Sunday, November 26, 2006

An Introduction from the light side.

Hi, my name is Tobe and I'm a freelance Animation lighting cameraman working on "CCUSA" as we know it here in Bristol. I thought I'd post up a few notes from the studio floor as we hit the final month of shooting and the sets are coming in thick and fast!

I work alongside a very experienced Director of Photography called Dave Alex Riddett, who lit all of the Aardman shorts I was watching open mouthed as a young stripling at college. Recently he lit Chicken Run and the curse of the Wererabbit so you get the idea...

Together we work with Sparks (electricians) and Camera Assistants to light and shoot all the shots using HD cameras.
We have to work very closely with the Art Director, Manon, who herself runs a team of set builders and dressers. They usually build everything completely from scratch, and we "mock up" all the sets in advance using card and foamcore so they only build exactly what is needed. I lit the sets shown below on this blog like the Poodles and the Flies on the burger, and when they are as fantastically well built as those you only want to simply light them and hope you don't muck them up! Other times you have to carefully work together to hide or accentuate areas of set to create the illusion, and this is usually more so with scale cheats like big landscapes or heavily effected underwater shots.

Dave and I have a look at the upcoming shots in story board form and try share them out equally, bearing in mind workload, shot complexity and personal preference( he insisted on the Tequila Worm, likewise me with the space monkeys..).
This week I'll get some work in progress shots and start going through some of the processes involved.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

What better way to celebrate than with the first animated Creature Comforts clip?

For more on this duo, go to their myspace page! And eat lots of turkey (or tofurkey) tomorrow. :-)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Taking it to the Streets

Did I just get that song in your head? Oops. The reason I bring it up is because Eyeballs and Fishlips, everyone's favorite marginally secret unofficial blog about an animated television production imported from Bristol, England, is becoming less secret. That's right, with our first promos hitting your house turkey day, the powers that be have said that we can indeed take it to the streets. Actually, that's not entirely accurate. They said something more along the lines of "Who? What? Why? Okay, sure, whatever". Which was considerably less exciting and didn't involve any Michael McDonald songs. Sigh. Boring powers that be.

So if you're new around these parts, welcome! Take a look at the archives, especially here or here for some background info. And come back, because a few of the Bristol folks have come on board to write about the show from a more "British, working with the clay on a daily basis" type of perspective. Which should be great, as long as we're able to translate correctly. Here's lesson number one: "cheers!" means "bye!".

On that note...Cheers!

Friday, November 17, 2006

From Animatic to Build

Here are some of the animatic stills (which serve as blueprints for the characters and sets) along with pictures of the final models on their sets. I'm always amazed when we see the character builds after viewing the animatic sketches for such a long period of time. Sometimes the sets change a great deal from initial sketch to final build, and sometimes, they look like the sketch come to life. See for yourself:




Okay, there's a glimpse at 3 of our characters, so 3 down 112 to go...

Welcome to America!

Our newest coworker Dan Sinclair, an interviewer from the British series, arrives in the U.S. only to immediately learn the perils of audio recording in Los Angeles.

It's a good thing we said yes to that renter's insurance...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Golden Ticket (Part I)

Our office trip to Aardman's studio in September was truly a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory moment for me. I couldn't believe that we got to see the models up close and got a chance to see the animators at work. It is a process like no other art and the work they do is so seamless that you forget that these characters are created with one tiny movement every 24th of a second. So, straight from the stages where Wallace and Gromit battled with the Were-Rabbit, here's a little video glimpse at our painting gorilla character from "Creature Comforts"

Thursday, November 09, 2006

More Fun with Extra Footage

The Toucan and Gecko Laugh Hour are awaiting your friendship at myspace.

previous fun

Calling Characters

As promised earlier, here's thrilling video of a call to a character. But instead of Abe calling the Bees, it's one of the story editors, Casey, calling our Rhode Island penguin, with guest appearances by Megan, Lauren, and Abe's voice. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Voices Behind the Creatures

As we head towards the show airing, our publicist wants contact info for the people who were interviewed and animated. It is my very lucky job to call these people and make sure that's all right. Now don't get me wrong...normally a phone project sucks, but these are people I have grown to love over the last months. I know way more about them than I should, and I have seen them as clay animals. In some cases, the people don't know they're going to be on the show, and so my call is a bright spot in their day. In all cases, they don't know what creature they've been animated as, so I get to hear them guess, or talk about what they absolutely don't want to be. It's like being reunited with a long-lost friend. A long-lost friend who doesn't know a thing about you and about whom you know many secrets. Yeah.

Because I couldn't stop gushing about what a blast this has been, some other people have volunteered to call a few of their favorite characters. Stay tuned for video of some calls (like perhaps Abe calling our New York bees?).

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Battle of Chaka Khan

One of the issues we face in putting together episodes of the show is similar to the issues faced by traditional documentaries and that is rights clearance. Unlike a scripted show that knows ahead of time what each character is going to say, there are unpredictable moments that we want to include in the show but cannot always do if they violate copyright. One of these moments that we're dealing with now involves one of our characters quoting a sample from the Chaka Khan song "I Feel For You". It's a classic 80's jam and you should check it out if you haven't heard it. At first, the show's lawyers said we could not include it since the song was written by Prince and he is notorious for never giving permission to others to reference his songs, not even Weird Al! Luckily for us, the sample in which the DJ says "Chaka Khan" was NOT written by Prince and was in fact referenced in an episode of "The Simpsons" in which Homer installs a turntable rig in his car. In honor of YouTube's flagrant copyright violations, I have uploaded the clip so you can check it out: