Sessions 21-30: The ANIMAL: A Muppet Melodrama

Here is what I was able to muster-up in one week after getting the news about my grandmother's passing. Being on the West coast while everybody is on the East was really rough. Thanks for the support from my peers as I challenged myself to finish strong even in the face of adversity. 


PITCH

What if Animal drummer from the Electric Mayhem was retired from the road traveling rock-n-roll? What if I told you he had aged and was instead working in a recording studio living a normal life of an aged rocker? We folks that's just where we find Animal today, sitting in a recording studio aged, calm, and in his doldrums. That is until the moment he's asked to sit in during a session.


THUMBNAILS

Key beats that I needed in order to start with plenty of room to grow the assignment.


FINAL ANIMATIC

Sessions 19-30: Project 4: TETHERED An Homage to Rod Serling's Twilight Zone


Pitch

Witness, if you will Rye is a grandparents ten-year-old girl who lives with her grandparents; on the Inkwell farm neighborhood of Martha's Vineyard. For the past three years she's helps her grandfather in planning his farming strategy for crop rotation. One day she discovers the secret to her grandmothers youth.years she's helps her grandfather in planning his farming strategy for crop rotation. 


SCRIPT


There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast a space and timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.

Introduction:

Suspended in time and space for a moment, your introduction to Mister Eads. A WWII Veteran, who lives in a very private world of darkness, living out his days on his farm on the island of Martha's Vineyard; with his wife and granddaughter Rye. A Universe of his creation whose dimensions and reality grow like annuals waiting to be pruned. Keep in mind, of course, that we're not to be surprised by what we see. Because this isn't just a farm. And this farmer is not just a man. This happens to be the Twilight Zone,And young Rye with you, is about to enter it.

1983:

Witness, if you will Rye is a nine year old girl who lives with her grandparents on a farm on Martha's Vineyard. For the past three years she's helps her grandfather in planning his farming strategy for crop rotation. 

On day after helping grandpa in the yard, she comes indoors to help her grandmother can tomatoes in the kitchen, while her grandfather is harvesting grains. Her grandmother tells her to take the crate down to your grandfather's pantry; which is an old fallout shelter he built after WWII (1950s). Upon entering she notices that her grandfather has left his television set on. She goes to turn it off and notices that the door to the locked back room is slightly open. Something she hasn't ever seen. She walks towards the door to see what's been locked inside only to discover, a refrigerated room with rows and rows of jars with seeds in them. 

She walks in and begins to look around passing years of heritage seeds, moving further to the back of the room she notices a large apothecary jar filled with a thick brining liquid. Rye takes her hands and begins to turn the jar searching for a label to what he jar contains. As she is doing so, the item inside begins to emerge from within brine. What emerges is...


character designs


Rye Eads.


Grandpa Eads (1943).


Grandpa Eads (1983).


Grandma Noepe Eads.

Grandma Noepe Eads.

Geography research


thumbnails

 


layout


Mummified Grandma Noepe Eads.

Mummified Grandma Noepe Eads.

due to the subject matter and its association with the  untimely death of my grandmother mary alice hawkins, this project will be revisited at a later time.

Grandma Mary Alice Hawkins.

Grandma Mary Alice Hawkins.

Sessions 11-17: Henson meets Wright: It's time to play the music, it's time to light up the lights...

Edgar Wright directing his first film in 1994. Edgar Wright/Twitter Design by: Mister Kennedy

Session 11: Ideas and Construction

As a child, I remember spend an exorbitant amount of time watching television, back when you had to be present at a certain time, on a certain day or you missed out. Much of that time was bonding with my father, who left for work at 5 AM and returned around 4 PM; the life of a plasterer in the Tri-State area of the 1980s. He would be home by the time my bus arrived to greet me with food that he had picked-up at some local deli and I would begin to prepare for my daily ritual of cartoons on Fox, followed by Nickelodeon or the Cartoon Express on the USA Network.

What I remember most of those times was watching shows like Dr. Who, Benny Hill, and the Muppet Show. This was when I got to see my father as a child. He would laugh and nudge my side, and ask dumb questions like "did you see that?"; as if I hadn't been right there. As a father of two daughters's I find myself doing the same thing with them, however with the access to entertainment available just a touch away, there are times that moments I see that are magical become just the norm for them.

With the exception of one thing The Muppet's. How is it that Jim Henson's characters have been able to sustain disbelief for almost fifty years? For me it's nostalgic and something much greater that I've yet to put my finger on.  Henson through his talents and that of Frank Oz presented the Muppets with a view that spanned connected me to shows like Dr. Who and Benny Hill. They also expanded beyond their educational younger cousin on Sesame Street, teaching that they are a band of transplants that just happen to be striving for the American Dream together.

As usual, Craig has given the class some help in getting the story/narrative up on its legs. First, we are given a prompt, then a series of events, that lead up to our own conclusion. Immediately, I thought of the Muppets for this one and I can bearly wait! Get it I said bear instead of bare... WAKKA WAKKA!


