Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Introducing the Characters - Dr. Mucksluff

Dr. Mucksluff is a cross between Mr. Spock and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Normally a self-controlled, highly rational scientist this cat-like alien has an alter-ego that comes out only occasionally. It’s a slobbery, wolf-like creature. He’s not very articulate. His short sentences are accented with growls, snorts and the occasional howl. With this character I’m playing off the cat and dog, Jekyll and Hyde persona. While the dog part is not nearly as cruel as Mr. Hyde, it is intimidating and Dr. Mucksluff brings it out when others seem to be unreasonable.

The Cat part came pretty easily, but, as you’ll see in the many sketches, the dog part was a bit harder to nail down. But I had a lot of fun “finding” him.

Oh yes, as with the other hosts’ names, Mucksluff is a “dead” English word. It was once used to describe a nice looking garment that was worn over a ratty looking one for the purpose of covering it up. I thought it fit the character well.

Below are the sketches for the dog-like half of Dr. Mucksluff. These are a small portion of the sketches I made it.

This last one is what I am aiming for the final character(s) to look like. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Writing Space When Writing About Space

It's 4:45 am. I'm sitting at my dining room table trying to make progress on the script for Intergalactic Gung-Ho Gurus. It's not happening so what do I do? I take a picture of my writing space and post it to the web.

Weekdays I get up around 4:00 am to work on this project. I have to be at my teaching job about 6:45 and afternoons are rather unsure when it comes to what demands will be placed on my time, so my only guaranteed time to get work on the film done is in the wee hours of the morning.

Just a note about the writing.I believe with a project like this, writing is everything. Without a well-written story the quality of animation or special effects won't matter very much.

By the way, I do have an office here in the house, but when I write I have to spread out a bit, as you can see, and my computer desk doesn't have the space.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Introducing the Characters - Brizzle Batterfang a.k.a. “Fang”

Abrasive, tough, pull-no-punches. Fang is a tomboy mechanic who helps keep the ship and the show together – a Ms. Fixit both literally and figuratively.

Her formal name is made up of two great old English words: Brizzle, which means to scorch, and Batterfang, which means to beat and bite. However, she goes by Fang.

 I wanted Fang small but tough – kind of a cross between a Chihuahua and a piranha – a “Chiranha” if you will. Here’s how the sketches started.

The trouble with these? The uniform was making her look too militaristic. She resembled a galactic conqueror more than a rough-edged good guy.

So I took the head covering off and played with the position of the ears. Her trademark fang moved around some too. 

 This is the sketch I’m using to build the puppet. The animation designs will come after the puppet is built.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Producer’s Job

This is my hi-tech Production Tasks Board. At least that’s what I call it.

Being a two man team, both my brother and I have to wear a plethora of hats. “Jefe, would you say I have a plethora?” – (The Three Amigos)

Anyway, one of the hats is obviously producer. And that job entails making sure your writer, animator, puppet-maker, marketer, etc. (All of which are me also) are doing their jobs. I use this means of keeping the tasks in front of me. I look at the Tasks Board when I’m trying to figure out what to work on next. There is some method to my madness. If you look to the right of the picture you see a color code for the types of tasks included. Also, they are arranged by the ones that need to be taken care of first. The scattered look is there so I don’t glaze over when I see it. By making it more jumbled my eye is led over it more freely so, hopefully, I’ll notice something I didn’t notice before.

From there I have a simple black notebook with divider tabs to better organize the specifics of the project.

I know this isn’t exactly the most exciting thing about making a film, but it is very important. I’m posting it for a few reasons. To show that the simplest methods can be as effective as a true high-tech solution that costs lots of money; To give insight into our way of working; And to make a record for the future.

If you have any suggestions or comments I’d like to hear them.
Al W.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Introducing the Characters - Thunderstone

Okay, this character had to be the hardest one to figure out - at least how he should look. 

His name is Thunderstone and is the self described "Supreme Host of the Show" He's arrogant, self-absorbed, oblivious and bumbling. Think Will Ferrel's character Ron Burgundy, but without all the adult stuff. He can be lovable but most of the time you're having to work too hard to see beyond his faults to notice. The first facial feature that came to mind for just such a character was pronounced jaw. So I started playing with the possibilities.


