Production Update 200: Con Season

Hey everyone, catching up on a few things after the busy rush. I have some wedding planning and design to do for my wedding this summer, which now less than a 100 days away, it’s getting real 🙂 There was also some really unseasonably warm weather this past weekend so I took the opportunity to get a lot of hiking in since a new winter storm is due for the upcoming weekend.

This past week I changed gears a little and started focusing on the type of content I want to be creating in for episode 2. I have a little more work to do on this front and I also am starting to plan my convention schedule. I have a lot of family events in the first part of the summer so I am planning on putting conventions on hold for the first part of the summer and focusing more on the fall and finding a new convention to attend as well.

More on this to come!

Production Update 197: New Tools, New Workflow

This week I started working on some animation tests for Cosmic Rage. The first issue I wanted to tackle was mouth movements for the characters. The workflow adjustments I am making here, involves using a tool called lipsyncr. This tool allows for After Effects to analyze the voice over file and make adjustments to cue up certain frames for mouth shapes called phononyms. That way, I can get around using just lip flaps and also drawing each frame individually. This tool allows for you to use various levels of detail in this regard. In this test, I used only 4 mouth shapes, testing out the low end of the spectrum. The high level of detail allows for 12 mouth shapes. My next test is going to involve the in between setting that uses 7 mouth shapes.

Keeping up with the theme of “New”. I ordered my first new tablet since my very first one I ordered in college. For the second episode, I want to do more frame by frame drawing and a traditional tablet, just wasn’t working the way I want it to. Some lines were jittery, and it may take several strokes to get a line the way that you want it to. I felt that in order to really make this an effective workflow, I needed to upgrade my tablet situation. So say hello to my new Wacom Cintiq.

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I spent the later half of the week exploring the tablet a bit and working on setting up some various settings for hot keys to really make working with it efficient. I am planning on using the Cintiq for my next animation test using lip syncr. I will break down these various forms in depth upon completion.

This week I am starting a new session of teaching assisting online as well to kick of 2017. So when I am not at work or critiquing work, I will be working on the new animation tests.

I am so ready for 2017!

Recent Reading: Inuyashiki Volume 1

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Over the holiday break, I took some time to catch up on some manga that I have been meaning to get to. The first item up for reading, volume one of Inuyashiki. This series became my priority for reading, since I read that it is supposedly getting an anime series. It is done by Hiroya Oku, the creator of Gantz. Gantz is one of my favorite anime series, due to the social commentary it contained, but admittedly I have not read all of the manga. One of my favorite things about that franchise is the difference between the manga and anime. I wanted to flip the script on this series and tackle the manga first and also before I fall too far behind, so let’s dive in and see what this series is all about. I wanted to see if it packed the same social punch as Gantz.

The story centers around Ichiro Inuyashiki, a 58-year-old man who is very shy, timid and lacks confidence in himself. We get glimpses of his life, how his interactions with his family and how he fits into society. Needless to say, it’s very uninspiring and you can see that Inuyashiki’s strategy is to basically get by in life, remain hidden from trouble and not to cause any form of confrontation, whether with family or strangers.

But his personality and place in society is not the only thing going wrong with Inuyashiki. We also find out early on that he has cancer and doesn’t have long to live. This life changing diagnosis, inspires him to purchase a dog and they quickly become best friends. A friend that Inuyashiki feels like he can talk to, quickly developing a relationship more in depth than that even with his own family. However, one night, Inuyashiki takes his dog for a walk and has a terrible, unexplained, accident.

Throughout the next few days, Inuyashiki struggles with himself, not feeling like he is the same person he was prior to the accident but also still confronting the fact that he is nearing death.

If you don’t want the first volume to be spoiled, I would suggest not reading much farther.

Inuyashiki, feeling ill, visits doctors and more to get clarification on his diagnosis. These medical tests all come back with errors and the doctors are baffled with the situation. It is revealed that Inuyashiki has now become a robot. With his newfound robot capabilities, Inuyashiki starts to change and decides that he can explore his new capabilities.

While out, Inuyashiki comes across a homeless man that is being assaulted by a younger crowd of kids. This is a topic that makes it’s way into Gantz, so I am eager to see how this develops in future volumes. Inuyashiki is able to help stop the attack and even uses some social media components of his new powers to share the attack and information with other people through sites like Youtube and more.

I felt that the first volume of Inuyashiki was pretty intriguing. I don’t know of other series that have an older super hero. There are also many different social angles I am interested in as well, the role of the homeless (given the fact that it was involved in Gantz as well), how Inuyashiki will handle and adapt with his powers, but most importantly, this concept of public shaming the attackers through social media. I will have a review of more volumes of Inuyashiki as I get them read, I think there are currently 4 or 5 volumes out so far.

Recent Viewing: Tower


Last week, I took one night to go and check out an indie movie at a local club. I saw the trailer to Tower and immediately knew I had to go. If you haven’t seen it, check it out above.

The reason I wanted to see the movie, was really two-fold. The topic itself, a school shooting from the 1960s. Being a millennial, I honestly thought the first school shooting was Columbine and never would have guessed that it happened prior to that, let alone in the 1960’s. The other reason, the art style. I have been crazy about rotoscoped work for the last few years now, ever since Flowers of Evil came out.

