Posts Tagged ‘animation’

new eden pilot update

26, February 2012

Those playing along at home will know that as of February I have been in London for three years.

What you may not know is that March 2012 will mark one year that Freek and I have been working on the New Eden pilot and hopefully the date, fingers crossed, we finish it.

Actually to be accurate, we’ve been working the New Eden series for over fifteen months now. Freek and I first teamed up four months prior to officially working on the pilot in November 2010. These first several months were spent fine tuning the script and working on the character designs plus the look and feel for the series. March 2011 marked when we first started working on the storyboards for the pilot episode.

When you’re working on something part-time around jobs, life and families things take time, especially animation. Despite this Freek and I have stayed the course and I have to say it’s been a ball. It’s still early days but we think we’ve got something very special on our hands.

Being new to animation it’s been a great learning curve for me as well. Yes it takes time but it also gives you the freedom to try and fail at various shots and even entire sequences before you succeed. I read an interview recently with WALL-E director Andrew Stanton in response to questions about reshoot on his live-action movie John Carter, which sums this up beautifully:

“You draw it, you put your own voice on it, you cut it, and you don’t like it, and you do it again. You do it every six months over three to four years. Every time you do that, that’s the equivalent of a reshoot, so I’ve been taught how to make a movie with four reshoots built in every time. And you wonder why our movies are good? It’s not because we’re smarter, it’s not because we’re better, it’s because we are in a system that recognizes that you don’t go, ‘Oh my god, okay, I’m going to paint this, but I can only touch the brush once and I’m only going to make one stroke’.”

Recently we went back and did some pick-ups with the actors and after some final tweaking I’m proud to say that we’ve locked off the vision for the pilot. We’re now working with a very talented sound designer Justin Bryant of Timesquared Audio on the sound and music. Meanwhile Freek is going back and redoing the opening titles to add some shots that will help set up the series premise a bit better.

Last weekend I hosted a script reading with the actors and Freek, who came across from The Netherlands to be there. It was exciting for Freek and I, not only to hear the entire series read, but also to show off an early cut of the pilot to the actors.

Anyone who’s follows my blog knows I’m a big fan of script readings because you finally get to separate yourself from your work, hear how it sounds and take on some constructive criticism. I’m happy to say that things went well at the reading and we’re more excited than ever.

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So what does the future hold for New Eden?

We have several international events that we’re hoping to be accepted to where we will get a chance to pitch New Eden to a room full of people who have the ability to help us get the series made – namely brands/sponsors, TV and online commissioners and production partners. We will also be doing a certain amount of pitching around the traps as well to see if we can drum up some interest.

Being an animated series this is not something we can just pull together over a couple of long weekends. That said, we have a production plan in place that will allow us to produce the entire series in less time it took us to produce the pilot, a reasonable budget plus a marketing and social media plan all ready to go.

As March gets closer you can expect to hear more on New Eden’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts as well as right here on my blog, so stay tuned.

new eden – promotional images

21, October 2011

As promised, illustrator/animator Freek has whipped up some new promotional images for our animated sci-fi web comedy New Eden, which I can now share with you all right here.

Designed to compliment the New Eden pitch material, these images will go a long way to help sell the sizzle as they say. For an update of where the project is at, check out my last post here.

We're not in Kansas anymore ...

Hamilton: Murray!

ARRRGH!

Ivana: No I know! I know I do not like you!

What the ... ?!

Keith: Ye 'ave a true warrior in ye!

Murray: Ivana! NOOOOO!

I told you he was talented right? Well in additional to pumping out these great illustrations Freek has also recently had some of his commercial work featured in the Dutch design magazine Publish.

If you’re interested in finding out more details about Freek and his work then please visit his website at FreekvanHaagen.nl.

To find out more information about New Eden you can read the short synopsis here and also follow the project on Facebook and Twitter.

quick tessa & adam / new eden update

9, October 2011

I know it’s been a long time between drinks here at drettworlb so I thought it was time for an update.

I’ve been busy since my last post in July. The scripts for all ten episodes of Tessa & Adam are now completed and I’m currently working on the script for the eighth double-episode finale for New Eden.

