Monday, December 01, 2008

My Demo Reel

Hey everybody. Dan here.

As some of you know, for the past couple of years I've been studying Computer Animation at Full Sail University in Orlando, FL. The last bit of time at school was spent working on my first Demo Reel. Essentially a demo reel is an animation portfolio containing a few short scenes that demonstrate what kind of stuff I am capable of for prospective employers. It's what I'll use to get a job - hopefully. Otherwise I'll just continue pitching in on Ross's soon-to-be award winning series of books.

I recently submitted my reel to the 2008 aniBoom Awards Animation Festival. Essentially this is an annual competition put on by the YouTube of the animation world, aniBoom.

So if you have a minute (1 minute and 20 seconds to be precise), and want to watch my efforts, I've included my reel in this very post. After watching it if you have another 10 seconds or so to kill, and want to help your friend Wheezy out, go give my video a ranking over at it's aniBoom page.

Hope you like it! Thanks for taking the time to watch it.

The competition goes through December 14th, so I imagine I'll be mentioning this again sometime within the next couple of weeks. Indulge a poor unemployed animator.

Friday, September 12, 2008

TF2 Sniper and Sandvich - Valve

Today I've got some more video game animations for you. Why so heavy on the video game stuff lately? I dunno. Let's call it a theme month or something.

The guys over at Valve have released a few more videos to promote their game Team Fortress 2. For those of you that have been following my Twitter, you know that lately I've been on a bit of a podcast kick, and one of the podcasts I listen to is the ReAnimators. These are a group of video game animators that talk about various aspects of their industry. One interesting point they brought up was that in a field where photorealism is so strived for and desired, something stylized like Team Fortress 2 really stands out.

And I couldn't agree more. These promotional animations are the icing on that cake. For me, something unique and well designed like the Team Fortress 2 crew are so much more appealing to me than a Marcus Fenix or Master Chief (although I do like Master Chief's design in general). Just like movie animation, it seems like the more you try to make things look super realistic (Beowulf) the further you get from something appealing that I'm actually going to enjoy (Ratatouille).

Anyway enough chat from me. Here's the first video introducing "The Sniper."

That character has been around from the beginning, but the next "character" is something new that was only recently introduced to the game. There really isn't a lot of actual animation in this one, as in character movement, but the animation that is used is perfect for what needs to be accomplished.

Haven't had enough videos? Wander of to Immediate Regret and vote for who you think has the best picks in our "Best Will Ferrell Character" Draft. If I lose I have to go see Disaster Movie, which I believe is still rocking a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. So go vote! (Preferably for me, but you should really watch the videos and decide for yourself).

Monday, September 01, 2008

Warhammer Online Cinematic - Blur Studio

Remember that short I shared a while back called "A Gentleman's Duel"? Well if not, go watch it because it's good stuff. That was a short by Blur Studio, which I found out recently also was the force behind that Marvel short I showed a few months back.

Well turns out that Blur Studio does a lot of game cinematics as well. Their most recently released one is for the upcoming World of Warcraft challenger, Warhammer Online. Yes, I know Blizzard stole all their ideas from Warhammer, so don't bother getting into that. This blog isn't for that.

What this blog is for (these days anyway) is showing some awesome animations, so moving right along, this is Blur Studio's Warhammer Online cinematic.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Oktapodi - Gobelins l'école de l'image

Hey there everybody. I've been away from the internets a bit this week on account of my attendance as a student volunteer at this year's SIGGRAPH conference. SIGGRAPH is a computer animation conference held every year where studios and tech companies show off their latest and greatest achievements in the arena of computer graphics. All of the major animation studios are in attendance, and as such it's a great time.

There is an Animation Film Festival as well, which shows some great shorts throughout the week. This year's film festival was pretty spectacular in my opinion, and there were a lot of great shorts, including a few I've posted here on this very blog in the past.

The winner of this year's Best of Show and Audience Prize was a short called Oktapodi. This is another student work from the French Animation school Gobelins l'école de l'image. You may remember that crazy french name from another short I posted a while back - Pyrats.


Oh yeah. Check out my new website!

Lots of animation goodness on there, and more to come!
Thanks to Mr. Wirick for the design and implementation.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Changes - Daniel Martinez Lara

Woah! Look at that. I'm still posting over here too. Crazy eh?

Here's an animation we were shown during class the other day, and it made me chuckle. It's by Daniel Martinez Lara and company. Lara has a tendency to mix character animation with more realistic palettes, which generally turns out a pretty cool result. He seems to put a lot of thought into the camera for his animations, something that a lot of people take for granted.

The animation I'm sharing today isn't trying to be realistic, but the camera action is still fantastic. Hope you enjoy!

One of those camera shots might look familiar. It made me laugh this time too.

"Changes" - Daniel Martinez Lara

"For the Birds" - Pixar Animation Studios

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Looney Tunes - Chuck Jones

Hey there everybody. How ya doin'. Good? Good.

We just started our first class in a 5 month span in which I'll be making my demo reel, and our professor asked to to take a few minutes and remember why it was we wanted to get into animation to begin with (because, according to him, the next five months are going to test our desires a bit in terms of work load).

Well after thinking about it, there were a lot of factors in my life that got me started, but one of the earliest animations I can remember truly loving was pretty much any Looney Tunes short. The Disney shorts weren't being shown in front of movies anymore when I was a kid, and the Looney Tunes were playing pretty much in non-stop syndication, so I watched every minute, every episode, over and over.

Well, I managed to find a couple of them up on YouTube, and these ones in particular were favorites of mine. They also happen to be directed by Chuck Jones, one of the best known from Warner, at least by my age group.

Hopefully they'll bring back some fond memories for you too.

