Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ebert & Knowles

This animation was to commemorate Harry guest-hosting on Siskel & Ebert & the Movies after the death of co-host Gene Siskel.


Ever the thrifty soul, I took the opportunity to re-use the chewing loop that I had originally animated for the Veruca Salt Harry Head.

A hit-or-miss caricaturist at best, I was pretty proud of what I still think is a passable likeness of Mr. Ebert. Biting the head off was not meant as any sort of slam on Mr. Ebert, by the way. Just something for Harry to give the trademark thumbs-up to.

This was before I started framing these animations to block anything that went beyond the proper edge. As a result, you can see that Ebert is kind of a stumpy bust, and when Harry's hand comes up, you can clearly see it pass behind where the rest of Ebert's body should be. Of course nobody ever notices that sort of thing other than myself, but nonetheless, I've since made sure that it doesn't happen anymore.

Much like the Phantasm head, I have a hard time believing I was so restrained with the blood. Maybe I imagine myself to be more of a gorehound than I have ever justified. I will have to fix that at some point, I suppose.


Snikt! Snikt!


SO geeky.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Man, I frigging love Ghostbusters.


So here, in all its glory, is a great example of the dangers of working in Flash.

Don't get me wrong, I like this Harry Head. It makes me smile whenever I come across it again, and that's always a good sign. BUT, if I were to animate it today, I would take a VERY different tack.

Speaking only of the content itself, if I were to do this today: it would start with SlimerHarry wolfing down food from the room service cart - then he'd notice the viewer - then he'd fly towards us - THEN the splat.

But the content isn't my main issue with this Head. The main thing is the way I cheated the animation using Flash.

Now 'cheating' shouldn't be heard as an entirely pejorative term in this context. Cheating goes on all the time in animation (both digital AND traditional). But there is good cheating (wherein, you exploit the medium and the tools to achieve something more easily that otherwise would've taken longer, if it was possible at all) and bad cheating (wherein you are just lazy, or don't know any better, and take a shortcut despite the fact that it lowers the quality of the end result).

Because the thing is: this animation is basically three very slightly altered drawings:
1. Slimer with mouth closed and arms out.
b. Slimer with mouth open and arms raised a bit.
c. Slimer, unchanged with arms a bit higher.

(plus the slime-splat at the end.)

That's it. Those drawings are motion-tweened towards the viewer, and there's an illusion that more is going on than actually is. It's basically key-frames without inbetweens. It's lazy. (and on top of that, the timing is really strange, with a sudden un-motivated acceleration at the end, rather than a more natural gradual speeding-up.)

Now at the time, I didn't know I could nest symbols inside symbols. If I had known that, then I could have at least tweened the arms up, and done something more with the mouth. That would still be very limited animation, but at least it would've been something.

Really, at the very least, Slimer should have some squash-and-stretch as he moves. The timing should favor the turns that his movement takes, and he should speed-up as he gets closer to us.

But I suppose that's the risk of looking back at work one did many years earlier: You see it through your current filter with your current level of experience and ability, and think about how you would approach it differently, today.

In the end, I DO like this one, and all the navel-gazing is just wasting time I could be spending doing something productive. Like animating a new Head.


When the head-count started to get in the double-digits, a bunch of folks wondered aloud to me why I hadn't done a Star Wars Harry Head. And even now I hesitate to answer, just as I hesitated then, but... Ultimately, I'm just not that big of a Star Wars fan.

I had the toys as a kid, I saw Empire and Jedi in the theater, but I was only 3 when New Hope first arrived on the scene, so even if I'd lived in a place that HAD a movie theater, I doubt I'd've seen it. Basically: I missed the zeitgeist.


Anyhow, here's the animation I made to answer popular demand.

I know, I know... I really should do more Star Wars heads. It's probably time. AND, it would be a good excuse to finally pick up the movies, and re-watch them.

Yes, yes, you heard me correctly, I do not own ANY of the Star Wars movies in ANY format. If it helps renew your confidence in my geekiness, I have no less than four versions of Blade Runner. (Which reminds me, I never did animate that Blade Runner head... damn.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Veruca Salt

So this one was done entirely under the direction of Big Red. Because somehow, and I'm not proud of this, but somehow I managed to live most of my life without ever seeing Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Not only that, but I had never read the book. AND FURTHERMORE, I wasn't even acquainted with the general storyline.


Of course, I've seen it now, and read the majority of Roald Dahl's books, (Uncle Oswald, anyone?) but at the time I was flying blind.

So, not bad, all things considered. It's a bit strange that the shift to blue has a blue extreme in the middle before settling on something a bit more faded. I wonder why that happened?

And apparently, I really liked that goofy chewing loop, because I went on to cannibalize it for use in at least one other animation.

Dr. Zaius

So, I wanted to do a Dr. Zaius Harry, but apparently I wasn't able to dig up any reference material. Seriously, what the hell? LAZY ANIMATOR!


And even worse, it plays as though the "Big Reveal" of Harry as a monkey is some sort of punchline. What the heck was I thinking?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Hollow Man

This one took a while.


Still seems like a pretty neat animation to me. It may actually hold up a bit better than the movie it was based on.

At the time, I had no idea how to use MASKs in Flash, so each peel-away frame was animated by actually erasing the surface of the outer head. In the end, it probably doesn't make much of a difference, though the masks might have saved me some file-size if the final destination had been a .SWF rather than an animated .GIF.

(What's the consensus on .GIF pronunciation, anyway? I always said "JIF," when I was working in complete isolation (which begs the question, Who did I say it to?) but now that I know other people who work with them, I find most people seem to say it with a hard "G." Just wonderin')


This one's super-simple.


So the head-turn has no in-betweens. It just pops from facing to 3/4s. And that's fine. It's abrupt, but it does what it needs to.

I couldn't do this today. I just couldn't. Today, I would spend an extra hour (or a few) so that there was more to the turn: inbetweens or at least a smear-between, maybe an antic, I don't know. But more. For sure, this wouldn't be enough. But it works. There's really no need for anything more.

I have no idea what that says about me. Maybe I just like complication for its own sake.