October 08, 2010

Submitting Fester's Nephew to Festivals

Today I submitted Fester's Nephew to Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation, The Animation Show (not sure if it's still running, but it's worth a shot) and the NSI Canada Online Short Film Festival. I'm planning to submit to others as well, but this is a start.

If anybody knows any particular festivals they think I should submit to, let me know.

Not really much to say at the moment, other than that I'm still working away on my next Fester Fish cartoon. I'm tweaking the storyboard a bit. I've also been inspired by reading Joe Murray's "Creating Animated Cartoons with Character" book to come up with ideas for more episodes and characters.

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, readers!

October 02, 2010

Help Milton Knight!

Milton Knight is the brilliant guy behind Robotnik's design in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, among many other, probably more notable accomplishments. But that's how I first found out about him. Anyway, he's working on a new animated short called "Caprice - Teen of Tomorrow", done in his own inimitable animation style. It looks like it'll be amazing, if he's able to get it finished.

But he needs our support! Here's the link to his Kickstarter page, with a video of some of the animation. Here's how it works-- if he successfully raises his target amount of money, you pay however much you chose to donate, and he gets it all. If he doesn't reach the goal, you don't pay and he doesn't get anything! There are some pretty cool rewards for donating, like getting original art from the cartoon, your name in the credits, etc.

August 05, 2010

What Aspect Ratio Should I Use?

I'm starting the storyboard for my next cartoon, and I've got the plot mostly worked out in my head. It's gonna be another Fester Fish cartoon. On a somewhat related note, tomorrow will be my last day of work for this summer. I'm looking forward to having a couple of weeks off before school starts, and I'm hoping to get a big chunk of the animation done for the cartoon during that time.

I've recently gotten a laptop computer, which is most likely what I'll be doing the animation on. Since the screen is more of a short rectangle shape than the other computers I've used in the past, I'm considering doing the cartoon in widescreen. Most golden-age cartoons are 4:3 or so, so I'm concerned that doing it in 16:9 might distance it further from that 30's-40's feeling I hope to achieve. On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be any practical reason not to make it widescreen when everything else these days is. 'Fullscreen' has become something of a misnomer, because now it mostly results in there being black bars on the side of the image.

Youtube, my TV and the computer I'm using have all switched to widescreen, so it would certainly make things easier for me to do it like that, but possibly at the expense of that potential "old-fashioned cartoon" feeling.
What do you guys think? Should I do my next cartoon in widescreen, or... not widescreen?

June 28, 2010

Toonzone Likes Fester Fish!

Last week the kind folks over at ToonZone wrote a nice article about "Fester's Nephew" on their Cool Stuff blog. See the article here! They've also got an fascinating interview with a Futurama voice actor.

June 14, 2010

Featured on Cartoon Brew!

On Saturday, I woke up to find that "Fester's Nephew" had been featured on the animation news blog Cartoon Brew!!

I want to express my thanks to Jerry Beck for featuring me. It really boosted my viewership, and I got lots of great feedback from readers of Cartoon Brew.

Thanks, Jerry!
(I look forward to reading The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes!)

I'm going to start my next cartoon as soon as I can decide exactly what it should be. I've got a few ideas, but I'm not sure whether to do another Fester Fish short, another Space Goose episode or something different. Any preference, gentle reader?

May 29, 2010

Fester's Nephew



Here's the Fester Fish cartoon. It didn't really turn out that great, but now that I'm finally done with it I can move onto something else.

May 28, 2010

Introducing Fester Fish



Presenting a new cartoon star -- Fester Fish!!!
He walks! He talks! He'll knock your socks!
... Off.

His easygoing temperament and suave voice will have audiences rolling in the aisles. Look for Fester's first cartoon very soon!

May 20, 2010

More delays

Well, suffice to say I've run into another delay. The exported video I mentioned in the previous post didn't turn out well, and Premiere has stopped working due to a weird codec I tried to use. Again, the cartoon itself has been finished for a few days; all these delays are just in trying to get a reasonably high-quality video file.

I'm thinking of buying Adobe Premiere Elements 8, to replace the old 6.0 version I have. It's very affordable, and seems to have all the features I want. It also seems to have more exporting options, which is exactly what I need. Even if my older copy of Premiere hadn't stopped working, I'd pretty much run out of things to try with it. Every video codec I've tried so far has either resulted in horrible quality or an unusably large file (I think Youtube has a 1GB limit, which should be more than enough for such a short cartoon). With the Space Goose cartoons I've used the DivX format, and that seemed to work fine for them, but for some reason when I use DivX on this cartoon, it looks atrocious.

Anyway, sorry that I'm getting into such boring technical detail. The cartoon should be uploaded any day now. It's 5 minutes and 2 seconds long, which I'm relieved about. I was worried it might end up being seven or eight minutes, which is too long for such a simple story.