If you want more, Warner has been releasing them on DVD for quite a while now. Check 'em out here.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Mandalorian Dance

Did you see Wall-E yet? Go see it. Best Reviewed movie of 2008 according to me. And Rotten Tomatoes apparently. I'm going to have to get a Blu-Ray (read: PS3) for that movie alone.

This week's featured animation was something I just found floating around the internets. I don't know much about it's back story but I do know that it is impressive in its own way. Not every animation has to be high brow artsy stuff.

Have a great 4th of July weekend everybody.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Wall-E by Pixar Animation Studios

Ok ok ok... I'm kinda geekin' out right now. Admittedly, I'm extremely biased when it comes to Pixar in general. But I am downright exploding with ... I dunno... SOMETHING about Wall-E. And I haven't even seen it yet.

In fact, emily tried to talk down my excitement a tad the other day, just on the off chance that I'm disappointed by the movie. What can I say, she's looking out for me :).

"Dan, I come here on the off chance that you posted a comic, and occasionally for videos. Not movie reviews for movies you haven't seen yet. Honestly. This blog jumped the shark back when you posted 'Rejected'."

Fine, fine. You want videos? I'll give ya videos. MORE WALL-E VIDEOS. These are more in the "Wall-E Meets" series of vignettes. Don't worry, not a spoiler in sight.

This last one has caused me to contemplate thievery on multiple occasions. I hear these things are wandering around the Disney theme parks, which happen to by right down the road from where I live. I could probably fit one in my car, right?

Lastly, check out Disney's website and wait for the intro to load up. Careful though, after the intro a trailer plays, so be prepared to hit the pause button if you're trying to save the movie for when you actually go see it.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

More - Mark Osborne

Today's featured animation is "More" by Mark Osborne. This was released in 1998, and was the first short to be filmed in the IMAX format. As with most things I throw up here, it won a ton of awards, and was nominated for an Academy Award the year it was released.

Animation wise, we're looking at another Stop-Motion, or Claymation piece, with a little 2D thrown in for good measure. There's a good interview with Osborne about his process overe at AnimWatch.

Check out Mark Osborne's official site here. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wall-E Vignettes

So emily and I just saw Kung Fu Panda last night, and I must say it was absolutely awesome. It was a good story, combined with great action sequences (although perhaps a bit of over use in the "slow motion to full speed to slow motion" department) and hilarious dialog from Mr. Jack Black. Not to mention the animation itself was superb. All around fantastic, and without question Dreamworks' best animated film to date.

That being said, my enthusiasm for Pixar's next offering can not be satiated that easily. June 27th I will assuredly be seated in a movie theater, waiting to watch a movie that has little to no dialog. A stark contradiction to the Dreamworks approach of throwing as many Hollywood stars as possible at everything they make. I think Jackie Chan had maybe two lines in Kung Fu Panda, and between Lucy Lui and Angelina Jolie there might have been a page of script.

Hopefully you've seen at least one or two articles / commercials about Wall-E. In the "viral" marketing department, Pixar has been releasing some vignettes of the cute little guy coming across objects from our world that he might not understand at first glance. For today's featured animation, I bring to you some brilliant animation by none other than Pixar Animation Studios.

Fun Fact: The sound designer that created the robot "voices" for Wall-E is Ben Burtt, the same guy who designed Chewbacca's voice, R2D2's blips, and that lightsaber noise, among other things. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Marvel on the Small Screen

Today's video has been around the nets for a while now, but once again I have to give credit to Mr. Calendine for reminding me that it exists. Thanks Ben.

I really don't know much about the origins of this video, other than Marvel Comics had it put together to try and sell some more comics with their three current movie franchise characters. And I must say, it's pretty fantastic. So sit back, relax, and enjoy some super hero CG that wasn't ruined by any Hollywood interference.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Andy Continues to Get Old

Hello Wheezy's blog readership! Today is my birthday and for that you get another Fenley original comic. Dan gave me "contributor" status so when I get an idea for a comic I will be posting it myself from now on.

Anyway about the comic. I recently got engaged and I think it may be normal female instinct to go into super-planner mode. While the situation below hasn't happened yet (well not exactly), it seems like it is only a matter of time. This is far more drawing that I did for the last comic, but I think it turned out well. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Cat Came Back - Cordell Barker

Today's animation is an oldie but a goody. "The Cat Came Back" is an animation by Cordell Barker from 1988. Based on an old folk song by Harry S. Miller (originally titled "The Cat Came Back: A Comic Negro Absurdity"), the Barker's version leaves out most of the lyrics, using the animation to tell the story.

I remember this cartoon from my childhood - although I'm not sure where I saw it. Maybe Sesame Street? Anyway. Let me know if this brings back memories for any of you. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pop Culture Psychosis

Look at that. A real, actual, Wheezy original comic. Huh.

Thanks for sticking in there with me. With the end of my schooling coming up here in November, I'm going to be busy working on my demo reel pretty much non-stop for the next five months or so. I can't guarantee comics every week, but I'll certainly keep posting videos and some of my own work, and I'll do my best to get a comic up when I can.

Enough of that. Today's comic is actually part of a collaboration from a ways back with Enliv. Each one of us wrote the script for the other's comic... this way we had to do some writing with other people's characters and stretch our comedic horizons a little bit.

The idea for today's comic came from Mr. Johnny Nguyen. Enjoy!

You can see the rest of the collaborations here and here.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Guest Comic - Andy Fenley

Hey look at that! A COMIC!

Ok, granted, it's not a comic by Wheezy, but it IS a comic, and a good one too, something which this site sorely needs. Mr. Andy Fenley was nice enough to make a guest comic during my period of creative laziness, and for that I think we all owe him a debt of gratitude.

