Elsinore - Wooden Houses - Animated Music Video

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Pig!

Here is the first computer based drawing of the Pig. I am finally at the point in this process where I am making things that could end up in the final video, which is very exciting. I'd really like to hear feedback on this in particular.  I want to know if the whole texture idea is working. I'd also like to hear opinions on whether the shading adds to the whole thing or just makes it seem more cluttered.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Storyboards

Picking up where I left off with the last storyboard post, the pig has just moved into his new rural house, having left his partner in the city. The wolf has just woken up to see the other side of the bed and the bed already made. she looks around the room for a while confused.

She enters this dining room area from the bedroom. The high-rises across the street are visible through the windows behind her. She discovers the half finished drink and the turned down frame. and examines it more closely.

From here she leaves the apartment and takes a cab out of the city in search of her lost pig.

After my four day weekend, I am headed back to work tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll have some down time to continue on with the storyboards while I'm there.

I'm also almost finished with a computer version of the pig which will go up soon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


First of all I want to give A Thanksgiving shoutout to my homie Lynda.

 hosts tutorial videos on a wide range of software packages. In particular I want to give my sincerest thanks to Mr. Chad Perkins and Mr. Feorge Maestri whose courses I have used most frequently. Chad Perkins is responsible for the tutorials on Adobe After Effects. his videos can be a bit corny at times but effective nonetheless.

Mr. Maestri just released a new course titled "2D Character Animation" whcih I am quite excited about. I looked up Mr. Maestri on IMDB and discovered that he was a writer and animator on one of my all time favorite shows:

Rocko's Modern Life!

He has also done some work on South Park.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to watching the rest of his 2D character animation tutorials and employing the knowledge gained in this video.

Also, much more importantly, I am thankful for my brilliant, inspiring, and supportive family, my friends and my Kinzie (check out her amazing blog ath that link).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


At work today I spent my down time working on some storyboards.

This will be the opening shot of the video. A framed snapshot of two pigs and a wolf. The pig sets down a drink in front of the pig on the left, picks the photo up and places it face down. The pig crosses frame in the foreground obscuring the scene. One element of the Catch Me If You Can Intro (which you can watch in this earlier post), that I really want to retain is the way they play with forms and have elements transform and grow from each other. As you read my explanations of these storyboards you'll see some of my ideas for that. I'd like to do something of this sort in this first transition to set the tone right away, but haven't thought of anything yet.

Here we have the pig closing the door of his apartment and pausing for a moment before pressing the down button on the elevator that I forgot to draw in this particular sketch.

The transition to this shot will occur when the pig presses the button. It will light up. The "camera" will zoom in on the button. Everything except the lit button will fade to black.

 The lit button will become the top center light. The other lights will turn on in sequence down first and then out from the center. Once all the lights are on the rest of the scene will fade in from black and the pig will exit the building. The yellow cab will pull up and the pig will get in.

I am missing a storyboard or two here. The cab will carry the pig out of the city through a very suburban area and into a more rural setting. Aside from the wolf and the pig all fo the other characters will be other pigs, with one exception. The cab driver is going to be based on an armadillo. I have yet to design the cab driver so I have not yet drawn the storyboards containing him, which will incidentally be the business of my downtime at work tomorrow.

Anyway, back to what I have drawn.

as you can see, here we have a sketch that I stole from a two-year-old of two concentric "circles" with some scribbles on the left side.

what I'm thinking, and I don't know that I quite have the chops to pull it off is this. We're looking at the cab with the driver and the pig as the background zooms by in the background. That background blurs and bulges out. The camera pulls back to reveal that the image is distorted because it is the reflection in a domed hubcap. the black of the tire then splits and becomes a straight line. the image in the hubcap un-blurs (?) and becomes the house. The black line of the tire, then, it becomes apparent, is the road in front of the house.

The cab pulls into frame and stops in front of the house and the pig gets out.  I know that if I were keeping more strictly to the "Three Little Pigs" tale this house would be brick, but the song is "Wooden Houses" so...

