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Happy Valentine’s Day!

18 Feb

(or, in this case, Va-LATE-ntine’s Day)

In fact, I have a loooot of catching up to do on posting recent projects. And since it’s close enough to Valentine’s Day, how about a V-Day-related post? I just completed our most recent episode (Episode 40!!!) of Marvel Super Heroes: What The–?! in which Jessica Jones and Luke Cage interview an array of terrible applicants for their request for a babysitter.

 

Pretty cool to animate the Marvel Legends Thunderbolts Luke Cage for the first time, plus I put together a custom figure of Jessica Jones using a Sharon Carter head and Willow body from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This episode was shot and animated entirely within a one week period, I hope that it isn’t clearly evident in the final product… And it’s always weird when The Watcher shows up, he’s especially creepy in this episode. Enjoy!

 

And here is another Valentine’s Day episode from back in 2013. This was the very first episode written by our new head writer, Todd Casey, and I think the positive shift in humor and storytelling in What The–?! from this point on is clear. Todd, being a damn talented writer (and involved in things such as the new Thundercats series, Batman: Brave and the Bold, and Wander Over Yonder) brought What The–?! up to a higher level of comedic quality, I feel. The pacing is tighter and the visuals and animation cues that he works out with me have made the last 2 years of episodes the best ever. Yay Todd!

I also made a few Star Trek-related Valentine’s Day cards this year. I’ve been watching all the Star Trek series and movies for the first time in my life during the past 2 years or so and I’m pretty much obsessed with it now. I started with TNG and I’ve seen all the movies, now I’m halfway through the Original Series, DS9 and almost done with Enterprise. Still haven’t touched Voyager, hope it’s good!

odo bashir obrien

Marvel/Hasbro 75th Anniversary Variant Covers

28 Aug

Today was a pretty cool day! A few of the variant comic book covers I worked on that were previewed at this year’s San Diego Comic Con were released officially online here here and here!

All-New-X-Men-33-Hasbro-Variant-656a1  avengers-hasbro-variant-105672

The reaction was pretty much completely positive and I can’t wait to walk into the comic shops around town in October and see something that I had a hand in creating right there on the shelves.

Captain-America-25-Hasbro-Variant-86c0b  Deathlok_1_Hasbro_Variant

I produced ten covers in all, photographing Hasbro’s action figures from their 6″ and 3 3/4″ lines and superimposing them into the positions featured on classic Marvel comic book covers. I had a lot of fun with each of them but my favorites are the Guardians of the Galaxy team cover, the X-Men #1 recreation and the one with Red Skull holding the Cosmic Cube.

Uncanny_XMen_27_Hasbro_Variant  Legendary_StarLord_4_Hasbro_Variant  avengers-hasbro-variant-105671

Marvel: What The–?! Deadpool vs. Punisher

12 Mar

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.

Marvel Super Heroes: What The–?! Episode #2

15 Jan

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.

daredevilwolverineposter

Marvel: What The–?! Iron Man 3

12 May

The 27th (yikes!) episode of Marvel Super Heroes: What The–?! was released last week to line up with the theatrical release of Iron Man 3. The talents of Todd Casey, Ben Morse and Jesse Falcon were joined by comedian and actor Colton Dunn who voiced War Machine for this episode!

 

I’m really proud of the facial expressions I got out of the James “Rhodey” Rhodes and Tony Stark figures in the first scene, but they only work so well in conjunction with such great voiceover talent. I originally wanted the final “forgiveness” scene to feature the characters’ maskless faces, just to make it feel more sentimental, but I ran out of time…. I also had a much more elaborate Hulk-smashing sequence in mind as Hulk slams War Machine into all those surrounding villains in different ways but, again, ran outta time…. Still a great episode in the end, though, I think!

I also loved Iron Man 3 but this scene from Iron Man 2 is still my all-time favorite scene from any Marvel movie:

Marvel: What The–?! Episode 1

17 Apr

Looking back to our first honest-to-goodness episode of What The–?!, I’m filled with a mix of glee and dread. It’s by far our longest episode and I remember the intense production and late nights trying to get it done on time. I’m the only one to blame, though, since I wrote the first draft of the script…

 

It probably took me the better half of a week just to create that opening shot of the NYC skyline and the little cars moving on the streets below. Easter Egg: The office worker who’s interrupted by Colossus crashing through his wall is modeled after Tim Heidecker’s character Mr. Henderson from Tim & Eric: Awesome Show, Great Job!