And now I'll hand it over to Mr. Fenley.

"Enjoy my first attempt at a comic. Shows you can do a lot with no talent and funny friends."

Thanks again to Mr. Fenley.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Team Fortress 2 Character Trailers- Valve

I've been in a lab all night watching a little bar scroll slowly across the screen, rendering out this month's school project one pixel at a time. There's a comic in the works, I promise. Just not for today. I think by Monday I'll owe you three.

Valve is one of the leaders in the gaming industry. If you haven't heard of Half-Life, I would wager that you haven't played a video game in the last five years or so. But don't worry, I'm not sharing video game screen shots today.

Team Fortress 2 is a multiplayer first person shooter that was recently released as part of Valve's "The Orange Box" (which is a great deal, by the way). Prior to release Valve put out a series of animations introducing some of the character classes in the game. Taking heavily from the style of "The Incredibles", these things are pure gold. Great animation with hilarious, well defined personalities, this stuff just goes to show that film companies aren't the only ones capable of high quality character animation.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Fallen Art - Baginski

Stay with me folks. My class this months end Wednesday. We're almost back into sanity and with it, new comics. Just a few more days.

Today's Featured Animation is "Fallen Art" by Baginski. You can find the official website here.
In today's feature animaton world, it's rare that you get anything that's not kid friendly. "Fallen Art" is certainly not that - I'd say it falls in the realm of 'dark comedy'. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rejected - Don Hertzfeldt

I'm really sorry. I truly am. I WANT to make a comic, but this month is just killing me with school work. I know when I say "Don't worry - comics will come back as soon as possible" you may be skeptical. After all, I don't have the best track record with this sort of thing. However, I really do plan on coming back with more comics. Just... after this hectic class thing is over with.

In the meantime, I'll share another hand picked Featured Animation. Many of you may have seen this before, but I doubt that those who have seen it will mind seeing it again. But since you don't come here for looking for just the same old stuff, here's some information that you might not know. Rejected, by Don Hertzfeldt, was released in 2000. Although it has the feel of something made for the internet masses, it actually won quite a few film festival awards, and was nominated for a 2001 Academy Award for Best Animated Short.

No joke. It's an Oscar nominated film. It's also been described by some as the "A Hard Day's Night" of our generation.

It's a little risque, as far as things I post on this blog goes, so be careful as the audio in particular isn't necessarily safe for work (ANSFW - the "A" is for Audio). You can find Hertzfeldt's website here. And now, "Rejected".

Since you did come here for a comic there is a bit of new Wheezy comic work floating around the internet today. In another collaboration with Enliv, today's comic by Kevin Chibar was a concept written by yours truly. Go check it out.

Monday, April 21, 2008


So I'm a little off my game this month. Kinda hectic classes going on. So this week we're pulling another switcher-oo. Featured Animation today, comic on Thursday. Thanks for understanding.

Today's featured animation is more of a featured animation company, Animusic. This company, started by Wayne Lytle, is unique in that they don't animate their zany computer generated instruments by hand. Instead, they create fanciful and original instruments that are then animated by music they write themselves. In essence, the music drives the animation automatically, without the need for a person to hand animate to a music track. Pretty innovative and cool.

Today I've embedded "Resonance Chamber", but if you just type "Animusic" into YouTube you'll find a ton of these things. They also have quite a few DVD's available at your nearest Best Buy. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Vincent - Tim Burton and Rick Heinrichs

Last week I shared "9" by Shane Acker, a short film that is being turned into a full length feature film by Tim Burton. This week I'm sharing some of Tim's (that's right, we're close) early work.

This short stop motion film "Vincent" was made by Tim Burton in 1982 with the animating talents of Rick Heinrichs. Even that early in Burton's career, he had a very distinctive style. "Tim Burton-y", I think would be the best way to describe it.

Here's a little Tim Burton trivia for ya. Burton used to be a Disney Animator. Not surprisingly, he didn't get much of his character design stuff in until after he left Disney to work on his own projects. I dunno how well a Jack Skellington type would have fit in with Bambi's mom.

And now - Vincent.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Coco the Dog - Explained

I imagine that most of you have heard of the long standing comic strip "Marmaduke." Somewhat dated, but certainly one of the most popular comic strips of all time, Marmaduke has developed something of a cult following at a blog called "Marmaduke Explained". That site provides the extremely useful and hilarious service of explaining exactly what is happening in a given Marmaduke strip in layman's terms, in case you didn't understand the, typically obvious, premise of the gag.

Check it out. It's good for a few (not always family friendly) laughs.

My boy Ross pointed out that blog to me a few months back, and in tribute to Ross and his dog Coco, I am proud to present "Coco The Dog."

If you'd like, please leave your own custom "explanation" in the comments. Fan mail for "Coco the Dog" can be sent to:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

AD isn't coming back, is it?

Have any of you ever been involved in some sort of Nielsen Media Research? This is the company that decides what shows get made, and as far as I know they're in charge of figuring out ratings once a show has been put on the air.

I've been involved in some form of their data collection twice. The first experience I had was with Ross, Maggie, and emily while we were in Vegas. We saw a sign for "Free Starbucks to Watch TV!", which, of course, I immediately decided was a good idea.

Turns out I was wrong. The girls didn't fit the demographic they were looking for, so they we subjected to a rerun of "The Biggest Loser" while Ross and I were subjected to the pilot for "Blade: The Series."

I think the emily and Maggie got the better end of that deal.

Not only that, but the "Free Starbucks" was a coupon for $2 off any single purchase - which means that we might have been able to get a cup of water.

