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.

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Dexter vs. Patrick Bateman

21 Jan

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!

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.

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Calico Jack’s Pirate Raiders

13 Jan

Following the very fun MiniMates MAX project, Diamond Select ToysZach 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!

“E-WokZ” and Yoda Makes a Mess

18 Nov

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.

Dinosaur Kisses

24 Jul

I had the pleasure of collaborating with acclaimed children’s book author David Ezra Stein on an animated trailer for his newest book: Dinosaur Kisses!

 

It was a lot of fun to put together, especially the model of the Dinah character. I usually animate with already-assembled action figures and do not have a ton of experience with building articulated models for use in animation but I think Dinah turned out pretty well. I sculpted and baked Sculpey clay for her head and torso and borrowed her hands and feet from an NECA Gremlins action figure. Her arms and legs were twisted wire covered in soft clay to allow for movement. It got more and more difficult to keep the clay arms & legs looking flush with her body as I kept twisting her arms around, so it wasn’t the ideal choice, I’d like to look into alternatives in the future. Maybe some foam or something…

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Dinah’s mouth movements also were a bit of a challenge to pull off. The character is so stylized that my usual method of animating a human character’s mouth movements wasn’t much help. I thought that by making the bottom jaw a separate piece, I could pull off some practical animation of Dinah opening and closing her mouth to cut down on post-production effects but it just looked like she was flapping her lips like a duck. So, I ended up doing a mix of PhotoShop manipulation to get the movements just right.

The trailer was storyboarded by the author and featured amazing work from vocalist Alicia Morrissey and pianist Marc Devine.

You can order David Ezra Stein’s newest book here! It will be released on August 6th.

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Toy Collection: The Muppets & The Simpsons

6 Jun

You don’t quite realize how much crap you amass over time until you have to pack it all up into dozens of boxes and carry them each up and down a flight of stairs during a move to a new place. But if most of what you’re packing is action figures, at least it’s a lot of fun to unpack and display all those toys again! I recently moved into a new apartment and I just set up my Simpsons/Muppet shelf. Oh boy!:

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photo 3photo 1   “Bobo, I know I say this every century, but I’ll never leave you behind again.”photo 2  photo 3

photo 2“Uh oh… Zoot skipped a groove again.”

photo 4photo 1“No, I don’t believe we’ll be telling them that.”

I began collecting the World of Springfield Simpsons toys from Playmates as soon as they were released back in 2000. They produced pretty much all of the characters necessary for a thriving toy version of Springfield and I was excited to see which characters would be in each new wave. I’m still trying to track down the rarer figures that were released near the end of the production, such as Frank Grimes and Jim Varney’s Cooder character.  The great feature of these figures was the voice-chip activated playsets that interacted with the toys. What’s better than quoting Simpsons jokes yourself apart from hearing the lines spoken by the actual voice actors?

The Palisades Muppets toy line, however, I had to play a lot of catch-up to collect. I remember seeing the toys on shelves around 2002 but I was either in a collecting-slump or simply didn’t have the money. I was a high school student, after all. Of course, compared to the prices that the figures are going for now, the original sticker prices seem like nothing. But they’re worth every penny – the incredible detail and obvious love that went into the production of these figures is very rare in today’s toy market. It’s a darn shame that Palisades Toys went bankrupt in 2006, right about the same time they obtained the license to produce Sesame Street toys. Just think of the beautifully perfect figures we missed out on….