21 March, 2008

Takes A Lickin' And Keeps On Tickin'

Our video editor chewed through this hard plastic pen! From the original Wacom Intuos series of 7 years ago, with thousands of hours of use in animation and animatic editing time, this tablet pen withstood the test of time. However, when put into the hands of a pen-gnawing editor, there's no survivors. The craziest thing is...
the pen still works fine!!!!

10 March, 2008

Flash Animation Tests

We're often asked to produce an animation test to showcase how the "symbol-style" of motion and timing is achieved in what producers label as the 'standard Flash look'. When there's a style of design that is already established it can be a challenge to duplicate the visual look of the series. Below is a clip where we had to do a simple acting test for these characters to be built then animated in Flash as well as create the background to have that watercolor look to it.

We are always growing and evolving as a company, always working to find new projects and create original properties. With budget and time restrictions abound, it's often challenging to develop and produce good quality television. Our studio filled with traditionally-trained classical animators that prefer the full-animation style, so we struggle to find shows that request the 'hand-drawn look' as shown in a previous post. But I always marvel at the series that can pull off some amazing animation despite whatever limitations of time and budget they might have had, with great plots, designs, and acting achieved in shows like Being Ian, TDI, El Tigre and Foster's (to name a few). These are high-end projects that show how well Flash animation can look on screen with strong character development, well thought-out stories, beautiful character models, with brilliant background and color designs. Not to mention all the important elements that writers, sound designers, voice actors, and musicians can contribute to the series as well.

As always, it all comes down to the entertainment value. Incredible designs, scripts, voices, colors, compositions, character acting, and music are all pieced together by talented directors, writers, designers, storyboard/layout artists, voice actors, animators, painters, composers, and technicians. Whether created with Flash symbol art, or all filmed from hand-drawn paper art, or digitally drawn, built and assembled through Cintiqs, Wacom tablets, ToonBoom, Maya, After Effects, Photoshop and any other tools used; the quality of aesthetics are all a matter of opinion, the end result always matters most. The appeal of the characters and stories to the audience determines how much of a cult hit, or how successful, or marketable, or popular something may become. The viewers determine how styles and trends in writing and visual look go, sometimes it leads to what many consider to be high quality cartoons to never see the light of day or get canceled long before their time.

As time goes on we try top push ourselves with each new test demo, we are still a small and young studio, but we try to opt for a Flash hybrid technique somewhere between the usual puppet-style and traditional old-school look (which ever fits the product best). But in the end, the technical process means nothing compared to the deadly combination of amazing characters and story-telling with the merging of well crafted art and animation.

I'll post more animation tests and demos soon.

Credits for the clip embedded at the top:
Animation by Darryl Blake
Backgrounds by Tori Coulthart

07 March, 2008

Furor Over Film Bill

Nova Scotia filmmakers are speaking out against proposed amendments to the federal tax credit system they say could hurt funding for film and TV shows, and affect the local movie industry.

“I think it is going to stifle and silence a lot of unique voices, including my own,” said local director Mike Melski. “It is dressing up fascism in the guise of ‘We are only going to fund projects that are good for you.’”

He is among those upset with the federal Conservative government’s Bill C-10, which would allow a panel from the Heritage and Justice departments to deny tax credits to productions they find offensive or not in the public’s best interest.

The bill is between readings in the Senate, but Liberal senators are vowing to ensure the legislation won’t result in censorship, the Globe and Mail reported.

Heritage Minister Josée Vernersaid this week the amendments are meant to ensure taxpayers’ money doesn’t fund films that feature extreme violence or pornography.

Filmmaker Daniel McIvor says the bill would create a morality board.

“Morality, and it has been proven time and time again, cannot be dictated by a board,” he said. “How you see things depends on your story …you are going to see the things that either inspire or offend you.”

McIvor experienced this with Whole New Thing, a film where he plays a teacher whose teenaged male student tries to seduce him.

“People had a strong reaction from the press release and they hadn’t even seen the film.”Melski is currently completing post-production of his first full length feature, Growing Op.

“I am not sure Growing Op would be deemed worthy. There is a significant cinematographic element involving marijuana,” he said.

It is being produced by Halifax resident Thom Fitzgerald, who has won awards for his films — like 3Needles — which often feature the gay community and subjects such as AIDS and assisted suicide.

“Having funding revoked after the fact would bankrupt any Canadian producer. But I’m more concerned about productions running away to other countries,” Fitzgerald said.

The following is an excerpt of an e-mail interview with award-winning Halifax filmmaker Thom Fitzgerald, director of such films as 3 Needles, The Hanging Garden and The Event.

Dean Lisk asked Fitzgerald about Bill C-10, which would allow a panel from the Heritage and Justice departments to deny tax credits to productions they deem offensive or contrary to public policy. Fitzgeraldis currently in Los Angeles.

Q. What was your reaction when you heard about Bill C-10?
A. My immediate reaction to the Globe and Mail story about Bill C-10 was hysteria. I think that was the intended effect. I compared it to similar regulations in China — because in 2004 I chose not to shoot a segment of the movie 3 Needles in China because the footage would be subject to approval by a Committee from the Chinese Ministry of Culture. Bill C-10 seems to be proposing a committee from the Canadian Ministry of Heritage will review finished films and decide whether to withhold certification and revoke funding already received.

Q. What concerns you themost about the bill?
A. I have many concerns about Bill C-10. Having funding revoked after-the-fact would bankrupt any Canadian producer. But I’m more concerned about productions running away to other countries,because Bill C-10 is perceived as an additional risk factor in assessing film investment. Private investors and bankers are extremely risk averse, and they may choose to avoid sexy or violent Canadian films. I’m most concerned that Canadian creative people will stifle their artistic expression because of a fear of censorship. Fear of censorship is as powerful as actual censorship, and the two fuel each other.

Q. What does this mean for filmmaker in Nova Scotia?
A. At the moment, the government has succeeded in creating a cloud of uncertainty.That’s not good and it wasn’t their intent. I’ve been in Los Angeles for the last month. Trade papers like TheHollywood Reporter have reported Bill C-10 as a new restriction on violence and overt sex in Canadian funded films. The media isdoing guesswork because the details of the bill are unclear. So producers around the world are reading about it and deciding to shoot their sex comedies and slasher films in Eastern Europe instead.

Courtesy of Metronews