Elsinore - Wooden Houses - Animated Music Video

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Moving Out

note: I did not make the video below. I just wanted to include the song in this post and found this video amusing. enjoy.

This blog is movin' on over to, some of their features lend themselves to creating a more full-featured, blog-centric website.

check it out

Head on over:

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Puppies and Kitties and Sycamore Trees

So a few weeks ago, K-Corn and I celebrated our two-year anniversary. So I created a small project for myself: creating a digital painting of our lovely cat perry:

And then I decided while I was at it I should also go ahead and make a painting of Walter (b-hole pictured above)

So I came up with these two images. I spent a lot more time on the one of Perry than Walter:

As the photo lab tech at Walgreen's pointed out when I picked up the * X 10's I had made, Walter's the perfect cat. no mouth means you save a lot of money on cat food and cat litter. Of course he's always running into things because he has no eyes. I may still go back in and those in.

So beyond the fact that I knew she would enjoy having some interesting pictures of our kitties, my other motivation for doing these was to experiment with some features of Photoshop CS5 and refamiliarize myself with the program. Most of my photoshop experience has been in photo editing and correction, rather than painting anyway. I had also at this point just finished making this tree in photoshop and had a lot of fun doing it and was ready to make some more stuff:

The motivation for all of this ultimately is related to my interest in 3D modeling. I saw a couple of animated shorts called Meet Buck and Salesman Pete and the Amazing Stone From Outer Space ! and I was really impressed by the painterly textures of the characters and environments. They worked so well at fitting the style of the characters and distinguishing them from more mainstream 3D characters. So I wanted to spend a little time working in photoshop to experiment with making textures that had that sort of feel.

Anyway, I enjoyed making the perry and Walter paintings so much that I decided to keep going with it for a little while. I moved on to my sister's dog Frances:

and my big fat friend Dr. Furious Xavier Toots:

With this one of Toots I played with using a lot of very dark color values to give the black cat a little more texture and make it a little bit more interesting.

With these completed I decided to set up an Etsy shop to offer the custom pet painting service to anyone who's interested. We'll see if anyone bites, or barks or meows (sorry)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Update: 3D Animation

Over the past couple of months I've been throwing myself into a variety of projects. The foremost task as I see it is to learn a 3d animation package. I have begun learning Maya and aready have a pretty good grasp on the basics of modeling, rigging and animation. Using A tutorial series from I created this Star Wars-style pod racer animation:

While it would not have been my first choice for subject matter it did lend itself very well to the project-based learning path and provided an instantly recognizable product. I also learned a thing or two about how  demanding 3d animation is on a computer. The above animation is just over 8 seconds long, 198 frames to be exact and it took a full 48 hours to render. The settings I used for the output included a lot of motion blur  which adds dramatically to the render time. The smoke effect for the engines' exhaust also bogged things down a bit. In the future, I plan to use output settings that may not look as polished, but will give me a little more flexibility.

I am currently going through another Series from Digital Tutors on how to model a cartoon character in an animation friendly way and then how to rig and animate the character. The finished product of this series will be a chubby cartoony police officer. I have plans to start on an anthropomorphic tree after that.

I've been looking at this for ideas. I particularly like the idea of an animal being a tree's tongue. I think I might use an owl instead of a lizard if I use that idea.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Now what...

So, the Elsinore video is finished. It's been out in the world for a couple of months now and has over 600 views on youtube. However the VHS master copy was erased so Kinzie and I had sweded the video really quick. If you haven't already seen this take a look here:

We used this video to announce our engagement to our family and friends. Also I crack up everytime I see Kinzie's wolf walk.

With that done, I'm setting my sights on a variety of new endeavors. For starters I'm taking another stab at learning Maya. I don't regret a moment I spent working in 2D animation for the Elsinore video but I do know that realistically, to give myself the best shot at a career in animation, 3D is a must and I figure I might as well take on the biggest baddest package there is. I've been using tutorial courses from Digital Tutors. I've already started doing some pretty cool 3D Modeling in Maya through those lessons. I hope there are no hard feelings, Lynda. You just don't give me all the 3D I need in my life.

So far I've been just following along with the instructors to create a Phantom Menace-esque pod racer. Once I get the basics under my belt though, I am planning to model, rig and animate Jerome LaBeak, the a-hole pictured below:

I'll be posting images along the way of stuff I make in Maya, and of course videos too once I start animating.

I'm also planning to start doing little critiques/examinations of animated shorts on the web. I'll post the video and then offer my two cents on it. I see a lot of great work during my daily visits to CartoonBrew. And I'll be starting with some of my favorite things I've come across on there for these write-ups. 