Last night "Fugitive Goose" was screened at the Revue (thanks for coming, Zoran, Lee, Leah, Bruce and Louise!), and the audience reaction was pretty good, but I kept thinking to myself 'man, this is way too long'. And yet at the same time, I think, now that I can look at it a bit more objectively, the story moves too quickly, and is probably difficult to follow for many people.

Well, this new Fester Fish cartoon probably doesn't have either of those problems. If anything, it's too slow-paced and stupid. But I think the animation's better. You can decide for yourself soon.

May 18, 2010

Exporting Even As I Type

I've finally got that damn cartoon finished.

Well, I was finished with the actual content a couple of days ago, but I've been having a really tough time figuring out how to export it best-- transferring the Flash files to the Mac and exporting them there only to find that the Mac can't handle the backgrounds properly... trying out every codec possible in Flash on Windows... transferring the exported files to the Mac to put together in Premiere and finding out (again) that the Mac sucks and only likes Apple formats, etc... Finally I decided to just use the older, slower version of Premiere on Windows. That seems to be working okay, and it's exporting from there right now. By the time I get home, it should be done.

I tried to add a very slight blur and some grain to the footage to hopefully avoid getting that overly crisp, cold Flash look. I guess we'll see how successful that is.

The cartoon will be viewable very soon, but before I upload it I also want to finish a small "introducing Fester Fish" teaser thing I was working on. I realize that at this point it's a little late for a 'teaser', but I think it's kind of funny, so I'm going to do it.

Anyway, look for the introduction and the cartoon within the next few days!

May 13, 2010

Almost Done, But...

Well, I didn't end up finishing the Fester Fish cartoon for last night. I was pretty close, but I ran out of time, and decided to just submit the first episode of Space Goose instead, since I just had a DVD copy lying around.

I'd been hesitant to submit Space Goose to previous Drop Your Shorts festivals, for a few reasons. I feel like the other film-makers, who probably comprise most of the audience, might be annoyed that it's a cartoon, like "hey, that doesn't belong with our serious angsty black-and-white dramas!" They also might be put off by the fact that it's science-fiction. More than anything else, it's clearly not intended as a short film, but rather as part of a TV-style episodic series.

Oh well. The guy who runs the festival seemed happy to see another submission from me. He liked Slick Nick when I submitted back in 2008, and he even used it again at a "Best of" special screening.

The Fester Fish short will still be done soon, because I want to submit it to another show tomorrow at the Toronto Animated Images Society, but this time it'll actually be ready. I've only got a couple of hours of work left to do on it.

"Fugitive Goose" will be screened at the Revue Cinema on Wed. May 19 at 7:00. Admission is $2.

May 12, 2010

Wish me luck...

My new Fester Fish cartoon should be uploaded within the next week. I'm submitting it to the Drop Your Shorts Festival at the Revue Cinema this evening, but it's not really ready yet. I've still got a couple of minor shots left that I forgot to draw, some scenes still don't have sound effects, and worst of all, I still have to export the scenes from Flash and put them on a DVD. No telling how long that will take... It's gonna be a stressful day. Luckily my boss is letting me leave work early so I can get as much done on it as possible.

I'm pretty tired right now. I only got four hours of sleep last night, cause I was (unsuccessfully) scrambling to get it done for today.

April 29, 2010

Space Goose Poster Image

A friend wanted to use a comic cover or poster of Space Goose in a film he's making, so I did this. I don't know if he'll end up using it, but I'm fairly happy with how it turned out. It's pretty boring though, and it definitely doesn't reflect the tone of the series. It makes it seem serious, but with inappropriately bright, cartoonish characters. Hyugh.



... Well, anyway, that's what I did last night.

BONUS FUN:
Here's another picture I sent him, that I did during my Design and Composition course at Max the Mutt. I think it was supposed to demonstrate an emphasis on the diagonal axis.

February 23, 2010

IN THE WASTE DISPOSAL PLAAANNT

Protectors of Universe is an incredibly bizarre DVD I picked up a few months ago at a used bookstore. It definitely falls into the "so bad it's good" category, or more accurately "so bad it's the most entertaining anime I've ever seen."

It seems to be a relic from the early 80's, but as far as I can tell it was never released until 2005. There's very little concrete information about it on the internet, other than that it's very, very bad, and that the producer, Joseph Lai, was also responsible for a series of sub-par kung fu movies in the 70's, before trying his hand at a few anime titles.

The visuals are fairly typical of a 1970's anime production, but filled with hilarious animation mistakes. The story is also pretty standard anime-- a group of teenagers pilot giant robots through space. But everything in this film is so inept that it really becomes a work of art. In every conceivable way it could fail, it does.

The dubbing probably stands out as the worst aspect, or at least, the most obvious. The English script is clearly written by someone who doesn't speak English very well. It's full of lines like "A victory is the best present for you" and "you are just like a coward."

