My it's been a long time since I've written a blog post...but isn't that how it always goes with blogs? At least in my experience it is. I'm always super excited about the idea and then months and months go by with no posts. That being said I'm trying not to regulate myself too much on the whole social media thing.
Also I've been a little busy getting married! Enjoy this obligatory wedding photo.
Needless to say I found it very hard to get any work done in the months leading up to the wedding, especially any side projects. That leads me to the subject of this post, The Story Machine 9000 (SM9K). SM9K is a podcast run by a small group of my friends that I met through a previous job. On this podcast they use the 50 hour film festival format to create a new film plot from scratch every single episode. They are given a theme, a line of dialogue, a prop, and a location. That's it. Then they spend the rest of the episode trying to come up with something half way coherent. Whether they are successful or not isn't really the point. It's all about the journey. If you want to check out the podcast click on the button below.
So the SM9K guys approached me earlier this year with a project. They had a particular episode that they wanted to animate a part of to basically raise awareness for the podcast. The interesting thing about the episode was that it was a "Lost Episode". This basically meant that they had recorded an episode and lost the recording, so they did a follow up episode in which they tried to recall everything they talked about. The title of their film for this episode was "The Reverse Werewolf of Hell, Michigan". Basically the plot turned the idea of a werewolf on it's head. So instead of a nice man becoming an evil werewolf, a nice dog turns into an evil man. Pretty funny right?
So the guys gave me a few clips to choose from and I picked the one I thought would be most fun to animate and also had the best story to it. The clip I chose essentially played out a scenario of the reverse werewolf attacking a young couple at the drive-in. Everything about this episode screamed old horror film, so my first big artistic decision was to make it look like an old horror film. This basically meant I would be designing everything in black and white. Honestly, something I hadn't done a whole lot of in the past but it was actually quite challenging and liberating to do. Not having to fuss over what color goes well with what was a nice change of pace. Style-wise I wanted it to look like a cross between old Looney Tunes and The Misadventures of Flapjack. Obviously I grabbed several references to work from when developing my style. I think this is something simple that people often forget to do.
The first thing I did was work on an extremely rough storyboard. I did this so I could try and nail the timing down early on and see what jokes were working or weren't. Honestly, I'm not the greatest storyboarder and most of what I made was changed or scrapped, but in the end I still think it helped me out a lot with just developing ideas and seeing what worked and what didn't.
After I had a rough idea of the art I needed to create I began developing a background plate and one character, just to get a feel for the style and how I wanted to animate.
Once I had that locked in I began playing with animation. I knew I wanted the characters to be fairly robust, seeing as how they were going to have to carry a lot of the action. I used a combination of Duik and Rubberhose for the body rigging and Joysticks 'n Sliders for the facial animations. Below is the result.
After I had that locked in it was just a matter of putting my head down and completing the work. I often struggle with these longer projects just because it can be very daunting doing literally ALL of the work (art, animation, sound, etc.) Especially because I am the type that wants to get to the finished product as fast as possible. At these points in the process you just have to make sure to take plenty of breaks and not get too bogged down into any one element of the piece. I solved this by jumping around the process. When I was getting burnt out animating I would jump over and do some sound design. When I was done with that I would make some extra art and so on. I have to say I am pretty pleased with how the final turned out, but you can see for yourself below.