Anyhow, I should get back to work. I'm currently tweaking my editing reel to include the Elsinore video and some of the other work I've done since I put my old reel together a year and a half ago.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Finished Product

It's finally done and out there in the world:

I tried embedding it with some new thingy on youtube, so hopefully that works. If not you can see it here.

The video premiere at The Art in September went off without a hitch. It played right beofre Elsinore went on to a sold out crown of about 250 people. It played right after another new video for Elsinore by Brittany Pyle for the song Breathing Light.

People seemed to like it and it got some laughs and applause. In the weeks since then I've been tweaking and refining and correcting and outputting and reoutputting and then noticing new things and repeating the process. But now it is out there and it is done. 

The video debuted online at Checkout the post here.

 Now I guess I ought to take this bad boy and see if it can get me a job.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Home Stretch

So, I've been making excellent progress on the video. The video will be premiering on September 24th at the Art Theater as part of Pygmalion Music Festival. Tickets go on sale at the door. I don't know how much they cost yet or approximately what time the video will be shown. When I find that out I will post that here. It'll be projected on The Art Theater screen with the sound cranked up. It'll be a great way to see it. Of course it'll be up on the blog no later than the following Sunday.

I've decided at this point to just keep on trucking with the video and withhold any further scenes until the video is done.

Here's a funny little pig child though.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


A while ago I put together an animatic of the whole video. I initially withheld it from this blog pending the album release and just haven't gotten arount to posting it since then.

For anyone seeing this post on Facebook rather than my blog, you can see the video here:

The only major change I am planning on from what is crudely laid out here has to do with the final shot. Currently, the "camera" slowly pulls back and fades to black. In order to die the end back to the beginning and hopefully to give the ending a sort of bittersweet turn, I am planning to pull back to reveal that image to be a framed photo in the house that the wolf and pig now presumably share. I would like to thank Lauren for that suggestion.

Aside from that, I'll just be playing with the timing of the whole thing and with different shots within the scenes shown here and of course smoothing out and adding character animation and refining some of the backgrounds. Especially the one for the first house that the wolf visits. That was mostly an excuse to take advantage of the perspective tools in Illustrator CS5, which are not as intuitive as I had hoped.

By the way, Elsinore's new album is amazing. If you haven't done so already, check it out and buy a copy here:

Please comment with any and all suggestions you have.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Scene 1

I have finished the first scene of the video! Take a look:

 The close-up shot was particularly challenging. In order to get that effect I had to build the Pig's apartment in 3d within After Effects and then move a virtual camera around. I think the effect is worth the effort though. Making the pig turn around also took some time. Both processes were great learning experiences though.

I am now working on putting together an animatic of the whole video. Essentially an animatic is the storyboards made into a movie. I will be combining storyboards, finished elements and scribbled sketches into a video with the song. In doing so, I will identify any problems in the timing of the video as I have imagined it. I hope also to get a little more perspective regarding how to best spend my time.

I am now shooting for a late September release of the video during Pygmalion Music Festival. I know this will mean a lot of work and probably some very late nights, but I am ready to get this video finished.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I've been to some extent proceeding with this video in the dark without any real sense of my overall progress. I am taking some time now to break down every element of the video into a series of lists so that I can track my progress more easily and start to set realistic goals. I should be done with that process in the next few hours.

So, I'll be back to work on the video this evening and I'll shoot for a new post later this week. In the meantime, I want to plug a particularly incredible amazing animated film I watched on a train during my recent vacation. The Secret of Kells was most likely the film nominated for best animated feature film at the Academy Awards this year that you hadn't heard of before. The storytelling of the film could have used a little more work, but it sure is pretty to look at. Here's a trailer:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Final Storyboards part 3 of 3

So when we last left the wolf she had just destroyed another house. She is now closing in on the pig.

So the wolf heads out into the country driving past, you guessed it, corn. I'm planning to have the background repeat severeal times, Hanna-Barbera style. I'm going to stick a billboard on the side of the road with the word yes featured prominently. That way, I can stick the album name into the video by having the background repeat three times.

When the cab pulls up to the house I'll be showing the taxi's hubcap. The idea here is that I will have a distorted reflection of the house visible in the reflection of the hubcap. the reflection will then undistort and expand to take up the whole frame.

The wolf will then walk into frame and up to the front door.