Freek and I have been doing more work on the New Eden pilot and it’s coming together nicely. It’s taking a while due to the fact that we both have other work and contracts to complete but we’re very happy with the progress thus far. Freek is working up some more promotional images for New Eden that I can’t wait to share with you guys.

On the producing side of things, I’ve got some interesting leads on financing for both series. Now it’s just a matter of seeing how things play out. It’s too early to talk about and nothing is definite but watch this space.

In terms of distribution for Tessa & Adam and New Eden, I’ve being researching successful original web series and have drawn on my growing skills in social media to put together a solid distribution and marketing plan for both projects.

If you’re interested in the whole web series/original digital content/youtube space then you need to be reading NewTeeVee, TubeFilter and Reel SEO. Also follow NewEdenseries, which is littered with tweets and links from all three and many other sources.

And finally check out the YouTube Creator Playbook, a free resource breaking down the best practices in production, distribution, marketing and community building learnt for successful YouTube creators.

That’s it for now. Thanks for checking in and feel free to say G’day if you see me mucking about on Twitter.

interview with new eden animator – part two: animation process

13, July 2011

Here is Part Two of the interview with New Eden’s character designer/lead animator Freek Van Haagen. Be sure to check out the clip at the end. Enjoy!

What tools are you using to animate New Eden?

Adobe Illustrator for the drawings. Adobe After Effects for the animation. Photoshop for the backgrounds. And finally Adobe Premiere for editing.

What style and restrictions have influenced the look of New Eden?

I kinda shift style every now and then. But I like the strong shapes in the characters. It is a bit American maybe.

New Eden Character Line Up

It sounds weird but it should not be perfect animation. Simply because it’s a series that’s limited by budget and therefore can’t take forever to make. The animation should bring across the joke/story. That’s it. If I can get away with no animation, why not? So basically it’s efficiency. Try and do every shot as efficient as possible. Without falling into the pitfall of rushing over everything.

What was your process for designing the New Eden character?

I just scribble. And often end up with a different figure along the way. It’s a trick I learned.

New Eden Character Sketches

New Eden Creature Sketches

If you really try and get what you have in your head you can loose some spontaneity. You have some idea of course but you shouldn’t be blind to ‘lucky mistakes’.

How do you then convert these character designs into figure that could be animated?

That took a bit of figuring out. Since we use a kind of puppeteer animation technique there are some design elements that go out the door but you have to do that in order to animate. It was just checking what you can do without and still have some sort of design to the characters.

Break down the basic steps of animating a shot of New Eden?

Listen to the voice track about 10 times. Until you pretty much have it in your head. Then act like a fool in front of the mirror saying that line. And watch yourself say it.

Shot Sketch

See how your body moves and what faces you pull. Check out where the actor has put the accents in the dialogue and try to emphasize that with your body gestures.

Murray Face Sketches

After the sketch I draw the character in Adobe Illustrator with everything that needs to move in a separate layer and try to figure out where the pivot points are for each limb.

Breakdown of Character Assets

I have a rough idea of what I want to achieve in animation so I draw different hand gestures that I can use. We can’t animate the fingers bit by bit because that would really take too long. So in the animation style we choose to shift the hand in the middle of a movement. That way you don’t really notice the hard switch.

Breakdown of Character Assets

Then it’s time to import it into After Effects and set up the skeleton using Duik tools.

Character Set-Up in After Effects

This means that I have foot controllers and hand controllers. I only have to move those controllers and the whole arm or leg will move. Which saves time.

After Effects Arm Controller

I usually separate the head in a separate file so I can concentrate on the facial features alone. After that it’s just fiddling until you get it right.

After Effects Face Animation

From there I cut down the movement to the basic positions. “Keys” as they call them in the industry. This means basically that you try and capture the whole performance in two or three body positions/holds that bring across that line of dialogue.

After Effects Animation Keys

You set that up in the character and time it to the dialogue. Then it’s tweaking until the character becomes alive and seems to be saying the line all by themself. I usually start with the lip sync. But sometimes it’s easier to start with the body to see where the accents are put best.