Well recently while I was at the mall getting my laptop taken care of, I was pulled aside and offered $20 to do the same thing. Apparently I rarely learn from my mistakes because I immediately accepted the offer, and bore witness to yet another pilot. The following comic is based on those events.

No joke. Jurassic Fight Club. To make a long story short, I gave it a thumbs down. If it manages to get on the air, remember today's post.

Did I mention that "Blade: The Series" was canceled?

My boy Mueller has a post with his opinions on the WNBA. You could go check it out.

Monday, April 07, 2008

9 - Shane Acker

Facebook readers, click here to be able to see today's Featured Animation

Ok, I know I promised you a comic today, but unfortunately my laptop is still in the shop. I won't go into the details, but I am having something bothersome fixed with regards to the screen, and Apple hasn't given it back to me yet. So blame them.

Anyway, this week we're going to pretend Monday is Thursday and Thursday is Monday. This, of course, means today you get another featured animation! (And if your boss is on board with the whole switch-a-roo concept you'll have Wednesday off.)

"9" is a short film by Shane Acker that was released in 2005. It won a boat load of awards (see the full list on Acker's website), and was nominated for an Oscar for best animated short. Acker worked on the film part time for approximately 4 and a half years. During a portion of that time he was also working at WETA on a little movie called Return of the King, animating Mumakils, among other things.

From an interview in 2005:

"Technically I think the biggest hurdle I encountered, as silly as it may sound, was trying to get 9's zipper teeth to behave! In the end I had to do a lot of hand animation tweaks to wrangle it back in order. Its funny how you can obsess over the smallest of details. That's why I think animators are all insane!"

It's about 10 minutes long, but if you don't have the time right now make sure and come back later to check it out. Although the story itself is rather simplistic, the style and sound effects are fantastic. "9" has been picked up by Focus Features and is being made into a full length film by none other than Tim Burton (not to mention quite a bit of voice talent from the likes of Jennifer Connelly, John C. Reilly, and Elijah Wood). It's currently scheduled to be released in December of this year.

Again, sorry for the comic delay. Come back Thursday for a nice short 10 second chunk of visual entertainment. Or if you didn't catch last week's featured animation, make sure and see it. It's about 20 seconds, and, in my humble opinion, worth your time.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Tennis Game - Jose Estrella and Dan Weiland

Facebook readers, click here to be able to see today's Featured Animation.

It's Thursday, and of course that means that you get another featured animation from around the world. And since I just finished up my Animation Production class, today's featured animation is from none other than yours truly.

For our class this month, we worked in teams of two to create a short (extremely short) tennis match. Each person was to animate two shots, the first animating the serve and one return, and the other person animating two returns. All of the models, rigs and textures were provided for us, we were to concentrate on just the animations.

"Two tennis shots? That's like... 4 seconds Dan. Tops. Sounds pretty easy."

Well it's not exactly Toy Story, but we were to try and make these animations look as close to "production quality" as possible. We weren't going for absolute realism, just something that's believable and entertaining to watch. Also, if we wanted to be an "Animator" for our demo reel, we needed to score a 90% or better in this class. So the pressure's on.

"Ok enough yammering. Let's see some animation!"

Woah there bud. Not so fast. First, we start with some real life reference. This will be used as a starting point for our animation. Here are the references for my two shots.

After we do some rough thumb nails (hand sketched storyboard type things) of what we think the action will be like, we go into our first animation pass. This early on, we basically block in the important poses, just enough to "tell the story."

At this point we're trying to match poses between the real life reference and our scene.
Here's a few screen grabs for comparison.

Continuing on from there, we'll block in some of the "in betweens" - basically filling in the gaps and hammering out the details of what's going to happen.

Keep in mind, at this point the animation is just skipping from pose to pose. Even though it might look somewhat "fluid" it's just a slide show. Your mind is filling in the gaps. Between that pass and the final animation the computer will fill in some of those gaps, although I'll have to make a lot of adjustments to the way it does things to make it look better than just moving from point A to point B.

At this point in my animation career, it's very much trial and error. If something doesn't look right, you tweak it a little bit, try to find a better pose, and create another quick "playblast" (real time video to see the animation as it will look full speed), and assess if the changes you made are working or not. After any series of changes I'd make another video like this one, then watch to see if what I had done made things better or worse.

As the animation progresses, you start to move away from the reference a little bit, exaggerating certain areas and completely overhauling others. For example, in the Andy Roddick reference he kind of shorts the shot - he was in too close to the ball - so when he swings his arm is kind of crammed up against his body. In my animation, I chose to pull his arm out further away from his body so that it would look like a more powerful swing. That's just one example of the many eventually differences between the reference and my final scenes.

Also for this final pass, I have to go in and tweak all of the different animation curves. For this particular model, there were approximately 20 different controls (elbows, hands, feet, hips, etc), each with anywhere from 6 to 20 different variables that could be adjusted for any moment in time (translate x, y, z, rotate x, y, z, etc.) In the Graph Editor, you go into each curve and smooth out things, adjust the timing, add or remove keyframes, and so on. Here's a picture of all of the curves for each of the two shots.

You can isolate the different curves of course, and zoom in and out to concentrate on particular areas. I'm not working with that mess as is!

All of that leads to the final animation. There's certainly more to be done here, (there's no facial animation for example), but with the time constraints of the class this was where I had to leave it.

Once the animation was finalized, I rendered out the final image. This is when all the textures are applied and and motion blur is added (to make things FEEL faster). Each frame (at 24 frames per second) took about 5 minutes to render. To give you an idea of how simple this is, one frame of Transformers, if rendered on a single machine, would take 38 hours.

That's why they use more than just a single Macbook Pro for rendering over at ILM.