Tower blends rotoscoped footage with original footage from news broadcasts and other clips from the actual event and interviews. Based on the credits, I believe they hired actors and actresses to play out the more cinematic and rotoscoped scenes that help paint the story of the eye witnesses. I thought this was an interesting approach, obviously that footage didn’t exist so using the rotoscoped footage to create these sequences really help put the viewer into the scene and help paint the actual situation and build that suspense.

The film tells the stories of a handful of people impacted by the shooting, from a pregnant student, a kid delivering newspapers, a teacher and more. Seeing their stories starting to cross and eventually seeing how their story played out to this day, was simply amazing to hear and see. Again, as a millennial, school shootings in our lifetime have revolved around high-powered weapons and typically the gunmen end their own life. Seeing the events of other acts of terrorism and how the police have started using robots and drones, the film also talks about logistical problems of the 1960’s that we simply don’t think about. As you can see from the trailer, the shooter is a sniper in a tower. The movie at one points says that they tried to shoot the sniper from a plane, a method you simply wouldn’t see today.

One thing that really struck a nerve with me in the movie Tower, is hearing the survivors stories about gun violence and how this has been something that has impacted people and educational institutions for 50 years now. Ever since Sandy Hook, I have questioned what it would actually take for elected officials to do anything try and reduce the amount of school shootings. Unfortunately, 20+ kindergarteners were not enough to get any traction.

I really can not emphasize how much I enjoyed Tower, I was in suspense the entire time and it was a pretty intense film that was well crafted from the various people’s stories and also from the blending of rotoscoped footage and archival footage. If you get the chance to see Tower, go. Share it with everyone you know.

Production Update 188: Where is my E-book?

The last month has been a hectic whirlwind. Packing for the move has been in full force, it never ceases to amaze me at how much “stuff” I have until it comes time to move. Everything fits into the apartment but when it comes time to putting it in boxes, boy it feels like an endless endeavor. I love packing up my movies and seeing all of the great ones that I need to have on when I get back into work shortly. Castle in the Sky anyone? I also plan on legitimately starting a “to watch” pile for the films and series that have made their way onto my shelves and haven’t gotten viewed yet, it feels like a crime. Ghost in the Shell Innocence? *Facepalm

I got my revisions made to my e-book and have them submitted to my editor for one final pass before publishing. This should be good to go into the store soon. Most of the edits have been making sure pages didn’t have a pixel bleed that was distracting and I also need to tweak a few pieces of art, which will be things I tackle tonight. Mostly subbing in new renders for ones I didn’t get to before as I was working on the episode and shelved the e-book for a bit.

Things will calm down this week a little bit more. I finished up one of my freelance projects and things are moving pretty well on the packing front. That will wrap up before I head on vacation to unplug for a bit. More stuff coming soon!

Production Update 162: 3D Renders!

Hey everyone! I really appreciate your patience over the last few weeks. There has been a lot of things going on, so let me get you all up to speed!

At work I have been putting in a little bit of extra time in on a few projects. It comes with the territory. Things have settled down recently which has freed me up a little bit.

I’ve also been back in school this semester working towards finishing my graphic design degree. I’m taking two courses this semester versus just one. My branding class is going great so far. The course that has been throwing me a slight curveball is my Art History advanced writing class. I have a big paper that is due by the end of February so I have been putting in white a bit of time on that. I am getting close to getting to the next check point on this paper so this course will have a lighter workload.

One thing I have also started but haven’t mentioned here yet, is I am also doing some assistant teaching/critiquing for an online animation course. My class has been fantastic so far and I have enjoyed every minute of providing feedback to other animators looking to up their game. The course is starting to level out so I am getting some of my free time back.

Slowly but surely I am getting some of my time back to keep plugging away on Cosmic Rage. While it sounds like I haven’t gotten things done, I assure you that isn’t the case. I have been doing some light 3D work and getting some renders set up so that the files can render while I am doing all of these other things. As things start to settle down, I will have my 3D renders ready to go for when I get back into After Effects.

Things have been forming nicely on the voice over cast. I will be updating you more on the VO cast really soon! Thanks again everyone for you patience, I am excited to get back in action!

Who Doesn’t Like a Quickie?

I apologize for being offline lately, it’s such an exciting time I want to share a bunch of stuff with you all. However, things have been really crazy on the full-time job front and also on the school front. On the school front, I have to start a progressive paper, so every week I have updates I need to get in. On the job front, I have had a couple tight deadlines to get turned around and I have also started a new freelance type position. Things will settle down, but Cosmic Rage has taken a backseat for the last two weeks.

I appreciate everyone checking in and sending emails about the VO cast and more. I have lots of exciting things coming up, just bear with me one more week. I am positive this week I will get back in action.

Looking forward to sharing more info soon. Thank you all! 2016 here I come!

Quick Update: Infected

IMG_2417I’ve been away from the site for a while due to an infection in my arm. I’ve been getting IVs and injections to keep the infection at bay. I will hopefully be back online later this week but as of now it’s been trips to the doctor and a ton of sleep. I had a lot of fluid build up in my elbow making computer work difficult.

Thank you all for your patience. I look forward to being back to 100% and getting things wrapped up.