The wolf is knocking on the door. The pig looks through the peephole and hesitates. I'm not sure if this will be different shots, inside the house and outside the house or if I'll have the wall move back and forth throughout. Ultimately, the wolf will fall to her knees and bang on the door and the pig will finally open it and embrace her.

Now, this is obviously not a pig and a wolf. Nor is it something I made. This is from the "Yes Yes Yes" album cover. When the Pig and wolf finally come together I want to mirror its composition using the two characters.

Finally the two stand in the yard as the sun sets and the video fades to black. I may try to add some touches to make this look like a time lapse sequence.

Now, when I originally got a recording of the song the final line of the song "this is how hunger strikes begin" is repeated several times and the song ends. In the finished version there is a soft outro that goes for another 45 seconds after this. The way I had mapped out the story to the lyrics, the climax of the story logically comes at the end of the lyrics. I have been struggling to decide what to do with these 45 seconds for a long time now.

One thing I had thought of was doing a montage of scenes showing the reunited couple. I was thinking of doing them as quick illustrative slow motion vignettes a la the Watchmen intro. If you haven't seen it (the intro, that is) I'd recommend watching it. It is quite possibly the best part of the movie:

So one admittedly obvious idea I had was to show scenes of the pig and the wolf getting on with life together. Cooking together, moving her stuff in, etc... Now I'm leaning towards a series of vignettes that show the course of a lawsuit against the wolf by the owners of the houses she blew over. It would certainly be funnier, but it might be too far out from the rest of the video. ANy input would be appreciated.

My next project is to design the house.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Final Storyboards part 2 of 3

Once the pig makes his way to his new home we meet the wolf, returning to their apartment pulling a suitcase.

She finds the note the pig has left behind. She pours herself a glass of pizza wine and starts back out the door immediately.

She gets into a cab with the same driver as before.

They drive past the urban background that we saw several times before before stopping at a building. This was a very quick mock up. in the end I expect this to look more uniform. I'll probably also not have a yard in between any buildings. It should still feel kind of claustrophobic. The wolf gets out of the cab and walks to the door of a building.

She rings the door bell but no one answers. A kid looks out the window but doesn't answer the door.

So, she huffs and she puffs and she blows the house in. I realize that the exploding building looks nothing like the building in the previous frame. this was done as a sort of proof of concept. Why i didn't use the image from the previous storyboard I'm not sure. That said, the building will shatter into long, thin, plank like strips as the wolf howls. Then...

the strips will form a sidewalk which will assemble in front of the wolf's feet as she walks forward. This transition is going to be tricky to pull off, but I think it'll be worth a bit of extra time for the effect.

The wolf next arrives at one of the mc mansions we saw earlier during the pig's drive. At the time I was doing the storyboards I thought it might be fun to insert Little Red Riding Hood into the video to kind of mix fairy tales, but if I do that, then I just have the two little pigs. NOPE! So, she's going to get turned into a pig.

Little Red Riding Hood / a pig is not very helpful and the wolf walks away. I suppose I ought to destroy this house two some how, but I'm not sure what I'll do there yet.

Stay tuned for storyboards part 3 coming tomorrow in which the wolf finds the pig and the two are reunited.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Final Storyboards part 1 of 3

In an effort to better estimate everything that needs to be done on this video I have fully storyboarded the video. I'm going to break this up into three posts because I think it would be absurdly long as a single post. Anyway, the first few storyboards will look very familiar from my Backgrounds post, but they'll start to look new after that. Also, I made them all in grayscale so that the would look the way I expected them to when printed.

In the first shot we will see two pigs standing in front of the castle. As I mentioned before, I will most likely move the text from the frame to a sign in the foreground of the photo, so that it is not initially obvious that it is a photograph. The camera will zoom out and the hand will come into frame and lift the picture frame away.

Oh I got the pig's brother made. I originally planned for the two of them to look very similar but this is how he ended up:

He cracks me up every time. Anyway, back to the storyboards.

We then see the whole room. the pig sets a note down on the counter and exits

The pig closes his door and pauses for a moment to collect himself before leaving to the left.

This shot will start in the same way that the opening shot does. The text on the bill board will initially be the only visible object. Then, one window in the building on the left will light up. The rest of the windows will light up in sequence as indicated by the squiggly arrows. The rest of the scene will then fade into view.

Here the pig will leave his building and start down the sidewalk. He will encounter a pigeon. The two will stand off for a moment. the pig will eventually move out of the way letting the pigeon pass.

Further down the block, the pig will get into a cab.  Ideally I will time it out so that the entry of the cab is in sync with the fade in of the percussion at the beginning of the song, as though it is being heard from the car's radio.