Once my partner and I had rendered out our separate scenes, we combined them to form "A Tennis Game." Enjoy!!

(Jose animated the blue tennis player, while I animated the red clad guy).

So that's it. A combined two months of work for 18 seconds, most of which was credits or titles. Still, I really enjoyed working on it, and hopefully you found the breakdown of the process at least a little interesting.

If you just came here just wanting a comic, come back Monday. I'll have one for ya. But in the meantime, the boys over at Enliv have switched to a Monday / Thursday schedule. What's today again...?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Where's Pat Morita When You Need Him?

The practices and forms prescribed by social convention or by authority.

I realize that this comic didn't have any words, but I swear I'm trying to break out of the "sight vs. write" mindset. Next week I'll depict the third act of Mel Gibson's Macbeth to make up for it.

Come back Thursday for another Featured Animation!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Animation Mentor Fall 2007 Showcase

Howdy everybody. I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but I graduate in November. If my calculations are correct that means I'm going to have a Bachelor's in Computer Animation in approximately... 8 months. That's less than a year! Yowza.

In the last three months of my tenure at Full Sail I'll be creating a Demo Reel to send out to prospective employers. Basically this is a compilation of short 8 to 10 seconds scenes that showcases the abilities I would like to do at a job somewhere. I've decided to specialize in animation. Hopefully this means that I'll get a job imbuing a character with life throuh movement (as opposed to a "modeller" who would create the character or a texture artist who would color to the character).

Now that I've made this decision, I've become interested in what other recent animation graduates have been putting out in the way of demo reels. Animation Mentor is an online animation school that gives certificates in "Advanced Studies in Character Animation". It was started by three fellas who worked on "Toy Story 2”, “Monster's Inc.”, “Finding Nemo”, “Star Wars” episodes I, II, and III, “Hulk”, The Incredibles”, and their students have been pumping out some really amazing animations.

Today I'm going to share with you their Fall 2007 Showcase - I assume the best of the best from their crop of students last year. An individual student's character animation demo reel will have about a minute and a half of short clips like these, and the ones shown here are at a high level of quality - definitely something for my to aspire to meet or exceed. Enjoy!

You can find an interview with the guys from Animation Mentor over at CGSociety.

Also - The guys over at Enliv have started posting on Monday AND Thursday. Which is awesome. So go check it out.

Monday, March 24, 2008

And then I pull out my GUN....!

I know that technically last week was supposed to be the end of the "Sight vs. Write" thing, but I had one more idea that I felt needed to be committed to digital ink before I moved on to comics with art in every cell. In a way this is a fitting conclusion, for it harnesses both the power of the written word as well as an artistic rendering, thus bringing me to the conclusion that I probably won't start painting miniature 800 pixel watercolors nor penning minuscule novels formatted into 3 to 4 individual panels. When it comes to webcomics, team work seems to be the key.

If you're not sure where the punchline is, it's entirely possible that you were watching a rerun of "Saved By the Bell" during 1991, so you might find these enlightening.

Or maybe you just thought it wasn't funny, in which case I will refer you to my comedic safety net. Be warned - following that link might lead to what those in "the biz" call an infinite loop.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Canadian Cavemen Milk Ads - Ruairi Robinson

Remember that kinda-depressing-kind-of-funny-in-a-dark-way video from last week, 50 Percent Grey? Well, it turns out that fella (Ruairi Robinson) also directed a series of commercials for the Milk Board of Canada. For these ads he took some inspiration from Gary Larson's "Far Side" comic strips. If you're interested in reading more about the process behind this particular project, feel free to check out an article about Robinson and these commercials over at the CGSociety.

Otherwise, enjoy these short Cavemen Milk Ads, comfortable in the fact that not only are these remarkably better than the Geico atrocities of the same vague idea that we're exposed to here in the states, but also that the likely-hood of us being subjected to a TV series spun off from the same idea is rather minuscule.

See ya on Monday.

**Update: Mueller posted an insane music video over on his blog today, also about milk. Uncoordinated, I promise. So drink up.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

May the Ring Be With You

Today ends the Sight vs. Write event that was conducted by myself and the fellas over at Enliv Comics. This week we tackled the "Write" portion of things by creating a comic that depended solely on the writing for the punch line.

Like many of my comics the idea for today's strip stemmed from real life. I'll leave it up to you to connect the dots as to which parties might be represented, but suffice it to say that the next time emily and I have 28 uninterrupted hours with no plans, we'll be watching a few trilogies to make sure everybody has their o' so nerdy ducks in a row*.

And thus concludes Sight vs. Write. Which was more difficult for Wheezy?

Although the write side had its difficulties, mainly in thinking of a decent idea that translated directly into word bubbles and still made sense, the art end of the deal presented a greater challenge. In part because it was a forced limitation - but doing the setup, follow through, and punch line for a gag with no words at all was difficult. I was constantly battling the urge to throw a clarifying label on different areas of the art (like "Testing Facilities" or "Urinal Cake Holders Inc."), just to make sure that the audience understood what I was going for.

Did I mention that I've done something similar to this before? That idea lent itself to a "no-word" strip (unless you count the webbed "BFF"). Last week's was a little forced.

With the writing, the biggest challenge was due in part to an oversight when we thought up this whole sight vs. write thing. By limiting the art to "eyes in a dark room", it really pigeon-holed the comic into something involving two people in a dark space. In retrospect, I think that a rule of just "two people talking" using simplistic characters would have opened up the playing field a bit. That being said - this week was awesome for me because it took like, ten minutes to "draw."

And now I'll leave you with an ADDITIONAL comic. Two Wheezy originals in one week? What is this, 2004?

