Tag Archives: stop motion animation

Universal Monsters / Aliens

26 Feb

This past fall, I had two super fun animation projects with Diamond Select Toys: Universal Monsters and Aliens!

Universal Monsters was my first time working with a 7″ scale toy line for Diamond Select and although I love the simple coolness and unique design of MiniMates, I really enjoyed being able to play with the texture and lighting on the detailed sculpts of this line’s toys. Not to mention, I’ve been a big Universal Monsters fan most of my life, so this whole project was one of the highlights of my year. I focused a lot on the set design as well, watching all the classic original films for reference. I’m pretty proud of the custom doors I built and painted in the opening shot, the Metaluna Mutant’s space-y/science-y living room and the expressions I got out of DST’s original UM figure, Van Helsing. I’m glad to hear from this month’s New York Toy Fair that this line is continuing with new toys!

And another highlight of 2014 would definitely be this Aliens short where I was able to play with MiniMate-d versions of the Xenomorphs from Aliens as they attack some unsuspecting soldiers and Paul Reiser. Super fun, and I hope maybe I can return to the Alien franchise someday for a longer video.

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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

Twisted ToyFare Theater: Robot Edition

13 Mar

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.

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.

“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.

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.