Monday, October 29, 2012

The monster premiered,…

Many thanks to everyone that came out (approximately 160) for the opening this past Friday!  Your support and encouragement was greatly appreciated! And you made the Q&A after the film a lot of fun, especially with all the questions from the kids. It was incredibly satisfying to see the film spark so much interest with them!

The UICA theatre as the audience filtered in. (Photo: Leigh Moore) 

I also want to thank Ryan Burkholder of Organisum and Ryan Dittmer, Brandon Belote, Nick Hartman and Taylor Greenfield of the UICA for all their assistance in the weeks running up the event. And thanks again to Angie and Angie for showing their film with ours. The audience really enjoyed it.

From the Q&A (Photo: Betsy Klingensmith)

Lastly, thanks to One Trick Pony for accommodating everyone that turned out for the "afterparty." 
We all had a blast.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Monster,me + one

Very pleased to announce that the Oct 26th premiere of "monster,me" is now a  double feature!  The animated short "Cuckoo for Two" by Angie Hauch & Angie Tidball has joined the bill.

"Cuckoo" was Angie & Angie's collaborative thesis project while at Kendall College of Art and Design and has enjoyed a run in the festival circuit over the last year. It's shown at both the Chicago International Children's Film Festival 2011 and the Waterfront FIlm Festival 2012.

Both Angela's are professional animators/motion designers now: one in Chicago at Woodlawn Avenue Productions and the other in Grand Rapids at Story Telling Pictures. So very glad to have them involved with this event! I hope you'll enjoy their work as much as I have. 

See you on the 26th!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Monster,me Premiere!

I can now officially announce the first ever exhibition of "monster,me!" 

It will take place in the theater of the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts in downtown Grand Rapids on October 26th. Showtime will be 7PM and the admission is FREE!

If you're not familiar with the UICA, or if you're just looking for parking suggestions, here's a link to their website with directions and parking options.

Here's a link to the online invitation. If you have any questions, please use the contact button near the bottom of the invite.

I'm currently talking with a few animators about making the event a 'double feature' or possibly a triple or quadruple.  Once those possibilities have been ironed out, I'll post the details here.

Hope to see you on the 26th!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

And it's done!

I've been waiting a very long time to be able to say that. And it does feel a little surreal to say it,… but it really is finished.

Mike Dollar wrapped up mixing the sound this past Monday.  I put my final touches on the animation Thursday.  Now the final render with audio is in the hands of Ryan Burkholder of Grand Rapids based Organisum. Ryan will be overseeing the compression and formatting needed to prepare it for theater projection. 

A million thanks to Dollar for introducing me to Ryan after I had told him how difficult it was to navigate the complexities involved with compressing a 55Gb movie without losing the image quality (that's right,… I said 55 Gig! Not 55 megabytes, but 55 gigabytes)   

How Ryan keeps track of all the complex ins-and-outs of codecs, avi's, BetaSp, HDcam, H264's and a gagillion other terms that make my head spin, is beyond me! But I'm so glad that he can and even happier to have him helping us get these issues ironed out.  

While Ryan is working his magic on the movie, I'll be ironing out the details for something I hope to formally announce in a post later this week.  (stay tuned,..)

In the meantime, I can announce the official monster,me website is up and running. Many many thanks to Lisa Price for all her work in putting it together! 

You can find it here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Let there be music!

Quite a bit has happened since I last posted.

The film is now edited into a roughcut with a 9 minute runtime. The sound tracks have been handed over to Mike Dollar who will be performing all the sound editing, remastering and audio wizardry. Mike's an interesting guy with a widely varied background that ranges from psychologist to musician to sound engineer to civil war buff. He came highly recommended from a voice actor friend of mine, John Guertin.

And lastly, but definitely not leastly is the arrival of a score composer to help bring this project to life!  

Last week, Mojave Bird (the stage name of Grace Peters, a Portland based singer/songwriter/musician) joined the small monster,me team. Grace was the keyboardist in the southern California bands "Fairview" and "Kiev" before moving to Portland and creating her solo project "Mojave Bird." Her music has an ethereal and, at times, hypnotic quality to it.  It also has the feel that I've been imagining all along, which I can only think to describe as "hopeful melancholy." Please follow the link above and check out the sample songs on her website. I think you'll see what I'm trying to describe.

( Grace Peters )

It was an odd and unexpected set of circumstances and synergy that brought Grace onboard.  I had approached the recording artist Petracovich, who I've been a longtime fan of, to see if she would be interested in composing a score for monster,me. She was interested, but she was also 8 months pregnant, which made our timing less than ideal. So when she decided she'd be unable to work on the film, she suggested that I talk to her sister who is also a "very talented" musician.  

I listened to the song samples that Jessica (Petracovich) directed me to. Turned out that Grace's music, like Jessica's, had all the qualities I was looking for in a soundtrack for the film. A few emails and phone calls later and Mojave Bird became the composer for monster,me.

Grace has already written/recorded the theme that opens with the first few scenes of the movie and I can't wait to hear where she is going to take this.  Beautiful work.