Anyway, I've been working on anthropomorphizing the house for a while and I may have taken it a little too far. It will be hard to say until the computer version is done. I want to have the house display some doglike characteristics over the course of the video. I may reshape the garden hose into a more snout-like shape. I also am planning to have smoke come out from the chimney in a swaying motion, resembling a dog's tail.

As my mom would say, "Hi! I'm Mr. House!"

I have more storyboards but I think this post is quite long enough.

More soon.

Monday, November 9, 2009

First flash character

Here we have the wolf made in Adobe Flash. This certainly has a long way to go, but I am going to sleep and I wanted to put this up tonight. The periwinkle dress will be replaced by a static texture like one of the ones in this earlier post. Let me know what you think

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Wolf

I had been having some trouble developing the wolf character for the video. I did some sketches earlier on that I was too embarrassed by to post, and when you see some of these you'll understand how bad they must really have been.  Just like with the pig I started with the eyes and built out from there. I don't want to implement speech bubbles or intertitles yet I need to convey a lot of emotion with these creatures. One of the best options at my disposal is to use the eyes. I tried to come up with a simple yet expressive design for the eyes and had various levels of success (and failure):

various eye shapes.not too exciting. I made an accidental face in the upper left. I kind of like the bottom one. I guess I liked it at the time because I did quite a few iterations of it before dismissing it.

Here we have from left to right: a giraffe, a robot nun, an angry pony and a Noh mask. oops.

A few more eyes and the stars of my next project: "velociraptor and baboon start a small business"

and here I started to settle in on the eye design I liked. It should become apparent pretty quickly that I recently watched Grey Gardens (the HBO version. I still havent seen the original.)

Playing with the eye shape and still trying out a few other versions. In these last few, I really like the way the curve of the nose follows the curve of the eye and the curve of the face follows the curve of the nose. I also noticed I've started drawing the carnivorous wolf in furs and making her kind of the bad guy in this whole thing. I don't know about the anti-fur, pro-vegetarian/vegan bent this video is starting to take. KINZIE!!!!!!! I guess the anti-fur part is alright.

Putting the wolf in motion. one thing I was trying to do here is make it look as though the fur stole she is wearing is trailing behind her where a wolf's tail would be. I still like the idea of that, just as I like the idea of some curly wire sticking out of the back of the pig's suitcase or tool belt to take the place of a tail. I'll have to see if I can pul it off.

I did these in just a couple of minutes to show how expressive this two line eye design. I think it's going to work just fine.

I just got a new job answering customer service phone calls. over the course of training I have had a lot of time to do more sketches, but I didn't want to put too much into one post (though I may have done that anyway). More to come soon. This weekend I am going to be spending some time working on vector art versions of these characters so's I can start to animate them. I'll be putting those up as soon as they're ready.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Plant Logo

Before I started the Elsinore video I took on an animated logo project for a vertical farm in Chicago called "The Plant." The Plant is an old industrial building that has been turned into an indoor farm. I will be posting updates pertaining to the music video in the near future, but I just wanted to spend a some time to get this project finished up. The first version I put together was not exactly what the client had in mind.  I am waiting to hear back on the revisions. Here is my most recent version:

The difference between the two versions is just the smooth vs. rough outline of the building. When I animate this I am planning to have the corn husks open up while the building outline draws on. I thought that the rough outline would help to give the outline a sort of hand drawn look, as though it were drawn with a charcoal pencil or something like that. I have not yet definitely decided on one version or the other and welcome all input. here are some close up versions of the outhlines:

I can see the merits of both. I suppose ultimately it will be the person using the logo who decides, But I certainly appreciate feedback.

So, the logo will start with the ear of corn. The husks will peel back. I am trying to decide if I want to have the corn already appear with the kernels missing to form the letter P or if I instead want to start with an intact ear of corn and have the kernels come off of the cob, either as kernels of corn or as popcorn.