Eh, nothing so far. So as Curly from the Three Stooges always said, "If at first you don't succeed, then keep on suckin' til you do suck seed."

Here I started playing more with the hair and began seeing a little hope for the design.

I did a little more refining but he's looking a bit too much like an evil villain, especially with the trench coat.

These seem to be less sinister and more of what I was looking for, although I'm getting a little Kidd and Play vibe from the "High Left, Low Right" box cut in the first and second picture. Don't know who Kidd and Play were? Then go back in your Hot Tub Time Machine and check out the eighties. 

This is the look I'm going to go with, at least to start building the puppet with. Hopefully the large cranium won't make the puppet too heavy. If the puppet is anything like the actual character then his head will a vast empty space.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Introducing the Characters - Screever

Screever is another no-longer-used English word I thought sounded cool and has an appropriate meaning for the character. A screever was a street artist who would create assorted artworks on walls around the city. Then he would station humble looking homeless street folk at each of the pieces to receive any alms offered in appreciation of the art as if they had created it. The screever created a type of street performer franchise, taking a bulk of the money and giving a portion to the person posing as him. My Screever is an artist also. He is responsible for creating the graphics and animation for the show. His tool is a cyborg arm that comes equipped with a variety of artistic tools, allowing him to do amazing things in a short amount of time. He will be creating a variety of types of animation such as stop-mo, cut-out, flash style, etc. Here are some of the rough sketches I've used to figure out what the character should look like.
These were the beginning ideas. I had one requirement for this character besides the cyborg arm - Goggles! (Or at least something like it)
Something cool is forming for the goggle idea. If not goggles then more cyborg parts that look like goggles.
The overall look seems to be forming around a turtle and a bird. Not sure I like the bird aspect. Ah, this feels better. I am really drawn to the jaw. And the shell is more like a millipede shell than a turtle. Interesting front view with a note about how the puppet eyes might work. Side view. Really taking shape here. I broke it into its individual parts to help me get my head around how I would build it as a hand puppet. This side view is how I believe I'll pursue construction. Of course the final animation model won't come until after the puppet is created.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Intro The Be A Know It All Roadshow

While the preproduction work is going on for this project, I'll periodically post clips from earlier work. This is the intro from our previous film BugWorld. It starred another set of characters called the Varmints. Like Intergalactic Gung-ho Gurus it is a mixture of animation and puppetry.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Introducing the Characters - Blepharon aka "The Bleeph"

The previous post gave a short intro to the project itself. Right now I want to start introducing some of the hosts of the show. This first one is called Blepharon. He’s a former galactically famous daredevil known as The Bleeph. Now he is older and too many years of surfing the Milky Way without a helmet has caught up with him. Picture him as the burned-out hippie, surfer type. Rather absentminded, but sweet. He’s never reluctant to volunteer for reckless assignments and is the butt of many slapstick jokes because of it. I’m working on some phrases from his heyday that he still uses like “We went completely Super Nova!” or “I’m feeling totally Zero G right now.” Any suggestions?
Here are a few of the preliminary sketches. They come straight out of my sketchbook and are pretty rough. They’re mainly to show the thought/discovery process for this character.
The word blepharon is an English word no longer used that means someone with large eyebrows. So I designed him with bushy eyebrows as his most predominant feature. I quickly started liking aspects of this version. The large lower lip worked well against the large eyebrows. The dreds are a bit like squid tentacles. One thing I had to keep in mind though, was that this was going to be a hand puppet as well as an animated character. If I got too much on the puppet then it would be very difficult to use for long periods of time. Here he is getting a little older. Don't think I liked it though. For some reason I like the bottom one of these, but I can't see it working. I'm liking this a little more but still afraid of the weight of all those tentacle dreds on the top of the head. It's come down to this one. I'm working on a functioning version of this one. I'll post some pictures of the puppet construction later. Then I'll be able to do a final drawing of the animated version.