Thursday, December 15, 2011

the seventh ice princess and the sacred salve

At 4am it's either do this or play video games.
I blame Sishir and his recent doings.

sick tissues

The third card I worked on at JibJab was Sick Tissues. The animatic and original sound design was done by my mentor Jeff Gill and the end card was designed by Will Staehle.

This project was a ton of fun all the way through. I was the given the animatic and the option to do it in stop motion. From there I spent several days building the puppets and doing some simple tests to figure out how to approach animation and better understand how the puppets would function. I shot all the final animation in one day (quite a long day it was), and then spent a few more to composite the footage and finalize it.

The original drawings in the animatic were basically cubes with stick limbs and three fingers. They were simple and had a lot of appeal. I decided I wanted to keep that best I could and so made simple wire limbs to be coated with plasti-dip (a black rubbery plastic much like you find on tool handles) (special thanks to Jeremy Fisher for telling me about the stuff in the first place!) The arms were made with braided floral wire and the legs with galvanized wire twisted 2 ply. I then wrapped them in duct tape to bulk them out before dipping. In hindsight I would look for an alternative to duct tape. It ended up stiffening the limbs too much in places, making it harder to bend and harder for it to hold its posed shape. Something a little less resilient like cosmetic foam might have been more forgiving and uniform. Each limb got about 3 coats of plasti-dip and between coats got to chill out on my makshift drying rack of styrofoam with t-pins stuck into it.

The tissue boxes I opened on one side and gutted. I got some scrap wood from a local hardware store and they even cut it down for me. These pieces of wood I epoxied to the inside of the box where the legs and arms would attach. The cardboard wasn't that strong and I didn't want to risk over-stressing it by bending the limbs directly against it - so I brought the wood in as reinforcement. Once dried to the box I drilled holes through them for the arms and legs, cut away the extra plastic on the limbs, untwisted the wires, cut them down, threaded them through the holes in the box, and epoxy puttied them onto the wood reinforcements. They held up quite well during animation.

For the feet we decided against tie downs and went for the simpler approach of building nails into the feet of the puppet to hold it to a block of dense styrofoam. Since the tissue boxes wouldn't be walking all over the place I could foresee no obvious limitations in using nails, and they really worked out great. They were long enough and the foam was strong enough to avoid any torquing issues with puppets falling over when the weight was at an angle.

Animating these guys was super fun. They're basically just a cog with arms and legs, which really simplifies things and helps you stay clear. As I said above though, it was difficult to keep the arms to maintain more extreme curves. This made it almost impossible for the tissue box to put his hands on his face or hold his head. You could bend them there no problem, but they would always bend back some and you'd lose contact. I found this out very quickly in my short animation test. The impromptu solution of clear tape, however, turned out to work rather well for getting hands to stay and was barely visible in the photographed frames. Though, whenever you introduce a fix somewhere other things tend to happen.... In this case the tape, while it was largely fine during the test, started to pull off small bits of the box coating during animation. I would paint fix certain areas as necessary. Another limitation that I ran into was not being able to rotate the box back far enough while it was on its knees. Physical space just didn't allow for it, but thankfully compositing did, and it really helped to boost the impact of the end.

The card was animated on twos with Dragon Stop Motion. A word for the wise though, the twos setting in dragon will still play back as if it were shot on ones, even though it's numbering as twos. I didn't realize this until after doing the final animation, which made things rather difficult along the way. For this card I was to stick to the timing in the animatic as much as possible. In my test I animated a portion of the animatic and I noticed very quickly that the motion was just too fast and started adjusting the timing while I was animating. The test was still fast, and when later corrected, too slow. I tried to hold strong anticipations and important contacts as much as possible to keep things reading. It was when I was finished animating and tried to sync it with audio that I realized that all along it had been playing back at the wrong frame rate. Setting it to the correct rate finally made a world of difference. And, since I had stuck to the timing of the animatic and my x-sheets (x-sheet are so awesome when you're doing stop motion) everything played quite well. Overall I think the mismatch worked out in the end. It made me animate snappier and clearer out of necessity, and the final was better for it.

If you like boring progression reels, check this out! (20mb, 2:40ish) It's a compilation of quick tests and few progression renders of the final. You can see some of the stuff I was talking about here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Don Brandes and Kim Elam from a career services workshop. Preset 12 box palette from a 96 big box. Standard restaurant crayons below. Trying to figure things out.

Friday, October 28, 2011

white out

Recently my screen printing class put on a show where we printed directly onto the floor in the crossley gallery. I had a whole section with these guys.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

don't lose a kidney

Don't Lose a Kidney is another card I worked on at JibJab. There's not a lot of process to show for this one, just some words. For this card I did everything past the animatic stage. It was shot with a camera as video and then completely time remapped to give it a stop motion feel and control the timing of it. The animation was done on post-it notes and composited in. For more cards in this style check out the newest in the birthday section of the site, there's as small series of them.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

dearly departed denim

I may have lost a pair of pants, but I've gained a friend.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

tie the knot

The first ecard I worked on this summer was "Tie the Knot".
It was animated about a year ago, and already had a working edit with some keying and effects. Initially I was just brought on to the card just to do some rotoscoping in areas like the clamps holding the shoes. That didn't take too long, and I was given the choice to work on the backgrounds for it too, which I jumped on. From there I kept doing more stuff like keying, some motion tracking, sound editing, and the end cards until the piece was done.

These are what the raw shots looked like.

And here are the backgrounds I made. Shot three has all the elements separated to create a multiplane effect in after effects. That second row of shoes in the shot is just the first row of shoes duplicated and moved around.

Props that needed repeating I would make as assets and then skew as needed. I Dug through some psds and made these gifs. It's so much the actual progression, just turning layers on/off, but you get the idea. (click them to see them not cut off)

For the end cards I made the lettering out of shoe laces! I pinned them to a template (printed backwards to keep the backside of the letters as the working surface) and super glued them to hold their shape.

Monday, September 12, 2011

shrimp jockey

This week's DIPSY. Topic: tide rider.
Had a bit of a rough start on this, so maybe 40 minutes went into it?
Painter X.

24 hour film

I finally made one.

This actually happened to my friend Eddie on his first day in LA. It was so completely absurd we ended up quoting it all summer long and I eventually made this too. This was done in photoshop then timed and jittered up in After Effects. I had never done anything like this before and it was a lot of fun. I'm a touch ashamed that this is on the internet, but it seems that's pretty common for 24 hour films...

Done for the Ashlyn's first Manimate.


Sunday, September 11, 2011


More cafe sketching. A few of us from JibJab would go cafe sketching almost every Thursday after work. Often times there wouldn't be enough other people around so we would just end up drawing each other. Then we created a wall of drawings of everyone from work.

Here are some of mine.

Check out their blogs in JibJab section of links. They're cool dudes (:

Friday, August 26, 2011


I want to see them. I bet they're pretty, even if they're too small to really see. Water is always pretty.

Monday, August 1, 2011


Crayons are pretty transparent stuff.... and they don't build up well at all. The first layer holds fast to the paper and subsequent layers don't want to go on. Crayons characteristics translate pretty closely to oil pastels too... Below is a drawing I did of my duplex leading out to the alley (I have an alley!!), but I did it at night! in the dark! It was pretty interesting... It's incredibly hard to tell what color's you're using beyond hints of the cast, so you end up relying on value a lot more. Below that is a gouache painting from one weekend afternoon. They were each about an hour.

the structure of things

trying to figure stuff out.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

people both real and fictional

spring sketchbook,

figure it out

Some figure drawings from work. Nothing over 3 minutes, ever.