Friday, March 27, 2009

Inside the mind of a 6-year old filmmaker

In between the long hours of running this company (into the ground), coaching T Ball, being a reasonably attentive husband and coercing Flash to give me adequate results, I somehow manage to selflessly donate time to helping kids fulfill their dreams - provided they are related to me and do what I say at least 85% of the time. And have small dreams.

So one day, my 6-year old (who, by the way, has never seen Mad Max) shows up with this drawing of a most heinous bullet car, and says he wants to turn it into an animation. After trying unsuccessfully to convince him that I didn't know where to find any animation equipment, I relented and let him have full access to my Cintiq (which I haven't even started paying off yet, for you cynics who doubt the depth of my fatherly love).

This was the result:

While I helped him with the technical aspects of animation, this film is all Charlie. Every little detail, down to the blood-soaked spikes in the road, came from him. This chaotic, violent masterpiece is his Directorial debut... a Dad couldn't be more proud.

And, he's starting to get pretty comfortable with Flash too. Perhaps I have found some cheap labor to exploit?


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Inspector McCloud Part 6: Uhhh... more Color Animatic

So, here's another piece from the Inspector McCloud Color Animatic / Rough Cut.

In these scenes, we see the Pollution Cartel taking over the city park while Stormy & McCloud get to know each other. Still working with very little animation and temp music (Thank you Juan Garcia Esquivel and John Barry).

Probably going to need a "meanwhile.. " or two.

Have fun!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Inspector McCloud Part 5: Color Animatic

3 weeks, no new postings. I'll try to make up for that here.

We have completed the Color Animatic / Rough Cut of Inspector McCloud, and are ready to share a little!

There is very little animation at this point, and the music is all temporary, to give a taste of the direction we're hoping to take it (thank you Ennio Morricone).

Have a peek at this scene, which takes place early in the show:

Obviously, there is a lot more work to do... we have another pass at animation, as well as a mountain of post production - but we're proud of this little bit.

I hope you enjoy!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009


How the hell did they do it?

How did Christy Karacas and his band of psychos get Superjail on the air? It's sick and subversive, sloppy and disjointed... and completely deranged. And brilliant. This thing is the closest thing to art Adult Swim has ever aired.

I can't get enough of this damn show. And it's not fair, dammit. After many long, long years trying to clean up my designs and streamline my production pipelines, trying to simplify my layouts so I can tell my story quickly and efficiently, trying to keep my characters on model and establish rules for style, these guys turn it all backwards and upside down.

It's the only show on Adult Swim - hell, on most of TV - that's still drawn FRAME BY FRAME! I don't even have the balls to try that! And we're not talking about simple artwork here - look at this:

Frame by frame, bitch.

It's like the 70s all over again... not the bad, stiff Hanna Barbera Saturday Morning 70s, but the trippy Ralph Bakshi, anything goes 70s. It's Yellow Subrarine on acid - a lot of Acid. It's Schoolhouse Rock for the criminally insane.

The characters, like liquid, seem to evolve from shot to shot - the result of a truly fluid and organic animation process - but it only adds to the show. In that way, it shares much with Ren & Stimpy. And the gags - my god. Lots of people die horrible bloody deaths, but it's okay apparently, because they're murderous criminals.

Every episode ends with a full-scale battle resulting in mass carnage. The plot that takes us there is almost irrelevant by the time we arrive, because the pure visceral thrill of the carefully (or carelessly) storyboarded action overshadows the whole experience. Even a sudden orgy provides more gore than a Freddy Kruger movie.

I challenge you to watch this show and find a main character without serious personality flaws (sadism, narcissism, emotional detachment, submissive self loathing - all to the point of turning your stomach) - and yet, I'm fully engaged. Adult Swim, Augenblick Studios, their sponsors - all took a huge chance on this one and it is paying off. Fans are clamoring for Season 2 and, at the rate it must take to produce each show, there will be a bit of a wait. But I expect the process will be as painstaking as season 1.

I don't know what makes this show so damn addictive, but I can say this with certainty: the guys who produce Superjail love to animate.

More - cause you gotta love it.

If you haven't bothered yet, give it a go.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Inspector McCloud Part 4: Design

Not Much to say about the design for Inspector McCloud - it's been a long time since I was sitting in the designer's seat, at least to this extent. For the first time in... God know how long, I have taken on the roll of designing every last facet of a major project, from Characters & BGs to Props and FX. Even the title sequences will be me, I expect.

The villains prepare for a picnic.

It took a long time to dust off the illustration chops and get back to where I could build these things from scratch. It also took a lot of going back to the cartoons I love and analyzing why I love it. Although I love watching cartoons... that still counts as work.

Doin' Time

I've also had the good fortune of working closely with designers like Willie Castro, Gene Fowler, Peter Parpan and Brian Chin, all of whom had an influence on this style.

Sandy, making a guest appearance, develops a crush on Matthew McConaughey

McCloud takes his air quotes for a test flight.

ESD Headquarters

One of the hardest things to wrap my brain around was (and is) color. Making color choices is one of the most painful processes for me - like deciding which T-shirt to put on in the morning. Once I was able to break from the idea of Sky=Blue, Tree=Green, I was able to make some progress. I am by no means "free", but it's a lot easier to get moving now.

Mmmm... cake.

Some of the locals line up to take shots at Agent Public.

The climactic battle begins!

Much room for improvement... but I'm having fun, and learning how to draw again!