This was an alternate idea I had for this week's strip, and since this is really the only time I'll be able to get away with the lack of art without it being considered a lazy complete cop out, I figured that I'd just double your comic pleasure for the week.

Last week there was some good discussion in the comments with regards to the Sight vs. Write concept - what do you guys think of the results for myself and Enliv? Was one method preferred over the other?

See ya on Thursday for another Featured Animation.

*In the interest of full disclosure, emily didn't confuse "Star Wars" with "Lord of the Rings", but rather mixed up a few plot elements of "Star Wars" and "Space Balls", referencing the "schwartz ring" when discussing the "force". I thought she was talking about the One Ring to Rule them all, and thus the muse of cartooning struck.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fifty Percent Grey - Ruairi Robinson

This week we've got an award winning short from 2002, "Fifty Percent Grey". The guy who created it, Ruairi Robinson, did all the work for this piece (with the exception of sound) over the course of 6 months for a grand total of 10,000 Euros (that's about $15,000 folks).

According to Robinson's website, the film was shown at 70 international film festivals, including Sundance, and garnered awards for Best Short at London Effects and Animation Festival, The Empire State Film Festival, and the Dresden FilmFest, just to name a few. "Fifty Percent Grey" also nabbed an Oscar nomination that year, but was beat out by Pixar's "For the Birds". (Shocking that Pixar won an award, I know. Did I mention they won several awards for those commercials I shared with you last week?)

Look for more of Robinson's work in 2009 when the live action remake of "Akira" is released. But for now, enjoy "Fifty Percent Grey."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Upstream Engineering

This week marks the first of two comics for a little thing me and the boys over at Enliv are doing called "Sight vs. Write." For anybody who didn't catch last Monday's post, the idea is to challenge ourselves to make a comic without words, depending solely on the art to convey the gag, and then the following week depend completely on the writing itself, with minimal art to back it up.

I have to apologize in advance, as I'm not sure that the females in my avid readership are necessarily going understand today's comic. I doubt many of you ladies have had this particular type of experience, but hopefully the guys can relate to the sinister underpinnings of America's public sanitation industry.

Also weighing in on the "Sight vs. Write" debate, we have a submission from Mr. Andy Fenley, a co-writer on last week's comic. I'm inclined to like this one better than the original.

Certainly better than Mr. Brandon "Rick-Roll" Vasquez's similar attempt from sometime last year ;).

Don't forget to check back on Thursday for another animation from around the internet, and Monday for the completion of our "Sight vs. Write" challenge.

And if you're still looking for good entertainment - go see my utter thrashing in MM's first Skeet Thrower Fantasy Draft. Don't worry. It's safe for work. Although I guess my parents don't really have to worry about that anymore.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

1990's Commercials - Pixar Animation Studio

Did you know that originally, Pixar sold computers? For reals yo.
Back in '86, Pixar's main business was selling their Pixar Image Computer to the "high end visualization market", like the medical industry. Their hardware sold for $135,000, by no means an impulse buy. Well, in order to sell these bohemith they had to be able to show off its capabilities, so they hired on a Disney animator by the name of John Lasseter (whom I've discussed briefly in previous posts). And so he made some short computer animations using this technology - the humble beginnings of what would later become Pixar Animation Studios. You might have heard of them.

Well they didn't go from selling computers to making Wall E overnight. Along the way they had some major financial troubles, most likely stemming from the fact that not a lot of companies wanted to buy a $135,000 computer (did I mention the $35,000 workstation they had to purchase along with it to make it useful?). So to make some money in between total financial ruin and Toy Story, Pixar made commercials. 71 to be exact. (Check out more on the history of Pixar here - it's an interesting read).

I would be surprised if most of you hadn't seen at least some of these before, but I doubt that it's common knowledge that they were made by Pixar. The most popular and well known of their commercials were a series of Listerine and Life Savers ads. These were also the only ones I could find on the internet (with the help of my boy MM - 300 posts strong!). Looking back at these it's pretty amazing ... I never really thought about how much innovation went into simple things like selling me jelly lifesavers, and then selling me the hygienic product to remove their remnants from my mouth.

This last one is a little ways into the video - at approximately 48 seconds. You should be able to just click about halfway in and see it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

No Man Left Behind

While I've been attending Full Sail I've found myself completely immersed in video game culture. Almost everybody at this school is obsessed with video games, and since most of these folk want to work in the video game industry after graduation, I suppose that it makes sense.

I enjoy video games as well. However as I meander through more and more games it's become apparent to me that I rarely ever actually finish a game. I can only think of maybe five off hand where I've seen the final credits roll by.

Most of the games I play I enjoy - it's not a matter of them being good or bad. It's just that sometimes I have to put away the games of childhood to embrace my other more important... responsibilities.

Yesterday on the blog I mentioned an "upcoming web-comic related project" that I was excited about. Recently a forum over at prompted me and the guys of Enliv Comics to discuss the importance of comic writing versus comic art. With sites such as XKCD and Dinosaur comics (literally the same clip art every single week) enjoying incredible popularity, one starts to wonder if the art is even a major factor when it comes to comic strips.

If I only spent an hour throwing together some panels instead of my fairly standard four, resulting in lessened artistic quality but containing the same gags, would my comics be as effective?

Well we decided to challenge ourselves over the next couple of weeks by participating in something we're calling Sight vs. Write (Clever, I know. Thanks Lance!).

On March 10th the Enliv crew and I are going to post comics that contain absolutely no words whatsoever. On March 17th, we're going to be posting comics in which the visual element of each panel is nothing more than two pairs of eyes in a completely dark place (Scooby-Doo style), but with as many words as we'd like.