Henderson

Like I mentioned before, I wrote the first draft of the script which changed A LOT throughout the production. Originally, it was going to be a Fantastic Four episode with Johnny Storm losing his cosmic power and becoming a talk show host, all the while being tormented by The Thing, who was mad that he wasn’t the one who lost his powers. But when I was told after the fact that FF were unavailable at the time, I managed to switch out the characters with X-Men, replacing Johnny and Ben with Iceman and Beast, which worked out perfectly, I think. We lost a lot of good FF jokes, though, like Johnny’s “Other Qualifications” on his resume ranging from “Proficient at wearing numbered jumpsuits” to “Ability to count (four max.)” Sean T. Collins and Jon Gutierrez both made revisions on the script and provided a ton of great jokes for this episode. Here are some bits of dialogue that we couldn’t use because it didn’t fit the X-Men cast:

H.E.R.B.I.E.: “Reed, are all my emotions really simulated?”
REED RICHARDS: “Yep. Except the sheer emptiness you’re feeling. That’s all real.”

JOHNNY: “And we’re back with our guest Victor Von Doom. So Vic, I’ve always wondered—what exactly are you a doctor OF?”
DOOM: “Doom holds an honorary doctorate from Latveria A&M—in VENGEANCE!” (Doom blasts Johnny)

JOHNNY: “Alright then!! FLAME ON!”
[He flames on. We then cut to the outside of the studio where everyone’s watching it burn down]
JOHNNY: “FLAME OFF! FLAME OFF!”
H.E.R.B.I.E.: “Um, I don’t think it works like that.”

It was also great to work with voice actor (and Marvel Director of Merchandising) Jesse Falcon on a longer episode, having previously collaborated with him on our first What The–?! promo. Jesse, being a long-time improv comedian, ad-libs some great, great voiceover lines for What The–?! all the time. For example, when Cyclops mentions Baryshnikov in the episode, Jesse had the idea to mispronounce his name as Barry Shine-akoff and be corrected by Professor X, just to make Cyclops look even more foolish and it’s one of my favorite gags. The voice cast for this episode was pretty huge, too, and all voiced by Marvel employees/interns. Perhaps the greatest milestone of the episode, though, was to give Marvel.com Editor and What The–?! producer Ben Morse the chance to fulfill his dream of voicing Bobby “Iceman” Drake, one of his all-time favorite X-characters.

Working on this episode was probably the most exciting time in my life at that point because I was able to put all the animation skills and story-telling knowledge I’d gained to the test. The idea that something with my name in the credits, something of which that I had a large hand in the  creation, would be hosted on Marvel Comic’s main website was thrilling. BUT I kinda was in over my head… I had no real idea yet how long it would take me to create all these sets, record all the voices, animate all the characters, create any visual effects needed, edit the audio, etc, etc…. so at first I was like, “Yeah, 9-Page script! Let’s do it!” … Insane. I still remember the sheer panic of the night before the video had been scheduled to premiere on Marvel.com (which had already been pushed back a few days, as I recall, adding to my distress.) I finished the final photography on the final shot minutes before I had to leave to catch the train into the city on time. I animated the final touches on my laptop on the way to work that morning, too. Ugh. I also would’ve gone completely insane if not, again, for the technical help from fellow video editors Jason Harvey and Ramon Olivo on this episode. Jason created some great visuals like the burning studio at the end as well as the opening What The–?! graphic that I still use today.

Understandably, this early episode looks and feels choppy to me. Though the animation looks good in some parts (like Iceman’s ice-slide moving through the skyscrapers and the Bullseye & Kingpin sequences) other parts are embarrassing for me to look at. I wasted a lot of time making some shots look as best they could, which caused me to have to rush other scenes in order to get it done on time. I’d like to think I’m better at time management now, but I still fall behind on projects every once in a while… But at least now I know that a 9-page, 7-minute animation can’t be crammed into a few weeks of work without lost sleep and suffered quality.

Marvel: What The–?! Age of Ultron

8 Apr

Here is the newest episode of Marvel Super Heroes: What The–?! featuring a standoff between the Avengers and the robotic menace, Ultron!

 

Everyone involved brought their A-game to this one and I’m really proud of how it turned out. Todd Casey’s script was fantastic and funny and Jesse Falcon’s voicework had perfect comedic timing and energy (He voiced every character except for the female computer voice, provided by Lisa Shields.) Ben Morse, aside from producing the episode and putting it all out there on Marvel.com had the great idea to use an old-school dial-up noise for Ultron’s upgrading which was a fan-fave gag on YouTube. Additionally, I feel like the character animation was a lot tighter and more lively than usual. I especially like how the Mjolnir-throwing sequence and Ultron’s glowing mouth and eyes portion looked in the end.

I also animated two figures in this episode that I never have before: The Heroic Age Iron Man figure and Ultron from Marvel Select. I liked the Heroic Age Iron Man because the design is very much like the Marvel Studios Iron Man suit from the movies. But the Marvel Select Ultron figure was awesome to work with: The reflective, metallic paint looked great under the right lighting and the ball-joined torso, arms and hips really helped me bring out the humor in his body language, especially for that shot where Ultron has that defeated, slumped-over sighing position. His hands are also sculpted in such a great, maniacal-threat-spouting gesture that really helped give Ultron a more theatrical feel in this, I think.