So, many thanks to Mike Dollar for taking on the role of sound-man for the movie. And many thanks to Petracovich (who I hope to have the opportunity to work with someday on another project) for suggesting Mojave Bird for this film, and many many thanks to Grace for lending her talents to the soundtrack!  I couldn't be happier to have her on board.

( In Grace's Portland studio )

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Almost fullsize,...

 Since the full resolution version of the film is larger than can be displayed on my widescreen  monitor,  this is a screen grab of it at roughly 85%. (hoping that I can post an image this large,... I guess if you are reading this, the site at least allowed me to upload it. Not sure that it will display at the full 85% though. The actual film is over 2000 pixels wide.)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rain, rain, rain,...

So, I thought I'd put up a little bit of the riveting exercise in monotony that I've been up to. 

Since the basic rain presets built into AfterEffects weren't going to fit the look of the film, I've been fine-tuning a system of making rain with particle generators.

Roughly 18 or so of the 40 shots in the film are in the rain.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sound effects and trying to keep the mic dry:

So,... since the work I'm doing on the film right now still falls in the category of "Images Too Boring to Post," I thought I'd put up a few shots from when we were recording sound effects.

These are Markey and I capturing various noises for splashes, rain and for when the main character is moving thru the water.  Kait shot all these,...  even climbing onto the counter to get a vantage point above Markey (really getting into her job of being the documentary photographer).

For some of the sounds, we tried putting the mic in a ziploc so we could submerge it. And it worked surprisingly well!

And standing in the pond making waves. 
This was really cold.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sketches vs. Finals

Well,... more like "Near Finals." 

This week I've been working with floating water particles creating underwater atmosphere, and since that would make for some seriously boring images to post,... I thought I'd put up "Before & After" shots of some finished and nearly-finished scenes. 

The "Before" images are from the original test reel which was a combination of scanned storyboard sketches and drawings done directly in Photoshop.  The "After" images are screen-grabs from the latest motion renders generated earlier this week. 

I hope you find these more interesting than the floaties drifting thru the water that I've been staring at all day.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fish Breath

As production gets closer to wrapping up, I've been going back to add the "fine tuning" that I'd left for later: such as rain, water ripples, lighting effects,... etc.  The task this last week has been giving the "monster" her gills.   ... I mean,  she's gotta breathe, right?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Water & Light

One of the pieces from the original short story that I was really interested in capturing in image was the descriptions of the ripples from the rain on the surface of the pool.   This week I've been working on those shots with the different light sources falling on the moving ridges of water.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

An inspiring little film,....

Waaaaay back, ... a few years ago in fact,... I was watching "James and the Giant Peach" with my daughters.  I had recently animated a mockumentary about someone retiring from were I worked with Flash and AfterEffects, and was pondering the next piece to work on.

We're watching the movie and the dream sequence came on. It's like a mini-movie within the movie with it's own set of rules and it's own sense of distorted reality independent of the rest of the film. (If you haven't seen it, definitely hit the link below and check it out. Animator Tim Myers did a brilliant bit of work with this sequence. I'm still a huge fan of it.)

Jame's Dream Sequence

As the evil aunts popped up from their car and began to antagonize the caterpillar/dream version of James, I started thinking that I really wanted to see an entire film done in this style.  The collage construction of the figures greatly appealed to me, since one of my main styles as an illustrator was a similar technique. 

I wished to see this dream-world developed it into a full length film of it's own.   

After the movie was over, I sat and watched the sequence a few more times, playing it in slo-mo, frame by frame.

Then I remembered a quote I'd heard years earlier that someone had offered about their motivation as an artist. It went something like "...we should create art that we want to go and see ourselves."   Well,... yeah!  Why hope for someone to make what I want to see? I should be doing it myself.

So I dug through short stories I had laying around from when I was working in underground comics, hoping to find one I could adapt into a short animation.  But a few weeks later Kait came home from school with her monster story and the unlit lightbulb above my head popped on!

The look I developed for "monster,me" is based on my illustration style and quite different from the dream-sequence that helped inspire it, but that sequence is one of the major reasons for what I've been working on the last few years.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Scene development

Here's a few examples of the development of a scene starting with the penciled storyboard, collage for the set, Photoshop model, and ending with the final shot.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"monster" in motion

As it turns out, it's a little tricky to put up an animation sample that doesn't give away too much of the story when the film itself is under ten minutes long!  But here are a few clips of her in action. They need a few 'atmosphere' effects added, but are pretty close to the final look.  Enjoy,...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Getting the "Look"

This a close up of one of the models. Her skin is a layering of details from photographs of bluegills and sunfish out of the pond near my house (All were released after the pictures were taken).   It took 5 separate layers of textures and scales to get the effect here.

Her eyes are also a result of layering photos (images of eyes belonging to both people and fish). A little inter-species experimentation.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Since this blog didn't exist back when production started, I thought I'd put up a few images from the early stages of the process, before I start adding new images & animation samples. 

These were composition and lighting work-ups for the opening shot:

Clips from various storyboards drafts: