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.