I started out by hand tracing the kernels on an ear of corn from a photo:

 I then removed the photo and added a yellow fill to the corn:

and then added shading to each kernel individually:


Before I put this together, though I  had a very different version going. My plan was to have an industrial building. The lights in the windows would turn on to form the lowercase letters. they would then shift from orange to green to kind of mirror how projects like this vertical farm are a part of the trend towards sustainability and environmentally friendly or "green" businesses. Simultaneously a leaf would sprout from the smokestack of the building to form a capital "P". I also made a simpler version without the window idea.

The client felt that these versions were too cartoony and too "night time." They also pointed out that they would be limited in their uses. It would be difficult to incorporate into a business card for instance. There were earlier versions which were plainer. but were ultimately leading towards this. The client also wanted something that included something the plant might grow, specifically something edible. In writing they say, "write what you know." So, I guess since I grew up across the street from a corn field I drew (or traced) what i know.

I also owe a great deal to my sister, Lauren, for helping me with this design. based on an earlier version of this she whipped the following logo up in just a few minutes:

And of course, as always some credit goes to Batman:

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I went texture hunting today. I plan to use these as the textures for the characters' clothing. To get a better idea of the effect I want to go for take a look at the short video at the bottom of my previous post.

My sister is in town from D.C.. She came in as a surprise to our parents. As always on her visits she wanted to hit the thrift stores in town. I was planning a trip to the fabric store to take pictures of cloth but figured a thrift store would be just as good. As you will see in the slide show, the images are not terribly flat in many cases. I can see this causing problems, but it could also work well with the effect. At the very least it will make it more difficult to repeat the pattern. These'll be enough to get me started and if something's not workign I'll at least be at a point where I know specifically what I need. For the most part I wasn't taking these pictures with particular video elements in mind, just gathering patterns I found interesting. We'll see what I use.

I'm going to work on the wolf next and try to hone in on the character design.

Friday, October 9, 2009


I have been doing some sketches for the video. For our six-month anniversary my wonderful girlfriend Kinzie gave me a storyboard notebook made by Moleskine which I have been using for these sketches.

So, the video will be based on "The Three Little Pigs" but will veer quite a ways from the story and use it as sort of a frame. The video will center on the third pig and the wolf. At the beginning of the video, the pig leaves an apartment it has shared with the wolf and builds a wooden house. THe wolf discovers the pig has left and sets out in search of its companion, stopping at two houses inhabited by other pigs before finding the right one. They are reunited at the end of video. Also, to not drift to far from the intentions of the song, the characters' appearances will not be definitely animal or definitely human but be somewhere in between, human with animalistic features.  My first step is striking that balance and settling on character designs.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not very good at drawing. Lines tend not to go where I want them to. When I'm working in Adobe Illustrator I have the opportunity to adjust and tweak that which I have drawn by hand or to start with geometric shapes  and curves and use them as building blocks in order to get the end result I am looking for. So, these drawings may look bad in many cases but their purpose is to help me get concepts down and to hopefully improve my drawing ability.  In the end though the crappiness of my drawings should not end up in the finished product.

That said, I started with some sketches of the pig:

Here's the pig looking like Mr. Rogers.

The pig in profile looking evil. 

... and the pig looking like a turtle.

I wasn't thrilled with how these are going but I thought I'd try doing some storyboard type sketches. Here are the first two shots of the video:


The pig leaving his apartment with its suitcase. I'm going to try to include objects in the scenes that will make it look like the pig character has a curly tail without giving it a curly tail. In this scene for instance there is something sticking out of the suitcase. As the pig is building its house perhaps there will be something on its tool belt. In this opening scene the pig exits its apartment and onto an elevator.

Here we have the pig getting into a taxi in front of the apartment building which will take it to an empty lot where it will start building its house.

I decided to get more specific and draw a bunch of eyes. These are for the pig. these are all fairly similar but I found something I liked and worked on iterations of that.

While I was at it I figured I ought to do some Eye sketches for the wolf as well. I'm still not too happy with any of these.