The villain's name is Alfred -- yes, just Alfred. Other characters' names include Assistant Helen, Dr. Howard and General Larry.

Although it's got a cast of thousands, there seem to only be three to five voice actors, and I use the term 'actor' extremely loosely. There are either one or two guys with high-pitched voices and bizarre accents, who voice almost all the male characters. They tend to sounds like they were too close to the microphone when recording. There's also a woman with a British accent who plays all the female characters. And lastly there's a guy with a slightly deeper voice, and an American accent, who only gets minor characters. This dub is clearly aimed at a North American audience, so you have to wonder why they chose to have the guy with the most appropriate voice only play the incidental characters.

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The original language version probably wasn't much better though. Even with great dialogue, this story would be full of demented plot points like the main robot jamming a space train into its rear in order to pull it to another planet:



Along with character designs and plot elements, the music is completely stolen from other anime productions-- I recognized the main theme from Crusher Joe, and most of the other music is apparently from a super sentai series called Changeman.

Some of the animation mistakes are pretty unbelievable:


That's right, a kid is looking out the window, and a different kid is looking back. For no reason. This is not explained or acknowledged. I can't imagine how this could possibly have happened. Was each version of the character drawn by a different person, with no communication, or was it just a single guy, deliberately trying to screw up the production?

There's also this classic shot, which tends to pop up several times during the various battles:

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The blue guys are the villains, and their scenes are some of the best. Here's another classic:
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In this one, the guy is knocked up into the top left corner of the screen, but he comes down on the right. These animators really didn't care about their work.
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These scenes are also pretty funny:

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I love how it shows the girl when he says "My name is Cyprian," and then pans over to him when he says "and this is my sister." This scene also makes you wonder how many people there are named General Larry?

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This clip (above) demonstrates the "be as loud and close to the mic as you can get" acting technique. I also think it's hilarious when the cheesy rock music starts playing to signal the arrival of the Native American-themed robot.

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It's a little-known fact that adding layers upon layers of echo can improve a fight scene exponentially.

The movie is also notable for having the worst "Red Hot Riding Hood" ripoff sequence ever:
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Repeated footage of the same girl dancing past-- A line of girls lifting their legs up at a 90 degree angle without moving the rest of their bodies at all-- no wonder the guys go into stilted imitations-of-imitations of Tex Avery's wolf.

In short, if you haven't seen this movie yet, it is imperative that you do so immmediately. Otherwise you are just like a coward.

January 28, 2010

Kyle Baker's Plastic Man

This was my favourite comic series ever. Hardly anybody seems to be aware of it now, which is unfortunate. On the other hand, their relative obscurity makes me feel like I'm in on some kind of secret, which is always fun.

The writing and art in this comic were absolutely hysterical. Sadly, it only lasted 20 issues, and two of them were 'guest' issues done by a different guy. The last batch of issues, comprising one long storyline, never got collected into a trade paperback, so I suspect they're pretty hard to find now. As such, I don't think I'm causing any trouble by uploading a few of my favourite panels from some of those issues... Sorry for the crappy quality. All those tiny dots gave my scanner a headache. These do not do justice to the actual comics.

The first four images are from issue #15, the fifth one's from #16 and the last ones are two consecutive pages from #17. The first few pages of that issue, showing the teenagers' party in full swing, are especially great, but I didn't want to scan all my favourite drawings-- this is just a tiny sample of the greatness.





















January 12, 2010

New Cartoon Character!



Here's my newest character. I'm currently working on a cartoon with him. It should hopefully be more like an old theatrical cartoon, and a little less talky than my Space Goose ones are. The character is loosely modelled after early 30's characters like Flip the Frog, Bimbo, Bosko, Mickey Mouse, etc. He's supposed to be a fish, but at the same time, he's not supposed to look or act like a fish. Sort of an exaggeration of how Flip the Frog didn't look anything like a frog for most of his career. That seemed to happen a lot in old cartoons, and I think it's hilarious.

His name is still undecided. I originally wanted to call him Fester Fish, but then realized that I'd stolen that from the Addams Family, so that wouldn't work. I mean, Fester IS an actual word, obviously, but using it as a deliberately gross name is exactly the same idea as "Uncle Fester".

So now he's probably going to be Flakey Fish, as suggested by my sister. It's a pretty good compromise between having the effect I want, and blatantly stealing an existing joke-name. It sounds a little cutesy to me though.

Other names I'm not really considering, but amuse me--
Flavio Fish
Fyodor Fish
Fineen Fish
Fidelio Fish
Hornyhead Chub (a real kind of fish... You learn something every day!)

Fester or Flakey - Which name do you think I should use? Or does anybody have a better one?

Anyway, here's a little statue thing of him I'm working on. I still need to paint it.









































And of course this is my dog sleeping in a fetal position.