Saturday, March 31, 2007

TV Trailer

This week at the studio, the promotional trailer (basically a TV commercial) for “Crawford’s Classics” went into production. Animation has shifted from the straight-ahead production of the show’s sequence #5 to the non-straight-ahead production of the trailer. There will be approximately 17 scenes in the trailer that will feature short clips from different parts of the show. Several of the scenes will play on the backgrounds that have been previously posted in this space. Based on the animatic (the storyboard pictures playing back with a scratch audio track), I think the trailer will be as fun to watch as it will be to make.

Our colleague Daryl D. Pyle was in this week. He and G. Brian Reynolds will be animating the piece.

Above is a scene Daryl has in the works.

To see the first few frames of it, Click here.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Background Style

Background for a “Crawford’s Corner” Short Click to see bigger
The above pan background was created for a “Crawford’s Corner” short and was rendered in Flash. It’s a replication of a hand-painted background that was used in an earlier “Crawford’s Corner” short. The earlier “Crawford’s Corner” shorts were shot on 35mm film, and anything new created for “Crawford the Cat” is created digitally in the computer. That, of course, makes a big difference for the way background art is handled.

We are currently working on “Crawford Classics,” a new long-form project featuring the same characters. Within the context of this show, the characters are found in new settings and are not “anchored” to their original location. That’s a good thing for us on the technical end of things. The above styled background makes for very large computer files. Each little “cat head” of the wall paper and each little speckle and dot on the floor requires lots of memory, and when working on these scenes, the computer has to work harder to play back the scene in real time. The background like the one below (and the ones from last week’s post) were designed and created in Flash and used only Flash friendly techniques. It’s much easier on the computer processors and takes up far less memory. The difference is pretty amazing and makes for much happier animators who don’t have to wait patiently for the computer to “catch up” to review their work.
A background from "Crawford's Classics" Click to see bigger.
To see a short scene on the background at the top of the this post, Click here.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Concept Art

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This week in Indiana, the weather has been all over the place. The temperature has fluctuated from the 30’s last Sunday to middle 70’s on Wednesday back to the 40’s on Friday. I guess that’s why they say, “If you don’t like the weather here – hang around for 15 minutes!” Fortunately, no big snow storms or the like are in the forecast to keep us from getting to work. Hopefully, we’re done with all that for this season.

This week at the studio, most of our work concentrated on the preparation of additional concept and publicity art for the Crawford the Cat project. Lots of hours are spent on the designs and settings for supporting characters and the backgrounds for any show, and of course, this one is no exception. The above pieces feature some of the buildings that will be inserted into exterior backgrounds for the city scenes. And below, a nighttime background from Harriet’s home, and also the background from the scene I posted last week.

The backgrounds and buildings are designed by G. Brian Reynolds. Nice work G. Brian!

To see the art bigger, Click here.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Screen Format

Wide Screen - 16x9
Standard TV - 3x4

Several scenes were completed this week on our Crawford the Cat project. The project is an hour long, made-for-television special, aimed at younger audiences. This scene features Harriet the Hare and Crawford the Cat.
While working on a scene, the animator uses the red-line template as well as the black 3x4 TV safe overlay matte to make sure that all the pertinent animation is seen on the screen - no matter what format the show is released in.
The 3x4 format, however, may soon become a thing of the past as more and more producers prepare for HDTV. It won’t be long before all television in the US will be delivered in high-definition by way of digital signals. According to USA Today, Congress is poised to make Feb. 17, 2009, the hard-and-fast date for the national conversion to digital TV. As the 3x4 screen size starts to disappear from television sets and other entertainment platforms, so will the programs prepared exclusively in that format.

To see the above scene in the 16 x 9 format, Click Here.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Pencil Tests

I was digging through the archives this week and found the above rough pencil test from HANDYCAT the seven-minute short we made for Frederator Studios and Nickelodeon. Animators sometimes like to test rough drawings to see how the movement is going. At the studio, we use a software program called FlipBook to test animation. Sometimes the drawings are then cleaned up by the animator his/herself or an assistant and then imported into Flash for manipulation. With this particular test, however, the drawings were not cleaned up, and the pencil test was simply imported into Flash to be used as a guide. Handycat head shapes, body shapes, leg shapes, and other shapes were then aligned with the pencil test guide to make the color version of the scene.

FlipBook and Flash Animation are terrific tools, but it takes a skilled animator to get the best out of them. G. Brian Reynolds is one such animator.

Click the link below to see Brian’s pencil test and the color version of the scene. Actor Rob Paulsen provides Handycat’s funny coughs.

Handycat Pencil Test and Finished scene
(Be patient - the Pencil Test takes longer to load.)