Where to begin to describe how great NECA Toys is… Well, they excel in terms of intensely detailed sculpts, poseability, paint application… pretty much everything that I look for in a great toy. They’ve created some of the best cult movie toys around, including figures from American Psycho, Beetlejuice, Gremlins, Alien, Predator, Harry Potter, E.T., Robocop, The Nightmare Before Christmas….the list goes on and on and I’ve been a huge fan for years.
One of their newest toy lines is based on the upcoming film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and this line is no exception from NECA’s record of amazing releases. Many, many thanks to the awesome Daniel Pickett (of the great toy news website ActionFigureInsider.com) for giving me the opportunity to create a short stop-motion animated video using NECA’s new ape toys!
Dan also had some very kind words about the video as well as my previous work in his post on AFi here. Thank you, Dan, for the chance to work on such a fun video! And thank you, NECA, for continuing to create such inspiring and perfect toys.
How about some TTT for a #tbt? Here are two of my earliest professional stop-motion videos that I created for Wizard Entertainment in 2008.
I was never a Transformers fan. Didn’t watch the cartoon, didn’t own the toys, I couldn’t even name you more than 5 characters. But this one was still a ton of fun to animate because 1) It was funny 2) It was great to delve into a new franchise world after the CHiPS episode I made, and 3) I got to collaborate with a bunch of great folks from the writing and voice acting sides! Justin Aclin pulled double-duty as the couldn’t-have-been-more-perfect Optimus Prime AND Megatron. TJ Dietsch‘s Hot Rod still cracks me up and Anime Insider’s Todd Ciolek was hilarious as Ultra Magnus. Justin, Jon Gutierrez and Zach Oat wrote the bit and I’m still proud of how the video turned out, looking back. I put a lot of effort into the set and it was also when I began to focus on storyboarding these as best as I could as opposed to just setting up the toys and pointing the camera at them.
This one was neat because the GoBots strip this video was based on never made it to print in ToyFare. It was like bringing a deleted scene back from the grave. And as much as I didn’t know about Transformers, I knew even less about GoBots. Thankfully, the script tells the whole story of this franchise’s rise and fall in case you’ve never heard of them either. You can see that I used a bit of elementary greenscreen in this episode, which bugs me seeing it now. Final Cut Pro is not the greatest place to use greenscreen. I tried cutting out every single photograph to fix the rough edges in some shots, so I remember this being a time-consuming and tedious production at points. Major props to Adam Tracey for voicing the main character magnificently and Jon Gutierrez was also great as Joe Barbera, of Hanna-Barbera fame. Rachel Molino, Matt Powell, Dylan Brucie, Zach Oat and Karl Cramer also provided voices – We had the whole Wizard crew in on this one! It was awesome that people took the time to help out with the production of these.
The newest episode of Marvel Super Heroes: What The–?! was released this week and featured one of my favorite characters to animate: The Punisher!
We had a guest voice actor for this episode: Wrestler, comic fan and super-nice guy Christopher Daniels! Chris even put together his own video about his journey voice-acting for the part of The Punisher, in which I am briefly featured. It’s also an awesome behind-the-scenes look at our recording process for What The–?!:
This was a longer episode, clocking in at around 3 1/2 minutes so it was a pretty heavy production. I really wanted to have an epic battle-scene opening between Punisher and the AIM Agents, so I watched some Saving Private Ryan for inspiration. Like I said earlier, I love animating the Punisher because the figure’s face sculpt is so intense. It’s one of the more realistically-sculpted faces out of the early wave of Marvel Legends, I think, too. It was also great to have some substantial female roles in this episode: Elektra and Black Widow, voiced by Ashley Becerra and Leslie Read, respectively. I’m hoping they show up again in What The–?! soon.
Fun fact: I modeled Deadpool’s apartment after the most-terrible house I ever lived in for two months in North Versailles, PA a few years back.
This is way late to the Dexter party, popularity-wise, but here’s a quick video I edited to introduce American Psycho’s own serial killer Patrick Bateman into the Dexterverse.
