall is definitely a show that I would recommend 

Airbnb in One Shot

Behind the scenes videos are always really interesting to watch when you see something as cool as this Airbnb commercial. The whole commercial is done in one shot, which is pretty amazing considering how intricate and precise the movements are. The behind the scenes video shows the process of creating these models that move and change smoothly and seamlessly. The models are highly detailed and coordinated. A rough digital version of the animation was created to get the movements right and then the physical models were created and aligned to perfectly match it. It’s also cool to see people physically rotating and moving set pieces. The model itself is a miniaturized world that is very pleasing to travel through.


One of the classic (if not THE classic) animated films is getting the live treatment in 2015.  Cinderella, the tale of the mistreated step-child, turned princess will be getting a Disney reboot. Take a look at the trailer below. 

The film looks to be a classic, but modern take on the fairytale. Using animation and motion graphics sparsely to allow the story and setting to seem real. This is pretty different than the last largely received adaption of Cinderella. 

This version starring Brandy and Whitney Houston is one of my personal favorite fairytale movies. Compared to the new release though the film is over animated and a campier version of the tale.  I am glad that Disney went in a different direction this this film. 

I'm also very interested to see how it compares to the original!

Until next time,


Thursday, December 4, 2014


There is nothing more nostalgic than Fantasia. My mom recalls working at her local movie theater as a teenager in the 70's when it returned to theaters. She says that snack sales were through the roof during that time, due to the psychedelic nature of the film. This was a genius marketing strategy.

The first scene from Fantasia that I'd like to address is one of my favorite sequences of all time. It is so beautifully done. The music goes perfectly with the animation. The second is more silly if anything; how they came up with the idea of hippos, ostriches, elephants, and alligators dancing is beyond me. The third is perhaps the most famous of all of the scenes from Fantasia. The easily recognizable Mickey Mouse steals the show.

I see Fantasia as one of the best animated films of all time.

Planet of the Apes

I've recently watched the movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and wow. The graphics in this movie are amazing. Not only do those monkeys look pretty realistic but looking it at a CGI point of view, I am  baffled on how they can get the motions so well done.

Definitely a movie worth checking out!