Elsinore - Wooden Houses - Animated Music Video

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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Barcelona and Lyon

I know it has been far too long since my last post. Since I put up the pig I have been working to get ready to come to France. As soon as I got here I almost immediately took off on a two week vacation to Barcelona, Lyon and Avignon. I get back Friday, and I'm ready to hit the ground running with this video.

Kinzie and I spent five days in Barcelona and a day and a half in Lyon and I have seen some incredible things in that time. We wish we had another day in Lyon. I would have liked very much to have been able to visit the Lumiere Museum of Cinema.

In Barcelona, we spent a good deal of our time visiting the works of the architec Antonio Gaudi. His best known and most impressive building there is the unfinished Sagrada Familia:

It looks as if this thing just grew from the ground. I was blown away by the intricacy of the whole thing. It truly feels as though you're viewing an organism, rather than a structure when you're standing there. 

It is humbling to think of the time that has been spent on minute details of this enormous structure. Now, this building has been under construction for a century, and I'm trying to assemble a music video in 3 months, but I'd really like to add some of that detail in places in my video. Not in the characters, perhaps, but maybe in their surroundings. Or maybe, it just won't work with this video and I'll incorporate my own takes on these ideas in whatever comes next.

We also visited the Casa Batllo

You can see more pictures of the equally impressive interior at . This place is curved in bizarre ways everywhere you look. It seems more likely that it was designed by an alien than a human. I hope to emulate some of the meandering curves as I proceed through this project.

Barcelona is also home to the Picasso Museum. While they didn't have a lot of Picasso's most famous works, they had works representing his entire life. One of the exhibits I found particularly impressive was a collection of Picasso's painitngs of Las Meninas. He painted several versions of an old painting in his own style:

The original Las Meninas from 1656:

and a Picasso version:

He also did a number of paintings of indiividual fiures within the original painting:

It's inspiring to see such imaginative takes on form, of recreating the fairly photorealistic as something very abstract.

After Barcelona, we made our way to Lyon. We stayed with some hosts we found via One of our hosts took us on a walking tour of the city. Particularly impressive was the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière. They had magnificent mosaics on the wall:

There were tiny details everywhere. The building, though is apparently only about 100 years old, which suddenly seems brand new to us. again, I wish I had all the time in the world to put such loving effort into every tiny detail of my project, but this took 15 years to build, and I have less than 3 months.

I'm looking forward to starting this full-time job next week.