 The cab will drive past different backgrounds. The first more urban, the second filled with "Mc Mansions".

Finally the pig will arrive at his house. The sun will set behind the house and the screen will fade to black.

In part 2 of the storyboards, the wolf sets out in search of the pig.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


After a brief hiatus to work on another video project, I am back to work on the Wooden Houses video. Over the past few days I've put these two backgrounds together.

I made this one first:
 This will be the second shot of the video. The pig stands at the wooden countertop to the right. He picks up a framed photograph which we have just seen in close-up in the first shot and then sets it down face down.

While working on this background I discovered that I have a tendency to fuss endlessly on details. As a result I spent far more time on this than I would have liked. As with everything on this project, though, I learned a lot in the process and will be able to do the same things faster in the future. I decided after this background that I would do an initial pass on each background and then go back later to do texturing and shading and to add other details. I think that way I'll be able to better allocate my time.

One detail I want to point out is the wine bottle. A few weeks ago, Kinzie and I were at a grocery store and decided to get a bottle of wine. We came across a bottle of red wine called "Special Pizza." Anyway, I decided it needed to go in the video:

I then started in on the first background of the video, a framed photograph.

At some point there will be a wolf and two pigs in the foreground of this photograph, but I need to get them to face forward first. I may also move the  text from the frame to a sign in the foreground in front of the characters. The Video will start showing only the word Elsinore, and the rest will fade into view as it zooms out to reveal the full frame. The pig's hand will reach in to pickup the frame. the video will then cut to the view in the first picture I posted.

This castle is traced from a photo of Elsinore Castle. while that can be a tedious and time consuming process in Illustrator I worked pretty quickly and didn't fuss over every detail of the castle and I was able to employ some of the tricks I picked up while working on the previous background.

I followed that up with the third background, in the hallway outside of the pig's apartment:

One thing that I realized while drawing the original background was that I don't really know how to draw things in perspective. I spent some time on some websites investigating vanishing point perspective. I may not add any detail to this hallway until I'm almost done with the video as I suspect I may have to cut this. As it stands, I'm worried I might not be able to start the song until about 20 seconds into the video. I'll have to get further in before I see how the timing works out.

I have a few other odds and ends completed including a walking pigeon and some new sketches, but those will have to wait for next time. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's Alive!

I present the pig, walking in place.

There have been some changes since I posted this fellow in November.As you can see, he has grown a fine mustache. People tell him it makes his nose look like it sits lower on his face and sticks out more. He also got a longer coat for Christmas. When he got it he said, "Oh boy! this will make my legs so much easier to animate!" He also got himself a new watch and a manicure. Over the holidays, though, he did some heavy drinking, and has developed a pinker hue to his skin. He claims he likes the color. It makes him feel closer to his piggy roots.

Anyway, I know the motion's not perfect yet. There's something not quite right in particular about the motion of his arms. I expect I will be doing a lot of pacing around my apartment and staring at my arms to help get this motion corrected.

From here I plan to start working on some backgrounds for the first few scenes. I'd like to get those put together so I can have something substantial to show and to set to music.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions or thoughts either about the character's movement or about the change in the character's design.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cab Driver

I've spent a couple of days working on the third most prominent character in the video, the cab driver, and, of course, his cab.


He will be picking up the pig at the apartment building and driving him out to his new home. He will also be driving the wolf from house to house in her search for the pig. Depending on timing he may appear up to four times in the video.

The way the song starts there is a soft intro with strings before any other instrumentation comes in. I'm planning to time it out so that the cab enters frame just as the rest of the instruments start to come in, as though we're hearing the song from the cab's radio.

So, because I chose "The Three Little Pigs" as the basis for this video, the character design for the two main characters is based on a pig and a wolf respectively. The pig is too soft to get by in the harshness of the city, so he moves out to the country. Therefore, I needed a resilient animal to use for the cab driver because he is accustomed to the city: 

The Armadillo.
I know that maybe a more logical choice would have been something that actually lives in a city, like a pigeon, a rat, or a cockroach, but I like the contrast between the soft pig and the literally armored armadillo.

I tried briefly to make the cab more armadillo shaped but it came out looking too much like a prius and I didn't want it to look quite so modern. Also, Priuses (?) are kind of ugly. I did stick in a couple of armadillo touches on the cab though.


An armadillo hood ornament.

And the cab company name. Tatou is French for Armadillo.

I also included bands on the driver's back and sleeve:

Though, at least for now, his back is hidden inside the car.

Now all I have to worry about is how he's going to drive a car with no legs.