Pitch

So, for this third project, I thought what better way to pay homage to the great Jim Henson. I have three weeks, up to sixty boards to try and move his creation into the modern era of comedy, and who's doing visual comedy the best right now Edgar Wright. Below you'll find some of the tools I'm using to help with this project. Enjoy!

            Click through to watch the film.

            Click through to watch the film.

Session 12: Muppets: Chicken and Waffles Blocking (IP take One)

Progress on this piece if going well, however it's taking me some time designing the characters based on Henson's originals. Looks like the library in Rockridge has a copy of a great reference book. Anyway, the next take on this will be on model, as well as have more of my style in it; which will help in making things look more polished. Enjoy!


final ANIMATIC 

Would have loved another week to get this polished up, but a deadline is a deadline. 

Session 5-10: Roger That! An Exploration of Reshooting Paper Moon the Deakins Way

download.jpg

PITCH

This weekend I began to build the workload for this next assignment. As a reminder I'm looking to understand the role in which a layout and story artist duties overlap. So, for this project I started of thinking that this would be a great chance to layout and stage it in the way the Coen Brothers would. So, I began by watching Barton Fink, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and True Grit on Friday to better understand how to utilize the environment, for how the acting should take place by the father and daughter duo in Paper Moon.


SHOT ANALYSIS

On Saturday, I created a shot analysis for the sequence above, to work out way Peter Bogdanovich's choice for certain camera lens and their emotional impact. Which reminded me that Roger Deakin was responsible for most of the films the Coen Brothers have made to date. So after digging around, I discovered this great piece by Premium Beat's Johnathan Paul entitled 10 Tips from Master Cinematographer Roger Deakins.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

CHARACTER DESIGN


SIX TIPS FROM DEAKINS

Luckily for us, Deakins loves connecting with other cinematographers and giving advice whenever he can. He does most of this through his website forum where he answers questions and give tips, tricks, and general advice. Cinematographers from around the world flock to his site hoping to learn more about their craft.

We’ve pulled a few of our favorite cinematography tips straight from the cinema master’s mouth. We believe these useful tips will aid you as you embark on your career or your next production.

1. Learn to Be Selective

Image from By The Dart Before you begin a new project, make sure this project is actually something you want to take on. Make sure it’s something that you believe in. Be selective with any project you latch on to, because as Roger Deakin mentions in this article from the BBC, you’re going to be on this project for a long time. "I’m picky about the sort of material I want to work with, always have been. But usually I’m drawn to scripts that are about characters, I don’t have a love of doing action movies. It is really important to choose which projects you are going to work on carefully. You are going to be on a film for a long time."

Image from By The Dart

Before you begin a new project, make sure this project is actually something you want to take on. Make sure it’s something that you believe in. Be selective with any project you latch on to, because as Roger Deakin mentions in this article from the BBC, you’re going to be on this project for a long time.

"I’m picky about the sort of material I want to work with, always have been. But usually I’m drawn to scripts that are about characters, I don’t have a love of doing action movies. It is really important to choose which projects you are going to work on carefully. You are going to be on a film for a long time."

Video from Cinefii Channel

2. The Importance of Lighting

Image: Fantastic lighting from No Country For Old Men via IMDb Lighting is king for cinematographers. The way you light a scene greatly effects how the audience reacts to that scene. In fact, Roger Deakins says that great lighting begins with the script. Keep this in mind when picking your color and lighting. Discuss the scene with the director and find out what they want the audience to gain from the scene. "So, on the one hand, you need to light a space so you can see the actors – but, more than that, you are creating a mood, you are creating a world for those actors to inhabit and for the audience to get submersed in. Lighting is one of the most important aspects of any great film."

Image: Fantastic lighting from No Country For Old Men via IMDb

Lighting is king for cinematographers. The way you light a scene greatly effects how the audience reacts to that scene. In fact, Roger Deakins says that great lighting begins with the script. Keep this in mind when picking your color and lighting. Discuss the scene with the director and find out what they want the audience to gain from the scene.

"So, on the one hand, you need to light a space so you can see the actors – but, more than that, you are creating a mood, you are creating a world for those actors to inhabit and for the audience to get submersed in. Lighting is one of the most important aspects of any great film."

3. Embrace Documentary

When working with documentary film, you have to be quick on your feet. You’ve got to find the action and frame it at any given moment. This is definitely something that has aided Roger Deakins throughout his career.

"You work with the light that’s available and create something with what you have at hand. It teaches you how to be quick in terms of setting the frame and finding the angle and reading what’s happening – reading the development of what’s going on in front of you."