What’s your usually time frame to complete a shot?

Phew … don’t know. A shot can take two to three hours maybe. For animation alone.

Thank you for your time Freek. It’s great to get inside the process and hear how it is being brought to life.  Where can people find you online?

www.freekvanhaagen.nl

As promised, here is a sneak peek of a short piece of character animation from the New Eden pilot.

The backgrounds and audio are still being worked on and it’s yet to be edited for timing but this is a good example of the quality of animation that Freek and our second animator Adam are pumping out.

The New Eden pilot is now complete, so I’ve updated the video below. Enjoy the trailer!

Check out Part One to read about Freek’s animation background and his career aspirations.

interview with new eden animator – part one: background

13, July 2011

Freek Van Haagen is the character designer and lead animator on our animated sci-fi web comedy pilot, New Eden. As I’ve mentioned again and again on my blog, working with Freek has been great and so I wanted to share with you all some more details about the man himself and his working method via a two-part interview.

Part One outlines Freek’s animation background and his career aspirations. Part Two breaks down his animation process for New Eden and ends with a short clip of raw animation footage from the pilot episode. Enjoy!

Where do you live?

Netherlands.

Where does most of your work come from?

Most of my work comes from the Netherlands. After that Belguim. Sometimes I get something out of Germany or Switerland but that doesn’t happen too often. My aim is to get more work from the english speaking world as well – America, Australia and England.

How did you get into illustrating and animation?

As a kid I loved all the Disney movies and one day my dad explained to me how animation worked. He drew a ball on a couple of pages and flipped them, creating the illusion that the ball was bouncing. Then I got the idea and knew that all those Disney films were thousands of drawings, shown really fast.

Of course that’s a lot of work and I had to become a good draftsman first, before I could animate but I knew it then. Animation has something magical about itself.

How long have you been working professionally as an illustrator/animator?

Making money in animation isn’t that simple here in Holland so I worked in the advertising industry working my way up from designer to art direction. After 6 years I started out as a freelance illustrator and have been doing that for the last 7 years. The last 3 years I’ve taking on animation jobs as well.

What is your preferred style of animation to work in?

Not really a specific style. I like change and variation. I love figuring stuff out to see if I can get it to work.

What do you think it takes to be a good character animator?

Persistence. Basically it all comes down to a simple fact – it’s work! And a lot of it. There are a few tricks and cheats. But if you really want to become good at it, you just have to put in the hours. Talent will get you far, but motivation will get you further.

What are your all time favourite animated films/television shows?

  • Dragonball Z – because I have bad taste.
  • Lion King – best Disney flick I think. Great story, great everything.
  • Akira – best manga film. Level of animation is still not surpassed I think today.
  • Thundercats – because I am a child.
  • Wall-e –  best Pixar flick. 45 minutes of non speech animation and you can’t take you eyes of the screen.

There is probably more but I don’t want to tire you.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given regarding working as an animator?

Don’t cheat at the ending. Don’t wrap it up too quick. Meaning when you’re almost done, you kinda rush it towards the end. Which can destroy everything you did before.

What resource would you recommend to emerging animators?

Richard Williams’ Animators Survival Kit.

What new piece of technology are you itching to get your hands on?

The new Zelda for the Wii U 🙂

What are you hoping to get out of working on New Eden?

Instant access to Hollywood babes and a life of spending enormous amounts of money on stuff I don’t need. But seriously … just the money would be okay as well.

What do you hope to achieve in the next five years of your career?

My ultimate dream is to direct a feature animation.

Where can people find you online?

www.freekvanhaagen.nl

Check out Part Two where Freek breaks down the animation process and we give you a sneak peek at some footage!

new eden – meet the cast

27, May 2011

Big day last Friday. We recorded the dialogue tracks for the trailer and episode one of the sci-fi animated web comedy New Eden.

