Tag Archives: toys

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.

NECA Toys: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

20 Jun

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.

 

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

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.

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.