Back to the pig:

I like this last one the best, though I expect I'll end up with some lesser amount of detail. I'm not crazy about how the head on sketch turned out. I may have all of the characters appear in profile all the times.

I'm also considering using a masking technique for the characters' clothing. The idea would be that the shapes of the clothing would reveal a stationary patter underneath. To illustrate this concept I put this very simple video together:

I can see how this could get to be too much very quickly but I've wanted to do something like this for a long time and I'm going to see how it looks.

I'm going to work on the wolf design next. I'm less sure of what I want to do with the wolf. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Change of Premises

Since my last post, a great deal has changed. With very little success fining work in Chicago, I have decided to move back to Tolono. Another part of this plan is that I am now planning to move to France for three months starting in February. All of this has meant upheaval and a lack of time for much of anything other than packing, moving and unpacking boxes as well as starting the job hunt all over again in a new location. Anyway I'm back on task and will be updating regularly again. You can expect sketches tomorrow.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Working in film, I have come to believe in the power of collaboration. When two minds apply their creativity to something, the result is often greater than what either could have come up with independently. It is in that spirit that I have started this blog. I am at the beginning stages of creating an animated music video that I plan to do almost entirely alone. My hope is that, by posting my sketches and ideas as I go, I can get feedback and creative input from anyone and everyone reading this blog. Please help me as I progress through the making of this video by sending any comments or suggestions or anything you think I should take a look at that might be a useful influence.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

The idea

In July of this year I had just finished an animated logo for my friend's production company and was looking for another animation project. I wanted to start on something substantial that could eventually be the cornerstone of an animation reel to show to prospective employers and clients. On the 4th of July, I ran into Ryan Groff, lead singer of Elsinore, at a birthday party for our mutual friend Lindsey, and I suggested that I might make an animated music video for one of their songs. Ryan seemed drawn to the idea right away. We discussed influences and exchanged contact information, with plans to hammer out the details at a later date.

After several e-mails back and forth, he and his bandmates settled on the song "Wooden Houses" from their upcoming album "Yes Yes Yes." We also agreed to use the style of the Catch Me If You Can opening credits sequence as a jumping off point in terms of animation style. If you're not familiar with the film or don't remember the opening credits, take a look here:

Ryan sent me a nearly finished mix of the song which I listened to on repeat for the better part of a day. and started to come up with a loose idea for a story. What I had in mind was something based on The Three Little Pigs. Lines like "I can't get in if you don't breathe out" fit so well with a wolf huffing and puffing and blowing a house down. The final line of the song, "This is how hunger strikes begin," is repeated several times. I love the image of a wolf opting to not eat a pig as the end of the song plays.

I sent the idea back to Ryan. I was initially concerned that he might feel that the idea was too light and playful for a fairly serious song, but his responses were all encouraging. Not long after that we met at a coffee shop to discuss the idea in greater detail. We honed the ideas of the video and Ryan told me about his original intentions when he wrote the song.

I guess now all I have to do is make the video.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wooden Houses Lyrics

Wooden Houses
by Elsinore 

Where we are we probably figured out
there's nothing to talk about.
It's all semantic.
A wooden house with windows that slide with rope
might be the antidote for leaving the Midwest.

Happiness, oh it's in your mouth.
It's consonants and vowels in the words you're choosing.
And the phrasing that you're using,
oh, it makes all the difference.

I can't get in if you don't breathe out.
I think too hard and I talk too loud.
I love you, I need you...

Oh, where we are
we've probably figured out
there's nothing to talk about when we're in a panic.
Oh, happiness...oh, it's in your mouth.
It's consonants and vowels in the words you're choosing.

I can't get in if you don't let out.
I think too quick and I talk too loud.
You want words now I can't annunciate.
You've got a response but it's too late.

Carefully constructed.
Attention to detail.
Alright I give up.
The lines on your face are road maps to your brain.

This is how hunger strikes begin.

[VIDEO] Elsinore - Wooden Houses

A live video of the Wooden Houses by Elsinore, the song for which I am making an animated music video.