Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday Graphic Novel Post--Panel 1 test

I'm currently collaborating on a graphic novel called "Chalk Outline Man." The story opens with an aerial view of a residential cityscape. To date I've done several test versions with the version below being the closest--so far--to what I ultimately want.

I've spent so much time on this one panel because I see it as a splash page (11" x 8.5" folded in half). Since this is the first image the reader sees--well, the second really, to the cover--it's important to me that it fully engage the eye. I love renderin
gs of cityscapes and am determined to make this one look excellent.

This image is a combination of a rough drawing scanned into Photoshop. The tones were added in Photoshop using a combination of fills, gradients and textures. I'm confident that with some more dedicated effort and experimentation, it'll look great!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sunday Film Post--Animatic version 1

OK, so it's not Sunday anymore--it's Monday evening--but it's going to take some adjusting for me to get used to this new deadline. At least I'm only one day off!

Below is a brief segment of the first, rough draft of the "Toys vs. Boy" film. The entire first draft of the storyboard was completed during a single spurt of energy and therefore will require numerous revisions. As you can see, the character designs have yet to be determined. I'm still working out the action and the timing so there'll be MANY more versions of the animatic to come.


Friday, February 19, 2010

A New Attitude

One thing that I miss about Bill Plympton's School of Animation is the weekly deadlines. I knew it was important to have something to show every Wednesday. Even though I missed a few Wednesday deadlines, I was constantly working towards that goal.

Not so now! I haven't totally slacked off on my next project, but I don't feel that same sense of urgency.

So I've developed a new attitude and approach. The deadline for completion for my next film, currently titled "Toys vs. Boy," is July 1. In order to meet this deadline, I will be posting the latest work—character designs, energy sketches, animatics, pencil tests, background paintings, etc.—on this blog. I will also be posting the latest work at the Plympton School of Animation, First Class Facebook page which will hopefully generate much-needed feedback from my former classmates.

In addition, I will also be posting the latest work of the graphic novel I'm working on called Chalk Outline Man, a collaboration with playwright B. Walker Sampson.

The "Toys" posts will be made every Sunday and the Chalky posts on Wednesday. I intend to have lots to look at so get ready!

Friday, February 5, 2010

My "Avatar" Two Cents

Since no one's writing about "Avatar," I obviously had to do it. :)

Due to the existence of "Avatar", I had my first 3D IMAX experience. I went to the only true IMAX theater in Manhattan (in all of NYC?), Lincoln Square theater on 68th street and Broadway.

By true IMAX I mean the 70-foot screen, not some retrofitted crap. You need to look out for this: the IMAX corporation is allowing anyone with a projector and sound equipment turned to full blast to call themselves an "IMAX" theater. It's only IMAX if it has a 70-foot screen. Period.

Friends told me that to avoid potentially getting ill and to see the screen properly, it's best to sit as far back and center as possible. We arrived 45 minutes before the show to find that the entire back row was taken (they must've gotten there stupid early!). But we managed to get excellent seats anyway.

I felt sorry for the folks who arrived when the film was starting. IMAX is not the place to be sitting in the first row. That's asking for a neck ache and nausea.

Review-wise, I had lowered my expectations slightly because—based on "Titanic"—I knew that James Cameron was not a consistent screenwriter. Also, I had read so much about the story that it felt overly familiar to the point of me almost being uninterested. Cameron came through with a cliché-ridden script ("you're not in Kansas anymore," "we're getting out of Dodge," yikes!) The story, however, ended up being less common than the script. I enjoyed the obvious criticism of corporate greed and the imagining of the culture and world of the Na'vi.

On a side note, I'm amused by some of the right-wing criticism of the movie. My two favorites are that the film is anti-religion and anti-military. Those critics reveal their own prejudices: first, the soldiers in the film are mercenaries, not U.S. military. They were hired by a private corporation to do a private job. The job that they're asked to do is clear—steal from a peaceful people. I'm fascinated—and repulsed—by a world view that says, "whatever I think, say or feel is always right, no matter what." Clearly those people either do not know history or are purposely ignoring it.

Second, the Na'vi people do have a religion, but I guess their mistake was to believe in something other than Jesus Christ. How dare they! How dare anyone not believe in Jesus Christ! Repeat, arrogant world views.

Admittedly, I have doubts that the 3D approach added to the quality of the film. It was a fun experience, but whenever I raised my glasses to get a 2D look, the visuals were equally entertaining. What impressed me more was the motion capture (or as one of the movie's producers is now calling it, "emotion" capture.) Knowing that the actors performed every movement and emotion before digital enhancement made the film feel special.

Although the film felt 15-30 minutes too long (a complaint I did not have with "Titanic"), I'm glad I saw it. "Star Wars Episode IV," "Titanic" and now "Avatar"—I've been lucky that some of the most technically revolutionary films have occurred in my lifetime.

I'm curious to see where filmmaking goes from here.