I got the idea for this way back in Season One of Dexter, where he mentions that one of his aliases is Patrick Bateman. I’ve been meaning to edit this together for years, but it was placed on the back burner over and over until now. Which actually worked out for the best, since I’m more experienced in After Effects now and was able to superimpose Dexter into a few of the American Psycho movie scenes here. Hope you enjoy!
Woohoo, second episode! Created back in
2099 2009, this episode allowed me to become more familiar with animating M.O.D.O.K., who became kind of like the (gigantic, ugly) face of Marvel: What The–?!. A few ‘firsts’ in this episode: The first appearance of Deadpool in What The–?!, AND our first celebrity guest voice: UFC fighter Matt Serra as Wolverine!
A lot of great bits in this episode, written by the What The–?! crew of Sean T. Collins, Jon Gutierrez, Peter Olson & Jesse Falcon. Deadpool and M.O.D.O.K.’s interaction is gold, Wolverine’s custom “Daredevil Origins: Wolverine” movie poster still cracks me up, and the musical finale was awesome, thanks to composer and fellow video editor Jason Harvey. While scripting this episode, I remember being involved in a brief discussion regarding the Cyclops/Emma Frost/Cable scene; whether it was more disgusting to imply that Emma was breastfeeding a fully-grown Cable or that she was still changing his diapers. After a vivid point was made by Jesse Falcon, we chose to go with breastfeeding.
Here’s a little behind-the-scenes peek from our “recording booth” at Marvel HQ when Jesse recorded his M.O.D.O.K., Deadpool and Wolverine lines for this episode. What you don’t see is the large group of employees from Marvel’s Brand Assurance department (with whom we shared the office space) peeking over the cubicle walls trying to figure out what the hell we were doing with all the yelling and weird noises.
Following the very fun MiniMates MAX project, Diamond Select Toys‘ Zach Oat and I collaborated again to bring another of DST’s original MiniMates lines to life: Calico Jack’s Pirate Raiders!
I consider these shorts some of the best animation work I’ve done in the last few years. I tried to storyboard Zach’s action-packed script as cinematically as possible and I love how most of the elements turned out especially the swordfight, Capt. Deal’s hatchet-gun, when Calico runs off the ship’s balcony and how the ghost boats and zombie pirates look. Special thanks to Jon Gutierrez, Matt Davidson and my buddy Jesse for providing the voices of Captain Deal, Calico Jack and Captain Vanes, respectively, for the first episode.
The second episode was also a ton of fun to put together. I built a neat throne for Medusa out of real sea shells and her lair was an old fishtank accessory lit with some neon lights. A lot of time went into experimenting with 3D layers and cameras with After Effects for the opening shot where we delve into the sea bottom. I really love how Medusa (voiced by my then-girlfriend/now-wife Jen) ending up sounding after some fun audio editing. I made two tracks of the same sound clip, pitching one a bit down and one a bit up and sync’ed them back together for an eerie, supernatural sound.
Our third and final episode allowed for some cool action scenes involving the Nukpana character. It was originally intended to be the finale for the second episode but I wasn’t able to complete the entire animation in time so it had to be split up. Watching all three parts together again, I’m very proud of this series as a whole!
Sometimes you have a ridiculous idea (or, in this case, your fiancée has a ridiculous idea) for a project that you just need to create immediately and for no reason but to amuse yourself.
This E-Wokz video actually got passed around the Internet a bit, thanks to i09, Agent M and other friends posting it for their fans. It even landed me a few new freelance gigs! Collecting Star Wars toys was the spark that began my rather large and still-growing collection of toys and it felt good to get some real use out of them. Similarly, I was able to re-create one of my favorite Empire Strikes Back scenes for StarWarsUncut.com. The best part was collaborating with my pal TJ Dietsch, who provided the spot-on Yoda voice!
Both of these were stop motion animated using Hasbro’s 3 3/4″ Star Wars line, shot on greenscreen and edited into After Effects and finally, Final Cut Pro.