Video from AFIFEST

4. Stay With the Character and Story

Image: Jeff Bridges in True Grit via IMDb Not every shot needs to be a jaw-dropping exercise in masterful composition. Sometimes you need to reign it in and go back to the basics, allowing the characters and the story to drive the narrative and keep the audience engaged. There’s nothing worse than an ostentatious shot or some lighting that draws attention to itself, and you might go, ‘Oh, wow, that’s spectacular.’ Or that spectacular shot, a big crane move, or something. But it’s not necessarily right for the film — you jump out, you think about the surface, and you don’t stay in there with the characters and the story. – Roger Deakins via Screen Writing from Iowa

Image: Jeff Bridges in True Grit via IMDb

Not every shot needs to be a jaw-dropping exercise in masterful composition. Sometimes you need to reign it in and go back to the basics, allowing the characters and the story to drive the narrative and keep the audience engaged.

There’s nothing worse than an ostentatious shot or some lighting that draws attention to itself, and you might go, ‘Oh, wow, that’s spectacular.’ Or that spectacular shot, a big crane move, or something. But it’s not necessarily right for the film — you jump out, you think about the surface, and you don’t stay in there with the characters and the story. – Roger Deakins via Screen Writing from Iowa

mage: Scene from Prisoners via Alcon Entertainment. This is really an extension of the previous tip, but it’s so vital that it needs its own spot on the list. The main idea: Don’t compromise the actor’s performance for a perfect shot. Instead, capture the performance the actor gives you in the best way you can. You’ll find (as Deakins has mentioned in past interviews) that a great performance can mask a bad shot. In the end a film can look lousy but work because of a great performance but not the other way round. That’s something always worth remembering. Legendary filmmaker Terrence Malick has a reputation for filming the performance. He and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki allowed the actors on The Tree of Life to move right into their performance freely, and it was there they would capture the footage they needed. While some scenes were storyboarded, most of the footage was done in a very cinema-verite style.

mage: Scene from Prisoners via Alcon Entertainment.

This is really an extension of the previous tip, but it’s so vital that it needs its own spot on the list. The main idea: Don’t compromise the actor’s performance for a perfect shot.

Instead, capture the performance the actor gives you in the best way you can. You’ll find (as Deakins has mentioned in past interviews) that a great performance can mask a bad shot.

In the end a film can look lousy but work because of a great performance but not the other way round. That’s something always worth remembering.

Legendary filmmaker Terrence Malick has a reputation for filming the performance. He and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki allowed the actors on The Tree of Life to move right into their performance freely, and it was there they would capture the footage they needed. While some scenes were storyboarded, most of the footage was done in a very cinema-verite style.

Video from FoxSearchlight

6. Find Your Style

Image: Deakins on the set of The Village

It’s likely you have one or two master filmmakers that you just absolutely love, but make sure you aren’t just copying what those filmmakers do. Incorporate their techniques into your own style while working toward finding your cinematic voice.

You can’t learn your craft by copying me or anyone else. I hope what I do can do is in some way inspire others but I would be appalled if I though my work was being studied as ‘the right way to do the job’. – Roger Deakins via Revl8.


SUBMISSION AND CAVEATS

Well... taking on the challenge of trying to pull of storyboarding in the blocking style of the Coen brothers has been fun. However, I feel I spent to much time doing research when I could have been working on backgrounds. The character designing, plotting of blocking and camera angels, and acting portion of my research went quickly. Yet, I needed at least 10 solid hours to work out background designs and bring them to life; which I hadn't planned on. The major reason for the time is due to the amount of polish I wanted to showcase, as well as moving from paper to Wacom was a bit of a curve.

So, for this assignment I decided to focus just on Pray and his lines. Once, I have time I'll focus on the other character's and board their preformances.

For my next assignment I want to continue to pull from my influences and try to showcase my interpretation, since I'm putting this work into my portfolio. But, this time I plan on simplify things first and using character designs that have already been tested on the big screen. Anyway, here's the final version, that I'll be revisiting to polish up more at a later time. Enjoy!

Also, here's a little bit of wisdom that I learned from Craig "NEVER ask for extensions to your deadlines. Let the higher up's be the only ones who do that..."

Session 1: Where Do Layout Artist Come From?

It's great to be back! Last year around this same time I was enrolled in Craig Goods class and let's just say I'm glad to have had time to elevate my skills. 

A lot has transpired during that time, having my film pitch be green-light, volunteering at GLAS' inaugural festival, participating in Pixar@CCA, and teach/directing my own class based on my approach to cinematic animation. The reason why I re-enrolled is that during last year I was able to focus more on where I wanted to apply my focus within the animation industry. I wanted to work in the story department as a liaison between the layout department. A position that doesn't really exist, but I feel is needed; especially in the way in which story artist are being asked to animate more shots into boards.

Anyway, I'm excited to start this next chapter of my time here at CCA and I can think of no better way than to doing it along side of Craig Good.

For those who don't know who Craig is, it's mainly because he does his job so well. Craig is a veteran in the history of animation working at Lucas Film and at Pixar (before they where Pixar) for the past 30 years. Currently he's retired, but has been teaching at the college for the past year. What a huge score for the animation department as a whole.