Our recording set up was a little unusual as far as animation goes. Usually animation voice records are done one actor at a time with each actor recording a range of options for each line. For New Eden I decided early on that we needed to have all the actors together if we wanted to capture the comedy of the piece and the odd-couple relationship between Murray and Hamilton at the heart of it. So to accommodate this, my sound engineer Billy can up with the great plan to set up dividers that allowed the actors to still see and interact with each other while at the same time minimising the bleed of their voices into each others’ microphones.

Recording this way meant that I had to get four actors, Billy and myself into a facility that not only could fit us all and be willing to work with our tight budget. Billy ended up scoring us a four-hour recording slot at Keir Vine’s studio in Dalston but May turned out to be a stupidly busy time for us all. Some days trying to schedule the record felt like herding cats but as I’ve learnt at every stage of this process, the wait was worth it.

After the record I was pretty certain that we had got everything but later I couldn’t help but worry that I might have missed something or failed to be clear in my direction somehow. Listening back to the material though I discovered that my fears were unfounded. The actors had nailed it. Sparking off each other and delivering some fantastic improv bits, they really brought the characters to life and proved that tackling the record this way was all worth it.

So without further ado let me introduce the cast …

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Playing former shift supervisor and the pedantic pessimistic Brit Hamilton is Jonathan Rhodes. Some of you might recognise him as a regular on M.I. High as Chief Agent Stark. Most recently he starred in and co-produced a great short film called Big SocietyJonathan has a great voice and great timing and I’ve had the pleasure of working with him several times at my writers group ScriptTank and also on my radio sketch samples.

-*-*-

Playing the sarcastic but easy going former ships pilot Murray is Kevin Shen. Sharing the same Chinese American heritage as his character, Kevin is always busy working in London or abroad on more shoots than I can keep track of. I was convinced Kevin was right for the role when during his audition he delivered one simple line that not only captured the character but also managed to surprise me.

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Playing mad Scotsman and former ships engineer Keith is Scott Christie. London based and heralding from the rolling hills up north, Scott can be often found treading the boards in numerous London productions and most recently received critical acclaim for his performance in the season of Short & Sweet at the Union Theatre. Also a ScriptTank actor, Scott is nothing like his gregariously volatile counterpart but perfectly captures Keith’s sense of mad danger.

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And finally playing the Ukrainian loner and black marketeer Ivana is Jo Bowis. Actor, singer, blogger and accordion player; Jo is an all round entertainer always busy with her cabaret theatre troupe Tiny Wallop or cycling around London from one gig to the next. Like Jonathan, Jo helped out with my radio sketch samples and has a great talent for bringing different characters to life. She also does a mean Aussie accent.

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Since the record I’ve been busy listening back to the takes and working with our sound engineer/designer Billy to piece together master tracks for our animators Freek and Adam to start working with.

Reflecting back on the process, when we get the chance to record more episodes there are definitely some things I will be doing differently:

Cans Cans Cans. Instead of hiding in the control room I was on the floor coaching the actors but didn’t have headphones on the entire time. The difference between hearing something live or through cans can be slight but it can make all the difference when you’re trying hear if an actor is hitting a certain tone or phrase just right.

Freek on the floor. Because of the logistic of our lead animator Freek being in the Netherlands and the record happening in London it was always decided that I would direct the dialogue record. If I had to do it again I would definitely have Freek there by my side or in the booth to co-direct. We have developed a great working relationship and I can’t imagine doing this project without him.

Rehearsals. Because of scheduling issues I decided not to do a rehearsal. Instead we recorded the rehearsal takes in the studio as I helped the actors find their characters, tweak dialogue and get the overall flow of the scripts. In future I’ll definitely be fighting for a read-through in a far less pressured environment where we can discuss the scripts and characters and ease into it all a bit more gently.

Next post: new eden – meet the crew.

Til then be sure to follow New Eden on Twitter and Facebook.

broken by freek van haagen

6, April 2011

Freek Van Haagen, the animator working with me on New Eden, recently had his short film Broken featured on Vimeo.

It’s a haunting dramatic tale and has already hit 50k+ views. Freek is an incredibly talented fellow and I feel very lucky to be working with him at the moment. Enjoy!