The point? Just to see which is more difficult. To challenge ourselves a little. Is it harder to make a comic funny without words? Or without pictures.

Anyway, stay tuned to find out. What do y'all think? Is the textual writing more important to conveying the joke? Or the art? Drop a comment and let me know what your mind is a cookin'.

Thanks to Andy and Megan for helping shore up this week's comic idea.

Oh, and look at that. Still Monday. Looks like my banner doesn't lie after all.

Wheezy Original Artwork

Well, it's late and I'm not going to be able to finish the comic tonight without sacrificing any sleep that I'll be getting before the first day of March's class, so I'm going to once again offer you a one sided compromise that you have no choice but to accept. I guess you could just stop reading my blog, but why would you do that when you know there's a comic coming tomorrow?

Anyway, one of my classes last month was "History of Archetypes and Mythologies." We studied a variety of mythologies from around the world, relating them to the gaming and movie industry where applicable. Turns out this stuff is applicable for just about everything. Every heard of a book called "The Hero with a Thousand Faces"? Turns out that's Star Wars before Lucas thought of it. And Lord of the Rings. And Harry Potter. And so on, and so on...

But I won't delve too deeply into that, I'll leave that to you. One of the things we did for this class was digital artwork depicting figures we studied. So hopefully you'll enjoy some Wheezy originals, even if they don't have a punch line at the end.

Odin from Norse Mythology

Sacrificing himself to himself on the Yggdrasil
(Click to Enlarge)

Throwing his eye into Mimir's Spring to gain the Wisdom of Ages
(Click to Enlarge)

Balor of the Evil Eye from Celtic Mythology
(Click to Enlarge)

Kappa from Japanese Mythology

(Click to Enlarge)

My particular take on Kappas from Japanese Mythology.
It was said that Kappa's power came from the water stored in a basin-like depression in their head. They had an overwhelming sense of honor that could be used to trick them into emptying the basin by simply bowing to them.

(Click to Enlarge)

Well, that's it for now. Check back on Tuesday for a new comic as well as an upcoming web-comic related project that I'm pretty excited about.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Creature Comforts - Aardman Animation

Did anybody watch the Academy Awards on Sunday?

Well, despite being what some would call a movie enthusiast, I almost never watch the Academy Awards. I find most of it to be pretty boring, with the occasional exception of a Will Farrel / Jack Black moment, so I typically just check the winners the following day and wait for any funny bits to be filtered through the internet comedy colander that is MM.

This year, I thought that I would post the Academy Winning short here on the blog. "Peter and the Wolf" by Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman won this year, and it's definitely worth a watch. However, since it's 30 minutes in length, I'll let you catch that some other time. You can find it here.

What's intriguing about this years winner is that it taps into another form of animation I haven't show on the ol' blog yet - claymation. Essentially this is what most people call "stop motion animation". You place a character, snap a shot, move it a little bit, snap another shot, move it a little bit.. etc. Difficult and time consuming stuff (like most animation I suppose).

One animation studio that has specialized in this type of animation for quite some time is Aardman Animation Ltd. You've probably seen some of their stuff. Examples of their feature films include Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, and Flushed Away, just to name a few. In 1989, they won an Oscar in the Best Animated Short Film category for their claymation, "Creature Comforts." The animation appears to be a series of interviews with animals at a zoo, however in actuality these responses were taken from people living in low incoming housing and retirement homes, as well as one family residing in a local store somewhere in Britain. So as always with anything Academy Award related, there's a bit of social commentary in there too. Enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mustachioed Machismo

After the initial unveiling of the "Dan" character, I had a pretty good response from my readership. I started incorporating him in my comics more often, eventually phasing out the "Chad" character altogether.

Turns out there was a reason that I used Chad instead of trying to draw myself when this all started. He was easy to draw. "Dan" on the otherhand, was/is not. Initially I tried to redraw Dan every week so I would eventually become proficient, but as you can see by exhibits "A", "B", and especially "C", I wasn't getting the best results.

So I started cutting and pasting the "Dan" from previous comics instead of drawing him every week. I have to imagine this is frowned upon in the cartooning world, (it definitely is if you want to improve as an artist) but I'm certainly not the only one who occasionally falls into this bad habit.

At any rate, after my laptop died last week, I realized that I had lost all of my previous comic work - and thus, I didn't have my "cut and paste" crutch to lean on.

Relearning to draw myself was ... troublesome.

Thanks again to Mr. Mueller for helping me hash out the details of the comic this week.

Also, for those interested in Apple's customer support, I took my busted laptop into the Apple store on Saturday, and by Thursday morning I had a package containing my fixed laptop in my hands. Not too shabby.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pyrats - Gobelins l'école de l'image Students

It's Thursday, and time for an animation from the wide world of ... well, animation.

Today's is another student film,"Pyrats", by a group of five from the Gobelins l'école de l'image school in Paris, France. "Pyrats" was made as an opening short for the Annecy 2006 International Animation Festival. According to the students' website, it was completed in 7 months, including the screenplay, storyboard and designs.

This is a 2D animation for the most part, although apparently some Flash as well as Maya was used to help out with certain elements. And we all know how much I love Flash.

The fluidity of the animation just astounds me, and the camera cuts which follow the action from person to person are just, well... cool. From the technical side of animation everything is really well done, and not only that, it's entertaining to boot. Enjoy!

"Pyrats" - By: Yves Bigerel , Bruno Dequier, Ben Fiquet, Nicolas Gueroux, and Julien Le Rolland

Facebook users and feed readers - click here to see today's video.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Of Macs and Men

My laptop died on Saturday. The fella at the Apple "Genius Bar" tells me it's my hard drive, I can't recover anything, and I'll be without laptop for about a week. It kinda felt like he was punching me in the stomach when I heard the news.

As far as gut checks go though, he was pretty cordial about the whole thing.

Fortunately, I only lost a few files that were "mission critical" for classes on Monday, and they were something that could be redone in a day. In that respect, I consider myself extremely lucky. I did lose quite a few files I would have rather held on to (like the original Photoshop files these comics y'all enjoy and my school work from the last year) - but all in all, things could have been worse.

On the bright side, I get a free upgrade to Leopard, whose features might come in handy. And from this tragedy I feel like a decent comic has been born, if I do say so myself.

Have a good week everybody. May your data stay undamaged and accessible to you in the coming months.

Thanks to Mr. Curry for letting me borrow his laptop in the interim.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Gentleman's Duel - Blur Studio

Today's animation is from a studio that is somewhat beneath mainstream radar when it comes to computer animation. California based Blur Studio does work mostly for television, so unless you're one of those people, you've seen at least some of their work whether you know it or not.

Recognize this guy?

He's the dancing robot near the front of the screen on the FOX NFL broadcasts. Blur Studio was responsible for that.

But I'm not going to link you to a commercial, Blur also does animation shorts such as the one I'm sharing today, "A Gentleman's Duel." Thanks to Mr. Fenley for pointing this out to me a while back.

See what I did there? romance AND robots in the video. Neatly tying together that dancing FOX thing and Valentine's Day.

Man I'm good.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Job Really Well Done

Friday marked a fairly significant day in the life of the Weilands. While I have been documenting my journey learning a craft and finding a career on this very blog, my parents have been closing out their own careers and moving on to a life without alarm clocks.

On February 8th, 2008, my Dad retired from his management position at JCPenney. For my entire life and longer both Mom and Dad have been working at JCPenney, going along my idiotic Christmas wish lists as well as my life changing decisions with love and support, and I couldn't have asked for better parents. Now they can just kick back and relax.

I guess some other things happened in the news on Friday too, but I haven't really been keeping up. Doubt it was anything important.

Happy Retirement Dad. Love you.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Doll Face by Andrew Huang

So far in the Why Not Animation Thursday, we've done big studio funny 3D stuff (The ChubbChubbs! by Sony Animation) and some independent funny 2D stuff (Cat Man Do by Simon Tofield).

Today I'm going to share an animation that focused more on social commentary than straight comedy. "Doll Face" is a student made animation that garnered quite a bit of acclaim when Andrew Huang released the short in 2006. Andrew had this to say about his inspiration:

"My concept for 'Doll Face' stemmed from a series of drawings and paintings I did in high school that focused on robotic yet organic tree-like bodies. Some of my early artistic influences include musicians Björk and Radiohead, as well as artists and directors Chris Cunningham, Eiko Ishioka and Jan Svankmajer. I loved watching music videos and films that seamlessly fused actors with CG makeup/effects (for instance Björk’s 'Hunter' video or the makeup effects in The Cell) and I knew I wanted to direct a short film that incorporated that same kind of CG interaction."

In this short, Andrew fused real life acting with his mechanical CG elements through hand done compositing. This is essentially the equivalent of Photoshopping somebody's face onto somebody else's body, but over and over again for each frame in the video, at 24 frames per second, for about 3 minutes. Painstaking work - but I feel like the final product justifies the effort. Enjoy!

For more on the "making of", check out the rest of the interview with Andrew at AnimWatch.

Facebook readers, click here to see the embedded video.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The New Chivalry

–noun, plural -men.
1. a man of good family, breeding, or social position.
2. a civilized, educated, sensitive, or well-mannered man: He behaved like a true gentleman.
3. a man of good social standing, as a noble or an armigerous commoner.

Hey - make sure you check out my friends Johnny and Kevin's joint web comic and comic art site here. That's thrice the home grown web comic goodness every Monday!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cat Man Do by Simon Tofield

I tend to focus on 3D animation on this blog as it is my main area of study, but of course 2D is where it all started. In fact, Disney is finding a renewed interest in 2D animation of late, as can be seen with their recent animated / live action release, Enchanted. Other 2D feature films coming out in the next couple of years include The Princess and the Frog as well as the Pixar / Disney's Up.
From what I've heard and read around the internet, a lot of the 2D push is a direct result of Pixar's John Lasseter, who, after Disney bought Pixar in 2006, has become the chief creative officer over at the house the mouse built. Interesting, considering Lasseter is the guy who basically drove the entire 3D animation industry to where it is today.

Anyway, today's video is a 2D Animation by Simon Tofield, an animator at London based Tandem Films. I don't think this is anything that was made officially for Tandem, but rather just a side project by Tofield, who I would guess owns a cat.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Nefarious Scheming

I don't know how many people actually check out my "Interesting Internets" links in the sidebar, but I suspect the number is rather low. Which is understandable considering the infrequent nature in which I shuffle things over there.

But once in a while I link to something I feel is note worthy. One such tidbit was a video with regards to a movie in the works called "Choke". This is a movie based on a novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk, who also happens to be the author of Fight Club.

Palahniuk has many other novels as well, one of which (Survivor) was on its way to becoming a movie around 2001. It never made it because the subject matter of the novel involved the hijacking of an airplane... sensitive material around that time. Donnie Darko suffered a similar fate, being limited in the number of theaters it was released to for the same reason (Darko would later enjoy brisk DVD sales that elevated it to a somewhat cult status).

Sometimes I think that perhaps the terrorist threat isn't as straight forward as we had originally imagined, and that a mastermind had schemes of a more sinister and unpredictable nature.

Don't forget to check back on Thursday for another animation video.